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Posts tagged ‘Oakland’

Ask Jane: Beating the heat

It was at mile two in this weekend’s Rock ‘n’ Roll San Diego Half Marathon that I became overwhelmed by a sense that it was going to be a hot one. Sure, the Mermaid Series Sirena 18 included the sun beating down on me, but the San Diego mix of heat and humidity was ridiculous. And I couldn’t even see the sun.

Now I know, we’ve reach THAT time of the year.

It’s hot.


It’s not quite summer yet, but the heat is already hitting the valley where I live. I wake up and it’s nearly 70-degrees outside. It makes me regret never really getting into morning running. It’s so much cooler in the morning than it is when I want to run at 7 p.m. In the evening, the concrete is still hot. I can feel it moving through the rubber soles on my shoes, I swear.

seejanerunASKBut runners are creatures of habit. We’re not quick to dismiss our passions just because it’s getting a little warm.

Last month, I asked the ladies at See Jane Run in Oakland for tips and tricks to help stay cool while the weather heats up. The staff offered some great suggestions to help acclimate to the weather. The question led to another post specifically on hydration, but the ladies also had other tips to share.

This post comes just in time for this weekend’s See Jane Run 5K and Half Marathon in Alameda, the first of four running events hosted by the store, with locations in Boise, Seattle and Whicita, Kansas. The weather forecast is calling for a temperature of 74 with western winds at 14 miles-per hour. No cloud cover.

Needless to say, it’s going to feel a little warm out there.



Depending on the time of year purchased, running clothes can vary greatly in the make and feel of fabric. Didn’t know that? Neither did I until I spoke with Ginny at See Jane Run’s Oakland store.

She showed me a noticeable difference in clothes for different climates. That T-shirt you bought during the fall? It may not be the best for running as it warms up. Those tights you love? They may be keeping in too much body heat.

Next time you visit your local running store, feel the fabric. Yes, that sounds a little bizarre, but when you do you’ll notice something about clothes designed for warm-weather running: They are lighter.

That goes for shorts, capris or shirts, including tank tops.

I have a Nike tank top that I love wearing. It’s a darker blue color one and I always considered it lightweight. Then I came across a Nike Sculpt Tank at See Jane Run. The difference between the two tanks is night and day. My new pink one doesn’t have as much mass. I don’t feel like my body is holding in as much heat when I’m wearing it.

This is the time of the year when you’ll find running stores stocking up on summer-related clothes in seasonal colors (hello neon). It’s not just because these stores are trying to sell you clothes you don’t need. There is an actual difference in the products.



Brooks clothing actually includes tags that tell customers what climate their possible purchase is best-used for. It’s a nice touch.

You’ll also likely notice more light colors when you see fellow runners. My favorite go-to tanks right now are soft pinks, yellows and oranges. I’m rarely putting on my darker-colored garb. Why? Darker colors absorb more light.

There’s a fashionable element to these potential new purchases, but it’s also about function.


“You are going to chafe more,” said Ginny. Because, of course, you’re likely going to sweat more. This includes your feet. They sweat too. So get some Glide, or the equivalent.

Lately, I’ve been using Skin Glide between my toes to make sure they are lubricated enough. Blisters are bad enough as it is. Blisters during the summer months just are downright undesirable.


I know, if you’re like me, you’d rather not change the time of day you run. This was especially the case when I was working out of town and commuting home every day. I had a small window to fit a run in. I either did the run or risked having to head out during a rather runner unfriendly time of night (after 9 p.m., sometimes closer to 10 p.m.).

So, many times, I gave in and moved my run to the morning.

See Jane Run’s Ginny said she, too, would often head out for a run and realize it was a little too warm. Adjust. Be OK with the adjustment.

I’m a stalwart for my night runs, but sometimes it pays to run in the early morning hours (some of my summer training runs were as early as 5 a.m.) just to get the run in during a cooler time of the day.


