Saturday, February 06, 2016

Embracing the California Side and ALL the Challenges

Newsflash - Still pregnant.  Still ready to not be. If he's anything like me, this kid is going to wait until his actual due date on Sunday to complete his first race.  In order to take my mind off it, let's talk about why I am excited to get my body back.

This year especially, I am very motivated to get back to racing. Having a 6 mo. break will do that for you.  When I originally thought about what I'd like my 2016 racing calendar to look like, I had three goals:
1.  Get myself back to marathon shape by the end of 2016 (10 months post baby)
2.  Run multiple half marathons, maybe some 10K's and only 1 marathon (as to not burnout a'la 2014)
3.  To run more races in California.  Although my co-workers kindly (I think) refer to me as a true Califoregonian, it's time to embrace the CA side of the equation.  I've lived in the bay area for almost four years now and I love it.  Northern CA has so much to offer, especially in terms of amazing races so I don't need to spend every extra $ I have flying up to OR to get my endurance fix on.

With those three goals in mind, The San Francisco Marathon was my first stop.  I've been wanting to run this race for all three years I've been in the city but it's always conflicted with previous trips.  This year was going to be different.  I made the commitment in November and blocked it on my calendar. Tritreats and I have been talking about doing the Half It All Challenge for years so 2016 is gonna be the year I kicked it off.  Because I am type-A, naturally I'll run the first half in 2016 and the second in 2017.  I'd love to do the full but 5 months post baby seemed a bit aggressive.  I've heard nothing but amazing things about this race from the November Project crew and everyone else I know who's ran it. I can personally vouch for how amazing the city is, something those attending the Superbowl festivities this week are finding out first hand.  70+ degrees in February and crystal clear? Yes please!

With CIM in mind as my end of year marathon, I knew I wanted one more local half to work into training.  In December MFR and I made a VERY rash/last min decision to buy a house and move to Berkeley - all of which happened in 14 days.  Could we be more of a cliche?  They say not to make big life decisions in your third trimester - whoops!  Pregnancy can cause you to do crazy things. Without even realizing it was happening,  as of January 2nd I became an East Bay'er.  When I came to, my first course of action was to immediately start researching local running groups and races. Childcare and all that boring stuff can wait.

I found the Berkeley Half on November 20th.  What better way to ingrain myself in a community? Plus it starts less than a mile from my new home and works with the CIM training schedule.  And any race that is the Sunday before Thanksgiving - the week where I inhale ALL the food and drinks - has my vote.  Since I've lived in Berkeley for over four whole weeks now, I am pretty much an expert and can tell you that this is an awesome running town.  There are runners EVERYWHERE.  The course looks like it covers the best parts of Berkeley plus some added views of the Bay so it was a done deal.  After that decision was already made, this magical unicorn appeared:

I love challenges, whether it's completing all 12 legs of Hood To Coast, drinking all the top IPA's, or traveling to all 50 states.  Like most endurance addicts, the bigger the challenge the better.  Anything to make me run further and faster.  It starts with an innocent sprint triathlon and before you know it you've spent thousands on gear and have an Ironman on your calendar.  I do better when I have a carrot to chase so add some checkpoints and some extra bling and I am there.  I ve run many a races because of they are part of a challenge and I've never been disappointed.  I've done the Beach Cities Challenge,  multiple Rock N' Roll challenges and all the ones I make up myself.

If you live in the Bay Area or are looking for an excuse to visit, I highly recommend signing up for the SF/Berkeley challenge.  Two great cities, two great courses, three great medals and you can pick your poison for running lengths.  If you're an avid runner, join me in the half marathon distance, if you're just getting started there is a 5K option at both races or mix and match as you see fit.  Put those resolutions to work before they fall apart on Sunday with Superbowl snacks.  Need added incentive?You can use the below discount codes to sign up for the SF Marathon to get you started;

Add in a December marathon to round it all out, and I've got one hell of a California race year to look forward to. Now I just need to make it through this labor thing:)

Monday, February 01, 2016

Ready To Be Done

Well it's week 39+, I am still pregnant and finally getting to the point where I am ready to not be. I was not mentally there the last few weeks because we had so much to do around the new house, work etc... I've had it pretty good for nine months when you compare it to the horror stories out there. I wasn't really sick, I had decent energy.  I did want to eat EVERYTHING and sleep constantly but I think that's 99.9% of pregnancies.  The thought of having a baby was 100% scarier then still being pregnant.

