Saturday, June 30, 2012

Hydration Equation

Normally, I wouldn't take fitness advice from Rachel Ray, but this seems pretty plausible? +/- your daily amount of caffeine, alcohol, and sweat.

Everyday with Rachel Ray
July/August 2012

Friday, June 29, 2012

Runner's Toes, Sad Face

Time for this month's black toenail count courtesy of my monthly pedicure. The results at in. Right foot, one new bruiser. But two old bruisers growing out with new nails behind them. Yay! And left foot set a PR: no new and all the old completely grown out, leaving new white pearlies in their stead.

Running has its negative externalities, and black toenails are chief among them for me (right in front of the tan lines, oh the tan lines). I have had so many black toenails that I have lost count, seriously.

However, they are nothing a little nail polish can't hide. And once you get over the shame of revealing them to your nail technician, you never really have to deal with them again. If the shame is too much, just go to a new salon every time!!

What causes the dreaded black toenail? Well, for me I think it has been wearing running shoes that were a little too snug in the toe box. I have noticed an increased incidence rate after races, so I think speed and distance are also factors.

Lewis G. Maharam, M.D., AKA the Running Doc (and author of Running Doc's Guide to Healthy Running, a staple of any runner's library), says:  Simply put, they're caused by improperly fitted running shoes. All running shoes should have one thumbnail's length from the tip of your longest toe (and in some that means the second toe) to the end of the shoe. Don't worry about the shoe size number because most of us need running shoes a full size or larger than the number of our normal shoe size. Fitting your shoe in the evening is preferable since your foot swells normally during the day and you want to fit it at its largest time. Read more.

And because we love to post pictures of our feet on this blog!! Here is my sparkling new pedicure, a bright orange-red, flattering on any skin tone:


Thursday, June 28, 2012

Not All Calories Are Created Equal

Is eating 100 calories of brocolli and beans the same as eating 100 calories of soda and French fries? No, says Mark Bittman in his recent oped piece for the NYT's Opinionator. Interesting, he cites a study that concluded maintaining weight is much harder than losing weight. Then another study that concludes the best way to maintain weight is by following a low glycemic index diet. The study tested low glycemic index diets against the Atkins diet (low carb) and the traditional low fat diet, which has been pushed by the FDA for the last 30 years--you know the food pyramid.

What is a low glycemic diet anyway?

Bittman:  To differentiate “bad” carbs from “good,” scientists use the term “glycemic index” (or “load”) to express the effect of the carbs on blood sugar. High glycemic diets cause problems by dramatically increasing blood sugar and insulin after meals; low glycemic diets don’t. Highly processed carbohydrates (even highly processed whole grains, like instant oatmeal and fluffy whole-grain breads) tend to make for higher glycemic diets; less processed grains, fruits, non-starchy vegetables, legumes and nuts — along with fat and protein — make for a lower glycemic diet.

What are low and high glycemic foods?

There are indexes all over the internet. In general, <55 is considered "low." 56-69 "medium." 70-100 "high." Here are some common foods. (The glycemic index is the GI column.)


Who is this Mark Bittman? 

He is kind of a celebrity chef I suppose. And he is also a runnerHe appears on the food segments of the Today show and writes for the Food section of the NYT. He is also a prolific cookbook author (my favorites Fish and Kitchen Express) and blogger. Simple recipes with seasonal ingredients are his fortay. And I also like him because he very regularly beats up on and debunks the bad advice given by Big Food, Fast Food, and the FDA.


Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Coronado Rotary Club Low Tide Ride & Stride 8.2 Miles

Just about the time that Penny was "clenching" on Sunday, I was just starting my race--an all beach 8.2 miler, reportedly the longest beachfront race on the Pacific coast.

The race started at YMCA Camp Surf in Imperial Beach, which looks pretty awesome. A bunch of kids were just waking up in tents on the beach when I arrived at the start line. 

Notice the wide beach here. The race was held at low tide, one of the lowest tides of the year, allowing for a wide path of hard packed sand. The route was up the Silver Strand, through the Naval Amphibious Base (normally this part of the beach is closed to the public), in front of the Hotel del Coronado, and finished near Sunset Park in Coronado. 

 As the name implies--Ride & Stride--both cyclists and runners participated. The bikes went first.

And you thought starting lines for RUNNERS are cluster*@&#s. <--Notice in the video the guy at the very front of the line falling down. Cyclists are all very polite, and no one ran him over. What would have happened to a runner that fell down at the start I wonder?

You might also notice in the video a very loud shot fired at the start. The race director warned that there would be a "cannon start." But c'mon, look at the cannon. That thing couldn't make much noise, right? 

Wrong, it was very startling. I jumped both while filming the bike start (amateur, I know) and when it came time for the runner start.

Due to said jumping, I had a fast first mile. Normally my race strategy is to go out fast and try to gut it out til the finish at a fast pace. While it normally works for me, this race was tough, and I had to slow it down by mile 2. Although the sand was hard and compact, it is still a bit softer than pavement, so it takes a little more effort with each step. There was also a headwind the entire race. And finally, the sun made an appearance at the half way point, and really heated things up. 

Still I ran at a decent clip. And I was thrilled with my result. I finished in 55:39 (6:48 average pace). I was the 3rd place female and 12th oveerall of 437 runners. The 1st and 2nd place females, 19 year old twin sisters from Arizona, were fast and set a course record of 52:55 (6:28 average pace). First place male finished in a blistering 43:58 (5:22 average pace), also setting a course record.

This was a very cool race, one of my favorites. Put it on the calendar for next year! 


Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Arroyo Creek Simi Valley Half Marathon

So, as Kristen prefaced with a beautiful sentiment of best wishes, I ran the Simi Valley Half Marathon on Sunday.  I ran this race as a test, to see where I could appropriately aim for, pace-wise, in my goal half marathon in September. Unlike our LR#2, I am a very inexperienced racer, (if you exclude my weekly race to beat the hubs to the last of the tortilla chips that we love more than life itself).  Also, this was only my second time running a full 13 miles. 

After a practice run the previous week, I decided to aim for a sub-1:40 – below a 7:36 min/mile pace. Chacha had suggested starting at around 7:40-45, and then backing down to 7:30 for a negative split if I felt like it, which I decided was a great idea. Only partially because I had no devised no other plan for the race, whatsoever.

The race itself is set in the beautiful valley north of LA, on a not so-inspiring course of bike track that runs up and down the canal/creek throughout the town. That being said, it is mostly flat, with a few “gentle rollers” and the bitumen/trail was soft underfoot, which I appreciated. 

Race day, I got up at 5am, had a cup of weak coffee, successfully getting “things” moving. I ate oatmeal with some peanut butter and half a banana. About half an hour before the race, I was still feeling sluggish and sleepy, so I had 3 cliff shot blocks. 

I arrived at the race a half hour early, got my garmin satellite-up (satel-lit?) and moved up to the start line amongst what SOUAL terms the “short short” boys. The Race Director gave us a series of directions for the race, that went something like, “go around the bend until you see the crooked tree, go left at the old boar’s head, up the hill, around the creek, right at the large boulder, straight until you see the big red barn of Farmer O’Grady….etc.etc etc.).   Um, race director, there are signs about every hundred metres of the course. 

This looks suspiciously indicative of a sign
 And if there weren’t, not a single soul here could have remembered the list of 20 instructions you just gave. But you know, thanks for the heads up…? 

The gun went off, and everyone raced out. I looked down at my watch, and seeing a 7min/mile pace in the first half mile, I immediately backed off to 7:30. I knew most of the people around me couldn’t sustain that (for all I knew, me included), so I just tried to keep to my own pace.

Bloody hell, Real Housewives starts soon, Id better run fast

The first few miles were a bit tough to keep at 7:30... needed that extra cup of coffee I usually get intravenously dripped into me.  But by mile 4 or so, I found my rhythm, and stuck to that pace pretty easily. In fact miles 4-10 felt good. Not “easy” per se, but I felt really strong, and it was definitely about an 80% effort. It showed in my splits.

    Split Avg Pace
1 7:41
2 7:35
3 7:39
4 7:48
5 7:28
6 7:28
7 7:33
8 7:28
9 7:32
10 7:24
11 7:33

The last two miles? A completely different story. Around mile 10, I felt the “urge” to use the bathroom. Either because of the intense energy I was expending holding that in, or because I just got tired (or a combination), I really struggled for the last 2-3 miles and dropped the pace towards the end.

12 7:46
13 7:49

The hubs caught a few pics of me just as this difficulty was settling in. This is the only picture in which I do not look like I have just been asked to perform kidney surgery on myself with a corkscrew. While listening to Celine Dion’s greatest hits.

 My butt-cheeks might be clenched tighter than a nun's habit right now, but at least I have a mad mid-foot strike going on
Miles 12, I really had to start engaging in a looooot of self-talk to keep from stopping and ducking behind of a bush. The main thing that stopped me was that there was no bush. So the choice was to stop, and go to the bathroom in public. Or keep going, and risk going to the bathroom in public.  I decided to go the infinitely riskier possibility of holding on til the end of the race. Power to the clench, people, power to the clench. 

I arrived at the finish line with a chip time of 1:38:41. I came in 4th in my age group, 7th female, and 35th overall. My average pace was 7:32 min/mile (Garmin read 1:38 but with 7:35min/miles).

What did I learn?
  1. A 7:30 pace is very doable, and I think I can aim for something between 7:10-7:20 for my goal race; 
  2. These legs need a lot more endurance miles in them to get comfortable running that distance; and
  3. Despite knowing where every.single.porta-potty on the course was, and following every piece of advice I had read about pre-race nutrition, I still found myself praying to the Lord that I would not experience the death-by-embarrassment that is every runner’s greatest fear. Gastro-intestinal system 1, Penelope 0. Better luck next time.

Monday, June 25, 2012

San Dieguito Lagoon Running Route

Of the four lagoons in North County, I like running in the San Dieguito Lagoon the best. The other lagoons in North County are San Elijo (between Solana Beach and Encinitas), Batiquitos (between Encinitas and Carlsbad), and Buena Vista (between Carlsbad and Oceanside). And they are nice places to run too. Definitely worth checking out.

The lagoons can be a little bit snake-alicious, especially in the spring. That is why the San Dieguito is my favorite. First, I have never seen or heard a live snake in there, and second, the paths are wide (as wide as a car the whole way), so it would be easy to avoid one. 

Creepy side-note: I have seen a dead snake in the San Dieguito Lagoon. Someone killed it and put it along side the trail and was probably filming reactions from some unseen vantage point. I am sure mine was one of the most hilarious: shrill scream, jump 10 feet in the air, land and sprint off as fast as I could. Turn around, realize the snake is not moving, reapproach the snake carefully for closer inspection, decide it is not worth it, and abort. Run off in other direction at base pace. You see the weirdest stuff running, right?

