Marathon Training: Week 18

Weeks until Mountains 2 Beach Marathon: 3!

This past week was my highest mileage training week, and my legs and body really felt it. I had been super tired mentally and physically all week, but thankfully that went away for my 20-mile run yesterday, which restored the confidence I lost during my really tough 15 miles last weekend. I’ve been sleeping pretty well, just waking up a couple times during the night. I feel like the actual time I’m sleeping is different though – I normally don’t sleep so hard. I’m sure it’s my body just trying to recover, and it’s doing a pretty good job.

It’s now May, which means my marathon is THIS MONTH. I’m getting really excited and the feelings of fear are beginning to diminish. Now that I’m done with my 20-miler, I just want the race to be here so I can go out and crush it. But I know I must taper, and I’m also looking forward to that. I’m not one of those people that gets antsy or sad that I can’t run as much; I fully welcome the lower mileage and extra rest days. There will be no taper tantrums here.

The M2B race director sent out the info packet, and unless I’m reading it wrong it said there will be free race photos including a finish line picture, which is really awesome. I’m so glad more and more races are starting to do this. I wouldn’t mind paying for race pictures if they were 10-15 dollars, but normally they’re like 45-50 which is insane, especially after the high race registration prices.

I ended up with 137.25 miles for April, which is a little less than March, but I feel like it was a strong month and I’m still proud of my 13-minute PR at the Chardonnay 10-Miler in Santa Barbara.Screen Shot 2015-05-03 at 8.47.47 AM

Here’s a look at the past week of training:

Monday – 7 miles easy @ 9:51

This run was anything but easy – legs felt like lead and it was a struggle almost the whole time.

Tuesday – 6.21 miles (2 mile warm-up, 4 x 800m w/ 400m easy jog between, 1 mile cool-down)

I messed this speed workout up and I didn’t realize until I got home I was supposed to do 8 800m repeats instead of 6, but my legs felt better today and my times for the 800m repeats were 3:59, 3:56, 3:49, and 3:57. I ran at the wonderfully flat Echo Park Lake and had to stop to let some little goslings cross my path. There are baby ducks and geese everywhere at the lake, and it’s been fun to watch them get bigger week by week. The mama geese are super protective of their young and I’m kind of convinced they’re going to go after me one of these days. I saw one charge at a Great Dane that was completely unfazed.

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Wednesday – November Project + running 

I haven’t been going to NP lately and with good reason. I think it was a mistake to go this time, and I’m not going to go back until after the race. There’s always some sprinting and crazy body exercises involved, and it’s just too risky. It’s also really hard to not do the exercises while everyone else is doing them, so it’s safer if I just stay away. I did some running and a couple sprints and some burpees and an army crawl, then was sore for the next couple days. I ran a few miles afterward to make it 5 for the day.

The group is getting so big!

The group is getting so big!

Thursday – 7 miles easy @ 9:57

Once again, not so easy… but my body warmed up a few miles into it.

Friday – glorious rest day

Saturday – 20 miles @ 9:58

I’m so proud of this run! I was pretty nervous about it ever since it showed up on my training plan, but when I woke up yesterday and started getting ready, I felt no nerves at all and just felt ready to get it started. I think this made a big difference mentally – not psyching myself out and thinking about the fact that I was about to run 20 miles and let the pressure get to me. I decided to drive to Marina Del Rey because whenever I do a long run around where I live it ends up hilly, challenging, and sucky. This was definitely a good decision, even though it adds like an hour and a half onto the whole ordeal because of driving out there and traffic. I normally always do out and back runs, but this time I decided to park in Marina Del Rey, run 5 miles north to Venice Beach and back, then 5 miles south toward Manhattan Beach and back. It seemed to be a good idea at first, breaking it up into 5 mile segments. And overall I do think it was beneficial, but passing my car and knowing I still had 10 miles to go was a little tough.

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The first 5 miles went by fast, but I got kind of a late start and the tourists had already begun filling the sidewalks in Venice Beach. There’s always really good people watching and distractions, but there’s also a lot of weaving and secondhand pot smoke to get through, not to mention trying not to get hit by bicycles and Segway Tours. I also almost got hit by a soccer ball but it hit a girl on a Segway instead, so I guess they do serve some kind of purpose. One guy came up and ran next to me for a bit, asking about the knee bands I was wearing. He had just started running and already had pain in his knees. I tried to give him good advice and he seemed to appreciate it.

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Quiet Marina Del Rey, before the craziness of the Venice Beach boardwalk.

I was glad to turn around and go in the other direction, which is much quieter and less populated. I ran along the Marvin Braude bike Trail that borders the Ballona Creek Wetlands, which was really cool, then turns into a bike path through the sand along the ocean. There were bad headwinds at this point, but I just kept thinking about how they would be helpful tailwinds on the way back.

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At one point, I saw a lady fall off her bike because two huge dead sea lions were in the sand right next to the path and it startled her. I stopped to see if she needed help, but the person she was with said she was ok and they had a phone if they needed to call someone, so I kept going. On my way back, I saw that there were ambulances and she was on the ground getting her arm put in a sling. The worst part is that she had to sit next to the dead sea lions the whole time that smelled so bad and everyone was covering their mouths and it was all a big weird ordeal.

