Monday, October 27, 2008

Monday Mario

I'm convinced my shin is back in business and I'm going to start on building my base mileage up again. I've been a little lazy lately, though. I was going to go for a run on Friday but didn't. I was going to go for a run yesterday but nixed that, too. Guess I just feel a little bit like Mario:

Friday, October 24, 2008

Real Men Like Butterflies

Our furry friends with the cutest butts at Furry Butts gave us an award!  Thanks!  Mario is a little miffed that it's got a girly-girl butterfly on it (he's still a little sensitive about the whole "Binky Like A Girl" thing).  So he asked me to pass it along to his manly pal Tyler of The Qi Papers (who is welcome to also share it with Sydney).  Mario wants to make the butterfly masculine!

Wednesday, October 22, 2008


Mario wants to get in on the 'Tocktober action by posting an oldie-but-a-goodie bunny 'tock photo:

You'll notice his little fur "spurs." He used to grow them out, then they'd fall off. It's been a while since he's had them, though.

Monday, October 20, 2008

Monday Mario

At the Nike expo the other day there was a station where you could make buttons. The catch phrase for the race was "Run Like A Girl" and they had a "______ Like A Girl" blank button you could decorate. At first I passed the station up, but then I thought about it, went back and made this:

As if taking him to the veterinarian and having him neutered wasn't bad enough.

For the non-bunny people, here's a definition and example of "Binky."

Sunday, October 19, 2008

Nike Woman's Half Marathon

I went down to the expo early Friday. As I mentioned before, I'm not a big fan of these Nike event expos because there aren't any outside vendors besides the sponsors. But I give them credit because there were a lot of things to do. To name a few, there was a massage station, manicure station, and gait analysis.

Expo in Union Square

One new thing I experienced was that you didn't have a bib number assigned pre-expo. You showed up with a barcode they emailed to you which linked all you info to their computer. Then they pulled out a bib, scanned it, pulled out a chip, scanned that, and now you've got your bib and chip. This must save them a lot of time not having to pre-scan and then sort the bibs and chips. As you leave the bib/chip pick-up area, there was a station to pick up a bracelet with your estimated pace. I chose the 10:00-11:59 group. The woman who gave me the bracelet told me to wear it on Sunday morning. I figured this was how they were going to put you into corrals.

One of the few things I did at the expo was to get my ipod engraved. I actually showed up with just my nano (because the email said ipod nanos) but two women in front of me got their shuffles engraved. I only run with the shuffle so it made more sense to engrave that with the race's catch phrase, "Run Like A Girl." You could also get custom engraving (like your name) but I was too lazy to stand in the longer line for that. So I ended up engraving the nano and then going back later to get the shuffle done. Here's my shuffle:

Lady Footlocker had Nike event branded merchandise out for display but if you wanted to buy any of it, you had to walk two blocks south to their store (inside a mall)?! Not a great sales move. Nothing really interested me. I did go to Niketown (where they were also selling event stuff) to see if they had anything special. For about $5 you could get a Nike logo screened onto merchandise you bought. I thought this one was the best marathon slogan I've seen recently (especially at a woman's event):

I'm not old enough to wear this (I'm assuming you should be in your late 30's or 40's to effectively pull it off) but I would love to get a shirt with this later on in life if I'm still doing marathons. I managed to leave the store without dropping money on Nike gear.

The chip was another new technology chip. I miss champion chips. The beeps they make as you cross over mats are part of the race experience to me. And I'm sorry, but this one just looks funny.

Boyfriend was nice enough to wake up early and drop me off in Union Square. I got there about an hour before the race started. It was chilly but not terribly cold. I wore a throw-away t-shirt over my outfit and pulled my arms in to keep warm. I was not impressed with the start area. They had maps out showing where you were supposed to line up according to the pace you had chosen, but there wasn't anyone out checking the bands. There weren't even any "runner only" areas. This has to be the easiest marathon ever to run as a bandit (they had people checking right before you crossed the finish line). The speaker system was so poor my area didn't even realize that someone was singing the National Anthem until it was over half over. I wasn't in a great running mood this morning. Some women by me were so happy and hyper, I'm convinced they had some crack in their coffee this morning. Instead of their energy pumping me up, I found it annoying. I yawned a lot waiting in the corral. It took over 20 minutes for me to cross the start line.

