Saturday, December 31, 2011

Goodbye, 2011; Week 3

Quick Updates:

The races keep piling up for 2012 in the sidebar.  My next race is the Icebreaker Indoor Marathon next month.  I'm training with eyes on the prize at the Modesto Marathon in March, though.  My birthday falls on a Sunday in 2012 and I debated whether I wanted to do a birthday marathon.  In 2007,  I ran the Rome Marathon on my 27th birthday and I think that is a pretty tough birthday act to follow.  So I decided I wasn't going to run a race on my birthday just for the sake of doing a birthday race.

But then I realized that I would be running my 32nd marathon on my 32nd birthday.  That is a pretty sweet deal and I doubt my age and marathon number will ever coincide on my birthday again.  My local choices (I suppose I could have gone back to Rome and run the Rome Marathon again) were LA and Modesto.  LA was a nice race but nothing I want to do again.  Modesto got good reviews and has the perfect recipe for a PR attempt for me:  Flat and a relatively small field size.  So I'm all signed up and back into training mode.

In November, I joined a Bikram Yoga studio for the year.  I'm trying to go 3-4x a week.

This past week (sorry I haven't been doing weekly recaps lately):

Sunday:  8.6 mi, including 3x1600 with 400m recovery @ 7:36, 7:37, 7:25; That last mile repeat is my current training mile PR and my first sub-7:30 mile.  For the record, mile repeats suck.

Tuesday:  7 mi @ 9:30 pace, 3x hill sprints

Wednesday:  10 miles including 6 mi @ 8:13 pace; Running in the low 8:00's is starting to get a little easier and I find myself slipping into 7:xx's for a few splits here and there.

Friday:  15.3 miles:  6 mi warm up, 5 mi:  90 sec hard (14x 7:41 pace), 90 sec easy, 2 mi easy, 2 mi hard (8:09 pace); The thing I hands down love the most about my new training plan is the pace work and speed play during long runs.  It keeps the run fresh and I get a big confidence boost doing this kind of stuff in the middle of longer runs.

Sat:  2 miles @ 9:54 pace, 3x hill sprints

2011 Wrap-up

Stats from my running log

This year was a rather bipolar running year for me filled with ups and downs.  I had three major injuries which put major dents into my training.  But at the same time, I bookended 2011 with marathon PR's at my first and last marathons of the year.  I finally ran a sub-4:00 marathon which was my goal for the year.  For the first time since I've kept a running log for the year, I did not run more miles than the previous year (I'm pretty sure this is the first year since I've started running in 2001 that I did not set a mileage PR).  Yet at the same time I was running faster and stronger than any other year.  In November I set official PR's in the marathon and 5K, and unofficial PR's in the 10K, half-marathon, and mile.  That is quite a month, right?  This year I was also blessed to forge stronger friendships with old runner friends and meet a boatload of new ones.  The Bay Area running community certainly took on a life of its own in 2011.

So what am I hoping for in 2012?  I am hoping to be in shape to race two marathons so perhaps two ratchets down in my marathon time.  I don't have a hard marathon time goal like I did in 2011, but I'm thinking I'll be pleased if I break into the 3:4x's.  I really prefer to look at my progress in terms of training runs and I'd love to be running tempo runs in the sub-8:00's by the end of the year.  Most important to me is to be injury free in 2012. If I can get that to work out, everything else will eventually follow.

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Hoppy Holidays!

I hope that everyone had a great Christmas!!  I meant to get this up as part of "Monday Mario," but the day after Christmas was the exact opposite of Christmas and I was barely home at all yesterday.

Christmas Eve we made gingerbread cookies.  Per tradition, we always make a gingerbread family of ourselves. Mario's has sort of taken on a standard look since I got a rabbit cookie cutter a few years ago, but it is still always fun.

I have to turn him into a lop and I added his mustache.

