Monday, September 29, 2008

Monday Mario

Boyfriend wanted to be highlighted in today's "Monday Mario" post so here you go.  The other night I spied Mario sitting on Boyfriend's work bag.  I had to take the picture quickly and then shoo him off of it because Boyfriend would not approve of Mario's furry butt on his bag.  Ha ha.

I went out on a 7 mi run today as the test run to see whether or not I'd participate in the San Jose Half Marathon this coming weekend.  I went very slowly and I took some walk breaks.  No shin pain.  If I have no shin pain tonight and no shin pain tomorrow I'll do the race albeit very slowly.

So I went into the triathlon this weekend very poorly prepared in the bike and run arena.  But guess what was the sorest part of my body (by far) after the triathlon?  My neck.  That's right.  After swimming 400 yds, biking 11 mi, and running 3 mi the most strenuous thing I did was try to keep my head above water.  Sigh.

Saturday, September 27, 2008

See Jane Run Tri (I survived!)

So the good news is that I survived and finished my first triathlon. The bad news is this may be the only triathlon I ever endeavor to complete.

Boyfriend and I arrived to the race a little over an hour before my wave started. Triathletes must be super early-birds, because most of the racks were already taken. It was confusing because there were numbers on the racks but the numbers weren't arranged in any sort of order. We wandered around a bit looking for my number (never found it) until someone told us that the numbers didn't mean anything and we could rack the bike wherever we liked. I found a nook and laid everything out.

Someone a few bikes down from me had this balloon up and I used it as my marker for my rack. So thanks, eyeball balloon lady!

I'm not sure if there was an official body marking station, but people were lining up and using a marker that was being passed around. So Boyfriend ended up marking me. He's done one triathlon and I've done one duathlon so we aren't so in-the-know on where the numbers are supposed to be written. We copied another lady who happened to be by us. Boyfriend wrote my number on the back of my calf and then someone told him that it should be my age. So if anyone saw the world's oldest woman in the race, that was just my race number, not my age.

After a quick trip to the bathroom I headed down to the lake. It was calm and surprisingly warm. There was a nip in the air when we got there and I had been dreading hurling my body into water. But once the sun started coming up it warmed up quickly, and the water was the perfect temperature for a swim. I got in about waist deep before my wave started. I bent over and stuck my face in the water to make sure my goggles were on okay. Some women were doing warm-up swims but I decided not to. In hindsight, I'm not sure if this was a good thing or a bad thing.

They called my wave to get to the start, blew the horn, and off we went. My strategy was to start off to the side and in the back. Waaaay in the back. I was the last person into the water in my wave. Once I was in, I stuck my face in ready to do the freestyle stroke I've been practicing for hours the last few months. I went three or four strokes and totally panicked. I have to admit that for 5 seconds I was about to turn around and forfeit the swim. I have never been a strong swimmer. I grew up in Hawaii but have never tried surfing. I hate being in oceans (and apparently lakes) when I can't touch the bottom. I panic when I can't touch and always move in closer to shore.

Well, here I was and my mission was to swim away from shore.

My brain was screaming that this was insane and we should obviously turn around. I told myself to keep going. I tried to swim the way I've been practicing but just couldn't catch my breath. Races tend to pump up the adrenaline and my heart and breathing were going way faster than it usually does when I'm in the pool. For a little bit I tried to breathe every time I stroked with my right arm, but I didn't feel like I was getting enough air. I told myself to relax, to pretend I was in the pool, and tried to do my every third stroke breathing pattern I usually do. No dice. At this point I pulled up and doggy paddled. Everyone ahead seemed to be doggy paddling because there was a bottle-neck to turn around the first buoy. So I hung out in the back of the pack, flipped onto my back and kicked. When I finally made it to the buoy the woman in front of me was backstroking. Genius! That has to be faster than just the kicking.

So I started backstroking. And I pretty much backstroked the entire rest of the swim. I tried to turn over a couple of times and freestyle but as soon as my face went into the water, I would panic. I even tried closing my eyes to pretend I was in the pool (since I practiced swimming with my eyes shut a bit; maybe it was the swirly green water that was throwing me off) but I couldn't calm down enough to get in a rhythm. I kept thinking of all those hours I spent freestyle swimming when I should have been practicing my backstroke instead! I probably swam a total of two lengths of a 25 yd pool doing the backstroke during all of my swim workouts the last few months.

