Sunday, March 31, 2013

The Secret to a Working Stiff's Happiness and the Potato Chip Rock

My brother, Erik, was out for a visit this month. His last spring break as a student. He graduates from ISU (Illinois State) this June. Since my world is all about me, I was thinking back to my last spring break, which I spent with Erik in Madrid in 2006.

My brown bob. I liked that look.
My life has changed completely since this picture, of course. And being the big sis, I wanted to impart some wisdom to my little bro to prepare him for life as a working stiff. So I waited to unload some major sisterly advice until we were on a long hike--and he was totally dependent on me for both directions and a ride back to the city. A captive audience is the best kind. 

We hiked Mount Woodson, which is about a 900 foot peak out in the Poway/Ramona area of eastern San Diego county. It is about a 40 minute drive east of downtown, but not all the way to the desert. I love the landscape of this part of Southern California. There are rolling hills, mountains, and the most incredible boulders laying around all over the place. So interesting that I almost looked up a geographic explanation for this unique landscape. Almost.

You can approach Mount Woodson from the west (~8 miles round trip from Lake Poway) or the east (~4 miles round trip straight up and down the mountain). We selected an eastern approach since we were walking. 

We started up the mountain, and I started my story. 

When I started working, I was pumped. I landed a job in San Diego working in antitrust law, the area of law that I liked best during school. I was finally getting paid, working on interesting cases, soaking up knowledge like a sponge, and traveling all over the country. This is exactly what I dreamed my life would be like. It was very satisfying and rewarding. 

For awhile. Actually, for quite a long time.

But eventually, the long hours and difficult work lost their allure. Things that were once new and exciting became old, annoying, and irritating. It just happened one day. And when my job became less satisfying, I became very unhappy overnight. I had nothing to focus on and enjoy outside of work.

So I thought about looking for a new job that was less demanding. Or even leaving the law business altogether. As I pondered major career moves, I started exploring new interests because I was no longer willing to spend all my time working or preparing to work. 

I started cooking a lot, and making craft cocktails. This is a pursuit I still enjoy. I even started a cooking blog, which I no longer maintain and actually took offline a few months ago. (I am kind of relieved to not have to take a photograph of every dinner I cook.)  

Meanwhile I was becoming much happier. And I started to enjoy my work again. I saw that my problem was not that I lost interest in the work. But that I needed some separation from it. 

So I started trying on other hobbies. I took sewing lessons. I even bought a sewing machine and sewed a pillow case, a pencil pouch, a couple of tote bags, and a (hideous) dress. I really like the idea of sewing and crafts. But it just didn't stick. Probably because my interests have always laid in sports. I was a kid gymnast. Ran track and cross country. Played volleyball and beach volleyball. Started weight lifting and getting into general fitness training in college. And picked up tennis while I was waiting for my bar results. 

And eventually I started running. That story is for another post...

If Erik wasn't listening to all of this, at least he could zone out looking at the amazing landscape around us. 

So we reached the top of the mountain and the Potato Chip Rock. And then we fought about who got to do the first photo shoot. I neglected to mention that fighting with Erik is probably my oldest hobby. 

Let's see that zoomed in. 

Now for the moral of the story...The lesson I learned is that I can't be totally focused on my work. It is an obvious point for most people. But I had spent my entire life until then studying, taking out loans, and fashioning my life in every way to give myself the best shot at succeeding as lawyer. But I needed some outside stimulation to maintain it. Some things to look forward to on the weekend. To get my mind off of my task list. Things to daydream about on a slow afternoon. 

And for me, that turned out to be running. It's a hobby I've really connected with, love, and hope to pursue a very long time!

"Your greatest runs are rarely measured by racing success. They are moments in time when running allows you to see how wonderful your life is." --Kara Goucher

two little runners ~Kristen

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Hullo Again San Diego

Why hello there, from the marvelous city of San Diego, where sunshine splashes your face from morning to eve, the Mexican food is to die for, and where the smells wafting through downtown alternate seamlessly between pot-smoke and urine.

I am here to eat tacos, run in the sunshine and hang out with Kristen for work, arriving last Thursday and leaving next Monday.
You know you're a runner when you go on a work trip and bring at least as much running gear as you do office clothes.