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Still working on my taking-pictures-while-running technique.

By the time I had a couple miles left, I still felt like I had a lot left in the tank, so I sped up. My hips started getting tight around mile 17 or so, but it wasn’t too bad and seemed to go away when I started speeding up. The last two miles were the fastest, with the last being an 8:54 pace. If I’m being honest, I felt like such a badass when I finished.

Side note: I got some different tank tops last week for potential marathon shirts, and I wore the one I thought would be the winner – well I hated it and felt like it didn’t breathe at all and it was too tight. So it’s a good thing I tested it out! But now I’m still on the hunt and have to find a shirt in enough time to have a good amount of practice runs with it. I think I’m going to go with a bright color of a Lululemon tank I already have that I like a lot. Seems like a safe bet, and I want to wear a bright shirt so people can see me.

For fuel, I ate an entire packet of fruit smoothie Honey Stinger Chews, which is the most I’ve ever eaten on a run. I love these so much better than any other fuel I’ve had, they are easy to eat and small and so easy on my stomach. I ate them here and there throughout the whole run, starting at about mile 6. The whole packet only has 160 calories in it which doesn’t seem like enough, but it was fine for me and I never felt low energy. I also filled my water bottle up three or four times, which is a pain but at least I know I won’t have to do this with all the water stops during the marathon where I can just grab cups as I run by.

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I ate a Clif Bar when I got back to my car and then wasn’t really hungry the rest of the day, but I made myself some eggs and toast and avocado for lunch. Jeremy and I ended up going to a Dodgers game with some friends, where I ate garlic fries, half a churro, some Cracker Jacks, soft pretzel, and some white wine… not exactly good fuel for my body, but we had a good time and I’ll make up for it today.

churro cheers

churro cheers

Our first Dodgers game!

Our first Dodgers game!

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Later today I’m thinking about going to a yoga class since I haven’t been very good about stretching lately, and I’ll fit in a few shake out miles also. Let the taper begin!

Another Marathon Training Update

Weeks until Mountains 2 Beach Marathon: 4!

Oops I did it again. I started writing this post two weeks ago but never finished, so here I am playing catch up once again and writing the longest posts ever. Well, the biggest things that happened the past few weeks were my longest run to date, 18 miles, and I PRed at the Chardonnay 10-Miler by 13 minutes!

Here we go…

Week 14 ended up being a big unintentional step-back week. I felt really run down starting on Thursday, and took three days off because of this. Everyone at my work had been sick, and I’d been doing my best to avoid it, but I got some kind of bug that didn’t hit me super hard, but made me feel pretty bad and tired for a few days. The week after I was able to come back strong, and finished the week with a personal distance record, 18 miles, on Sunday.

Also, March was my highest mileage month ever so far, with my Garmin recording 149 miles (I ran a few miles without my Garmin at November Project so technically it was a little over 150).

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Week 14 – 23 miles total 

Monday – Mile repeats (8 miles total)

Did this speed workout at the Echo Park Lake, and pushed the pace after feeling good. Paces for the mile repeats:  8:29, 8:32, 8:03, 8:35.

Tuesday – rest

Wednesday – November Project

Lots of burpees/pushups/squats and running during November Project. At the end while we were taking a picture, some of the people from the earlier workout poured water on us as an April Fool’s joke. I didn’t find it very funny because it was cold out and my shoes were soaked through, and I think this had something to do with me catching some kind of bug.

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My face is pretty funny on the far left though.

Thursday – rest

Friday – rest

Saturday – rest

Sunday – 10 miles 

I was in Santa Barbara for Easter, which worked out because it’s my favorite place to do my long runs. I had 14 miles on the schedule, but Coach Lauren changed it to 8-10. I wasn’t sure how I was going to feel after taking 4 days off, but luckily I felt good and my legs felt pretty fresh.

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Week 15 – 42 miles total 

Monday – 5 miles easy @ 9:49 min/mile

The top of my left foot started bothering me during this run. I was wearing Mizuno Wave Rider 18s and I think they were tied too tight or they weren’t big enough, and it was unpleasant.

Tuesday – rest

Wednesday – 5 miles easy @ 9:43 min/mile

Ran by feel and didn’t look at my Garmin once, which I hadn’t done in a looong time.

Thursday – 7 miles easy @ 9:52 min/mile

I remember this was a really good run!

Friday – 7 miles with 5 at tempo

I didn’t quite hit the paces I was aiming for (around 8:40) because of how hilly it the route was, but I was definitely pushing hard. Tempo mile paces: 8:59, 8:55, 8:39, 9:13, 8:40

Saturday – 18 miles @ 10:19 min/mile

This run was a huge confidence booster! I drove to Manhattan Beach and parked in a neighborhood, ran to the beach all the way to Palos Verdes and back. I was tired at the end, but not totally wiped out and I felt like I could keep a steady pace the whole time. I had to run on wood chips at the beginning and end, and that wasn’t fun because they kept getting in my shoes and I had to stop and get them out. I tried to go on the sidewalk but it ended so it was back to the wood chips I went.