My plan was to run as much as possible the first 6 miles of the race. The second half was fairly hilly and I knew the lack of training would catch up to me as the distance was compounded by the hills. I managed to run the first 5+ miles. I spent the entire time dodging walkers. Walkers walking five abreast. It was aggravating and dangerous. The crowd was also incredibly thick and the course was fairly narrow in some areas. I felt like I was driving a car and had to keep my eyes directed straight ahead to make sure I didn't rear-end a walker or step on the heel of someone's shoe.

What with all the dodging and cramped space my pace was really slow. This is probably a very good thing for me, but I would have been a little sad if I had wanted to run a real race. Even though I ran the first five miles, my pace was probably only about 20 sec/mile faster than San Jose when I walked 0.2 mi of every mile. When I saw that, I knew this was going to be one terribly long half marathon.

At mile 6 the first extended incline came and I walked it. Partly because that was the game plan and partly because it was so crowded, my walking pace was only slightly slower than my running pace with the congestion. The weather was brilliant for a marathon today. Overcast and cool. San Francisco has been uncharacteristically sunny and warm the last week and the drabby weather returned just in time. My hands were freezing (especially towards the end of the race) and I would have been comfortable wearing gloves today. At Crissy Field, 24 Hour Fitness was handing out those little rubber wristbands:

My corral band (basically useless) and my race souvenir

From mile 6 on, I felt like we were either going up or down, but rarely flat. I generally walked the uphills and ran the downhills. Being local, I wasn't too impressed with the views of Alcatraz or the Golden Gate Bridge. But as we rounded the turn by the Cliff House and headed down to the beach I have to say the view took my breath away. The runners around me were ooh-ing and awe-ing, and I was thinking I could hardly blame them.

I thought that I would be happy to enter Golden Gate Park since I had a good idea of the terrain there. But, I found it rather deflating knowing where all the uphill sections were. I was definitely dragging towards the end because sections of the park I don't consider to be "uphill" were definitely on a grade today! At mile 12, I got my coveted piece of chocolate. The majority of the people pocketed it and kept running. It was a downhill section and mile 12, after all! But not me. I started walking and savored my chocolate. Yummy! Some sort of caramel nut milk chocolate (a little crispy due to the chill in the air).

After that, I picked up the pace and crossed the finish line in a time of 2:40-something. Slowest. Half. Ever. By a wide margin. I was even a little surprised myself at how slow I was today. I will say, it was probably the most challenging half course I've ever done and I'm badly out of shape to run that distance right now. The good news is that my shin didn't hurt one bit.

Immediately after crossing the finish line, I got my Tiffany's box from a firefighter in a tuxedo. He was very nice and looked me dead in the eye and said, "Congratulations!" I got shuffled down the line some more: Chip off, water bottle, mylar blanket, bagel, banana, Jamba Juice, and race shirt.

You can see all the Tiffany boxes piled on the limo and the backs of the tuxedo guys.

Boyfriend and I had the plan to meet "at the letter M" (for Mario!) of the reunion area. Given how long it took me to cross the start line and how long it took me to run the race, I figured by now he would have given up waiting on the course to see me, and would have gone to the reunion area thinking he had missed me. I got to the letter and he wasn't there. I thought maybe he had seen me cross the finish and was headed over. Fifteen minutes after that, I thought maybe he had overslept and was on his way. Fifteen minutes after that I started to worry that he had never made it home from dropping me off in the morning. Thirty minutes after that I was chilled to the bone (Boyfriend had my jacket and I had drank the whole Jamba Juice), needed to visit the port-a-pottie, and was worried to death. I had been waiting an hour (which was 1.5 hours longer than he had expected me to take). I left my post at the letter, went to the bathroom, and came back. Still no Boyfriend.

