Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Bolt to the Q 5K

This 5K race started at the Charger's training facility and ended at the 50 yard line of Qualcomm Stadium. I loved the feeling of the soft grass at the very end of the race. And the projection of the finish line on the Big Screen.

The finish line, complete with cheerleaders!
The rest of the race was not so comfortable . . .

The first mile had a viscous hill. A 152 foot climb over 0.4 of a mile. But what goes up must come down. I gloriously flew downhill in mile two, making up time. Between the long uphill and the fast downhill, I was smoked by the start of mile three. And it was getting hot, sunny, and bright.  My mind started to play tricks.  My brain was really pressing for a slow down.  I started thinking about the last mile as "only 6 more minutes," then "only three more minutes." You can endure any thing for three minutes, right?!

And then--there is the stadium, where the finish line is! Unfortunately, you have to run a lap around the entire parking lot before you get to it! Probably the worst part of the whole race was the short hill just prior to the last 50 yards. I got some real shockers from the race photographers here.

3 mile mark.
Next year, I submit that they not take photos at this point!

1 mile     6:48
2 mile     6:12
3 mile     6:35

Official time 20:36 (6:38 average pace). This was 43 seconds slower than the Philip Rivers 5K in June. I chalk it up to the big hill. Even the first place woman was at 19:00. The first place man ran an inhuman 15:15 (4:55), winning the race for the second year in a row with the exact same time.

The best part about the race was running it with my mom! I planted the running seed earlier this summer when I was visiting Illinois. I talked basically nonstop about running and emailed her the couch to 5K program. Then I sealed the deal by registering us for this 5K, during the week she had planned to visit me in San Diego. She's a runner now.

Results (Kristen)
20:36 (6:38 average pace)
4th place female of 1387
1st of 263 in division F30-34
43 overall of 2594

Results (Jan)
37:21 (12:02 average pace)
730 of 1387 female
19th in division F55-59
1614 overall of 2594

The logistics: Some people complained about the the shuttles. Runners were directed to park at the stadium and then take shuttles to the start. Because I am type-A, we got there early and didn't have to wait at all for the shuttle. Others, apparently, were not so fortunate. The final shuttles were late to the start line. So the race ended up starting about 5 minutes late. Overall, I think the race was very well organized. Plenty of porta-potties, no lines at the bib pickup, and Nike Dri-Fit race t-shirt (another suggestion for next year, since the shirts are so nice I actually want to wear it, so women's cuts please!).


Friday, July 27, 2012

Running, Self and Happiness

For the most part, running has always been about me. My strengths, my weaknesses, my happiness, my joy, my achievements. Recently Ive been thinking a lot about running and how happy it makes me. I read this blog post by Amanda at Running Hood, and agreed with a lot of what she spoke about regarding the pure and simply joy of running, and how lifeless and dull our days can be without it.

And then I realized I respectfully disagreed. Or at least I want to disagree.
Running makes me happy. I get a lot of joy from it. It is my time to commune with my God, and take my physical and spiritual growth to new levels.

But what happens when I cant run? When I've been injured? I'm unhappy.  And I don’t actually want that for myself. I want to be happy to run, but I don’t want it to be so all-consuming that I'm only happy when I'm running, and dark and depressed when I cant.
Now, note I'm not talking about downgrading the importance of running in my life or lowering my running goals. But there is a fine line between something being of utmost importance to you, such that you put a lot of effort and work into doing your best at it, and something being so all-consuming that you allow it to control your emotional reality.

The concept that I can emotionally/spiritually disassociate from running, but still maintain my high goals, actually came from Kara Goucher in her book Running for Women. Kara writes that she considers herself a person that likes to run but does not consider herself a runner. That is because she does not solely identify herself through running, and her emotional reality is not driven by whether or not she laces up. And yet, the girl is an Olympian!
So what happened when I gave this a go; that is, being happy to run, but making sure (or trying at least) that my happiness is not being solely driven by running?

Funnily enough, running has actually made me more happy. I ran recently, with someone from my church who has participated in starting a beginners’ running group. She expressed that she was so happy to do it, despite that it has slowed her down a lot, because she has had to run slower paces for the newbies than she would ordinarily run. It was serving others - not the running itself - that increased her happiness.

And just running with her that day, a very slow 10 miles, despite have a slightly higher pace in mind for myself, made me happy. Despite it being outside of my training plan, the fellowship and love and laughs I shared with this friend – including her story about the beginners – lifted my spirits and reminded me that running is a journey. Not necessarily the end-goal. Running takes you places. How you deal with the destination is the gritty awesome stuff.
So to sum up my lesson learned here:
(1) Running brings me joy. But I don’t have to run to be joyful.
(2) Relinquishing running from being all about me, and the sole deteriminator of my happiness, releases me to use my running to serve others through it;
(3) Running still - and will forever - rock my world. And thats totally ok.

