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Posts tagged ‘training runs’

Cheetahs in the dark and other night running perils

I make no apologies for running at night. It’s often the only time I can carve out a chunk of time to go on a run. It’s soothing in many ways, with the hum of wind coming over the Altamont hills near my home. It’s cooler than during the day.

But I’ll be the first to admit, it’s kind of scary.

Especially when you see a cheetah.

Well. Not really. That cheetah comes from Wikimedia Commons. Not Mountain House.

A couple months ago someone reported seeing a Mountain Lion where I run. Turned out to be a house cat. Yes, a house cat.

But the problem with running at night is that the mind can play tricks on your eyes. Even with a headlamp.

That happened to me and my running buddy Jennie recently. We’re already hyper focused on our surroundings. We literally turn around when we think we hear something behind us. We speed up in areas we’ve seen dogs jumping up to eye level at six-foot brick fences (seriously, a huge jumping dog).

We run through areas of darkness quickly, just to get to a brighter area.

And sometimes, we see things.

Once, on an early morning 20-mile run Jennie and I saw a fox. It was before there were houses in a specific area out in Mountain House. Instead, there were just frames. We hid, temporarily, in the world’s worst smelling portable toilets. That’s saying a lot about the smell too. I’ve experienced some pretty bad ones in my time as a runner.

The fox passed.

On the recent cheetah encounter run, we had joked about seeing wolves now that it’s darker when we run. On the backside of the community, there’s a farm where we often hear wildlife noises. So a wolf? Possible.

More possible? Seeing a feral cat.

So on that specific run, we were already psyching ourselves out a little when I turned a corner and saw bright eyes.


What the hell is that?

Jennie, about 50-feet behind me, is coming closer.

“Cheetah!” I yell out, half kidding.

The look on her face was priceless. She was petrified.

She laughed it off after I told her it was just a cat. A cat that ran and hid behind a bush as soon as we came around a corner. (Don’t ask me why I didn’t try to save it. I have dogs. And ducks. I’m not a big fan of cats in general. I would completely ignore all cats if I could.)

A cat like the one above can turn into a monster on a night run. I’m not even kidding. That specific cat above belongs to my student Haley. Haley recently had her world turned upside down with more than her share of loses, including her faithful companion Peaches, a cat that was like a sister to her.

I’m glad Haley got a new cat today. I’m more glad that, I believe, she adopted a stray. She was really excited about it. And it made me realized I needed to write this blog post. (Rest in peace, Peaches.)

So a cat as innocent looking as Haley’s becomes a crazy beast ready to chase us. Except it isn’t.

Once you see something like that, you let your guard down a little bit. Whew. That passed. Right.

Jennie and I laughed it off and rounded a corner heading into our last mile. About 20-feet after the little store we sometimes stop at we again saw eyes. Bigger eyes. On a bigger animal.

And we freaked out. In an unexpected way.

Because it was dark.

Kind of like that.

Jennie and I did a quick back peddle and ran back toward the store. Jennie ran faster than I’d ever seen her run on any training run. We looked back when we got to a safe place, in front of the store, and realized the dog, large as it was, actually  was with a person. On a leash.

But for 10 seconds, that dog was scary to us. And neither or us saw the owner, even with two headlamps.

I know not to run from dogs. I have Chow Chows, often considered violent animals (I call my dog Cuddles sometimes even though his name is Beau, that should say something). I was raised around dogs.

That doesn’t make it any less scary when you see an animal, staring you down on a sidewalk in the dark. A dog can become a monster. And a cat that’s likely more afraid of you, becomes a cheetah.

Or maybe I’m the only one this happens to in the dark.


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.

iPhone saves a night run

When I decided to finally get rid of my amazing BlackBerry Curve a couple years ago, I switched to an Android X phone. I loved it, specifically because it shot high definition video. I loved that phone until a software upgrade basically rendered me unable to make phone calls.

Then it became slow. I took it in for a look at the Verizon store. An associate reversed the software update.

Two months later, the stupid phone stopped taking a charge. Everything I did to make it charge wouldn’t work. I was bummed for several reasons. The first was that I spent a ridiculous amount of money on the phone. The second was that it didn’t last as long as I needed it to.

So I went to the “dark side.” I bought an iPhone 4S earlier this year.