We live a 2 mile walk from the finish line. My legs felt okay to do the walking and I figured I'd be safe from hypothermia with my little shiny space blanket. But I wasn't sure if I should leave. I didn't have any money. I didn't have my house key. What would I do when I got home if he wasn't there? I asked a very nice lady if I could borrow her cell phone. Luckily I remembered Boyfriend's number. With cell phones I never have to actually dial the number and I often mix up the first three when I'm trying to recite them. I have his number on my Road I.D. but didn't wear it. Thankfully I dialed right and he picked up. He seemed to be in the area so I told him I'd "go back to the M."

I walked back to the letter area and about 4 minutes later he appeared. Turns out he had been waiting at the Team In Training family reunion area while I was at the non-special people reunion area. I would like to state my case and say that the TIT area did not have letters. It was more of a VIP tent area. He even said it was warm and cozy (argh!). Boyfriend had asked three people (including the med tent) if there was an alternate family area and everyone had told him he was at the right one. Luckily for the two of us we had gone through the emotions of annoyance to anger to worry so by the time we were reunited we were just happy the other was alive.

He said when I said "at the M" it clicked that he must be at the wrong area. He had even left the race, come back home to see if I was there, then gone back to the finish line. He had checked with medical to see if I had gone to a hospital. He claims he must have run 3 miles going back and forth to the car and around the finish area. He's got three huge blisters from doing this in non-running shoes. I think this is hilarious since I actually ran the race and have no blisters.

I was pretty frozen after waiting 1.5 hours in the cold and Boyfriend had illegally parked the car in his haste to get back to the race. So I wasn't able to cheer like I wanted. I did take out the cowbell and rang it as we walked back to the car, but it wasn't as much as I'd like to have done.

Here's the bounty from the race:

The Tiffany's pendant is super cool:

Overall, these are my thoughts about the race: When I was running it I told myself I'd never do it again. Way too many people. Way too many slower people out in front clogging things up. I can see how out-of-town people would love the course, but it's just okay for me. It's a great race if you are part of Team In Training, but it almost feels like everyone else gets left out.

After finishing I thought about it some more. I got a Nike tech shirt I can actually wear (XS!) and a pretty cool Tiffany's necklace. The race cost $90, I think. That's not so bad. I think $90 is worth a tech shirt, Tiffany's necklace, and a half marathon. So, I may throw my name in the lottery again and see what happens. Word to the wise, if you want to really run this race, get way, way, up in front!

At the expo, I also got Mario something special. Stay tuned for tomorrow's "Monday Mario, Nike Woman's Half Edition!"

Saturday, October 18, 2008

Race Outfit, Check

The problem with running skirts, is not knowing what to wear for a race.  I settled on the following:

That's the original JackRabbit hat.  I figure I'll wear it 'til it breaks before I christen the new white one.  I had a heck of a time getting Blogger to load this one picture, so the race report will include the expo report.  Good luck, everyone running tomorrow!  I had a horrendous 2 mi run yesterday so have pretty low hopes for the race.  I'm going to soak up the experience and eat chocolate at the Ghirardelli chocolate stop.  I am planning on stationing myself on the Great Highway to cheer for the full marathoners after I finish.  See you on the other side of an early wake-up and 13.1 miles!

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Race Planning

For the first time in a long time, I have no races on the horizon. I obviously had to squelch the Helen Klein 50K in November. So after this Sunday, that's it. My race year is over and I have nothing set down for 2009. Work was pretty slow today so I sketched out a list of races and am trying to pick and choose which ones I'd like to do. I have taken this draft of a calendar all the way out to March 2010. Am I the only runner who does this? March 2010 seems light years away! I am trying to stay pretty close to home to cut down on travel costs.

One unfortunate thing about living in CA is the lack of cheaper race events. New York Road Runners in NYC puts on a couple of races a month (mainly in Central Park). These are all chip-timed events and they used to run me $11 (plus the $35/year membership fee). That's $11 for a chip-timed half marathon with a finisher's t-shirt! I'd be willing to pay $11 for a chip-timed training run. Out here in California, every event runs about $50 on upwards. I'm not so willing to pay that much for a training run. So I have to be a little more discriminating. I'm only entering events out here that I have a real interest in soaking up the course or smacking down with a new PR.

