I’ll admit to being a horrible blogger again, but for good reason. I’ve had a job application due for the full-time position on my campus and a funding application due for classroom/newsroom equipment for my students. On top of those things, I had curriculum working its way through the system.
The good news is almost all of that is coming to an end soon. I’m waiting for signatures on paperwork right now.
I ran my Valentine’s Day half marathon and did OK. It was the best performance since my daughter was born I’ve had. It’s not where I want to be, but it’s a start. The wear on my body also has me rethinking some upcoming races (specifically trying to fit a full marathon in come May, which doesn’t look probable now).
One thing I know for certain: I’ll be at the start line for the June 21 See Jane Run Half Marathon. As a race ambassador for a third year, I’m excited that this weekend the store is hosting local festivities.
I’m bummed, though, that my babysitting schedule is all out of whack this week and I’ll likely end up NOT being able to go out for a store run. (I’ve exhausted my goodwill babysitting for this week already.)
Fear not, though. You can join a great group of Janes in Northern California if you have time Saturday morning. The three See Jane Run locations – in Danville, Oakland and San Francisco – will have runs at 9 a.m. followed by an informational session about the race.
Instead, I’ve offered myself for questions from the “mom” group I belong to. Quite a few of our members are signed up to run. Some for the 5K and others for the half marathon.
We had a conference call a week ago about the race. One thing that came up was the post-race food. It looks like there will be some changes in that general area. I’ll have more on the race as I get more information and in April I’ll be giving away a free entry to the race.
So stay tune … and I promise when things at school die down, I’ll be regularly posting again.
But even so, I'm incredibly nervous about running a half marathon tomorrow.
This will be my 25th half marathon since 2011. I'm completely aware some people run more than that in a year. But this one is the first one I've had a complete training cycle for, a ramp up, a taper down, etc. since my daughter's birthday.
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.
I always feel like bad news should be accompanied with a photo of a cute dog. I also feel that sometimes you just rip off the Band-Aid.
I didn’t run the Half Moon Bay Half Marathon this past weekend. I was too exhausted from a long Saturday. I had a headache most the night. I didn’t feel good at all most the weekend. I decided to throw in the towel and rest.
I’m glad I did. I’m slated to run the Rock ‘n’ Roll San Jose Half Marathon this weekend. And another half marathon the weekend after.
I’m upset, though, that I didn’t get to see a friend cross the finish line of her first-ever marathon. I’m upset that I essentially “went through the motions” and didn’t follow through.
It it not my first DNS, it probably won’t be my last if I continue racing, but it was upsetting nonetheless.
I was excited for more training this week to take me into next weekend, another week of some solid runs to propel me through 13.1.
Instead, I got a flu shot on Monday. And I should have realized that once I got a flu shot, I would suddenly not feel good. I’ve struggled through my classes this week, trying to not stand up too much and sleep as much as possible. I’m glad to say I’m not feeling nearly as sick as I was on Tuesday.
But I am still feeling a little under the weather.
So I’m crossing my fingers I don’t have a repeat of last weekend this weekend.
This running thing is hard lately. The change in my diet has basically meant I don’t have as much energy and I’m trying to “figure out” the whole fitness and nutrition situation. I’m still struggling. More answers soon…hopefully.
I feel like I’m breaking a lot of promises to myself right now. I know I shouldn’t feel that way, particularly after a very successful spring/summer running season, but the fatigue and stomach issues are really bothering me.
I’m having to adjust my fueling and, so far, having mixed success in what works for me. Speaking of fueling (and something that didn’t upset my stomach)…
ABOUT THAT ENERGY (BITS PLEASE!)
It’s funny that I talk about energy, because yesterday my Energy Bits giveaway ended! And we have a winner: JILL HARRIMAN!
The wonderful people at Energy Bits will be contacting you about your free sample! I’m excited to have you try out the bits, particularly because it’s an excellent way to get energy naturally.
Plus, Jill can now use my line, if she wants to, when someone asks her what she’s putting in her mouth: “Oh this, it’s algae. You know you want some.”
As of 11 a.m. today, I am officially no longer running a marathon in a week. I traded in my dark-blue bib with my name emblazoned on it for a teal replacement that signifies the switch to 13.1.