Of course, I can't swim in a straight line on my back to save my life. I must have been told about 6 times by various lifeguards and water buddies on surf boards that I was veering too far this way or that way. I probably swam a total zig-zag! It sucked. When I was out there backstroking, not sure of whether I was going left or right, I decided I was never going to do an open water swim again. Period.

I'm a pretty slow swimmer to begin with, and swimming on my back doing a stroke I hadn't even practiced probably didn't bode well for speed. I kept hearing the horn going off for the subsequent waves (set five minutes apart). At some point around the middle of the swim I was aware that I was about to be passed by the stronger swimmers of the wave that followed mine. I had visions of being swam over by them, but luckily my zig zagging was pretty inefficient (something strong swimmers don't do) and I never felt anyone swim by (even though I got passed by half of the next wave).

When my foot hit the bottom as I approached the shore, I felt such a relief. As I mentioned before, finishing the swim was always going to be my victory. Boyfriend said I looked like I saw a ghost when I got out of the water and that the relief on my face was highly apparent.

I never had any time goals for the swim because I have no clue about how fast I swim. I never timed anything when I went to the pool so didn't even have an estimate of my ability. But let's just say I was definitely the last one out of the water in my wave. We aren't totally sure because they didn't hand out different colored swim caps for different waves. But I'll be shocked if someone in my wave was behind me. Boyfriend was about to alert someone that I hadn't gotten out of the water when I appeared. So yes, that's how slow I swim.

It looks innocuous but it's the Lake of Death. Seriously, unless the water was crystal clear
I don't think you can ask for an easier open water swim venue than this.

The rest of the race is pretty much a non-event. The bike course (11 mi) was flat except for one short, steep hill. I had a fun time out there since the traffic was controlled and the shoulder was wide. My legs didn't feel nearly as heavy as they had during my duathlon during the run. The run (3 mi) was on packed dirt trails and had some very short but very steep hills. I had about three strides where my shin had some faint twinges, but overall the leg was okay. I wanted to kick up the pace at the very end but told myself to save the shin in case San Jose was in the cards. I finished with a lot of energy since I only gave the bike and run a moderate-easy effort.

Garmin map of the bike

Garmin map of the run (Lake of Death is the one in the upper right of the picture)

I had my Garmin for the bike/run but don't have a regular watch so don't know my total time or swim time. I'm sure none of it is very impressive. Overall the race was nice for beginners but not organized very well. There was no one giving directions about the transition area or body marking. There was no one making sure you didn't sneak off with someone else's bike. People not even participating in the event were allowed into the transition area.

So looking back (and ahead) I'm not so sure I'm cut out to be a triathlete. I'll be honest and say I love running more than swimming or biking or combining all three. Triathlons require so much equipment. Packing the night before was a major headache. Runs are so much simpler. Triathlons are really expensive. I don't get leaving all of your valuable stuff out in the open (amongst a crowd who covets such things, no less).

And of course, I'm obviously scared to death of open water swimming. They say to never try anything new on race day and I'm pretty sure trying to swim in open water for the first time was a really bad move. But there is just no open water around where I live that I can access easily without needing a wetsuit. And let's not talk about the seals in the Bay. At first I thought I should have done a warm-up swim. Maybe I could have calmed myself down and gotten into my pool-rhythm. But giving it more thought, I think it would have just totally freaked me out and I may never have even started. So in the end I won't second guess that too much.

The irony of all of this is that I love swimming in the pool. It was a great addition to my regimen. But, I hate swimming in open water and most of the tris around here are done in the ocean or lakes. I really dislike training on my bike. I'm scared to death of hills and traffic and living in San Francisco there is tons of both of that around here. But, I love cycling in events because the traffic is controlled. So whether I do duathlons, triathlons, or aquathlons, I'm either going to have to train in a way I dislike or race in a way I dislike. Hence, I'm seeing mainly running road races in my future.

Scratch it off the list: Complete a triathlon, Done.

