Tag Archives: running

Happy National Running Day!

How Far Did you Go?

On a whim I went for a run. I ran at least a mile and then walked an additional distance to get the desired # of steps on my pedometer. Today’s run is significant because I only found out after I finished that it was National Running Day.

Hooray for self-motivation! I’ve gone from running as a means to an end to it now being therapeutic. Like how watering grass in the summertime can feel.

Here’s a running sentiment similar to mine, via Hello Giggles.

So, how far did you go?

Pasadena Recap: Doing a 180

Pre-race rendezvous

Pre-race rendezvous. Photo by Heather H-P on Feb 17, 2013.

My running peeps and I had a blast at the Rock ‘n’ Roll Half Marathon in Pasadena. I made it to the Rose Bowl with plenty of time to spare before the race. After arrival I stayed in my car for warmth at least until the sun came up. I expected low temperatures for a mid-February early morning and as expected it was freezing out there! Not literally, but I’m not used to standing around in 40 degree weather. What I didn’t expect was to go from shivering to the runner’s high for the rest of the day.

Though my spirits were high my legs went on a hiatus immediately after I crossed the finish line soon after the race started and continued for the next few days.

View of the starting line.

View of the starting line from my vantage point.

They felt fine for the first couple of miles. Each mile marker I passed encouraged me to take my power-walking skills to the next level in order to finish. Just past mile 3 I felt a pull at my right knee which made me acutely aware of every step I took to mile 4 and beyond. My IT band pain had made a reappearance around mile 5, but not finishing this race was not in my thoughts. I had plenty of motivation and was in good spirits, enjoying the rock bands that played and the supporters that cheered us on.

By mile 6 I wondered whether I could make my 2:30 goal time. By mile 7 the 2:30 pacer had passed me while I was walking. Though I wanted to catch up I stayed at my current speed. I understood that trying to keep up with that pacer meant I wouldn’t be running my own race at my own pace. If there’s one thing I’ve learned from running training it is that. Being surrounded by many others in a race environment you are really only ever racing against yourself. 

By mile 9 (A.k.a. the part of the course with the lovely sugar bombs b.k.a. the gel stations) I couldn’t run more than about 5 steps before slowing  to a walk because of the pain. Even though running the rest of the way would mean I’d be finished sooner my leg was in no position to oblige. I finished at just over 2 hours and 46 minutes. Not terrible for 13.1 miles, but it was more than 15 minutes slower than I’d predicted. That said, it was a great course and I enjoyed my experience enough that I would do it again. Nothing says congratulations quite like a shiny medal, post-race snacks, and ice packs.

I am back to leaning toward doing more races this year. While I’m still in recovery mode I’ve signed up to volunteer at the LA Marathon next month. Who knows what I’ll end up registering for next?

Let’s do this: First rock ‘n’ roll half marathon

Rock 'N' Roll Half Marathon Expo

Pasadena Rock ‘n’ Roll Half Marathon (13.1 mi) registration and expo. Check.

Rock 'n' Roll swag

Expo participant haul. Oh, yeah.

Beauty rest… fat chance.

I am looking forward to the race tomorrow. I am not looking forward to getting up at zero dark thirty to get there by the recommended 5:45AM arrival time. If I want my eight hours of shut-eye, I have to go to sleep by 7:30PM. Not likely to happen tonight– or before any race day. If I did a race every month it might be different. This will be my first race in five months and my first half marathon in over a year, so the ‘waking up hourly in a panic that I’ve overslept’ thing is still alive and well. I will try not to trip and get trampled on — a real possibility since

1) I’m not going to sleep well tonight.

2) There are more than 10,000 other runners in this race (including the mini-marathon distance – 3.5 miles).

3) I’ve never run this particular race course.

4) There are bands playing. Seven of them (hooray)! I’m sure they won’t be distracting us from watching the road at all.

Fortunately, I think it’s a flat course. Live near the Rose Bowl or Caltech? Come cheer on the runners in this race benefitting Cure Mito! Are you one of the 10,000+ people signed up? Best of luck and don’t trample me see you at the finish line!

Running recovery + mini book review: The Hunger Pains

Today I’m wearing my Tinkerbell Half Marathon shirt so I figured I may as well make an update about it. I almost had a good race. Almost. Everything was fine and dandy except for one little thing. I found my knee area in pain 1/4 of the way through the course. It started off pain-free until I passed the 5K mark and then knee pain caused me to limp with each step forward. At the 10K mark I was thinking. “Ugh, I’ve gotta run this distance again to finish??” Knowing that I really had to run about a mile more than that distance again to finish.

I wasn’t even halfway and my knee hurt each time I bent my leg to run. I walked for a bit until it felt a little better. When running again it hurt again so I “speed-walked” mile 7. I attempted to run again in mile 8 and it wasn’t too bad! Until it was.

