Thursday, July 30, 2009

Furry Butts Fursday

Never underestimate the cheering power of a 

Furry Butt on Furry Rug

Furry Butt Behind Bars

Classic Furry Butt

The Fast and the Furry (Butt)

There are more Furry Butts Fursday posts.  Can you find where they are?

The Bunny Blogging community recently lost Hans of Furry Butts.  This is our small part in spreading some cheer and commemorating a bun brave enough to have his furry butt repeatedly put out there for the world to *squee* over.

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

San Francisco Marathon

Wha?! It's 3:00 AM?! What's going on? Is it Christmas?!

My alarm went off at 3:00 am (followed shortly by three other alarms I had set) which is just a little too early for a race. Mario seemed a little confused as to what all the commotion was about at such an unusual hour. See his cute little pricked ears above?

I have to give a shout-out to Boyfriend who woke up at 3:40 am after going to sleep past 1 am (he was at a concert). He was originally really happy my original start time was 6:30 am so he could have an hour's more sleep. At the expo I bumped up a few corrals which also bumped up my start time. He woke up and drove me to the start so I wouldn't have to catch a cab. Thank you!!

Everyone has been saying what wonderful running weather we had. I have to admit I fully expected it to be much cooler. I thought I would be freezing until mile 9. I was working up a sweat by mile 2. There was a lot of fog in the air (and having come from the Golden Gate Park area I knew it would thicken as we ran into that area of the course) which made things fairly humid. But I will take cool foggy humidity over a blazing sunny dry heat any day!

I turned Garmin on about 10 minutes before the race start to give him a chance to get satellite reception. I knew it may be a problem with the tall buildings after my run home from Union Square a few weeks ago. A woman next to me was holding her Garmin up above her head so I knew I wasn't the only person who was having problems. Usually when the satellite reception is poor and I start running the distance turns out pretty wonky but it does start ticking away. When I crossed the start line I hit my Garmin and it read a big fat ZERO. The distance wasn't ticking at all.

I switched screens and the time was running. But still no distance reading. I totally panicked. I was a little confused for a few minutes. Should I stop running and attend to this? No, I'm trying to PR. Should I turn if off and reset it? No, then the overall time would be off. At least now I know my time. Why didn't I wear that pace band? I was fiddling with it so intently I am really lucky I didn't run into a pole or face plant in a pothole. I decided to keep going. At about 4 minutes into the race the distance started recording. So I knew my overall pace would be a little off as well as the overall distance.

I knew exactly what to expect the first 19 miles of the course. At some point in training (and often many points) I had run these miles. In my head I knew I had to get to mile 16.5 feeling good (the worse of the hills and inclines were over at this point). My hope was to keep as close to a 10:18 pace as possible until mile 22 and then dig deep and go for it.

The first couple of miles along the Embarcadero and Fisherman's Wharf were flat and went by quickly. The smell of sourdough bread was heavenly. The first hill came after Aquatic Park. It is not too long but fairly steep. I knew there was a descent after on which I could recover and I chugged up the hill without much problem. Crissy Field was also flat and I started mentally preparing for the long incline up to the bridge and the hills to follow.

We started our ascent up to the bridge. I am very happy I made it a point to run this hill a few times in training. I knew just how far I had to go and on what areas I could recover before starting to climb again. Before I knew it I was up on the bridge running on the actual roadbed! Of course the fog was so thick you could barely appreciate being up there, but I loved the fog horn that would blow beneath us. As I previously mentioned I love the incline of the bridge. Not too hard going up, not too hard coming back down.

After the bridge there was another long sloggy uphill before a screaming downhill. Then we started the run down the avenues towards Golden Gate Park. At this point in the race there is the first of three areas on which they have alternate routes for the course. They alternate between sending runners down Path A or Path B in order to let traffic flow. On my course preview a few weeks ago I chose to run down 27th Avenue. Well on race day I got sent down 26th Avenue. I can say with a fairly high degree of certainty that 26th Avenue is more hilly than 27th. Bleh.

Then we hit the park and I was on what I consider to be my home turf. The first half marathoners split off from us at this point. I knew there was about 1.5 miles of gentle downhill before the long gradual uphill heading back west began. This was the part of the course I was looking forward to the least. But I also knew once I made it up to Stow Lake the worse of the inclines were over. At about mile 16 Boyfriend appeared just as we had planned. I knew I was starting to feel the effects of the fast pace because I didn't have as many smiles or waves in me as usual.