In the last week that has changed. It's gotten uncomfortable and I am ready to have my body back to do things other than grow and maintain a human.  Lauren Fleshman sums it up pretty well in her How I am Doing, Really post before she gave birth.  I would add to those complaints, just the intense amount of pressure and feeling that my stomach is still stretching even though it clearly is maxed out, being out of breath always and that I am down to one outfit that fits.  I refuse to buy anything at this point because I should at least be a little smaller within a week. So no I am not spending more money on clothes that could fit John Goodman.  Not gonna do it.  Remind me of this bitching when I have a crying newborn and haven't slept.

Considering it's a Monday and it's February 1st, all I want to do is plan a month of workouts and get moving.  I have to constantly remind myself that although I may not be pregnant in a few days, I will not be running 5 miles or busting out a bootcamp class anytime soon either.  Apparently there is this whole healing thing I have to get through.  I did jot down a few goals for the week just to bring my overactive brain some normalcy:
  • Do some easy 5lb weights and walk 10,000 steps daily - until I can't b/c I am in labor:)
  • No sweets - the ice cream cravings have been out of control lately so in an attempt to not give my son diabetes in the final week, I'd like to kick that habit
  • Get my thank you cards done 
These will also give me something to concentrate on other than "am I going into labor" and obsessing over work details while preparing others to cover me during my maternity leave.  In the spirit of obsessing about working out in six weeks, I've already tweaked my schedule a bit to include a local run club to help ingrain myself in the Berkeley running community:

Monday: Speedwork or Barry's
Tuesday: Spin/Barre/Yoga
Wednesday: Run Club 6:00pm
Thursday: Spin/Barre/Yoga
Friday: Spin/Barre/Yoga
Saturday: Long Run
Sunday:  Rest

The plan is to get one more post up this week about the San Francisco Marathon/Berkeley Challenge and why I am so pumped to run it!  Let the countdown begin.  In the meantime, I'll leave you with this because I am beyond excited for Feb. 13th!   Maybe I'll be in labor and these ladies will be my inspiration to woman up:

Thursday, January 14, 2016

2015 In Review & 2016 Goals

This years review is a little different.  I had a great year but unlike others, I didn't race, I didn't travel the world, I didn't blog and I didn't have race goals.  I did reset.  Although I've spent over 7 months of this year pregnant, I feel relaxed, refreshed and ready to start-up again.  I am content where I am at with my life and very excited for the next chapter.  Professionally my  career is challenging and engaging.  Personally I am excited to have moved into a new house in Berkeley in January and welcome our son in February.  And athletically I am excited to race again and find out what this new-runner looks like post baby.  I am sure it will be completely different, 100% more challenging both physically and mentally, but I am looking forward to it.  I've always had the most success when my life is packed to the brim and I don't have a moment to second guess anything. I think an infant, new (very old) house + a full time job should do the trick.

2015 was a different year of goals and experiences.  I created a human..congrats I am a mammal.  I did some serious US travel, mostly for work but some for fun.  Here it is broken down in numbers:

2015 Travel Numbers:
  • 107 - # of flights 
  • 125 - # of nights I spent on the road
  • 15 - # of states I traveled to
  • 27 - # of cities I traveled to
  • 3 - # of new states (Montana, North Carolina & Wisconsin)
  • 7 - # of new cities/locations (Austin, TX, Deer Valley, UT, Sequoia National Park, CA, Aspen, CO, Three Lakes, WI, Asheville, NC and Whitefish, MT)

I am sure it's not surprising to learn that my type A personality would like to travel to all 50 states by the time I am 50.  I am currently at 23 + D.C. and so I need to average 2 new ones every year.  2016 I am looking forward to Vermont, New Mexico and potentially Iowa and/or Virginia.  Besides going home to Oregon, my favorite trips this year were to Austin, Chicago, New York, Deer Valley, Three Lakes and Whitefish.  A healthy mix of big cities and beautiful outdoors.

