Running Report: Nike Human Race 10K & Running Goals

Well, triathlon season is over, so why not celebrate by…doing a 10K 5 days after my last triathlon?!!  Ok, I’m not famous for having the smartest ideas–but it sounded fun at the time.

My last few triathlons have all ended with a 5k, which meant that my long runs haven’t really exceeded 6 or 7 miles…not much need with a 5k.  So, I have not been training for 10ks…but luckily, I’ve been racing for the past 10 years or so, which means my legs have lots of “muscle memory.”  This memory sometimes forget how FAST I’ve run before, though!

Midnight is not a good time for me.  I’m usually in bed by 10:30, and almost all of my races have been early morning–so this was definitely different.  I ended up having a Diet Coke and a Balance bar at around 9:30 or so to give me a little bit of a boost.  I was running with my friend Ryan and his friend James–running with guys is different, because they could care less if you actually run WITH them.  Girls, we can chat on our runs–with guys, you just listen to your music and run…much like when I run by myself, except we get to carpool and talk about the race together.  We had to be out there an hour early, which is ridiculous–we literally had to stand at the start line for an hour, so I was definitely ready to get this thing started!

There were pace markers to start the race (7 min miles, 8 min miles, etc) to help create a smooth start, but they did not work.  It was obvious right away that my group was not only composed of 8 min mile runners, but also 12-15 min a mile runners.  I don’t hate on slower runners (I am a slower runner to those who run 6 min miles!), but run with your pace group!  We spent the first mile trying to get through runners–but it was packed (L.A. traffic on a bad day)…so spent most of the mile jogging.  This is OK at a marathon because you have 25 more miles to speed up to your pace…but in a 6 mile race, it is a big waste (and you have to give up the hope for a personal record).  After awhile, I felt claustrophobic, so I left Ryan & sped up & maintained a decent pace for the remaining miles.

I could definitely tell it was midnight: 1) are those prostitutes out on these sketchy roads, high-fiving me?, 2) the smell of fast food messing with my mind and my stomach in mile 4-5, 3) drunken boys along frat row at USC, 4) my legs, my stomach, my breath–instead of getting better towards the end (I can usually finish a 10k pretty strong…like I’m waking up), I felt myself wanting to go to bed.  I was able to sprint at the end, but my shoe lace came untied–I got yelled at for stopping right at the finish line to tie it, but being yelled at really doesn’t affect you when you’re tired, it’s 1am, and you just ran 6.2 miles.

It was a good start to the next several months, which will focus on longer distance races.  I’m running a half-marathon in a few weeks–which I haven’t trained for, but will add 2 long runs to my training before then…and then L.A. marathon in March.  I’m sure I’ll throw in another 1/2 & a 10k in there, too, but mostly excited to try my new program–which has you running only 3 days a week–but at a faster pace, which I definitely need for a decent marathon time.  There’s still cross-training to do, so I can bring out my bike on the weekends.  It’s going to be fun.

In Summary= I will not be running at midnight again.

Triathlon Race Report: Playa Del Rey Triathlon

I’m a little late to report on this one.  It happened last Sunday, and it was the last one of the season (probably won’t race again until April or May).  I’ll have running races–but I sigh a big sigh of relief that I don’t have to manage all of the different workouts required weekly for the triathlons.  They are fun and add variety, yes, but also much more time-consuming than putting on my running shoes and out the door!  But what a way to go out.  I had an overall great race, and can’t think of much I could’ve done better (besides being faster, but that’s for next season!).

I did this race last year & it fits me well–first off it’s close to my house, it’s a smaller race so I don’t have to show up as early, the race isn’t all packed the entire course, and it’s my training route (on the bike)–so I know it well.  The bike is fairly flat, which I’m good at.  I wasn’t feeling so great over the weekend, so I was questioning what I was even doing racing only 2 weeks after my last triathlon.  I really wanted to get my run right, though, and had one more shot to do so!  I was sleepy that morning & it was dark when I got there–but as the sun came up, it was obvious the waves were being nicer to us than my last race–so I was good to go.  We ran a little late, but still I was in the water by about 7:30am–a nice early race.