The route started with about three miles of wood chips. Not my favorite.

The route started and ended with about three miles of wood chips. Not my favorite.

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Redondo Beach

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Palos Verdes

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My route.

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The Marvin Braude Bike Trail goes 22 miles or so from Palos Verdes to Santa Monica/Malibu.

The Marvin Braude Bike Trail goes 22 miles or so from Palos Verdes to Santa Monica/Malibu.

Done!

Done!

Week 16 – 30.5 miles total

Monday – 5 miles easy @ 9:59 min/miles

Tuesday – 4.3 miles easy @ 10:15

Met up with a few November Project people for a run, but I cut it short due to my knees bothering me a bit.

Wednesday – rest

Thursday – 6 miles easy @ 9:01 min/miles

Went to a running group at A Runner’s Circle in Los Feliz and the pacer went a little faster than I was expecting, but I felt good and kept up. Also got some Brooks Ghost 7 shoes after the top of my left foot not feeling better and the guy working at the running store told me I definitely needed to go up a half size and that’s why my shoes were bothering me. So far I really like these new shoes, and they will be my marathon shoes if all goes according to plan.

Friday – rest

Saturday – Chardonnay 10-Miler

I ran this same race two years ago, and this year I ran it 13 minutes faster! I drove up to Santa Barbara the night before, registered that morning shortly before the race began, and drove back to LA afterward. It was a pretty small, informal race, and that’s why I love doing races in Santa Barbara. Jeremy had to stay behind in LA to work, so my mom was super sweet and got up early to take me and waited while I ran. I got there with not too much time to spare, and panicked a little when I saw how long the line was for the four porta potties they had for racers.

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The long porta potty line.

I ended up leaving the line and heading to the starting line without using the restroom, which turned out okay but was uncomfortable for the first couple miles.

Before the race.

Before the race.

I tried to keep around an 8:30 pace the whole time then speed up the last few miles. I’d say I did a pretty good job at that.

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Ended with a sub 8 minute mile!

I really pushed myself during this race and am pretty proud of myself. OH I almost forgot the absolute best part of the race: I saw WHALES. The course went along the ocean and right by my favorite beach, and I just happened to look over and see a couple whales spraying water out of their blowholes and just swimming along. I couldn’t believe it. Nobody else seemed to notice them, so it’s like I got my own personal show. Needless to say, this distracted me for a good mile since it was near the turnaround point so I got to see them again on my way back.

Apart from whales, the other thing I did to keep my spirits up when I was feeling tired was cheer on runners heading in the opposite direction, including a few cancer survivors. It was so totally motivating to see them running, and I felt like I got a huge boost of energy each time.

I also passed a big group of guys that were part of a bachelor party during the last mile or so, and they actually cursed when they saw me pass, which made me feel pretty good. I was struggling near the end and getting tired, but I set my sights on a man a little ahead of me and tried to keep up with him. I couldn’t beat him, but it definitely help keep me going.

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My mom's expert finish line photography.

My mom’s expert finish line photography.

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My official finish time was 1:23:44, an 8:23 average pace. After the race, a nice man gave me and my mom wristbands to get into the wine tasting area since we hadn’t paid for tickets beforehand, and we got to taste some really good wines at 10 o clock in the morning…

Sunday – 5.27 miles easy @ 9:52 min/mile

My left hip was super sore from the race for some reason, so I took it easy and just tried to shake out my legs.

Week 17 – 34 miles total

Monday – rest

Tuesday – 6.8 miles easy @ 10:04 min/mile

Met up with NP running group again; I forgot to pack my knee compression bands for the 10-mile race and I could feel a difference. I’ve been trying to ice my knees even more this week.

Wednesday – 4 miles easy @ 10:14

Whoa mama heavy legs. Saturday’s race really took a toll.

Thursday – 8.22 miles with 4 mile repeats

Splits for the mile repeats: 8:34, 8:24, 8:35, 8:45. I was proud of these especially since my legs still felt heavy.

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Friday – rest

Took an extra rest day, my body needed it!

Saturday – 15 miles easy @ 10:16 min/mile

If the 18-miler boosted my confidence a few weeks back, this 15-miler knocked it down again. It was super tough and my legs felt like lead. Whenever I do my long runs around where I live, it never goes well because it’s super hilly and I end up having to run on soft dirt/sand. It was a combination of that and having an extremely stressful week at work and not getting good sleep, and who knows what else. In addition, I usually eat the same things the day before a long run or race (a big avocado sandwich for lunch and a brothy Asian soup for dinner) and this didn’t happen. I was stress eating all day and snacking on whatever was around, had a bunch of raw veggies for lunch, and had a Taiwanese feast for dinner. My stomach felt awful for the first 5 or so miles of my long run and I truly learned my lesson.

Took a break to get some cool blurry self timer shots.

Took a quick break to get some cool blurry self timer shots.

Friends seen on my run.