The San Dieguito Lagoon borders Del Mar and Solana Beach. After the inlet at Del Mar Dog Beach was dredged last September, and water filled the lagoon, it became a really pleasant place to run (a little bit desolate and dry before).

This route starts along the 101 at Via De La Valle. Proceeding south, and running against traffic along the 101, be on the lookout for a dirt path on your left, not too far after you cross the bridge. The dirt path runs between Sandy Pointe condos and the inlet that feeds the lagoon. This little dirt path will take you as far as the railroad tracks. This time of year, you can see the San Diego County Fair.

You'll have to cross the railroad tracks, so be careful and look both ways. Then you'll pick up the San Dieguito River Trail. This trail will take you as far as Jimmy Durante Blvd., which you will need to cross to get into the main part of the lagoon.

Once you are in the main part of the lagoon, you can relax and get your running groove on. A good trail map is here.

You'll pass the Del Mar castle where Tony Robbins used to live:

And I have seen a red-winged black bird every time I've run in the lagoon.

But I don't want to oversell here. It is not the most scenic of places. You do have to pass under the 5, behind the Albertson's strip mall, and you'll hear traffic noise from the 5 pretty non-stop. But it is pretty good for being in the middle of an urban area! The trails are really nice, it is not busy, and once you get east of the 5, there are a lot of birds singing and flying around. It is a nice alternative to running the 101 on a busy weekend morning!

When you get to the polo fields, turn around and head back. 

Total Distance: 6.3 miles (out-and-back)
Topography: Flat.
Parking: along Via De La Valle, Solana Circle, or Cedros.
Start / Finish: Via De La Valle and the 101 (Camino Del Mar).


Sunday, June 24, 2012

LR#2 Week 2 of 10: 5K Training Plan

This is the end of my 2 week 5K introductory period, and I am liking the training so far. I cut my miles down by half (more or less) from my recent 1/2 marathon training cycles (doing 20-25 weekly miles now, compared to 30-40 miles for the last 6 months). This is the best part of 5K training. It almost feels lazy!

My proprioceptive cue this week was "Running Against a Wall." This one is closely related to last week's "Falling Forward" cue. For running against a wall, imagine that there is a moving wall right in front of your nose. If you lean forward too much or overstride, you are going to hit the wall with your knees and feet. If you lean forward at the ankles, per the falling forward cue, you can create a little more room for your stride so that you won't hit the imaginary wall in front of you. According to Brain Training For Runners, this cue will  help with developing a more compact stride and correcting overstriding. But I also felt it helped me to generate more thrust with each contact with the ground. My thighs were more engaged basically when I concentrated on this cue.

This week I recovered quickly from my plyometric workout; unlike last week, where plyo had me sore for 5 days! I did my first speed workout in this training cycle--a fartlek run with 10 x 20-second sprints at an intended 6:00 pace. But I way overshot and ran them at about 5:15. My Garmin just isn't sensitive enough to pick up pace changes for 20 seconds, and clearly I don't know what a 6:00 pace feels like yet. As my intervals get longer, hopefully my Garmin will help me out more, and I'll get a sense for what these faster paces feel like. 

I also ran the Coronado Rotary Club Low Tide Ride and Stride race on Sunday. This was a very cool race,  and I'll write a dedicated post later in the week. 

Monday (6/18): Plyometric workout.

Tuesday (6/19): 5.0 miles at base pace (8:13) plus 6 x 8 second hill sprints at maximum effort, Balboa Park.

Wednesday (6/20): 30 minutes of elliptical intervals (2 minutes on/1 minute recoveries); core strength workout; yoga.

Thursday (6/21): Fartlek run, 4 miles with 10 x 20 seconds at 5:15 pace "sprinkled in," Balboa Park.

Friday (6/22): Complete rest.

Saturday (6/23): 6.34 miles at base pace (8:20), San Dieguito Lagoon.

Sunday (6/24): Coronado Rotary Club Low Tide Ride and Stride Race, 8.2 miles from Imperial Beach to Coronado. 55:39 (6:48 average pace). 3rd place female; 12th place overall. 

Coronado Low Tide Ride and Stride: The bikes are off...waiting at the starting line at Imperial Beach.

Saturday, June 23, 2012

Dear Penny, Good Luck!

LR#1 Penny is running the Arroyo Creek (Simi Valley) Half Marathon tomorrow! Wish her luck! ;)

Friday, June 22, 2012

the pennies of his energy

Once a Runner: A Novel
John L. Parker

Thursday, June 21, 2012

Anyone Wanna Race?

I just surfed upon the greatest race calendar on the internet: Running in the USA. I know, it is a BOLD declaration.* But it is all true. You can search by state, city, X miles from a city, county, type of race, race distance, etc. It is awesome! Best part is that it actually has all the races I've found through other race calendar websites, the collection of random fliers, thumbing through Runner's World, and various other web searches. 

*One qualification to the BOLD declaration. It is swell for SoCal. But I don't have a basis for evaluating it for other parts of the US of A.

Before discovering Running in the USA. A typical scenario: reading Runner's World, and oh look! A race in Hawaii. I should do that, click (=picture of magazine taken with iPhone) and photo is swallowed in library of 800 pictures.

After discovery of Running in the USA, a convenient list of races in Hawaii in December, including the XTERRA Trail Run:

Warning: this website may cause you to register for an insane number of races . . .

But that's a good thing, right? So bookmark it, or pin it as an app tab, whatever!

I ran my first race (as an adult) in November 2011--the Iron Girl 10K in Del Mar. I don't recall what possessed me to run a race, or even how I found out about it. But after I ran it, I was hooked. I needed to run more . . . and FASTER!

