Category Archives: running

Brazen Racing’s Hellyer Half-Marathon

We have a goal to race at least once per month this year, and most of those adventures will be on the trails of California’s Central Coast! Brazen Racing showed us a great time (and thorough a**-kicking) with our first trail half-marathon last September, so we’ve been looking for the right opportunity to cross under their inflated Start/Finish arch again.

Hellyer Half Starting Line

BR’s head honcho, Sam, offered me a free entry to the Hellyer Half-Marathon, so I convinced my main squeeze to join in the fun. There’s no better way to distract yourself one week before standing at the altar! We happily joined in for some sunny  and supported paved-trail miles.

Brazen is known for trail races around the San Jose area, but this course wouldn’t typically be filed under that category. That’s 100% fine by these legs – it was the perfect chance to see how well my fitness has bounced back from the knee chaos that was. It was his chance to snatch up that 1:29:xx PR that he’s been chasing (successful!).

Hellyer Half-Marathon:
Flat, out-and-back (no surprises!) and well-supported!

Hellyer Half Trail

His goal was to practice starting SLOW (relative term here) and building up to a successful negative split. My goal was to simply make it through 13.1 miles with “ease” and finally feel like the injury is behind me.

The first few miles were a little rusty – remembering how it feels to race for endurance, warming up, getting my stride to a comfortably-hard effort. I settled into an 8:30 pace and turned on auto-pilot. The first half was spent in this zone, with two very happy feet and one happy ego. I practiced my race-fueling strategy (taking a tip from Dean Karnazes and trying out dark-chocolate-covered espresso beans), ran without tunes (ah, the zen…) and snapped a few pics along the way.

Mile 7: We turned around  and headed straight back. Around mile 8 I decided to turn it up a notch and see what happened. That felt fine, so I picked people to chase and started passing them. I also spent a lot of time doing head-math, which most runners know is just a way to a) distract your mind and b) feel like you’re pretty dumb. It’s effective all around. For mile 10 I decided to drop into sub-8s, and from mile 11 –> the finish I found my 7:30 stride again (oh, it’s been a while….).

Mike was hangin’ out around mile 12.5 with his paparazzi hat on – and hopped in to run through the actual home-stretch with me.

Hellyer Half Marathon_mile 12

I came in just under my 1:50 goal (1:49:46 – 4th AG) and for today, that wasn’t all easy breezy. But damn it felt so good to get out there again, without “what ifs” but with a healthy system that’s happily building up the machine (as Coach K would say). 

Hellyer Half Marathon Finish_DOTR

OOTD: TAD visor & TAD Squadra running singlet.
Fuel: 12 oz water + OSMO active, espresso beans (4), 3 shot bloks
Shoes: Mizuno Wave Rider 17

There’s a lot more to come this year, and this was the perfect way to open my eyes to what I’m ready to chase. (For now, we’re just glad we made it out unscathed and in top shape to walk down the aisle this week…)

Thanks for another great race, Brazen! We’ll see you again soon.

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Building (Run) Fatigue: the good way to feel exhausted

you fail

One way I reduce decision fatigue is by working with my Coach (cannot begin to put a $ to how much I value not having to think about my training plans). But what does she do in return? Fatigue the crap out of me.

I read this quote yesterday just before I strapped on the Heart-rate monitor for the second run of the day. I  immediately thought about all the times we build a BIG thick cushion for ourselves to land on, before we even know from how high we’ll start to fall. All the times I’ve had a goal for a race, only to so very quickly come up with “Plan B”. The times I’ve been in the middle of a run and thought this is too hard, I’m done – when the marathoner in me, a few layers down, actually thinks do you REMEMBER mile 26?! You are. not. done.  All the times I’ve excitedly thought of a big lofty (to-me) goal, only to almost immediately protected myself from thinking it’s possible, because what if it isn’t. {Lands on cushion.}

But what if it is?

As a Coach, I’ve learned to recognize what Katie’s doing to me when she’s doing it. I don’t always know ALL the reasons or the science or her magic logic, but a glance of the schedule du jour is always telling. Right now? Fatigue. She’s laying it on thick! She’s saying to me, Keep running even though you’re tired. And I’m saying to my legs, you’ll survive.

Sometimes my mind jumps ahead to the WHY – the goal race, the next couple of months of building this fatigue for good reason. Sometimes those thoughts dump adrenaline into my muscles and act like jet-POWER! Other times, they add cushioning for the fall, layering up failure protection. I.e. They doubt. This quote brings it back to reality.

I failed during those 26.2 miles at Marine Corps, and guess what? Life went on. I didn’t fail the two times I ran those exact same 26.2 miles before, and life went on. The difference was in an attitude. It can be just as  fatiguing to build that soft mental landing to protect yourself as it is to build your mind and muscles to risk failure, discover your true potential, and believe you’ll succeed.

Which fatigue are you building?