New friends seen at the end of my run. I see the one on the right a lot, he’s my buddy.

A lot of my route was on this nice dirt path in Griffith Park.

A lot of my route was on this nice dirt path in Griffith Park.

With only four weeks till the marathon and next week being the big 20-miler, I really need to place nutrition and sleep really high on my priority list. I’ve been indulging in food and drinks a little too much lately and it’s time to get serious!

Marathon Training Update

Weeks until Mountains 2 Beach Marathon: 8

I haven’t done a training update since week 7, and it’s long overdue. A lot has happened since then (PRed at the Rose Bowl 10k and San Diego Half Marathon), and I’m up to 16 miles for my long run. The week after my last training update I ran 12 incredibly hard miles and then a couple days later got a really painful stiff neck (I get these about every six months), and I had to take almost a week off.

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Right after running 12 of the hardest miles of my life.

I think I got discouraged about it all especially since my long run went so badly, but luckily I felt better after a week off and got back to it, and things have been going smoothly since (knock on wood). There are only 8 weeks left until the marathon, which is a full two months, but sounds REALLY soon. Especially since there were 21 weeks left when I first started training. Here’s a peek into my training lately:

Week 9 – This week was made up of a few runs to get me back into the swing of things after my week off, and then the San Diego Half Marathon happened, where I finally got my sub-2 and PRed with a new time of 1:56:47. Total mileage: 33.5

Ready!

Week 10 – Had to miss one workout this week due to a work crisis, but otherwise I had four easy runs, one being a 15-miler in Santa Barbara (personal distance record at the time). I love doing my long runs in SB and this one felt really great. Total mileage: 28

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After I was done, Jeremy and I went to McConnell’s Ice Cream and got frozen yogurt, where we used to go all the time when we lived in SB.

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I asked for sprinkles and the girl working gave me a cup of them on the side.

After McConnell's we got a drink at Figueroa Mountain Brewery (we like to revisit all our favorite places when we're in town). Oh yeah and I cut off like 7 inches of my hair.

After McConnell’s we got a drink at Figueroa Mountain Brewery (we like to revisit all our favorite places when we’re in town). Oh yeah and I cut off like 7 inches of my hair.

Week 11 – Did mile repeats on Monday (1.5 warm up, 3 1-mile repeats, 1.5 mile cool down) and my paces for the mile repeats were 9:02, 8:40, and 8:44.

Echo Park Lake - where I do my speed workouts because all the roads surrounding my neighborhood are hilly.

Echo Park Lake – where I do my speed workouts because all the roads surrounding my neighborhood are hilly.

Went to November Project on Wednesday and Friday of this week, and it was nice to be back. It’s been interfering a bit with my energy levels for my runs so I had to miss some, but I go when I can.

NP at Griffith Park.

NP at Griffith Park.

My long run for the week was 12 miles with a fast finish. The first nine miles I averaged 10:30 or so, and the last three fast finish paces were 8:51, 8:30, 8:43. I felt really good on this run. I ventured into Hollywood and up Beachwood Canyon Drive, and got some nice views of the Hollywood Sign and ended up in Hollywoodland.

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Total mileage for the week: 33.8

Week 12 – Last week consisted of 5 easy miles on Tuesday, 7 miles with 5 at tempo on Wednesday (tempo mile splits: 8:55, 8:27, 8:25, 8:30, 8:16), 5 easy miles on Thursday, 2 shake out miles on Friday, and my longest run to date, 16 on Saturday.

Before heading out for my 16-miler.

Before heading out for my 16-miler.

Since I’ve been training for three months now, allowing lots of time to gradually build up to higher mileage, 16 miles didn’t sound too intimidating. My 15-miler a couple weeks back sounded MUCH scarier for some reason, but this time I felt nice and confident as I got ready to run. I headed back to Hollywood again, with the goal of finding the Hollywood Reservoir. I’ve been wanting to check it out for a while since there’s a 3.3-mile pedestrian only path that goes around it, and you get nice and close to the Hollywood Sign. I didn’t take into account that I’d have to climb some narrow roads in the Hollywood Hills, then trail run for about a mile to get to the Reservoir, so that made a hard run even harder, but it was worth it. It was quiet and pretty, and hard to believe it was so close to the busy streets of Hollywood.

Climbing the roads of the Hollywood Hills.

Climbing the roads of the Hollywood Hills. Apparently I ran by Madonna’s old house.

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Accidental trail running.

Accidental trail running.

Ugh the sign looked SO much closer than this.

The sign looked SO much closer in person than it does here.

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I might be a little obsessed with the Hollywood Sign…

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The pretty reservoir.

Welcome to Hollywoodland... now relax and slow down.

Welcome to Hollywoodland… now relax and slow down.

Total mileage for last week: 35.16

My favorite way to recover.

My favorite way to recover.

Also, this stuff is REALLY good and makes your milk taste like chocolate milk. I got it in a race bag, and I definitely want to get some more.

Also, this stuff is REALLY good and makes your milk taste like chocolate milk. I got it in a race bag, and I definitely want to get some more.

