“You are the sky. Everything else – it’s just the weather.”

Pema Chödrön.

OMG and WTF: It’s marathon week already. Oh how terrible I was at blogging my training, but for the last few months I’ve been trying to just lay low, keep my head down, and grind it out (with a smile, of course). I missed a few runs especially during a couple of stepback weeks in December, but overall I put in a lot of quality work. Several fast-finish long runs and race pace workouts. Logged my highest mileage weeks ever with no injuries. Perfectly executed a 10 mile race in week 15, finishing comfortably with a gun time of 1:24:10 (8:25 m/m). Up until a few days ago everything seemed pretty much on track for a sub-3:55 attempt, about an 8:55 average pace.

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Flashback to almost 3 weeks ago… the final 20 miler. I was a bit tired but held pretty strong until the end!

The city of Los Angeles, however, begs to differ.

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source: LA Times

As a lady from the land of year-round 55-65 degree weather, running in the heat is not something that I’m used to and the idea of a marathon in these conditions makes me pretty nervous. On top of this, recently I’ve discovered that this course is actually kind of hilly. Uh, how did I miss this?

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Looks a wee lumpy, non? In my mind this race was all downhill. They certainly market it this way. “Net downhill” can be deceiving.  

Oy. Anyway, with my last training run completed this morning, my goals now are twofold:

1 – Focus on what I can control. This week, I’ve been drinking water, electrolytes, and $10 beet juice like a woman possessed. I’ve been researching and planning the best ways to survive the heat, and optimize performance as much as possible: First, I’m considering my clothing and, heavens to betsy, I may choose to go sans-singlet if I can muster the courage to feel oh so naked in only a sports bra. Usually I rely on course aid stations for hydration, but for this race I’ll be carrying a handheld and stocking Nuun tablets in the zippered pocket. For fuel I’ll bring along the extra salty Margarita Shot Bloks. Finally, I’m discovering strategies to keep my body as cool as possible: Run through as many open fire hydrants and misting stations as possible. Dump water on my head at aid stations. Bring frozen hand towels to the start, and grab ice and cold towels along the way. Apparently, the organizers have promised such things, hopefully they’ll deliver. This being the third straight year of high temps, this isn’t their first rodeo.

2 – Be Realistic, Stay Positive. Sub -4 was my original goal, and in this heat it would be an amazing achievement for me. That said, sub-4:10 would be an achievement. A PR (under 4:19) would be an achievement. But the reality is that with these intense conditions I might not realize any of these goals, on which my heart was so initially set. At this moment I’m trying to see the bigger picture. Training for this marathon has resulted in real step forward in my running fitness and I believe a fruitful year of racing lies ahead. I’ve learned a lot about my strengths and weaknesses, and have new ideas about how to maximize my potential in the future. On Sunday I will run my first marathon in almost two years, and I’m excited to experience this fun and scenic urban course in a city that I really like and have history with. These last 5 months represent a huge step towards getting faster, setting new goals, and having more fun on my running journey. End pollyanna rose colored glasses rant.

In 2015, Ryan Hall suggested the following mantra to those running in the record-high temps at LAM:

“It’s a beautiful day and I’m doing what I love.”

Ok then, here we go.

 

 

“Don’t follow the feeling, follow the plan.”

Dr. Barry Rovner A few weeks ago NPR broadcast a story about elderly people suffering from age-related macular degeneration, a condition that impairs the ability to see fine detail. Reading, driving, watching television, and cooking may become impossible. Worse, those … Continue reading

“The health of the eye seems to demand a horizon. We are never tired, so long as we can see far enough.” (Bad Bass Loch Chabot 10k Race Recap)

Ralph Waldo Emerson. Plagued by car trouble and a faulty alarm, my friend Ari and I were nearly no-shows at Brazen Racing’s Bad Bass Lake Chabot in Castro Valley last weekend. Luckily, the event was small enough that even arriving … Continue reading

“All the art of living lies in a fine mingling of letting go and holding on.” (See Jane Run 5k Race Recap)

Henry Ellis.