I had a moment, as I was walking in to Sports Basement in Walnut Creek, where I asked my husband if he just wanted me to try and run the marathon so we could get our money worth. We both agreed that with the stomach issues and training changes over the past couple months, it would be best to not go that route.
So I walked it, turned a corner and found my way to packet pickup. I went through pickup for the full, with my number 344 being assigned to me. I grabbed the shirt and headed around to the answers desk. The race director was cordial about everything and got me switched out really, really quick.
Part of me wants to be sad. I wanted to finish 2013 with six marathons under my belt.
Instead, I’ll be running 13.1, likely slowly, and adding another half marathon to my list.
Speaking of that shirt, I love it. All the shirts are the same, saying “26.2 Miles of Running Heaven” so I didn’t have to switch my full marathon shirt for a half shirt. It’s a large Brooks shirt, so it’s good quality. This will be my first of two Brooks shirts in the next couple weeks. The Rock ‘n’ Roll Marathon series also has Brooks shirts. I love how durable they are.
I don’t know much about this race, but I’m already liking what I see. The Half Moon Bay International Marathon has only been around three years now. It seems to have gathered some great traction, though, with a hefty list of sponsors.
When I first found out about it, I was excited because it sounded exactly like a Big Sur race without the need to travel a long distance and book an overnight hotel room. (It’s about an hour and 15 minute drive early in the morning from where we live.)
Big Sur, though, is a very well established race that splits its main event into two: An April marathon and a November half marathon.
I actually first ran the Big Sur Half Marathon in 2011 on suggestion from my mom. She had a friend who had run the marathon. I, without really looking into the run, decided I wanted to do the 13.1. The full marathon included way too many hills. I found out later, during my 21-miler along the coast there, that it was a tough one.
But the Big Sur Half happens in Monterey and in nearby Pacific Grove before finishing near downtown. It’s not exactly the same as running along Highway 1. That said, I love the Big Sur Half. It’s one of my favorite races. I’ve already told my husband I hope to be back to it in 2014 as I ramp up for California International Marathon next year. Schedule conflicts have prevented me from doing so many of my favorite races this year.
That said, I’m hoping I enjoy Half Moon Bay just as much. I love the feel of smaller races. And I love that more and more are popping up in coastal areas. One of my best experiences in running was at the San Luis Obispo Marathon this year. That route doesn’t run along the coast, but it is beautiful.
So as much as I’m upset that I won’t be tackling the full 26.2 next week, I have a lot of reasons to be really excited about taking on 13.1 along the California coast. I just hope my stomach and body cooperate.
My Garmin has me only running 12.99 miles today, but I know the course is 13.1. It also has me finishing a full 11 seconds after my official time. I never start my Garmin that early. I’ve had some irregularities with distance lately with Gertrude the Garmin III, so I’m not sure if it’s in need of calibration, but I was off the entire time today.
I also had some pretty significant stomach issues out on the course today. My abdomen was cramping up, very much like it was before my gallbladder was removed. The electrolytes didn’t go down well. The Gu made feel gross. None of those things have happened since my surgery. I have been having some issues with my GI tract lately…I’m trying to get it under control again.
That was the bad news.
The good news? I still did well on the course.
In spite of myself. And my slightly Debbie Downer attitude going into the run. That’s anxiety. It kicks you when you’re down. Repeatedly.
I told my husband three times as he was loading his kayak up (so he could explore the bay while I ran), that I just wanted to go back to bed. Last month, I did just that and didn’t do the color-themed run I was supposed to do.
The anxiety even got me at the start.
My official time is 2:19:15, which makes it my second best half marathon. (And yes, I feel guilty my Garmin didn’t read that.)
I’ve run in the 2:20 range enough that I can truly call myself a “middle packer.” I’m actually kind of proud of it. I’ve shown I can be consistent. Maybe my nerves will be far less the next time than they have been. Or not.
This is the last half I am currently registered for until the Rock ‘n’ Roll San Jose Half Marathon. I run that a week after I run 26.2 at the Half Moon Bay International Marathon. A chance for a PR? Probably not. I’m fairly comfortable with the knowledge that it takes me much longer to recover from a marathon than a half. I’m not going to push myself.