I am spending my days writing a brief that will be filed prior to me going home to New York. Also spending my days running around my old haunts. I have run down on the harbor (Kristen informed me recently that its termed the Embarcadero)

I dont care what your proper name is, you sexy beast of a long-flat running course with beautiful scenery

K and I also planned two long runs, one of which we've already done around Mission Bay:

It was a nice 15-mile run at 8:30 pace (clearly aerobic because we were talking the entire time). My legs have felt a bit heavy after a couple of weeks of increased mileage and some pretty hard runs, and balancing recovery from the Oceans Run Half. After the race, I made myself wait at least 10 days before adding back in any speed or tempo work to my schedule, so the week-after's runs were all easy.

March 10th-17th
Sunday: Oceans Run half marathon
Monday: Rest
Tuesday: probably the slowest 6 miles I have ever run. Probably around 9:30 pace.
Wednesday: 8 miles easy
Thursday: 40 mins easy elliptical. Short leg/butt/hamstring strength session.  
Friday: 9 miles easy
Saturday: 9 miles easy

Total: 45 miles

March 18-23rd
Sunday: 18 miles at 8:05 avg pace. 
Monday: rest
Tuesday: 8 miles easy
Wednesday: 10 miles, with 8 marathon-pace tempo  (7:18 avg pace). [Felt like complete rubbish from the first tempo mile, and nearly quit at mile 2 (yay for mental strength development!) However I had just hopped off a 6-hour flight from NY, run my longest run ever a couple of days prior, and had run a HM only 10 days prior. Expecting miracles from my legs, much?]
Thursday: 15 mins elliptical, leg and core strength workout
Friday: Speed/threshold: 1 mile easy, 6x1 mile repeats at half-marathon pace, with 400m jog recoveries, 1 mile easy (10 miles total).  Splits were: 6:56, 6:55, 6:52, 6:56, 6:57, 6:5. [Happier with this one. Felt strong and controlled throughout.]
Saturday: 7 miles easy

Total: 52 miles = highest mileage ever!!

Mainly I was (a) stoked to avoid injury this week; and (b) relieved to have gotten at least one long run in so far before NJ despite using the Hansons plan. More on that later.

For now, let me leave you with a foodie pic:

Beer-steamed shrimp in some kind of garlic-ey butter sauce, with a salad. Unpictured: countless tortilla chips, tacos and mountains of fresh fruit I have consumed since being here.  Next post will likely include a magical bean and cheese burrito that Kristen has me SOLD on...

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Maui No Ka Oi

two little runners ~ Kristen

Ah yes, gentle readers, we left off with aloha--I was Maui bound for a birthday vacation. 

When people ask me how old I am, I have to think about it for a minute. Does that happen to you? As a runner, I think my age 5 year intervals:  currently still rocking 30-34. 

Maui was also my last week of easy running/base building/mileage buildup. But as it turns out, although Maui is an amazing tropical paradise, it is not a great place to run. (1) It is windy. (2) Activities start before dawn because the best weather and water conditions are in the early morning. (3) Pina coladas. 

The deets. 

We stayed at the Ritz in Kapalua. Thanks to a major hookup from my Ragnar teammate (SoCal April 19-20!), we got upgraded to an ocean view suite and treated to a bunch of goodness at the Ritz. Awesome resort. Kapalua is beautiful with its rugged coast and pine trees. The *one* run I did the week we were there was along the Kapalua coastal trail, which is gorgeous. But I only ran 3.5 miles, ouch. So much for easy running/base building/mileage buildup. 

Lava rocks!
But there was hiking. In the weeks before we arrived, Maui had tons of rain. We saw huge waterfalls over two days of hiking along the Road to Hana. 

400 foot waterfall.
We jumped into a sea cave and then warmed up on a black sand beach. 

No progress on those runner tan lines.
For the birthday itself, we went on a whale watching/snorkeling/booze cruise. 

No one tells you this - but you need a windbreaker in Maui - it
was my most worn item of clothing!
There were so many whales we didn't know which way to look! And when we were snorkeling, we could hear their songs under the water. 

We did a couple of other snorkeling days, seeking sea turtles--but were Bogarted on turtles! 