And I've had no problem finding out about races. I've run 10 races in the 9 months since I've started racing (Iron Girl 10K, United Run for the Hungry 10K, Resolution Run 15K, Carlsbad Half, Black Mountain 7K, Mission Trails 10K, Cardiff Kook 10K, SoCal Ragnar, San Diego Rock 'N' Roll Half, and Philip Rivers 5K). 

I have 3 more scheduled for this summer. Potentially 4. (I am trying to talk LR#1 into a race in San Diego before she goes all east coast on me!) This weekend, June 24, I am running the Coronado Low Tide Ride and Stride, an 8.2 miler. Then the Bolt to the Q 5K on July 21 (with my mom!). And America's Finest City 5K on August 19, my peak race for all my 5K training this summer!

How do you find races? What races are you running this summer?


(Neither of the Two Little Runners is affiliated, associated, or has otherwise thrown in with Running in the USA.)

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Sizing Up New Balance 890s

After a long week at work . . . two little runners went on a shopping spree to Road Runner Sports!

LR#2--that's me--purchased NEW SHOES (we like to take pictures of our feet on this blog: here, here, here). 

New Balance 890s
Actually, these are not new shoes for me. This is my fourth pair of New Balance 890s. I almost randomly selected New Balance 890s when I first started running just over a year ago. It went like this at the shoe store: give me running shoes; here take these; okay.

I've loved these shoes. No problems at all. And I like the way they allow me to feel the road. Not overly cushioned. And they are extremely light. But I wanted to get analyzed at Road Runner to see if there was something even better out there.

The results: I have a high arch, flexible feet, and I distribute my weight evenly side-to-side and front-to-back. Basically, my feet are very forgiving of any form problems. So this puts me in neutral shoe territory. The 890s, a neutral shoe, no surprise are just exactly what I should be wearing. But I needed tests, analysis, and data to confirm what 1000 miles in this shoe already told me!!

I did mix it up just a little bit and went a half size up for pair number four, on LR#1's recommendation (I'll let her tell you about her shoe size . . .). I have been running in size 7.5--the size I wear for every type of shoe from heels, to tennis (court) shoes, to sandals, to boots. And, truth be told, I've lost 3 toenails, GASP (but they came back, YAY!). Probably due to not enough room in the toe box.

I took the new size 8s out for a spin on Sunday for my long run, and they worked out great. I actually prefer the roomier feel around the toes. And I am hoping my toenails will be happier too. It is not fun being close-toed all summer!


Twenty-mile day

Once a Runner: A Novel
John L. Parker

LR #1 Weekly Roundup

Care to read about my exciting workouts from last week? I thought so. They're way more interesting than the Kardashians on Oprah (and a lot more sweaty).

[Sidenote - if Oprah is going to keep doing sit-down interviews with people, shouldn't she have just kept her show going?]

Monday: Easy 6 miles with 4 x 8 second hill sprints

Tuesday: 5 miles with a bit of specific endurance thrown in: 1 mile easy, 1 mile @ 10K pace (around 7 mins/mile), 3 mins easy, 1 Mile @ 10K pace, 1.5 miles easy

Wednesday: An early morning easy 8 miles with the vay witty and fit ChaCha - my first blogger turned real life friend!! (LR#2 doesn't count cos she and I had been slogging it out in the coal mines office for a few years before we blogged together). A really fun run, with some perfectly cool misty weather to go with.

Thursday: Rest? Cant really remember what I did. And the spreadsheet on which I indulge my anally-retentiveness and track my workouts didn't save properly so I have no record of it.  Must have been awesome.

Friday: After discussing it at length with Kristen, I decided it would be a good idea to do a test run for a half marathon coming up. I want to do a tune-up race to see where I am with the half marathon, and this was a practice for the practice run. My goal was to figure out a pace that in the ballpark of my goal race pace (in September), but that I could run without having to take much time off for recovery. I ran  8 miles with 1 mile base pace (about 8:30), 6 miles @ 7:30, then 1 mile base pace. Felt good and not terribly hard. Could I do 7:30 for 13.1 without pushing myself too hard? Still not really sure. Watch this space.

Saturday: Insanity Core Cardio and Balance + 40 mins elliptical (confession: this was a workout completed almost entirely to mitigate the effects of eating a delicious pavlova a friend of mine made in honor of her fave Aussies)

Sunday: complete rest

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Going Half the Distance

Soooo, after being injured for months, I decided that I was going to train for - and run - a marathon. Not just that, I was going to run a marathon and kick it in the pants and BQ that mofo.  About a month ago I began a 16 week training plan, and was aiming for a certain lovely flat course in September.

But wait. Do you even have time to train for a marathon? Oh that's right, you're a full-time lawyer with a daily 3-hour commute, a musician, a wife, maintain two blogs AND you're in the midst of packing your things to move across the country.

Sure you have time. If you also have amphetamines.

In the absence of my access to, or willingness to rely on,, illegal substances, I have quickly realized that as my mileage increased, my ability to fit 26 hours of activity into each 24 hour period was rapidly diminishing, if not non-existent. I just don't have the time to train for a marathon (at least right now). Similar to Kristen's recent change of pace, my life outside of running dictates an adjustment in running goals.

On top of that, I feel like I am only just coming into my own as a runner. When I finally do train for, and run, that marathon, I want to KILL IT. I don't just want to finish, I want to run it fast, and not be injured at the end. Right now, I have the fitness, but my legs need to be stronger - much stronger - to do that. I need a lot more miles, and a lot more slow build-up before I can run the 26.2 the way I want to. And to be honest, I care WAY more about running long-term, on a week-to-week basis, to risk getting injured for the sake of one race, with one arbitrary distance to succeed at.

