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Posts from the ‘Cross training’ Category

Training for a half marathon, on a treadmill

I'm running a half marathon in three days, but you wouldn't know it by the number of times my Garmin has tracked runs lately.

Because that number would be zero.

But my miles logged are as impressive as I could hope for with a very active nearly 10-month old running my life lately. I could wake up very, very early to run. I could. But I've never been a morning runner.

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Beyond the personal fitness mess that is now

More often than not lately I feel like running and I are just having a “time out.”

After a really successful spring racing season that gave me a 12-minute PR in the marathon and a 2:16 finish in the half, I shouldn’t be surprised.

I’ll be switching down to the half marathon at Half Moon Bay in a couple weeks. I have a lot of reasons to do so. One of them, though, is that I’m just not ready to run 26.2. (There are health reasons too, yes.)

After yoga on Tuesday, I felt like I had been hit by a bus for no other reason than it just didn’t go well for me.

I feel like a fitness mess right now. But I also have A LOT to look forward to in the next couple months.


colormeradThe first is that I’m FINALLY going to be participating in a color run this weekend. I’ll be heading to San Jose on Saturday, husband in tow, to run in the Color Me Rad 5K. After not making it to the start line this summer for the one I previously registered for, I’m excited to get to do one. I didn’t get to early packet pickup with my students in production for their first newspaper of the semester this week, so I’m anticipating long lines comes Saturday.

My wave starts at 9:20 a.m. I’m hoping to get there at about 8:15 a.m. or so.

The best part of this run is that it’s a 5K! That means that, in comparison to the other runs my husband has had to wait for me at, this one won’t be nearly as long. I’m excited to run something shorter too.

But I won’t be running for speed. Instead I’m going to focus on taking it all in and having fun.


I’m planning on taking this one slow and steady too. I’ve never run a trail half marathon. I don’t really feel like I have anything to “prove” on the course either. I’m just going to get it done.

I went into my first trail 10K thinking the same thing. I was slow. The next year I ran it much, much faster. I just want to enjoy myself.

Plus, my husband will likely pack the kayak for this one, so I can take a little longer if need be as well.

I’ll admit, though, I’m a little bit more excited about the fact that this half is named for the Internet Honey Badger meme. And the medal is pretty awesome as well.

LET’S GO 510 10K

letsgoI’m REALLY excited to announce that I’ve been chosen as an ambassador for the Let’s Go 510 10K on Oct. 19 in Berkeley.

I love the East Bay. When I was a graduate student at University of California, Berkeley I lived in Oakland for two years. I loved the life and culture of the area. I lived in North Oakland, where there were a bunch of cute shops and restaurants.

I’m already signed up for the Berkeley Half Marathon in November. So when I saw this race, I knew I had to get involved. I sent an email inquiring about the company’s ambassador program. And I was accepted!

I’ll be running the 10K.

This race is partially put on by Brazen Racing, which is one of my favorite racing companies.

The race will take runners through the Berkeley Marina area. It will be nice and cool come October. Even better is the 10 a.m. start of the race. I actually get to sleep in a little before running.


The reason I’m so excited about these races is that they are all a little bit different than the norm for me. A color run. A trail half marathon. A 10K. Two I’ve never done. One I haven’t done in awhile.

I’m hoping by the time the Let’s Go 510 10K comes around, I’ll have rebounded from this funk. That said, I still have two other half marathons to run in that time. But the good news is that I’m excited about running again.

Now if I could only clam down the nagging pain in my hip and the nasty pains in my stomach…

A hard-fought diet battle

Over the past four weeks my stomach has waged a relentless war against me. Everything I eat has made me sick. Every run I went on suffered from it. Every training decision I made was marred by the fact that I couldn’t fuel properly.

And now, as the problems seem to be receding, I’m having to make some difficult decisions about the marathon I’m supposed to be running in less than a month. The likelihood is that now I can’t. I won’t be able to get in my long runs. I don’t have enough energy to do so with a very limited diet either.

I’m losing the war.

When my gallbladder was removed in emergency surgery, I was told, repeatedly, that my diet had to change. I HAD to cut out certain foods and drinks. There was no way around it.

But over a seven-month period, my bad habits creeped back into what was once a very clean diet.

Those bad habits include an very dependent relationship on Diet Coke. And a love of the occasional cupcake. Then there’s a horrible habit of overeating.

Over summer, when I was working from home more, my diet became worse and worse. I was still running 100 miles a month, but I was also eating a lot of burrito bowls. Then I was drinking a lot of diet soda.

