Sunday, November 28, 2010

Walnut Creek Turkey Gallop

If I had to sum up the Walnut Creek Turkey Trot in one word, I know exactly what word I would choose. Cold. As usual, we both woke up and arrived on location way too early. We may have actually been the first participants there. But, on the positive side, we had no problems finding parking and the non-existent packet pick up line moved extremely quickly.

We did have to wait a few extra minutes for Kelsea, who had a surprisingly difficult time with the Scantron form, to register. Despite the time and effort, Kelsea still went down as first name - Kelsea, last name - Ks. What can I say? We engineers aren't known for our spelling.

As soon as our bibs were in hand, we ran back to the car to warm up. And there we stayed until the time came to summon up the courage to get out of the car, take a few pictures and make our way to the start.

Now usually I feel like, "the colder the better," when it comes to running. But I have changed my mind! Now I say, "the colder the better, unless it's too cold." By the time the race started my toes were completely numb. Yes, actually numb. And the running gloves that I had taken off my Amazon wish list because, "How often do I really need gloves while I'm running?" are now back on that list.

But my frost bit extremities were nothing compared to my lungs and lip. Which I'll get to later. First, let's go over the race.

Those of you who read about my pre-race anxiety know my strategy was to try and keep up with Kelsea for as long as I could. Well, after about 30 seconds I figured I had reached my max. I was full on ready to slink back into the pace group where I belonged when Kelsea turned around. And slowed down. Forcing me to continue to try and keep up with her.

After about another 30 seconds I found myself thinking, "Screw getting a good time. I need to SLOW DOWN because THIS SUCKS!" But somehow I managed to hang on and maintain my three foot lag behind Kelsea. I checked my watch at the first turn around at 1.15 miles, and it read 9 minutes and change.

I realized we were running around an 8 minute mile pace and figured I had room to slow down. It was around this time that I tried to get Kelsea to leave me behind again. She refused, telling me, "We're almost done. You can do it." Or something like that. I thought back, "Almost done?! Are you (insert choice word here) kidding me?! We're one mile into a three mile race! We're just starting!" I replied verbally by saying, "Okay." Probably because that's all I had breath for.

I figured as long as I was stuck with Kelsea I might as well make the best of it. I tried to remind myself to relax and breathe. And I have to say, for as much pain as I was in, at least I didn't sound like I was having an asthma attack. I cannot say the same for one lady running near me during the second mile. If I had had the energy I might have turned to her and said, "I know how you feel. I feel the same way."

I checked my watch the second time at mile two. It read 15:50. I must have said something to Kelsea about, "go ahead," or, "I'm dying," or some combination of the two. I can't remember exactly. I do remember her saying, "You can do anything for 8 minutes." I thought back, "Wow. How did Kelsea know we're running at an 8 minute mile pace?" I also thought, "I don't know about anything for 8 minutes. I don't know if I can run a whole other mile in 8 minutes." Instead, I replied verbally by saying, "Okay."

Towards the end of the third mile Kelsea saw the finish line. I could tell she wanted to pick up the pace, but my legs just wouldn't move any faster. I told her I would meet her at the finish, but she wouldn't stray from my side. I thought for the last time, "Dammit Kelsea! Just go ahead!"

I finally picked up my pace with about 50 feet to go. I mustered up every last bit of energy and pushed it into the finish for a (my) watch time of 24:37 and a gun time of 24:42. I came in 7th out of 128 in my age group and 134th out of 1654 overall. Needless to say, I am super excited about completely bulldozing my goals. I'm also pretty excited that I don't have to run another 5K for time for a LONG TIME.

Kelsea came in 4th in her age group (we're in different groups) by 9 seconds. Prizes went to the top three, which means I now feel especially bad for holding her back. Can you say good friend? If it weren't for Kelsea, there's no way I would have finished in the time I did. And let's not forget about Jason who actually ran this race and finished, coincidentally, in my old PR time of 28:53.

As soon as I finished I noticed two things right off the bat. My lungs hurt. My lungs actually hurt. And they didn't stop hurting for probably another hour. It also felt like I had taken a shot of Novocain to the upper lip. I could barely form the words, "I need to throw up," without slurring my speech. And I worried that I might actually be drooling. When does summer start again?