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I’d planned a beautiful mantra.

Mile one for the body. Mile two for the mind. Mile three for the heart.

Spiritual as it sounds, it seemed the most logical way to achieve the goal: stay firmly situated in all here-and-now moments of Alameda’s See Jane Run 5k and PR by at least 25 seconds. To this end, I’d run the first mile to the best of my physical ability: trusting my base and my speedwork, visualizing form, and tuning into effort.  Mile two, I’d concentrate, focus, and moderate my inner dialogue. At last, I’d go balls out and stay strong, triumphant, driven. Upon crossing the finish line feel the pulse slow and the body cool and the mind quiet to a calm understanding of the beautiful world that lies peacefully between testing your limits and being a great genius about it and doing your very, very best.

Of course, the best intentions are often interrupted by the need for simplicity in times of distress. In these situations, an elaborate mantra then becomes:

Hold on.

Gone out to fast? Hold on. When in doubt? Hold on. What’s the purpose of running a fast 5k anyway? Hold on. Will the wheels come off? Hold on. God, these women in front of me are freaking fast, and they don’t even look like they’re trying. Hold on. Oh hell yes — clearly I’m crushing my sub 25 goal — which means I could slow down and still PR?

Hold. On.

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Official Finish: 23:07

First in the 30-34 AG! Technically I came in second, but the girl ahead of me won first overall, so I snuck in and snagged the first place prize: Compression Socks/Sleeves, which I unfortunately don’t use. I know people love them…but they don’t work for me.

With a big PR and a checkmark beside one of my goals for this year (sub-25 minute 5k), obviously it was a great day. Even so, event organizers left little to complain about. The sun caused many talented Half Marathoners to wilt somewhat, but the weather was manageable for the 5k. The start and finish areas were fairly mellow, family-friendly, and pleasant overall. The only thing missing was water! Goody bags included chocolate almond milk (yum), Clearly Kombucha provided product samples and deals (excellent), and of course, as the hallmark of the race would suggest (“I run for chocolate and champagne”), wines of all kinds flowed (I’d prefer beer, but okay). All nice perks, but with a lovely view of the Bay, it was a “water, water everywhere” kind of situation. Surprisingly tough for thirsty finishers to locate a bottle.

Too excited to look cool.

Too excited to look cool.

Naturally, I wonder if this PR might change the game for my upcoming races. Runners World and McMillan calculators reveal finishing times beyond my expectations. I understand a single 5k may not be the best barometer for longer distances, so we’ll try not to get ahead of ourselves, yes? For now, the rough plan is to keep my head down and forge ahead with the speedwork and mileage building in preparation for the Santa Rosa Half at the end of August. After a slow, undisciplined week, tomorrow it’s back to the reality of training!

Hope your summer training and races are going well! I feel for those bearing the heat and storms out East.

“And so with the sunshine and the great bursts of leaves growing on the trees, just as things grow in fast movies, I had that familiar conviction that life was beginning over again with the summer.”

F. Scott Fitzgerald.

Despite a dull lingering hum from the hammond organ and salty dogs at the Royal Cuckoo, last Saturday morning I emerged from my front door at a quarter-to-eight to take a very dirty dog for a very necessary haircut. A strawberry smoothie, a stroll around Precita Park, a trek up and down the hill to the Noe Valley farmer’s market (bounty: kale, parsley, summer squash, rapini, lavender, sunflowers), and a very strong cup of Philz later (Greater Alarm blend) — I felt it. Summer. Arrived.

