Monday, October 31, 2011

Marathon Choices

Alrighty then -- as mentioned in the previous post, there will be a marathon in my spring.   I do believe the choices have been narrowed to two:  Avenue of the Giants on May 6th or The Eugene Marathon on April 29th.  

I'll outline a few pros and cons of each -- and then opinions are always welcome.  

Avenue of the Giants:
1. Beautiful.  Like spectacularly beautiful not just run of the mill beautiful.
2. Closer (of the two) to home
3. Small!!!  (like teeny tiny)
4.  Will probably be able to convince several of my running girlfriends to run the half and then spectate until I come crawling in.  

1. About a 200ft incline and a bit harder of a course

2. Small?? (I think that is a pro but it could be considered a con)

Eugene Marathon:
1.  Well, this is supposed to be beautiful too but a different kind of beautiful.  more like pretty.  
2.  Smallish -- not teeny tiny like Avenue but with 8000 participants it is unlikely to freak me out either.
3.  Might get one girlfriend to come do the half and spectate me in.  
4.  More crowd support (maybe?  and this is something I don't seem to need so neutral really)
5. The course looks a bit easier:

Well, darn it -- you have to go here to see the elevation.  

Basically Eugene has a 150ft climb for 2 miles (from miles 1.5 to 4.5) -- then lots of downhill and a bit uphill from miles 21.5 on.  And by bit of an uphill, the elevation shows it to be 25ft so that isn't much at all.  

Contrast that with a 200ft elevation gain for 6.5 miles and then a lot of downhills.  But if you that map were expanded it would show a bunch of rollers, I think.  Hard to say.  

1.  Farther away --
2. Bigger (which is both pro and con - ha ha ha -- I've used size as both a pro and con in both marathons)

Honestly I think either would be good first marathons -- neither is a super difficult course.  Both are fairly easy to get to.  Neither is a huge marathon (which would kill me as a first one, I know it).  I'm just finding it hard to commit.  

Comments?  Thoughts?  Opinions?  

Sunday, October 30, 2011

Mileage and Marathons

Daily Mile says I ran 31 miles this week.  Being the low mileage girl I have been, this is a new record and other than sore quads (hills, or rather one big hill, yesterday) I'm good.

So I've just completed week 4 of 'lets just build miles.'  When I was reviewing all my training for the halfs that I've run, I noticed that I was just a low mileage girl, plain and simple.  I thought I'd run more this summer than last and I had - but not appreciably.  And I've proven that I can run a slightly sub 2 hr half with about 22 avg miles per week running.  I've done it, very consistently, 4 times.  My slowest half was Santa Cruz last April which I ran in 2.02.58 and my average weekly miles for that training cycle was well under 20 per week.   Each of the other halfs were:  1.59.02 (SJRNR2010), 1.58.33 (Disneyland), 1.59.11 (SJRNR2011) and 1.59.02 (Wine Country) -- (I'm consistent enough you could practically bet on me) all these were run with 20 to 24 miles per week average for 12 weeks leading up to the half.

Anyway, after going over all this in early October and really taking a look at what I want to get out of all this running business, I realize it is time for me to step it up a bit -- for two reasons.  First, I do want a 1.50 half.  Actually I want a 1.45 half but right now I'd settle for a 1.50.  Based on the above, I think I need more miles on my legs for that.  Second, I do plan on running a spring marathon (wow, that's the most definitive I've been about it yet!).  Clearly I'm not at marathon level training.  Not at all !

Which brings us to Tricia's Marathon Training, in two parts:

Part 1 -- from early Oct to Christmas time is miles building.  I'm strapping on the garmin so I can have the data but I'm not focusing on time at all.  Just running by what feels good for the amount of miles I'm running that day.  The past 4 weeks I've done 25, 28, 28, 31 miles respectively.  I'm going to hang out here at 31 for probably two weeks to acclimate a bit because hills have been added back in as of this week as well as miles.  My goal is to be at or close to 40 miles per week by Christmas.  I'm pretty sure this is doable -- and not too crazy of a plan.