Obligatory race swag photos:

Now on to the little secret I've had hidden in the closet (quite literally) the last few years. In 2005, Boyfriend (who was not my boyfriend at the time) and I went to JackRabbit for the first time. We both walked out with a new pair of great-fitting running shoes and also something else. Down in the bowels of the Brooklyn store in the sale bin, we found this:

Boyfriend was already a triathlete so he got one (looking back, he must have been doing it to impress me that he was willing to wear a shirt with bunnies because I've seen him in it maybe once) and I got one because 1) It's got three rabbits on it! 2) It was going to be far off in the future, but I was pretty sure I'd do at least one triathlon one day, and 3) It was on sale, for less than $10. So I donned it today for the very first time!

Thanks, everyone for the advice and well-wishes. Sadly, I got most of it when I got home from the race. But rest assured it was all stuff I was thinking, just couldn't put it into practice. I'm proud I finished and did have a good time (once I got out of the water). And to go on a three mile run today...That was the real treat.

Friday, September 26, 2008

Tri Anxiety

Here's what I've been up to since Sunday:
Mon:  2 mi run, 1600 yd swim
Tue:  40 min bike ride
Thu:  2.5 mi run

I am happy to report that the last two runs went very well.  No pain during the run, no pain the night of the run, no pain the day after.  I've been giving myself two days rest between runs.  Still no final decision on San Jose. If I decide to go through with it, I'd probably do a 4 miler and 7 miler sometime next week and walk/run the half marathon.  I'm taking it run by run and am not opposed to abandoning the idea.

I'm trying to mentally gear up for this triathlon tomorrow.  I've done my homework for the swim.  But I think swimming a mile in a pool in preparation for a 400 yd open water swim is sort of like running 26 miles around a track in preparation for a hilly trail 5K.  In other words, I'm scared silly.  The bike ride tomorrow will be my longest in 8 weeks. The run tomorrow will be my longest in 4 weeks.  I haven't done a single brick workout.

It's pretty obvious why the running and bricks suffered, but I have to take total responsibility for the lack of cycling.   I sort of went into a general funk when the running got taken away.  One of my professors in college used to love to say, "Prior planning prevents poor performance."  I think I botched this one up.  

The other night when I was taking a shower, I inhaled some water and started choking.  I coughed so much I almost threw up.  I was in such a fit of coughing I had to step out of the shower (my primal instinct, I guess, was to get away from the water).  All I could think was that if this happened in the lake, I'd die.  Flat out die.  I don't think the "water buddies" could get to me fast enough.

I almost drowned in a shower two days ago and tomorrow I'm going to jump into a lake.  Not my brightest idea.

That said, if I survive this triathlon I can finally reveal a dirty little secret I have hidden away in the back of my closet.  Stay tuned...

Monday, September 22, 2008

Monday Mario

Mario has a rabbit condo bigger than some Manhattan apartments and he chooses to nap like this:

Sunday, September 21, 2008

The Thinker

Today Ferdinand and I went on a 10 mi ride while Boyfriend went on a 10 mi run (I'm a smidge jealous).  I meandered around Golden Gate Park which was good for my soul.  I haven't been there in a month and a half since I ran the shin-crunching 12.4 miler.  I've been doing all of my comeback running on the sandy shoulder of the bike path along the Great Highway ever since.  It was nice to smell all the Golden Gate Park smells I've been missing.

After our little workouts, Boyfriend and I headed over to the Legion of Honor.  They have a lot of Rodin's work which I was very excited about.  I went to Musee Rodin in Paris back in 2002 and loved his work.  Of course, once you've been to the mecca of his work the collection here wasn't that grand, but it was a nice reminder.

"The Three Shades"

"The Kiss," my favorite Rodin piece

Butt of "The Thinker"

After my last run on Friday I had a little bit of pain that night.  By Saturday it was gone, but it put some doubts in my mind as to how quickly I am going be able to bounce back from this shin thing.  I thought about it and am starting to doubt the sanity of running the San Jose Half Marathon in two weeks.  I have two half marathons scheduled in October and out of the two I'd rather run the Nike Woman's Half.  Mainly because it has better swag and there's also a lottery system to participate and you never know the next time I'd make it.  