The swim was longer than I expected–600m & it just looked FAR…so I really paced myself.  I’m still pretty new to open water swimming & am never really sure how fast I can go…but was just happy to be swimming an actual stroke & focusing on technique–a year ago, I was still freaking out & my breathing was a mess.  I had no idea where I was in the mix because I could see swimmers all around me.  I felt good coming out of the water, though, and thought it was pretty smooth.

Most of the bikes were still in my transition area, which is a good sign.  For whatever reason, I was extremely calm during transition–I’m a clumsy, clumsy person, but somehow managed to glide out of my wetsuit as if I was a pro.  I got on the bike & man, two hills right away (I was imagining this course to be totally flat, oops!)–one pretty short and steep & the next, a slow climb–but once I got past those, turned the corner, I was zooming.  I passed some folks but quickly I was pretty much alone.  It was hard because it’s my training route, so sometimes I would forget I was actually racing!  I was a little confused because I was going really fast & yet usually I’m passing at least a dozen girls.  Either I did great on the swim or everyone else is super fast on the bike as well.

It was cool coming in for the run because hardly any of the bikes were back in transition–meaning I was doing great & most likely going to place.  The run is incredibly boring–an out and back on a wide sidewalk path near the beach.  I prefer runs with a few twists and turns to keep it exciting–I hate that we can’t listen to music during the run portions of triathlons (against USAT rules)…it is SO helpful in keeping me motivated and my pace up.  Instead, I’m singing to myself–songs from my ipod Shuffle that I’ve heard hundreds of times.  I also can run faster when there are runners all around me–I have runners to chase, runners to run with, runners that are chasing me–but again, I ended up sort of alone–having to manage my own pace.  I felt great, though, and ended up speeding up the last mile or so.  A smoooooth race.

I ended up 1st in my division and 14th overall–I didn’t even think to look so high up in the rankings, so for 1/2 an hour  I searched–thinking they had misplaced my running time chip or something.  Ha!  They give great prizes at this race, so I ended up with a medal and expensive bike helmet.  Sweet!  It was my first “first place” finish in triathloning—sure, it completely depends on the size of the race, the competition that day, etc–but who cares–it’s a first!  I’ll take it!

Next season will be all about refining some of my skills–finally, I feel at least competent in the race, so I can work on speed!  I still have no urge to do a half-ironman or Ironman…these are the really long distance, takes all day kind of races.  I’d rather spend much less time training & just focus on getting better at the shorter distances.

In the meantime, I’ve got three events coming up in the next month (yikes!)–but all of them fun…tonight at midnight is Nike’s Human Race 10k with friends, 3 weeks I’ll be running a 1/2 marathon (that I have not trained for at all!) with Aransas, & in a month–I’ll be doing the Mud Run in San Diego with a hilarious team we’ve assembled.  Then I’m taking it easy–trying for the L.A. Marathon in March, depending on how my body is feeling about those long training runs!

Thanks for reading!

Catching you up…

I’ve realized I forget what to say in this longer format–I have perfected the Facebook status length sound bites, and now the idea of an actual post seems daunting.  Don’t worry, I’ll get over it.

So Friday is here–I’m so happy because I’ve been working on a work project after hours and weekends for the past couple of weeks & it’s nice to have that all over and done with & a full 3 day weekend in front of me.  We just had our work fundraiser gala last night–Inner-City Arts 20th anniversary, too.  It went smoothly–lots of guests & people being pretty generous in the live auction.  It’s a strange balance all the time with non-profits–constantly raising money in order to survive while also remaining true to their original vision.  I think ICA does a great job of that–I mean, an arts education center not only surviving–but growing–for 20 years!  That’s pretty cool, and if you come visit us, you will see how unique the site itself is.  I’ve been doing this for the past 10 years or so in several cities, and except for Seattle Children’s Theatre, I’ve never seen a space for art education like this.  So I was happy to work at the dinner, and even better, score a free meal!

