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Posts tagged ‘races’

An amazing day

At 8:29 a.m. I hadn't stepped up to a race start in seven months. At 8:32 a.m. I was starting off on my first 5K in more than two years.

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Joining the #StayFreshTeam: A ShowerPill review


My race report is still to come from this weekend’s Summer Breeze Half Marathon, but the run was my first race in more than a month and it gave me a chance to finally use and review the ShowerPill.

Dubbed “the athletic body wipe” the ShowerPill is a thick, largish wipe that kills 99.9% of germs on the body after getting in a good, sweaty workout. The cloth, though, also contains Aloe Vera and Vitamin E which makes for a nice, clean feeling without damaging the skin.

I normally carry some type of wipe in my gym bag with me. Usually it’s something I get at Target in the travel section.

I started doing so after reading reviews of the Oakland Half Marathon online and former participants mentioning a lack of toilet paper for slower runners in the portable toilets. I carried them with me, in my waist water bottle pouch, that day. Nowadays I just keep them in my bag until after a race.

I use them to try and freshen up.

My husband hates it when I use the wipes, though, because they smell. It’s not a horribly bad smell. It’s more of a flowery, fragrant smell that just kind of lingers, even when you buy the “baby powder” fresh version.

And the cloths were small. Too small to actually use on more than one arm.

Enter the ShowerPill.

I found out about the product on Twitter and asked if the ShowerPill would be a good option for the days I run and work out when I’m at school. I don’t have access to showers or anything in between meetings and labs, but I have, in the past, gone for quick runs, especially when the fall and winter comes and it gets dark earlier.

The folks at ShowerPill were nice enough to send me some free samples.

I packed them into my gym bag, but didn’t have a chance to use them until this weekend after the Brazen Summer Breeze Half Marathon.

After 2:19:15 running, I needed clean off. I usually do after a race.

Good thing I had a ShowerPill packed away. When I found my way back to the car (which thankfully was parked close since my husband took out the kayak and the marina saved spots specifically for boat launching) and started wiping down.


My husband took some nice rapid fire shots of me getting clean. And then I learned how to make .gifs via Photoshop. So I had to share this gem. It looks like I’m in pain. I assure you, I’m not. I just have a hard time having anything touch my face, I always have.

I’ll save the images of me cleaning off the rest of me (arms, arm pits, etc.) because that’s just too much information.

And you know what? I felt so much better afterward. I didn’t smell like baby powder. I didn’t have to go through multiple wipes just to get clean. My face wasn’t irritated afterward either.

The ShowerPill was also large enough that I felt like it was really cleaning me off.

Even better, I didn’t have to ride the nearly hour-long ride home smelling bad or having to worry about my sticky sweat getting all over my car seats. This one is especially important since the car I’m driving right now had cloth seats. It’s nice not to have to open the windows and “air it out.”

My husband and I were even able to make a stop, which we don’t normally do because I’m not the best-smelling person after a run, and I was able to sit at a restaurant without feeling self conscious or gross. I was sold, seriously though, when I felt fresh when I got home still and didn’t feel the need to run and get in the shower immediately. (Confession: I did get in the shower after a bit, though, to wash my hair. I didn’t expect the ShowerPill to do that.)

The ShowerPill is also reasonably priced at $9.99 a pack for 1o. That’s $1 each. It’s well worth it.


You can purchase the ShowerPill at You can also enter to win a one-year supply of ShowerPills (which, if you’re like me and work out a lot, you know will come in handy) here after liking ShowerPill on Facebook. You can also follow ShowerPill on Twitter.

I’m all about trial and error of products before jumping in. I’ve spent way too much money on things billed for athletes and runners that just don’t work for me. But I’ll be ordering a couple packages of ShowerPill wipes to use after a good run or other workout.

Disclosure: I was sent three ShowerPill wipes from ShowerPill, but was not compensated for this review nor was a review promised to the company. These opinions are solely my own.

Not knowing what to expect from the next 13.1


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.

Tackling the ‘race even marathoners fear’

I was hoping that if I put off my race report, I could report that within days of running one of the toughest marathons in the country, I was back up and running.

