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Posts tagged ‘long runs’

Gift idea for a runner: The $5 headlamp

I may buy Lululemon running clothes, but I know a bargain when I see one. And, especially with money tight right now, I’m always on the lookout for one. My running buddy Jennie is the same. She has a family, including teenagers. So Jennie often lets me know about great deals (and couponing!).

I’ve written before about running with a headlamp. I love my Princeton Tech headlamp. And while it came with an unconditional REI guarantee, I was a little turned off by the $32 price tag.

I know some people pay a lot more for headlamps. The ones on the REI site run up to $70. I’ve seen them at expos for $50.

My husband, as a poor college student, paid only $14 for his. He now steals mine all the time because it’s much brighter. Believe me, it gets really annoying when I get out to Mountain House for a run and my battery light starts blinking (the advantage of having a premium headlamp).

In any case, during one of my “I-only-came-to-Target-for-my-prescription-and-ended-up-buying-a-bunch-of-other-stuff” trips I found a $5 holiday deal at the end of an aisle.

Next to glass coffee mugs and gimmicky key chains, was a simple headlamp.

Jennie has been in need of a secondary headlamp for our runs, specifically since it’s now darker outside because of the time change. (Though it’s been pretty dark since the beginning of October in general when we run at night.)

I sent her a text with the above photo:

Hey, these are $5 at Target. I’m picking one up for you. Now sure how good it will be, but can’t beat the price, right?

She responded with a thumbs up so I grabbed one.

I prepped it for her since I figured she wouldn’t want to mess with a blister pack when we were trying to set out on a run.

I read the back of the package and knew it was a sign when it suggested use for running. I got it home and used some creative scissor technique to get it out of the plastic.

The best part of the deal? It comes up batteries!

I’m not entirely sure what “Greenergy” batteries are (something environmental?) but they work all the same. I popped them in and checked out the little light.

It has two modes, one using two of the three LEDs and one using all three. It also has a flip down to point the light in whatever direction you want. In our case, that would be the sidewalk. It’s not ridiculously bright, but it adds nicely to a light array with my headlamp.

Plus, it’s really lightweight and has an adjustable head strap.

It’s the perfect little headlamp.

I tested it out in my closest to see how bright it was after initially seeing the vast difference between my headlamp and it. It actually was pretty good.

It works really well and provides a decent amount of light and it’s pretty comfortable. There’s even a little pad that keeps it stable on the forehead.

Plus, it was $27 cheaper than my headlamp. Great in a pinch. And a good deal all around.

Looking past the present

Like my awesome PhotoShop skills? I actually am really good at it, but this is just the simple smudge tool over my emergency room band. I’ll give away that much. I recently had a trip to the ER. It wasn’t fun. It wasn’t planned (hence, an emergency).

People usually say they are “working through stuff.” Yep. I’m working through stuff.

And that’s where I’ll leave that.

I’m trying to look past the present right now.

To the future. Or at least to my running future.

I’ve been doing some planning over the past couple days on races I’d like to run next year. I’ve been putting together a short list so far. Only a couple are solid in terms of choices right now. Financials will play a role, obviously. And, surprise, I’m actually considering running a spring “A” marathon and a summer marathon.

I’ve run enough races to know where I like to travel and what I love to see when I run. I also know which ones I’d like to do again, but maybe not in 2013.

So, today, I started planning.


Brazen Coyote Hills 10K: I love this race. The rolling hills. The beautiful view. It’s got a lot to offer. Plus, it’s Brazen. And I love Brazen. This race is kind of difficult logistically for Brazen, with shuttles needed to send people back and forth, but Brazen does an awesome job making it happen.


Rock ‘n’ Roll Pasadena Half Marathon: This wasn’t my favorite race ever, but I want to give it another go. I now know what to expect, including the hill right at the beginning. My hope is that I won’t be a straggler at the end this time. I signed up for it today, before the price went up.


Brazen Badger Cove 10K: Brazen hosted this combination half marathon, 10K and 5K for the first time in my neck of the woods this year. It’s literally only over the hill from where I live. It’s also a week before the Oakland Half, which makes it a perfect warm-up and taper run. The hills are crazy, but I felt great after. Definitely a must-do again.

Oakland Half Marathon: This will always be a favorite for me. Oakland holds a special place in my heart because I spent my two years as a student at University of California, Berkeley’s Graduate School of Journalism living in the Temescal neighborhood. I love it there. I’ll always love Oakland. And I usually sign up for a steal (half price!) with a coupon code from the San Francisco Marathon. A side note: Oakland is still one of the ONLY events you can defer entry to the next year if need be.


