Tuesday, July 22, 2014

June Stats, Running Lately & Official NYM Kickoff

June Totals:
Running: 55 Miles
Cycling: 37 Miles
Spin: 65 Miles
Cross/Core/Abs: 45 Min
Weights: 35 Min
Yoga: 2 Hours
Total: 157 Miles

June was big month for me!  I felt strong and like I got a good mix of activities in.  Highest mileage month in 2014 so far.

When I originally signed up for 3 half marathons (Zooma, N2S & Eugene) in 4 weeks my goal was to sub 2 all of them.  That didn't happen.  I came in at 2:04 for both Zooma & N2S and I am expecting something similar for Eugene this weekend.  The problem is not that I am out of shape or under-trained.  The problem is Hood To Coast!  What the what you say?  Sounds crazy but let me explain.

I am so terrified of that Runner 5 slot in HTC that I refuse to let myself taper or rest up for any of these races.  I have this nagging voice in the back of my head saying "running a half on tired legs will be the best training, think about how you'll feel climbing the mountain on your third leg."

Leg 3  - After having already run 14 miles (photocred/stolenfrom: OuaL)

I ran on tired legs for Zooma and then had a bad two weeks as far as training goes (selling a house, sinus infection etc...).  On Thursday, I considered just not working out and saving my legs for N2S but that voice came back.  So on Friday I ran lots-o-hills with November Project (Hills = Leg 5 Training), played 2 hours of tennis with MFR on Sat and then ran 13.1 on Sunday.  It's not ideal but it just makes sense to me right now so don't question.

Lyon St. Steps - The "Hill" we ran over and over again on Friday.

How can you say no to tennis with views like that?

This weeks plan consists of two Nov. Project workouts (hills & stairs), yoga, three short runs and a spin class all before taking on Eugene on Sunday.  Although I would still LOVE to Sub-2, I am not putting the pressure on.  My legs will be very tired once again, plus 95 degree weather is predicted.  Sub 2:05 is just fine by me.  I am looking forward to the race and my mini family run-union.  I haven't run Eugene since 2009; it will be good to be back in town for something other than football.

Last week was the official kick off of New York Marathon training, which is crazy to think about.  I have so much going on before November 2nd, that I can't comprehend it's only 15 weeks away.  I have seven trips (yes, seven) and three races before I get to NY.  Once I get passed HTC, my plan is to stay 100% focused on NY.  I've got a big goal and it's going to take a lot to accomplish it, especially considering the amount of travel I have.  Since it took me 4 years just do get into this race, I don't want to waste this opportunity.

I am using a similar training plan as Napa Valley Marathon.  Since I had N2S this past weekend and I have Eugene Half Marathon this weekend, I haven't followed the plan exactly but starting next week (week 3) I'll be on track + yoga, spin, core and hills (until HTC).  New York I am coming for you - Sub 4 or bust!

Tuesday, July 08, 2014

Race Report: Zooma Napa Valley Half Marathon

June 28th was  Zooma NV Half.  The race weekend started off Thursday night with a quick trip to Athleta in SF where I helped out with packet pickup and met some of the Zooma staff.  Friday I crawled in traffic out to the Napa Valley Marriott to hit up the expo, meet some of the Zooma ambassadors and drop off a friends race bib.  I would have liked to stay for the Honest Tea Mocktail party but it was my Grandma's birthday dinner in Sonoma so duty called.

Saturday morning (more races need to be on Saturday), I was up 4:30 am and did the standard morning race day routine.  I was nervous about parking so I got to the race start by 6:30 (for an 8am start) and was one of the first ones there.  I had front row parking, no lines for the bathrooms or gear check.  It was very surreal.  I've never had a race all to myself before.  The volunteers and I had a great ole time sitting in the sun and waiting for the shuttles of runners to show up.  When they did, I met up with some of the other ambassadors to do what bloggers do best, take pics:

Spending time with these ladies was the highlight of this race and opportunity.  Yes, even better then all the swag and product we got.  Zooma did a great job picking some fun, inspiring and impressive women runners to represent this race.  It also doubled for a ReNUNNion with two of my Hood To Coast teammates from last year, Kim & Karen.  Even though I spent most of the day with Kim, I don't have a single picture of the two of us.  Blogger fail!