The truth is I’m still nursing a very sore left hip. My toes still have blisters. And I only started being able to cross my legs again. I started hurting on the way home. I didn’t stop hurting until sometime on Wednesday.

I haven’t been as sore as I was this week since I ran my first marathon in 2011.

Five days after crossing the finish line, I’m not afraid to admit something I didn’t want to before: I was absolutely petrified to run this race. It sparked every bit of my anxiety. I had nightmares about getting to the start line and not having pants on.

Why? My thigh wasn’t at 100 percent. It wasn’t even at 80 percent. My cranky IT band wouldn’t settle down. And it’s a marathon. My fifth marathon. And, if everyone was right about San Francisco being a tough place to run a marathon, it was going to be a really difficult one.

I even told my husband that I’d be fine if he didn’t wake up, I was going to go back to sleep. If we hadn’t of stopped to take a breather at Treasure Island, where I used the portable toilets, put on sunscreen and got myself generally situated, I think I would have needed to breathe into a bag in my corral.

As it was, my husband dropped me off near the Embarcadero with only about 30 minutes to spare. My corral was literally shut behind me as we were all shifted down to the start. The daybreak revealed two things to me: 1) It was going to be a rare, sunny day in San Francisco. 2) It was going to be a “26.2” or bust kind of experience for me.


At around 6:30 a.m., we began, passing the finish line to get to the start.


Mile 1: 10:41 — The flattest part of the race is at the beginning and the end. This was the first time I’d run in more than a week. Yet, my hip had a little nagging pain in it. My whole plan for this race was that if I was truly in a lot of pain, I’d cut out at the half marathon point and call it a day.

Mile 2: 10:31 — Moving into the Marina District and up to the first hill, which is essentially just an up and down. I knew there was no way I could do a graduated run up the hills on this day. So I paced myself, I stopped and walked when I felt as if my leg was really going to suffer.

Mile 3: 11:26 — I started seeing the Golden Gate Bridge about now. I think most runners are really, really excited about this part. I hate saying this, but I’m not a fan on the bridge. There are slippery parts to it, most of which have covers, but it’s also a little isolating being on the bridge. The runners are so low on the span, too, that we often can’t see anything. But the bridge doesn’t come in this mile. It comes later. Gu in this mile.

Mile 4: 10:24 — I felt the Gu really perking me up. I know this is one of my final “flat” miles, so I try to push myself though here.

Mile 5: 10:45 — I nearly forget about my leg here, but when realizing that I need to climb one of the biggest hills in the race, I realize that my thigh is in more pain the beginning. And … if I manage to make it through this marathon, I still have 21 miles to go.

Mile 6: 12:47 — Up the hill and onto the bridge.

Mile 7: 10:45 — This time I actually feel the gradual incline of the bridge, it goes up and goes down.

Mile 8: 11:19 — I’m steadying my pace as we get into Marin County. I’m enjoying the experience on the bridge today, but I also know that I’m not even done with the first half yet. I start to kind of freak out about the whole thing, but I bring myself back down. Gu here again, with a lot of water. It’s sunny on the bridge. And warm. I’m starting to get dehydrated.

Mile 9: 11:08 — The little cups of water are just WAY to little in this race. Off the bridge now and back up a hill.

Mile 10: 11:46 — Another large hill. I slow down and stopped to refill my water bottle. I stopped at the wrong booth, though, and got a chalky-tasting energy drink.

Mile 11: 11:29 — All downhill here. The problem with the downhills in this race were that my leg just wasn’t having it. I felt I was floppy and uncoordinated on the downhills, especially near the end of the marathon.

Mile 12: 12:40 — Running through the neighborhoods toward the park.

Mile 13: 12:33 — The miles into the park are rolling, by the time I hit the park, I’m exhausted. I’m slowing down. I’m considering not finishing the marathon. My leg is starting to throb a little. Thirteen more miles of this? Maybe not so much.