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Here are a few to-dos for my summer vacation (note: summer is always a vacation, even if we’re still nine-to-fiving):

Finish FIVE Books Since purchasing an iPad, reading has become a rare event. When I do select from the bookshelf or Kindle, it’s usually nutrition, running, or cooking-related, so I’m focusing on fiction. Novels and short stories kind of exercise the brain creatively in a way that nonfiction doesn’t, as corroborated by this article from the Boston Globe:

“The emerging science of story suggests that fiction is good for more than kicks. By enhancing empathy, fiction reduces social friction. At the same time, story exerts a kind of magnetic force, drawing us together around common values. In other words, most fiction, even the trashy stuff, appears to be in the public interest after all.”

Hoping the “magnetic forces” not only feed my soul but also improve my sleep (by doing away with the evil blue light of the device screen). I’m only almost finished with book #1 (The Snow Queen by Michael Cunningham), so I need to get cracking. What can I say? I was derailed by OITNB.

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Write 3x/week “Writing” is a common excerpt from my Gratitude Journal. I’m attempting two blog posts and one free-writing or exercise. Maybe a few creative nonfiction prompts from Poets and Writers?

One getaway / month (June-August) With Tahoe in June, and a planned vacation mid-August, that leaves a July excursion. I’m itching for a campout, but if it must be an overnight at a B&B in Marin, well then, I guess that’s life. 😉

Foam roll & Yoga Forming healthy habits for increased speed sessions and mileage building later this summer/fall by developing a short home yoga practice (once/week in addition to my twice weekly classes), using my “Stick” after every run, and epsom salt bath and foam rolling sessions on Monday nights.

Meditation Just 15 minutes several times a week. Psychology Today discourages meditation before bedtime, which would actually be my preferred window. But after work or running sound nice too. This goal also involves exploring various mindfulness and meditation apps.

Practice happiness Continue writing in my gratitude journal. Take deep breaths. Smile. Don’t hold onto things too tightly. Take myself less seriously. Wake up early and enjoy the quiet times.

Happy Summer 2014!

(Photo by Max Wanger)

“A goal without a plan is just a wish.”

Antoine De Saint-Exupéry.

With uncertainty about even finishing this year’s Big Sur Marathon, the race was just about all that I could focus on in the first half of 2014. Now, coming off that high, I’m starting to make plans.

Let’s begin by taking stock of last year’s ambitions.

2013 Running Goals

1 .  Finish first Marathon — completed on 10.6.13 at Portland Marathon

2.  5k PR (under 26:00) — completed on 5.13.13 at DSE Mother’s Day 5k Marina Green

3.  Break 2hr in Half Marathon — not completed. But I PRed at The Giant Race on 8.4.13 (02:00:25)

4.  Place in my age group — completed on July 4 at LCA Red White and Boom 5k

5.  Run 900 miles in 2013 — not completed, and not even close, really. 744 miles. Still, not bad. That’s roughly the distance from here to SLC.

San Francisco to SLC

As I alluded to above, earlier this year I had just two goals that would take me through to the end of spring: first, break that damn 2hr half and second (and highest priority), finish Big Sur in one piece (and smiling, ideally).

Now that both of those are happily checked off, I’ve put together what I think is a rather ambitious list for 2014.

2014 Running Goals

1.  Participate in a social running event (club run, volunteer for a race, fun run)

2.  Run a 10k (I’ve never raced one…)

3.  Break 25 minutes in 5k

4.  Break 4 hours in the Marathon

Only laziness or inattention (or injury, I guess) can keep me from completing the first two items, so these should be easy wins. But the time goals will take some real focus and training. The plan is to add specified speedwork and higher mileage (responsibly, of course) via modified Hal Higdon plans. I’ve organized my training around three key races.

 

See Jane Run – 5k – June 22

5k speed phase

5k speed phase

 

Santa Rosa Marathon – 13.1 – August 24

Half Marathon Training - building mileage/speed work

Half Marathon – Mileage building/speedwork

 

California International Marathon – 26.2 – December 7

CIM training. Am I crazy? Sub 4 is nuts.

CIM training. Am I crazy? Sub 4 is nuts.