Before I knew it we were headed down Haight Street and fast approaching mile 20. This still wasn't so bad! I was hanging on to a PR pace. I was amazed at how fast the race seemed to be going. I saw a bunch of the ROHO's and Chic Runner which lifted my spirits.

In my mind mile 22 was the turning point. From the elevation profile it seemed to be relatively flat after this point. We approached another area of the course with a bunch of the alternate routes. There were lots of turns. To me it felt like: Turn, incline, turn, incline. The uphills weren't so physically taxing as they were mentally taxing. I found myself getting angry at the uphill segments. Isn't it supposed to be flat?

I was also thinking about the 26th vs. 27th Avenue elevation and couldn't help but think I was probably always getting the short end of the stick and getting sent down the paths with more hills. I could not wait to see the water which meant we were almost home. But it felt like a lot of the turns were taking me away from the water (I have a horrible sense of direction, but still). I told myself to hang on until mile 24.

I am going to say that around this point the entire race became a mental game. I knew I had a PR. Even if I blew up and ran 11:00+ miles I was going to get an awesome PR. But I had to finish the race to truly make it mine. I had wanted to be able to speed up at this point and finish strong but my body was failing. I had pushed it hard and the course had been difficult and it was starting to say, "No more." I started thinking about how it wasn't as fun to race marathons. CIM in December. Uh, maybe not. Let's just do Disney and stop and take a lot of pictures again. Big Sur was SO much fun when I stopped to take a lot of photos.

I gave myself permission to rein in the effort a bit. I already had a PR. I didn't have to kill myself or throw up for a bigger improvement. I told myself I could slow down but to just keep running. My splits at this point, while they show I slowed down, also show I was still running very close to my overall goal pace of 10:18 which surprises me now.

Miles 24-26 were some of the longest miles of my life. I've always thought that mile 24 was the longest of any marathon. Usually when you hit 25 you tell yourself just ONE MORE and can find some solace in that. Not this day. My legs didn't feel so bad as my overall well being. My right arm was starting to get tingly. My head was getting dizzy. I felt like I might throw up. When I was getting close to mile 26 I wanted to run as fast as I could. But I also pictured myself puking my way down the finisher's chute so had to hold it back. So the last mile was more an exercise in not 1) fainting (total PR killer!) or 2) puking (total dignity killer!). I saw Chic Runner and Maritza again as I made the final push. Their energy kept me going a few more steps. Closer to the finish Boyfriend was cheering. I looked at him, but had no energy to wave.

And then it was over. No elation. Just relief. I was very, very proud and amazed at what I had done but was just so thankful it was over. I felt a little dazed.

I don't want it to sound like this was a horrible, tortuous run. The last two miles weren't fun, but are they ever really fun? I felt good about the way I was running practically the entire time and that felt very nice. Not the same kind of rah-rah niceness that come from marathons not done for time, but still satisfying. I really think it is important to mix it up with races for time and races for fun.

After the race we went to celebrate Tara's 27th birthday (and marathon PR!) with a bunch of other blogger/tweeters. My stomach was still feeling really funny and it was a few more hours before I got my appetite back.

When I wrote the day before the race that I thought a 4:30 race was a long shot, I really meant that. My previous PR was on a net downhill course with a 20 mph tailwind. I think I sort of felt like it was a bit of a fluke. But I was able to better that by over 8 minutes on a hilly course at San Francisco. The amazing thing was the effort didn't feel any harder than when I pushed at Napa. I guess speed work really does a pace good! Audrey also pointed out at lunch that I had done a few other things differently: Homer soaks, PT exercises, 3 days of rest. I think the 2 week taper I used this training cycle works much better for me than the traditional 3 week taper.

I am totally 100% happy with my finishing time. What I am not happy about was the way I felt the last 2 miles of the race. I really wanted to push hard at the very end and was not able to do so. I know that all of the uphills and downhills beat you up and I shouldn't be disappointed about that, but I am a little down on myself for just hanging on at the end.

I once said I would die a happy marathoner if I ever ran a 10:00 pace race. My official pace ended up being a 10:12. When I look at my splits (which takes into account I ran farther than 26.2 total) I think I can say that a 10:00 race is definitely within the realm of possibility. I may or may not have promised my legs at around mile 25 that if they just kept going I wouldn't subject them to racing another marathon in December. For a couple of hours after the race ended I was thinking I would skip CIM this year. But now I'm back on the CIM train.