Trees are your friends. Embrace the foliage! OK, that’s cheesy. But it’s something to take into consideration. If you’re standard running route takes you through new subdivisions with five-year old trees, you probably aren’t getting enough coverage to keep you cool.

That’s what happened to me last summer when, at the peak of a training period, I realized I was too hot and too tired only two miles in. I found a new route, with trees most of the way, in a more established neighborhood.

There’s also the treadmill (gasp!). I’ve written about my love for my personal hamster wheel before, but during the summer that love is sometimes a fiery passion. I’m not ashamed to admit I’ve started runs outside, dissolved into a puddle of sweat and relented back to the treadmill with two fans blowing on me to finish.

We have days where I live where the temperature is 105 or so. As much as I try to watch the weather advisories beforehand to see if my training runs are falling on a particularly warm day, sometimes I have a run scheduled on one of those scorchers.



I’m notorious for my sunburns. I don’t tan. I just burn. I’ve always had pale skin, so when I go into the sun at all, I’m all about the sunscreen. I pack two bottles, at least, whenever I go somewhere to run. This past weekend in San Diego, I caked Coppertone SPF 30 on my skin and STILL ended up with bright pink lines around where my Garmin sits on my left wrist.

Both my running buddies don’t have this problem. They could run all day and be perfectly bronzed by the evening. Last year during my six-hour endurance run, I had to apply sunscreen every hour or so … and I still ended up with a sunburn.

For quick application, I usually invest in a multi-pack of spray-on sunscreen at the beginning of the season. I think it’s a good idea, even if you aren’t prone to burning.



I devoted an entire blog post to this topic, but I’ll briefly touch on it again because it’s THAT important. First off, it’s always a good idea to drink more water as it gets warmer. I fell victim to some pretty significant dehydration on Monday when, at an amusement park, my husband and I shared one bottle of water.

By the time we left, after standing in long lines for extended periods of time, I was so thirsty. Remember, being thirsty is your body telling you it’s already dehydrated. The night before a race or a long run, I’m especially increasing my intake so I don’t feel parched before I even get to the start line.

Carry water with you. Make sure your route includes fountains if you are prone to running out. Bring a couple dollars to purchase a bottle of water if you have to. Just keep the water coming in.


“If I don’t run those eight miles today, I’ll be so behind in training,” I once told my husband when it was 100 degrees outside and you could see mirages coming off of the pavement.

I think I ran a mile then decided it wasn’t happening. It was just way too uncomfortable.

“Even if it isn’t the heat, it’s the sun,” said Ginny.

It was be a cooler 75-degree day and the sun right above you can completely devastate a run. Know when to quit. Don’t be afraid to throw in the towel after wiping off all your sweat. It won’t ruin your training. In fact, waiting for a cooler day might make your training run even better.

Just don’t push it. Your body will thank you later.

Disclaimer: I am not a medical professional. The views on this blog are merely suggestions. As always, consult a doctor before you start any new workout routine.

Run-nerd moments in Oakland


Today I ventured into Oakland to visit the See Jane Run store where I met up with the fabulous trio of ladies staffing the store today, including social media manager Kerina. A couple weeks ago, I asked if I could come and chat with the team and ask some questions for a series of blog posts I’d like to do on different running topics.

I’ve been considering doing “ask the expert” posts for awhile, but had never had direct access to the pros in the field. When I found out I was a See Jane Run Ambassador for 2013-14, I KNEW this would be the perfect opportunity to ask questions and get some good advice for runners — newbie to advanced.

I’m excited to report that I got a ton of great information from the ladies at the store today. I’ll be going over my notes and photos in the next couple days to develop a series of “Ask Jane” blog posts. So far the topics will be on warm-weather running, hydration (a big conversation today) and fueling.

I’ll also admit to having some run-nerd moments while speaking with the ladies today. I rarely have a chance to geek out about running and related topics, but today it felt like I was having conversations about running with myself! The staff was incredibly friendly and attentive.