Saturday, November 27, 2010

Pracing with friends and dinosaurs

I have a Turkey Trot 5K race recap to write up. But first I'm going to write about a 5K I haven't run. The Pteranodon Ptrot.

A few weeks ago I told one of my best friends from college, Elsha, that she should run a race with me. See, I have a tasty habit of trying to get everyone I know to run races with me. But I mostly figured Elsha would scoff at me the way she did every time I ran out the door in college saying, "Want to go for a run with me?"

But then a curious thing happened. Elsha caved. She agreed to run (specifically) the Pteranodon Ptrot on the condition that I travel to Grand Junction, Colorado, the town in which both Elsha and the race resides. And let me tell you what my first reaction was...

"How the hell do you pronounce Pteranodon?!" In case that was your reaction as well, it sounds kind of like tyrannosaurus rex, only replacing "saurus rex" with "dawn." Also, make sure to (mis)pronounce the "tyran" more like "teran". And so I went, with phonetic confidence, considering Elsha's proposition over the next several days.

I even told Kelsea, "Elsha has suggested I fly to Colorado to run the "Ter-an-o-dawn P-trot."
"Are you going to do it?"
"I'm considering it."
"Where is it?"
"Oh my God, the other P is silent!" Genius.

Now here's my dilemma. As much as I would love to run the Pteranodon Ptrot, I'm having trouble justifying a trip for it. I could see buying a plane ticket for a half marathon. Maybe even a 10K I've always wanted to run. But a 5K? I don't know. And if I fly out to Colorado I should see my parents, right? Only problem is they're in Denver. Not Grand Junction.

So ELSHA. After much diliberation, I have several counter offer options for you to ponder.

1) Why not just run a half marathon instead? Now before you immediately trash this idea, know that you can totally do this. I'm going to throw out two races that are almost a year away. That's plenty of time to build the endurance, and we can go as slow as you want. I've already talked about running one with Stacey next fall/winter, and she's only running 1 mile at a time now. We could have a college reunion!!

There's the Rock 'n' Roll Denver Half Marathon on 10/9/11. It's $85 if we sign up before 5/31/11. Or we could run the Georgetown to Idaho Springs Half Marathon sometime in August. Early registration for the 2010 race cost $35.

2) I have always wanted to run the Bolder Boulder. It's a 10K on Memorial Day. Shorter distance, but less time to prep.

3) I will probably travel back to Denver to recruit at Mines sometime next September or October. We could run a 5K around Denver while I'm in town. I'm not sure how things will line up next year, but this year I was in town the weekend of Race for the Cure.

4) I will run the Pteranodon Ptrot if you wear a dinosaur costume like this one.

Let the bartering begin.

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Just another one of those thankful Thanksgiving posts

First off, I'm thankful for my husband, Jason. Of course. He is so many wonderful things that I can't even begin to describe him in a few words. But I will try. Accepting. Supportive. Calming. Cute. (Really) smart. Hard working. Loyal. Honest. Funny. Genuine. And many more.

I'm thankful to be married to a man that would buy me flowers on Thanksgiving because he knows how much I like them on the table during a special dinner.

I'm even more grateful to him for waking up at 5:30 am on Thanksgiving morning to go run a 5K. Even though I know he didn't want to.

Before there was Jason there were my parents. (Well, they're still there, but you know what I mean. I'm actually quite thankful for that too.) And like everyone, the older I get the more blessed I feel that I landed in their home.

My dad is probably the hardest working, most driven person I know. He is also able to forgive in superhuman amounts. No matter the drama or wrongs that surround him, he always manages to remain neutral and accepting.

My mom is like basically Jesus. Ha! Seriously though. She once told me that she feels like her purpose in life is to love, and every part of her life is a testament to that statement. My mom is absolutely my role model, and I hope that one day I will be able to set the example she has for my children.

I'm thankful for old friends. I'm thankful for Stacey, who is kind of my female version of Jason. I'm thankful for Elsha, who also has a blog, and for Laura, who reads mine. I'm thankful that I can see any of these girls once a year when we're in the same town, and it's like we haven't skipped a beat.