Half marathon: 2:31:03

Mile 14: 10:44 — But I don’t stop. I keep going. The next few miles are a gradual uphill through Golden Gate Park, past the start for the Second Half Marathon, which was already underway.

Mile 15: 11:55 — I’m late in the marathon group, so there’s only marathoners for the first couple miles here. There’s a nice, steady stream of people.

Mile 16: 12:40 — I forgot a Gu somewhere, so I do one here.

Mile 17: 13:53 — This is when it gets hard. Marathoners spend six miles in Golden Gate Park. Six miles in the middle of the race. Six tough miles where you just want to get out of the park. I was tired. My body was already aching. I just wanted out of the park. I wanted me leg to stop hurting too.

Mile 18: 11:54 — And yet, I had to get around Stow Lake. I’ve only ever been around Stow Lake while running this race. I’m sure it’s beautiful and tranquil, but when I saw it I just wanted it to be over. Unfortunately there’s a loop around the whole thing. At one point, when you think you’re done, you see other runners and say: “Wow, they’re just starting out!” Then you realize that’s an area you HAVEN’T run yet.

Mile 19: 13:01 — We run past the 1st Half Marathon finish. I hate everyone right now.

Mile 20: 12:02 — Finally out of the park. FINALLY. A couple more uphills. Gu! Make me feel better please Gu!

Mile 21: 13:35 — And then we start the downhills. I would normally go at these aggressively. But I really, really slowed down.

Mile 22: 12:49 — It was literally one tiny footstep in front of the other.

Mile 23: 13:15 — Finally back into the less hilly part of the course. Another Gu. I was considering calling Thomas here, just to let him know where I was and that I likely wasn’t finishing in 5:30, which is when I told him I would probably come in. But … instead I suddenly realized I had to go to the bathroom. I only make marathon bathroom stops if I see an open stall. I did here, so I got in and out as fast as I could. This is also where I realized my leg really, really hurt. There was no “I’ll be fine tomorrow.” I feared that if I stopped running, I wouldn’t be able to walk either.

Mile 24: 12:13 —Battling a little here, but overall finishing stronger than I did in the San Luis Obispo Marathon.

Mile 25: 11:57 — I’m exhausted. Just trying to put on foot in front of the other. Gu. I needed one at that point.

Mile 26: 11:49 — But the finish line isn’t anywhere near me. What gives? I had realized how far off my Garmin was from the actual course until then.

Mile .51: 5:36 — That extra .31 was torturous for me. I should have just been done. In fact, mt 26.2 time was 5:12:40 which wasn’t too far off my SLO Marathon time (only about 20 seconds), but this course was difficult. And long. I thought I tried to run the tangents good. (Other people were pissed about the course length, missing Boston qualifying because of it, etc. I’m not as concerned about that, obviously. I ran a good race despite my leg constantly throbbing.)


I’m incredibly proud of that time. It was a tough marathon. I felt like I did my best running on a daunting course with a bad leg.

The finishers shoot wasn’t too crowded (with only about an hour left before the official end of the marathon). I collected my medal, a space blanket (even though it was warm), and headed down the shoot. I was handed a blueberry score from Panera. I also got a four-pack of King’s Hawaiian rolls, which I are later with some chicken my husband grabbed at a Safeway in San Francisco.

My husband had sent me a text message around mile 22 asking me if I was still alive. He found me at the finish line soon after I finished. I was sitting on a curb.


There’s the finish line under the San Francisco Bay Bridge.


Since San Francisco now charges to park on Sundays (lame!), Thomas and I headed back across the Bay Bridge and back into the East Bay en route to our home in Tracy. I just wanted to go home, take a shower and eat something.

I was more than happy just to stare at my race medal (I can’t be the only one who does this) and take a breather for the rest of the day before the True Blood season premiere.


I’ve received a “coaster” medal before, but this one is awesome. I earned it for those 26.51 miles on that course. I didn’t even feel bad about hanging it in front of my PR SLO Marathon medal.


The rest of the day, my legs were elevated and compressed. I swear my compression socks are the only reason I can walk after a long run. I love them more than I can relate.

