Posts from the ‘Uncategorized’ Category
Reports from races throughout Northern California, including the Nike Women’s Half Marathon, California International Marathon and the San Francisco Marathon.
Since I began running in Dec. 2009, I’ve developed a list of the things I absolutely love that make my runs more enjoyable.
I had one of those “you know you’re a runner when” moments yesterday while my husband was stranded on the side of Interstate 80 above Colfax, more than 100 miles from our home in Tracy, an exburb of the San Francisco Bay Area.
Nevermind the fact that his 1998 Toyota Camry had likely climb its last hill, I was staring down a major sloped incline and all I could do was think about how instead of running out the door as quick as possible in my running clothes with sandals on, I should have grabbed my Nikes.
Well, I did grab my Nikes.
Just not the right ones.
Those are not my running shoes. And lucky for everyone who reads this blog, my black toenails aren’t showcased in this lovely photo.
My husband waited more than two hours for me to make the journey up to get him. I had to drop my freelance work after solving a particularly messy navigation issue with a more-complex-than-I’d-like CSS hack. I was about to celebrate when I noticed a call on my phone went straight to voicemail.
Then I had a text message from my husband that said: “Call me!”
1) My husband rarely leaves voicemail or calls twice to get me. 2) My husband doesn’t text often. I’m still not quite sure he knows how. He owns an old-school Samsung flip phone. We talk about moving him to a smart phone, which I’ve had for about five years now, but he never seems too motivated to do so. He just usually borrows my iPhone.
It’s with that knowledge that I present his poor, 1998 Camry.
He bought it five years ago. It’s his commuter car. He puts roughly 120 miles on it every work day (he works 9/80s, so he gets three-day weekends every other week from his engineering job in the Bay Area). He’s put 200,000 miles on it since he purchased it from a private owner.
We’ve known for awhile that it likely was on it’s last leg. But it was a good car and measured good gas mileage.
Photo editing note: I blurred the license plate. Because no one needs to see that.
It’s a little heartbreaking. Not a lot, though. He’s more heartbroken that he won’t get to go camping this weekend like he had planned. Instead, I had to bring him and all his camping equipment home, which barely fit in our Jeep. The car is being towed to my parents’ house in Stockton (closer to our AAA 100-mile tow coverage) and we’re going to decide what to do with it.
But it’s not going to hit the freeway again.
We bought our Jeep last fall when my Camaro started giving me problems (ever seen a V6 on fire? I had a moment, or twenty, with that car on the way back from the Bay Area after the Nike Women’s Half Marathon Expotique last year, smoke, losing power, all the things that make a person freak out, on the Altamont of all places).
We ended up getting the Camaro repaired for less than we thought it would be, so we decided to “garage it” and baby it a little more.
Unfortunately for me that means I’m turning over my Jeep keys to my husband for awhile. The Camaro, which gets amazing gas mileage for a 11-year-old sports car, can’t handle the extra miles. It would end up in the same position as the Toyota.
We’re looking for a used commuter car, but not quite in a rush to get one yet. I’ll be driving my Camaro again, which won’t be nearly as much as I was driving it before. My full-time job as a journalist meant that I was racking up mileage on my car every time I did an assignment.
Sure, we got paid for the gas, but the wear and tear on a car isn’t compensated. Now I drive to work and am there all day. I come. I go. That’s about it. I even walk to lunch because it’s pointless getting in my car to go somewhere.
My husband, while sad, did make sure to grab his Chico State license plate frame from the car. To me, that marks the point where you know your vehicle is really gone.
And I’m still regretting not bringing my running shoes to get in hill repeats. For real.
I’ve run all of six miles since I got cleared to officially run. Six miles. And the first two were slow-as-molasses miles. I’m talking 12-minute mile zone. That’s usually my warm-up pace for the first half mile.
Yesterday, it was a nice comfort zone that took me two miles to break out of.
Let me explain.
Today, I was supposed to pumping out a record-fast 10K at the 2013 version of this race:
Instead, I’m trying to find my balance again running, literally.