Anyway, even if I don’t hit the ideal finish times (very possible), I’m hopeful that I’ll end the season a stronger and more disciplined runner. Last year, I found my heart wasn’t broken when I didn’t go sub-2 hours on the first attempt. I ran a smart race, learned a lot, and knew that the next time I’d reach my goal. And that’s exactly what happened!

For the record, non-running goals include more writing and reading, hitting the driving range a few times, and completing the 6 week yoga bootcamp at my local studio. The bootcamp is probably insane, but I’m determined to make this the most productive (and fun?) summer ever! Viva la 2014!

Next up: Bay to Breakers this Sunday. Hoping I don’t end up next to the naked brigade again this year…but whatever.

“Don’t Freak Out.”

Tish Hamilton.

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Well, well. It’s come and gone as all things do. I’ve a sense of post-marathon runner’s blues — but although an iconic, strongly run race has passed me, a season of possibilities lingers on the horizon.

Here’s how it went down.

Saturday April 26 — Marathon Eve — 10:53 am

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John and Darwin headed out for a walk around Monterey while I settled in for some runnerdness at the Expo. After retrieving the essentials I proceeded to shell out some dough, beelining to “The Stick” (love it), and hitting the Sports Basement booth for Yurbuds since I’d forgotten to bring headphones (I rarely listen to music in training, and never have during a race, but I’d prepared an “emergency” 90’s grunge mix in case shit hit the fan). I also purchased a tube of Watermelon Nuun, which I had not previously tried and is now by far my favorite flavor.

I was stoked to hit the 11am clinic featuring a panel of Runner’s World editors. Bart Yasso was every bit as charismatic as they describe, but it was the ladies that inspired me most. At Bart’s urging, Tish Hamilton relayed mantras for 3 key portions of the race:

On the early downhill through mile 6: “Pass nobody”

Ascending Hurricane Hill: “Don’t freak out.”

Over the rollers from 13 – 26.2: “Keep it together”

Solid advice if you ask me.

But my favorite moment of the seminar came from Jen Van Allen and her thoughts on facing the mental low points of the Marathon, when negative self-talk rings loudly in the mind and threatens to prevail. When pain, or boredom, or doubts seem like more than we can handle. In those moments Jen suggests regrouping and coming back to your motivation. What’s hers? In a word, gratitude. Here’s a day where you don’t have to go to meetings, or do your taxes, or scrub the toilet, or take your kid to a birthday party, or balance your checkbook, or take the dog to the vet…..it’s a day free of obligations that pervade everyday life. It’s a day when you get to celebrate and do what you love — run. It gives me chills thinking about it even now!

John and I drove the course in the afternoon. I’d studied well, and as we made our way along Highway 1 from Big Sur Station to the intersection of Rio Road, we counted off the miles on the odometer, reviewed the terrain, and pointed out some of the more famous features along the way (Strawberry Hill, Piano Man, Taiko drummers, the infamous mile 25 incline…)

The takeaway wasn’t surprising. Hills, hills, and more hills.

With Mr. Darwin in tow, we headed to our B&B in the Carmel-by-the-Sea, arguably the most dog-friendly town in America. We took a much needed nap, and it was mostly uneventful for the rest of afternoon except for when John dropped his iPhone in the toilet (oops). After an artichoke, pasta, and glass of red wine at the Hog’s Breath Inn, I was ready to rest and rest I did before the early, early wake-up.

Big Sur Early Wake UP

Sunday April 27 — The Big Sur Day — 3:45am

Holy shit. What a disaster. I’d brought along TJ’s steel cut oatmeal and a measuring cup, but discovered upon waking that I was minus a bowl. With oatmeal exploding out of a mug, I proceeded to freak out and make a big mess of the microwave. I needed carbs! Stat!

With my breakfast finally cooked through I booked it to the bus pickup with the inn’s “Bad Hair Day” coffee cup in hand.

4:00 am

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Once I had my butt on the seat of the school bus my anxiety began to subside. Hopefully, this oatmeal snafu would be the worst part of the day. The weather forecast was looking good, my meal was beginning to digest, and I had a hour-long ride to catch up on a little more rest. I practiced some visualization exercises and tried to quiet my mind.