Side note, ProCompression’s sock of the month for March are these heather socks and I ordered some the other day and they’re supposed to arrive tomorrow. I love the grey ones! The coupon code expires on Tuesday (the last day of March), so get on it!

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Another side note, my best friend Liz was in town last week and we ate at Sqirl, one of my favorite restaurants in my neighborhood (and probably all of LA). Avocado toast = highly recommended.

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Phew, I’m glad to be up to date more or less with training, and definitely want to get back to doing weekly recaps, I’m sure it’ll be fun to read about my progress sometime in the future.

San Diego Half Marathon Recap

I love this race. Not only was it my first half marathon two years so it will always hold a special place in my heart, but it’s always one of the most organized races I run. Everything down to the informative website, pre-race preparation email, expo, post-race activities… everything is planned well and the volunteers are SO nice and helpful. This year I especially loved it because I FINALLY broke two hours!!! I’ve been wanting (but not exactly training) to do this for a while now (maybe like a year and a half) and I finally did it. In past races I’ve just loosely followed a training plan and would just hope that I miraculously improved and broke two hours without putting in the effort needed. This time around, I’ve been busting my ass training for my marathon and working hard during training runs and November Project, and am really seeing improvement. IMG_3027 Anyway, Jeremy and I headed to San Diego on Saturday morning to meet up with my mom and grandma and head to the expo. It’s always held at the pier, which means parking can be annoying, but once you’re there it’s easy to shop at the expo booths or just go right and pick up your bib and shirts. Since it’s my third year running the race, they gave me an additional shirt, and they printed Legacy with three stars on one of the sleeves of both shirts. The women’s shirts this year were lavender color, so I asked if I could get the dark grey men’s shirt instead, since I don’t wear that many light colors. They were super hospitable and it was no trouble. They also gave out a backpack to put all your goodies in.

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Jeremy wearing the backpack they give all runners.

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Expo location.

The day before a race, I like to have a big bread-heavy lunch and a light dinner, usually a brothy soup. I’ve done this before my last three half marathons, and it seems to work well for me. We all stayed at a hotel downtown so we’d be close to the start and finish lines instead of having to wake up an hour earlier and try to find parking downtown SD somewhere.

All ready.

Flat Lily.

The race is always the morning of the daylight savings time change, so waking up at 5am really means it’s 4am for your body. It hurts, but luckily race-day nerves take care of the tiredness. Before a half marathon, I find that having a small cup of coffee (very important), a little oatmeal, half a banana, and half a Honey Stinger chocolate waffle at least an hour before the race starts sits well in my stomach, and provides enough energy for a few hours. After Jeremy and I left the hotel, we made the mile-long walk to the starting line, where there were tons of porta potties and an announcer getting ready to start the waves of runners.

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Ready!

I was in wave 7, which was a good placement for me. I didn’t see the 2-hour pacers since they were in an earlier wave, but it seemed like everyone around me was starting off at around the same pace. Once the race started, I was aiming for around 9-minute miles for the first half, but a fellow November Project runner saw my shirt and starting running with me during mile one. I never run with people and wasn’t sure how I was supposed to run at my own pace if she didn’t want to, so I ended up talking to her and slowing down to her pace. I kept looking at my watch and trying to ramp up the speed a bit (we were running around 9:30) but I didn’t want to be rude so I didn’t push it. I know that was silly because I wanted that sub-2 hour finish so badly and I should have just told her, but maybe it was a good thing for me to be so conservative in the beginning because I felt like I had a lot left in the tank the second half of the race, and I ended up breaking two hours anyway. It definitely made the first five miles go by fast, and it was a nice change to actually run with someone. I split off from her around mile 5 when she stopped to get water, and I sped up to try to make up some time. Screen Shot 2015-03-27 at 8.10.30 AM

I kept up a good pace until the dreaded Washington Street hill at mile 10 came up. Last year I had to walk up a lot of it due to not being in very good shape, but this year it didn’t feel bad at all and I never felt like I had to walk at all. After the hill was done, it was about three miles downhill to the finish. I was able to really push it these last miles, and I’m super proud of my negative splits. While I was pushing those last couple miles, I ended up passing the 2-hour pacer and that moment was one of the best of my running career. I couldn’t stop smiling and I might have uttered a ‘f— yeah’ out loud… Official time: 1:56:47!

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Booking it to the finish line.

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The only time I’ve mastered the whole arm-up finish line pose and there were no official photographers to capture it from the front.

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Splits according to Garmin.

Official results.

Official results.

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Immediately after finishing they filled my hands up with chocolate milk and coconut water and I didn’t have time to put it down before the picture…

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My two shirts and the huge medal that was dedicated to the military this year.

Along with the backpack from the expo, they give you a nice reusable tote filled with food and drinks.

Along with the backpack from the expo, they give you a nice reusable tote filled with food and drinks after the race.

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Three generations at the SD Half for the third time :)

As far as fueling goes, I had a Clif shot that I opened somewhere around mile 9, and I ended up taking in a little bit of it every mile, and only ended up eating about half of it. I didn’t feel like I needed any more than that.