Mile 9 was my favorite. Still in pain while hobbling, but they had Clif Shots at that station and I was handed two: citrus and mocha. I ignored the world and focused on emptying my citrus-flavored shot and what do you know? I was at Mile 10! That one was long and when I saw that medical tent at mile 11, I contemplated stopping and ending my race.

But did I really want to quit at 11 out of 13 miles when I could continue and be done in about “20” more minutes? Longer than that really, but my base pace with no knee injury is a sub-ten minute mile. I pushed through and was able to run for another mile or so. I saw my friend from high school and chatted with her for a minute as we ran. I think I told her that I was in severe pain so not to let me slow her down. Then watched her zoom away as I slowed to a walk again and saw the people. All those lovely people who had woken up early to come and cheer us on.

The last part of mile 12 was full of well-meaning volunteers but it was so disappointing because they were incorrectly telling runners that the finish line was “just around the corner.” It wasn’t. It wasn’t even around the next corner. It was around the corner, down the street, around the next corner then into a driveway that went slightly uphill and around another curve. I kid you not. I didn’t care about the cameras or the people, or about racing runners just ahead of me to the finish line when I realized I was within sight of the finish. I wanted the race to be over. As I crossed the mat I didn’t try to finish strong when each step was so painful. Total Running Time (TRT) – 2:38. Watching a video later I was surprised to see that I had jogged at least the last few steps. That was the last time I moved that fast for days.

I was likely moving that fast only because I was focused on getting over to the med tent and sitting down. After a 20 minute stint on a bench with ice on my knee and then a long walk– let’s say, a mile, back to my car, I began the healing process. No idea why we were directed to park so far away. Somehow I was able to figure out a way to get out of my car to my bed with another ice pack. When I got home it was only about 10:30 in the morning. I had the rest of my day to sit, immobile.

That was weeks ago. Physically I’m almost 100% better. Mentally I’m still in a place where I am wary of signing up for any more long-distance foot races until I am sure that I will be able to do so without going reintroducing this painful knee issue again. I can’t know that I will be fine running another 13.1 miles anytime soon and I have mixed feelings about signing up for another half marathon even if 6 months away. I am leaning more toward sitting the next one out and focusing on something else. I know that I’ll never know what I’ll be able to accomplish until I try it, so I don’t know why I should let this thought stop me now. Besides, there is just over a week until the Nautica Malibu Triathlon registration opens…

Mini book review: The Hunger Pains

The Hunger Pains: A ParodyThe Hunger Pains: A Parody by The Harvard Lampoon
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Cheesy and hilarious, this story incorporates most of the plot points of “The Hunger Games” and a few of the ones from other books in the trilogy with blatant storyline commentary from the protagonist. It reminds me of the lighthearted spoof movies by the Wayans Bros., like “Scary Movie”, “Epic Movie”, “Date Movie”, etc.

Yes, many people think those movies are more stupid than funny, but I have to tell you that I don’t laugh out loud in real life from reading books that often, considering one of my favorite genres is dystopian youth fiction. I found myself guffawing several times while reading this.

View all my reviews

Born to Run: A not so ultra review

Born to Run: A Hidden Tribe, Superathletes, and the Greatest Race the World Has Never SeenBorn to Run: A Hidden Tribe, Superathletes, and the Greatest Race the World Has Never Seen by Christopher McDougall

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

This story idea was interesting so I gave it a thorough read. As far as execution of the idea the pacing got very slow in the middle up until the one event the whole book lead up to occurred. If the author had cut the filler of what they all ate for breakfast and dinner and how much pinole and beer they’d consumed it would have been more compelling to non-ultrarunners who don’t find the runners’ expository of a subpar diet rambling on for dozens of pages very fascinating. Also, I kept getting confused about whether the author actually ran the ultrarace he’d described or if it was simply a retelling from an omniscient narrator POV.

Being a triathlete, this book came highly recommended for me, however I don’t feel that my athletic ambitions alone places me in the target demo of the author’s desired readership– middle-aged men who are a little wary of an impending mid-life crisis. If you are not a middle aged man in that position and you don’t mind the feeling of reading a 280-page feature story in Men’s Health, then who knows? You may also find this story riveting.
View all my reviews

In the B.A.G.

I learned something new while swimming in the Pacific Ocean this weekend. Two things, actually.

1) It is possible to get seasick while swimming in the sea. Previously I thought that it only happened while in a boat. I generally don’t get seasick in boats, but I felt really nauseated while doing that swim. Water temperature was fine. Getting past the break was fine. Swimming a half mile while nauseated? Not so much.  I swam against the current yesterday for the first time this year that I can recall. I’m fairly sure it took me upwards of 45 minutes once I walked into the water to touch dry land again. I think swimmers are reasonably expected to close this distance well under 30 minutes. It’s okay though, because I did finish that swim.