So I decided to abandon the marathon for now, and focus on the half-marathon. I have some time goals in mind, but then main goal is stay injury-free and running happily. A fast time is to be the icing on the cake - not the main meal.

Penny - LR#1

Monday, June 18, 2012

Week 1 of 10: LR#2's Summer of 5K

This was week 1 of my 10 week 5K training program. Even though my race distance is now 3.1 miles, I still want to keep the distance fitness in my legs, so I am going to fit in a 8-10+ miler at least every two weeks. Justification: I don't want to have to slowly build up mileage again, a frustrating process I've witnessed LR#1 go through in coming back from injuries! And I always want to be ready to run a half marathon; you just never know!

I also need to work on my running form. I have a loopy right foot. It swings sideways a little bit, as captured here during the Carlsbad Half Marathon in January 2012:

That right toe is going to loop around in a little arc, instead of proceeding in a straight plane like it is supposed to! How do I know? Penny and I filmed each other running, so nerdy, right?! So I am throwing in some gait correction work into my training. This week I worked on the first of the proprioceptive cues for improving running form discussed in Brain Training for Runners by Matt Fitzgerald. Proprioception is the sense of the position of one's body. (The field sobriety test in the case of a DWI is test of proprioception.) 

This week's proprioceptive cue was falling forward: while I ran, I thought about leaning forward from the ankles, ever so slightly. Thinking about this cue helps to correct over-striding/heal-striking. I have been working on the falling forward cue for a few months actually, and I think it has helped me to land my feet more squarely under my body for fairly consistent mid-foot strike.

Weeks 1 and 2 of my 10 week training plan are introductory. I have a good aerobic fitness base from half marathon training, so I am using this time to strengthen my legs for running faster. So my key workouts are plyometrics, a speed workout, and my long run. 

I was SOOOO sore from my plyo workout on Tuesday--in my legs and core! Thursday was supposed to be my first speed workout, but I was still smoked from plyo! So instead I did a no-impact workout on the elliptical. I was even feeling the plyo workout a little bit on Saturday before I ran the Philip Rivers 5K, which I raced to benchmark my fitness at this distance.

Monday (6/11): 3.5 miles easy through Balboa Park plus 4 x 8-second hill sprints.

Tuesday (6/12): Plyometric workout.

Wednesday (6/13): 4 miles recovery run in Solana Beach.

Thursday (6/14): 30 minutes elliptical intervals, upper body strength workout; yoga.

Friday (6/14): Complete rest.

Saturday (6/15): Philip Rivers 5K race. Official time: 19:53. Average Pace 6:24. 38 place overall; 4th female overall; 3 of 248 in age group F30-34. Plus 1 mile warmup pre-race and 2.5 miles post-race easy.

Sunday (6/16): 8.5 miles, my default long run route--from Solana Beach to Swami's and back.

Routes on my RunKeeper page.

Trail in Liberty Station

Sunday, June 17, 2012

Philip Rivers 5K

After running a few half marathons, I decided it is time for change (not to mention that work is so busy that I can't keep up 40 miles per week). Hence, it is the summer of the 5K for LR#2. I sketched out a new training plan, culminating in a peak race: America's Finest City 5K on August 19.

So to see where I was at with this alien distance, on Saturday I ran the Philip Rivers 5K, a flat course with a lot of sharp turns inside Liberty Station in Point Loma. The course was mixed trail and pavement.

Based on my half marathon pace, according to fitness/race pace prediction charts, I was at a 20:39 5K (6:38 average pace). Honestly, I had never strung together 2 sub 7 minute miles (since cross country about 15 years ago!), so I didn't really know what to expect at this distance. I decided I would run the first mile at 6:30 and see how I felt. 6:30 was the fastest mile I ran in the Rock N Roll half, so I knew I could at least do one mile at that pace . . .

So I started off fast, even busting out a 5:44 pace at the very beginning to get out ahead of the pack. I dropped down to target pace and managed to maintain it for the full 5K.

I went deep into zombie mode, and hee-hee-huh-huh (heavy breathing, in and out) is about all I remember about the 3.1 miles.

Mile          Pace
1               6:11
2               6:35
3               6:33
3.1            5:42

My official time was 19:53. Average Pace 6:24. 38 place overall; 4th female overall; 3 of 248 in age group F30-34.  I definitely surprised myself! I thought it would take most of the summer to break the 20:00 mark.

First, second, and third place females in the race were also in 30-34 and 34-38 age groups. Go thirty-somethings!

I felt like I could have run a few more miles at 6:24, but I certainly couldn't have run the 5K any faster. I just don't have that faster gear in my legs right now. Shorter distances are a weird thing!

Philip Rivers ran the race too--very cool. He crossed the finish line at 26:08 (8:26 average pace).

Philip Rivers crossing the finish line at 26:08.
I wonder how many other quarterbacks I could beat in a 5K? :)

After watching Rivers cross the finish line, I decided I needed a few more miles to complete my workout. I ran another 2.5 miles, touring around Liberty Station, which is a nice place to run.

This was a great event. Plenty of parking, T-shirts, good post-race party with a band and food, and Chargers signing autographs. Plus, I love a smaller race (about 2500 runners/walkers), especially one that starts at the late hour of 8:25 a.m. Lots of fans so happy to see Philip Rivers!