Right now, I’m just happy to be a “middle packer.” Why? Because the course changes when you move through it faster. It becomes a different world completely. I’m incrementally spending less time out on the course, which may not seem like much, but it’s huge to me.
I AM getting better. Now if I can only get my training and diet back to par as the school semester begins, I can probably get even better.
That image is from my first major breakthrough PR at the Brazen Summer Breeze race last year. It was my first experience of achieving a sub 2:25 finish with a 2:22:45 finish. It was my first half marathon where I averaged under 11-minute miles.
I’ve run many, many more since then under 11-minute. My San Diego PR stands at 2:16:41.
Tomorrow, I’m running Summer Breeze for a second time. And I’m not sure what to expect.
The reason? Those previous PRs kind of came out of nowhere. I hadn’t necessarily been running faster in my training runs. I feel like San Diego was almost completely a fluke, kind of my reward for weeks upon weeks of constant races. If that’s even possible.
I don’t know.
My PR streak was broken in June at the See Jane Run Half Marathon when the heat was just a little too unbearable for me to get it together. I had also run a half marathon the week before. I finished, though, in 2:24:11, still much better than my previous times before my 2013 racing season began.
I think the hardest part of PRing is not knowing when it will happen again. I held my half marathon PR time for almost a year from 2011 to 2012. I started feeling like I’d never run a 2:27:20 or better ever again. Then I shaved five minutes off my time. I chalked it up to just “it being my day.”
But I’ve show, now consistently, that my “day” is turning into a strong racing season. It doesn’t make getting to the start line any easier, especially with my anxiety.
I don’t know what’s going to happen tomorrow. I don’t know what to expect.
Am I finally getting better at the half? I don’t know.
Should I go out with confidence? I don’t know.
Am I surrounded by self doubt? Yes. And I hate it.
A year ago, I swore off the Rock ‘n’ Roll San Diego Marathon. I ran my second 26.2 on a warm, balmy day in America’s Finest City with bad shoes and an attitude in need of much adjustment.
I’m admitting it: The trip, despite the destination, didn’t include any of my finest moments. At the end, I collapse to the ground, threw off my running shoes and cried. It wasn’t even a pretty cry. It was an ugly cry, with an ugly cry face. I hated every minute of it. On the way home, I told my running buddy Sam, who did the half marathon, that I would never do it again.
NEVER. AGAIN. BITE ME SAN DIEGO. I HATE YOUR PALM TREES. AND SCENIC VIEWS.
It’s amazing what changes in a year. I ended 2012 and began 2013 going through the worst moments of my life. I was convinced 2013 would be the worst full year of my life.
And you know what?
It actually hasn’t been too bad. That’s one of the reasons Sam convinced me, during our February trip to Southern California for the Rock ‘n’ Roll Pasadena Half Marathon, to sign up for San Diego. Not the marathon, though. At that point, I was already registered for the San Francisco Marathon (which I’m running on Sunday and crossing my fingers I’ll be able to finish with the IT band issues that have flared up lately), so there was no way I’d run two marathons in a three week period.
I did run two half marathons in a two-week period, which makes me think I qualify for the Half Fanatics, which I’d gladly join if I didn’t have such an aversion to groups.
Still, so much has changed. Last year, I realized something was very wrong with me. Within a month, I was on anti-depression and anxiety medication, trying to keep my more-fragile-than-I-ever-imagined self together. That didn’t end well.
In the months leading into San Diego, I became a PR machine. I ran a half marathon five-weeks post surgery in February and knocked twenty minutes off my time from last year. In March, I ran my first ever 2:20 half marathon. In May, I PRed again at Portland with a 2:19.
In San Diego, the place where I had the worst marathon experience of my life (we’ll see about this weekend and this dumb IT band), I found something in myself to push me into a runner a year ago I didn’t think existed in me. I ran a 2:16:41 half marathon. And I know exactly how I did it, which made it all that much better.
Mile 1: 10:08 — We get started at 7:08 a.m. I think I finally found my footing in the 2:20 corral. That’s my pace at the start and, usually consistently. I feel good. But right before the mile mark, I also realize I’m really, really warm.