In July, I realized that I had packed on some pounds. My time for the Summer Breeze Half Marathon wasn’t bad at 2:19, but I was tired the entire run. It was definitely not my 2:16 half time from June. I was sluggish. But I also just wanted to stop running again, half way through 13.1 and give up.

By mid-August, I was having digestion issues that were causing to me call and cancel my runs with Sam and Jennie. The two had started running early in the morning three days a week. I could, maybe, get my stomach under control one day of the three to run with them.

My diet was all out of sorts.

I reverted to treadmill running where I had control over my situation a little better. By situation I meant that if I had to go to the bathroom immediately, I would be able to quickly. I know that’s TMI, but quick trips to the bathroom have become commonplace.

So two weeks ago, I did something drastic: I severely cut my diet. I removed nearly everything that was making me sick, or that I thought was, and added everything back one by one, slowly.

It meant that for about four days, all I ate was toast with an almond-butter spread from A Loving Spoon.

Seriously, two slices of wheat toast with a little almond butter (which is made locally in Mountain House with all-natural ingredients), was the only thing I could stomach for about three days.

In a week, I lost four pounds.

This past week, I started adding fruits (which were really, really hard on my stomach) back in moderation. Bananas first. Then apples. No peaches yet. My one experience with pineapples this week left me feeling a little queasy, so I won’t be trying that again for another couple weeks.

I’ve had chicken, but red-meat hasn’t been good to me either.

I’m also eating significantly less, cutting my portions by more than half.

So far, my stomach has felt A LOT better. I haven’t had as many issues with rushed bathroom trips (this is a good thing since school started back up and half of the women’s rooms in my building have been torn down). Yesterday, I finally got through a six-mile run without trouble.

It took two weeks. I know my stomach is nowhere near “healed.” I know I did a lot of damage to it with a summer of eating bad stuff.

And these weeks where it hurt more to run than it should have mean that I’m likely going to switch to the half marathon at for the Half Moon Bay International Marathon. I know I could probably slog (slow+jog) through 26.2 miles, but I’m starting to feel like it may not be worth it.

What would my motivation be if I knew I wouldn’t be at my top performing shape? Just to finish another one? To tell people I ran a marathon that weekend? It just doesn’t seem worth it.

Plus, I have two more half marathons the following weekends that I want to run. I don’t want to injure myself on Sept. 29 and NOT be able to run the other races, particularly the Rock ‘n’ Roll San Jose Half Marathon, which will be my “Grand Slam” Heavy Medal finish (and my last for this year).

Perspective is telling me there will be more marathons. Experience is telling me I’m not ready for this one.


All I know is I’m tired of looking like I did above, struggling, at the end of a race.

So instead of gunning for a PR in the full at Half Moon Bay, I’m going to work on getting through my next couple races while trying to work through these ongoing stomach issues. I feel like it’s going to be a hard-fought battle … which I’m hopefully now getting the upper hand in.

Catching up


When I seem to be “off the grid” it actually means I’m more on the grid than usual. In the past two weeks I’ve spent more time in front of my MacBook than I’d like to admit.

Between classes resuming at the local community college I teach at and a site launch yesterday and today, it’s been one heck of a week. But I haven’t blogged in 10 days, which means I was getting busy before I wanted to admit it to myself.


  • I had a decent 12-mile run last weekend
  • I’ve been maintaining six-mile runs, even if they feel like more effort than usual
  • I went to yoga twice this week and have plans to go on Sunday
  • I had a good first week of school
  • I successfully launched a website with millions of changes
  • I hosted a birthday party for my husband


  • My car overheated (again) and I literally puttered home from my 12-mile run
  • My stomach has been very, very uncooperative with me

Even though the list doesn’t indicated it, the bad kind of outweighed the good, particularly with my persistent stomach issues. I’ve lost four pounds this week because I haven’t been able to eat. Everything upsets my stomach. I’ve missed two morning runs this week because I can’t get my stomach issues under control.

This all goes back to the missing gallbladder. For months I was doing so incredibly well without it. It was a relief to not have to run to the bathroom after every meal (sorry, TMI, but so true).

And now my life is revolving around bathrooms again.

That makes my training, which already seemed to be in a rut, that much harder. I’ve been stuck on the treadmill for the most part the past two weeks. I’ve been going to bed early because I feel so miserable.

Nearly everything I eat has given me problems. It’s not just gluten or dairy, it’s everything.