Friday, June 15, 2012

LR#1 Weekly Roundup + Don't Be Stupid

Monday: Complete rest

Tuesday: 8 mile threshold run 2 miles easy, 2 x 10mins @ half-mara pace w/2-min active recovery, 3 miles easy

Wednesday: Complete rest

Thursday: Strength training + 30 minutes easy on the elliptical

Friday: 45 mins hard intervals (5 mins warm up, 2 mins hard (80-90% Max Heart Rate), 1 minute easy (~60-70% MHR))

Saturday: Insanity Core Cardio and Balance (low-impact core workout) + 40 minutes elliptical intervals (same as above)

Sunday: 10 miles easy @ 8:38 pace

So this week I neeeeearly got injured. After that threshold run on Tuesday I felt a pain in my hip flexor and lots of tightness and pain in the IT Band. Nooooooo, not ITBS!!!

What happened? How did I get this when I had been so careful about taking rest days? 

Turns out I made this biggest beginner mistake of them all. I looked back at my mileage buildup over past weeks and had jumped from 25-28 miles to 37 miles in two weeks. Stoo-ped.

So last week I backed off the miles big time (I was due for a recovery week anyway) and let the growing pains heal. My hip is fine now, and the ITB is still tight but doesn’t feel bad when I run – and Im stretching it like a mofo. 

Lesson for this week: actually do what you say you’re going to do. And:


Tuesday, June 12, 2012

A (Non-Elite) Country Run

If money and talent were not object, I would be a professional athlete. I go back and forth these days about whether that would mean tennis or running for me. As long as we are in fantasy world, why not both? 

Life as a professional athlete must be awesome. I imagine spending my entire day planning workouts, working out, documenting workouts, planning healthy meals, cooking healthy meals, documenting calorie intake, working out again, getting massages, stretching, strategizing with the coach, doing photo shoots for endorsements, working with the agent, and just being overall very very happy.

Elite runners run as much as 120 miles a week! How awesome is that?! To put in so many miles, I imagine I would have to run far far far out of the city . . . runs on lonely country roads. Only a car passing here and there . . . maybe a few tractors . . . horses occasionally . . . livestock . . . the farmer's dog . . . OK!

To live out this little fantasy, I decided to run a rural route on a recent trip to Illinois to visit family. I ran my mom's 6 mile easy biking route out on country roads through the corn and soybeans

One problem: at 8 a.m. it was nearly 96 degrees! And not a cloud in the sky.

Oh--and I was running into the wind the entire time somehow, even though I ran basically in a square. 

On the bright side, I definitely felt the solitude I imagine elite runners feel putting in the long miles. No one else was foolish enough to run in this heat! 

Before I went outside, I thought I would run at about a 7:15 minute pace. No problem, that was slower than I ran 13.1 last weekend (another RnR mention, as promised)! But as soon as I stepped outdoors, NOT POSSIBLE. I am not trained for the heat. I started off pretty fast, but I faded very quickly. 

I was definitely in the house of pain. Even doing that little groan on the exhale that every runner secretly does when no one else is around. Since I needed to take it slow just to FINISH the 6 miler, I did get the chance to take cool barn pictures! 
Red Barn and Corn
Gray Barn and Corn

Afterwards, I had a headache basically all day because I sweat so much and was not properly hydrated (nor did I take water with me, mistake!).

So what did I learn? Training in the heat is a whole different thing. Gotta drink more, slow down, and run earlier! Oh - and maybe be a professional runner is not awesome all the time.


Monday, June 11, 2012

So much sitting

Runner's World Guide to Cross-Training
Matt Fitzgerald

Sunday, June 10, 2012

Action Shots!

Pics from the San Diego Rock 'N' Roll Half. I know. They are ridiculous expensive! Nearly the cost of the race itself. But I just started racing, so ALL of my race are special to me!

My favorite. Eye on the finish line!

Impressed with my running form. I am mid-foot striking.

Another mid-food strike.
After the finish. This picture is amazing because I don't remember posing for it . . . runner's brain.
 P.S. Yes, every LR#2 post for the next few weeks will continue to discuss the race. So get used to it! ;)


LR#2 Weekly Wrap Up: Rest, Recovery, and 1000 Miles

I was feeling the half marathon in my legs this week. I was very tight--quads, calves, hams--even on Thursday. So I was good to my legs by cutting way back on miles and by doing some fairly intensive yoga/stretching sessions. Meanwhile, I set new running goals and researched training plans . . . to be revealed this week on Two Little Runners . . . on the edge of your seat yet?

Thursday, I unceremoniously crossed the RunKeeper 1000 mile mark during a crap 2 mile run on the treadmill. Hey, every mile counts I suppose!

Monday (6/4): 1 mile on treadmill very slow as a warm up to yoga.

Tuesday (6/5): Recovery run, slow 3.5 miles in Balboa Park; upper body strength training.

Wednesday (6/6): Complete rest.

Thursday (6/7): 2 mile run on treadmill, at 8:30 average pace; yoga.

Friday (6/8): Complete rest.

Saturday (6/9): Complete rest.

Sunday (6/10): 6 miles, average 8:00 miles through the cornfields of Illinois; sprints through Detroit airport at maximum speed (wish I had turned on RunKeeper!) but missed the connecting flight --> 1 mile treadmill and core workout at the Detroit Airport Marriott.


Friday, June 8, 2012

Its a good thing this isn't a fashion blog...

Because these shoes are ugly as sin.

But! I don these, and my other pairs of Birken-fugs every day for my mile-walk to and from the train station and work.* My feet can be little divas sometimes and I care more about keeping them happy and healthy for running, than pretty. Which is kind of antithetical to the diva-concept, I guess.