Mile 2: 10:37 — That feeling of “warm” kind of stayed with me. I figured this wouldn’t be the best day to race. Plus, this Rock ‘n’ Roll race welcomes a ton of people … so at the first aid station, I felt like I was pushing my way through people to get to the water.
Mile 3: 10:07 — We start making our way into the University Heights neighborhood. The support here was AMAZING. These people were yelling and cheering for all the runners. A real boost.
Mile 4: 10:53 — Water stop to slow me down again. Vanilla Bean Gu.
Mile 5: 10:06 — I’m starting to feel the Gu as we get to the “top” of the half marathon route.
Mile 6: 9:53 — Now the Gu is really kicking in. And I’m getting excited as we move past the relay exchange point. There’s no “mini marathon” option in this race, but the half course is split in two so that people who aren’t quite ready to go the full 13.1 can test out their skills on six-mile and 7.1 mile routes.
Mile 7: 10:43 — A much-needed downhill. But not a complete downhill mile. Despite what this race boasted, it was not “flat and fast.” Nope. Not even close.
Mile 8: 10:05 — Some up and down here. I grab another Gu. I was running so fast (for me), that when I grabbed my Gu it literally felt like it was taking forever. I felt like I was clumsy and couldn’t really control my iFitness band really well.
Mile 9: 11:00 — Rolling hills. NOT A FLAT COURSE.
Mile 10: 10:45 —The combination of an aid station AND the hill right at the beginning of this mile dropped me here. Plus, I was getting tired.
Mile 11: 11:17 — I nearly lost it this mile. This is when we started heading into Balboa Park. The course narrowed here, with half marathoners on one side and marathoners on another. The problem with that is this the half marathoners, which there are more of, were right on top of each other. I took an elbow to the chest at the aid station here. Then I walked for a bit to recover from that. Then, I swear, another hill popped up.
Mile 12: 10:01 — Gu. I’m finishing this thing. Downhills in sight. Let’s go. Right at the mile 12 beep on the Garmin, the 2:15 pacer passed me. First thought: I RAN 12 MILES WITHOUT BEING PASSED BY THE 2:15 PACER! Second thought: CHASE. HIM. NOW.
Mile 13: 9:42 — So I literally chased the 2:15 pacer. I lost site of him as we got back into downtown, but I already knew I was on a good pace. There was no way I couldn’t PR now. I HAD THIS.
Mile .18: 1:28 (8:15 average) — Right downhill into the finish chute.
Official time: 2:16:41
This time though, I wasn’t stunned. I didn’t cry. I held it together pretty well. I found a curb. I sat and waited for Sam, who was leading her sister into a sub-three finish. I was really proud of Sam. She helped her sister take an hour off her previous half marathon time. And Sam ran a pretty great race herself for “just getting back into it.”
I hate to say “I wasn’t surprised.” But this time, I figured out WHY I ran well, which had been alluding me in previous races.
1) I took care of the jitters, for the most part, before hand.
That includes the required visit to the portable toilets. But it also includes having a more “set” schedule and plan for race morning. I now do a Gu about 45 minutes before the start. I also eat a Luna Bar for breakfast. Nothing too fancy or extreme for my stomach. I also plan and pack everything the night before.
2. I found my comfort zone early, then backed off that pace a little.
It’s hard not to speed up. I’m really bad at that. But, for the most part, I’ve gotten that under control. I find a pace I can reasonably sustain for 10 miles, then I ease up. That way, I get to mile 12 still feeling good. I’ve finished my last three half marathons feeling amazing. That’s a huge change from feeling like I was dying before in nearly all of them.
3. I paid less attention to my Garmin.
Really now. I know that’s hard to believe. But I am spending less time staring at it between miles and more time just running. I’m doing more “in the moment” running.
4. I’m having fun.
I used to feel like these races were “make or break.” It had everything to do with the fact I was carrying the stress of my bad days, and bad life there for awhile, with me into them. I ran so well in 2011. I improved my times. I ran my first marathon. But 2012 turned into a bad year for my racing, until I took a vacation from my full-time work in August 2012. That’s the week I ran my best half marathon, a 2:22.