I will probably never run the San Francisco Marathon again. It is not a PR course. I doubt I would ever try or care to try to run a PR on it again. The last half was really dull. I have heard people say the last half is the faster half. That's true. But I don't consider it to be a fast half in and of itself. I would never run it as a standalone half marathon. I think in the future I will run the first half marathon, though. Even though it is hilly there is something fun about running on the bridge. I also don't like races that have simultaneous half and full marathons going on at once. Especially when I'm running the full. It is so disheartening to hear people cheering for the almost done half-ers when you're still not even halfway there.

I was running by two men and heard this conversation:
Man 1: How you holding up?
Man 2: Well, things are starting to hurt a little.
RoadBunner inner monologue: Don't worry! You can do it!
Man 1: Yeah, me, too.
Man 2: Well, we're almost to the park.
RoadBunner inner monologue: Yes, at the park there is a nice downhill segment!
Man 1: I know! Only another mile or so, then we're done. Thank god.
RoadBunner inner monologue: &$&% you.

Big kudos to SFM for having women's XS shirts! But I have to say, MAJOR FAIL: They didn't use Headsweats hats this year. When I went to the expo and saw they used another brand I was so sad :( So no SFM hat for me.

For numbers people, here are my splits (Garmin does 0.5 mi splits for me); the distances are a little off because of the error in the beginning
0.5 14:40 (includes the time, but not the distance of the first 4 minutes of running)
1 10:01
1.5 10:06
2 10:20
2.5 10:26 (Aquatic Park incline)
3 9:44
3.5 10:14
4 10:00
4.5 10:20
5 10:26
5.5 10:32 (incline up to bridge)
6 10:14
6.5 10:03
7 9:47
7.5 9:57
8 10:07
8.5 10:06
9 9:57
9.5 9:43
10 11:07 (uphill after the bridge, stopped to fill water bottle)
10.5 8:57 (screaming downhill, upset at myself for going so fast here)
11 9:57
11.5 10:13
12 1015
12.5 10:19
13 9:26
13.5 9:44
14 10:17
14.5 10:12
15 10:16
15.5 10:05
16 10:12
16.5 9:53
17 9:57
17.5 10:00
18 9:36
18.5 10:07 (stopped to fill water bottle again)
19 10:00
19.5 10:01
20 9:51
20.5 9:36 (another screaming downhill)
21 9:50
21.5 9:39
22 9:51
22.5 9:59
23 9:37
23.5 10:19
24 9:59
24.5 10:00
25 10:12
25.5 10:22
26 10:17
26.2 10:02

Garmin officially says I ran 26.4 miles. Not counting the lost distance from the beginning, I'm guesstimating I ran about 26.7 miles total. Bummer. Need to find me a straight race! I tried to consciously run tangents, too! I am pretty proud that I ran a fairly even-paced race. According to the race results my pace at 7.5 miles was 10:10, at the half 10:11 and at 20 miles 10:14 for the 10:12 total. That is probably the most even pace I've ever run in a marathon.

Sorry I don't have picture or videos. For a great pictorial recount of the race, go visit Aron or Danica's blogs. They ran the first half for fun and took a lot of photos.

So all in all a huge success for me! Yesterday I was really sore. I took about 30 seconds to strategize how I was going to kneel down on the floor to give Mario his dinner. Today, still sore, but getting better. I hope to go for a 2 or 3 mile run in the next day or two.

Monday, July 27, 2009

Monday Mario

Did I just get tricked into posing with this paper scrap?  
Someone was scratching my head and then suddenly no hand & *flash*!!


If this is anything but the number of craisins I am going to get for doing this, heads are going to roll!

Full report to follow.

Saturday, July 25, 2009

A Tale of Seven Marathons

The San Francisco Marathon tomorrow will be my 8th time tackling this distance.  If you had asked me 6 months ago if I was ever going to run the San Francisco Marathon, I would have told you, "probably not."  I run regularly on parts of the course and the idea of doing it in a race didn't really appeal to me.  I originally signed up for this race because my friend, Julianne, was going to be pacing the 4:45 group & because the timing of the race was great to keep me in shape for upcoming races.  You can see my thoughts from the beginning of the training here.

I decided to use a Runner's World Smart Coach training plan which had me running only 4 days a week but with a slightly higher peak than my usual.  I was therefore running moderately long distances every day I ran.  This plan also incorporated speed work.  Every Tuesday I had either mile repeats or a tempo run.