So between that and my busy schedule, I haven’t had a lot of time to write. I’m hoping things are going to calm down a little bit over the next few weeks (ha, maybe not so much, I’m planning a bridal shower for Sept. 7). But I’m trying to get back on a schedule.

In the process of me not writing, I’ve received several cool new running-related items to try out. Two of them are fueling solutions, which I am hoping will provide some relief to my now Gatorade-intolerant stomach. The third item is my Teespring shirt from the Berkeley Half Marathon which I scored for $13 on sale.

Needless to say, I’m more than a little behind on some posts. Hopefully this is the start of me catching up.


Issues of the core


I once thought of 2012 as “year of the distance.” I did two marathons in 2012. I ran even more half marathons. I trained hard. I worked harder. I pushed and pushed. And I ended up in a place physically and mentally I didn’t want to be in.

All of that action in 2012 meant that my body was overtaxed come Jan. 1 when a gallbladder attack landed me in the hospital begging for pain medication. The doctor that day didn’t know what to do. This episode was my third time in three years in the emergency room for this pain. I felt like my abdomen was exploding. I was projectile vomiting. My husband felt my head on the less-than-a-mile drive to the hospital. I was burning up.

Four hours later I was dosed up on Dilaudid, because Morphine makes me feel like I’m on fire, and sent home. After months off of work in late 2012, I made the dumb decision to go to work and tough it out.

I spent the entire week in pain. The sharp side soreness stayed with me for the entire week. I was throwing up my breakfast every morning. I was trying to get an appointment with my then general practitioner. But with New Year’s and everything else, the pain just got worse. Seven days later, I woke up in the middle of the night and tried everything I could to make the pain go away. At 3 a.m. I collapsed on the stairs.

By 9 a.m. I was being wheeled into an unexpected surgery to remove my gallbladder.

I spent all of January and much of February recovering. In the process, I noticed something right off: My core was not bouncing back as quickly as I would have liked. I just kept feeling, more and more, like I got kicked in the stomach.

Then in March, right when I was starting to do some core work and build my midsection strength back up, I fell and broke my arm.

Needless to say, any exercise that involved my arms was out.

I kept feeling “pressure pain” when I applied any sort of force to my left arm. I’d catch myself pulling back if I tried to lift something too quickly. All  this time, my core was losing every bit of strength I had built up in three years of running.

Since June, I’ve noticed a significant impact on my running ability due to my core issue. I also realized that I had let the problem go for so long that I was lacking motivation to actually do something about it. That’s when I started asking my friends if they had suggestions.

One gave me pretty clear guidance: Yoga.

It’s good for the body, mind and soul, she told me. That’s kind of a win-win, because I’m in need of healing, even after all this time, from the damage I did to myself in 2012. So I made the first step to regaining my core official when I purchased a Groupon deal for a 20 drop-in sessions at a yoga studio in my city, right on the edge of town.


This is the view from the parking lot. It kind of invokes the calmness I was going for.

I stepped into a yoga studio for the first time in more than six years last week. I was pleasantly surprised with my performance. I’m not nearly as agile as many of the other students, but I held my own.

I’ll admit that it hurt. I was afraid my muscles were going to lock up  and then cramp up at a couple points during the hour-long class. I slipped a little on my yoga mat, which I’ve actually owned since 2006 when I did an internship in Colorado and took a couple yoga classes there (because I got to do yoga at a place called Garden of the Gods and you can’t go wrong with those views either).

I’m not calling this move a success just yet, but I did feel better about my core after the first time. I was able to balance myself well. I didn’t fall flat on my face. I struggled, but for a beginner I felt like I gave it my best. And, according to my yoga instructor, that’s what it is about.

A view from the water

Ever since we were married in May 2008, my husband has talked about buying a kayak. But it was never really a reality because even if we purchased a kayak, we’d have no way to transport it. Or, prior to moving into our current house in 2010, had nowhere to put it. The biggest part of it, though, was transportation.

Then we bought our Jeep last year.

And the “talk” turned into plans. My husband has spent the past eight months, since we bought the car, doing research and comparing prices. On Friday, he asked to take the Jeep to work.

Only later in the day, when he told me he’d be home a little later than usual, did he spill the beans about finding a good quality used one in the Bay Area. So he came home with a 17-foot, two-person kayak. He also had two paddles and two life jackets.