5:36am

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It was funny to be dropped off in the middle of the woods with a bunch of buzzing runners, all eager to race. I didn’t have any coffee, but I was happy it was there. The porto line was super long and slow-moving, of course. It was the first time I’d ever checked a bag, and it was way more straightforward than I imagined. Finally, I know you’re worried so I’ll say right now that the mug made it to the finished line unharmed.

I thought with some effort I might be able to PR this race, but had decided over a long and squirrely taper to stick with the “finish strong and happy” goal. So there I was lined up in Corral B with the 4:30 pacer.

Miles 1-10 — 6:50am

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I felt sort of sleepy in those first several miles, and the pacer was a little speedier than expected. After all of the caution about taking the 5 mile downhill too fast, I wasn’t prepared to bank any time. Turns out the guy’s strategy was to go out slightly faster than goal pace and then pull way back on Hurricane Hill. At times he got quite a bit ahead of me but I told myself that I wouldn’t worry as long he stayed in sight.

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This was an historic race for me because it marks my first in-race bathroom break! It’s a true right of passage, I know. I spotted a row of portos with a short line and got in and out as fast as I could. Somewhere in these miles, a lone brown cow by the side of the road bellowed loudly. The ocean and the breeze moved gently. I sped up in an effort to reach the pacer, who I caught just before Hurricane Hill.

Miles 11-14 — 8:29am

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I don’t mean to brag, but I felt unbelievably good on the climb up Hurricane Hill, and it was perhaps my favorite part of the race. It was certainly tough and took concentration, but oh my god it was a million times more comfortable than the hill I’d run on Potrero a week prior (that gave me my first full-blown asthma attack I’ve had in years, not a big confidence boost going into Big Sur, let me tell you). The fact that I was managing this hill with relative ease got me really excited, and the adrenaline surged. But as they say at Big Sur, what goes up must come down…

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Mile 15-Finish — Time unknown

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After bombing down the other side of the hill, along came the rollers. Suddenly, I felt my legs. Oh. My. God. Owwww. “This is going to be a long 2nd half,” I thought. I felt a rush of panic but tried to channel Jen and Tish… “Keep it together…” “Would you rather be cleaning the bathroom right now? No!”

After the initial panic and fatigue, I got serious about how to deal. First, I fueled. My hip felt on the verge of cramping, so I dug a Margarita Shot Blok out of my FlipBelt and it did the trick. During mile 19 I stopped to stretch at an old beat-up pickup parked alongside of an aid station. I felt a bit better as I headed back on course. I decided then that I’d do my best to stay on-pace, while walking through the remaining aid stations. Still, this was a meditation in pain management to the glorious end. Mercifully, I never bonked and stayed fairly positive on my way to the finish line.

I’d kept my watch to read mileage and clock time, and tried to avoid obsessively checking my average pace. So it was only at some point towards the end that I realized I might come in under 4:20. I stayed strong and just squeaked by.

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Official time: 4:19:53

Just 40 seconds behind my Portland time on a much harder course. I was pleased. My legs were throbbing, but after getting that radical medal, pretzels, a cookie, and finally emerging from the chute to be immediately greeted by John and Darwin, I was in very good spirits. I’d done it!

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Here’s a race that I’d considered dropping out of 4 months ago. I didn’t want to put in the time — I was feeling burnt out from my first marathon. I’m so grateful to have found the will to pull through. I can say honestly that this time around I feel different somehow, and I don’t think I’d be the same person had I not done it. Going through this training has taught me so much, but what’s inspired me most is the age-old runner phenomenon of realizing that you’re stronger than you think. The last four months have me dreaming crazy dreams. The celebration at Big Sur was truly the cherry on top. After months of learning, wondering, worrying, hoping, and running my heart out, it really did feel like the victory lap.