I kind of had a tough transition to the phone. I wasn’t sure what to think of it. I wasn’t sure how to make it work.(Doesn’t that always happen when you get a new phone?) I basically was a fish out of water. It helped that I had an iPad 2 as well.

But I adjusted and eventually started to love it.You can see one of my screens to the right. Ignore the fact I haven’t updated any of my apps for awhile. And ignore my AP mobile alert. I’ve been trying to avoid news as much as possible lately.

In any case, if you’ve read this blog long enough, you also know that I run with a Garmin 405CX and I have an awesome headlamp.

On a recent run, I didn’t have both.

My Garmin is somewhere between my home in Tracy and Kansas. For the second time in two years, the battery life went wonky. It was out of warranty, but Garmin offered to fix it because it was the same problem as last time. (Model problem, maybe?) Fixing it for Garmin basically means replacing it. That’s lame. And it takes forever.

I’m talking about two to three weeks to send it and then get one back.

So I’ve been doing my outdoor runs without it. A couple weeks ago, when the battery died in the middle of a 15-mile run, I finished off my run with my Nike+ app on my iPhone.

I’ve been using that since.

It’s surprisingly accurate and doesn’t drain my battery life like I thought it would.

Yes, I’m slow sometimes when I run at night. Blame fatigue.

In any case, I was thankful my iPhone saved that run. I was more thankful when a couple weeks ago, I realized as I made my way to Mountain House to run that my headlamp had dead batteries.

It was dark. Really, incredibly dark.

So I pulled out my iPhone and started doing some searching. I remember that I had a flashlight app on the phone. Since I already run with it in my hand to see the Nike+ app, I kept alternating between turning on the flashlight and checking how far we were in our run.

The light was really nice when we hit parts of the sidewalk that are considerably more dark than others.

So, overall, my iPhone essentially has two running tools in it that I didn’t really appreciate until that run. Had we not have had the Nike+ app, we probably wouldn’t have finished that epic 15-miler.

Had we not had a flashlight, we wouldn’t be able to see the sidewalk. I was very grateful for both.

The Flashlight app was free. A nice price. It uses the flash light on the iPhone 4S, which does eat some battery life, but for a shorter run, isn’t too bad. Plus, I charge my phone in my car when I drive usually, so I don’t really have a problem with battery life.

The Nike+ app is also free now (I remember paying for it, but maybe I’m mistaken). It uses the phone’s GPS to track the run with distance and pace.

It seems to come up incrementally short of my Garmin, but we usually overrun our six-mile run anyway.

I’m not converting to the Nike+ app. And I’m not considering running with my iPhone flashlight on every run either.

But these apps give me options when I in a pinch. And both saved our run the other night, which, when it’s dark outside, is really important.

On the wings of the goddess of victory

The Nike Women’s Half Marathon is not one of those races that is easy to get a personal record on. Why? There are so many people running. There are many others walking. The first three or four miles are spent weaving through people until we hit the hills, then it evens out a little bit.

So my expectations, especially after my horrendous experience at the Rock ‘n’ Roll San Jose Half Marathon, were pretty low. I ran a 2:36 in San Jose. Not great. My body hurt. I hate the entire experience.

Nike was the complete opposite of that.

I loved every minute of it, even the beginning with a new corral system.

And I finished 13 minutes ahead of my time from last year. I figured I’d do better than last year no matter what because I at least new what to expect this year.

The whole experience was positive, though.

I woke up early for the 7 a.m. Union Square start. It was dark when we left our home in Tracy. It was still dark when we neared the city. I stopped at my predesignated race bathroom pit stop before heading into San Francisco.

Know where this is? I think it’s one of the best kept secrets if you are coming in to run from the East Bay. There are three portable toilets here, no lines. Stopped here saved me during the 1st Half of the San Francisco Marathon. The lines at the Embarcadero were just way too long for me to even consider going to the bathroom at the race start.

My husband dropped me off about a block from my corral opening. The first thing I noticed: There were a ton of people waiting for the bathrooms. Great, I thought, a repeat of last year. I was glad I went before I got into the city.

I walked up to the middle of my corral and was surprised to find another set of portable toilets with lines only three deep. Seriously? How is no one finding these? I jumped in a line with 15 minutes to race time and was out by the time the gun went off to let the first corral go.