BUT, my parents are going to be coming to visit from Hawaii in early October.  They are going to be coming to the San Jose Half.  

My parents have never attended a road race of mine before.  The closest they have gotten was having their plane land in Rome while I was probably at mile 19 of the Rome Marathon in 2007.  They got to see Boyfriend and I at the hotel after with our medals and post-marathon stinkiness, but they've never actually seen me running a race.  At first I was excited they'd be around to potentially see me break 2 hours in the half.  Then after the shin thing, I was just happy they'd be able to come and watch a race.  But now I'm not sure I'll be running.  Boyfriend is attempting to set his own half marathon PR at San Jose this year so either way I'll be there with my parents.  It just makes it harder to drop out when I know they were excited to come out and see me run.

We'll see how things shape up, but it's not looking good for San Jose.

Above is a graph of my monthly running mileage for 2008.  The dip in March represents post-marathon laziness after completing Goofy's Challenge and the Napa Valley Marathon 6 weeks apart.  The dip in April is from a sprained ankle.  The dip in August and the atrocity which is September (it's the TWENTY-FIRST of September today) is due to The Shin.  I know at first glance it looks like I've run zero miles in September, but if you look really closely, you can see I've racked up 4 miles.  Or more precisely, 3.5 miles (the graph rounds up).

Such sadness.  I should print this out and look at it whenever I hesitate to take a rest day when I know I should.

Friday, September 19, 2008

One Mile Swim

I was originally going to try to run every other day.  With the return of the Pain I decided to give myself two days off.  That did the trick.  This morning I was back to baseline of 1) no pain when walking  2) no pain when jumping  3) no pain with pressure on Pain spot.  So I decided to go for a run!  Only 1.5 miles this time.  Partly because I was trying to be a Smart Comeback Runner, but also because I like getting to lap swim as soon as it opens to get a lane.  Once again, the 1.5 miles were pain free though I can tell I've lost a lot of endurance.

My swim today went really well.  I'm not sure what was different, but no seasickness!  I think it does have something to do with water in the ears because I didn't have the sensation of water falling into them nearly as much as I have recently.  As noted before, I once spent a summer swimming and running with the goal of swimming one mile.  Well, I did it again today (1.1 miles of swimming!).  I meant to do it before the triathlon and since the queasiness was absent figured this was a good day to get it done.

I also developed a rhythm for sighting.  I'm not sure if most people pull their whole head out of the water, but I find if I do that my body drops and I struggle.  So I have a rhythm where I breathe on the right, stroke, look forward with just my eyes above the water, stroke, breath on left.  I tried to close my eyes and do this every few sets of strokes.  I'm sure it'll be totally different on race day, but at least I have some sort of game plan to see where I'm going.

So I've definitely got the endurance to swim 400 yds.  For me it will be more of a mental challenge.  I can't freak out.  If I freak out it's over.  There are tons of things to freak out about (Can't touch the bottom!  Can't see the bottom!  Getting kicked in face!  The water's cold!) but I have to remain calm.

In regards to the debacle with the shirt, the manager has not gotten back to me (Boo!) so I went ahead and purchased it online.  I'll have to swing by the store sometime to return the original.  I will never buy anything again in the physical store, that's for sure!

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Danger, Will Robinson!

Yesterday during my run I had no pain.  Last night after my run I had no pain.  I woke up this morning and something was a little tight.  I must be at that stage in life when you wake up cold and stiff and gradually loosen up.  Within 5 minutes of waking the tightness was gone.  But I now have an ever so slight, yet definitely present, pain when I press on the problem area.

I guess I'm far from out of the woods yet.

Back to the drawing board.

Today I checked online and the shirt I bought yesterday is listed online at the running store's website $13.50 cheaper than what it was priced at in the store?!  Now this makes more sense when you factor in the fact the store decided to price the thing more than the MSRP.  On top of that, I have a code to get 15% of and free shipping online.  This brings my grand total of potential savings to $19.57!  That's huge. I can feed Mario pellets for months with that money!  So I've contacted the manager and will see if he'll credit me back $19.57.  If he won't I'm going to return it to the store and order it from their website.  If he tells me I have to physically come into the store to get this savings instead of crediting me over the phone, I'm still going to return it at the store and buy it online.  