Regardless, take care of your feet. Keep the blisters and arch-pain for the real miles. Be hard-core and wear yourself some fugly-ass shoes.

*NB: I do keep prettier shoes at work but they have to be comfortable enough to walk a few blocks to get coffee with LR#2 in.

#LR1 Penny

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Abandoning Workouts

Runner's World Guide to Cross-Training
Matt Fitzgerald

LR#2 Weekly Wrap Up: Race Week

I cut down the mileage by about half and added more yoga and stretching for my taper before the big race!

Monday (5/28): Easy run with Penny, about 6 miles through Del Mar.

Tuesday (5/29): 5 miles in Balboa Park at 8:00 pace; yoga.

Wednesday (5/30): 30 minutes elliptical, intervals; upper body strength training.

Thursday (5/31): 3 miles in Balboa Park, fast; yoga.

Friday (6/1): complete rest.

Saturday (6/2): complete rest.

Sunda (6/2): San Diego Rock N Roll 1/2 Marathon, 13.1 miles VERY HARD. Official time 01:34:13. Avg. Pace 07:12. Overall: 257 out of 17568. Division (F30-34): 9 out of 2155. Gender: 48 out of 11207.

Best finisher metal ever!


Tuesday, June 5, 2012

LR#1 Week ly Roundup: Highs, Lows and Real Housewives of Orange County

Monday: this was a day of long but lazy activity. Kristen and I ran 5 miles. "Ran" is a bit of a stretch actually; it was more of a leisurely "lope". To be fair, we were dodging many a bikini-clad lady, and strapping young man on the 101, so we had to stop a lot.

I came home and meant to hop on the elliptical for about 10 mins to warm up so I could stretch. But then Real Housewives of Orange County came on the TV in my little gym and I'm only a little bit ashamed to say that I got sucked in for another 35 minutes.

Of my life. That I'll never get back.

Once I found out who won the screaming match between Gretchen and Tamra  (Gretchen's boyfriend, Slade had insulted Vicki about being old in his standup routine and then crashed their party, at which Tamra and haughty Heather also got into it with Alexis about her nose job.... it was all very dramatic), I cooled down and stretched.

Tuesday: Rest + Insanity Max Recovery. This is a fairly intense upper body / core and flexibility workout, but is basically no impact.

Wednesday: 8 mile fartlek run. This was a beauty. I sat around the 7:45 avg pace, and dropped to 7-7:15 for the intervals. I felt like I was flying.

Thursday: Worst workout ever. 30 mins elliptical + 1 mile easy on the tready. I probably got a better workout talking Kristen's ear off about the great run I had on Wednesday.

Friday: 8 mile progression run. I sat around 8:20 for the first 5 miles, then down to 7:45 for the last 3 miles.

Saturday: Strength training + 70 mins elliptical (intervals: 5 mins warmup, 2 mins hard, 1 min easy, 10 mins warmdown). This time I watched BBC news. Like a grownup.
Sunday: While Kristen was busting out a massive PR at theSan Diego Rock ‘n’ Roll (go LR#2!)  I decided to have my own little half-mary party up north. I set out in my new Lulu speed shorts (bought using the $$ I would have spent on the RnR) and ran 13.1 at a comfortable 8-ish mins/mile.

Sunday, June 3, 2012

Race Day: San Diego Rock N Roll Half Marathon

Race day began EARLY! 3:07 a.m. exactly. I was stressed over logistics and decided to leave my house at 4:00 sharp. It is a point-to-point course, and there is no shuttle that takes runners from the finish back to the start, so the logistics are challenging. And throughout the year running races, I heard horror stories from other runners about last year's San Diego Rock N Roll, e.g. not enough parking, waiting in line for over an hour for shuttles, followed by hour-long gridlock in parking lots. (What other races you've run is a popular topic of conversation among runners waiting in port-a-potty lines.)  

So I decided to take the Coaster down from Solana Beach Station, and it worked out perfectly. Online ticket sent to iPhone, so no pesky paper ticket to carry around. Plenty of seats on the train, lots of shuttles to the start line. And I even got a parking spot in the station lot by arriving at 4:00 for a 4:32 train. Just sat in the car, drank coffee, and listened to John Mayer's new album for the 100th time.

I had laid out my race gear the night before. Shirt with bib pinned on, shoes with chip tag on, other running, clothes, hat, BYO-TP and hand sanitizer (I always assume both will run out at any race), provisions, fully charged Garmin and iPhone, Vasoline and hair ties, and a bunch of old clothes to wear to stay warm (and then shed and throw away right before the start). 

On arriving at the start in Balboa Park at about 5:20, I saw the bathroom lines were super long! So I hopped in one straight away and had to wait over 40 minutes!! But this gave me time to eat my banana, Picky bar (the best protein bar on the market), and drink some more water.

The start time was 6:15, so post-porta, I shed my old clothes, and set off for a half mile warm up. Just to get the blood flowing. And then into corral #3, packed like sardines with the other runners, just in time. It was a smooth journey to the starting line.

And we were off. I had targeted a pace of 7:30 for the first half and 7:15 for the second half. But I ended up taking the first mile pretty fast at 7:07 and felt very good at this pace, which surprised me because I hadn't run faster than 8:00 minute miles in at least 4 weeks!

I kept my pace level in the first few miles, and then lost some speed on a long uphill, just steep enough to make me feel it in my legs. So I decided to make up all my time on the downhills on the course. I ran a very fast (for me) downhill 6:32 minute mile.