I even had time to head up toward the front of my corral, which it seemed like a lot of people were avoiding.

It was still pretty dark at the start. I didn’t start seeing a glimmer of the light until I was about to cross the start line, 16 minutes after the first people began.

It was kind of beautiful, though, to see the shadows on the ground.

There was really that much space between me and the next person. It was nice not to be on top of one another, a huge change from last year.

It didn’t seem long until the announcer was telling us that it was time to head out. And, just as quickly as I got there, we were off and running.

Mile 1: 10:50 — A downhill at the beginning, not too bad. Bobbing and weaving a lot. My Garmin actually had me pacing closer to 12-minute miles. I should have known than that something was wrong with it.

Mile 2: 11:04  — Continuing running through and around people. We’re down at the Embarcadero now, with a slight wind coming up from the San Francisco Bay. But it was getting a little warm already.

Mile 3: 11:38 — A slight hill near Ghirardelli Square. I actually heard a woman say: “Wow, my friend said the hills were bad, this isn’t bad at all.” I laughed a little, if only because I knew what was coming up soon.

Mile 4: 12:32 — On the first hill, slowing down a little, but not feeling horrible. I was worried about my legs. They started getting a little tired here.

Mile 5: 11:08 — Now a downhill and run through Crissy Field. I love running along here. It’s a beautiful area, plus there is a huge cheering area at the Marina Safeway. This is probably my favorite part of the run. I picked it up here because I was so pumped…and I knew what was coming up.

Mile 6: 12:03 — Not bad as I continue through the area near Golden Gate Bridge. It’s getting harder to stop at water stops because it seems like everyone is stopping near the end now. There are just a lot of people in this race, so everything takes time.

Mile 7: 15:11 — THIS. HILL.SUCKS. I hate it. It’s in both this race and the 1st Half of the San Francisco Marathon. When you run on a hill this step, it really feels as if you are running in place.

That’s the elevation chart from my Garmin. The biggest, most challenging hill is starts near mile six. And it seems to take forever to climb.

Mile 8: 11:42 — Back down the hill a little here. Not a bad mile. Not my best. Just kept running.

Mile 9: 14:00 — The second big hill here. I forgot about it completely. I thought I was going to start a downhill, then turned a corner and realized how wrong I was.

Mile 1o: 12:13 — I think mile 10 is always my favorite mile during half marathons. It is in this one because the downhill here is significant, but you can get caught up running way to fast. That happened to me last year. This year, I paced nicely down the hill.

Mile 11: 11:43 — Into the park, feeling my fatigue.

Mile 12: 12:45 — I walked here for longer than I wanted to. I think I was just tired. I finally picked up a slow jog. And yet, it didn’t seem as if I wasn’t running at all. (A theme in this race, I think.)

Mile 13: 10:44 — I realized it was nearing the end. I picked it up and gave it all I could. We exit the park and then, immediately, hit the finish line. So it’s quiet, then it gets all crazy (especially with people running across the intersection).

Mile .26: 2:24 — RUN. FAST. NOW! I don’t know why I picked it up so much, but it felt good. You can’t tell from my race photos, but I was so happy to be done.

Garmin time: 2:40:01

Chip time: 2:40:51

And then, the line for the Tiffany necklaces.

I’m told that once upon a time, they would just hand you the necklace upon finish. Now they scan each bib and make you walk through this area before a handsome firefighter hands you a necklace.

(An aside confession: I’m a little on the heavier side again now and hate, hate, hate my back fat. But I realize when I run races with a lot of women that nearly every woman has back fat that is unflattering in athletic clothes. Even slim ones. I don’t know why that makes me feel better, but it kind of does.)

Back to the necklace. I waited for nearly 10 minutes trying to make my way through this mess. It just kind of seemed like my line had a log jam.

Then it happened.

Hello handsome firefighter. Thank you for handing me a beautiful necklace. By the way, when I took this photo a woman behind me scoff and said I was holding up the line. I found it funny because the woman to the right of me is getting her photo taken with a firefighter. The woman to the left to me, you can see her phone, just finished doing the same thing I was.

My next line was my finisher T-shirt pick up. Last year I loved the yellow. This year I loved the florescent lime green. Great for running at night. Great for being seen in general (it’s at the top of this post).