Now, I’m regrouping and deciding summer races, a new plan for speedwork, and some short and long-term goals. It’s time!

“The first and great commandment is: Don’t let them scare you.”

Elmer Davis.

So I’m convinced. I’ve read every Big Sur Intl Marathon race recap on the internet. Every. Single. One. The ultrarunners bouncing up Hurricane Point. The Boston 2 Big Sur badasses taking it easy with an 8 min/mile pace. The first timers who, saved by magical mile 23 strawberries, triumph in the face of injury, headwinds, and the wall. Runners who inexplicably PR. Runners who run their slowest race ever. Runners breathless from the breathtaking Northern California coast.

As a result I am highly educated, mad with denial, and/or completely freaked out. Donno. I feel at once cautiously confident and lost in the wilderness, relaxed and petrified. But maybe this is just the nature of marathoning.

Here’s the freak out part: Because I went into training a bit late I don’t have a “plan” so to speak, but rather a somewhat haphazard schedule of weekend long runs that take me through to marathon day. The LSD increase really only began in early February and as such I’m just squeezing in a 20 miler before the taper.

This is what it is, and I’m just moving forward. Beyond the numbers, my strategy is more about listening to my body. My shins have threatened splits but although some tenderness lingers, I believe my respectful weekly mileage (some would say “shockingly low”) has kept this at bay. I’m pushing myself when it feels right, and it has, but at the first sign of injury or overtraining…Bam. I back away. Given the potential for a classic “too much too soon” kind of meltdown, my suspicion is that this approach is probably my only option.

As for the rest of the week, I’m really just making it up as I go along. And kind of to my delight, for better or worse. Again, while I’m staying conservative on mileage and run days per week, I do my cross training (yoga and strength and a little casual bike riding), and try to make every run count. I usually just rely on instinct in assessing what exactly that means.

“I feel like running a little faster today. I’ll average a half-marathon pace, or a couple of miles at 10k pace.”

“Hmm. Last time I ran a bit faster than I intended. Better take it easy, practice breathing evenly and finishing strong.”

“I want to run home from work today. But ugh I should probably do some hills. I’ll take a different turn at mile 3 and suffer over Potrero Hill.”

Fairly casual. The hope is that as long as I can complete the long runs with a disturbing smile on my face, my base fitness will pull me through. At the same time, I’m trying to let go of any time goal for Big Sur and just focus on having a smooth, relatively comfortable race that I can freaking finish without disaster. Call me Lady Denial, but I think that if I can arrive at the starting line injury-free — I’ll make it the 26.2 miles to Carmel. Seems like my best chance.

All training plans include a level of intensity of course, and this makeshift, slapdash one is no different. But what I’m learning is that intensity comes not just from mileage building and quality workouts but the effort that it takes to honestly respect how the body and mind respond. If I fail and don’t finish or don’t even start — then at least I’ve gained some valuable new insights (at least I hope I can muster that kind of mature attitude, if it comes down to it). It’s certainly an experiment, given that for Portland I stuck to a Hal Higdon plan pretty religiously (Novice 2). But this wasn’t a perfect training experience either. Weeks before the race my quads we’re shot and my calves were bricks. By the end of my taper I felt almost good as new, and at no point during the race did things fall apart. But the regimen did leave me feeling a bit fried. So I’m curious to see how this new approach works out. Even if it does bite me in the end.

Again, maybe this is just the nature of marathoning? And doing my first marathons so close together. Given that registration sold out in 59 minutes (!), I obviously feel lucky to have a spot at Big Sur and the opportunity to run what’s become an iconic course.

Finally, extra credit if you noticed that on my little schedule above I have a half marathon coming up on March 23. Truth? I really want to hit it in under 2:00. I came so damn close last August, and right now I feel really strong and my pace is on target. At this point, I really don’t think it’s an overly ambitious goal. But I hope that this confidence isn’t unfounded, and that the pace won’t leave me too ragged to complete my final long runs before BSIM. Again, the strategy is self-respect and trust, to listen to my body and if anything feels wrong — back. off. I’ve got other halfs to kill later this year…

“Much suffering, much unhappiness arises when you take each thought that comes into your head for the truth.”

