Friday, December 30, 2011


2010 was a hard year. I know, 2011 is the year ending, but it's impossible for me to properly reflect on 2011 without considering 2010. 

I started 2010 in a job that I loathed, to the point where I would come home and cry because I worked with people who were horrible to each other and at times horrible to the patients. Luckily I found another job which I love and continue to love. Also in 2010, A and I made some very mature, grown-up decisions. They were the right decisions to make but meant letting go of certain dreams. A was laid off at the end of 2010, and we started 2011 with a great deal of uncertainty as to what the year would hold. 

I didn't go into 2011 with any concrete goals.  And I tend to define goals very specifically, where the culmination of that goal is that something has changed dramatically.  I know it doesn't have to be defined like that, but it's how I've tended to do it in the past. Since 2010 and the beginning of 2011 were rather tumultuous,  I felt like I needed 2011 to be a time of stabilization, rather than bringing more dramatic changes.

So what did I do? I ran (of course) but raced less. I focused on quality races rather than quantity, with a great deal of success. I had a marathon PR, a 5K PR in which I received 2cd place for my age group (I'm pretty sure there were only 2 of us in my age group as it was a tiny race) and my sub-2-hour half marathon! 

I completed my first triathlon and my first overnight relay race. I had one of my favorite Team in Training seasons with the awesome Team Driven, and made lots of new friends who I hope to keep in my life. A and I traveled to Wisconsin for a family vacation, and we spent a long weekend in Las Vegas with some of my college friends.  We prepared ourselves and started to prepare our home for some life changing events that we hope to see in 2012 (more on that below).

2011 was pretty awesome, even without having any goals defined at the year's start. Going into 2012, I'm trying to keep that openness, and allow for exciting opportunity to come my way. Yet, as A pointed out to me the other day, I get bored when I am not challenged. Thus, I have created a big challenge for myself, which will take place during the first part of the year.

I have some big, crazy goals in mind, but that deserves its own post.  Also, my parents are going to walk the 5K!

That is going to be my sole athletic goal for the first half of 2012. I have some shorter races earlier in the spring, but they will be run as training for Pittsburgh. I haven't registered for anything after Pittsburgh either, but would like to do some trail running in the summer/fall. I am a city girl who hates being alone in the woods, so that will be a challenge!

I'm not scheduling much past May, as we are hoping to add to our little family by the middle of the year. And I have no idea what our lives are going to look like when that happens, but I'm pretty sure it will be amazing.

I'm kicking off this holiday weekend with a back to back 5K and 10K, followed by my very first Raiders game!

Happy New Year. See you in 2012!

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Race Recap: Zombie Runner Bay Trail Run

The above quote is my new favorite saying.  I definitely disproved my mental liar on Sunday, and ran the most mentally focused race that I've ever run. But I should start from the beginning...

Sunday dawned dark and cold as I made my way from the East Bay down to Palo Alto for the Zombie Run. Bib pickup began at 7, and I arrived at 6:55. Being late stresses me out, and  so the plan was to arrive early, grab my bib and hang out in the car for a while.

I was able to park about 10 feet away from the bib pick-up, the bathrooms, and the start line (Reason #1 why small races rock!) Got my bib and my neon pink t-shirt, then hopped back in the car with the heater on.

About 7:50 I saw two of my favorite ultrarunners and went and chatted for a bit. Then, exactly at 8 am we were off!

Miles 1-4
The race course was primarily flat paved/packed dirt trail. I specifically chose this race because of that, as the terrain is similar to Point Isabel and the East Bay marinas where I do most of my long runs. The start was rather narrow but opened up quickly. The race organizers did a great job in keeping the number of participants proportional to the course size. Throughout the race, there were always other runners around, but the course never felt crowded (Reason #2 why small races rock!). I felt great for the first few miles, and they just flew by. I skipped the aid station at mile 2.5 and just drank my nuun and enjoyed the scenery.

Miles 4-8
Somewhere around mile 5, I came up on a runner who looked so much like my friend David from the back that I did a double take. His hair, his running attire (except for the fuel belt) and even his form where nearly identical. So for a while I pretended that he was David, and he became my speedy rabbit just pulling me along the trail. I was still feeling good at this point. I hit the turnaround at mile 6.5-ish around 57 minutes and was happy to be on track for my time goals. The mantra in my head this whole time was "sub2 sub2" and that kept me motivated.