I’m glad this race went so perfectly, and I’m excited to see what I can do at my next half. In other news, marathon training is still going well and we are now 8 weeks out from the Mountains 2 Beach Marathon… how did that happen? I haven’t done a training update in a while, so that will be on the agenda for next week!

Rose Bowl 10K Recap

This is kind of old news, but I still wanted to write about my most perfect race to date, the Rose Bowl 10k. My previous PR of 56:07 was set in October 2013, and it had been a while since I’d actually raced a race, if you know what I mean. I hadn’t really been in the best shape my last few races, and I was excited to see how far I’d come since ramping up my training and getting serious about it.

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The packet pick-up was held the day before the race, and it was pretty small. There were no expo booths (they had them at the finishers’ area at the race the next day, though) and it was just a few tables with volunteers handing out packets. It was really unclear that you had to stop at the first table and sign a waiver, then find your number, then find the right table to pick up your packet (many people were grumbling and complaining about this), but it really wasn’t that big of a deal, and if you waited in line and got to the front and you didn’t have your number, you had to go to where they were posted and then get back in line. An inconvenience, but not the end of the world. The shirts were cotton and too small unfortunately, otherwise they were nice-looking.

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The race started at 8:15am, and Jeremy and I got to the parking lot around 7:15, and were able to park for free. The half marathoners started first, and then all the 5k and 10k runners lined up in the chute (there were no waves, it was a pretty small race). I was prepared for the course to be hilly, and I thought we would be running on some trails, but it was actually just two loops on a path around a golf course, and was blissfully flat. Coach Lauren gave me some paces to try to hit in the first 5k then see if I could speed it up in the second 5k if I was feeling good. During almost all of my other 10ks, I’ve gone out too fast and struggled after mile 2 or 3, or I just haven’t been in good shape. This time, I was conservative in my first mile (it was also a smallish path and there was lots of weaving between runners) and then sped up the next two miles. Once we finished the first loop, according to my splits I slowed down a bit in mile 4, then realized I only had two miles left and felt really good, so I ramped up the speed.

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The last bit of the course was a downhill into the stadium, which was awesome. I was sprinting so hard and I had to dodge people (including someone walking with a baby stroller), but I was gunning for a sub 50-minute time, and I made it just in the nick of time.

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Before the race began.

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No time to smile!

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I finished the race with a 7:28 mile! This still blows my mind. I forgot to pause my Garmin right away, so my average pace is a little slower than what the race website says:

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Average pace under 8 min/mile?!

I also blew past the little kids giving out medals, so I had to go back and ask them for one. This was the first time getting a medal for a race that wasn’t a half marathon, so that was cool.

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The only weird thing is that my Garmin said the course was 6.00 miles, not 6.2. Those last .2 make a big difference, so I may not have had as big a PR as I thought and the course was probably short, but oh well. I still basked in the glory of a 6.70 minute PR and enjoyed a free Bud Light after the race.

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The earliest I’ve ever drank a beer.

I also got second in my age group, so Jeremy and I waited around a while until they announced the awards. When they announced the winners in the ‘Athena’ and ‘Clydesdale’ categories (women over 150 pounds and men over 200 pounds), the runners looks embarrassed, honestly, and it was weird. I am surprised no one has complained about this bizarre category. They finally got to my category and they called my name and I got to go up to the podium and get a second, bigger medal.

IMG_2588It was really exciting and felt like validation for busting my ass the past couple months.

Overall it was a good race and I’d run it again because of how fast and flat it was, but the organization could have been better. Jeremy put it best when he said it felt like the Pasadena community just got together for a fun run and not an actual race, like the announcer at the finish line wasn’t paying attention to the people actually finishing (he didn’t even announce when the winner of the races were coming in). I got lucky and the morning wasn’t too warm and the course was pretty shady, so heat wasn’t an issue. And I wore my new Saucony Triumph ISOs, which make me feel like I’m flying. I’m really proud of this race, and can’t wait to see what happens at the San Diego Half Marathon next weekend.

Marathon Training: Week 7

Weeks until Mountains 2 Beach Marathon: 14

Week seven has come and gone, and it was a really good one. My workouts during the week went well, and I finally PRed in a distance on Sunday! I’ll do a whole recap of the Rose Bowl 10k, but let me just say that I’m still excited about it. AND I placed second in my age group (25-29) and had my named called and received a second medal. I haven’t set a PR in a while and haven’t pushed myself to train this hard ever before, and it’s really paying off so far. Let’s just hope I can break two hours at the San Diego Half Marathon in three weeks!

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Monday – 5 miles easy @ 9:38

This was the first run in my new Mizuno Wave Creation 16s… and it wasn’t great. I have been running in the Creations for the past year or more, and I loved the Creation 14 and 15. This new version feels less cushioned, stiff, and just clunky. They feel heavier too, although I don’t think they actually weigh more than the other versions. I’ll do a review of them soon, but this first time using them was not too successful.

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My new Mizuno Wave Creation 16s

Tuesday – rest

Lots of stretching, foam rolling and icing my knee.