Other major activity was a 30 mile bike ride down the (inactive) volcana on Maui--Haleakala. 10,000 feet (and dang it is cold and windy up there) all the way back down to sea level.
Looking down on the crater. 
The biggest surprise of the trip was how much I liked swimming in the ocean. Is a triathlon in my future?

two little runners ~ Kristen

Friday, March 15, 2013

Oceans Run Half Marathon Review and Recap

Y'aaaaaaaaaall. Whattup.

So I'm still training for the NJ marathon... and I kinda wanted a slightly more accurate half marathon pace to assess my fitness for marathon pace.... whatever that is. As awesome a performance as Vegas was, I dont think it was really a great test of fitness. As a side-note, I don't think that story will ever stop being redramatized. By now my husband thinks that the entire race was uphill at 8000 foot of elevation with 50mph gusts. Not to mention that I was suffering from hypothermia and wearing a weighted vest.

Anyway, the hubs and I had already decided to do a weekend getaway, and I found the Oceans Run half marathon in South Kingstown, RI. Very scenic place and apparently a beautiful course with a small field of runners: perfect.

The two weeks prior, I had continued my marathon training plan per usual, just dropping the tempo and long run at the end of the second week:

Feb 24-March 2
Sunday: Central Park Half Marathon (13.1 miles at 7:53 pace)
Monday: rest
Tuesday: 8 miles easy
Wednesday: 6 x 800s at 6:22min/miles (9.4mph) with 400 jog recoveries at about 9:30-10 min miles.
Thursday: Rest
Friday: 9 tempo
From my fast running blog: Best workout so far. Completely awesome. I had a 5-mile tempo scheduled but did 6 miles effort because it just felt good. Did two easy miles, around 8:30 pace. Tempo splits were: 7:23, 7:09, 7:09, 7:01, 7:04, 7:08. Cool down for an easy mile. So the average here was a little bit slower than last week's 5 mile tempo, but what made it so awesome was how it felt. Completely controlled. The splits were a little bit uneven in places because of wind, but the effort felt very sustainable, even and even easy. The last two miles flew by, and for the first time on a tempo run, I was not counting the minutes til I could stop. Average overall pace was 7:09 with fuel left in the tank.
Saturday: 7 miles easy
Total: 45 miles

March 3-10, 2013
Sunday: 14 miles easy
Monday: rest
Tuesday: 8 miles easy
Wednesday:  Speed. Hardest one I've done so far. Warmup (1.5 miles), then 5 x 1K at 6:22min miles (5K pace - 9.4mph) at 1% incline, with 400m jog recoveries.
Thursday: rest
Friday: 7 miles easy
Saturday: leisurely Cliff Walk in Newport, RI
Total: 37 miles

Plus delicious pre-race meal of lobster tail and blackened swordfish at the Black Pearl in Newport:
Who needs carbs when you have lobster and garlic butter?
Who needs lobster and garlic butter when you have this cute man to go home with?
Sunday: RACE!

The plan for the race was to run 5-10 seconds slower than what I "thought" my best HM pace would be. I estimated that my present fitness would have me running at about 6:55-7avg pace. As long as I could keep an even effort, (and not trash my legs) I would get a PR and have a bit more information up my sleeve about what my marathon goal pace should be.

The day was a bit gusty along the ocean (apparently the hubs was very fearful for me as he heard the walls of the finishers' tent flap around madly in the wind), but I was mentally prepared for that (unlike Vegas) and determined to push back.

Miles 1-2: 7:04, 7:04. Right on target. Legs still warming up as it was 37 degrees; this helped me keep pace in check.
Mile 3: 6:50. Oops! Slow down! Came upon an Australian running the race. He was so stoked to meet a fellow Aussie in a pretty random little area of the world. We trotted together for a few minutes, but he was wanting to maintain a 7:30 pace, so I kept going. 
Mile 4: 7:04. Up a hill that people had been calling "gigantic." Um, no. It was a hill alright, but I guess the Harlem Hills have given me a tougher hide over the last few months. Started a caffeinated Gu. Was told I was third woman... passed one of them.
Mile 5: 7:02. Finished Gu. Played tag team with the woman I passed.
Mile 6: 7:01. Gu kicked in, holy crap. I had to hold my legs back from sprinting in this mile. Passed the other woman.
Miles 7-10: 6:57, 7:01, 6:51, 7:08. Uneventful. Completely by myself; the lead pack were about a mile ahead. Hit another bigg-ish hill. Tried to listen to turn on some music, but kept fumbling with my iPod. It ended up just annoying me, so I shut it off. Had another Gu. Didnt want to litter so I shoved the two packets up my sleeve so it got all gross and sticky up there.
Mile 11-12: 7:14 (music fumbling), 7:01.
Mile 13: 7:19; turned into a headwind and a slow incline in this mile. Very tired and legs starting to burn, but thankfully by no means dead like I was in the final miles of Philly.
Mile 0.1: 7:09 pace... tried to kick it in... gotta work on that.