That should have told me something. (Everyone, including my grandmother, has since told me that.) Proof of that fun? I’m able to joke around now before races (see above? It is unpleasant to be towed…ha!). I’m just much looser than before.
5. I’m fueling well.
The Gu pattern is becoming just that, a pattern. I’ve started to “figure out” this half marathon thing. I’m carrying just enough to make it in to the finish, taking it when I need it and not dwelling on it too much.
6. I’m training better.
I’m sure that’s telling in itself. I do incline treadmill training now. I’m also running outside more when my IT band is allowing it. Unfortunately lately my IT band has been really angry. I do one long run a week, two mid-length runs (7-8) and two tempo runs (4-6). I feel better about my training. And it’s “just enough” to push me where I need to be.
That said, I don’t necessarily have more time. I don’t. Right now I’m back to averaging 10-hour days while my boss is on vacation. I’m just glad to have the “itch” to run back. My self-imposed “no run” rule this week to help my leg get better is annoying me more than this sort of thing ever did before.
7. I know now what I didn’t know then.
I didn’t realize how much “healing” I had to do after January, both mentally (from all depression and anxiety) and physically (from emergency gallbladder surgery), until I really got away from what I felt was making me “sick.” Part of me thought everything would get better overnight. In many ways, it did. In others, it didn’t. I had to heal. I had to grow. And much like I literally regained my “stride” in running last year, the running this year has played a huge part in that.
I’m better because I run.
Half marathoners are just better now. Running is just better now. I’m better now. And believe me when I say I know I have further to go down that road to feel “whole” again. A 2:16 half marathon though moves me closer to that goal.
Last year, I walked away from San Diego feeling the lowest I had ever felt. I was miserable. I hated my life. I wasted time on people I thought were my friends. I couldn’t imagine that it could get much worse. Then it did.
This year, I came to San Diego with a completely renewed purpose. I came into it a more whole person. I came into it happier. And also with better shoes. But, most importantly, I came into this race knowing that I had that faster race in me. That made the biggest difference. Everything else was just complementary.
Two races. One year apart. A little rock ‘n’ roll. A world of difference.
Since many of the Rock ‘n’ Roll runs have very similar expos, I figured I won’t recap the entire experience. Instead, I figured I’d put together a photo post of the highlights of my hour-plus inside the expo.
My husband dropped my running buddy Sam and I off right when we got into San Diego, after a long eight-hour drive (which included a stop for lunch in Mission Viejo. He decided to take a ride down to, nearly, the California/Mexico border, thereby letting Sam and I spend as much time as we wanted to at the expo.
The Convention Center, as always, was packed. There were more people than could fit inside the crosswalk area streaming out of the expo. There were only two and a half hours left of it…so the expo was kind of winding down.
First stop was the check-in area and into the standard Brooks area. I was excited to see a huge Brooks tent shaped like a pasta bowl. I was hoping, more so, that the Brooks shoe-shaped pasta would be for sale.
Nope. No shoe-shaped pasta, at least not by the time we arrived. Too bad. I’ve been wanting to buy a bag.
We didn’t stick around for the gait analysis or anything. We’d already been there, done that two weeks earlier in Portland. That expo was pretty epic.
So we headed out for the rest of the expo. It was packed. There were more people than my anxiety could handle for a minute.
WHY SO MANY PEOPLE? OH MY GOD. TOO MANY PEOPLE. NO ONE TALK TO ME!
Sam was good at maneuvering us through the crowds and to her sister, who was waiting in the tape line. It would be Sam’s sisters second half marathon. She met us down in San Diego and, thankfully, picked us up from the expo when my husband wasn’t answering his cell phone. I had fears that he, and our race gear, got stuck in Mexico. That didn’t happen.
Lots of temptations at expos. I’ve actually become so much better at not trying to buy everything.
There’s some stuff, though, that’s just funny too.
For the record, I’d never wear an “I (heart) bacon” headband. I just thought it was funny because there was only one left. Really? That many people bought these headbands? I guess there’s a market for them … just not with me. Sam actually bought a Halo headband. She wore it for most of the race, but the verdict is still out on whether she liked it or not. She ended up taking if off and wearing it around her wrist most the race. That said, it was warm and humid, so I’m not sure she can fairly review it.