Wednesday – November Project (5 miles total)

I wore my new Saucony Triumphs and whoa mama are they great. They are super light, cushioned, and just feel like I’m walking on clouds. I ran two miles in NP mixed in with burpees and pushups, then three miles afterward at around 9:40 min/mile.

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The group is getting bigger and bigger!

Thursday – 5-mile Progression Run

Splits: 9:23, 9:48, 8:36, 8:48, 8:11. I wore the Sauconys again, and I was amazed at how much lighter they felt than the shoes I’ve been wearing the past year and what a difference it made in speed.

Friday – November Project (4 miles total)

I wasn’t going to go to NP so I could rest my legs up for Sunday, but of course they decided to meet near my house and I had to go. I ran two miles to meet up with them, slowly ran up and down some killer hills and stairs a couple times, but overall took it really easy. It felt weird not going all out like everyone else, but I’m glad I held back so my legs could feel fresh.

One of the hidden stairs in the neighborhood.

One of the hidden sets of stairs in the neighborhood.

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Sunrise ninjas.

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I feel kind of bad I’m the only one not doing the heart-shaped thing with my hands…

Saturday – rest

Valentine’s Day was spent driving to Pasadena to pick up my race packet for the 10k, driving to Venice to pick up food for a picnic, then driving to Santa Monica to eat the picnic on the beach. In theory, this doesn’t sound like much. But as Jeremy and I are slowly realizing, things like this take a lot longer than you think in LA. We left Pasadena around 1pm (we found a taco place to get chips and guacamole and the hugest horchatas I’ve ever seen – road trip fuel to get across the city) and by the time we stopped in Venice to get food then made it to the sand, it was almost sunset. It was crazy. It must have been more crowded because of Valentine’s Day, but we were dead-stopped on the Pacific Coast Highway for like an hour and we finally just pulled over on the side of the road and parked and climbed down to the sand. It literally would have been quicker for us to drive up to Santa Barbara to go to the beach instead of stay in LA. But the food we got from Gjusta in Venice was incredible, and the sunset was beautiful, so all in all it was a success.

Oh yeah and the morning started with a cappuccino from Intelligentsia.

Oh yeah and the morning started with a pretty cappuccino from Intelligentsia.

Huge cups of horchata for our 'road trip.'

Huge cups of horchata for our ‘road trip.’

Finally made it to the beach.

Finally made it to the beach.

Our spread.

Our spread.

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It had been way too long since I’d been to the beach.

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Sunday – Rose Bowl 10k – 49:37 official time

Oh no big deal, I just PRed this race by like six minutes and came in second in my age group. And ran the last mile in 7:28 (?!?!). I am way too proud to not brag about this.

A well-deserved beer at 9:30am.

A well-deserved beer at 9:30am.

After the race, Jeremy and I went to Guisados for my favorite tacos, another big horchata, and some more beer.

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Then we went to a place called Donut Friend in Highland Park and got donuts. Their whole thing is that all their donuts and sundaes and desserts are named after emo/indie bands. They also cut their donuts in half and put pretty much anything you want in the middle. We got the S’Morrissey and another one named after Sufjan Stevens.

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The S’Morrissey – a chocolate cake donut filled with toasted marshmallows and topped with chocolate glaze and graham cracker crumbs.

Some of their other awesome flavors.

Some of their other awesome flavors.

We did it up big this weekend, and now I’m detoxing this week by eating lots and lots of veggies and salads and fish. I haven’t been experiencing super bad runger yet, but it does seem to hit me at night if I’ve had a light dinner. I get painfully hungry as I’m going to bed and it keeps me awake until I have to get up and eat some oatmeal. I feel like full-blown runger is on its way though… any tips?

Marathon Training: Week 6

Weeks until Mountains 2 Beach Marathon: 15

I took a step back this week because last week was a lot. I ran six out of seven days, including three hard workouts. This week, I gave my body a little bit of a break, and my knees thanked me. I didn’t even go to November Project. This week was also the last ‘base building’ week of the training plan Coach Lauren made for me, and next week is officially the first week of ‘marathon training,’ which is exciting. And I’m running the Rose Bowl 10k in Pasadena next Sunday! I haven’t raced since November, and I’m feeling ready to push hard. I’m really hoping to PR, and it will be fun to see how much I’ve progressed since my last 10k in October (my time then was 58:26, and my 10k PR is 56:07). Whenever I haven’t run a race in a long time, I get super pumped, especially seeing pictures every weekend of all the people racing on Instagram. The 10k finishes inside the Rose Bowl, and there’s a 5k and half-marathon as well. I was looking at the race’s website, and I saw the divisions:

Age Groups and Divisions

  • Age Group-Male & Female: 13 & Under, 14-17, 18-24, 25-29, 30-34, 35-39, 40-44, 45-49, 50-54, 55-59, 60-64, 65-69, 70-74, 75-79, 80+
  • Clydesdale: Men 200+ lbs
  • Athena: Women 150+ lbs

There are separate divisions for plus-sized people?! And seriously 150 pounds… come on guys, that is not plus-sized, or Athena, or whatever you want to call it. I’ve never seen anything like that… am I the only one that thinks that is weird?