I'm not entirely sure when it happened... You might have picked up on the change in my blog... But somewhere on this 12 week journey I decided that a 4:45 wasn't an aggressive enough goal.

I have had an awesome training cycle.  

Twelve weeks of great runs. 

With speed work. I have NEVER done speed work for a marathon.

No injuries.  

No sickness.

I started ruminating about my marathon history:

Marathon #1:  Disney 2005;  First marathon so no time goal.  I didn't train or race with a watch (bought my first running watch as a congratulatory gift post-marathon).  I would like to say that it was 80+ DEGREES and sunny (I had trained for this race in 30 degree temps in New York City) Time:  5:16

Marathon #2:  New York City 2005;  Had intended to slap down a huge PR.  I got SICK the week of the marathon.  Hit the wall hard and had the worst marathon experience.  Seriously.  I wanted to die during the race.  There was a point I decided dropping dead was better than continuing onward.  Time:  4:51

Marathon #3:  Safaricom 2006;  Training was going totally awesome.  Then I got SHIN SPLINTS.  Really, really bad shin splints.  I could not even walk without pain, while medicated for weeks before the race.  If the race hadn't been in Kenya I would not have even tried.  Plus there was a little something called ALTITUDE.  Time:  5:58

Marathon #4:  Rome 2007;  Again, I thought this would be a great redemption race.  The SHIN SPLINTS flared up (but I got orthotics which helped a little bit).  But then I came down with what I am pretty sure was STREP THROAT the day before the race.  Yes, I ran.  Time:  5:09

Marathon #5:  Disney 2008;  Had repeated SPRAINED ANKLES during training.  Ran with an ankle brace for most of the training which otherwise went well.  But I was doing a little something called the GOOFY CHALLENGE where you run a half marathon the day before the marathon.  Time:  4:55

Marathon #6:  Napa Valley 2008;  Piggy-backed off of my Goofy training.  Awesome day!  We even had a 20 mph tailwind on this point-to-point course.  Time:  4:35

Marathon #7:  Big Sur 2009;  Used this race as a way to try to get some endurance back after another bout of shin splints last summer.  Because of the beauty and difficulty of the course this one was always going to be a FUN RUN with lots of camera stops.  It doesn't really matter, but I got SICK TWICE during Big Sur training.  Time:  5:19

So if you study the above break down, I have had exactly ONE marathon where the planets aligned leading up to the race.  I originally intended to save my next marathon PR effort for CIM in December since it is known to be a fast course.  But I got to thinking...  What if I get injured?  What if I get sick?  A lot can happen before December.  I have had an awesome training cycle.  Even though the SFM course is not PR-ideal, I feel it would be wasteful and somewhat disrespectful to my efforts if I didn't try my best.

I don't think I mentioned this before, but the plan I have been following has a marathon goal pace of 10:18 which is a 4:30 marathon (I didn't even realize this was the case until a few weeks into training).  I have done the majority of the runs at paces faster than what the plan specified.  However I have to admit that a 10:18 pace for a marathon is psychologically daunting for me.  I think on a perfect day I might be capable of it (the numbers suggest I can do it) but I'm not sure I have the confidence to chase that number from the get-go.  SFM is also a lot hillier than Napa Valley where my current PR is from.

With that in mind, these are my goals for tomorrow: 
A goal:  PR with a 4:30; OMG, did I just type that?   The plan says I can do it, so maybe I should believe!  Not probable, but hey!
B goal:  PR!  I will happily take a 4:34 :)
C goal:  Honestly, anything within a few minutes of my Napa time will make me proud given the disparity between the courses.
D goal:  4:45, That is what I originally wanted to do!

These are all very aggressive goals for me.  I mean, the D-goal would still be a second best time for me.  I tend to think any sub-5 hour marathon was a "good" race for me.  I'm going to do my best and leave it all out there tomorrow.

Thank you, everyone for you support during my training!  I am very excited for this race.

Friday, July 24, 2009

Week 12, Don't Be A Hero!

Sunday: 6 miles @ 10:14 pace; Went down to Crissy Field again to run the hills leading up to the Golden Gate Bridge and the bridge itself. I've decided the inclines of the bridge (going both up and down) are awesome. Not too steep. I am looking forward to the bridge even if it is windy. There was a band of fog hovering around the bridge today (see above picture). It was also pretty breezy and the fog was moving so quickly on the bridge. Beautiful. After descending I did two more repeats up the short but steep hill leading up from Crissy Field. It is tough but I feel more mentally prepared for the segment. My body felt fresh and for the first time in this taper I actually felt like my body was recovering.