I did some light stretching (what? maybe I am growing up) and lined up to start.  At this point I was already warm and pretty nervous about the rising temp since my training runs have been in the 50's and foggy.  June gloom in SF is not a joke people.

At 8am sharp we were off.  I made some snarky comment about how I thought the race course might be in neighborhoods similar to where we were starting and how that would be a waste of Napa scenery. Zooma showed me.  The entire out-n-back course looked like this:

I should learn to keep my mouth shut and maybe start looking at course maps.  Just a thought. Besides the glorious scenery, this course was nice and flat.  For others this made for a fast course, just not of me.

When it comes to running, heat and I just don't agree.  When it comes to being in an ocean or lying by a pool, we're the best of friends.  Running in heat, I get even more flushed than normal, I swell, my entire face gets covered in a grainy mess of salt which gets in my eyes.  My breathing is even more difficult and I constantly feel like I have to pee.

I tried to take it easy and pace it out for the first few miles but I could feel myself pushing to try and bank time for the return trip when I knew it would be even hotter.  My dramatics are making it sound like it was 110 degrees, for the record it was only 85.

Mile 1 - 9:03
Mile 2 - 8:46
Mile 3 - 8:28
Mile 4 - 8:52
Mile 5 - 8:59
Mile 6 - 8:54

Right before the turnaround I stopped to use the porta and take a Gu.  I did not need to stop and use the bathroom but I was being super paranoid.  I felt really full even though I had been careful about my nutrition the night before and I "had" to pee.  I kept telling myself it was the heat and dehydration and I'd sweat it out but my stupid paranoia caused me to stop for a few unnecessary minutes.

That messed me up mentally.  I had been feeling strong except my stomach and once I got to the turnaround I knew I was right near an hour.  I started cursing the pit stop and doubting my ability to run the second half as fast as the first since it was warming up.  I ran with Amanda for a little bit and we chatted which helped distract me.  Once we separated though, the heat just took over.  I knew I could push really hard and maybe make it but I just didn't have it in me.

Mile 7 - 10:54 (unnecessary pit stop)
Mile 8 - 9:30
Mile 9 - 9:26
Mile 10 - 8:56
Mile 11 - 10:24 (cashed it in)
Mile 12 - 11:17 (some walking)
Mile 13 - 9:19 (really wanted to be done)
Mile .16 - 1:30

I should have tried harder but my mental strength wasn't there, except for Mile 13 apparently.  I didn't hit my goal of a sub 2-hour.  I was disappointed for about 30 seconds while I was chugging a Muscle Milk at the finish line and then I got over it.  I was running on tired legs, it wasn't ideal conditions (for me) and I made some rookie mistakes that I'll work on going forward.  Also I found out on Monday morning that I have a pretty nasty sinus infection so that didn't help with the breathing part either.

We headed to the finishers party at the Marriott and met with other ambassadors.  It seemed like everyone had similar experiences with the heat.  Up until this point, I had been impressed with Zooma but the after-party was where they really shined.  It was out in the courtyard with a pool, which many runners were soaking their legs in.  Wine tasting, good food, honest tea, a bloody mary bar (with bacon),  yoga, massages and a great space to just hang out, stretch and relax.  Ultimate post-race festivities.