Anyway, here’s the past week in workouts and life.

Monday – 6 miles with 8 x 400m repeats

I always do my morning runs on the same path, which includes a couple steep hills, making speed workouts a lot harder than they already are. I finally ventured to Echo Park Lake for this workout, and it was so much better. It was about a mile and a half to the lake, then the path around the water is a little over a mile (I think), and then a mile and a half back. The entire thing is paved, also, unlike my other route, so I felt like I could run a lot faster. My 400m split paces were: 7:45, 7:47, 8:04, 8:13, 8:17, 8:12, 7:51, 7:15. Not bad! During my last repeat, an entire class from the local high school started running on the path, and I ended up racing the girl in front (she didn’t know we were racing), and it gave me that extra push to get my fastest interval in. I’ll definitely be returning to Echo Park Lake for my speedwork.

Echo Park Lake.

Echo Park Lake.

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After work, my coworker and I went to the bar on the rooftop of the Ace Hotel downtown to see our other coworker DJing by the pool. I love the view from the top.

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Tuesday – rest

Wednesday – 5 miles easy @ 9:45 min/mile

Normally I would go to November Project Wednesday morning, but I couldn’t fall asleep until 1am or so and had one of those restless nights, so I opted to get an extra hour of sleep and do five miles easy. I also figured it would be better not to push my body too hard, and a little decrease in activity would help.

That evening, I was invited to go to the Avalon Hollywood (across the street from the Capitol Records building, which looks really cool at night) for a presentation on an event called Checkpoints Race. I’ll write more about that in another post, but let’s just say I went to the event straight from work, and I forget that stuff in the heart of Hollywood is usually swanky and I was wearing sneakers and just totally underdressed when I showed up to the bouncers behind the velvet rope. I’m so used to being in Silver Lake or downtown where anything goes as far as clothing, but there’s a whole other side of Los Angeles that I sometimes forget exists. Aside from that, the presentation was really cool and the event sounds pretty awesome.

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The fancy bathroom at the fancy club I was underdressed at.

Thursday – 5 miles easy @ 9:48 min/mile

It was nice to have a few easy days of running this past week.

After work, my boss took us all for happy hour and bowling, and I don’t know how it’s possible but the left side of my butt is STILL sore from it. Who knew bowling was such a good cross-training activity?

Friday – rest

I was planning on going to a sunrise 6k race that November Project was putting on, but it was moved from Griffith Park to the Santa Monica Pier so it was too far away for me to attend. But it’s probably better, since I got an extra rest day out of it.

Saturday – 10 miles, last 3 miles fast finish

Lately, it’s taken me a few miles to get into long runs. That didn’t really use to happen, but I think it’s just because I’m working harder these days and my body is still adjusting. The last few long runs, I haven’t started feeling really good until about mile 7. But at least I feel good! This past Saturday, I turned on the WTF podcast and just headed out the door, not expecting anything. I didn’t have breakfast except for a couple Powerbar Energy Chews (they look like Gushers on the package and that’s why I got them, but there’s no stuff that comes out of the center when I bite into them, maybe I got a faulty bag), and then I ate one more of those at mile 5.5, but that’s it. I usually eat something more substantial in the morning, but I was out of bananas and didn’t feel like making oatmeal. This could also be why it was hard to get started. But luckily my energy kicked in around mile 7, right when I was supposed to start my fast finish miles. I switched my iPhone from the podcast to my running playlist, and sped up. I was aiming for 8:30-8:45 miles, and the first mile included a half-mile big hill, so I didn’t quite get there. The last two miles were great though, with 8:29 and 8:38 as the average paces. My legs felt super fresh at this point, and like I had just started my run. That was a really encouraging sign!

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After I was done, Jeremy and I braved the weather (it was 60 degrees and sprinkling) and got lunch at a placed called Mexicali in Chinatown. It sounds strange, but it was delicious. We are slowly making our way through Jonathan Gold’s 101 Best Restaurants in Los Angeles. Only about 96 to go. It’s a tough task, but somebody’s gotta do it.

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We then went to Frontrunners in West Hollywood, where I got the new Saucony ISO Triumphs, and I had ordered the newest version of the Wave Creations on Zappos earlier that week. My last two pairs of running shoes were the Wave Creation 14 and 15, so I’m looking forward to seeing if I love the 16 as much as the others.

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I’ll have a lot more to say about these shoes after I’ve run in them for a week or two!

That night, Jeremy and I watched Gone Girl (I finished the book earlier in the day), and I went to bed nice and early.

Sunday – yoga and stretching and foam rolling

The weather was perfect so I sat outside and read for a while in our backyard, then went and bought some plants for our apartment. I didn’t run, but I made sure to stretch and foam roll a lot and ice my knee, and then did this Yoga for Runners video I like.

Our cute little backyard, with lots of citrus fruits on the tree.

Our cute little backyard, with lots of citrus fruits on the trees.

Happy Monday!