Tuesday: 3 miles @ 10:08 pace ; I have been looking forward to this cute little 3 miler for 12 weeks. It was so short and sweet I wanted to pinch its cheeks.

Thursday: 6 miles, including 4 miles @ 9:27 pace (goal 9:32); I have been running all of my tempo runs faster than the prescribed pace put forth by my trusty Runner's World training plan. My tempo speed is going to have to quicken the next two months to meet my goal for my half marathon in October. So with that in mind I have been pushing myself a little harder during speed workouts. But this week is about the marathon. I reminded myself to take it easy and I really attempted to hit a 9:32 on the head. I kept repeating to myself, "Don't be a hero... Don't be a hero..."

Friday: 3 miles @ 10:45 pace; My mantra for today's run, "Don't twist an ankle... Don't twist an ankle..." Tried to take this run exceedingly easy. Lately I haven't quite felt myself until mile 4 or 5 of a ten mile run so I never really felt like I got into a groove today.

Since a few people were interested: Mario has been weighed twice at veterinarian visits. He is just a smidge over 5 lbs. Truth be told, he's more fluff than stuff.

Does this angle flatter my figure?

I am headed off to the San Francisco Marathon expo soon! I *heart* race expos!! Will get a post up tomorrow about my race goals.

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Week 11, Tired (& Apparently Worried)

Sunday: 11 miles @ 10:26 pace; This was the last double-digit run before the marathon! CELEBRATE!! Finished this run off with 2.5 miles of sub-10:00 pace. Once again I ran the Golden Gate Park miles of the course.

Tuesday: 7 miles, including 5 miles @ 9:22 pace (goal 9:38); Was holding about a 9:30 pace the first few miles of the pick-up. Am very happy to report that while not easy, the 9:30 did not feel hard.

Wednesday: 6 miles @ 10:29; Legs felt like dead weights. Bleh.

Friday: 8 miles @ 10:28 pace; did this run in 1:23:45, ha! Felt better than my Wednesday run of the same pace but still not as fresh I would expect after a week of reduced mileage.

My body is definitely tired this week. I've been sleeping 9-10 hours a night on consecutive nights. But it hasn't all been restful sleeping. For the first time ever I have had dreams about a marathon. One night I dreamt that I came down with the chicken pox a couple of days before the race. I was in total denial and was trying to tell people it was an allergic reaction and of course, I could still run!

The NEXT night I had a two-fer... First I woke up the morning of the marathon and it was 85 degrees! Then I looked at the clock and it was 11:30 am (effectively I overslept and missed the race). In my dream I eventually realized it was Saturday morning and not Sunday so I hadn't missed the race (interestingly I wasn't concerned that if it was indeed a Saturday I had overslept and missed WORK).

So, that takes care of sickness, weather, and oversleeping. Now all I need is a dream about twisting my ankle on my 3 mile run next Friday and I'm all set! HEARTY SARCASM. NONE OF THESE THINGS WILL HAPPEN. NONE. OF. THEM.

I don't have any pictures from my runs this week. So I will leave you with this picture of the ice I made for my Homer shin soaks:

Can anyone tell me how this happened?

Monday, July 20, 2009

Monday Mario

My newest addiction is Etsy.  I've known about it for a while but never really looked at the site.  You can find all kinds of wonderful things on Etsy!!  And since it is all handmade from the artist you can get custom tweaks done.  I saw this recently on Etsy and had to have it:

One of my favorite nicknames for Mario is, "Sweet Pea."  It is a piece by Rachael Sudlow and you can find her Etsy shop here.  She was able to customize the necklace for me.  I had "Mario" stamped on the backside of the "Sweet Pea" tag.

When it arrived I grabbed a shot of me, Mario, and the necklace:

The indignity of it all...

Friday, July 17, 2009

Something New

Onward to some favorite running things I've discovered more recently!

Oiselle Running:  This is a fantastic runner-run company.  I talked about my awesome shimmel here.  I have since tried out their shorts (Lori and Roga) and some of their shirts.  All awesome, awesome products.  I know I said I'm a running skirt gal, but Oiselle has turned me back on to running shorts.  The cut of the shorts are very flattering and I love the colors.