That said, I wish I had a body “compression suit” for my stubborn little hip. It still hurts today. I’ve done some yard work on it, but I haven’t done any pounding. The problem is that I know it’s not broken. I now what a break feels like. I can put pressure on my leg. When my arm was broken, I’d recoil in pain the moment I put pressure on my arm. This isn’t a break.

It’s likely a bad strain. One that I’m reluctantly saying off of for at least another day. I’m itching to run again. But after five runs in a seven week period, I’m also willing to let my hip rest for a bit to put myself back together for September’s flatter Half Moon Bay International Marathon and, possibly, a half marathon in August.

The rest of my summer is about training, not racing. I’m looking forward to some downtime where a start line, and a finish line, isn’t in my future for a bit.

Going the distance (at any distance)


Horrible reproduction, right? Pixelated photos are so 2008. I normally wouldn’t post a photo this grainy on my blog, but it’s one of only about three I have from my first 5K. I wasn’t “into” running then. I hop on the treadmill from time to time, usually only when I was feeling really heavy or unsatisfied with myself.

Running didn’t become part of my life for good until 2010.

But that first 5K was a monumental stepping stone for me. It was the first time I’d run that distance. I trained hard for that race, but not nearly as hard as I should have. I hurt afterwards. I felt miserable at parts during the run itself. But I also felt victorious when I finished it.

I felt on top of the world.

As spring winds down, there are races nearly every weekend now in my area. A lot of people are out running their first 5K, 10K, half marathon or marathons right now.

There are training plans all over the Internet to get runners to that next pivotal step in their running journey. But many of them don’t cover what to do to prepare for the day you walk up to the start line and get ready to go on that first run.

Here are some tips to make it through a race, whether it’s 3.1 miles or 26.2.



That happy face? By the end of my first 5K I was panting and my legs were cramping up with a pain I had never experienced before. I didn’t know why until another runner mentioned to me, when I was complaining to my husband about how bad I felt (“…like I was hit by a truck…”), that I likely needed to be more hydrated.

I’m always worried about multiple trips to the portable toilet before a race. So in the beginning my strategy was to not drink anything so I could avoid those trips.

Don’t do that. Ever.

In fact, as a runner you should regularly be hydrating. I carry around a 25-ounce bottle of water and usually refill it once or twice a day. This is especially true now that it’s warmer outside. Keep drinking water.

Now that hydration is a regular part of my life, I don’t worry so much about those morning of bathroom trips. I’m not drinking a ridiculous amount of water in the morning to catch up now.

Hydration helps you avoid injury and cramps. It will also help you get through a new distance feeling better at the end. Take it from someone who learned the hard way.



That typically means being less concerned about time and more concerned about finishing.

I hate to tell people to “aim low.” But in reality, the first time you run a new distance, you should really train yourself to focus on making it through. I’m one of those people who went out way too fast in my first half marathon. Then, by the end, I looked like the above photo. I was exhausted.

I just wanted to be done.

Then at mile 10, I hit “the wall” and I’ll never forget it. My chest felt tight. My body felt like it was shutting down.

But I went into that race with one goal: finish it.

My second goal was to finish in under three hours. I figured I’d factor in some extra time as padding.

When I finished in 2:35:36 I accomplished both those goals.

I know people who make grand plans for finishing races, saying they want to have an instant PR or qualify for Boston during their first marathon. Some people do. More mortal types like me don’t. And that’s not a reason to throw in the towel.


I’ve seen it happen. In fact, at a recent race, I recognized the symptoms of a Did Not Finish (DNF) happening right next to me as I hit mile 8 in the Oakland Half Marathon.

A woman next to me was making pretty good time. But that was my perception of it. Not hers.

She was running at a conversational pace with a friend. And she starting talking about dropping out of the race.

“I’m not going to make my 2:10 goal,” she said. “I wanted my first half to be a decent one.”

OK. A 2:10 would be a PR for me. If I could get myself to a 2:10 half marathon, I’d be over the moon happy.