#LR1 Penny

What place does running have in your life? Do you get depressed (or elated) when you cant pound the pavement for a while? How do you deal with that?

Thursday, July 26, 2012

London Olympics (F yeah!), meet the U.S. track team!

Track & Field Olympic coverage begins August 3 (full TV schedule).

The Atlantic Wire published a great article profiling the U.S' top track and field Olympians (but sadly, no distance runners), complete with animated GIFs to show their amazing athleticism. They've also published articles on the U.S. gymnastics team and their rivals (China, Russia, and Romania). Very cool.

By Gonzolito (Own work)

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

LR#1: Countdown is on + my 11 mile week

I have spent the last two weeks shaking off some fun groin/inner thigh pain that came on after a hefty weight session when I was visiting my family in Australia. After a trip to a sports doctor, I  discovered that I had a slight strain in there, caused by weakness in my inner quad area. This was easily remedied with some straight forward exercises, but I had to cut down my miles while the muscle strain healed.

July 8-14, 2012
Monday: rest
Tuesday: 5 miles easy
Wednesday: swim (30 mins)
Thursday: rest (saw the doctor)
Friday: rest
Saturday: Plyo + core workout, 45 mins elliptical
Sunday: Easy 6 miles

Total: 11 miles.

My hero Lauren Fleshman made the Olympic trials 5K final on 11 miles per week -  maybe its a sign. 

July 15-21, 2012
Monday: rest
Tuesday: 6 miles easy
Wednesday: 60 mins elliptical intervals
Thursday: Tempo run: 1 mile easy, 4 miles @ 7:30 pace, 1 mile easy + leg strength
Friday: rest (Groin thing came back after another hefty weight session. Hey LR#1, how about you do the same thing over and over and see if you get different results??? That would be a fun game.)
Saturday: Swim 30 mins
Sunday: 10 miles very slow (>10min/mile)

Total: 22 miles

Meanwhile, the countdown is on. Eight weeks to my goal race, and I haven't made it up to 30 miles per week yet. Somehow I dont think that 11 mile Fleshman week was a sign.

Monday, July 23, 2012

LR#2 Week 6 of the 5K Summer

Another week for healing. I did 3 very easy miles on Tuesday but still felt the lingering glute issue from last week. So I focused again on strength training and stretching. My patience paid off. I felt awesome on Sunday during the Bolt to the Q 5K! More on that later in the week.

Total miles: 6.4.

Total metals: 1. I placed 1st in my division (F30-34). Official time 20:36 (6:38 average pace). 4th female of 1387; 43rd overall of 2594.

In other achievements, I managed to take quite possibly the most unattractive set of photos ever assembled of a single runner in one race! I am still thinking about buying them. They are just too funny!!


Sunday, July 22, 2012

Running frees your mind.

Danny Pudi (actor, Abed in Community)
I'm a Runner
Runner's World (August 2012)

Friday, July 20, 2012

small errors in training

Galloway's Book on Running (2d ed.)
Jeff Galloway

Monday, July 16, 2012

LR#2 Week 5 of 10 - 5K to Couch?

Speed workouts . . . the best practice is to be conservative and not to push too hard. Slowly build speed over time. I have read this sage advice in dozens of books, articles, and blogs. I've even given this advice to other runners. But still. I have to learn the hard way . . .

I pressed too hard during my last speed workout (week ago Sunday), and I strained something. I discovered the strain on Tuesday when I was running hill sprints. Things were not going smoothly in my right glute going up the hill. I had full range of motion and power, but I could feel a problem in there.

So what did I do? Well, first I completed the 5 hill sprints. Bad again.

Then I took the rest of the week off of running and cardio. Total miles this week 3.2.

I used the week to build some strength through some hard core weight workouts. Knowing I wasn't going to run this week, I didn't hold back on the weights, destroying my legs with a leg workout and plyo. I also did an upper body workout, a few core sessions, and yoga.

My legs are feeling strong, and I am itching to run. Keeping my fingers crossed that I am fully recovered before the Bolt to the Q 5K this weekend!!


Sunday, July 15, 2012

Running in Oz...tralia....

Interesting fact #1: Your Garmin will work in Australia, because satellites are in the sky. Not on the ground like cell-phone towers.

Interesting fact #2: Tens of thousands of dollars and countless hours of study poured into my primary education, secondary education, three tertiary degrees and two bar exams was somehow not enough to prepare me to figure out fact number 1 by myself. Thanks husband.