Roga Short

The above is from their new Fall '09 collection (available in August).  I can't wait to get mine!

Pearl Izumi Syncroinfinity:  I currently have three different shoes in my shoe rotation.  I used to rotate different pairs of the same model.  Lately I've taken to the idea of rotating different pairs of different models.  This has led to an interesting discovery.  I found myself "saving" a certain pair of shoes for long runs.  A certain pair was my first choice for races.  This pair of shoes currently has 399 miles on them (and I'll keep running in them a little bit longer).  This is unheard of for me.  In the past I have been forced to retire shoes at 350 miles or sometimes even as low as 300.  Some shoe store guy once told me that, "you really beat up your shoes."  I am a fairly petite person so you'd think I could get more than 300 miles out of a shoe!  I have been very impressed and am sold on the PI Syncroinfinity.

Powerbar Gel Blasts:  I received a packet of these in a race goody bag.  A whole new world of fueling has been opened up to me!  As I mentioned previously I really love Shot Bloks.  But they have one downside.  When you chew them up they really stick to your teeth.  I sometimes have to swipe a finger on my gum line while running to dislodge Blok remnants.  These Gel Blasts are a totally different gummy consistency.  They don't stick to your teeth at all!  The cola ones taste just like gummy colas, too!  I then bought the lemon flavor.  It is good, but I can't shake the idea that at any time it is going to taste like soap.  Of course it doesn't taste like detergent, but is just the right lemon flavor to make you think you've shot some into your mouth.  But I would still recommend the lemon!

One thing to be careful of... Since they don't stick to your teeth I have more than once inhaled small chunks of these while running since I'm breathing through my mouth.  I have started running with a mix of Bloks and Gel Blasts.  I like the variety in the textures and flavors.

Hella Sound Running Music:  Another runner-run company, Hella Sound provides running music you can tailor to match your stride rate.  I bought the first song, "How to Turn Around a Bad Day."  My iTunes says I have played this song 29 times.  The song is over 30 minutes long.  That is a lot of time spent listening to Hella Sound (and the play count only counts the times I played the song in its entirety to the end)!  First off, I love running to the music.  It is almost impossible to not pick up the pace.  I made the mistake of taking this song out with me on recovery runs.  The music should come with a warning against doing such a foolish thing.  It is now the music of choice when I do my tempo runs.  Second, I just enjoy listening to the music!  Even when I'm not running I'll put this song on to play.  A third added bonus, Mario also seems to like the music, too!

Atalanta Commitment Skirt:  I originally gave this skirt a try because all of my fellow skirt-crazed runners at gave it such high reviews.  In the recent months it has become my go-to running skirt.  The pockets on this skirt are amazing.  An engineering miracle!  I have run with a digital camera, cell phone, marathon's worth of Bloks in these pockets and the weight literally disappears.  The pockets are exactly the right depth for the new streamlined Blok packaging, too!  This company provides hands down the best customer service I have ever encountered.  There are a couple of new skirt colors not listed on the website so I'd recommend emailing in with your size to see what else is available.

My favorite commitment skirt, navy/pink (one of the unlisted colors)!

I bought my mom one of these skirts for Christmas.  She loved it so much she bought 3 more.  My of-retirement-age mother!  The socks were one thing, but that is quite the endorsement.  Atalanta is offering free shipping the month of July so definitely check these puppies out!  I only recently started ordering items from this website and have been very impressed!  They have very good prices and a vast selection (most of my favorite things can be found on this website).  They offer free two-day shipping (which for CA residents sometimes pans out as overnight shipping) and free return shipping as well.  I have had excellent experiences with their customer service.  My new source for running things!

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Something Old

I have been wanting to talk about some of my new favorite things for a while.  But then I figured I should first share some "old" favorite things.  I've mentioned all of this stuff at some point or other but wanted to round them up into a tidy post.

Headsweats Hats:  I LOVE these hats.  First off, they do all the things a hat should do.  They keep sweat out of your eyes, keep the sun from prematurely turning my face into a prune, provide a platform for sunglasses and headlamps, keep rain out of my face, and hold stray hairs at bay.  All awesome things.  But these hats just somehow do all of that better.  They fit wonderfully and are so lightweight.  I know some people don't like to wear hats because they think it will heat them up, but this is definitely not an issue with Headsweats hats.  I love these puppies so much I have since given away all of my running hats which aren't of the Headsweats variety.  I won't wear anything else.  This is pretty obvious when you see my Headsweats hat collection:

Part of the reason I wanted to do the San Francisco Marathon was because they used Headsweats hats last year onto which they branded their marathon logo.  No. Lie.  They had better do it again this year!