As much as I don’t fall into temptation, I decided there were some good deals at the expo.
I got it for $24. A nice price for, being that it cost $28 regularly and then you also have to pay for shipping. To be fair, I was on the lookout for this booth because I knew I was going to either get this or the Knot Buster.
I’ve buried the lead a little bit on this one, but as we were walking around something exciting happened: I saw Deena Kastor signing race items. I KNEW I had to get in line, being that my Kara Goucher-signed race bib got me to a PR a couple weeks earlier.
Deena-freaking-Kastor signed my race bib.
I’d like to think that’s what led me to my 2:16:41 half marathon, which is a marathon-distance time for her. You know what? Runners are nice people. Kara was gracious. Deena was super sweet. They were amazingly nice to everyone who stood in line for a little bit of their time.
Before we left, we headed to the main Rock ‘n’ Roll booth where I eyed the “Heavy Medal” series.
This year, I should earn the Grand Slam medal. Last year I earned the “Rock Encore” and “Triple Crown.” That said, I accidentally registered for Rock ‘n’ Roll San Diego with my maiden name, so I had to send an email asking that my name be changed in the results. I just registered for the Rock ‘n’ Roll San Jose Half Marathon, which will be my last Rock ‘n’ Roll Half for the year.
I was considering doing the Rock ‘n’ Roll Las Vegas Half Marathon, but instead I think I’ll be staying closer to home and running the just-announced Berkeley Half Marathon on Nov. 24. Sam is going for broke with her Tour Pass, which is ending up to be a good value for her, and trying to earn the medal for six Rock ‘n’ Roll Races in the year.
I was hopeful, but not certain, that I would be able to beat my 2:19 time from Portland … and that would come Sunday in a very amazing run.
I’ve had an incredibly busy week. We made last weekend a long one, adding the extra day at Six Flags Magic Mountain. Then I came back to a 10-hour work day to catch up on my freelance assignments. Yesterday, my boss for freelance left for a well-deserved vacation. She left me a ridiculously long to do list.
My anxiety is a little off the charts right now. But I’m trying to handle it.
My biggest concern was the See Jane Run expo happening this week. This race, unlike many of the ones I’ve run lately, is on a Saturday. It’s nice because it gets my long run done at the beginning of the weekend. But there’s no Saturday expo, either.
I spent all Wednesday trying to figure out when I’d have a free moment. Then I realized my husband worked incredibly close to the packet pickup area. So I politely asked him to brave the expo and pick up my race packet.
I have to say, I was a little nervous. I kept expecting a phone call. It never came. He brought home my race packet perfectly tonight. I was worried he didn’t grab my chip, but it was on the back on my race bib.
The race, which includes Chipotle as a sponsor, includes a coupon for a buy one, get one deal at the restaurant. It also has the amazing “champagne glass” ticket at the bottom ready for me to claim my chocolate and champagne after the race (I’m so very excited for that!).
Plus, the race packet actually came in an incredibly cute back with the See Jane Run manifesto on it.
It’s a good size too, one that I’ll definitely use for lugging around things. I’m a big fan of reusable bags. I have quite a few little backpacks from Rock ‘n’ Roll series runs. I also have some reusable backpacks from the past two marathons I’ve run. But this bag is not only functional, it’s also cute.
I’ll definitely be using it a lot.
The best part of my packet?
The race shirt!
I LOVE the shirt design and color. I’ve always been a fan of my bright race shirts, but this one is perfect for running in the evenings around town. (I’d rather wear something bright, because people tend to pretend like they can’t see me, even though I made myself pretty visible.)
Words cannot express how excited I am about this race. I know that barring nothing horrendous happening on the course, I will definitely do better than my 2:42 time from 2011. If my recent races are any indication, I also know that I’ll have a good time while pushing myself hard. That part of running is all new for me.
This is also my last long run before the San Francisco Marathon, which I’m excited to finally get to as well.
Lots of amazing things have happened in my running life lately. And I know See Jane Run will be another chapter in that.