Not her. She wasn’t. I ran ahead, setting my own personal PR. I waited around at the finish to see if that woman and her friend came through the chute. I saw her friend only a couple minutes after me. I never saw the women. That’s not to say she didn’t finish, but it kind of stuck with me.

I know a person who had two DNF in half marathons before she could finish one. She gave up halfway through the first two times because, in her words, she “couldn’t complete the distance.” She had run the 10-milers. She’d trained for 14 weeks. But she couldn’t do it come race morning.

The moment you start to doubt is the moment it can all go bad. Don’t let a couple bad miles ruin a race, especially if it’s the first time you’ve run the distance. I promise, you’ll feel better when you finish. And you’ll likely want to sign up for another one.


Gear is important. You will likely carry something with you during a run, even if it’s just your car keys. I carry more stuff the longer the distance. But the key is knowing what works for you and just how little or how much you need to get through your run. Here’s a breakdown of what I carry with me over the four distances:

5K — Phone, usually in the pocket of my capris.

10K — iFitness belt, phone, two packs of Vanilla Bean Gu, small 12-ounce water bottle

Half marathon — iFitness belt, phone, five packs of Gu, 20-ounce water bottle

Marathon — iFitness belt, phone, $5 (never know when you’ll need money), 9 packs of Gu, 20-ounce water bottle

I also plan out what I am going to wear and test it at least twice on a longer run. For my half marathon, I wore a nice Dri-Fit shirt that I had worn on numerous eight and 10-mile runs during training. I also wore a pair of capris that I had run quite a few times too.

There’s a reason a lot of people don’t wear the race shirt on race day. It’s not because it’s “lame” as some people think. It’s actually because untested race wear is definitely not recommended. You could chafe. You could also be incredibly uncomfortable the entire race.

Just avoid the new things. And make sure you have tested and prepared to use the gear you are bringing.



I post photos of my race gear all the time. I also have a really bad anxiety problem. So if I don’t have everything perfectly ready the night before, I usually freak out a little in the morning.

I lay all of my gear out the night before just to make sure everything is there. It honestly saves time in the morning when I’m not rushing to find things, like my Garmin or my Body Glide.

I’ve done it so often that I just kind of go through the motions now. I also back my “after” bag with everything I need for after the race.



I can’t stress this enough. But this is also one of the hardest things to do.

Why? Race day nerves often keep you up longer than you’d like to be. I know. I’ve been there. I’d like to say it gets better after you do a couple races of your “new” distance, but the reality is I’m still nervous before every race I run. I’ve just learned to cope better with the nerves (sometimes).

I prepare the day before a race by not sleeping in too late, which could keep me up at night, and generally staying off my feet as much as possible. I also try to settle down and watch television for an hour or so before I’m supposed to go to bed. It helps me relax and take my mind off of everything. I almost always in bed by 11 p.m.


Another hard one when it’s your first time. You train hard. You put a ton of pressure on yourself to make it happen. Just go out and have a good time on race day. Don’t second guess your training (because by then you can’t do anything about it), just go out and run. You’ll be relieved once you shake the nerves out. But you’ll also be incredibly excited when it’s over.

Have a good time. Enjoy your day, because you never forget your first.

A SLO marathon: Part I


I realized when I was printing out my confirmation for the San Luis Obispo Marathon that I registered on Jan. 1 at 2 p.m. By 7 p.m. that night, I was laying in a hospital bed curled over begging the emergency room staff to give me something for that pain.

When they finally did, the marathon I had just signed up for was the farthest thing from my mind. I was pumped full of Dilaudid and sent home. A week later, I was back in the hospital being rolled into an operating room having my gallbladder removed.

Ominous beginnings, right?

Good thing the San Luis Obispo Marathon didn’t turn out anywhere near bad. It was actually an amazing, pleasant experience. I had fun. I felt good. It turned out to be a great weekend, actually.

My husband and I left home at around 11 a.m. I completely forgot how long the drive down to the San Luis Obispo area was, a total of about four hours with a pit stop for lunch. The drive was relatively uneventful. In fact, we hit very little traffic on the way down, likely due to our late start.