Garmin Forerunner 305:  Oh, Garmie.  How do I love thee?  Let me count the ways.  I know that everyone and their father has a Garmin nowadays.  But there is a reason for that.  This thing will change the way you train and run forever.  You'll know exactly how far and how fast you're going.  You'll get to see awesome satellite maps of your run.  I don't even use mine to half of the capacity that it is capable.  Since a new model (which I really, really want!) is soon to hit the market you can find some pretty good deals on 205/305's nowadays.

Balega X-Athlete Hidden Comfort Socks:  It took me some trial & error and false romances with some other sock brands.  But I finally (luckily) found my one true sock love.   Just do yourself a favor and try these out.  I could take a Balega sock picture that looks just like the hat and the impending skirt photo, but I will spare everyone.  I told my mom to try out these socks.  She did and promptly bought 6 more pairs.  She won't run/walk in anything else, either!

Clif Shot Bloks:  I gave up Gu's when I found this.  Something chewy like a gummy bear is so much more appetizing than gels.  My favorite flavors are Cran-Razz and Margarita (extra sodium).  Ever since I started running with these I don't run with Gatorade anymore.  Just plain water and the bloks.

New packaging on left, old packaging on right

And Clif has even done something new with the packaging.  Less waste and more efficient.  Win-win for everyone!  I took the new packaging on my recent 20 miler.  It works awesome.  You tear off the top and just squeeze the bloks out as you need them.  Previously I would put the bloks I needed into a plastic baggie.  And while I would not define the feel of bloks as sticky, they are definitely tacky.  This leads to siamese-block-stickage and tacky fingers.  While running it is a little cumbersome to quickly grab just one blok of the desired flavor when they are all in a bag together.  Two big thumbs up for the new streamline packaging.  These ladies introduced me to the world of running skirts.  I remember reading about running skirts in Runner's World in 2004 and I thought they were the most ridiculous thing ever.  Running in a skirt?!  But I read a bunch of reviews and how many women raved about running skirts.  I bought my first (the black/yellow one below) and was hooked.  They are cool, comfortable, and much more flattering than shorts.  This style has two side pockets which are much more accessible than pockets on traditional running shorts.  Who likes to go fishing around inside their shorts for that pocket in the liner?

Amphipod Micropack Land Sport:  This is more of an honorable mention because I haven't used the second one I bought ever since I discovered running skirts (about a year ago).  The skirts have a sleeker profile about the waist and it just looks ridiculous to have this pouch stuck in them.  But in the days when I wore shorts you couldn't beat this pouch.  Just read my sad ode to my first pouch here.

p.s.  I also LOVE handheld water bottles.  I used the older version of this one for years (mine didn't have a pocket).  When I stopped using the amphipod I transitioned to this bottle since it had a pouch where I could stash keys & even fuel.  While both aren't bad at all, I think I am still on the search for the perfect handheld water bottle.  Suggestions?

I am hoping to get the "new" favorites post up the end of this week.  I've got a couple of updates to the things mentioned above.

Monday, July 13, 2009

Monday Mario

Remember this post?  The above is a picture of what Mario typically does to a magazine left within striking distance for 24 hours.

Friday, July 10, 2009

Week 10, Roller Coaster Ride

Sunday's 12 mile run

Sunday: 12 miles @ 10:25 pace; I spent Saturday night (Fourth of July) at a hotel in Union Square with my parents who are visiting for a bit. I was stressing a little about waking up early to catch the train back home to get my run done early. Then I had an epiphany -- I'll just run home from the hotel! I pretty much followed the marathon route to get home. Deviated a little bit since there weren't always suitable pedestrian paths available. What an awesome run! I never do point-to-point runs unless it is a race and I felt so accomplished running somewhere with a purpose. I am glad I got to do this as it gives me a feel for some of the hills the first part of the marathon.

As you can see from the garmin map above, the tall buildings downtown really made for some poor satellite reception early on. I am therefore not entirely sure if the overall pace and mileage is correct. I was probably holding something closer to a 10:3x pace.

Tuesday: 10 miles including 7 miles @ 9:29 pace (goal 9:48); I was dragging early on in the run and didn't have high hopes, but I felt better towards the end. Really negative split the pick-up because I was hovering right around a 9:40 pace for over half of the 7 miles.