Sometimes I can be spiteful like that.

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

No Pain!

I went on a 2 mi run today and had no pain! Zero, zip, nada, zilch! I can tell I'm totally out of shape, but it felt so good! I'm going to ramp it slowly this time and hopefully I'll make it out of the other side of this injury. From this bout of shin splints I've definitely learned the importance of rest days and listening to your body. I was so worried about losing one long run and I ended up losing 1.5 months of running instead. I'm a slow learner about this sort of thing, but I think (hope) I'm getting there.

Some other odds and ends:
  • Manicures do not go well with chlorine water. I never paint my nails and rarely paint my toenails but had both done for my friend's wedding. (Sidenote: I told the lady doing my pedicure that I wanted to keep ALL the callouses on my feet. I earned those and need them for running. English was not her first language and I don't think she knew what I was saying because she gave them a scrub with her little stone thing, but she didn't go to town clipping and scrubbing like my friend had done, so it wasn't a total wash). After swimming twice the polish was totally warped and peeling.
  • I get motion sickness from swimming. In a POOL! Right around lap 25 it sets in. The first time it happened I thought maybe I was just getting hungry. But it's happened every time. Yesterday was the worst. I left feeling pretty nauseated. I think this means I have zero chances of ever becoming a triathlete. I'd be the one hurling in the ocean. That's just disgusting and not conducive for endurance sports.
  • I really want Dan to win on the finale of Big Brother 10 tonight. It's my guilty pleasure. (Argh!! I just stupidly googled, "Big Brother" to get a link for you people and saw a link that said who won. ARGH! I keep forgetting I don't live on the east coast anymore!)
  • I bought a Nike running top today and got totally taken. I paid above MSRP (the little price Nike actually prints on the tag). The store had covered it up with their own sticker, but I did my detective work when I got home. And this was after a $5 discount. I feel so abused.
  • The following picture is totally inspiring me to get another running skirt. And it makes me crave orange sherbet. (picture credit:
  • Boyfriend and I just learned that "Sherbet" is not spelled "Sherbert." I googled it and found this Wikipedia article. Boyfriend was still not convinced but I said, "It says so on Wikipedia. Wikipedia is never wrong." Ha!
  • After perusing the photos from the Disneyland Half Marathon, I've come to the conclusion that in order to get the elusive, perfect, Castle photo (I don't consider this a perfect castle photo, but it's better than one I've ever had the pleasure of having) you have to be either 1) very lucky, 2) very fast, or 3) very slow. You could also add to this list 4) very obnoxious (because some people stop and pose in front of the camera) but I consider part of the equation for a perfect castle photo to be caught in the act of graceful running, so it's not quite fit for the list. I will consider it a great travesty of my running life if I never get a perfect castle photo. And yes, I would pay the ridiculous prices and actually buy the thing.
  • Boyfriend and I are having another little debate. Who here has heard of Omega watches? Or how about IWC? Thanks. For the record, I hadn't heard of either until recently.
  • Every time I give Mario cheek rubs and kisses I can't believe someone actually took him to an animal shelter in Connecticut and left him there. But then I really think about it and am totally glad they did.

Monday, September 15, 2008

Playing Tourist & Tri Training

Another weekend gone!  My sister and her husband are now safely back in Chicago and I can start to settle back into "normal" life after three hectic weeks.  We did a bit of sightseeing while they were here:

Golden Gate Bridge

Coit Tower

Lombard Street

In Japantown I took a picture for Mario's international education:

Boyfriend also bought a Japanese electrolyte drink called, Pocari Sweat.  Sounds so appetizing:

I managed to swim 1500 yds today.  I only have two more visits to the pool until the triathlon.  I've been trying to practice sighting and lifting my head out of the water to see where I am going.  When you're in the pool you can stare at the ground and follow the black line.  I have a feeling that the murky, parasite-infested, lake of death the triathlon is sure to take place at will be sans helper-line.  I have no idea how I am going to swim straight because every time I lift my head, my body sinks and I start flailing around and choking on water.  I also got on my bike today.  Poor Ferdinand had a layer of dust on him.  I know.  Shameful.  But we reconciled and plan to spend more time together in the coming weeks.