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This Running Week: Mid-Training Edition

The injury of late 2014 is almost nothing but a wincing memory now (knocks FIRMLY on wood), a story that finally allows me to empathize with and relate to fellow injured runners. You’re going CRAZY, I know! Endorphins should be bottled up and sold OTC, amiright?!

Now: my Training Peaks calendar just reminded me that we’re only SIX weeks out from the Canyonlands Half Marathon. Say what?! Here I am running throughout the weeks thinking this ‘comeback’ feels pretty good.

But the comeback is donezo. Easy days aren’t as dominant. This  is actually half-marathon training.

Team Amazing Day Trail Race_Jan 2015

I had my first double-day on Sunday and it was just fine. There’s a long run on deck for this weekend that will require some practice with hydration and calories. Ah, the big stuff! My OSMO recovery tube is finally getting some fresh air and action again. (Side-note: Do NOT drink this with water. I repeat. Restock almond milk, STAT.)

This is my third cycle training with Katie & Team Amazing Day, but not the third time doing the same workouts over and over. My schedule now looks pretty different than one year ago, when she not-so-delicately whipped my butt into MAF shape, or tried to, despite my resistance, happy hours and African travels. I know what to expect to some extent, but every week’s new schedule is still a fun read – what’s next?!

For now, this week, my half-marathon training is this:

Easy Run | Strength* + XT | Hill Repeats | Double Run | Strength + XT

Weekend: Shake-out | Long Run (relative term, always)

*Strength varies by athlete and sport of choice. She gives me a lot of functional fitness exercises. I work on the major groups that will hold me up when fatigue sets in, and that will power me forward like a jet when I want them to. Strength is just like running – what you put in is what you get out. Are those 10 reps easy? Up the weight! Or stay comfortable and plateau with your strength. Runner’s choice. It’s not a CrossFit-style all-out routine that leaves me high at the end, but it does the trick. After making some progress with a few simple things yesterday, I left the gym with this little nugget of wisdom:

 

All because I upped my goblet squat weight for 2 x 10 reps, and damn, that felt really good. (Just don’t expect me to do anything with that weight but squat it. Legs: beast-mode. Arms: still getting there.)

Goblet Squat Weight_DOTR

And then I hit-up the gym with Jacqueline to walk her through some rehab strength exercises (for her healing hip!), which included ab-basketball. And that’s all that needs to be said about that.

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So that’s where we are. Training, loving the fact that I’m not paranoid on every run, and feeling stronger by the week because I have a coach telling me to up the ante. It feels really freakin’ good to be here.

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10 ‘Tips’ for Trail Running & Racing [Newbies]

For my first ‘race’ of the year, he found a group of distances happening on a trail conveniently close to our Monterey Bay digs (led by Inside Trail Racing). Contrary to most of the trail runs we’ve done in the past seven months, this wouldn’t require a 6am departure, or even more than 25 minutes in the car. We’d even get a view of the wilderness not-so-hidden in the backyard of our quaint city. Win!

10 tips for trail running_DOTR

He went for the 25K, while I kept it safer with the 10k option. And after a 3+ month hiatus from the trails, I had to remind myself that this trail-running game reads from a very different playbook! So far, this is how I get by, with a little help from the aid stations & color-coded flags:

1) LOOK AT THE ELEVATION CHART

If you’re a poor race planner, like myself, this one really needs to be in all caps. It’s almost a given that you’ll have to walk up/down at some point, but strategize and be ready for those moments. Know what’s coming and when– it will matter.  For example, this particular 10k course looked like this:

image

Thankfully he plans ahead, and handed this to me for review on Saturday morning as I munched on my pre-race banana. Well…that’ll be interesting. It’s the total opposite of how 99% of trail races’ elevation rides, but it allowed me to just barrel down those first 3 miles, because I knew there’d be some walking in the last 3 miles, either way.

On that note…

2) Be humble with your distance of choice

My first soiree into this world was a 10-miler (the first sentence of that post is basically this lesson learned). The course wasn’t too challenging, so we lucked out. But those 10 miles felt like 13. And the half we did last Fall? That felt like 20. If you’re just starting out, note that your road-racing PRs mean nothing on the dirt!

3) Bring Hydration. ALWAYS

Would I normally carry water for a 10K race? Nope. But you never know how long those trail miles will take – they seem about twice as long as a road mile, and the aid stations usually seem way too far apart. You will need hydration, either way, so make sure you bring your own.

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My drink of choice: OSMO, for always.

4) Assume you’ll Overheat

I have started many a trail-race in long sleeves, only to curse the decision with gusto as I climb my way up the first major incline. Yes, you can usually count on some tree cover to cool you off here n’ there. But you can also count on some bare, uber-sun-exposed, sections. And your cardio system working overtime to help you climb. Also see: hydration!

trailhoghalf_H_13mi

No shade. No water left. Not close enough to finish line. So hot right now.