2a) It’s extremely difficult to reach a goal when you can’t see it and 2b) You won’t reach your target if you don’t know where it is.

I was a little late in walking over to the sand for the group swim, and so I missed the chance to do the bottom check– the walk in to check the sandy surface under the water and to get used to the water temperature before it was time to swim. A small group of us started stressing about that and I didn’t even think to look over a couple of towers and spot the buoy in the water that we had to swim to. Needless to say I had no idea where it was once I got out far enough past the break to swim parallel to shore.

This reminds me of the Big Audacious Goal (B.A.G.) concept. The best way to attain a measurable goal is to break it down into manageable chunks and like a shark — where you must keep moving along and making progress with these things– you power through until you obliterate them.

My chunks were simple enough:

  • Ignore the disgusting ocean water taste.
  • Relax and try to not hyperventilate.
  • Swim or at least keep moving forward. I still had to break down the last one a little more into a bit of a pep talk chunk because I couldn’t see the buoy:
  • Just swim toward a house on shore in front of me and/or swim to catch up to at least one resting swimmer ahead of me.

That worked. By doing the smaller goals, eventually I spotted the yellow buoy and made a beeline swam like a fish toward it. Getting back to shore was relatively easy but I had to fight the urge to stop and rest for a while instead of hurrying to get on my bike in a simulated race situation. My T1 needs a bit of work, but with 7 ocean swims completed this summer, I’m happy to note that removing my wetsuit quickly is now my main “worry” about the tri. Not being daunted by everything, and not feeling overwhelmed about whether I can even manage to do this swim.

2011 personal goal: Run a half-marathon
Next weekend is the Disneyland Half Marathon. I am doing what I can to mentally prepare. I set a goal to go for a long run (10+ miles) this weekend. I did intervals (ran/walked) 13+ miles for the first time ever on Sunday and I felt good afterward.

Athletic Linkage

Stumbled upon this while browsing my Facebook feed. I’m posting here so I will remember to check this one out in more detail and so you can check it out too.

Black Girls Run website
Black Girls Run on Facebook

My dear LA locals,

I’ll be hopping on a plane soon to travel east for a few days, but when I return get ready for a half marathon weekend extravaganza!

Running and swimming into the light (for a change)

“The shoelace ties, they come undone
The step after stepping in
Puddles wide, just tie them back up
And then you can run again…”
— Patient Child, an original song of mine

WorldWide WordPress 5k
One month ago I ran my first 10k. One week ago I ran a 5k along with a lot of other WP bloggers. This photo was taken at the end of my run.

WorldWide WordPress 5k

I attempted to take a photo of each street at each corner as I turned onto it. That didn’t work out well because I ran while trying to snap away with my phone camera. Most of the pictures are laughably out of focus or just not very interesting. Also, I zoned out a couple of times and didn’t even think about taking a street photo until I got pretty close to the next corner, or was otherwise too far to go back to the intended photo spot. Oops. I had some pretty high hopes of turning these photos into a coherent time-lapse slideshow. Seeing that I am not so good at multitasking while exercising, I’ll have to try that photo project another time.

I can normally cover this distance in about 30 minutes, give or take 3 minutes. I finished this in a leisurely 45 minutes, due to the photos I did manage to stop running to take. I had fun on my adventure. I took time to look around my neighborhood as I don’t normally go running at that time of day. It was interesting to see the route in that context for the first time.

Pool Swim
This weekend included my first pool day this year, swimming laps for about an hour. It wasn’t as tiring as I’d expected. I thought I’d be exhausted and for days I anticipated swallowing a bunch of water as soon as I jumped in, ruining my breathing capacity for the rest of the workout. It wasn’t like that at all. I even got to try using swim fins, which made me fly through the water. My ankles were pretty sore over the next couple of days, because I wasn’t used to lighting the pool lane on fire in my wake. <– Oh, how I kid.

LA locals can take a free SCAQ swim clinic or two to get pointers from swim experts on how to best reduce time and energy expended while swimming any given distance. Did I mention they have swim fins? Check out some Yelp reviews and try it.

Getting back on the wagon

Confession time: Though I have been running/walking at least a couple days each week I’ve somehow fallen off the triathlon wagon. I haven’t been in the ocean or even a pool once this year and I’ve ridden my bike once (though that one time was a 50 miler). If you’re thinking, “Why would you swim now? It’s freezing cold and there’s still snow on the ground!” then you’re probably not anywhere near Southern California. In LA yesterday it was quite hot with high temperatures in the 90s. To change all this, over the next two weeks or so I’ll be doing a moderate distance bike ride, participating in the WordPress 5K, and taking on my first Masters SCAQ swim workshop.

The swim workout is the same day as the official 5k run, April 10, so I will likely do my 5k run between April 4-9… although I probably could run on April 10 too if I really wanted to. That is how we triathletes roll!