By 3:30 p.m. we were driving down into central San Luis Obispo on Highway 101, passing right by the tented expo at the Madonna Inn.


I should explain why I decided I wanted to run this race.

One of the issues I’ve had lately is with running really large races. Nothing spikes my anxiety more than being around a huge group of people. So I’ve been avoiding large marathons. I’m lucky that California International Marathon only has about 8,000 people. I was slightly hyperventilating at the beginning of CIM. The fear was masked by the rain, thankfully.

I read that the SLO Marathon had a cap of 1,200 marathon runners. The half marathoners were capped at 4,000.

I hate to say this, because it’s a great race, but I knew that the races wouldn’t sell out. The event is only in it’s second year. I heard about it from another runner’s blog, but otherwise there was very little Internet chatter about the marathon. I signed up when I did in order to avoid rising prices, though it still wasn’t cheap.

On Sunday, only 672 people ran the marathon. It started at 6 a.m. It was still dark. By the time I was hitting mile three, the half marathon was starting. Most of my time on the course, I only saw one or two of the fastest half marathoners. Small. Nice.

Plus, I love the SLO area. My husband and I went on our first vacation together in Morro Bay. We went back for years before our lives became too busy (note, we need to go back more now).

I ignored the elevation chart. I just wanted to run somewhere beautiful.

And it was beautiful when we arrived at the expo. It was also easy in and easy out to get my race packet. The only people lined up for the marathon were two misplaced half marathoners. It took me about five minutes from start to finish to get my race packet and number, which was assigned the day of. The race organizers then wrote my shirt size on the bib tag for me to claim my shirt.

I initially signed up for a medium. On race day, my husband went and exchanged it for a large. It was way too tight across the chest. But it was a beautiful green color, very similar to my CIM one (see above).

We made our way through the expo, which actually didn’t seem all that big. I found the race gear booth and admit that I went a little crazy. I’ve been so good at not buying anything running related lately. But I always consider marathons different. I don’t do a ton of them, definitely not as many as the half marathons I do. So I bought myself a nice jacket, my first nice race-related jacket.


The nice logo was embroidered on the front. It’s a nice jacket, with a fleece lining and no hood. It’s kind of a windbreaker material, but it’s really, really warm.

So I splurged a little. The back of the jacket also had a basic logo on it, but simplistic design that I loved enough that I was sold pretty quickly on the jacket.


I also bought a hefty water bottle. I’m already using it. Like I said, I haven’t been buying any running items lately, so I figured this would be my gift to myself for running the marathon. Incentive is always a plus, especially with 26.2 miles ahead.

We didn’t stay at the expo long. The area is too nice to stay inland. And we were staying in Morro Bay, which was only 20 minutes away. I had told my husband I would have preferred to stay in SLO, but I’m glad we stayed on the coast.

We actually headed out to the peninsula area and went exploring for a little while before dinner.


You’ll notice the difference in atmosphere here. It was nice and sunny inland. Last year the marathon was run on a relatively foggy day. This year it was beautiful the entire time. The coast, though, was layered in fog. We went for a quick jaunt along the peninsula, but I didn’t want to spend too much time on my feet.

I did get to take in some ocean calm.

It helped to soothe my nerves, though, a little before my run. We ate at an Italian place overlooking the ocean before heading back to the hotel. I settled in for bed early, at about 10 p.m. Why? My iPhone alarm was set for 4 a.m. The marathon started at 6 a.m.

And you know what? I slept really, really well. The bed was super comfortable, comparable to my bed at home.

I felt like this whole marathon lead up was different than the three times before. I felt as if I was much more calm. I wasn’t cranky. The anxious nerves were being kept at bay as well. I was taking it moment by moment.

I’d like to think that’s what led me to PR success the next day.

A mileage milestone

A couple days ago, I did something today without even realizing it. I hadn’t been counting my miles too much, outside of my mileage per month, so I didn’t know how close I was to surpassing my mileage from 2011.

Then, after my five-mile run this morning, I realized that I had accumulated 934 miles for the year.