Last week, YBS and I went down to Australia (the country of my birth and the origin of my affinity for both physical activity and the consumption of alcohol... not at the same time). I was looking forward to some quality running time. But the first few days I was feeling too tired and jetlagged to run, in addition to having am inexplicable nagging pain in my groin that  I wanted to recover from. I was also focused on spending time with my friends and family and deliciously cute nieces. But in the end, the great outdoors called me and I got in three good runs at the end of the week before I left.

July 1-7, 2012 Workouts

Monday: Leg/core strength + 45 minutes elliptical intervals

Tuesday: Rest

Wednesday: Upper body / core workout + 30 mins light elliptical

Thursday: Easy 6 miles at around 9min/mile

Friday: This was a run for the pure joy of jogging around my home city again. I did an easy 3 miles at around 9 min/mile in Royal Park, one of the many beautiful gardens in Melbourne. It feels like the country-side but you can see the CBD skyscrapers in the background. The paths in this park go all over the place and you could get quite a few miles in without having to double up.


Saturday: 8 mile progression run; beginning at 8:30min/miles, last two miles were about 7:30 during which I greatly regretted eating African curry lentils the night before. I ran this up Macedon road from my parents' house towards Mt Macedon (which you can just see behind the trees on the left hand side), where I went to school. My bus would drive up this road every day. It is some quintessential Aussie countryside, and I wish I had taken my phone with me to take pictures. In the meantime, Google's will have to suffice.

Sunday: (after a long flight home; I essentially had a rest day in between on the plane) I did a long run for 10 miles around Oceanside.

Total: 27 miles

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Book Review: 5K/10K Running by Jeff Galloway

5K/10K Running is the best book I’ve seen for someone just beginning to run. There is an entire chapter and 5K training plan for the runner just taking the first plunge into the sport. Galloway explains the basics of running anatomy, fitness, and nutrition in a straightforward manner, no science/medical jargon. There is no danger of getting overwhelmed. The book provides a clear path to fitness.

On the other hand, for the more experienced runner, the information is a little bit basic, and in my opinion, the merits of walking are overemphasized. The big picture advice is consistent with the research/scientific/medical-based books I’ve read, such as the Lore of Running and The Runner’s Body. But I knew hardcore science of running was not really what this book is all about.

I picked up this book for two reasons. First, I wanted some specific advice about training for a 5K because it feels so different than training for half marathons. Second, I wanted to hear an athlete’s point of view. Some words of wisdom from a seasoned runner.

And Jeff Galloway has some serious running street cred. Who is Jeff Galloway? From his website:

As a member of the 1972 Olympic team, Jeff competed against the world’s best athletes in Europe, Africa, and the former Soviet Union. He broke the U.S. 10-mile record (47:49) in 1973 and has a six-mile best of 27:21. Among his victories are the Peachtree Road Race, Honolulu  Marathon, Atlanta Marathon and top place finisher in many prominent U.S. races such as the Boston Marathon.

The book delivered some gems:

1. Galloway emphasized the potential dangers of speed workouts, the centerpiece of 5K training. Runners beginning speed workouts are likely to suffer injuries if they don’t ease into it. Throughout the training cycle, runners using speed training need to remain conservative on both volume and intensity. Further, Galloway recommends a 48 hour recovery period after speed workouts—no running, but cross training okay as long as you are not engaging legs or doing anything with impact.

2. You can expect a 3-5% improvement in pace over a 3 month training cycle.

3. He has some interesting ideas on training journals. I am going to try the Believe I Am training journal by Lauren Fleshman and Roisin McGettigan. I like his idea of writing down not only how the run went but also the weird and mysterious thoughts that pop into your head along the way. You know what I mean!

4. Good advice on dealing with heat and cold. The ideal temperature to run is about 60F. The book includes charts on what to wear for various temperature ranges below and above 60 and also how much each 5 degrees above 60 will slow down your pace.

5. Hill running form. Both uphill and downhill are briefly discussed. The basic advice for uphill during a training run is to run slow enough up the hill that you are able to maintain the same breathing rate as when you were running on level ground.

6. Morning pulse as an indicator of fatigue. Galloway recommends taking your pulse first thing in the morning before you even roll out of bed. Record it for 2 weeks, and take the average. You’ll have your base pulse. Anytime your morning pulse is 5% higher than the average, take an easy day. If your pulse is higher than 10% above your average, take a full rest day . . . your muscles need it.