Wednesday: 10 miles @ 10:32; Again my body was really dragging the first 4-5 miles. I wanted to walk and even seriously thought of stopping. Then suddenly half way through the run I felt awesome. Was running in the 10:40's-10:50's the first half and low 10:00's the second. What gives?

Friday: 20 miles @ 10:38; First off, I know this is too fast. My current marathon PR pace is 10:31. I set off with full intentions of trying to hit an 11:00 pace. I was constantly telling myself to pull-back, pull-back whenever my 0.5 mi splits would come up on Garmin. But my pace kept getting quicker and I felt that I was running in a comfortable zone. If today had been a marathon I am pretty sure I could have PR'ed. I finished not exhausted with something extra left in the tank. Hopefully this wasn't the peak for me but it leaves me feeling much more confident after the miserable 16 miler I did last week.

That is the amazing thing about running. Last week I slogged through 16 and today 20 felt wonderful. You never know how it is going to turn out. I would even say when I left to do 16 last week I was feeling much more optimistic and excited about the run than I did today. If only someone could figure out how to capture good-run-days in a bottle...

And with that I am officially tapering! Well... Not exactly yet. Mentally I consider the beginning of my running week to be Sunday. So that is how I have been reporting my runs here. The plan I am following considers Sunday to be the last day of the week. So this coming Sunday run is technically the last run of the peak week. So I have 11 miles this Sunday and then no more double-digit runs until the marathon. I was marveling as I ruminated on the run today about how 10 milers don't seem "long" anymore.

My post-run ice soak in Homer after the 20 miler; Complete with Boudin sourdough bread to munch on & iPod to watch video podcasts during the torture.

Monday, July 6, 2009

Friday, July 3, 2009

Week 9, Where's the Taper?

View from the Marin side of the bridge on Sunday's run

Sunday: 8 miles @ 10:12 pace; I went to Crissy Field to run the hill leading up to the Golden Gate Bridge and the bridge itself. I even did a second repeat of the steepest section of the incline leading up from Crissy Field. Holy heart raising incline! The good news about this part of the course is that what goes up... I am planning to do this again at least once or twice before the marathon.

Tuesday: 10 miles, including 4x 1600m @ 8:55 pace (got them done at 8:49, 8:41, 8:51, 8:32) This was my final interval workout before the marathon. I really like interval workouts. You are only ever really thinking of the next mile or half a mile recovery at a time and before you know it you've got 10 miles done! These were much more do-able today vs. my post physical therapy fiasco a few weeks ago.

I ran back and forth along a portion of Golden Gate Park. So the first and third intervals were done heading in the same direction. I am now 100% convinced that while the whole thing is slightly rolling, it is more downhill heading east vs. west in that portion of the park. The second and fourth intervals (heading east) were a little bit easier than the first and third ones. This is nice because the marathon heads east on this portion of the course.

Wednesday: 11 miles @ 10:45 pace; My body was definitely tired after Tuesday's run. I also developed a strange pain in the back of my knee during Tuesday's run (when you bring your heel up towards your butt the back of my knee would hurt). It hurt while running Tuesday and I almost nixed the Wednesday run. Today, however, no pain whatsoever during running, though the heel-to-butt movement (which with my non-existent kick does not happen much when actually running) still elicited pain.

Friday: 16 miles @ 11:16 pace; Still have that odd pain when squeezing heel-to-butt but nothing while walking/running and it is improving. Had planned to take this slow but my body was dragging today and went really slow without much braking effort. I even took some walking breaks which brought my pace down even further. Told myself to suck it up the last two miles and banged those out in 10:18 and 9:50, respectively. So not a total hit-the-wall bonk but still a pretty crappy run. I'm a little bummed about the way I felt during today's run. But I am trying to remind myself that I have had weeks of awesome runs and they can't all be great ones. I am hoping this was just a very off day for me and not some sign that my body is starting to feel like I am running it into the ground. I hit a monthly mileage PR of 167 miles in June.

I have just one more high mileage week before taper starts. If I were doing a traditional 3 week taper, today would have been my last 20 miler. Since I felt so bad on my long run today I am pretty thankful I am not doing a 3 week taper. A lot of people say they hate to taper. I understand the taper-craziness but I actually look forward to the taper. There is a very shiny 3 miler waiting for me on July 21st. And the week before that I get to run 6 milers!! Sweet, sweet 6 milers!!