I'm thankful for new friends. Like Kelsea. I'm thankful that she likes to have a plan and shows up places on time. I'm thankful that she'll let me talk her into signing up for any number of fitness events...Four Bridges Half Marathon Relay, Muddy Buddy, Emerald Across the Bay 12K, Oyster Adventure Race, Malibu Half Marathon, and the Walnut Creek Turkey Trot.

Speaking of the Walnut Creek Turkey Trot, I'm grateful that Kelsea stuck with me and cheered me on through every painful step. She is 100% responsible for my new PR!! (Race report to follow.)

I'm thankful for my blog world friends. You keep me entertained and inspire me to both keep at it and set my sights higher!

And, although I don't always love my job, I'm thankful that I have one. Not only that, one that affords my lifestyle of fitness events and good eatin'!

And last (but certainly not least) I'm thankful for my body. I'm thankful that it puts up with everything I drag it through and only complains with a few minor aches and pains.

Happy Thanksgiving!

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Please, let me run farther!

Tomorrow morning I plan to pre-burn off all (okay, some) Thanksgiving calories in the Walnut Creek Turkey Trot.

There's both a 5K and 10K race, and for the last couple months I've been planning on running the 5K. The last 5K I ran was in July when I was just getting back into running, and I want to see how much better I can do now that I'm in better shape.

But for the last week or so I've found myself thinking, "Maybe I'll just run the 10K instead." Have a guess for why that thought is crossing my mind? It's because I'M AFRAID of the 5K!! I've got it in my head that I want to run this race for time, but I'm so bad at running fast!

I ran my fastest 5K (that same July race) at a 9:19 pace. If you catch yourself wanting to say something like, "That's not so bad Laura," just wait until I tell you that I ran my 11 mile run last Saturday at a 9:17 pace. I reach what feels like a challenging pace for me and although I'm able to sustain it, I can't seem to go any faster. I guess this means I'm a distance runner?

To add to my out-of-control nerves, Disgusting Kelsea has now decided to join us. Don't get me wrong. I'm super excited to have her along. But now I know there's truly no backing down. When it comes to those shorter distances Kelsea is FAST and I'm going to try and keep up with her for as long as I can.

So here are my tiered goals:

  • Beat my PR - Barring large crowds or other uncontrollable road blocks, I should be able to do this.
  • Run faster than a 9:00 pace / finish under 28:00 min - This also seems feasible, but you never know.
  • Finish under 27:30 - I feel less confident about this one even though it's what the race calculators tell me I should be able to do.
  • Keep up with Kelsea - If I manage this one we'll know it's because Kelsea held herself back for me. Awww...what a good friend.

And with that I will begin my race prep activities - drinking water and baking pies!

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Barely treading water

THANK GOD for Team Challenge! They got me out of bed Saturday morning and out for an 11 mile run. I feel like having at least this ONE solid run in the week is keeping me afloat.

I was a little worried about how it would go after sitting on my butt for a week. Also, I didn't hydrate properly the day before and dinner consisted of wine, a baked potato and a large quantity of ice cream. (Hmm...looks like running isn't the only department lacking a little motivation?)

I figured I was testing myself. How well would I run after doing everything wrong in preparation? One of teammates, however, saw the silver lining. He referred to me as "well rested." And perhaps he was right. I ended up running faster than I usually do. Not quite as fast as my last magicial 11 miler. But better than usual.

I also had an awesome breakfast afterwards with the rest of the crew. Not only that, one of the women offered to teach me how to swim! I had made a comment about a triathlon sounding like a nice idea. Only problem is I can't swim or bike. I'm not quite sure yet whether I want to take on the challenge, but it's penciled onto my list of 2011 goals. (I'll put that list to ink blogger-style sometime around New Years just in case your interested.)

And now for a picture on a un-related topic. For those of you that might not have fully appreciated our Halloween costumes.