San Luis Obispo Marathon: Here’s where I really switch things up. This race is a little more than a week after Oakland. I don’t know how I found out about it, but I’m hoping to run 26.2 here. A bonus? My husband has family in the area, which means he wants to go too. And there are rolling hills…so I’ll have to work the only hill I know in Mountain House, and maybe some others.


Bay to Breakers 12K: This is less of a race, more of a fun run. Unless you are my brother and smash it in under an hour wearings short-shorts and looking like the kid who knocked up Juno. There’s been some changes to the 2013 website, so I’m not even sure when this is happening. I’ll probably ask my brother to run with me again. And I likely won’t do “premium” or “plus” registration because, despite being sponsored by a T-shirt company, this race has some of the ugliest shirts I’ve ever seen.


The San Francisco Marathon: Let’s have an “oh my God” moment. I’ve said, numerous times, that I would NEVER do a marathon in San Francisco. I’m actually really considering this because it would put me in the elite “52 Club.” Who runs for bling? That would be me. Actually, it’s just a sweater. But now I know the beginning and end of the marathon path, I’m kind of excited to try it. Will I sign up? We’ll see. This wouldn’t be an “A” race, but it would be one I’d train seriously for.

And that’s it, for now.

I figured I’d wait on planning the rest of the year. Will I run CIM again? I don’t know. Will I sign up for the Nike lottery? Likely. I’m also considering the Rock ‘n’ Roll San Jose Half again. We’ll see. Since I’m only signed up for two of the seven races I have planned, nothing is really set in stone yet.

But I’d rather plan ahead right now than deal with some other stuff.

Speaking of which, I probably mentioned having to return two pairs of pants to Lululemon due to bad design. I got two great gift cards in return.

A couple days ago, I got a new package.

I opted for two new shirts in lieu of the capris. I show this mainly because Lululemon changed it’s packing. It’s no longer an simple gray mailer. Instead, it’s covered in the company’s manifesto. As much as I love it, and it gave me a smile for the moment, I’m a little disappointed that my Lulu packages won’t be anonymous anymore.

Good thing my the people in my neighborhood don’t seem to be the running type. Otherwise I’d worry about the packages disappearing.

Reasons for a lull

I’ve mentioned before that I often get ridiculously busy some weeks between two jobs and everything else I do.

This week was an over-the-top exception.

I told myself I was going to take a couple days off after Nike, for a couple reasons. I was tired after the hills of San Francisco. And my Garmin was having some serious issues.

So I told myself I’d pick up a run on Tuesday.

But anyone who follows my Twitter feed knows I’ve been having some very serious car troubles lately. Unfortunately I hadn’t saved up enough money for a down payment on a new car enough to make buying on feasible.

The problem is, my Camaro is getting to the point where it’s just not reliable anymore. It is for getting me closer distances and using every once in awhile. But the intention was never to drive it into the ground. I love it way too much.

So my husband and I went looking a new cars on Sunday. We found a certified pre-owned 2011 Jeep Grand Cherokee. My first choice in cars? Not so much. I was really leaning on buying a new Camaro.

The problem was that it didn’t make sense. Instead, we spent some money fixing my 2002 Camaro up. And then we pulled from joint savings to put money down on the Jeep. I financed the rest of it through my credit union with a 3.24-percent interest rate.

I’m a big believer that everything happens for a reason. This week instead of a Tuesday-night run, I found myself signing paperwork for a new car at the Jeep dealership in a nearby town.

Whew. Now I have a reliable car. The Camaro will be used for in-town and leisure driving for now on.

On top of that, my students out out a newspaper this week. And I was finishing preparations for a baby shower I hosted at my house yesterday for a very deserving friend/coworker who is expecting her second child early next year. (We figured October would be better than later months of the year because people get busy around Thanksgiving and Christmas.)

Many, many Costco trips were involved in the production of this baby shower. The treats above? Those were the favors, chocolate-dipped pretzels decorated in fall colors. The theme for the shower was “fall” since my friend isn’t really the blue/pink type. (She’s having a boy.)

So up until 2 p.m. yesterday, when the shower ended, I was busy the entire week. I didn’t even have a chance to do my Nike Women’s Half Marathon review yet. I’ll be working on that later today after I upload some photos from the day of.

A side note: I was able to get my time fixed, but it still appears to be wrong. It looks like I ran a half marathon in 40 minutes. I know my running is getting better, but not that much better.

And today, with the glitchy Garmin, I ran 15 miles. Only 8.5 tracked with the Garmin before I had to switch to my Nike+ app. I’ve sent a request for service to Garmin, but after entering my serial number is came up saying my unit was no longer under warranty, even though it’s a replacement unit that isn’t even a year old.