In 2011, I ran 930.

Today, with my run I surpassed that with 934.

That means I’m only 76 miles away from 1,000, which was my ultimate goal for 2012. By the end of October, I should be well over that now if my marathon planning stays on track.

I was so excited, I posted it to Twitter, which also feeds to my Facebook account.

What does this mean? It means, despite my thinking otherwise, my training is on track. It means I’m running a lot more, despite not being in as many races. And, most importantly, it means I’m enjoying running enough more now that I want to do it all the time. All good things.

I’m looking forward to my upcoming half marathon this weekend in San Jose, that with a combination of midweek runs should get me to a nice number by the end of October.

Sometimes I disappear

I hate to say it, but this is the time of year when I tend to disappear. From family gatherings. From social outings. From blogging. I just get too busy. That’s not a bad thing (because I’m busy making money).

Unfortunately I also seem to disappear from running too.

Not this year, though. This week already I’ve logged 25 miles with a long run scheduled for Sunday morning. I’m hoping to have 35+ by the end of Sunday morning. I’m hoping to gradually step up my mileage as I really start to prepare for California International Marathon on Dec. 2.

Because it’s that time.

My students published the first issue of the campus newspaper for the semester on Friday. At my full-time job, I’ve been busy with the high school football season taking off. That means I’ve been logging some serious time sitting in front of the little monster above. (For those who don’t know him, that’s Domo He’s one of many monster-types at my desk.)

I’ve been logging serious mileage lately in general, both slow and fast. And, outside from a down period a couple weeks ago, I’ve been feeling really good about my running. So much so that I’m really excited about a 5-mile race I’ve decided to do next week all about women empowerment. It’s actually one of the races I had to forgo last year because of a nasty Achilles strain that put me on crutches.

I was feeling great about running until I started hitting the road/treadmill this week. That’s when I noticed a slight twinge in my calf. I also noticed that my shoes were looking a little more beat than I remembered.

That’s when I knew. It was time to buckle down for a new pair again.

After only 300+ miles. I honestly thought the LunarEclipse +2’s would last a little longer, but I’m the same runner with the same weight, so this shouldn’t really surprise me too much.

These are the “Breathe” edition of the LunarEclipse’s. Kind of pretty looking in person. I’m going to do another outdoor run in my old shoes (the long run Sunday) and then start moving through the process of retiring those. Sigh. I really loved the hot pink. But these are my first “pretty” running shoes in general, and the new ones are pretty nice too.

So about that disappearing? I literally have to make time to blog now with school and video shoots more than twice a week. I’m busy. But I’m also working on balancing everything better this year. That’s why I pushed myself to run days in a row. It’s why I stopped everything and started blogging today.

It’s why you’re reading this, basically.

But it also means I’m working 70+ hour weeks when my students are in production for their newspaper. So I’m also a bit whipped out by Friday, especially after a 4 p.m. to 12 a.m. shift, which in reality tends to be a 2 p.m. to 12 a.m. shift. I’m trying to get over the fatigue, though, put my mind in an active area and just run.

Today that meant five miles. We’ll see what tomorrow brings.

But if my blogging is lacking into the next month or so, it’s because life gets crazy busy this time of year. I’ll only worry about it if I start slacking on my training.

Second marathon sophomore slump: Part I

To say I’ve been dreading writing my race recap for the Rock ‘n’ Roll San Diego Marathon would be an understatement. Part of me was hoping, maybe I could just not write anything about the race outside of saying that it sucked. It was not fun for me. It made me work every minute. And I was miserable the entire time.

But that wouldn’t be much of a race recap.

I keep having these “I should have known” moments. I don’t do travel races all too well. I proved that during the Big Sur Half Marathon in November and again during the Big Sur 21-miler. (Or maybe I’m just not up to par for Big Sur races?) Somehow I managed to do OK with California International Marathon last year, though.

The plan was that we’d go down to San Diego on Saturday, early and head back after the race on Sunday.