And he had me help him take it off the racks of the Jeep, which we purchased with part of our tax return. It was heavy. Since my January surgery, I haven’t done as much to strengthen my core as I could be. I’m going to need to work on that if he’s going to have me lifting the kayak in the future, which it sounds like is in the plans.

This morning we ventured to Del Valle Regional Park in Livermore. It’s one of the closet bodies of water to us, plus it’s a beautiful place to run.

So today we went out in the water. We kayaked three miles into Badger Cove, the place the Brazen Racing race is named after.

Today’s two-hour voyage left me a little dehydrated and my hands sunburned. My stomach was actually on the fritz all this week. I’m not sure why, but it’s becoming bothersome. Things that were making me queasy a couple months ago have been for the past month. I was told I’d have to “rediscover my normal” after having my gallbladder removed, but this late? I think the heat, or the back and forth of heat lately, has something to do with it. It hasn’t really impacted my running that much. More annoying than anything.

But my husband offered to make this a regular thing. He’ll go kayaking for a couple hours. I can go run the trails at Del Valle Regional Park. Or I can join him. He said it’s up to me.

Sounds like a plan, either way.

A not-so-subtle reminder


I haven’t really talked about my broken arm since the doctor gave me an “all clear” weeks ago. The mobility is far better than it was. It feels, mostly, normal. In fact, it really doesn’t bother me most the time.

Then I get a not-so-subtle reminder that it’s not quite at full operating capacity.

It usually comes when I’m in the middle of a cross-training activity. It starts as a dull pain at the site of the fracture. It’s not really noticeable at first. Then there’s a feeling of faint pressure. It’s followed by an all-at-once feeling that something is tearing the bone apart from the inside.

Needless to say, I’m not healed completely.

I can’t even do a 30-minute Jillian Michaels workout video with my friend Sam without saying “nope, can’t do this one” when we get to a move that would involve my left elbow.

I knew this would be the case.

The doctor didn’t promise me a miracle healing or even guarantee that I’d be back to my normal, push-up able self within a month. He said it would take time. He also advised me not to push as much pressure on it as I would my right arm.

So when Michaels instructs Sam and I go into a cobra position (or whatever it is, I don’t know, that 30-minutes kicks my butt), I shouldn’t be getting as much into it as I am. But I tend to push things like this a little far.

I think my arm is better. The truth is, it’s not.

In fact, the doctor told me to watch out when I run even more so because the likelihood is that if I fall on that same spot again, which I’d likely do because my luck is that great, I could completely fracture my radial head all over again.


Doesn’t it look all healed up and unsuspecting? The pressure in that stupid little bone is ridiculously painful. I’ve never experienced “pressure” pain before. When it gets really bad, I turned to my “breakthrough-only” Ibuprofen. That’s pretty bad.

Even better, apparently I haven’t learned my lesson from all of the doctor visits, the week of a sling and the inability to move my arm completely for more than a month.

As Jennie and I were finishing up our six-mile run today, we were back into the neighborhood area where we run in front of houses. About four miles of our run twist down tree-lined paths by my house. The neighborhoods are basically at the beginning and end of the run as we make our way back to my house.

“I try to avoid these since you fell,” she said to me, gesturing down at a lip of a driveway.

Of course, I turned around. And looked down. As I was running.

Basically, I did all of the things I did when I fell in March. I didn’t fall tonight. But it made me realize a couple things: 1) I didn’t even realize that I had fallen over a lip of a driveway, but now that I think about it, yeah, that’s what happen. 2) I really should start paying more attention to the sidewalk while I’m running.

A Sunday trail run

Every now and then I need a change in scenery. I get that when I go away to do races. I often don’t get that a lot at home.

So when Jennie asked if I wanted to head 40+ miles away to do a run at Lake Chabot, where I had just done the Brazen 10K last weekend, I jumped at the chance. The plan was for nine miles on a course that Jennie had done with a friend before.

We ended up with six on a completely altered path from what she had done.

In fact, it was six miles along the 10K path I’d recently done. (I’m a little late posting this. I spent Monday at home with a massive headache. No nose bleed this time. But I basically couldn’t handle light again and my head was pounding for most of the day.)

So Jennie and I got to Castro Valley around 9 a.m. and headed down the paved path. Lake Chabot has miles and miles of trails, some into the hills surrounding the lake, some surrounding the lake in general.

The first two miles are rolling hills. My right calf locked up, as it is want to do. It killed for the first mile. I was starting to hit my stride when we hit the one-mile straight up incline.