Really the rest of the race is a blur. Even though I've lived in San Diego for 6 years, I really don't know where I was running. My higher level brain functioning just completely turned off. I've never quite experienced this level of brain vacancy before. The course was very well marked, and there were just tons of people. So no possibility of being lost --> I let my motor brain function completely take over.

There are only two thoughts I remember. At one point I thought, "These miles are going by fast." And a bit later I thought, "&%$#, mile 11 is taking forever!" The paradoxical thoughts of a runner.

Another running pastime of mine is calculating various split and pace scenarios. So I also tried to calculate various statistics using the timers positioned at each mile marker. But I didn't get very far with my mental math today. I gave up trying to multiply 7:07 by 13. . . pretty weak! Which of course, now I am able to calculate (7x10 + 21 . . . 91 minutes + 91 seconds = 1:32:31). Yes! Brain function has returned . . . but not fully (I am still half way a zombie nearly 12 hours later).

I was running behind the same woman at least half of the race. At mile 12, I set my sights on passing her. She started picking up the pace, and so did I. We ran the last mile at about 7:00. But I didn't have it in me to pass her in the final steps to the finish line. I was OUT of GAS. I finished probably 5 seconds behind her, and consoled myself by venturing that she probably started the race before me. So I likely beat her on the clock. Haha! Who knows?!


I am surprised I ran this fast. It helped that the course had a lot of downhills. But I'll take it. This is almost 9 minutes faster than my finishing time at the Carlsbad 1/2 Marathon in January 2012. There, my average pace was 7:54, which has really become my comfortable base pace these past few months.

The race reignited my desire to run. I have a need for speed. I was becoming very bored in my 15 mile runs in May. But I am going to change it up. I have been training for 1/2 marathons all year. This summer I am going to train to run a very fast 5K. Goal: under 20 minutes.

Bottom line: San Diego Rock N Roll, highly recommended! Many thanks to the wonderful bands, cheerleaders, and poor wet volunteers handing out water cups.


Saturday, June 2, 2012

10 tips for the day before a race

1. Think about your target race pace. Pick goals for each split. Determine a contingency plan if you are feeling fast or slow.

2. Carb load, minimize dairy; or at least don't eat anything you've never eaten before.

3. Hydrate extra and don't drink alcohol.

4. Eat earlier than you normally do because you'll be getting up earlier than normal.

5. Have all racing stuff out and ready to go (e.g. pin bib to shirt, attach timing chip to shoe, charge Garmin) so you don't have to think about anything at the crack of dawn when you are feeling like a zombie, regretting the day you decided to register.

6. Lay out breakfast items for fast preparation.

7. Determine your driving route to the start line and where you need to park.

8. Determine what time you need to leave in the morning and set alarm.

9. Don't work out or run very hard. Instead, stretch out the hips, hams, quads, glutes, calves, and any other hot spots you have.

10. Go to bed early and get good rest.


Preparations: San Diego Rock N Roll Half Marathon

Traveling takes a toll on my body. I have been traveling a TON of late. And I am just not able to keep to my usual diet (here, here, here). I do the best I can, but my fruit and veg intake suffers. I also get less sleep, and can't always run as much as I'd want to.

Happily, no travel this week before the San Diego Rock 'N Roll Half Marathon tomorrow. So I put myself in the best position I could for the race this week by eating right, carb loading, getting more sleep, and tapering.

Eating Right

After I came back from my foot injury in late April/early May, I noticed my fitness dropped. It is so difficult to tell what any cause or effect is when it comes to running. But I think a component of my dropped fitness was a poor diet while on the road. I usually eat fruits and vegetables basically all day long. I am a grazer. So last weekend, I spent beaucoup de $$$ on produce:  carrots, celery, arugula, romaine, cucumbers, cherries, bananas, apricots, watermelon, and blueberries. And just chowed it down all week to pack in all those good nutrients.

Carb Loading

I began carb loading on Wednesday. I've read in various places, that it takes a few days of increasing calories from carbohydrates to build up extra glycogen stores, the fuel muscles need in endurance sports. Wednesday, I made a quick bolognese. Thursday, I added a massive serving of rice to my normal intake. Friday I ate the leftover bolognese. And Saturday, I ate my rustic roasted vegetable pasta.

The day before a race, to the extent it is possible, I don't eat any thing I've never eaten before. I don't want any surprises! So no munching on all the free goodies in the race bag and at the fitness expo!

 I also stayed extra hydrated, drinking about twice as much water as I normally do. And no to little alcohol!

Getting More Sleep

Just tried to get a few more hours in this week by going to bed just a little bit earlier than usual, and setting the alarm for just a little bit later.


Finally, I cut back on the miles this week by about half. I did an easy 6 miles on Monday, and another easy 5 on Tuesday. Thursday was my last run of the week. I did 3 at a fast pace. I also did two yoga classes, trying to stretch out and relax! Friday and Saturday, I took completely off (except for my daily stretching/foam rolling/yoga of course!).

My legs are feeling strong and ready to run! Now, if I'd only stuck to my training program, hahaha!


Friday, June 1, 2012

Two Little Runners Run Very Slow Through Del Mar

Two Little Runners met up for a recovery run on Memorial Day. Well, it was more of a social outing. Most people do brunch . . . we do a 6 mile run.

Kristen and Penny on Trails in Del Mar
We took a very very very slow run through Del Mar. We were targeting a 9:00 pace but neither of us had our Garmins on, so we went by feel. And going by feel led us to a leisurely 9:45 average.