It took forever to get through the finish area. After getting a banana and a bagel, I only took one of both, and some water I dunked under a barrier to get out of the mess. I finally went and sat down looking at Ocean Beach, ready to open my prize/medal.

I always hate untying the bow. It’s so perfect. I wonder how long it takes to tie 20,000+ Tiffany boxes with ribbon. I would imagine Tiffany works on this for quite some time.

I opened the box up and was confused at first. The pendant is dog-tagged shaped with what looked like cryptic writing in the background. Upon closer inspection, I realized the figure was actually running in front of the Golden Gate Bridge.

Perfect, since this is the bridge’s 75th anniversary.

Beautiful. I honestly love it so much more than my one from last year. I’ve been wearing it all week. Love.

Last year, I was thankful to run this race. This year, the wings of the goddess of victory led me to another 13.1 this year. It’s tough to get into this race, but I’m so glad I did. And there’s never a guarantee for next year.

But it was an amazing journey. I’m crossing my fingers than I’ll be able to run it again in 2013.

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.

Where the sidewalk ends

Not even kidding about that title.

The community I run in is not yet finished. It has around 10,000 people. There’s one, small convenience store. There are a couple schools, but the school district only recently put up a building for its administrative office. A new high school is being built.

And there are a lot of roads to nowhere. There’s even a bridge to nowhere.

But my favorite part about Mountain House, not to be confused with Mountain View further into the San Francisco Bay Area, are all the sidewalks that just seem to end. That’s apparently what happens when construction isn’t yet done.

I always feel as if the conversation between construction workers goes a little something like this:

Worker 1: “Well, we’re almost out of concrete.”

Worker 2: “Ahhhh, we don’t need anymore. We’ll just end the sidewalk.”

Worker 1: “But what if someone walks off????”

Worker 2: “No worries, we’ll just put up a barricade. No danger in that.”

It’s not as if people can’t walk around the orange and white barricades. The bridge to nowhere I mentioned early (in reality, it will take the community over a main road once the area is completely built out), has a fence in front of it so no one will dare go up or on it. In reality, the bridge makes a great place to train with hill repeats. So people go around the fence. It’s not that hard. Let’s face it, people often ignore warning signs anyway.

It’s kind of humorous though when you get to one of these barricades. What exactly is it protecting me from? My run turning into a trail run? My feet hitting a hole? (That’s actually a serious concern, but I watch out.)

Funny thing, near one of the newer buildings, sometimes we actually run to where the sidewalk ends and turnaround.

Why do we not keep going? There’s no sidewalk. But there’s no barricade either.


A cleaner alternative

About a month ago, I read a review for the Clean Bottle on another runner’s blog. She, too, favors the Amphipod Hydraform Handheld Pocket. But she was pleasantly surprised with how the Clean Bottle worked for her too. An even better bonus is that this bottle is much easier to clean.

A fun fact about running water bottles: No matter how hard I try, my bottles always seem to get some sort of “film” or “fungus” inside. It’s nothing a little scalding hot water and some wash brush action can’t take on, but it’s annoying nonetheless.

So I was tempted to check out the Clean Bottle when I saw that it was getting positive reviews.

I was thrilled when I saw Clean Bottle had a booth at the San Francisco Marathon expo. I was more thrilled with the “buy three, get one free” price. On the table, the representatives had both the regular version and something called “The Runner.”

I picked up four bottles, one of “The Runner” and three regular, for $20. That’s as much as one Amphipod costs, so I figured even if it didn’t work out for outdoor running, I could use them on the treadmill. (I usually take the bands off my Amphipods and use those on the treadmill.)

It basically operates on the same premise as my Amphipod bottle, with a couple notable exceptions.

The first is size. The Clean Bottle carries two more ounces than my Amphipod handheld. That’s not a lot, you could argue, but on a long run over the weekend as it was warming up in the morning, it was enough for me to notice.

The second is that the band that wraps the bottle for the runner to hold is connected to both the bottom and the top. My Amphipod one wraps tightly around the bottom of the bottom, but sometimes comes off during races. That actually happened during the California International Marathon in 2011 and was really annoying.

I took the bottle on it’s maiden run with me during my vacation a couple weeks ago. I was initially nervous about the shape and size. It’s round, whereas the Amphipod is lean and made to fir the curve of your hand.