I also partook in a little warm-weather running retail therapy, grabbing up a lightweight Nike Sculpt Tank and an MPG pair of Prelude Knee Tights. Since I’ve been hydrating quite a bit lately, I bought a new Klean Kanteen See Jane Run water bottle with the 5K and half marathon logo.


A big thanks to Kerina, with me above, for helping me set this up. I’m glad I was able to come into Oakland and get answers to questions every runner has. I’m excited to scour through my notes in the next couple days and start bringing these posts to life.

In Oakland, my best 13.1 performance to date


Right after I ran my first marathon, a coworker told me he knew I had it in me. He also brought me cake, which was amazing, but he kept saying it: “I knew you’d finish.”

I’m still kind of stunned at that response. Because I didn’t know. I admitted that, later on, to someone because I kind of felt like a fraud. I didn’t really believe in myself to know I could do it. My body kept telling me I couldn’t. So did my mind. Everything told me I couldn’t do.

“Then when did you know?” the friend asked me, concerned.

“At mile 26,” I responded.

You read that right. I didn’t know until mile 26.

Sometimes, you doubt yourself all the way to the end.

This year’s Oakland Half Marathon was exactly that way. I didn’t know until 13.1. And even then, when I was this:::close to the finish line, and still not quite there.

I didn’t really know until 13.3. The moment I crossed the finish line and turned off my Garmin, I knew.


No matter what my official time was, I had a PR. I wanted, so badly, for it to be in the 2:20 range. But I had it. Without question. There was nothing, even running .2 out of my way (damn tangents), that could have stopped it. I had it.

If you would have told me 2:21:04 seconds before that I would have the race of my life, I would have called your bluff. I spent most of Saturday trying to figure out how not to get to the start line. I just didn’t feel like running. I didn’t feel like pushing myself.

But Oakland, as it has for several years, has a way of bringing out the best in me.


Let’s rewind to 2005.

I was a fresh college graduate. Living on my own for the first time. New place. New roommate. Uncharted territory. And I chose Oakland to live economic and personal reasons. The rent was inexpensive. I always knew my roommate. My husband’s brother’s girlfriend at the time had an extra room. She was kind enough to rent it out to me for two years, though I’m pretty sure she was tired of me by the end.

In Oakland, I learned to be a better reporter. I learned more about journalism academically in my two years at UC Berkeley’s Graduate School of Journalism than I did in three years a communication major in college. More importantly, I learned how to finish a story.

People ask me all the time why I went to graduate school, especially since I already had a nice padding of experience right out of college. I went because I would get halfway through a long project and not know how to finish the story. I couldn’t wrap my head around it. I couldn’t get to the point where the words flowed. It was my “wall” at mile 20.

Berkeley helped me finish my story. Oakland helped me define the characters in it.

So I chose Oakland, in 2011, to be my first half marathon. Because it was familiar. Because I’d run those streets before. And, because, I wanted to give back to a place that had given so much to be. Races like this bring in a ton of money into communities. I wanted my money to go to Oakland.

My first half marathon was an amazing experience that ended in a 2:35:36 finish. My next Oakland experience had me finishing in 2:32: 27.

This year, the experience wasn’t even comparable. I thought I’d run races before where I left every single bit of me out on the course. On Sunday, I realized I was, again, in uncharted territory.

I came into Oakland this year unable to finish my story. Over the past few months, I’ve struggled with gaining perspective about everything that’s happened since January. I’ll start with this: I’m glad it all happened. If it didn’t, I wouldn’t where I am today. I’m better for it.

So on Sunday, even though I didn’t realize it, I came to run. And that’s what I did.

Mile 1: 9:24 — Are you kidding me? That’s faster than I run. I feel so comfortable. This can’t be right. It must be the Gu I took right before the start.

Mile 2: 9:57 — OK, better legs. I don’t want to be done before I’m actually done.