Part 2 -- this part isn't finalized yet.  But part two will consist of an actual training plan and I should have 16 to 18 weeks-ish depending on which marathon is selected.  I'm reading all kinds of things now and at some point, will commit to a plan and make it mine and be ready to go for it come first week in January.  Oh yeah, and commit to a particular race.

It seems to me (and I'm always willing to hear opinions! I value them greatly) that starting a marathon training with 35 to 40 base miles per week is a good place for me to start.  I could never do a couch to marathon plan as I just require too much ramp up time to let my stamina catch up to what I'm doing (like yesterday -- it was only a 7.5 mile run but had a nice big 4 mile 900ft climb that just wore me out to the point I napped and did nothing the rest of the day!  Wimpy runner, much?  I really need to change the title of this thing).

Anyway, I'm loving this base building stuff -- it is just fun.  The runs are all good and I've got some built in flexibility on how I'm doing it so if I need to switch things up, I can.  I've found that the world is a wonderful place at 5.30 am in the dark and I've also found that the cold isn't killing me (yeah, and I get my cold is the rest of the country's balmy but still -- I'm cold).  The rain, of course, will make me melt.  I'm sure of it.  But I'll get the gym membership to handle that.

So TMT, part 1, week 5 -- Bring it on.

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Three Things Thursday

1.  Burrrr -- it was a bit chilly this morning.  I think fall has finally come to the Bay Area.  Well, our version of it anyway.  First opportunity to wimp out of a morning run because of cold and I didn't (wimp out that is!).  Go me.  Of course now I have the added stress of trying to figure out what to wear -- seems I never did quite get it down last winter so am starting over.  Because I'm a nerd, I've started a spreadsheet of run date, temp, time of run, what I wore, what I wish I wore.  We'll see how that works.  This morning though I did finally figure out what a vest might be useful for.

2.  I'm loving the 5:30 am run -- even in the very dark and even in the cold.  Yesterday I ran at 9am in the morning and it totally stressed me out.  So many people around -- I had to stop at the stop lights -- crazy.    On the early morning runs there are more signs of life starting about 6 -- but from 5.30 to 6 it is really quiet still with only the occasional car.  I'm loving the peacefulness.

3.  So far, the no pressure running just to build a bigger base is working out well.  I'm mostly loving every run.  More on that later.  

Sunday, October 23, 2011


Jeeze, it is never good to write a post over several days -- I forgot the best part.  This is what we got at the end of the race:

Coolest medal ever -- it is a wine bottle stopper.  And then they gave you that glass -- I tried to get the picture to show the logo but it didn't come out very well.  Anyway, at the end of the race they had about 25 wineries representing and pouring -- and they even had some beer.  The food was actually fancier than your usual end of race pickings -- it was rice, beans and chicken and tortilla chips and salsa.  It was the longest I've ever stayed at the after party of a race -- and we had a ton of fun.

So there you have it!  Come run this race with me next year!!

Healdsburg Half ... more on the actual race

I've got to start this so I can finish it -- but what a crazy week it has been. (Didn't get this done on Friday like I hoped and now it is Sunday -- but here goes)

Alrighty then, this is my official account of what I did last Sunday (a week ago now).  But first off, a few opening thoughts on this race over all:  I LOVED IT.  Of the five half marathon's I've done this was hands down far and away my favorite.

1.  It was a small race -- 1065 for the half and 211 for the full.  I'm really finding that I love the smaller races.
2.  Beautiful -- it is hard to go wrong in wine country.  However, we did have to head back on a larger road -- but it wasn't bad.
3. The rolling hills were actually a bit fun.  Nothing was horrible or too fast so it just made it interesting.
4.  Wine and Beer at the end, along with rice, beans and chicken and totilla chips.