It took us forever, near 20 minutes to do one mile. Jennie realized that wasn’t the path she’d taken before. So we decided to do an out and back.

We got to the top of the incline for some amazing views of the Bay Area.

I’ll admit, I turned off my Garmin here as we sat down and ate some Gu Chomps on a bench. I loved that there was a bench way up there on the hill. It made me want to, maybe, go for a hike at Lake Chabot at some point. Jennie and I are both envious that Oakland has a great place like that for hiking/running and we have basically nothing within miles.

But I digress.

After seeing some other people taking advantage of the nice day and the paths, including a lady walking a dog up those hills, we decided to head back down.

You can see the trail there. I ran this same trail in January 2011 when it was covered in mud. It made it a little harder to get up. I’m glad it’s been nice here (meaning no rain) the last few months. That said, I know we need some water too.

At this point last year, we were dodging monsoon-style weather as we ran in Mountain House with high winds.

I told Jennie we should make these trail runs a regular thing. I’d like to work them into my training (hill repeats anyone?). I think running hills will be especially good for San Francisco Marathon training. I’ll be running the First Half Marathon in July. Plus…I hear there are hills in the San Diego marathon. Good training all around.

Not so fishy

I had my third swimming lesson on Tuesday. Turns out I have to get worse before I get better. At least that what it seemed like last night. I kept messing up the stroke. I kept feeling as if I was going to drown.

I’ll get it eventually,the instructor said. I hope so. Between that and feeling ridiculously uncomfortable on the bicycle so far, I keep want to running back to running solely.

Deep breath. It will get better.

I’m just not so fishy. Not even floatly.

I sink pretty well, though.

On a brighter note, I made English-muffin pizzas for dinner. My husband actually ate them and didn’t complain. He even called the idea “creative.” It’s not my idea, but I’ll take it. It works. Either way, the mini pizzas turned out pretty good, even if my swimming didn’t.


Obviously this is before I baked them. They were so delicious we ate them up quick!

Meet me Monday: Fitness plans

I’m training for a marathon.

That’s my biggest priority right now. I’m upping my mileage. I’m adding in resistance training. I’m pushing to make sure I have rest days.

I’m trying to be aggressive in my training for this 26.2 and hoping I can make it the whole way.

Part of that is my new foray into swimming, which began this week.

Part of it it also the purchase of some new wheels, and not the car kind.

On Saturday, I ventured to Performance Bike in Dublin (about 25 minutes from my home in Tracy), just to “take a look.” The problem with me is that once I see something I like, I tend to buy. This is especially true since I took my part-time teaching job. I paid off my car last year, put more money in our savings account and, every now and then, have some extra money to spend.

Two months ago I bought an iPad. I use it for all my long treadmill runs, like my 15-miler on Sunday.

I bought my bicycle, a rather hefty expense, this weekend. Outside of the fact that I literally haven’t rode a bike in 10-plus years, it seems to be a good fit for me. I have to say, I’m a little scared of it, though. It’s a nice bike. Nice as in there’s no kick stand.

Maybe too nice for me. I couldn’t remember how to shift. I still need to buy some shoes for it. It will be a learning process, definitely.

But I have a goal in mind here. My running buddy Sam ran her first half marathon last weekend. Now she is eager to tackle a triathlon.

I’m apparently doing it with her. (That’s fine, I think she partially volunteered me and I partially volunteered myself.)

We’re aiming for one in Napa at some point in April. So my goal after the marathon is to train for this triathlon. I only have the Oakland Running Festival booked for March so far, though I may look into some Rock ‘n’ Roll running events as well (again, prompted by Sam). But after the marathon, I’m going to take on triathlon training aggressively.

I picked the bike based on it’s fit for me, which is good. I also picked it because it’s lightweight. It’s very agile. And it’s a road bike, which is what everyone suggested I get. It’s a far cry from the Magna bicycle I had throughout high school (the last time I road was sometime when we were vacationing at the beach in 2002, my husband confirms that he road it at some point and it was uncomfortable). And it’s beautifully light.

I can pick it up, as proved by this photo my husband took after we got home and he took it for it’s maiden voyage. He has a tendency to want to test all my new fancy toys. I remember him taking the keys to my then brand new 2002 Camaro so many years ago to “break it in.” He didn’t realize I’d already done that.

So my fitness plans for the coming seasons are just that: run the marathon and then do a sprint triathlon.

I have the running down for the triathlon (it’s only three miles). I doing the swimming lessons. Now I have the bike.

Let’s go.