After buying a new car this week, I really don’t want to buy a new Garmin.

I feel a little better after today’s run. I feel as if I’m getting back in the habit, especially after a very, very stressful, but rewarding week. Running-related posts to resume soon.

A tough training 21: Part I

Let it be known that I’m crazy sometimes. I often expect a surprising positive results when I know the situation will not dictate it. This is usually the case at work. They say insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results. Therefore, sometimes, I’m insane.

Signing up for a 21-mile run along the California coast where two miles of it, near the beginning nonetheless, are straight uphill when my training consists of running small rolling hills is definitely a sign that something is very wrong with me.

“It could be fun,” I thought when signing up for the run last December. It was my “I just ran a marathon” gift to myself. Yeah, I used to buy shoes, now I sign up for other runs. I’m crafty like that.

So as the weeks rolled down and I was unable to get in my 15-mile training run preceding the event this weekend, I only started to worry slightly. It was a training run, after all. I was using it as a training run.

Except my husband came along. And we stayed overnight. Thank God too, since my wake-up was at 3 a.m. And we ate a nice dinner. It was very much like my marathon more than six months ago (wow, it’s been that long!).

So we packed up some overnight goods and headed to the Monterey Peninsula for the Big Sur 21-miler.

It was, for the most part, a nice drive. We headed through the Bay Area, on Highway 101. It was about a two hour plus drive. No stops. That’s surprising for me, since I usually have to go to the bathroom on long drives.

We headed up Highway 17 near Santa Cruz, then to Highway 1. The same Highway 1 that leads from Carmel to Big Sur, but we didn’t get that far. We stopped in Monterey where the sun was shining and it was warm.

Oh hey ocean! I’ve missed the open water so much since I left Oakland in 2007. I used to be able to see the San Francisco Bay everyday from the campus at University of California, Berkeley where I earned my masters degree in journalism.

We hit up the expo first thing once getting into town.

My husband is not like me at all when it comes to making things simple. He had to find a place to park that was free. When I was with my mom for the Big Sur Half Marathon last fall, I parked in the first garage I found. Bam. It was $6. Simple and easy. No worry about getting a ticket.

Thomas dropped me off. He went and found a free spot blocks and blocks away.

I’ve blogged about my tired little legs as of late. I didn’t want to walk those blocks. Especially if I knew I’d be running 21 miles the next day. But that’s how he is. (Also note that he is likely one of the most patient men in the world, I do appreciate that too.)

The expo was much more packed than the half was last November.

This was my one clear photo from the shirt pickup.

I went upstairs and found the single line for the 21-miler. It appears only 675 people finished it, so I understand the need for only one line. I just happened to be behind three air-head type women. I’m sorry, I usually don’t call out other people, but these chicks not only didn’t bring their bib numbers to the counter. Then they let another woman get in line with them. Then they asked why they couldn’t pick up their bus tickets right there (it was a three foot walk, seriously). Then they had to stop and take a photo right in front of me. COME ON. Get your stuff and be done.

So I got my bib after all that.

And, more importantly, my bus ticket.

I’ve never felt so much like Charlie from “Charlie and the Chocolate Factory.”

I was lucky enough to score a late boarding ticket. “Brown ticket” for “Monterey Marriott Loading.” That meant I was on one of nearly the last buses heading up the coast. Score. I could sleep in.

Little did I know I wouldn’t get to. (THANKS INSOMNIA!)

I went downstairs for my awesome Big Sur 21-miler shirt. It’s light blue, with purple writing. I love it as much as I love my Half Marathon shirt from last November.

Confession: I used to think the Big Sur shirts were so cheesy. I don’t anymore. Big Sur International Marathon has a classic sense to its designs. Nothing frilly. Nothing too fancy. Basic, yet beautiful. Always with some part of the Bixby Bridge on the marathon-style gear.

Thomas caught up to me down at the expo. I was checking out booths. I was hoping to score some new compression sleeves. No go. I didn’t even find anything else other than my race shirt saying “21-miler.” This was like the Nike Women’s Half where everything says Nike Women’s Marathon. Yeah, it’s the event name. I get it.

We did a little expo wine tasting. I even bought a bottle of $20 chardonnay with the marathon logo on it. It was a commemoration bottle. Nice.

But I found chocolate.

A very fancy, expensive chocolate store.

And I partook. Yes, yes I did.

They were expensive. I needed a disclaimer. I still have some left. I’m good at restraint. Not really, though. I ate too much today. Way too much. I promise to be better tomorrow and go back to the diet.