There was a group of eight of us coming up from SouthBay (for any non Bay Area folks, San Jose is considered South Bay and is about two hours south of wine country -- which is north of San Francisco. If I was really clever, I'd insert a map. I did just try to be clever and can't so it so here's a link to the map if anyone really cares).  Another woman and I were on the late shift and on our own so we went straight to the bib pick up and (very) mini expo.  Which happened to be at Kendall Jackson Winery (in my next life, I'll make sure I do better with the picture taking).  The winery was beautiful but we didn't do any tasting -- just grabbed our bibs and gender specific tech shirt (oh happy dance for gender specific shirts!  This one is nice and it FITS!) and cruised the (very) mini expo.  Not much there at all but that was fine -- we were headed out to the Healdsburg Bar and Grill to meet up with our friends and get our mid afternoon greasy food fix on.

Then we were off to the house we had rented -- and let me go on a bit about a great way to stay somewhere out of town for a race.  The backyard was beautiful.

It even had its own vineyard:

So we managed to spend some time just sitting and enjoying.  Some of the girls had a bit of wine but I just couldn't -- my stomach is so sensitive these days so I opted out (the night before that is -- I took well advantage the next day!).

After we enjoyed the backyard we moved into do cook the spaghetti dinner - and all of us were off to bed at a fairly early time.  I'm so not used to sleeping communally, I had a bit of a rough time so went to a couch and managed to catch a few hours.  5am comes very quickly no matter what but let me tell you that 8 women and three bathrooms works!  We all did just fine and were ready to head to the starting line (which was only about 2 miles away) by about 6:20 for our 7:00 am start.

The race starts right on time and uneventfully.  The first two miles were nothing super exciting.  We had to get out of the town and onto the back roads. As I mentioned in my previous post, the only thing I wanted to do was to negative split and finish strong.  But I wasn't sure what that looked like -- part of our group had driven the course the previous day and came back with tales of rolling hills and difficult course.  I hadn't seen it and there was no elevation map so I started off the race with goals that I didn't quite have an solid plan for executing.  I know that for a flat half, I should have started in low 9's and then just go down from there -- so I thought I'd see if I could do something like that allowing for the ups/down.  And I figured fairly soon I'd have a feel for how bad it was going to be.

Well to my delight, it wasn't that bad at all and my plan basically worked.  The inclines kept me at a reasonable pace but they were manageable and thus I didn't have to gain too much speed on the downhills.  It was really just a bunch of fun.  The first four miles went by in record speed (not reality but in my mind).  I was constantly paying attention to pace and how I felt -- and the miles still flew by.   Long about mile 5.5 I realized I needed to take a moment to look around (when running hard for me I tend to concentrate on the road in front of me and seem to miss a lot around me!) and it was beautiful.  But was really cool was at that moment it was so quite -- since it was a small race, the group had spread a bit but there was still a steady stream of runners and there were no talking pairs and many had music going (I didn't) so the only sound was that kind of a rhythmic beat of breathing and feet hitting the pavement.  I was exactly 'in the moment' right then and that doesn't happen to me often!

I finally ate a gu at about 6.5 miles and around the 7 mile mark started chatting with this woman from Denver -- she was lovely and it was fun running with her but I lost her at about mile 8 water station.  So from mile 8 on, I just kept telling myself to hang in so mile 9 could be wonderful.  I wanted mile 9 to be wonderful because that is where I lost it in SJRNR and I was a bit worried still about the big hill at mile 10 I'd heard about.  I hit mile 9 feeling fantastic so when the 'hill' (it wasn't much different that what we'd been doing) started at mile 9.5 I was feeling fantastic and decided to kick it in -- and started passing people going up hill (!!!!! which is always a fantastic feeling).  In hindsite I probably could have stepped it up a bit sooner but give the circumstances I think it went very well.  From 9.5 on -- I booked it as fast as I could on the downhill and pushed on the uphills.  Was only passed by one woman (probably in her 30's) and three guys in their 20's -- so all was good.  As I came into the finishers shoot I heard my name announced which actually almost made me stop -- it was unexpected so I thought someone was calling me.  DUH!

Anyway, I loved this race and I how I raced it.  It was kind of a 'A HA' race for me where a bunch of things clicked in my head.

I'm having trouble stealing pics from brightroom -- so I'll work on it and post them later -- there is one of the two sneaky guys at the finish -- funny really.