I’m itching to do something completely on my own, too.  I feel like it’s the next step for me.  I want to be a business-woman.  My mom reminded me of my various attempts at businesses I tried in my youth–selling refreshments to our family “performances,”  setting up a “ham and cheese” shop in which I sold slices of ham and cheese through the window of my puppet show stage, displaying my entire collection of records on our coffee table for sale–marking each one with a permanent 99 cents label, the obligatory lemonade stand (to which I added popcorn balls, cookies, etc)…and who knows what else.  I like selling things.  I like turning a profit.  I follow in my dad’s footsteps on that one.  So, I’m trying to work on side projects right now, which will challenge me in brand new ways.  I’m always up for a challenge.

I have one more triathlon left this year–it’s on Sunday & only a few miles away.  The bike course actually takes place on part of my usual bike route, so it’s a fairly easy race for me (if these things can be considered easy).  While I love the triathlons these days, I love even more that there is a “season” to them, so you don’t feel like you need to train year round.  I’m seriously pondering what life would be like if I really dedicated myself to becoming a better athlete…making more time for training, taking my diet seriously, etc.  I was at the gym yesterday working out with my trainer (who I will unfortunately not be able to afford for very much longer).  It was the plyometrics/speed/agility workout that I love:  I’m going through the ladder on the ground in different patterns, hopping over hurdles, etc— meanwhile, the folks on the treadmills get a good view of this (funny stuff when I knock cones over, curse my trainer, am forced to do push ups, etc).  Yesterday’s workout was challenging for me because I had done a swim just beforehand & was already a little wiped.  But I made it through, and at the end this woman comes up to me and says “You are just the most amazing person I’ve seen working out here.  Do you compete?”  She went on to tell me over and over how inspiring I am & I see her reading my trainer’s bio on my way out.  She has no idea how this completely made my day.  I don’t do any kind of training/racing for outside approval (not even for medals, though those are always nice).  Honestly, they keep me sane, allow me a different focus in life, keep it exciting, etc…but turns out, it does make a difference when someone thinks that I must “compete.”  I love my workouts more than ever, and so we’ll see what next season brings.  As it gets darker earlier, though, it will be nice to get off the bike and out of the pool & just return to running and weights.  Mostly for dress reasons–triathloning requires way too much forethought when it comes to packing my gym bag for the end of the day.  Yesterday I think I had 4 outfit changes throughout the day.  I’m looking forward to just putting on some running shoes for awhile.

In other news, I’ve moved into a house (in August) & am just loving it.  I have roommates again.  I’ve heard the “I’m too old for roommates” bit from several folks, but I enjoy the mini-family I have out here now.  I love living on my own, too, and I guess at some point I thought I’d be moving in with the man-of-my-dreams & do that whole thing–but instead I keep finding guys that don’t have that same goal (these guys are easy to find in L.A.).  Oddly enough, I don’t feel bitter or stressed by it–other people tend to bring it up more than I think about it, which in turn makes me question myself (“what’s wrong with me?”…ok, mostly i say “what’s wrong with these guys?”).  People  give me sad faces when I tell them about my latest crazy adventures & they try to think of friends they could set me up with.  I would of course love to have a boyfriend, but I’m not interested in having one for the sake of having one.  I really want to love someone, have them love me back, and basically–just have a great time traveling through life together.  I don’t wanna be dragging someone through life or have to chase them either.  Those are really my only guidelines at the moment.  I don’t have a plan, or a scheme, or any idea what I’m doing really.  All I know is that I’ve led an incredibly full, entertaining life for the past 30 years, and I plan to do the same as long as I’m lucky enough to be around, whether I’m single or in a couple.  But guys, in the future, please wear a shirt in your profile pic.  Let’s keep it classy!!!