Ambassadors enjoying the post race fun
Another one for the collection - Love the wine theme
Thanks Zooma for putting on an awesome race!  Rumor has it they will be back next year and if so I'll be there.  This race did get me excited for Napa To Sonoma next weekend.  Keys to making it a successful race and trying again for that sub 2:

  • Hydrate, hydrate, hydrate the day before 
  • Dealing with my sinus infection - actually taking the antibiotics instead of ignoring the doctor and going to Shasta all weekend
  • You don't have to pee:)
Race Stats:
Official Time: 2:04:15
Overall: 136/588
Female: 121/544
AG: 25/111

Wednesday, July 02, 2014

Zooma Napa Valley Runner Report: Me

On Saturday I ran the Zooma Napa Valley Half Marathon. It was a great race and a blast running with my fellow ambassadors. Over the past weeks, a few of us did runner profiles of other Zooma participants and last week we were asked to post our own. It's a little late but here goes:

Name: Kara, Bird Legs or Bird to my friends

Age: 32
Current City: San Francisco, CA
Race (10K or half marathon): Half Marathon

Why are you running ZOOMA Napa Valley?  
I was lucky enough to be chosen as an ambassador for this race but I would have run it regardless. It's local, it's my favorite distance, it's in wine country and I've heard great things about the Zooma race series. When they announced the new location in Napa, it was a no brainer.

When & why did you start running?  
I started running in 2006 when I signed up to do an Olympic triathlon with Team in Training. For a few years I only did it as part of tri training. I've only really been serious about running on it's own since 2012. I run because I love the community and experiences running presents. I also love the way I feel when I am done with a run.

How many races have you done & which was your favorite?  
I've done over 50 races (60 if you include triathlons). It's hard to pick but the Napa Valley Marathon which I ran in March was definitely one of my favorites. The course was so beautiful, it was the perfect sized field and I ran a great race. I'd recommend it to anyone considering doing a marathon.

If you could pick one celebrity to run with, who would it be & why?  
Jennifer Aniston because she is my life idol. I am pretty sure we'd be besties if we started running together and she could fill me in on her anti-aging secrets. I know that's ridiculous but I don't apologize for my lifetime celebrity girl crush.

What is your favorite running memory?  
Running Hood To Coast with Team Nuun last year. It will take a lot to top that weekend.

What is your one running must-have?  
My Brooks and my allergy medicine.

What is your favorite post-run indulgence?  
A sandwich in my neighborhood called the SanFranPyscho - honey turkey, gouda, garlic spread etc... and an ice cold 10 Barrel Apoclypse IPA.

Who is your running inspiration?  
All my friends who run, both in real life and in blogger-world. I take pieces of inspiration from each of them. Everyone has different training plans, goals and attitudes towards running. No two runners are the same so I look to different people to inspire me in different areas (training, speed, nutrition, recovery, mental toughness, strategy, fueling, races, attitude etc...). That's what's so great about the running community. Even after years of running, I still learn something new and am inspired daily.

What is the most important lesson you have learned from running? 
It's all about balance.

Check out some of the awesome ambassadors I had the honor of running with this weekend:

Miriam from LongRun Happiness 
Amanda from Running On Waffles 
Katherine from Dream Body Warrior 
Karen from Reason To Play 
Nicole from The Slow Life

Thursday, June 19, 2014

CA Life, New Races

How do people travel, train, work and keep up their blogs? Some even manage to do all that and raise children.  I can't seem to get it all in. Which reads - I am not making it a priority.  It's been a crazy couple of weeks.  I've previously mentioned I have two really busy times each year at work, June and December.  Both make for some long(er) work days for a few weeks and then culminate with a four day meeting/conference somewhere awesome in CA.  For some reason that has always been followed by more travel somewhere else awesome in CA.  Last year that was Santa Barbara - Napa.  This year was Half Moon Bay for work and Dana Point for fun.  My job and Marriott points make for some amazing travel.

Northern CA

Southern CA

Needless to say, last week did not suck.  California you have my heart.  I've really nailed the work hard, play hard, run hard thing these past weeks.  Wait what was that third one?  Not so much.  I've gotten in some long/slow miles and some short/fast runs but hardly any race pace/tempo miles and I am nowhere near where I should be in terms of overall mileage.  It's not so much the fear of Zooma Half in a week, though I'd really like to sub 2 there.  It's more that I want to kick off my New York training with a good strong base and that's only 4 weeks away.  I need to get my ass in gear and start running more.

One of the few runs I actually managed in HMB

Nothing inspires me more than adding more races to my calendar so that's what I did.  