You may be wondering about my running update.  Well, I didn't make it out for a run this weekend.  Long walks across bridges & up and down hills, yes.  But no runs.  And I consider this a good thing.  My leg feels 100% healed.  I can walk on it.  I can jump on it.  I can put high amounts of pressure on the area that used to be tender with no pain response (admittedly, the last time I resumed running before the DL Half, I failed at this third test).  The only thing I'm not quite sure of is whether or not I can run on it.  I intend to find out tomorrow.

Monday Mario

Don't tell me it's Monday already!!

Mario's been waiting almost a year for us to light a cozy fire. He wants his picture taken in front of a blazing fire to show his fans he's a sophisticated rabbit. Sorry, Mario. We haven't even removed that partially burnt stake that was already in there when we moved in.

Thursday, September 11, 2008

I HEART JackRabbit

My most favoritest, bestest running store  EVER  came through again.  JackRabbit!!

My original white JackRabbit hat which has been basically everywhere with me has started to show signs of wear.  The fabric is thinning on the brim and any day now it will burst into a gaping, non-fixable hole.  I was so sad about this, the hat went from being my favorite, most used hat to sitting in the closet and making appearances for races only.

Boyfriend went to NYC in July but of course went by the store on July 4th, the biggest National holiday in the U.S.  So I mourned the loss of a chance to replace my hat.

Well, JackRabbit came through and mailed me, at no charge, a new white hat, a yellow hat, and two of their reusable shopping bags!  They even gave me a 10% discount which I'm not sure is usual and customary (they used to give repeat customers 10% off on shoes, but I can't remember if it extended to "stuff.").  So I'm good to go on JackRabbit gear for another few years.  I'm bummed I'm missing out on chances to buy JackRabbit apparel, but I guess it will give me a reason to get back to NYC sometime.

I was planning to go running for the first time since the DL Half tomorrow.  I've got about 3.5 weeks to get back up to 13.1 mi training run form for the San Jose Half.  I'm planning on taking it slowly (no sudden ramping like I had to do for DL) and hopefully things will be okay with my shin.  I can bounce up and down on my left leg with no pain which is supposed to be the test to start running again.  I miss running so much.

My sister and her husband are flying into San Francisco from Chicago to visit for the weekend so things will be a little hectic around here.  I believe their plane is landing in...Oh, 8 minutes.  Guess I'd better go and get things ready!!  You can imagine with my own two recent trips the last two weekends, this all feels sort of sudden for me!

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Home Sweet Home

View from the hotel room at which we got ready for the wedding

I'm back!  I didn't take many "blog-safe" photos, but I'll post what I can here.  The wedding was very nice but it was extremely exhausting.  I was bright-eyed and bushy-tailed Saturday morning when I got to the hotel at 7:30 am (much to the chagrin of the bleary-eyed bride and the other caffeine-sucking bridesmaids) but the joke was on me when it was 8 pm and I felt like it was midnight.  By the time I got home at 2 am I felt like it was 7 am and was almost too tired to fall asleep. 

The color of the night was pink.  Luckily I like pink.  Some of my friends were not so lucky.

My goal was to swim as much as possible with my annual pass, but I didn't make it out to the pool until Tuesday morning before I caught my plane home.  I had packed a running outfit but never got around to going on a run.  So it was a true vacation in every sense of the word.  I stuffed myself silly with Hawaiian and local foods.

It is now September and I need to turn my attention to the triathlon on the horizon.  I've been hanging onto minimal swimming but am failing miserably at biking and running.  I haven't been on my bike in over 3 weeks (egad!).  I haven't ridden my bike outside (which requires balance, I assume) in 5.5 weeks.  I haven't run in almost 2 weeks.  So basically, I'm only really in shape for the first leg of this race which also has the highest probability of killing me.  I hate swimming when I can't touch the bottom.  Let's not even talk about not being able to see the bottom.  I've never swam in open water unless you count playing around within 15 feet of shore at the beach.  At this point I just don't want to drown.  If I make it to the first transition I'll consider the race won.  But I've got a bit of training to do the next few weeks.