But back to the new house and roomies.  It’s lovely.  We also have a dog (Effie) that makes me very happy.  We play games together–she loves me hiding and jumping out to scare her.  At least, I think that’s love.  Maybe I’m scarring her for life.  She’s tiny & I never thought I was a tiny dog kind of person, but she totally won me over.  Oh–and the yard–I’ve grilled half a dozen times so far & I really enjoy having a backyard space.  I also really enjoy that we’re just renting, and the landlords hired a gardener that comes weekly.  Hello!  Not sure if I’ll ever be able to afford to buy property in L.A., but I will be talking about “my gardener” ALL the time.  He is not the Desperate Housewives kind, though, ladies, don’t get excited.  We have a washer dryer–it’s been a decade maybe since I’ve not had to save up quarters for that sort of thing.  It’s the luxury life out here in L.A.

And Chuck is back in the mix, which is as cool as I thought it would be.  He is like a brother to me, and my brothers like him so much they wouldn’t be offended that I say that.  And being that I have no family out here, him living here makes me feel like I’m home.  OK, really, he laughs at ALL my corny jokes, so that’s a huge part of it.

I’ve spent my morning typing away on this thing.  Gotta get moving.  Have a great weekend!

Triathlon Race Report: L.A. Triathlon 2009

My fancy tri bikeWhat a race!  This is my favorite triathlon so far for many reasons: #1 It was my first tri two years ago, so it’s all sentimental and stuff. #2 It takes you right through the middle of the city, #3 It’s a big race where the pro athletes come, so I get to see the best in the sport.

Since I’m just starting up with my race reports, let me start by a run down of my “season” (in triathlon world, that usually lasts from May-October).  I raced in Newport Beach on two different courses, San Francisco as part of the Anchorman series, and Las Vegas at the Irongirl again.  Races are expensive, so I’ve learned to really limit it–I was really challenged this year with HILLY bike courses, so my finishing times weren’t always the best.  It’s caused me to really focus on hills at the end of the summer, and I’m really improving.

L.A. tri is perfect for me because it is relatively flat (not completely, there was some definite gear-shifting going on for sure).  The run is downtown & I feel really comfortable running downtown as it is where the marathon usually starts and/or ends–I work there, so I know the streets pretty well, too.  The swim: ugh, the OCEAN.  I’ve discovered that Venice is relatively rough compared to other beaches, so this is not the part I’m dying to do.  But, I was pumped for the race.  The past 2 months have been pretty spot-on in terms of training, so I knew I could potentially have a great race.

I woke up at 6am, had some coffee (i usually do half caff, but went full force this morning!), banana, energy bar & biked about 5 miles to the start of the race at Venice Beach.  I set up my bike stuff, put my wetsuit on, and had an amazing view of the pro athletes coming in from the swim to transition to the bikes.  It is so awesome that we get to race alongside of the best in the world, although they got to start about 3 hours before me–so were finished before I began.

I slowly made my way to the sand.  I avoided it because once your there, you will stare at the ocean until your wave starts.  You can’t help it.  You will watch each wave (there are about 15 or so waves of age groups, etc, going, so there is a lot of waiting) group to see what happens–what the current is like, how the waves are swelling, etc.  Today was the worst I’ve seen for a race.  The waves were huge, but more than that, they were never-ending.  No lulls, no small waves…it was scary to watch.  It doesn’t help that everyone is getting scared all around you.  There was also a really strong current, which meant when racers started–we ran along the beach 100 yards or more past our first buoy because the current was pulling people so fast and far.  Several swimmers went out into the water & returned back to shore when they couldn’t get past waves–giving up on their race.  I’ve never seen this happen & really hoped it wouldn’t happen to me!  When you see the lifeguard boat look like it’s about to topple over, that is a bad sign.  The lifeguards were smart and increased the time spent in between group starts–so one group completely finished before a new group of swimmers went out.  It did mean that we started almost an hour late–around 9am.  Luckily, it was a cool day, so I didn’t worry too much about the heat during the run.