Looking now to 2016, I don't have any conventional resolutions except trying to establish a routine of waking up at the same time every day.  I do much better when I am on a routine schedule and working from home gives me the luxury of waking up at all different times, so I'd like to fix that before it gets out of control. Otherwise they all relate to scheduling and making sure my son is happy and healthy when he arrives. Side note - saying "my son" still seems incredibly surreal and freaks me out even though he could be here at any point.  Still crossing my fingers and legs that he holds off until February.

For my 2016 goals, it's hard to put much down on paper, since I have no idea what my life will be like post baby but here goes:

  • Run 3x a week, Classpass 3x a week (post maternity leave)

Monday: Rest or Barre
Tuesday: Speed work  or Barry's Bootcamp
Wednesday: Spin/Barre/Yoga
Thursday: Mid-Length Run
Friday: Spin/Barre/Yoga
Saturday: Spin/Barre/Yoga
Sunday:  Long Run
  • 10,000 steps on non-workout days, at least 5,000 on days when I workout
  • Train for and feel good running one half and one marathon (SF Half* on July 31st & NYM or CIM)
  • Diet - low carbs and no sweets or juices 
I am not going to hold a PR over my head but instead run a few halves and one full with one target race in each category.  I've decided CIM will be my backup choice for NYM if the lottery doesn't work out.  It's not ideal but I spend so much time in Sacramento anyway and know tons of people running, I think it just makes sense for my accountability and wallet.  I've already added another race to the calendar - Berkeley Half Marathon on 11/20.  Both because I live here now and because of this. You know I can't say no to extra medals especially when they can be claimed less than a mile from our new house!  I love me a fresh start and I am hoping 2016 will be a good one.

*I just received notice that I've been chosen as an ambassador for the 2016 SF Marathon so much more to come on this race!

Monday, November 30, 2015

2016 Plan

Alright I have plan for 2016.  I am sure it will go straight to hell when I have a baby in February and realize that making plans is a thing of the past but here goes.  I want to run New York again because it's New York.  I know I can run a faster pace and that race is just the best.  I am going to enter the lottery for the NYM 16, which is taking place on 11/6/16.  Chances are pretty slim I'll get a spot that way; considering it took me 5 years to get in last time.  Therefore backups are very necessary.  I would L-O-V-E love to do Chicago on 10/9 but I am trying to be realistic with the fact that I am going to feel very different next year and getting back into marathon shape with a newborn will not be easy.  New York is probably even pushing it but 10 months seems doable.  If NYM is a bust, my alternatives are:

1st choice - Santa Barbara Marathon 11/12/16
2nd choice - California International Marathon 12/4/16*
3rd choice - Austin Marathon 2/12/17*

*dates not confirmed

These are all bucket list races for me so I'll use the letdown as an opportunity if I don't get into New York.  2016 Race Schedule will look something like this:

4/3 - Rock N' Roll San Francisco - Registered for this one last year before I knew I was pregnant. Highly doubt I am going to be wanting to even walk a half 9 weeks after having a baby but we'll see. Most likely I'll be cheering on MFR and my dad from the sidelines.
6/4 - Bend Beer Chase
7/31 - San Francisco Marathon Half (1st Half)
10/1 - Levi's Gran Fondo (30 or 60 Miler)
11/6 - New York Marathon or alternative

2017 - New York Marathon or Chicago Marathon

Just looking at this makes me happy.  I miss racing and I look forward to toeing the line again.  In the meantime I am still doing lots of Barre and Spin classes.  Each day it gets harder but I feel much better when I workout during the day.  Trying to breath through some back pain and bruised ribs (darn kid) but otherwise feeling good.  I look massive but I feel good so I am taking it as a win:)

Thursday, October 01, 2015

A Year Long Hiatus

It's been almost a year since I had my full blown running burnout breakdown.  After New York Marathon 14, I pulled down my blog and stopped signing up for races.  The blog had more to do with starting a new job and not knowing my new company's social media standards. The running was straight burnout from doing three marathons in one year.