Anyhow, it's nice to be home with Boyfriend and Mario, but it was also very sad to leave Home.  My mom just retired so it was nice to have a breakfast/lunch buddy everyday.  Unlike my last 4 trips I don't know when I'll be back Home again.  Part of the reason I wanted to move to California was to be able to nip back Home more often.  It seemed to be a great idea at first but with the rising airfare prices it's not likely there will be another repeat of the many recent trips.  When I first got to California in September 2007 tickets to Hawaii were about $300 roundtrip.  This year they're hovering around $540 in the off-season.  I'm hoping to go back sometime around Jan/Feb, but we'll see what happens.

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

Shins and Travel

It's practically Thursday and I haven't run a lick since Sunday.  My shin, though not nearly as bad as it was after the 12 miler that broke it, has regressed a little on it's healing journey.  I pretty much expected this since it was a bit much to ask it to go 13.1 miles with no dispute.  I have thought about it and have decided 100% to forgo a PR attempt at RnR San Jose.  There will be other races to go for a sub-2 time.  By letting this one go I've opened myself up to having some real time to heal without the stress of feeling like I should be out there pounding the pavement.  It sucks since I was doing so well hitting the paces of my training plan, but I need to let my shin recover if I'm going to have any sort of good running in 2009.  I'm hoping to do the October halves as training runs, but I'll see where I am when the time comes.

I'm headed home to Hawaii this Friday to be a bridesmaid in my friend's wedding.  I probably won't be updating much 'til I return next Tuesday.  I've gone home a lot this past year (this is my fifth trip in the past 12 months) for various events but don't have any future trip home planned at this moment.  So unlike the last four times when I knew I'd be back shortly, there's a big question mark at the end of this one.  So I'm going to have to soak things up a bit more than the last few times.

I hope everyone has a great week!

Monday, September 1, 2008

Disneyland Half Marathon Report

I spent a whirlwind 19.5 hours in Anaheim this Friday/Saturday. Let me assure you that 19.5 hours is just enough time to pick up your race number/shirt, eat dinner, get race gear ready, take a shower, sleep, run a half marathon, shower, catch shuttle back to airport. That's right, this Disney fan didn't even go to the parks. Boyfriend didn't come down with me and I didn't feel like roaming the parks alone. I had to do it after the Goofy Challenge because Boyfriend came down to run the half, cheered for me during the marathon, then had to come back to California. Not that going alone isn't fun, but it's more fun with company and I didn't think the magic had worn off from January to make it worthwhile to go alone.

I got to the expo at 3 pm and had to meet some people for dinner at 4 pm. So I had one hour to do what I would normally take about 3-4 hours doing (roaming the expo). Suffice to say I didn't do much shopping. After the Disney World races I wrote to the race director to ask if they would please offer woman's specific size shirts. At least a woman's small in addition to the unisex line would probably cover most people. Well, they didn't exactly take my advice but they did offer XS unisex for the first time! I was lucky enough to snag the VERY LAST ONE. It's still pretty huge, but an improvement over the shirts I got at the Disney World races earlier this year. I was expecting a long sleeve shirt that they usually give out, but this year they went short-sleeved.

I may be a stickler, but where's the comma in the date?

After the expo I met some Disneyrunning people and then headed out to find my hotel. I stayed at a budget place a little less than a mile from the expo/start/finish/Disneyland. It was 10x less than staying at the Disneyland hotel. It was a bare bones hotel but sufficient for me. I laid out my race gear and watched some HBO movies. I had a 3:45 am wake-up planned and didn't fall asleep until after 12 am.

I left my room at about 4:15 am and walked to the starting area. I was expecting to just "follow the crowds" but there was not one other person out headed to the races. I guess since you can walk to the start (unlike getting bussed in at Disney World) people wait until the last minute. At Disney World you have to be on a bus by 4 am so I guess I'm trained to get there early.

Pre-race all I have to say is that they did a great job with the port-o-potties. I used them twice and never had more than 1 person in front of me in line. This is basically unheard of at races where lines are often 20 minutes deep. Not sure how they did it, but it was fantastic. I wore a running skirt which I loved for the race. But I did have one problem. How do you sit down before the race starts? I wear the ones that have briefs underneath vs. compression shorts and this doesn't make sitting very modest. Guess I have to figure something out for marathons because I intend to sit around as long as possible at those. So I was one of the people standing in the corral instead of sitting on the curb as we waited for the race to start.