So–it’s my wave’s start time.  It’s like night and day how I feel now compared to how I felt two years ago.  Even with the scary conditions, I wasn’t that nervous.  I knew once I got past the waves, I would be fine.  We ran way past the first buoy–I couldn’t believe the current would take me back–but WOW–did it ever.  The waves themselves were overwhelming.  We dive under them, but as soon as you dove and came back up, there was another one–so powerful it took you almost back to shore.  I’m sure people who have spent their lives in ocean water could feel comfortable in this situation, but it was pretty freaky.  Pretty soon, I look up, and I see I’m headed directly towards the buoy–the water pulled me all the way over in just a couple of minutes!  Crazy.  But lucky for me, I was able to stay in a straight line until I reached buoy #1 and turned (the course was a rectangle)–and pretty much stayed on course the entire way.  My swim lessons have helped calm me down in the water & be able to focus on technique/my stroke–instead of worried about other racers.  The crazy waves actually split us up more, so I didn’t have to worry about many arms or legs in my face–which was awesome.  The way back to shore was harder than I imagined–instead of the waves shooting you to shore, they would take you and pull you back–so it was a bit hectic.  But I felt pretty great coming out of the water and excited to be getting on my bike.

The transition went really well–found my bike quickly, saw that many of my neighbor’s bikes were still on their rack, which was a good sign–and I was off on Venice Blvd.  It takes several minutes for me to transition from one event to the next, to get my breathing down–but I started fast and kept the pace.  I love this bike course because the road is so wide and entirely shut down.  Some races are so crowded with bikes that the whole race you spend passing and being passed, but here the passing rules are not as strict because there’s so much room.  I passed several girls on the bike–two who had passed me, but I caught them around mile 9 (of 15), passed them & didn’t see them the rest of the bike.  My goal was to stay between 16-20 mph as much as I could–and it turns out I averaged around 18 mph, sweet.  This was the best bike split I’ve had–I felt really great going into the run knowing I had really worked hard & excelled on the bike.

The second transition went smoothly, too–though right away during the first mile of my run, I had stomach cramps.  I knew it was because of the gatorade I had been downing late in my bike ride.  I thought I learned this lesson in Vegas–but I figured I needed something besides water and an energy gel.  WRONG!  I wanted to run 8 minute miles, nothing crazy–but I swear my first mile took about 12 minutes.  Terrible!  There’s nothing you can do with that horrible cramping, other than run through it.  I wasn’t feeling great (but better), so picked it up more in mile 2 and then in mile 3 I was running a respectable pace & even sprinted in (but where was that in mile 1?!?!).  I was a little bummed because running is my strong suit–but even with my slow run, I didn’t see too many girls pass me (and passed about 5 in the last mile).

I finished with my work buddy and her daughter cheering me on at the end–went to get my bike, checked my time–and a 3rd place finish in my divisi0n–I was pretty shocked given that I think I could’ve easily done the run 5 min. faster.  I stayed for the awards (and the free goggles!) & was on an incredible high the entire time.  I was most proud of this medal because 2 years ago I was 12th, last year I was 5th–it’s good to be able to see improvement.  But the best part is how comfortable I feel with racing now.  I don’t over think it or get overwhelmed.  My race today was always steady–even when my run started to fall apart, I walked for  a minute–had an energy gel & pushed along, telling myself it would get better later on.  These moments encourage me to really see myself as a capable athlete, not just in it for the fun (because= yes, it is SO much fun!!!)–but also in it to be competitive, to have big goals, to take my training seriously–because I love every aspect of racing.

I’m back!

Me, deep in thoughtHi everyone!  While I had fun on my mac site, I found iweb to be easy to use but lacking in any kind of creativity or originality.  I’m hoping this will end up being a more unique endeavor & will slow down my addiction to facebook status updates.  It’s a blog for now, but there will be more to come in the future.  Thanks for visiting!