Mario and the tree Christmas Eve

Christmas morning we set the camera up and took our Christmas family photo.  Mario looks so adorable in this one, I want to reach into the photo and squeeze his furry cheeks:

Why yes, I am Mario, Lord of this Christmas manor.
And in other outtakes, he looks a little less dignified:
We call this one, "The Gynecologist"

This year Mario was pretty lively during the present-opening festivities.  He is usually snoozing in the morning and past Christmases have seen him heading under the couch to catch some shut-eye.  He was pretty distracted with PAPER! to shred in this TUNNEL! but he'd check in with us every now and then.  When he'd come around, I'd grab one of his gifts and open it for him. 

Apparently, last year's big gift is made 100x better when you add some paper to shred inside.

A few of Mario's gifts:

Call me out of the tunnel when you get to the willow wreaths.
Much better.

After all the excitement, Mario hunkered down in his tunnel for a long Winter's nap and didn't emerge until shortly before dinner.

Bunny's version of sitting on the couch all day in PJ's watching Christmas movies.
All in all it was a wonderful day, and I even peeled myself off the couch and got a great 8+ mile holiday run in, complete with a training mile PR (7:25) as a Christmas gift to myself.

We also had a transient holiday visitor who got a coveted place on our tree while he awaits his private jet up to the Pacific Northwest to live with Racer.  RG, send me your details again and I'll send this guy up to you.

The original Racer Rabbit met an untimely demise.
I think the new one is a bit more handsome than the original, so all's well that ends well.

Merry Christmas!

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Ch-ch-ch-changes & 13.1 LA Giveaway Winner

Close to a year ago, I bought this book:

And just in the last couple of months I actually got around to reading the darn thing.  I've been using the same training plan since April of 2009.  It took me from a 4:35 marathoner to a 3:57 marathoner and I think it is time to change it up a little. The last few times I've used the plan, I've added in a little more hill work and some marathon pace miles during long runs.  A few times I ran 22 or 23 miles as my longest long run.  That worked great, but I think I'm ready for some more changes and have been working on my new plan.

The book has three levels of ready-made plans, but I don't think any of them are suitable for me.  So I have to make my own (which is really the whole point of the book).  My main goal is to incorporate more speed work into my schedule and to also increase my overall volume.  I am committing to adding in a fifth running day and am hoping to peak at around 60 miles vs. 50 this time around.  I am trying to be smart about this change as increasing both quantity and quality at the same time is a recipe for disaster.

The last few weeks my chronic right shin has been flaring and I had a knee niggle.  So I had to reevaluate my running each week to keep it honest and real.  I realized a while back it would probably take going through 1 or 2 training cycles to get where I want to be with my training and I am okay with that.  I've had to cut out the fifth day of running the last two weeks to be cautious and I'll be keeping close tabs on what my body is telling me.  The book emphasizes adapting your training plan and runs based on how you are feeling and I think that is really important.

I'm starting the third week of my new training plan and am enjoying the change.  The workouts are new and I'm already feeling like a stronger runner.

The goal is to go from this:

To this:

Naomi alerted to me this image which I adore.
At least in my head, if not reality :)  Next A-race marathon is in mid-March (more on that later).  Let's see how much work I can get done by then.

Now on to the good stuff.  With all the tweets and comments, there were 35 entries for the 13.1 LA giveaway.

And counting from bottom to top of the list I had compiled, the winner was:  @momtomarathon
Send me an email at roadbunner at and I'll get the entry code over to you.  Congratulations!!  And thanks to everyone for entering.

Monday, December 12, 2011

Monday Mario & 13.1 LA Giveaway!

Little clues the holiday season is here :)

I've been given the opportunity to host a giveaway for an entry into the 13.1 Los Angeles race.  My pal, Alyssa, ran the race this year and you can read all about it here.  The race has spinner medals and gender specific shirts.  Enough said.

The race is coming up in a little over a month and is, obviously, in Los Angeles.  I know this will limit the number of people who will be interested, but I'm excited someone will get the opportunity!


To enter:
1. Mandatory entry is to tweet:  "Check out the 13.1 LA giveaway at @RoadBunner"
2. For an extra entry, leave a comment and let me know what you think Mario would like for Christmas this year (feel free to participate on this question even if you aren't a runner or aren't going to be in the LA area next month).  If you're doing it for an entry, please let me know that in the comment & also let me know your Twitter name if it is different than your blog moniker.