Friday, November 19, 2010

I can feel the burn

OUT. I don't feel much else burning because I've been spending a lot of time doing my favorite thing. Sitting on the couch. Let me break it down for you. Here's what this week's training schedule looked like:
  • Monday - Rest
  • Tuesday - Speed workout
  • Wednesday - Yoga
  • Thursday - Tempo run
  • Friday - Rest
  • Saturday - Long run
  • Sunday - Rest

Here is what actually went down:

  • Monday - Rest (per the schedule)
  • Tuesday - Rest
  • Wednesday - Rest
  • Thursday - Ran about aimlessly for a half hour
  • Friday - Rest
  • Saturday / Sunday - In the future

Of course I have the excuses that I came up with... I missed yoga because "my throat hurt and I felt like I needed to rest to avoid getting sick." Sounds like a pretty good one, eh? Too bad it turned out to be canker sores on the back of my tongue.

Then there was, "I must need the rest if I'm this unmotivated. I did run a half marathon on Sunday after all." Convincing, isn't it? I was pretty proud of that one. But do not be deceived. I'm a conniving little devil. My only body part that ever got noticeably sore was the top of my right ankle, and I'm pretty sure that was from the driving. My body would have been just fine with one (or even two) rest days.

By Thursday I was so disappointed in myself I vowed to get all of my running workouts in. That meant three days of running in a row - Thursday, Friday, Saturday. I managed to get my running clothes on, into my car and over to the high school for some speed drills on the track. Guess what? The lights were off. Sound familiar? I drove home and ran out the door in a fury, forgetting my IPOD. When I realized I was without tunes I lost any remaining focus. I ended up running amok for a little while angry and without a plan.

Today it's raining in addition to being dark.

Here's where I could use some help. I'm about five months into my "Healthy Living Plan" and I can feel myself starting to lose motivation. I'm not surprised. In fact, I kind of figured I would get here eventually and have been quietly hoping that I would make it through. I think part of the problem is my running honeymoon is coming to an end and part of the problem is the winter (dark and rainy = yucky running). So I held a brainstorming session with myself and here is a list of ideas I'm toying with to help me get over the hump:

  • Buy a headlamp

  • Run at lunch - This is the only way I can feasibility run in daylight. The only problem is I don't like taking 2 hour lunches and I don't like getting sweaty in the middle of the day.

  • Join a gym - This is expensive, and I don't really want to run on a treadmill.

  • Join my work gym - This is cheaper but it's at work. How do I say what I want to say here without saying something I shouldn't say? Hmm...I don't think there's a way.

  • Run less - I'm at least going to focus on shorter distances (5K or 10K) for a little while after the Las Vegas Half Marathon. I could go so far as to revert back to my 1 mile a day plan if necessary.

  • Find an indoor track

  • Find a running club or something similiar to hold me accountable.

Any suggestions?

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Brad Pitt owns a home in Malibu

But try as we did, we did not see him. Still, the Malibu International (Half) Marathon was well worth the hours upon hours of driving across California!

We awoke bright and early Saturday morning (and by bright and early I mean around 11:00 am or so) and headed to the expo. The expo was pretty small, but still held in attendance a few booths of interest.

Truth be told, we didn't even stop at this one. Because they didn't have free samples. (But I thought it was worth a picture anyway). We did spend quite a bit of time at the Newton booth, trying out these bad boys.

Both Kelsea and I took them for a spin around the parking lot.

I'm pretty due for a new pair of running shoes and have, like a diligent student, been researching products online for the last month or so. Which means that I knew, even as we approached the booth, that these beauties cost a pretty penny. But let me tell you. They felt good. Fast and light, with plenty of mesh for a nice airy feel. And let's not kid ourselves. A pair of bright pink and orange shoes are definitely worth more than a couple white, gray or even blue ones.

But, alas, no purchases were made. We were, however, barraged by a pot-bellied running coach who was completely unaffliated with Newton. Of course, we didn't manage to figure this out until later in the day. All the pieces came together like in a movie when a series of flashbacks clues the viewer into "who done it." When we finally realized that he was just some random guy promoting himself in the parking lot at a race expo I felt completely violated! So not cool.

And with that, I'm moving on. After the expo we spent a few minutes on the beach and hit up the local shops.

Yes, I recognize that I look freakishly excited about that cupcake. And it was just as GOOOOD as it looks. We rounded off afternoon dessert with an awesome dinner at Padri Restaurant. I had the most amazing pumpkin filled tortellini, and, of course, more dessert!