Napa To Sonoma Half Marathon 7/20
This race has been on my bucket list for a long time but it always sells out within hours.  I saw on their FB page that they allow for registration transfers.  I posted that I was looking for a bib, $150 later I was in!  I want to do all the races and drink all the wine so it's only fitting.  It's a small race with some pretty awesome runners making up the field.  It is a week before Eugene but back to back halves within 7 days is not the craziest thing I've ever done.

Giant Race Half Marathon 9/7
I love races, sports and San Francisco so this one is a no-brainer.  I ran the 10K(+ 2 miles because I missed the turnaround) when I first moved here 2 years ago and loved it.  This time I am stepping it up to the half since I'll be in the middle of NY training.

49ers Half Marathon 12/14
See reasons above.  This one I am still debating since they seem to be having some "new race issues" already but I am hoping they get those sorted out because a really want a gold football helmet medal.

After registering for these I immediately went out for a 9 mile run.  See it really does work!

Tuesday, June 17, 2014

Vote For Sarah!

Last year I had the honor of sharing a stinky, sweaty van with five amazing women on the Nuun HTC team. One of those women was Sarah who blew me away with her running ability.  She was runner 5 which is the hardest of the entire race, 25 miles with some crazy-ass hills.  I watched this quiet, shy girl jump out of the van and just dominate her first leg.  Fast forward to her third/last leg at which point, I could barely walk and was thinking, how could anyone do 3 miles of straight up climbing at this point?  We passed Sarah in the van and everyone exclaimed, "look how fast she's going, she is owning this hill."  Our disbelief lasted that entire climb as Sarah showed us what a strong runner looks like when they are in the zone.  It was amazing to witness that kind of determination and pure joy when she reached the summit.

I love this pic!  Sarah at the summit running through our power arch. Note - I couldn't even be bothered to raise my arms all the way as she's dominating 600ft. of elevation.

It's no coincidence that after 6 years of HTC, this is the year I am finally tackling Runner 5.  Sarah is pure inspiration in every sense.  As I got to know her I was even more impressed, she's overcome and persevered through a lot in her life.  You can read her very honest full story here on her eloquently written blog (unlike this one.)

Besides being an incredible runner, she's also an incredible mom and woman.  Sarah's son Jack was born with a congenital birth defect.  The strength and determination she has showed to treat her son and care for her family is unbelievable.  And it didn't stop there. Sarah has raised thousands for the hospital where her son was treated all while training for a BQ, which she accomplished at the Sugerloaf Marathon last month.  There are no words to describe the amount of respect I have for this girl.  Sarah is one of nine finalists for the Women's Running Magazine Cover Model Contest.  I can think of nobody more deserving or fit to be a role model and grace the cover of a magazine met to inspire women runners.  If that's not enough, she's also just an awesome person who you'd want to hangout and drink microbrews with, so vote for Sarah!  You can vote daily until July 2nd so set a reminder:

Vote Here: http://womensrunning.competitor.com/cover-model-contest#finalist

And while you're at it, you should buy one of her Embrace The Hill shirts where all profits go directly to the Children's Hospital of Dartmouth.

This is such a horrible picture of me, I may actually be hurting sales.