I'll close the giveaway Monday night next week (19th).

For a double chance to win, check out Aron's giveaway, too. Hopefully we don't pick the same person :)

Saturday, December 10, 2011

Mele Kalikimaka

I've dropped the ball on this blog again (I blame YOU, Twitter).  It is just hard to get to this blog when most of my peeps are chatting to me on Twitter all the time.  But I've recently gone back to old posts which was really interesting and helpful, so I'm getting back on this blog train.

I have a semi-good excuse.  I nipped away to Hawaii to visit my parents.  Traveling to Hawaii is so much cheaper in early December than late December.  This is the second time my mom waited for me to put up the tree. I really think putting up the tree is practically as good as being there for Christmas morning so I may make this a tradition.

I've been trying to make hand made ornaments for my relatives as gifts the last few years.  This year I made a holiday mouse:

Super fun project!
You can see how much my knitting has improved from when I first started a few years ago.

My parents have a large tree and TONS of ornaments.  It took Boyfriend and I twenty minutes to put up our tree.  It took me 3.5 hours with my mom to do the tree in Hawaii.  The majority of the ornaments we have were either gifts or hand made and there is a special story for almost every one. My mom loved to tell me who gave us this or who made that.  Especially special to me, my grandma and grandpa on my dad's side used to get us ornaments every year for Christmas.  I used to love it when my grandmother would take us to the ornament shop and let me pick one out.  It is so special now to see their names written on these ornaments along with the year they are from.  I didn't take the good camera home but am thinking maybe next year I will to take some photos of them.

All done!
See that big box on the left?  As an aside and public service announcement (because my mom doesn't read this blog and apparently she snooped and already knows), but KitchenAids are REALLY hard to wrap. When offers to wrap it for you for $5, you can bet your furry bunny butt that it would be money well spent.  My sister and I went in on gifts together for my parents this year so we got them each something extra special.  My mom's been oogling KitchenAid mixers for years and we finally got her one.

We took a detour after dinner one night to see the Honolulu Christmas lights.
I will have a much more detailed post about my training very soon.  But suffice to say I stayed pretty active while in Hawaii.  I either ran or joined my mom on her daily 5.5 mile walk each day.  I actually enjoyed running in Hawaii this time.  Usually I dread not having a big park loop to run through.  Neighborhood running is not my cup of tea.  I created a larger loop than usual which helped and the winter morning temps were very nice.  It was a little humid but the weather this time of year is so much more pleasant than going home during the summer.

I snapped some "Seen On My Run" shots in Hawaii for all of you:

My mom said this poor guy has been sitting here for a while.  Anyone else sense a Toy Story 3 Lotso-esque meltdown?

Not the prettiest hibiscus, but when I was growing up one side of our property was lined with this type.

Monday, December 5, 2011

Monday Mario

The art of urban camouflage.

Friday, December 2, 2011

Run Wild For A Child 5K

Yes, you read that right.  I ran a 5K.  And I surprisingly have a lot to say about the experience.

I pretty much stumbled into this race having secured a free entry.  I have long and often said that I am afraid of 5K's and therefore avoid racing them like the plague.  However, it didn't take me more than a few seconds to decide that I'd race this event vs. just running it for fun.

My current 5K PR was from April, 2005 when I ran a 25:51.  And this was a huge deal for me at the time to be running in the 8:00's.  But that race hurt and I remember feeling as if my heart was literally going to pound out of my chest as I approached the finish. I swore off 5K's.

That 2005 5K PR was an 8:19 pace which is a pace I can probably hold sans heart attack feeling for 7 or 8 miles now.  So I knew I had a PR in the bag barring any huge catastrophe.

I was a bit scared of this race because I don't spend a lot of time doing short interval or even 5K pace work.  During marathon training, 3-4 times I'll do mile repeats.  And my last mile repeat sessions were early JULY and mid October.  Not a lot to go on there.  I've always thought it would be super cool to have an average race pace in the 7:xx's and the 5K distance seems to be the only distance this could ever happen for me.  So I've had that teensy goal in my mind for a few years as a pipe dream sort of thing.