Some races I'm tinkering with:

So that's what I'm thinking about. It's a pretty loose idea right now but at least it'll get the gears turning in my head. I am trying to balance races that I can't possibly PR at (e.g. Big Sur and Goofy) with races that I can actually train to run a good time (e.g. San Jose & Napa). I also wanted to try CIM one day, but don't think I'd like to couple it with Goofy the following month. So maybe CIM will go into the December 2010 slot. I penciled in a few other half marathons I'd like to try (e.g. See Jane, Kaiser, Mermaid) but will see how I'm feeling when the time comes.

Yesterday I went on an easy 2 miler. I'll probably run 3-4 tomorrow, then tackle Nike on Sunday. I'm going to be hitting up the expo tomorrow! I ran the Nike NYC Half in 2007. The expo for that race wasn't too grand because everything there was all about Nike. I much prefer seeing all the diverse vendors. But still, it's an expo!

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

6 miler, Angel, Pocket!

My 6 mi run yesterday turned into more of a 6 mi run/walk.  Can't say I felt that bad, but just didn't feel like pushing myself as much as I had the previous 4.5 mi run.  Part of the problem was probably the smokey scent in the air from the Angel Island wildfire.  However, this was my first run in Golden Gate Park in over 2 months so I was very happy to be there.  I've been doing most of my comeback running on the flat terrain (the soft shoulder & lack of downhills being good for the shin) at the Great Highway so figured I should get some hills in before the Nike race.

After this rather sad run I've decided to stick to my San Jose run/walk plan for Nike.  If I feel okay at the end I can push a little more, but I think this is the best bet to get through the distance without feeling too horribly.  

I do miss the training that I was doing before this Shin Thing, and am looking forward to working at building back up my base mileage after Nike.

When my parents were here my mom gave me an angel pin.  She said she worries about me riding my bike.  I stuck it on the key tether of my Timbuk2 saddle bag.  I am still a bike weenie and need all the good thoughts I can get.

I wore my Sugoi Fizz tank at San Jose and am IN LOVE with the back pocket.  I stuck my little baggie of Cliff Shot Bloks in it and they didn't bother me the entire way.  It's much nicer than having to wear a Fuel Belt or mushing them into the skirt pockets.  I've been using a hand-held water bottle that has a pocket to hold my bloks during training runs.  This works great, but the bottle is larger than I need during races.  During races I tend to like to use my little 8 oz Fuel Belt bottle (even smaller than the one pictured...I've got old technology) and just refill as needed.  So now I can use my small bottle and not have to wear any belt device to hold the bloks.  I am on a mission to find other similar-style tops with back pockets for races!

Monday, October 13, 2008

Monday Mario

"O" is for October!

Just hung a new wicker ring in Mario's cage. It's funny because he loves to eat the wicker of the rings and balls, but has been only casually nibbling on his tent for the past year.

Sunday, October 12, 2008

Week Wrap-Up

Some odds and ends:

First off, at the expo last weekend I was able to pick up two skirts from that I had exchanged.  I got the pinkalicious-sunset and aquatreuse skirts.  So cute!  I promised some people a photo so below is the pink-orange one:

When my parents were in town we took a trip to Sonoma to visit Viansa.  I think Mario would have thought he had died and gone to heaven if he ever found himself in a vineyard!  The last time I was in Napa for the marathon, there weren't even green leaves on the grape vines.  So to actually see some grapes this time was a real treat.

Today Boyfriend and I went to see an Air Show which featured the Blue Angels perform over the Bay.  Pretty darn impressive!  They even flew under the Golden Gate Bridge which would have totally freaked me out if I had been driving over it!  Hopefully there weren't any fender benders.  The weather was beautiful today and it was a lot of fun to hang out at Crissy Field.  

I went on a 4.5 mi run Friday.  A very hard fought 4.5 miles.  My endurance is way, way down.  I'm pretty sure I'll have to follow a similar strategy next Sunday as I did in San Jose.  That's fine with me.  The Nike race was always going to be a fun training run.  I'm hoping to get a 6 miler in tomorrow and will do another quick 2-3 miler before the race.

Saturday, October 11, 2008


I've been tagged by Leana and Marci!