5) Protect your precious skin

Sunscreen and a hat = must-haves! Take it from the girl who just doesn’t think January weather warrants sunscreen (unless you’re on the slopes – in which case, of course you have sunscreen! Why does this logic not translate??), and didn’t have a lick of SPF on Saturday. But I did have a visor! 1 for 2.

6) Invest in trail shoes

I run in the Mizuno Hayates, but prior to that would just destroy my road-running shoes (and feet) on my inconsistent adventures. Trail shoes aren’t all stiff and unrelenting; the Hayates move and shake similar to my Wave Riders, but they’re ready for more challenges. See: rocks, (slippery) dirt, creeks and climbs.

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7) Embrace the downs

In road races, you run a fine line between barreling down hill to gather some speed and gain some cushion on a goal time, and/or destroying your quads. But out in the woods, muscles pretty much get destroyed anyway. You have dramatic ups and downs, you will probably walk (unless you operate in full-on beast mode), and when you do get a downhill? You will want to fly.  

This does go back to point #1 – know what’s coming and when! I’ve even had a few down-hills so steep that I walked, because otherwise gravity would have wreaked havoc.

On the downhill: shorten your stride to avoid killing your knees; stay light on your feet (as much as you can…); don’t fight it; know your (speed) limits. (Of note: this tip comes from someone who hasn’t run more than 13.5 miles on a trails – any full / ultra runners out there? Chime in!)

8) Walk…but not for long

As I’ve now mentioned multiple times, the likelihood of walk ‘break’ is 10x higher on the trails vs. the road. A few reasons for this: the inclines are so steep that you’ll waste too much energy trying to run them all, you heart may explode if you do, and sometimes you just flat out cannot run certain sections (for various reasons of nature’s choice).

BUT! Don’t walk for too long. It’s just as dangerous out here as it is on a road – you give yourself too long a break, and it becomes exponentially more difficult to get going again.

2015-01-31 09.13.52

Photos never do justice to the up, up, UP.

My rule: if I’m walking uphill, I have to start running the very inch in which the incline starts to flatten out or give.

9) Leave the tunes (mostly) behind

Again, I can’t speak to the experience of running anything over 13 miles here – maybe after 3+ hours you’re just flat-out done with absorbing nature’s magic – but I am strongly in the no-trail-tunes camp. For safety, and for bliss. There is so much to take in, no matter what trail you’re running.

10) Wipe your PR (expectation) slate clean

Have no expectations. Just as with road races, every trail is oh-so-different and the challenges you’ll face will never be the same twice (even on the same trail). You never fully know what you’re in for, and there’s a lot of fun to be had with that.

2015-01-31 10.24.37

BONUS!  ENJOY ALL THE FOODS.

Seriously. The post-race spread is unbeatable. They really know how to feed a runner’s appetite.

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For Californian’s in the Bay area looking to branch out to enjoy one of these many adventures, check out:

Inside Trail Racing

Brazen Racing

West Coast Trail Runs

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Calling all trail experts and enthusiasts: anything you’d add to the list?

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Beginning the Odd Year: 2015

The great thing about ending the year coming off of an injury is that everything just seems pretty great, because you’re hopping back to it! Sure, there’s endless paranoia and restless heart beats and a grumpy ego, but they’ll come around soon enough. Ending those two months of idleness in a place like this wasn’t so bad, either…

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The go just sat back in awe and let the island do the talking.

For the first time in months, I was active without  a schedule. I had a few guidelines (“keep it easy – do what makes you happy!”), the first of which was quietly overlooked. We stayed in Kailua, which is resort-free and full of trails, stunning shores and perfectly flat running roads. We ran to, and then up, the “Bunker Trail” (aka Pill Box Trail) multiple times. We slipped and slided our way to Mauanwili Falls (this is no joke; be ready to hose yourself down!), we kayaked the Pacific, and we chased two shockingly-quick toddlers in the sand.

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2014-12-29 11.10.20

One day I ran for an hour, passing the Obama’s vacation home (NBD), and thinking “this may have been a little too long, too soon”, but not really caring enough to stop. {Insert the foolish-injured-runner’s-hand-raised!}
60 minute milestone: check!

 2015-01-01 11.22.27

And so begins the Odd year. I’ve noticed that I swing pretty far on the pendulum of goals achieved and actions taken every other year. I do just enough one year to keep myself sane and feel comfortable – traveling, running, indulging and enjoying. Then I get sick of feeling sane and comfortable (and slightly hung-over), and almost overcompensate.

The odd years stand out for the latter, and this one is throwing down a cannon-ball splash right away:

After today, I’ll be 5 hours into the 200-hour Yoga Teacher Training (YTT).
Next weekend I’ll visit Austin, TX for the first time with two of my favorite gals.
In
8 weeks I’ll have a new last name.
By May we’ll have run two goal races (13.1, 26.2).

By June we’ll be starting to plan a 200+ mile hike in the Sierras.

And that’s all we know for now. I have no goals or resolutions, but there are plenty of ways I’ve committed to keeping all systems active, engaged and happily exhausted!

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