So we ventured down Interstate 5 in the wee hours of the morning. We hit the road around 5:30 a.m. We sped past Los Angeles, which is about five hours south of where I live, before the noon hour. And, after only two stops along the way, we made it to San Diego sometime after the noon hour.

The happy buzz kind of started to end there as we hit traffic along Harbor Boulevard in downtown on our way to the Convention Center where the expo was happening.

I’ve been to three Rock ‘n’ Roll expos so far. This one was the biggest. This was also the biggest of the three races I’d run.

The check in process was simple. I was handed my blue “marathon” bib.

Rock ‘n’ Roll generally has a pretty efficient system. Bib. Shirt. Reusable backpack.

I got lucky this time with the race shirt. It was a female size. And it even fits good. My one from Pasadena seemed to run a little large. It’s also a nice blue color and basic enough for me to want to wear it again. (I should do a post on what makes race shirts wearable, seriously, because I have quite a few I want to send in and have a quilt made from because I don’t wear them.)

The biggest thing I noticed about the expo was that there was a ton of free stuff. Free milk. Free swag. Free Jamba Juice drinks. Free cake. Even free tuna fish.

Speaking of tuna, I even got a photo with Charlie the Tuna, the mascot from StarKist Tuna.

So that’s a pretty awesome photo. I walked around for about an hour, making a purchase of a 26.2 shirt at the Brooks booth and a new roller for my legs.

The new roller was actually on sale. It’s called a TigerTail and it’s somewhat like my Stick roller from another expo. But it has a solid roller in the middle instead of the beads. This is amazing because my Stick roller pinches me every now and then.

That’s what it looks like. I’ve used it multiple times since the marathon. I’ve also taken it to work to roll my legs out when I need to if I am sitting for too long. At $25, I feel like I got a deal on it.

I didn’t spend too much money at the expo. I just didn’t see anything I really needed, outside of the TigerTail, and maybe some items here and there. I should note that I bought a new container of Glide, but not the name brand. I had forgotten my Glide at home and my fat little arm on my right side has been chafing pretty badly. My arms and gut are the first places I gain weight and where it usually stays, so even when my stomach is looking more svelte and my legs are bulked out, my arms are still chubby.

Before the exit, the videos of the course were playing out.

It was then I had a moment where I realized “I’m running 26.2 miles tomorrow.” And I was nervous. And scared. I’d like to think it doesn’t how many times you do this distance, the  likelihood is that if you are more mortal, less Olympian, you never really full comprehend how long it is when you sign up for it.

It’s a bit of a distance.

We left the expo and headed into the Gaslamp District in San Diego for cupcakes. For me. Because I love cupcakes and I knew specifically where a shop was since I was down in San Diego overnight for an American Society of Newspaper Editors conference in early 2011.

Then we headed back to the hotel. It’s there that a headache started to flair up. But I went and had a pasta dinner, usual fuel, and decided not to head out for a night on the town. Instead, I’d try to tuck in early and see if I could catch up on sleep.

That’s where my experience in San Diego all goes down hill.

I got into bed at 9 p.m. and couldn’t sleep. I turned every which way. I put on the fan for white noise. I was comfortable, but I wasn’t sleeping.

So I laid there. For seven hours. Eyes closed, but never fully falling asleep.

There was nothing I could do about it. My mind kept wandering. Every time I thought “this will be the point I’ll fall asleep” it didn’t happen. I just kept staring at the ceiling.

There was no way I wouldn’t be exhausted running this race. I knew it then. I’d woken up at 4 a.m. the morning before and hadn’t slept the entire night. When my alarm clock went off at 4:45 a.m. I considered not running.

But I’d trained so hard. I’d come so far.

Part of me thought I could pull it together and get it done. And that’s all I thought about as my husband drove me to the start line. My mind wandered. My stomach turned.

It wouldn’t get any better going into the race.


Big Sur 21-miler prep

We made it!

I have my bib and my bus ticket! I know what time at ‘o dark thirty I’m waking up! I’m ready, I think, to go!

I’m still more than a little scared, though.

This isn’t an easy marathon. It’s not flat. Crossing my fingers for a good run tomorrow!