7. Heart disease symptoms. We’ve all read anti-distance-running articles about the dangers of endurance training for the heart. Fact or fiction? I don’t know. But now I know the signs of heart disease and have a picture of the signs on my iPhone for quick reference in case of an emergency.

  • Intense heat build-up in the head
  • General overheating of the body
  • Significant headache
  • Significant nausea or vomiting
  • General confusion and loss of concentration
  • Loss of muscle control
  • Excessive sweating and then cessation of sweating
  • Clammy skin
  • Excessively rapid breathing
  • Muscle cramps
  • Feeling faint
  • Diarrhea

The Human Heart
Gray's Anatomy


Monday, July 9, 2012

A secret goal . . . dared not speak out loud

Peter Sagal
The Time of the Ancient Marathoner
Runner's World July 2012
Do you have "pubic goals" that you tell your friends and coworkers (or the blogosphere) . . . but your REAL goal pace is a secret you keep to yourself?

Sunday, July 8, 2012

A Dri-Fit-clad Winnie the Pooh

Peter Sagal
The Time of the Ancient Marathoner
Runner's World July 2012
Loved this article by Peter Sagal, host of NPR's "Wait, Wait . . . Don't Tell Me!", on his journey to PR a marathon at 46. He's fast 3:09:25 (7:13 pace).

LR#2 Week 4 of 10 in the Summer of 5K

Coming off training for half marathons for the last 9 months, my legs are supremely conditioned for the long run. But they are not used to speed and strength workouts required for 5K! As a result, last week, I was so so so so so sore from hill sprints, legs (weights), a speed workout, and then a fast tempo run. I took it super easy early in the week, and only ran 3 days total. 

I did the longest run I have done in over a month on the 4th: 14.3 miles. It felt great. My legs started to fatigue at about 12, so I am losing some distance fitness . . . but hopefully gaining some speed fitness along the way! 

This week was my the first significant speed workout of this training cycle. Prior speed workouts were sprints at 3K pace for only 20, 30, 40 seconds. Today, I kicked up the interval to about 1 km at 5K pace. It was SO HARD! Definitely the hardest speed workout I've ever done!

This week's proprioceptive cue from Matt Fitzgerald's Brain Training For Runners was floppy feet. For this cue, think about keeping your foot relaxed. But continue to strike the ground normally. This allows your foot to absorb impact forces--exactly what the foot is designed to do.

Monday (7/2): Complete rest.

Tuesday (7/3): Core strength workout.

Wednesday (7/4): Freedom run. I gave myself license to run as far as I wanted at any pace, no Garmin, no audio cues on Runkeeper. I went 14.3 miles at 8:50 in Del Mar.

Thursday (7/5): Plyo workout.

Friday (7/6): Elliptical intervals, 30 minutes; upper body strength workout.

Saturday (7/7): Long run, 11.20 miles at 8:30 in Carlsbad.

Sunday (7/8): Intervals in Solana Beach. 5.37 miles with 4 x 1 km intervals at 6:20-6:30 (5K pace), 0.25 mile rest intervals.

Beach stairs at South Ponto State Beach in Carlsbad.

Lazy Little Runner #1 biweekly roundup

I spent the last few weeks busy with work, friends, having family visits and preparing to spend this week in Australia. Totally legit reasons not to blog and yet another reason why sharing a running blog so LR#2 can do all the heavy lifting was a great idea .

June 16-23 Roundup
Monday: easy 5 miles + strength
Tuesday: easy 3 miles
Wednesday: upper body and core +elliptical intervals
Thursday: easy 6 miles
Friday: rest
Saturday: rest and stretch
Sunday: my pace-testing run, Simi Valley half marathon
Total: 27 miles

June 24-30 Roundup
This week I was taking it easy after feeling a little pain in my hip and groin area after the half.

Incidentally, Kristen and I are in no way too old to not snigger every time we say the word "groin". Similarly we get some good mileage out of "fartlek".

Anyway, the low mileage week,while expected, still drove me a bit batty. It's one reason that I don't so much like the racing-during-training-cycle concept because it can throw you off so much. That said racing is pretty fun so I'm probably not sworn off it completely :)

Monday: rest and stretch
Tuesday: rest and stretch
Wednesday: 6 miles @ around 8:45 pace
Thursday: 60 mins elliptical intervals (1 min easy, 2 mins hard with 10 mins warmup and warm down)
Friday: 8 miles base pace at around 8:30
Saturday: rest
Sunday: rest
Total: 14 miles

Next week's roundup: running in Australia on amazing coffee and lots and lots of cake.