Mile 3: 11:25 — WHY IS MY SHOE UNTIED? MY SHOES ARE NEVER UNTIED! Pull over, tie shoe, start running again. When the Garmin beeps, I consider it the “beginning of the end.” Well, I had two good miles in me, I figured. It’s over.

Mile 4: 10:06 — Or not? Better take a Gu.

Mile 5: 10:56 — Battling some uphills here, over the Lake Merritt crossing, it gets a little congested. Weaving in and out of people.

Mile 6: 10:24 — Feeling the Gu. Picking it up.

Mile 7: 11:18 — That moment when you ram into someone because they stop right in front of you? That happened. I’m not two for two in running into people in half marathons. It wasn’t my fault, though. She stopped at a water station and just came to a dead halt.

In this mile, a guy also ran by me and whacked right into my arm. Seriously? That hurt. I let out a sound similar to a baby velociraptor in pain. The guy stopped dead in his stride. He actually turned around, came back and started talking to me.

“Are you OK? Did I hurt you bad?”

“I’m fine, dude. I just have a broken arm. You didn’t do it. I came that way.”

The concern on his face was amazing. He actually hung close to me for two miles. He told me he was afraid I’d pass out. I don’t know what I looked like, but apparently it was bad.

Mile 8: 10:55 — Only now was I getting tired. I took a Gu.

Mile 9: 11: 40 — The climb into the park around Lake Merritt is here. After nine miles, I really felt it.

Mile 10: 10:16 — This was  the point I looked down at my Garmin and realize I was coming in pretty early.

Mile 11: 10:53 — I started mile 11 under the two hour mark. I couldn’t believe I started mile 11 under the two hour mark. This is where everything comes into play in terms of questions. I can definitely beat last year’s time. I can beat my Pasadena time. What do I have to do to beat my PR? Too much math. I can’t think. Just keep it under 12-minute miles, I thought.

That should be good enough. Right? Follow the plan.

Mile 12: 10:42 — Follow the plan. Just follow the plan.


Mile 13.1: Where’s the finish?

Mile 13.2: I should be done by now. Why am I not done? What the hell?

Mile 13.3: UP THE HILL. RUN. RUN!

Total time for that .3 miles: 2.47

I saw my Garmin move past the 2:20 mark before I crossed. I closed my eyes and just gunned it. The full inertia I had behind me didn’t stop until I was nearing the medals. And then I knew. I fell a little bit, and had a moment of joy I haven’t experienced in a long time.

I had my story’s end.

Six months. Multiple bad situations. Turmoil. A lot of self reflection.

No regrets.  A healthy body. My husband at the finish line. A PR.

I gave the Oakland the race it had deserved for three years. I finally did it. I came away stronger than I ever thought I was.


As I sat on the lawn, taking it all in, I had a moment where I started tearing up. All the self-doubt started to fade for the first time since last October. Suddenly I felt as if I was back in control. On Sunday, I really did have the race of my life. I felt like somewhere in those 13.1 miles, I shed every ounce of upset and took myself back.

Two years ago, Oakland made me realize I could do anything when I finished my first half. Last year, I struggled with every step because I was mentally and emotionally spent. This year, Oakland gave me back something I didn’t even realize was still gone.

All of these things came rushing to me before my husband found me. I let myself cry. I deserved a good happy cry.

But before I got up, I decided to check my official time, even though I knew it wouldn’t be that far off.

I’ve mentioned in previous race posts that I always start my Garmin a little ahead of crossing the start, just to make sure it works. When I loaded up the page with my name, I realized that elusive 2:20, which I didn’t even realize was a goal for me, had been achieved.

My official time: 2:20:52.

That elation? The bliss? It all was just that much better.

I then realized that while this may be the picture-perfect end to one story, is now just the beginning of the next. What’s my next goal? How I can break it? Can earn a 2:15? Those are questions I didn’t think possible before all this stuff happened to me. Now? It seems doable. It seems realistic.

For me there was no better place to finish this story, and start a new one, than in Oakland.