It fits an iPhone in the clear pocket and also has a place to carry Gu. I run with an iFitness band in order to keep everything I need close at hand, so my phone goes in there. I did, however, put my keys in the carry space. It worked perfectly for me. (I know some people like to run with their phones in sight. I’m not one of them. I’d rather not be targeted for a robbery because someone can clearly see my iPhone. Most the time, I keep my keys hidden too.)

I started running and basically forgot it was a different bottle.

It wasn’t heavy. It wasn’t bothersome.

Even better, the tip on it is more rubbery, so it was easier to grasp with my teeth and open mid run.

And when I got home, it literally too seconds to clean. All I did was unscrew the top and bottom, rinse and then set aside for it to dry. No using paper towels to get out any slim or any other gross stuff.

I’m happy to say I’ve run with this four or five times since then and it’s been just as effective. It works just as well as the Amphipod bottles AND makes cleaning up a breeze. It’s kind of perfect.

My only qualm is that I’d like a model that doesn’t have the pocket for the iPhone. I’d rather just have a little area to keep my keys or a Gu or two. I see this area being especially annoying for people who don’t have iPhones.

I gave my running buddy Jennie a bottle to try as well and she uses it near daily at work now. She, too, loves the simple design and ease of it to disassemble.

Plus, it’s BPA free. A win-win.

I don’t think I’ll run out and buy 10 or so of these. I like that I can use the same strap for all three of my Clean Bottles. I also like than, unlike Amphipod, you can buy extra bottles without buying the pockets. I have bought the bottles only on the Amphipod website, but last I checked they didn’t sale the 20-ounce model like that.

And I’m not ready to replace my Amphipod runners yet either. I still love those for racing. I still will likely use them all the time. But if you know a runner in the market for a new water bottle, I think the Clean Bottle should definitely be on a recommendation list.

About that heat

It’s been a tad warm lately. And by warm I mean, “it’s not hot enough to not run outside from time to time but let’s be real and stay on the treadmill.”

I know my limitations. The hooter temperatures make me not want to run. I get cranky. I want to quit. I basically start out hoping for seven to 10 miles and then stop at four.

On the treadmill, I know I get the distance. And, lately, I’ve been upping the resistance to simulate outdoor running.

The problem with treadmill running is the monotony. I’ve let my mind wander enough times and nearly fell off the deck to figure out some time back that I needed to do something to keep my mind occupied.

I started with music on my iPod.

Then, last summer, I got an iPad for teaching. And we got Netflix. And Hulu Plus.

And now, I spend most of my treadmill runs watching videos. Usually two, which gets me anywhere from eight to 10 miles.

My latest obsession as the mercury rises is The Walking Dead. Netflix has the first season available on instant streaming. I got through the first six episodes pretty quickly during my runs this past week. Having something I’m interested in to watch even helps with mileage, which stands at 33 miles this week, though I’m hoping to hop on for some more after I’m finished cleaning my house and blogging.

Plus, I’m waiting for season two to download onto my iPad.

Believe me, the distraction makes the runs go by faster. It also helps me keep pace. I know I’m at my goal pace if I can finish a certain number of miles before the episode is over.

Of course, the treamill makes Netflix a little wonky from time to time. That means the first four minutes of my run I’m trying to get Netflix to reconnect to the Internet, despite the fact that I’m only 40 feet from the router.

The mill runs are also helping me train for the event I’m doing this weekend: the Brazen six-hour endurance run.

I logged 117 miles for June, which I figure is a good base to run six-hours straight. I’m looking forward to it, to test my endurance, but to also see how far I can get. If I can run a marathon in around 5:20-5:30, I’m hoping the event will be my first ultra. That’s pretty exciting to me, considering I’m using it as a “training run” for the San Francisco 1st Half Marathon later in the month. (I’m not nearly crazy enough for the 12-hour race.)

So I’m beating the heat, staying indoors and keeping cool on the treadmill, with a little help from The Walking Dead.

My hope is that those three words aren’t needed to describe me during my six-hour run on Saturday. After the disaster in San Diego, I need a good run.

Two half marathons in two weeks

I didn’t sleep well last night. I haven’t been sleeping well at all really. Last night, though, was pretty bad. I woke up four or five times. I ended up taking a nap at midday. It was a good thing I woke up early, though. I had to drive to Stockton and pick up my race number and packet for my second half marathon in a two week period.