Wednesday, July 4, 2012

San Dieguito Lagoon - (short) Horsepark Segment Open

The Fourth of July. An overcast and cool day in San Diego . . . not great for beach-goers and BBQs. But outstanding weather for running. Not a bit of sun and temperatures under 65 degrees. Time for a long run.

I headed out to the San Dieguito Lagoon to check out the new segment I saw was open the last time I ran here. The new segment goes passed the Del Mar Horsepark. It isn't very long, only about a quarter mile. 

Trail Map
But it is scenic. 

And there are horses!

There is a horse in there somewhere . . .
And a meadow.

That's Black Mountain way way way in the distance. 

The trail through the San Dieguito Lagoon is part of the Coast to Crest Trail, which someday may be a continuous trail from Julian to Del Mar. Although the segments are not continuous, there are about 65 miles of trail so far, and there is one trail that is 22.5 continuous miles. When will it be complete? The FAQ puts it this way: It is [a project] that not only you, but your children and perhaps grandchildren will be able to participate in.


Monday, July 2, 2012

Race Pics, raise the question

What am I doing with my hands? Air guitar, air guns, conducting music?
Approaching the finish line at the Coronado Ride and Stride.
The bottom line on arm position for distance running is that tension in the arms, wrists, and hands is wasted energy. The consensus on form for most people seems to be:  (1) keep elbows at 90 degree angle, more or less; (2) maintain a relaxed, low swing; (3) keep hands in a loose fist; and (4) don't allow your left hand to cross over the right side of the body, and vice-versa for the right hand.

But this little runner is not most people, so don't take the picture as an illustration of this advice. Ever since Penny pointed out my air guitaring ways in my San Diego Rock N Roll pics, I have been thinking more about my arms and hands while running. I observed the 5K and 10K runners with their loose fists during the U.S. Olympic Trials. And I tried to mimic the form. But I think it takes too much energy and creates tension all the way up my arms. So for me, what works is to lightly touch my thumb to my middle finger and keep my fingers relaxed and more or less flopping around however they want. 

Also, the picture was taken nearing the finish line, during my "kick." As you speed up, for example, at the end of a race (where you attempt to buzz by and narrowly defeat all those who you've been running with during the duration of the race), you will naturally start pumping your arms more, as I am above.

Collecting third place metal.

Sunday, July 1, 2012

LR#2 - Week 3 of 5K Plan, a whole week of leg soreness

I started the week sore from the 8.2 mile race a week ago Sunday. Between hill sprints (Wednesday), a leg strength workout (Thursday), and a speed workout (Saturday), my legs felt sore the whole week. I don't remember ever feeling sore the whole week since I've started running. I wonder if it is safe to run hill sprints and speed workouts on sore legs. Am I going to make real strength gains or wind up with an overuse injury? I feel strong, other than the soreness. And I've had no aches and no pains since coming back from my bruised foot bone in late April . . .

Another new item this week. I had a sports massage. My goal is to make gains in flexibility that I have not been able to achieve myself. I have been doing daily yoga for at least 30 minutes for the last 6 months approximately. And there are some areas that I am just not able to loosen up enough--piriformis and calves, especially. A few hours after the massage, I definitely felt the urge to stretch, and when I did, I was able to stretch deeper than normal. And I was still feeling the effects the next day during yoga class. Jury is still out, but I think there is some merit to massage. After a hard week of training, my calves have not turned back to the rocks they normally are.

This week's proprioceptive cue from Matt Fitzergald's Brain Training For Runners was Axle Between the Knees:  Imagine an axle between your knees that pushes them out just a little bid wider than your normal stride. This will help you to engage your hip flexors and to stop any inward rotation of the thighs. I did my warmup and recovery miles thinking about this cue and then did my working miles without the wider stance. But feeling the hip flexors engaged during warmups helped me to remember to engage them during my working sets.

Monday (6/25): 4 mile recovery run in Balboa Park at 8:47 average pace; massage.

Tuesday (6/26): Yoga.

Wednesday (6/27): 4 miles in Balboa Park at base pace, plus 5 x 16-second hill sprints at maximum effort; core strength training.

Thursday (6/28): 2 miles on the treadmill at 10:00 average pace; legs strength workout.

Friday (6/29): 4 miles at 8:17 in Balboa Park; upper body strength workout.

Saturday (6/30): Fartlek run along Solana Beach Rail Trail, 5.83 miles with 10 x 30-second intervals at about 5:45 pace.

Sunday (7/1): Tempo run from Solana Beach to Cardiff Kook, 5.6 miles with 1 mile warmup and 4.6 miles at 7:15 pace.

Underside of the Cabrillo Bridge in Balboa Park . . . about to begin a hill sprint!