Eckhart Tolle.

Well TGMIJAO! (thank god monday is just about over!)

On Saturday I ran a fun 5k race out in the East Bay. In this recap, I’ll reflect on 2 ways I went wrong followed by 3 things I did right.

Race: Dam Jingle Bell Dash – 5k race
When: Saturday December 14, 2013, 9:15am
Where: Orinda, CA
Number of Finishers: 253
Recorded Time: 25:24
Achievements: PR (:4 seconds); 2nd in my AG; Top 10 female finishers (#8). All good things. Yay!

ImageI made only a few mistakes, but they were “duh” moments that caused momentary undue stress and could have been easily avoided.

1) I arrived penniless.
This was a small local race and I wasn’t pre-registered, which means I should have had cash or check ready to pay for the bib. So I wasted 20 minutes driving my ass back up the hill to Safeway and worrying about whether I’d find another parking space in the rapidly filling lot.

2) I dressed inappropriately.
Steam rolled off the reservoir as I drove down to the San Pablo Reservoir Boat Launch.  The dashboard of the VW read 30º, but iPhone assured me that it would reach the low 40s by 9am. Alas, it was frigid up to the start of the race. I waited for the gun wearing an oversized sweatshirt and sweatpants over my planned race clothes: shorts and a lululemon run swiftly tee. Earlier that morning I’d contemplated adding my comfy long-sleeved finishers shirt from Portland. Why did I so immediately disregard this harmless idea? I ended up racing in my lululemon sweatpants (still over my shorts), t-shirt, and mittens. Not too terrible but this definitely could have been better executed.

Doy!  Luckily though, a few key moves set me up for a good race.

1) Even splits!
Mile 1 = 8’08 / Mile 2 = 8’09” / Mile 3 8’10” — Yes!

2) I left just a little bit in the tank…
I suck at digging deep in the final moments to sprint over the finish line. But I think that the combination of the consistent pacing coupled with a rare burst of energy (I can’t explain this) is how I achieved my new personal best. And by the skin of my teeth, too… a 4 second PR! Hey, I’ll take it. 🙂

3) When the going got tough, the tough kept running
For whatever reason, I wasn’t 100% focused that morning. It started with those dumb logistical snafus. Then, in the first couple minutes of the race, I had this overwhelming disinterest in what I was doing. I remember distinctly thinking, “I do not want to be racing.” Bummer. Who doesn’t love the usual punch of adrenaline that pushes you over the mat?

Early in the second mile, a stream of negative thoughts interrupted my flow. This kind of thing isn’t entirely unusual, and I’m learning to recognize it as a trick of the mind. They reverberate as loud and suddenly as sirens, false alerts rooted in the physical stress that comes from a hard effort.

I’m proud of the way I was able to work through these moments of annoying internal monologue, as they can quickly become anti-mantras if you choose to believe them. Another classic mistake? Forceful attempts to ignore or silence them. Like hungry children begging to be fed with attention, like ravenous zombies pounding on the windows of abandoned buildings — Inevitably, they will break through.

Notice your thoughts objectively. For a moment give them space. Recognize them, disagree with them if necessary, and move on. Continuing to run is non-negotiable, no matter what intrusiveness threatens to hold you back. I appreciate your opinion, Brain, but I’ve got this.

Truth be told, I was hoping to finish this 5k a bit faster. I am working towards a solid 8’00” pace. I’m not worried, it will happen. As for this race, there were some unanticipated challenges, if minor. The course was hillier than anticipated, my mind wasn’t completely centered, and I had to slow down twice for ICE ON THE ROAD (what??!!!). All in all I’m very happy to call this my last race of 2013, and am just about ready to kick off a new season of training!

Here’s to finishing strong in 2013!