A week ago, after looking at my half marathon plans for Feb. 17 I realized most of my workouts were going to be treadmill activities. Not because I’m so in love with my treadmill I don’t want to leave the house. It’s because I’m still having some balance issues from the gallbladder removal surgery.
My surgeon said the issues will go away within a month. And while I could just say “oh well, no running for a month,” I can’t do that if I am really adamant about running Rock ‘n’ Roll Pasadena.
To be fair, anyone can walk/run a half without a ton of training. I want to do better than I did last year.
Basically if I get deep into a run, I start to feel as if my head is spinning. Then I wobble a little bit. Then my balance goes right out the window. It sounds really dangerous, yes. You’re thinking: “WHY THE HELL ARE YOU RUNNING?”
I sound naive, but it’s not as bad now as it was on Monday when I ran four miles. I’m hoping if I hit the treadmill today it would be as bad as it was yesterday. It will wear off, I was assured. So when I hopped on the treadmill for my six-mile run yesterday, I spent 24 minutes over two miles making sure I didn’t lose my balance.
I also ran later in the day.
Being without the dread of my full-time job means I can be creative again (not even kidding). It also means I can take on freelance assignments. I’m lucky enough to have a friend I greatly admire, who is sending some awesome coding/web building assignments my way. So I woke up at 7 a.m. Friday, put on my running clothes and then proceeding to alter alter CSS for five hours before deciding it was time to run. (My husband probably shouldn’t know that.) The good news is, the website I’m working on is starting to look like the mocks up. And I ran with only one short dizzy spell.
I WANT to be ready for Pasadena. I WANT to do better than last year. But right now I’m having some serious doubts in my capabilities to run a half. That gives me serious doubts in running the April 7 marathon too. (I hate even writing that because I’ve already paid for it, we already know we are going and I know I WANT to do that race too.)
Maybe this is still the post-operative fog talking. After a similar surgery in 2010, I only took a week off work. I ended up taking nearly six weeks off running. I don’t want to do that again. That was also a planned surgery. The gallbladder removal was an emergency. I can’t imagine what I’d be feeling, the back and forth thoughts and all, if it had happened closer to the Oakland Half Marathon, closer to the San Luis Obispo Marathon. I’d be devastated.
Right now? I’m mildly disappointed. I don’t think I’ve ever written a letter as sad for me as the one I did to the Brazen race director two weeks ago. I really just wanted to be there today. And not sitting at home wondering what might have been if my gallbladder had decided not to, for lack of better visual, explode on me.
What I’ve been up to, in photos, from the past few days…
For Christmas, my grandmother gave me some money (early) to purchase a desk from World Market. I found out, a couple days later, that the desk was no longer available. So I searched for something similar and came up empty.
So instead, I opted to finally get a painting I was given from my maid of honor and best friend for my wedding framed. It had been in my bedroom for the past few years. It was supposed to be done on Dec. 8, but the craft store was running a little behind.
My friend’s daughter had her sweet sixteen birthday party last night. I haven’t been to a birthday party that big since I was in high school. I found some photo booth props online for download and printed them out and put them together for the party. My favorite was the Batman-type one.
I got a hair cut the other day, much needed, and realized I also needed an update on my hair color. I went to Target, where all cheap chicks buy their hair color. Too bad I couldn’t find the “chocolate cherry” that I had used earlier this year.
Instead I found a mahogany color. It’s a little darker, which looks awesome.
And only $7.99.
A big plus was this time around, I didn’t get hair dye all over my clothes, or my towels. I didn’t even get any on my running clothes the next day. I normally go a brown color similar to my natural color, but figured I’d try something warmer these past two times.
I bought shelves some time ago for one of our guest bedrooms so that I could put up my collection of “monsters” from the past couple years. I kept waiting for my husband, though, to put them up. On Friday, I decided that it was time for me to take matters into my own hands.
So I did. I grabbed the level and had these shelves up in about 20 minutes. The monster collection is no on display.