Here are six random facts about me:

  1. I hold my pencil incorrectly. Instead of resting it on my middle finger, I rest it on my ring finger. I don't think I realized I was doing it wrong until I was 10 or 11.
  2. I had braces. Twice! Actually, first my orthodontist straightened my baby teeth with retainers when I was 4 thinking maybe it would cause my permanent teeth to come in straight.

    He was wrong.

    I then had braces from ages 10-12, I think. It was great because most of my friends got theirs on in the 7th grade, and there I was free and clear. But I'm a tongue-thruster (push my tongue against my teeth when I swallow) so my bite opened up. My orthodontist offered to put the braces back on again for free. I was 16!! So horror of horrors I got braces back on again when I was 16! and everyone else had gotten theirs taken off! To make matters worse, they put this little cage in my mouth behind my front upper teeth to train my tongue where to go. This caused me to have a terrible lisp. When I was 16. In high school. And I had to give speeches in English class.

    My teeth have gotten a teeny bit crooked since I didn't wear retainers for a while when I got to college. I last saw my orthodontist when I was 24 because a maid in Vegas threw out my retainer. He offered again to put them on again for free. But he was in Hawaii and I was in NYC. The basic moral of the story is that I have jacked up teeth. And a very generous orthodontist.
  3. In high school I was voted, "Most Likely To Succeed."
  4. I have transported across the country, in a car, two fish and a rabbit. The Mario story you know already. My family lived in Maryland for two years because my dad was in the Air Force. My last Christmas in Maryland when I was 7, my parents got me fish (a long, sordid story). When my parents found out my dad could take a position in Hawaii they thought my sister and I would be thrilled. When they told us, we both started crying. I cried because I didn't want to leave Jake and Pearl (my two goldfish) behind. So we put them in a plastic pitcher and they came across country with us to California. Then we got them a Tupperware container and I hand carried them on the airplane to Hawaii. We did declare them with agriculture. Pearl lived about a year. Jake survived 6 more years in Hawaii.
  5. I am allergic to three different classes of antibiotics.
  6. A random Mario fact: Mario's butt twitches when you give him bananas. However, the most ecstatic response I ever got out of him was from dried apple rings. I gave him a piece, and he could hardly contain himself. He jumped right up onto the couch, into my lap, for more.

And I'll tag another three:

Friday, October 10, 2008

R'n'R San Jose Half Marathon

Sorry for the delay! This will be quick and dirty.

Saturday: Went to the expo! I love expos. Sorry for the one crummy photo I took. I will give the event kudos for having event-branded tech gear in women's size XS! Of course, it was ridiculously priced so I didn't get anything. I was also able to pick up some running skirts which I will share in a later post. Other than that, it was the usual freebie pick-up fest.

The race used the new strip-timing system versus champion chips. I think these are the same ones that gave the Honolulu Marathon so many problems this past year. They seemed to work fine this event so no complaints. I will say that I missed the "beep, beeeps" that they make when you run over the mats. The new ones are totally silent.

One super cool thing I picked up from the expo was a free cowbell! I've been wanting a cowbell for so long! Yay! Now I'm all prepared the next time I'm on cheering duty.

Sunday: We took a pre-dawn drive down to San Jose. As I mentioned before my parents were in town so they were going to be the cheering squad. It was a little brisk at the start but it was pretty obvious that once the sun rose and we got moving it was going to be a warm day. I had signed up for this race intending to try to break 2 hours, so was in corral 3. I didn't want to get totally run over the first few miles so dropped back to corral 5. In retrospect, there were at least 13 corrals so I probably should have placed myself even further back.

My plan going into the race was to walk 0.2 mi every mile. My endurance is way down from my shin injury and I also wanted to keep things easy so that I would be able to participate in the Nike Woman's Half in 2 weeks. Given the way the course looped around, my parents were planning on watching the start (I had no idea where they were so missed them) then were going to head over to the 4.5 mi mark, then back to the finish. I did find them at their last two posts so that was a lot of fun. My mom sure knows how to work the cowbell!

At the first mile maker I felt really good and wanted to keep running, but I forced myself to walk for 0.2 mi. This continued for the next 12 miles. I'll say things stopped being easy around mile 8 and started getting a little hard at about mile 10. I generally felt okay the whole race since I was going slow and taking walk breaks, but I could tell my body was not ready to do such a long run given the lack of training. The race distance represented 75% of the mileage I had done the entire month of September!