Garmin time: 1:32:31, Chip time 1:32:29.  Third woman overall. Nice little PR to boot. 

The hubs just caught my less-than epic finish 

Bad news was that I wasnt third woman back at Mile 4, but 5th. Unfortunately the two lead ladies were not that far ahead of me (they finished in 1:30xx and 1:31xx respectively) and I kind of wish I had known or seen them... might have given me something to run harder for.

For placing, I got two medals:

AND a cash prize of 25 whoppers!

Can I quit my day job now, do you think?

Oceans Run Half was organized by Trimom Productions and they did an EXCELLENT job on the race. Markers were clear, water stops were well-staffed and volunteers were awesome. Great spread of post-race treats (I swiped several cookies and brownies for the drive home)... and the course was really pretty. The hills were not awful... you get to run by the ocean, and through some really pretty countryside. Great job to Trimom.

So what'd I learn? I definitely don't think I was sub-1:30 ready in Vegas. I think I could have run this course 1 minute or so faster, and I definitely have a 1:30:xx in me if I was tapered and in the right conditions. Marathon goal pace sits around 7:20-7:30 for training purposes. Race strategy to be determined.

Sunday, March 3, 2013

Central Park Half Marathon, Jude Law and some more miles...

Hey there, ether-webs, Penny here. I just got done watching the Talented Mr. Ripley with the Talented And Handsome Jude Law. Sometimes I wish the Hey Runner Girl meme had been about him. They are so funny, but I just don't get the draw with Ryan Gosling. Did I miss a sparkle in his eye? Does he have some kind of crazy 12-pack set of abs that I don't know about? Is that even physiologically possible?

Anyway, moving on. Last week I ran the NYC Runs Central Park half marathon.  Originally I signed up for this race thinking I would run it as a marathon tempo. Then weather forecasted rain, snow and 25mph winds on an already very hilly course through Central Park. Seeing as I still have a bit of PTSD (read, I'm a massive wimp) from Vegas, AND I didn't want to have trashed legs for a week, I decided to run it as an easy long run.

The weeks runs, thus, went per normal: (Feb 17-23, 2013)
Sunday: 10 miles easy
Monday: rest
Tuesday: 8 miles easy
Wednesday: 8 miles, with 8x600s at 6:22 pace (9.4mph) with 400m jog recoveries
Thursday: rest
Friday: tempo: 2 miles easy, 2miles @ 7:19, 2 miles @ 7:13, 1 mile @ 7:08, 1 mile easy.
Saturday: 9 miles easy
Total: 42 miles

Well, low and behold, the weather (as I should have known, if I paid any attention to Murphy) was perfect running weather. Overcast, cool in the 40s, barely any wind! Ah well, it was really nice doing a race with zero expectations other than to have fun running with a speedy friend of mine.  Overall a  1:44-ish for a average pace of 7:53 min/mile (with a bathroom break - first time in a race ever!) All miles felt pleasantly aerobic with a bit of effort going up those Harlem hills.

Twinsies in Lulu blue! Unplanned matchy awesomeness.
The course takes you on one big loop of the park (with Harlem hills), then a second loop, crossing at the 102nd st traverse, then a third loop of the lower end of the park. Marathoners did FIVE laps of the second loop. Holy monotony!

The hubs made a surprise visit down to see us finish the race. Dragged along the camera and took pics without me even asking. True love!

NYC Runs did a great job on the race, with the only exception of packet-pick up. You could pick up the packet at a running shop on the East side, which had a really long line on the Friday night and they went so. slow. handing. crap. out. However, they did apologize for this at the race, and the good news is that all was forgiven when this arrived in the mail from the Hot Chocolate 10K I ran in December:

Bad news is that I cant center a damn photo.