To cap off the past couple days, we headed to the sweet sixteen. I’m lucky I’ve been feeling a lot better lately, especially with the anxiety and depression plaguing me. I have an appointment Wednesday to, potentially, go back to work later in the week.
While I am relieved on one hand, I’m also incredibly scared.
I’m trying to put together a training plan in the next day or so for the Rock ‘n’ Roll Pasadena Half Marathon. There’s a pretty significant hill right at the beginning. Last year, I ran a horrible 2:48 race. It sucked. I was tired and pissed off for most the race.
Before that, though, I have a January 10K.
I was considering signing up for another 10K, one I’ve done for the past few years, but decided against it. I just can’t right now. I need to take some time off to reconsider my training plans, including what I’m going to do to train for the San Francisco Marathon.
I’m also still toying with the idea of signing up for the San Luis Obispo Marathon, which happens in April.
So a lot is still in flux. But, I’m running again. I’m feeling good about my runs. And they don’t feel labored. So I’m over the post marathon slump. Finally.
A couple weeks ago I wrote about my dislike of the San Francisco Marathon’s half race shirts this year. I also mentioned that everyone has widely differing opinions on race shirts. Some people aren’t satisfied with any shirt they are given, others wear everyone with pride.
I think I fall somewhere in the middle. I have mixed feelings about race shirts in general. I get excited to potentially get a new workout shirt that screams “look what I did.” But I also, as evidenced in the photo above, have way to many race shirts. I’ve opted out of some shirts. Then when I get a really good one, I’m usually excited.
But I also have a lot of bad.
That’s discouraging because the shirt comes as part of the race admission. I pay to run. I pay for the supplies along the course and the use of portable toilets. I also pay for my shirt and my medal.
I know it’s not what running is all about, but when you want to show people your pride for running a specific event you can’t do it if you don’t like the shirt. So, I figured I’d share the good, bad and ugly of what makes a race shirt either worth it or not to me.
I mentioned before that I like clean design and simple lines. I want a race shirt to say the name of the event, without throwing it in your face. I have two favorite examples of this, which happen to be from my first half marathon and marathon.
My California International Marathon one is about as basic as a shirt gets. No frills, no sponsors. Just a nice, functional shirt. And I love it. I love that I was given the option of a short or long sleeve, obviously I took the long sleeve. I love the basic color. It’s a great shirt. Because of that, I wear it all the time.
My 2011 Oakland Half Marathon shirt is also a great one. Again a basic, simple front design. The logo doesn’t look weird across my chest, which is wider than some women, I’ll admit. The sponsors are listed on the back, but aren’t huge either.
Funny thing about my Nike Women’s Half shirt is that a lot of people complained about the color. More people complained about the Safeway store logo being on the side. I loved the color, the plaid texture in the letters and the fit. Nike makes gender-specific shirts that are always the same size as other Nike apparel. So it was easy to pick the best shirt for me. I don’t mind the store logo either.
Brazen Racing makes a habit of having awesome race shirts. They also make a habit of putting on top-notch races, so this isn’t anything new. Between the company’s medal design, T-shirts and low price, Brazen puts on the best runs in the Bay Area.
Brazen also takes into account where and when the races are, including a St. Patrick’s Day run this year in Livermore, close to my house. The Badger Cove one is a perfect example of that. I only own two green race shirts and I love the color.
Brazen has a tendency to be repeat offenders when it comes to awesome shirts. Here are my past two shirts from the Coyote Hills run near Fremont. Same logo, different design. Both fit well. I’ve run other races in the 2011 shirt.
What makes these shirts good? They are cut specifically for women. All are a tech material. No cotton. All fit me the way I want a running shirt to fit, which is tight, but not too tight, and definitely not baggy around the mid section. That always just seems to add extra bulk to me.
A shirt can be nice, but not functional for me. Unfortunately most of the shirts I get fall into this category. I love them, but don’t wear them all that much.