Anyway -- this race is definitely one I will do again.  And I encourage any locals to put in on their lists -- especially if you like non urban races.

And now on to the Big M -- plans to follow.

Sunday, October 16, 2011

Wine Country Marathon and Half part 1, the lead in

So I've been a bit quite lately.  SJRNR just sort of smacked down my running confidence - falling apart in mile 9 and just flat out not being able to will myself out of it really bothered me.  I tend to think I can hang with a fairly tough mental game (heck, I was running that entire race with bladder pressure from the infection) so to just have my body not cooperate with my mind in two races in a row sort of wore me out.  (This is my lack of experience showing -- and I know that logically). 

 I also think going into that race I though I'd be able to nail it as I'd done it once already.  So yeah yeah, Disneyland was hard but that was because it was new -- this is old hat.  Of course all my training was derailed a bit after Disney but I didn't want to think too hard on what that might do to the race. I had managed to keep my miles up so that would be good, right?  Who knows sometimes why something is just hard to get over.  This was.

But, I'm one to want to fix problems and if I can analyze data in the process so much the better. I had data. I started reviewing some of my training information over my entire whopping one and a half years running career and I discovered that while I felt like I'd increased my mileage a lot recently, I hadn't.  I was running just a few more miles a week on average this year vs. last.  And then last year I did a lot more in hill training and this year while I usually nailed the track work outs -- I just could barely get a tempo run in at target paces to save my life.  

It would naturally make sense that my times are very similar this year to last.  And possibly that it is okay to struggle a bit on the races because each time, I learn something.  Actually I learn at least 10 somethings.  

So I had been thinking a lot on how I was going to approach today.  This was never going to be a PR race in my mind as I figured the course had rolling hills (wine country -- yeah) and initially I was going to do so wonderful in Disneyland it wouldn't matter!  'But I noticed two themes while reviewing  my race data from Disneyland and SJRNR: 1.  I would start out too fast, even when I thought I shouldn't because I just told myself to run what felt good at that mile.  2.  Bad, not strong finishes.  Finishes where I wanted to die (probably caused by running too fast at first).  So that led me to my two goals for Healdsburg:

1.  Negative Splits 
2.  Finish strong

I was willing to sacrifice time to get there -- I was willing to take a 2:10 if I could finish strong (for both SJRNR and Disneyland, I was also dizzy at the end -- SJRNR it was very bad -- in addition to having the world pass me and not being able to find that last bit of energy).  I didn't know the course at all and when my girlfriends drove it the night before they came back a bit worried because of the hills.  Lot of rollers -- and a larger hill around mile 10.  So then I just mentally told myself to calm the hell down and if I could get 1 and 2 -- and the race would be a success.  

How I did:

1.  Negative Splits -- check (1:00:13 for first half/58:51 for second -- estimates on splitting mile 6)
2.  Finish strong -- oh yeah baby.  I started passing people at 9.5 miles even on the uphills -- and from that point on, I was only passed by 3 tall young men who appeared to be flying and one woman!!  And then when two men actually had the nerve to try to hit the finish pad sooner then me, I just couldn't let them -- I was probably less than a half second ahead but they were still behind me when we hit the pad.  No dizzy -- felt awesome.  My friend was at mile 12 and said I looked about a thousand times better than I did at mile 12 in SJRNR and I felt it.    

Best part ever -- official time:  1.59.02.  Not a PR (that was Disney at 1:58:33) but my second fastest time tying with SJRNR 2010 (who does that, runs two races with the exact same time?) and this was a more difficult course.  7/94 in my age group and 272/1065 overall.  The best part though was I ran a good race!  It was the race I set out to run and I did it!!

I'm done for now -- more of a recap in the next day or so.  And hopefully I can get my garmin page to let me copy the elevations!!  I'm just so pleased.  I let so much get to me -- but confidence is restored -- and I'm up to 95% sure I can accomplish the BIG M.  

Sunday, October 02, 2011


Well, at least it wasn't a personal worst!!