Sunday/race morning came before we knew it. This time we actually did get up bright and early. Or rather dark and early. We made it to the race in time to catch a 6:30 am shuttle to the start per the schedule. (Is it just me, or do those pants make me look short? And by pants I mostly mean Kelsea.)

What we did not fully realize in assembling the schedule was that the race itself didn't start until 8:30 am. This meant that I finished my entire water bottle and, therefore, had to pee like 80 million times before the race started. In fact, we were in line for the potties AGAIN when the gun went off. We may have actually been the very last people to start. We even received some "encouraging words" from the race officials on the importance of beginning the race so they could take down the start.

I've never started a race after the start and never wanted to. But it actually worked out quite well. A combination of the late start and solid pacing meant that we were passing people the entire race. No better way to keep both a bladder and an ego happy!

The 8:30 am start also meant that it was quite a bit hotter than I planned for. tells me the Sunday high was 80 degrees, and I believe it. I ended up taking off my long sleeved shirt (uh, long sleeve black shirt in 80 degree weather, no thank you) and getting a sunburn. Oh well, better than the rain that came along with US Half Marathon, right?

The race itself went really well. As noted, the weather was beautiful, and the whole course was along the coast on Hwy 1. There were a few minor hills, but nothing too crazy or unmanageable. The aid stations were bittersweet. The half marathon lined up with the second half of the full marathon, which meant that there were a ton of them (specifically, every 2 miles). Even better than that - entire bottles of Zico coconut water were handed out at several stations. Unfortunately, the first 3 or 4 aid stations were so jam packed that it took both time and effort to battle the crowd and surface with a cup of water.

Generally speaking, I ran at what felt like a reasonably comfortable pace. I did push myself, especially the last 3 miles. But I also feel like I could have gone just a little bit faster. Which is okay. That was my goal. I wanted to gauge where I'm at with this race. I figure with a little more effort, a flatter course and cooler temperatures I can only do better in Vegas. Needless to say, I was super pleased to finish in 2:07:16, a full 10 minutes faster than the half marathon I ran in 2008!

And let's not forget about Kelsea who ran alongside me the whole time without training! (Disgusting, isn't it?)

(A couple of tired girls after running and driving many miles.)

Friday, November 12, 2010

Off to Malibu!

For the Malibu Half Marathon!

We decided to cheap out and drive, which means I hit the road in T minus 100 minutes! YAY!!! Wish me luck!

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Daylight losing time

I hit the track tonight, alongside the Pee Wee football team, thinking to myself, "Now this is dedication."

It was cold. It was windy. It was raining. And the track was muddy. But I was out there and doing it. My training schedule called for a 10 minute warm-up, 6x400m (with 400m rests) and a 10 minute cool-down.

About two laps into my warm-up I started feeling good. Before I could say "touchdown" I was knockin' 'em out of the park:
  • Split 1: 1:51 (Although I'm pretty sure I accidentally cut this one short)
  • Split 2: 1:56
  • Split 3: 1:58
  • Split 4: 1:52
  • Split 5: 1:56

As I rounded the last corner of my sixth repeat and prepared to give the last 50m everything I had with a sprint into the finish...

The lights went out. I'm talking pitch black, dark as...

Some insight into my writing process:

Me: What's really dark?
Jason: Night.
Me: Yeah, besides that.
Jason: The center of a black hole.

Okay, let's go with that.

I'm talking pitch black, dark as the center of a black hole, could not see an inch in front of my face kind of dark dark dark. I took a few stumbly steps before accepting that I had to stop. ARE YOU KIDDING ME?!?! With 50m to go in my sixth repeat?!?!

The final score:
Laura - 5.875
Daylight Savings - Big fat zero

Sunday, November 7, 2010

The goods

It's almost like my family knows me pretty well...

My birthday was a couple weeks ago and the presents have been flowing in. My parents got me a subscription to Runner's World magazine. Jason's mom got me a shirt and mug with a cute, little pair of shoes and the slogan, "Gotta Run". And Jason's dad and sister got me cash and an Amazon gift card that will surely go towards something running related. My Amazon wishlist, after all, is made up entirely of running gear.

To top it all off, Big Oil gave me a heart rate monitor/watch for my 5 year corporate anniversary. All in all, I would say I've made out pretty well!