I wish this shirt worked for me, but I find Brooks shirts to be inconsistent. I’ve bought mediums that fit me perfectly and larges that are too small. It’s kind of across the board, especially when they are made from different material. This one is more mesh and is too big in my mid section.
This one is WAY too big. It’s a unisex size and I drown in it. It also has a weird consistency to the fabric, which kind of feels funny when I wear it. I noticed a bunch of people cutting the sleeves and neckline on this shirt at the race. This has been in my “wear to stain furniture” pile for some time now.
Same issue with this shirt: Just too big. It’s a unisex size medium. I didn’t know Rock ‘n’ Roll races had a tendency to make unisex shirts when I signed up for this race. I was really disappointed. I literally swim in it. I love the color an design, but I’ve never worn it.
A shirt company sponsors Bay to Breakers, which would make you think that they’d have some wicked awesome shirts. Nope. Last year, it was a plain white shirt. Even the volunteers got better ones. Those ones were brown, with nice light brown screen printing. The runners got over-sized cotton T-shirts. Worse yet, this year Bay to Breakers charged a ridiculous amount of money for “plus” and “premium” registration with poorly-designed, cheaply made shirts again. Even the Adidas tech shirt was overwhelming and huge. Never again.
And then there’s the shirts I just don’t wear because I’m not a fan. At all.
This year’s Oakland Running Festival took cues from local sports teams and made their shirts color-coded. The half was done after the Oakland Raiders. I’m not a Raiders fan. That’s not to say the Raiders aren’t a good team or anything, I just don’t watch a lot of football outside of following my California Golden Bears. I’m not in love with this shirt because I think the first thing people think of is Raiders and not a marathon. Marketing fail.
This was the first year of this half marathon and the shirt was just lackluster. It honestly felt like the back of a shirt to me and not the front. The back has another big design with a rose, a symbol of the Rose Bowl in Pasadena, but it really just looks like they couldn’t decide which design should be front and which should be back.
Simulation mud? Really? Add in the Comic Sans type on this cotton shirts and it’s a race shirt disaster. It’s actually in a donate pile now. I won’t wear it. And to think, some people were worried about getting their shirts muddy after the race. I would have given them mine.
THE EXTRA ONES I BOUGHT
There are some races that despite the not-so-great race shirt, I still want a memory from the race. I’ve bought several “extra” race shirts, including spending a little too much at the Nike Women’s Half last October. Sometimes it’s worth it to spend a little extra for a shirt that I’ll wear a lot.
When I saw this shirt at the expo at CIM I told Thomas that if I finished the race and didn’t die, I wanted this shirt. I was true to my word too. Literally after I got myself put back together we went over to the booth to buy this one. It fits a little weird, but I have a larger back than most people. I love the modern design and the prominence of “26.2.”
I didn’t realize I’d taken photos of two marathon shirts, but I think it’s fair that I bought both because I wanted a little something in addition to the race shirt from each marathon. I love this shirt. I have a one that’s nearly identical from the Pasadena Rock ‘n’ Roll Half Marathon, which I bought in lieu of the race shirt I posted above. I love this shirt because it fits well and is a nice, smooth material.
I’m actually considering sending it a bunch of my shirts to get a quilt made. I’ve seen a couple companies that will make them for a relatively cheap rate. I like that I’d be able to use the shirts again. Right now, most of them aren’t getting much use sitting in a pile in my closet.
I’ve written blog posts before. But not like this.
For some time I’ve toyed with the idea of starting a running blog. But I didn’t. Why? I felt too amateur to do so. I’ve only been running for 19 months.
I started running to get off my diabetes medication. But I ran my first 5k in Nov. 2008.
The next one I ran I knocked 10 minutes off my time. That was April 2010.
I ran my first 10K on Thanksgiving Day 2010.
I was scared out of my mind. But I ended up registering for a half marathon the next June.
I was ahead in my training, so I ran my first half marathon in Oakland on March 27 at the Oakland Running Festival.
I’ve run three more since. I’m training for a marathon I hope to be able to compete.
To get there, I’m running three half marathons in October (I hope).
This is my journey.