My year off from running has been great and a lot has happened.  Other than still living in SF and being married to MFR, everything has changed.  I have a new job, which I love, that requires a lot of travel.  I've traveled 120 days this year to at least 10 different states.  When I am home, I work from our apartment.  I've played a lot of golf and became a ClassPass addict which has replaced my running addiction. My weeks are filled with class on class on class.  My favorites include Barre (method, pure, name it), Barry's Bootcamp, Yoga and Spin but I mix it up with Boxing, Rowing etc... the possibilities are endless.

I've only done 3 races this year, all of them were much more for the social aspect then the running aspect.  SF RNR Half in March, The Bend Beer Chase in June and of course, Hood To Coast in August.  Finally, I am 5.5 months pregnant with a MFR Jr. who will be making his debut in February 2016.  So there's that. No biggie.

Bend Beer Chase #1 - Runner #5

Hood To Coast # 8 - Runner #10
So why in the world would I just up and start blogging again after a year hiatus?  First, it's October 1st which seems like a good day to restart a habit.  The  pregnancy has lowered my running mileage considerably and I am really starting to miss training for something specific.  I've found myself daydreaming about my comeback race and all the races in the states I find myself traveling to.
I am trying to have as healthy of a pregnancy as possible.  I've felt great and kept active - see ClassPass obsession - but I need a little more motivation to keep it going for the next 4 months.  Enter running blogs!

Besides CP, I've started wearing my Fitbit daily and tracking my calorie/water intake so this forum is as good as any to keep me accountable.  Finally, I got onto the Oiselle Volee Team in July and although I don't fit into this adorable singlet at the moment, I look forward to many races in 2016 wearing this bad boy.

Monday, November 17, 2014

New York Marathon

Despite being dangerously under-trained, under-prepared, exhausted and injured, on November 2nd I ran the New York City Marathon.  I did my best to suicide the mission by going out way too hard on Halloween night (I blame NY for being so fun), not sleeping more than 3 hours the night before the race and running in shoes that should have been thrown away months ago.  Despite all my best efforts to sabotage, I crossed the finish line in 4:38:11, my second fastest marathon to date (by two seconds.)

As it should be in that city, the 4:38 did not come easy.  New York makes you work for it.  30 mph winds, 40 degrees and a mini-marathon just to get to the start line.  Usually when I cross the finish-line of a marathon, my first thought is: I am never running again and I want to collapse.  This one was different.  I had a huge smile on my face, I felt energized and I would have run it again the next day if someone had offered.

I am not a talented enough writer to put into eloquent words what it's like to run the New York Marathon.  Nor can I explain what makes it so different than every other marathon.  All I can say is if you have running a marathon on your bucket list, then New York should be it.  It's not only the worlds biggest marathon, 50,000+ runners, the entire city shuts down and comes to cheer you on.  It's a runners high I've never experienced.  It's truly indescribable and something everyone should witness in one form or another.

I'll spare you every little detail of my trip but here's a few of the highlights leading up to the race:

Wed. night the Giants won the world series, we got covered in champagne and then I had to get on a 7am flight to NY.
I arrived late afternoon on Thursday, went to dinner with some great friends and then promptly fell asleep on their couch after watching Scandal.

Friday morning was a 3 mile shakeout run with Nuun in Central Park followed by coffee and bagels. Then we hit up the expo and the Nuun booth to pick up individualized goodie bags for all the ambassadors.  Have I mentioned how much I heart Nuun?  Such an awesome company, filled with the coolest of cool employees.  In fact this is a good reminder that I need to restock, my stash is getting dangerously low.  We checked into our Airbnb which we definitely scored with.  Very nice two bedroom apartment blocks from the finish line and way more affordable then a hotel!  I'd definitely use Airbnb, or even the same apartment next time I am in New York.

New York in the fall is hideous
I have no idea what is wrong with me in this picture but I am posting it anyway b/c I love the Nuunies so much!
The evening then kicked into high gear with some Top Gun costumes and getting rowdy in the village.  Should I have done this two nights before a marathon? Absolutely not!  But you only live once and how often am I going to be in New York with great friends on Halloween on a Friday night?  Exactly.
Mav & Charlie 
Saturday we brunched at took it easy which actually worked out since it was raining most of the day. We had a great pre-race dinner at OTTO, watched the Duck game and set up for the next morning. There were some last minute outfit changes since I had not come prepared for 40 degree weather with 30 mph winds.