At mile 12 I wanted to skip the walk, but forced myself to take a break. I did speed up the last mile (my only split in the 9:00's) what with the finish area cheering and "let's get this over with already" mentality. I met my goal of running my slowest half marathon ever with a 2:35:xx finish (28 seconds slower than the Disneyland Half). So I missed my initial goal by over 35 minutes, but I'm happy I was able to participate and have my parents out for the race experience.

The great news is that my shin didn't hurt for one second the entire race. It also hasn't bothered me at all since the run. I was pretty sore for such a slow pace for a couple of days, but went on a 2 mi run a couple of days ago and am still feeling good. I haven't really decided on what distances I want to try to get in before the Nike Half. Again, it's a fine line between being prepared and possibly not being able to participate. I would love to be able to tackle Nike without the walking game-plan, but am totally willing to do it if that is what it takes to get to the finish healthy.

Thursday, October 9, 2008

Take It and Run Thursday -- Signs

Sorry, everyone for the long silence. My parents were in town this past weekend and life in general has been a little hectic. I will get a proper race report up for the R'n'R San Jose Half up tomorrow and will also get busy catching up with everyone's blog. I loved reading all the vocal bunny comments! They can be quite noisy for "quiet" animals! And if they aren't talking, they love to throw things around to make a proper ruckus, too!

For TIaRT at the Runners' Lounge the theme is: "Signs you would love to see while running your race."

There are a couple that come to mind that have made me laugh, but only one that really inspired me.

At about mile 21 of the 2005 New York City Marathon, someone had a sign that read:
"The first 20 are run on legs; The last 6.2 are run on heart"

It made me a little teary and kept me going.
I fully intend to make my own sign of this one day to cheer on marathoners.

Monday, October 6, 2008

Monday Mario

Does your rabbit talk? My childhood rabbit, Thumper, was a typical girl and used to grunt at me when she was displeased. I've heard Mario do his love honks as he ran circles around my feet. I've sadly also heard a bunny scream when Mario decided to play the tough bunny with his bond mate (this is seriously one of the most blood-curdling things I've ever heard). Only in the last few months have I become aware that Mario gives little squeaks when he either washes his face or drinks water. The other morning I was up early and the world was still very quiet. Mario started to drink water and emit his little squeaks. I quickly grabbed the camera and was able to capture it. Turn your volume way up (the loudest squeak comes 3 seconds into the video)!

Friday, October 3, 2008

You can really breathe in San Jose...

The Rock 'n' Roll San Jose Half Marathon is a go!

I had no pain the day after my 7 miler.  Yesterday evening I went on a very slow 2 miler.  So far so good.  My main goal is to not crunch my shin again.  After the Disneyland Half I took 2+ weeks off.  I can't afford to do that again since the Nike Woman's Half is coming up in 2 weeks.

My game plan is to start slow, and finish slower.  I'm not sure how this will play out.  At Disneyland I meant to go slow and taking pictures with the characters not only kept my pace down, it also kept my brain busy.  I'm not so sure if there will be the same sort of distractions this Sunday.  But either way, I'm planning on taking walk breaks every mile.  I'm gearing up for my slowest ever half marathon.

My comfortable pace this past week has been way down, too.  I've been averaging 1+ minute per mile slower than I usually would be running for the same effort.  I think when I got back into things for the Disney Half I still had some residual conditioning from before I got injured.  Another month later I think my body is starting back at square one.  Things will be interesting to say the least this Sunday.

Today for the first time I caught a live taping of The Runners Roundtable.  It was pretty cool to hear all of my favorite podcasters chatting live.  The chat room feature was fun, too!  I encourage everyone to try it out sometime.  I even got a virtual high-five from Nik or Dan from 4 Feet Running!  I'm not sure if this will be legible (I am such a dork), but I'm Guest 9:

Tomorrow Boyfriend and I are getting up bright and early to schlep down to San Jose to the expo.  I freakin' LOVE expos.  I'll try to post something before Sunday.   But if not, pray I finish in time for my parents to get to the 49'ers game!