Miles 8-13.1
The one hill on the course came around mile 8 or 9. It was short but steep, and my lungs were hurting once I reached the top. It had been 35 degrees when we started, and although it was very sunny, it was still really cold during the race. I had two long sleeve tops on, and wore them both for the whole race.

Around mile 10 was when the race got really, really hard. I kept looking at my garmin trying to make sure I was still on track with my times. I also realized that I forgot my second gu, which I had planned for mile 9. I took the gu, which helped for a bit, but my head just really wanted to stop. My legs still felt good, but my lungs were not happy.

I hit the last aid station around mile 12, and when I held out my water bottle to get it filled up, one of the volunteers took both the bottle and the cap from me, then proceeded to fill it slowly. I was so tired at this point that I nearly screamed at him. I had just wanted a quick splash of water in the bottle! I knew I only had a mile to go, so I just pushed on. I had this voice in my head yelling at me to stop or slow down, and it was very hard not to listen to it!

Finally I turned a corner and could see the finish line up ahead. As I got closer, I realized May (who ran the 5-miler) was there with her kids cheering and taking pictures. She took this one as I ran towards the finish:
If you enlarge the picture, you can see the clock time. I was so thrilled to see a 1 on the left side of the clock!

This was not a chip-timed race, so my official finish time was my clock time: 1:59:42. Also, I was 7th out of 28th in my age group (Reason #3 small races rock!)

They had some very yummy soup at the finish line and lots of other treats, none of which I sampled as I was too busy hovering over the lady with the soup. 

It was a great race, and I'm not just saying that because I PR'd, although that helps. The race staff and volunteers were great, and the whole race seemed really well put-together. 

                 Happy zombie runners: May, Brian, Me, and Ron who rocked his first half-marathon!


Thursday, December 8, 2011

Wanting it All

Over the past few days, I've been trying to plan my racing and training calendar for 2012. I'm also trying to avoid a situation in which I frequently find myself. I call it being a race junkie.

Usually, it starts with a well-intentioned post on Facebook about a really exciting upcoming race. Perhaps the medals are the size of your head, or there's a new course that's flat, fast and PR-friendly. Then, the comments begin. Friend after friend writes that they're registering for the race, that they're so excited, and that there will be costumes and parties and post race mimosas! Before long, there is the realization that every single runner-friend you have will be running this race, and you will be missing out if you don't sign up right this second.

And there is nothing wrong with that scenario. In fact, it is completely awesome and one of the things that I love about my running community. My problem is that it happens frequently, and I hate to miss out. I mean I really hate to miss out. And I love to run. When I combine the two, I end up with bunches and bunches of races on my calender. Which I also love. However, my wallet and the rest of my life really hate it.  Also, it gives me less time to focus on goals, and decreases the chance that I might reach those goals.

So I'm trying to be realistic. I'm trying to pick only the races that I really, really want to run and to have very specific goals that will be attached to those races. Of course, I've already registered for three half marathons in 2012: my hometown race, the race that sells out in three hours and the very fun race that all my friends will be running.  I have a spring marathon in mind for early May, and a New Year's Day 10K. 

I am not allowing myself to register for anything else that takes place before July. Is there a nicotine patch for race registrations???

Thursday, December 1, 2011

One More Month

At the beginning of 2011, I had many running/athletic goals that I wanted to accomplish this year. My personal favorite was the completion of my first sprint triathlon!

I finished and I won the post race eating contest! It's hard to tell in the picture, but there are two burritos under that banana! 

The goal that has so far eluded me all year, though, is the sub 2:00 half marathon. I trained last winter and spring to run the Oakland 1/2 Marathon, but injured myself shortly before the race, ran the race anyway, went out way too fast, then crashed and burned around mile 10. 

I was signed up for a 1/2 marathon in July, but my tri training took over my life, and I decided to pace a friend for her PR rather than shoot for my own. 

Then came marathon training and the Nike Women's marathon, leading me to December, and one final race to attempt my sub 2:00 goal for the year - The Zombie Runner Bay Trail Race.

I'm either going to kick some Zombie butt, or be a Zombie. Hope it's the first one!