In October I ran two mile repeats in 7:46 and 7:54.  Based on how I felt during those repeats I doubted I could hold a sub-8:00 pace for 3.1 consecutive miles.  On a bit of last minute decision, a week ago I did another two mile repeats in 7:31 and 7:38.  Not bad progress in a month.  I figured with the new training mile PR I had a more realistic shot of going sub-8:00 pace during the race.

My plan was to go out at a 7:50 pace, hold it, and ratchet down as appropriate.  I ran a little over 2 miles to the race start from home as a warm up.  I luckily found Boyfriend at the start, as well as Naomi, and got there just in the nick of time for the gun.

The race panned out like this (0.5 mi Garmin splits):

The first mile or so, all I could think about was that I had no clue how to pace myself for a 5K.  I'm on pace but is that too much?  Should I back off?  Will I implode?  Oh wait, now we're going to slow.  Must speed up.  But now is this too fast?  Repeat.  Shortly after the first mile, I realized I felt the same amount of physical distress as I would at about the halfway point of a marathon.  Gah!

Mile 1:  7:52, 8:00

One thing I totally forgot about 5K's is that children run them.  Let me tell you, there is nothing like pushing along at 5K pace right next to a 10 year old with horrid form, obviously not pacing themselves, wearing a huge backpack, and yet there they are right by you and hanging on.  Oh wait!  And now that little snotty kid is actually pulling away from you.  Gah!

Mile 2:  7:53, 8:02

I saw the awesome Courtney who was out cheering.  Such a great surprise!  Since I hadn't known she'd be out I was wondering if I would get to see her after the race.  "Are you coming to lunch after?" I asked her as I ran by, "I hope you can make it!"  As soon as I uttered those words in such a cheery fashion I realized I was not running this 5K hard enough.

I saw Alyssa who beat down the 10K race shortly after that.  We had a smiley exchange and again knew I wasn't in the right effort zone.

Then all of a sudden, I was at mile 2 with only one more mile to go.  I started to push the pace a bit.  I was running along and realized I'd finish with a sub-8:00 pace!  I tried to time pushing my pace so that feel-like-puking would coincide with just after crossing the finish line.  But I never quite got there.  I was giving it my all at the finish, though.

Mile 3:  7:45, 7:29
Mile 3.15:  6:49
Official finish time:  24:32
Pace:  7:55 min/mile

So I'm totally impressed with myself for putting down a sub-8:00 pace somewhere officially.  Never thought that would happen.  And so with that, you'd think I'd officially retire from 5K's, right?  But alas, there is always just a little bit more to squeeze out of yourself, and I'm hoping to one day finish with a sub-24:00 time.  I think this is pretty doable with just a little better pacing in the early miles and a little more speed work.

I actually really enjoyed pushing the pace a bit and am hoping to race 5K's more than once every 6+ years in the future.  It is a very different change of pace for me from marathons, but I think it will help me to become a stronger runner.

A couple of observations about 5K's:

  • The marathoner in me loves the parallels between the marathon and the 5K.  The 5K is just a little truncated version of the marathon.  You feel like it is mile 16 at mile 1.2, it feels like it is mile 24 at mile 2.1.  And there is that awesome dash to the finish.  
  • But it all happens so quickly!  And if it goes badly you can try again so soon!  Gotta love that.
  • Sadly, you won't be setting any 10 minute PR's in the 5K.  Not sure how I feel about trying to whittle away 10 seconds here and there. The marathoner in me does not like this aspect.
  • My garmin stats were as follows:  3.15 miles, 7:48 average pace.  Quite frankly, that is right about where I wanted to be for my overall average pace.  And I only ran an "extra" 0.05 miles.  Surely that means my average pace on the garmin is going to be pretty identical to the official average pace, right?  An extra 0.05 miles in a marathon is like nothing and wouldn't even put a dent in your average pace.  But alas, I learned this is totally not so in the 5K.  That extra 0.05 miles cost me 7 seconds a mile off my official pace.  The marathoner in me dislikes this, too.  Note to self, learn to run tangents better.  Or find a straight 5K course.

I've got no photos to share so enjoy this one of Mario looking so handsome and stately :)