Step back.
Imagine the possibilities.
Create the plan.
Enjoy the process.
Relish the outcome.

–From my desktop calendar (an actual paper calendar, and not my computer’s desktop)

Tomorrow is the LA Marathon. It’s supposed to rain at some point. A point at which the forecasters haven’t been able to reliably predict to save their lives. Oh well. I’m going to head to the Hills of Beverly to volunteer at a water station after a few hours of sleep first. It’ll be my first time attending a marathon. In the past I’ve intentionally stayed away from the general area and felt bad for the people not participating but who got caught in the resulting street closure traffic anyway.

Since I’ve been running, that disinterest has waned. Rather, the interest grew. I’m excited now to see what a race that long is like. I knew I wasn’t psychologically ready to sign up for this marathon a few months ago but a few good friends of mine were and did so. This is an amazing feat not to be entered into lightly and I was in full support of their decision to train and essentially drop out of my life for the most part, except for digital communication.

The best part about tomorrow is that I will be able to share in the joys of their goal accomplishment and live vicariously through them for an experience that there’s actually still time and other opportunities for me to do if I choose. The worst part is that I’m sure to lose my voice by 10am from all the yelling for the runners and maybe get rained on for hours. Last year I would not have entertained the thought of running in one. Me, run a marathon within the next couple of years? You = cray cray. But things happen, and people change. This year if asked if I’d run one, I may simply shrug and give a definite, “We’ll see.” I know that all it takes is for me to just start running. And coincidentally, I already do that now.

Yes, it’s hard and frustrating at the beginning but that’s what makes crossing the finish line of any ambitious goal so great. Eventually it gets easier to run further and at some point you will realize the finish line is attainable and within a reasonable time frame. I pulled off a 10k last month and am now signed up for a half-marathon (with plenty of time to train). There’s nowhere to go but up now.

My perspective next year might actually be from the point of view of a participant, where I’ll be up even later than I am now trying to force my brain to shut off and go to sleep long enough to get at least 4 solid hours. We’ll see.

Best efforts to anyone and everyone participating in tomorrow’s ~26.2 miler. You show me how it’s done and I’ll hand you some refreshment and a kind word to help you on your way.

My first 10k!

Photo by Mike P.

It all started with a step, followed quickly by another. A few hundred feet later I stopped shuffling amongst the crowd of runners and starting running as the density of people around me decreased. Together we sounded like rain as we stormed through LA’s Chinatown toward Echo Park.

It was brutal running up that first hill. When running distance races it takes me about a mile or a mile and half from a dead start to catch my second wind and settle into a good pace. The first hill started between the 1/4 – 1/2 mark into my first mile and then gave me a shellacking the whole way up. I didn’t look around at the highly-touted “180 degree views of the city” because I was focused on getting to the top of that monstrous hill. That there were hundreds of other runners who felt my pain at the same time made it slightly better. At some point I saw and made a beeline for the first water station. After swigging a couple of ounces, I felt a lot better, at least until the next station was in sight. Then it was like the one before never existed. I wasn’t really in much of a race mode while going uphill.

I really felt like a snail when I saw a fit guy running while pushing a kid in a stroller uphill faster than I was running. I laughed at the sight of him and so did everyone else he passed. I could have gotten really deflated at that point but then I remembered everyone runs best at their own pace. I was going at mine and doing just fine. Running downhill was easier for me. I felt like I was gliding at times. I leaped into the air and let gravity help me close the distance between the first and second hills, and also that final hill descent leading into the parking lot of Dodger Stadium. I passed a drumming troupe near mile five and remember a bunch of high school students cheering us along after that point. The best encouragement was a course volunteer saying “You’re over halfway there!”

I took that to mean I was halfway through with mile 5, which meant that it was the furthest I’d ever run in one session. I still felt good so I picked up the pace and finished the race, looking for anyone standing beyond the finish line who was offering water to the finishers, naturally. They had no water at the finish line, but they did have finisher medals. I had one placed around my neck by a volunteer and obliged a request to take my timing chip off of my shoe. After that I walked about 20 meters away and found that they not only had water, but also cardboard boxes full of the juiciest orange slices and a fortune cookie. That was worth the price of admission. I grabbed some post race nutrition and hung with some teammates for awhile before grabbing a food truck meal and heading home.

I’ll file away for next time the experiential knowledge that I really wouldn’t mind carrying a bottle of water with me which would eliminate the need to stop at four water stations in a 6.33 mile race. My first 10k race went well overall. I had a goal of finishing in under an hour. I clocked in at 1:04. Granted, this race was slightly longer (at 10.7k or 6.33 miles), but I now have a concrete time to try to beat for the next attempt.

This is the longest running race I’ve done. If you’ve run a race before, what is the longest race you’ve done?

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