I signed up for the St. Joseph’s Half Marathon because it’s a local event. I’ve run so many races outside the area I live (mostly in the Bay Area) that I figured I should probably give back to the community I work in everyday. This race was an especially easy choice because it supports a program at the college I teach journalism at.

What I didn’t realize was how tried I’d be after the Nike Women’s Half and three weeks of swimming. My legs are sore and tired.

I ran two miles on the treadmill on Friday and felt as if I was dying.

I’m not 100 percent sure I’ll be competitive during the race. I heard of a bunch of people say they’d be walking it. I don’t want to do that. Thomas and I already after afternoon plans so i need to finish in a decent time frame.

I’m using this more as a training run since I have my nice new half PR from the Rock ‘n’ Roll San Jose Half earlier this month.

So I stopped by the Stockton Fleet Feet store, which recently moved to a new location.

I have a love/hate relationship with Fleet Feet. I love what I can buy there and all the supplies available. I hate the money I spend there. And I usually end up spending a lot. I went in today for my race packet and came out with a new pair of Zenzah compression sleeves for my shins. I am definitely planning on wearing them tomorrow.

It didn’t take long to get my number (which is three digits and scares me because I’ve grown accustom to larger races, small races are so lonely) and was given my reusable bag (with nice printing on it) and tech shirt.

I also got a running vest, which is a little large. I’ve never wore a running vest, so I’m not 100 percent sure what the purpose of one is. I think it it had pockets I’d be more in love with it. I do like the reflective nature of it, though.

The line at the register to buy the compression sleeves was long, but I waited it out. There were a lot of people crowding to get the cards they were handing out to get signed by vendors for a chance to win a heart-rate monitor. I passed, if only because I already have a heart rate monitor (with my Garmin 405CX) and I needed to get going and get a lot of errands run.

The expo was on the brick walk outside of Lincoln Center in Stockton. And it was a nice day, so there were a lot of people checking it out.

So I grabbed my packet and left. I’m washing my running clothes for tomorrow right now in hopes of laying everything out for tomorrow.

I don’t have high hopes for a solid half. I’m really hoping to just hold everything together. And, more than anything, I’m hoping I wake up tomorrow and really want to run.

Low expectations? Yeah, maybe.

But I think my body is physically exhausted from all I’ve been doing lately. I think I’m pushing myself a little too hard lately. It’s showing in the quality of my runs.

So after this half, I’m not running another race half until Big Sur on Nov. 20. That gives me some recovery time. But I have an 18 and 20-miler to do in between this and that too.

We’ll see how this goes.


The road to 103

I started today with 98 miles for the month of September. I’ve come a long way since January’s 68 miles. Up until June I averaged 60-70 miles a month. Then I went to New York City on vacation and only ran 38 after a horrible run (and 2:42 time) at the See Jane Run Half Marathon in June.

In July I was prepping for the San Francisco Second Half Marathon. I finished that in a redeemable 2:35:30. Better.

This weekend I run the Rock ‘n’ Roll San Jose Half Marathon. Outside of an injury that derailed my training for two weeks in August (I only ran 88 for the month) I’ve been fairly consistent in ramping up for the Dec. 4 marathon.

I rolled out of bed this morning and put on my running clothes.

“Guess what my run today means?” I asked my husband who was in the shower.

“I don’t know,” he responded. (He’s not much of a guesser or anything.)

“When I finish the first two miles, I’ll be at 100 miles for the month,” I said, digging through my collection of sports bras.

“Yay,” he said from the shower.

“I know you’ll care for about two minutes about that,” I said back. (This is our relationship, it’s fine, he just isn’t as into running as I am.)

I grabbed my waterbottle, filled it 50/50 with cold water and Gatorade. I hopped on the treadmill and started going.

Two miles later I had my 100.

I kept going. It’s not a rest day. I could keep running. I did three more miles to not overdo it before Sunday’s half.

It’s two miles short of the 105 for July. But I passed the 100 mark then somewhere in the Haight.

The mileage is harder now. It will continue to get harder. The runs are longer. They will continue to be.

The passion is deeper, though, on the road to 100+. But maybe that’s just me.