Then we headed to the motel. It was nice. Not too fancy. Not the Hyatt my mom and I stayed at either. Thomas, again, doesn’t like spending a lot on things. He booked one of the cheapest, albeit nicest hotels he could find. It was OK. I always bring a comfort blanket, a tip I got before the marathon, to help me sleep.

On suggestion from one of the Big Sur volunteers, we took some free appetizer coupons and headed to Fisherman’s Wharf where a bunch of marathoners, 21-milers and other event savvy types were headed.

We selected Isabella’s. Our free appetizer was fried artichokes. So good. We opted to eat outside. It wasn’t cold at all. And they were going to seat us in a corner in the actual restaurant. I didn’t really want to sit in a corner when the advertisement said: “All seats are ocean view.” Yeah, not so much.

We were greeted by a seagull who wanted to get all up in our business. He was kind of funny, so he didn’t bother us too much. Thomas even wanted to pose with the seagull. I called him “Buff.” He seemed like a combination between our dog Beau and our duck Duff, so Buff seemed appropriate.

I ordered a margarita. Between tired legs and nerves, I thought it was necessary. And I didn’t drink so much it would be detrimental to the run.

And I ordered beef. A steak. I usually order chicken. Or something lean.

But something caught my eye on the menu.

Rib Eye with a baked potato. And butternut squash risotto. Yes please.

It was delicious.

Then we walked the beach for a little bit and headed back to the hotel.

It was such a beautiful day. The wharf was close to our motel. The dinner was good. Overall, a nice night. We went back to the motel and ate the chocolate and I drank a lot of water. No Diet Coke even. Too bad that didn’t help me fall asleep.

Then I did what I typically do the night before a run.

I put everything out to make getting ready in the morning, at this point 3 a.m., easy for the next morning.

I put my head down at 9 p.m. I thought I’d fall asleep fast based on the fact that I was tired from the drive and seemed to be drowsy. I took a couple Ibuprofens because of a slight headache and laid down. Thomas watched television for a while then went and hung out in the bathroom to let me sleep. He watched Netflix in the bathroom. See, a patient man.

At 10 p.m. I looked at the clock. I still wasn’t sleeping. I tossed and turned. I took another Ibuprofen. I couldn’t sleep. Thomas crawled in bed sometime after 11 p.m. and I kept falling asleep a little, then waking up.

I must have collectively slept for two hours when I looked at my phone and noticed it said 2:52 a.m.

I’m up, I thought. Let’s do this.

And with two hours of sleep and the headache that didn’t seem to be disappearing, I started getting ready for my longest and most difficult training run ever.


21 on the California coast

After a night without sleep thanks to my insomnia kicking back up, a 3 a.m. wake up alarm, an hour-plus bus ride down the California coast in the dark, a Golden delicious apple and two bathroom stops, I was off this morning at 6:45 a.m.

The Big Sur 21-miler was the most challenging run I’ve ever done (hills, inclement and ever changing weather and  a constantly banked surface), but it was beautiful and memorable. And my legs didn’t give out. Not once. It was only after I walked across the finish line that I started to experience some illiotibial band issues in my left leg.

Total time: 4:42:23

And I kept moving, even when the bottoms of my feet were on fire and blisters were for certain.

My longest training run on my San Diego marathon path is now done.

Full race report coming when I can get my bearings back and my leg doesn’t need constant ice.

Meet me Monday: What motivates me

“What is your motivation to run?” I was recently asked on a questionnaire.

I have A LOT.

But lately it’s the feeling I get when I get to the finish line. NOTHING. I mean NOTHING compares to that. That’s especially true on good run days. It’s also true on days where I’m struggling to make it to the finish line.

I finished the Nike Women’s Half Marathon today in 2:53:30. By far, my worst half marathon time ever. But, by far, the best time I’ve ever had on a run. PERIOD. No questions about it. I’m planning to write a detailed race review in the next day or so. I’m too tired right now.

I’m the good kind of tired. I’m elated. I’m floating. And it had nothing to do with my time.

What motivated me was getting to the finish line wearing my Team Somersaults shirts. What motivated me was getting to the finish line with my two best running buddies. What motivated me was just getting there.

The finish line.

There will be more finish lines in the future. There will be more cheering spectators, last minute sprints and painful runs. There will be more smiles, though, too. All at the finish line.

That’s what I look forward to.

Sleeping isn’t easy

When I started the school semester for one job and high school football season for another job, I changed the day of my long runs from Saturday to Sunday.

Now I’m having a hard time convincing myself that I should go to sleep. I should sleep right now.

I have to wake up at 5:15 a.m. for a 6 a.m. 10-mile run with friends.

And instead I’m watching “The Girl who Played with Fire” on Netflix.

I have a feeling tomorrow will be a long day if I don’t get enough sleep tonight.