Recovery breakfast at Jacob's Pickles

Being the idiot that I am, I had a shot of espresso at dinner because I wanted to stay up for the whole Duck game.  Mission accomplished and then some.  I think I only slept 2-3 hours on Saturday night. I woke up feeling anxious and exhausted on Sunday morning.  The first thing I read on my phone was the wind warning:

Just adding to the anxiety at this point

We had no choice but to put on ALL the layers on and get out there.  AT 6:45 AM we navigated our way to Starbucks, on multiple subways (with some help from the locals) and on to the Staten Island Ferry. As soon as we stepped foot onto the island, the wind picked up and you could feel the chill in your bones.  One long shuttle ride later, we were at the start line.  I thought that we'd be sitting out there forever but the commute to the start line is no joke;  all of sudden it was 10:30 AM and time to run.
It was really nice of New York to let these two homeless people run in their marathon.
After some mis-communication about where we were supposed to line up and frantic dash to strip off layers, tritreats and I toed the line ran frantically across the start line.  Because I didn't really have a time goal for this race, I purposely ran without a watch so I don't have any splits or data.  On top of that the entire race was a blur so I don't have tons to report but I'll breakdown what I do remember.

The two mile Varrazono-Narrows Bridge was brutal.  It was so windy I was worried about blowing right off the top deck.  Once we survived death by wind, I looked up and we were in Brooklyn!  I was so distracted by the crowd, the music and the energy that the next 10 miles flew by.  Brooklyn's got marathon cheering locked down! All of a sudden there is a one mile stretch through a Hasidic Jewish neighborhood that is so quiet it's almost eerie.  You go from thousands cheering you on, to nobody on the sidewalks.  It's only a mile and luckily the crowds come back once you hit Queens.

It was right around this time that I started to realize something was wrong with my left ankle/shin.  I had started to feel it as early as mile 5 but I thought my foot was just numb/tight and it would loosen up.  Around Mile 11 I discovered that wasn't the case and this was a pain I had never felt before.  It felt like a really bad shin split in only the lower half of my shin that was shooting pain down into the top of my ankle and foot.  I had taken Advil before the race and it had started to wear off at this point and the pain was getting worse.  I was frustrated since the rest of my body was feeling good.

Apparently cold weather running is my jam.  I hydrated at every aid station like I normally would but since it was freezing, I wasn't sweating nearly as much. The entire race, I never felt dehydrated or had any stomach issues, even post race.  For me that's a huge win and very uncommon. However, this ankle thing wasn't going to allow for an easy race.  I kept thinking I should tell Leslie but realized that wasn't going to help anything.  I knew that once I started talking about it, then it would be on my mind, I'd wallow in my misery and start to get defeated.  So I ignored it as much as I could and just kept running through the pain.  Not the healthiest approach but it worked for me.  Don't tell my PT.

The crowds

Around Mile 16 you go over the Queensboro Bridge and into Manhattan for the first time and the crowds are electric!  We saw our cheering squad, who nailed it with the signs and high-fives. I concentrated on that and getting to mile 20.  Even with the pain, I just kept thinking, this is the most amazing race I've ever experienced.

Happy faces despite the pain.

The energy boost I needed at this point
At mile 20, a lone man stood on the bridge with a boombox blasting Jay-Z over his head, Say Anything style.  We had made it to the Bronx.  I asked Leslie how we were on time?  My plan had been that if we were not on pace for her to PR, I'd let her know I was hurting and start walking.  If we were on pace, I didn't want anything to bring that down. When she said 3:33, I knew I just needed to suck it up for 6 more miles.  I had taken more Advil at 18 which helped. Turns out this was a blessing in disguise because post-race I realized it hurt way more to walk then to keep running.