Despite all my new running paraphernalia, my weekend has been a total fail thus far. My training schedule called for a tempo run this Thursday - 2 miles easy, 3 miles faster, 1 mile easy. Somehow I got my days mixed up...blah blah blah...I figured the 4 mile TeamChallenge group run on Saturday was good enough.

But then Friday night dinner went down (at my favorite Benician restaurant - Vino Paladini), and before I knew it the 4 mile group run turned into a 1 mile solo run. There may or may not have been a few glasses of wine involved in that decision... Oh well. I needed the sleep. And I have to give myself props for at least falling back on that trusty 1 mile run. Something's better than nothing, right?

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Coins for Crohn's

Come Friday it will be one month until the Rock 'n' Roll Las Vegas Half Marathon! As a few of you may recall, I am running with TeamChallenge and raising funds for the Crohn's and Colitis Foundation of America. I'm doing this in honor of my best friend Stacey, who you can read all about here.

With just one month to go, I'm ramping up my fundraising efforts. So far I've been surprised and touched by all the donations that have come in. Thanks to the generosity of my friends, family and co-workers I have reached the required minimum and now I'm just excited to see what I can raise!

If you're interested in helping out and live in bay area, stop by the Sports Basement discount event on Sunday, 11/14/10. You get a 10% discount and another 10% goes to CCFA.

If you're interested in another way to donate, drop a few coins in my virtual piggybank. No donation is too small. You can give any amount by typing it next to 'Other', and all donations are tax deductible.

In running news I held my (more or less) first speed workout today. I say more or less because once upon a time I partook in high school track. But that was ages ago, and I can't remember if I was ever able to complete any of those speed workouts. Seriously. This is no exaggeration (please refer to my bio). But today I did, and I feel pretty good about it.

I decided to give the local high school track a try since it is both flat and a very quantifiable distance. There was a group of teenaged runners there as well that I took to be the cross country team. I was surprised at how self-conscious I was! I had to remind myself on multiple occasions that I am a mature and confident woman, with no need to impress a bunch of amateur runners. Geez Laura...pull it together!

The plan was warm up + 5 x 1K with 400m rests + cool down, for a total of 6 miles. I had just kicked it up a notch to begin my first 1K when I realized that I had only made note of my target pace. Bear in mind that I bought my running watch at Target for about $10. Needless to say, it does not tell me my pace. Although I am quite good at math (refer, again, to the bio), I'm also pretty excited about my Christmas present. (I'll let you guess what that is!!!)

My split paces were: 8:52, 8:38, 8:39, 8:35, and less than 8:39 (I forgot to stop my watch after the last repeat.) When it was all said and done I felt like I had pushed myself just the right amount. I was tired, without the descriptor of 'dead.' And my splits were pretty consistant.

The cherry on my sundae? I DID NOT lock my keys in my car! Why do I bring this up? Well, let's just say I learned a valuable lesson last Saturday at the TeamChallenge group run. House keys do not open cars.

Monday, November 1, 2010

Drag racing

Happy (late) Halloween! Jason and I celebrated at our friend's birthday-slash-Halloween costume party. Per usual I prayed to the Halloween costume gods that a brilliantly hilarious costume idea requiring little to absolutely no effort would come to me. And this year I felt like they came through for me. (At least a little.) What could require any less effort than to just be ourselves?

Key elements for Laura's costume = Comic book and/or band T-shirt and sideburns.
Key elements for Jason's costume = Solid colored fitted T-shirt and red hair.

Done and done. It's really rather unfortunate that I didn't get a full body photo. Jason looked truly marvelous in my jeans. Yes, he wore my jeans. Yes, we apparently wear the same size women's jeans.

In keeping with the theme of effortlessness, let me go on to tell you about my 11 mile run Saturday morning. Okay, truth be told, there was some effort involved. But somehow I pulled out a 9 minute mile pace. (Okay, more truth. It was a 9:03 pace, but I'm giving myself permission to round down.) I have no idea where this came from! Aside from some blistery feet pain, and a little...delayed digestion (i.e. big burritos the night before a run are not a good idea), I actually felt pretty good. Now if only I could re-create this magical run...

In other news, the jury has reached a verdict. Malibu Half Marathon it is!