The weather was not bad. It was terribly humid and muggy but not hot. There was a layer of clouds which the sun didn't break until I hit mile 13 exactly (almost a hallelujah moment for me) so I was a happy camper in that regard. But from the humidity I was drenched in sweat by mile 2.

There were tons of skirts out on the course. When I ran the Disney World Marathon I saw one skirt the entire race. This Sunday at any given moment there was almost always a woman in a skirt running by me. I think they've finally been accepted by the masses.

The first four miles were tons of fun as we winded through California Adventure and Disneyland. I stopped to take pictures with Every. Single. Character. For once I'm very sorry that I don't post pictures of myself on this blog because they are a lot of fun.

After we left the parks there was a rather dull 8 mile stretch through the streets of Anaheim. I thought Disney did a good job with entertainment, though, as there were tons of high school bands and cheerleaders out. At one point I saw a man dressed up as Super Mario running! He was even carrying a giant stuffed mushroom from the video game. He was walking by me when I noticed him and I was about to get my camera out to ask for a picture with him when he started running again and shot off at a much quicker pace than me. Here he is up ahead:

I leap-frogged with him for a bit as he seemed to be on a run/walk plan. Finally at one point I caught up to him when he was walking and I asked to take a picture with him. He said I was the third person to stop him for one. So I got a picture of me and Mario at the race!

I realized that this was my 13th half marathon. Almost like a half marathon birthday. So I thought it would be fun to dedicate one mile to every half I've previously done (then have the extra 0.1 mi at the end for good luck). Only problem was that off the top of my head while I was running, I couldn't remember any of them in the right order except for number 1, 10, 11, 12, and 13. So I thought of the ones I could (Grete's Gallop, New York City Half, Disney World Half, See Jane Run Half, Disneyland Half).

Of course everyone is probably waiting for a shin and endurance update. I was very worried that I would hit a wall at mile 8 and end up walking the last 5 miles. I hadn't run more than 7 miles in three weeks (and two of those weeks ran only about 2 miles each). I don't know how, but I felt great the entire race. I was slow for sure but felt okay. My shin was whining from mile 1.5 but never got above a dull whisper. I lucked out BIG time. I took walking breaks but only because I knew I should for the shin. I never felt like I had to walk.

I crossed the finish line at 2:35:xx (this ties my slowest half marathon of all time which was the Disney World Half I did in January preceding the marathon the next day). I knew I owed my shin so immediately went to the medical tent to get some ice on it. That's right, I got ice slapped on that puppy before I even picked up my medals. I picked up my castle medal for the half and my Coast to Coast medal for doing both a Disney World and the Disneyland event in the same year. I have to say, the Coast to Coast medal is beautiful. It's even nicer than the special Mickey medal they gave out at Disney World this year.

When I got back to San Francisco I dug my other medals out for a clean-sweep Disney medal photo-op. It's strange how I love these medals (I did the DL Half this year expressly because they offered the second medal) but just throw them in a box. Other people display or frame them, but I just put them away.

This must be how Michael Phelps feels (minus three medals, the Olympic stage, and the fact that there's no first-place connotation with these)

I'm hoping to do Goofy again in 2010. Not sure about the Disneyland event. I think the 5K at Disneyland would be a lot of fun because it's basically the best part of the race course-wise (minus the pesky 8 mile industrial Anaheim leg). I think if I did Disneyland again I'd do the 5K and the half marathon. I overall prefer the Disney World events. They have a bit more fanfare surrounding them. But Disneyland is much closer to home.

All in all I had a great time. I think it's healthy for my runner soul to participate in races sometimes and not have a time goal. Disney races are great for this because I couldn't run through their venues and not stop to smell the roses.

Monday Mario

Getting into the Disney spirit!

In January 2007, Boyfriend and I took a mini-vacation to Disneyland. I felt so bad leaving Mario behind that I got him his own Disney souvenir. When I was purchasing it, the clerk looked at Boyfriend and said, "Are you Mario?" Boyfriend said, "No." Then there was an awkward silence because I didn't feel like saying I was buying it for my rabbit.