Miles 21-26 are a total blur. The crowds were unbelievable, Central Park was beautiful and I felt a surge of energy knowing I was going to finish the NYM in a time that I could be proud of given my current conditions.  I felt like we sprinted (we didn't) the last few miles as we were dodging around a bunch of walkers.  I tried to soak in the entire experience.  We passed our cheering section one last time and all of sudden we crossed the finish line (5 min PR for Leslie).  I had a huge smile on my face and despite immediately limping, I felt like I had run a good solid race and had the experience of a lifetime.  We waddled our way through the finishers chute and got our ponchos, snacks and medals before heading back to the apartment where our support crew was waiting with a six pack of IPA and a giant bag of cookies.  Told you they were the best.  After showering, we went immediately to Shake Shack which tasted like heaven in burger form.

Worlds best cheer crew, including MFR taking the photo and not including the dude in the green hood, he might be great I just don't know him
 I flew home Monday and by the time we landed, I could barely put weight on my left foot.  I've since self diagnosed myself with Extensor Tendonitis, which you get from overuse or poorly fitting shoes....ding, ding, ding.  I've taken almost two weeks off from running and instead I am focusing on spin, barre and yoga classes.  I think it's getting better but for now every night is spent like this:

Someone needs a pedicure

It was totally worth it to experience the wonder that is the New York Marathon!  I can only hope that I get to do it again some day.

Best signs and my new favorite medal.
And if I still don't have you convinced, just watch this.....

Monday, October 27, 2014

Kids Don't Try This At Home - Goals For New York Marathon

What in the world is up blogisphere?  I've officially fallen off the face of the blogging earth.  I think about it every now and then in a fond memory sort of way.

Remember when I had a running blog? That was fun.  It really did keep me motivated and accountable to my workout schedule.  Maybe I should start writing again.  Or maybe I should put down this beer and go for a run and then write about that run.  Oh look someone just posted a video of dog riding around on a Roomba.  <30 secs later> What was I going to do? Oh right, go for a run and blog.  Well there is a game on in 90 min so I really don't have the time, but for sure I'll do it tomorrow.

You get the idea.  As I said before, my motivation went from 60 to zero after Hood To Coast.  In an effort to figure out why, I looked back at my races over the years.  Turns out that ALL of my PR's and successful races have been in the Feb-June time frame.  I am not sure exactly what that means but I think it has something to do with my brain thinking fall = football + travel (see two weeks in Europe) and not long distance training.  It's not that I don't want to workout at all,  I just don't want to train.  I've actually been dying to do anything but run long distances. I think fall races are just not my jam.  Pour some out for my bucket list fall races: Santa Barbara, CIM, Chicago etc... Going forward I think I'll plan on spring/early summer for any sort of goal or distance races, maybe a few fun ones over the summer and end my season with a group relay in the August/Sept time frame.

Nike Half SF Last Weekend

Regardless of my lack of motivation and being incredibly under-trained, I am running the New York Marathon this weekend.  So that's happening.  I am not nearly in the shape I was for Napa and my longest training run was 18 miles (13 of which were Nike Womens Half).  I am not worried about a DNF.  I know I'll finish, it's just a matter of when. I am just trying to focus on the positive. Regardless of the time, on Sunday I am going to run the New York Marathon.  Even knowing it's not going to be a PR for me (currently 4:12:05), I am still really excited to experience this race.  I have no idea what to plan for a goal so instead here's three goals:
  1. Good Goal: Cross the finish-line healthy and injury free regardless of time.
  2. Better Goal: Finish between 4:30 - 4:45
  3. Best Goal: Finish under 4:30, I think it would take a minor miracle to get in under 4:30 but I am putting it out there
New York will be my 5th marathon overall and 3rd marathon this year. I've been trying to get into this race since 2010 and I've heard nothing but amazing things.  This may be my only opportunity to run it and I want to soak it all in.  Also I'll be cheering something hard for this girl to win!  I adore her and am inspired daily by her choices and determination.  Add to that some Nuun ambassador events, lots of good friends, Duck football and a night on the town for Halloween and I am sure it will be an epic weekend.  See you on the other side.

September Workout Stats*:
Running - 40 Miles
Tennis - 75 min
Weights - 45min

*And that is why running New York in under 4:30 will take an actual miracle