It is funny really, all my half times are fairly close.

But anyway, given the past four weeks, I'm totally happy.  Still made it under 2 which is very important to me.

Participant Detail
Finished In:
Tricia D
San Jose, CA
Age: 47 | Gender: F
Overall: 2630 out of 9831 · Division: 54 out of 537 · Gender: 723 out of 5416

So I woke this morning with a bladder infection.  Really, body?  A bladder infection? This is only the second one I've had in my life.  Ever.  And today?  Actually though I wasn't quite sure what was going but by the end of the race I knew.  Gah.

But that was fine really.  A bit annoying to constantly feel like I might be need to stop but I could manage it.  Honestly, through mile 7 I was doing ok and feeling pretty good -- and even thinking that possibly I'd PR Disneyland, not by a long shot but maybe a second.  HA.  At mile 8 I was still thinking that I could hang in there.  And then mile 9 happened, though what happened I'm not entirely sure but many by body  just started shutting down.  I felt like I was barely moving.  I was barely moving -- it was awful.  I thought maybe I need an infusion so right around mile 10 I ate a gu and then rallied a bit for 10 and 11 and then just feel apart again in mile 12.  Weirdest thing.  At about mile 12.25 a friend just ran me in and boy was it difficult -- at one point, right before the finishers shoot I kept telling my friend I was about to throw up and she kept telling me I wasn't and that I could handle anything.  I finally didn't have any more energy so I stopped arguing with her (and she was right, I didn't throw up).  Anyway, she bugs off and I hit the finishers shoot and picked up the pace more so I was very pleased at that -- still had a smidgen left which was an improvement over Disneyland.

But honestly, I'm happier with this than I was 4 weeks ago.  Doesn't make sense really but given that I have done very minimal cross training, did the miles but didn't do speed training and most of the runs were not good and been taken down a bit (obviously) with work stress, I'm cool with it.  Not what I hoped 4 weeks ago when I decided to do it but that is just life.

I really do like this race and running it with a bunch of friends is so much more fun than my solo trip to Anaheim.  Especially when post race you can hit up The Britannia's patio for Guinness and fish and chips (yeah well -- there are probably better recovery meals but certainly not more fun ones!).  Super fun day.

Gonna change some things up in the next 9 weeks until Las Vegas.  Need more miles on my legs and need to lay the ground work to see if I can actually take on a marathon.

It is all good.

Saturday, October 01, 2011

A bunch of miscellaneous stuff

A list -- because my brain is that disorganized....

1.  First off, I've decided to forgo the purchase of a treadmill and will join a gym.  Seemed to make the most sense initially.  But now to figure out which gym.

2.  The socks were the culprit of the I get a big fat DUH on that one.

3.  I've a race on Sunday.  Goals?  What goals?  :)  I've got a few but they definitely aren't the ones I thought I'd have 4 weeks ago.  But that's life.  The weather should be good, the course is fun and I know a lot of people out running it so it is all good.  I am still glad I decided to do it.

4.  I've been looking back at the miles I've been putting in and while I've definitely put in more miles this year than last, I still think I need more to meet my goals.  I like the RLRF approach (which was more miles for me really) but I don't think it is quite the plan for me.  And certainly not for a marathon.  And yes, I'm thinking marathon.  And I'm still shooting for a 1.50 Half hopefully within the next year.  I've done a lot of thinking -- soon I'll start writing it down to sort through it all.

5.  There is 9 weeks until LVRNR and I'm going to use that 9 weeks to build up base from mid 20's in miles to mid 30's or even 40.  I just want to see how my body, stamina, schedule handles that many miles.

6. I should have named this blog The Wimpy Runner.  Actually I really like that -- it is a bit more catchy and totally represents me.  Sadly enough.

7.  I'm in a very good mood -- which means I am well rested.  It was my one goal for the week -- and it took a lot because my sleeping isn't all that much better.  So when I wasn't working or running, I was pretty  much in bed sleeping or attempting to sleep.  Hopefully that will help for tomorrow.

And with that, I'm off.