Tuesday, June 03, 2014

Bay To Breakers - The Mardi Gras of Footraces

On May 18th I ran Bay To Breakers.  It's a 12K race from the San Francisco Bay, through the city to the Pacific Coast's Ocean Beach.  It's also the oldest consecutively run annual footrace in the world and is a staple to San Francisco both for the race and the party.  Unless you've seen it, it's hard to explain but here's my list of the top 10 things that make B2B so unique:
  1. Only 35,000 actually register for the race but close to 100K participate in some way.  Either by running/walking portions of it, spectating, finish-line party, house parties along the route or running/walking the entire thing as rogue participants.
  2. There is A LOT of drinking involved - I was offered at least four different kinds of alcohol before I even entered the start corral.  I declined because I was actually looking to run it and unidentifiable liquids from a Stranger Dangers Camelback usually doesn't end well.
  3. The costumes are out of control.  You will see the most creative and amazing costumes which include huge groups, theme music, floats etc...
    Even playing the Tetris music 
  4. You will see a lot of nudity.  I was in corral B which means the majority of the madness was behind me.  Yet I counted 24 fully naked runners during my seven miles.  This does not include the hundreds that were mostly nude.
  5. Hayes St. Hill is no joke.
    There is a hill challenge mid race as well - timed separately
  6. Despite the madness it's a beautiful course that takes you past some iconic SF sites and quite a few elites show up to run B2B.
    Alamo Square Park
  7. Tortilla Toss - For some reason it's always been tradition to throw tortillas in the air to pass time when you're waiting to cross the start line.  Picture hundreds of tortillas flying through the air.
    The aftermath
  8. Centipede Division - There is a separate division where you run as a team of 13 people who are connected as a unit.  Apparently it's pretty competitive too.  There is a Head Pede, a pacer/floater in case someone has to drop and B2B is the official World Centipede Running Championship.
    Mens LinkedIn Team
  9. It's got some great history - Not only is the oldest consecutive race, at  one point it was the largest footrace in the world with 110,000 registrants.  Now there is a race in Australia that's bigger and B2B official numbers have dropped since most don't register.  It was started in 1912 as a way to lift the cities spirits after the 1906 earthquake and it's a point of pride for SF residents.
  10. The Spawning Salmon - The salmon have always been my favorite part!  Every year a huge group dresses like salmon and runs the course backwards (upstream).  It's amazing to watch them navigate through thousands of people in the opposite direction.  It's hilarious and their costumes are pretty legit.  I got really excited when I saw them around Mile 3ish this year.
    These spawners couldn't handle the current

    At least they get to go down Hayes Hill instead of up
It's such a bizarre mix of partiers, families and serious runners in a Mardi Gras like atmosphere. When I was in high school my dad would bring my brother and I down from OR to go to a Giants game and run B2B.  I hadn't seen or experienced it since then - 20 years ago.  My plan was to run it with the caveat that I knew it would be slow so I'd try to take in the experience.  It was a bad plan, I should have done one or the other.

For future years I'll plan on running or experiencing but not both.  I think the best way to do B2B is to line up in corral A and actually try to race the course as much as possible.  Or go all out in costumes, with drinks and friends and just take your time while enjoying the madness and house parties along the way.

This year I was a tweener in B2B purgatory.  I didn't have a costume (lame) and was in Corral B which meant I was in the thick of it all for the first few miles.  I heard from some runner friends that Corral A is the only option if you want to actually run the course.  Corral B made for tons of stopping because it was so crowded.  Even when I was running it was only shuffling since there were so many people.  Once I got to Hayes Hill, it really thinned out and became mostly runners but at that point I had already been stopping to talk with people, take pics etc... so I was in a non-race mind frame.  I wanted to turn around and head back to see all the non-runners come through. I didn't but I wanted to.

If you are a purist runner and don't like being around intoxicated people in a giant street party then this is not the race for you. Personally I think it should be on every runners bucket list just for the experience. Some of the things you just have to see to believe.  It's a blast and I will definitely participate in some form as long as I live in this city!

UA Shirt & Finishers Medal
Overall Time: 1:19:04
Pace: 10:37 min/mile
Gender Place: 2317 / 15,073 - gives you an idea of how many actually run

In other news:

May Stats:
Running: 35 Miles
Spin: 52 Miles
Weights/HIT: 1.5 hours
Yoga: 2 hours
Total Miles: 87

Big Sur recovery plus a week of illness made for a really light run month but  I stepped up my spinning and got in some good core training.  June is looking to be much higher mileage and I am officially back on the bike, as in outside.  Mind. Blown.  Now if I could just find my way back into the pool.

Monday, June 02, 2014

The Mail Lately - Getting Ready For Zooma

I love getting mail.  Like really love it, I always have.  I don't know why except that it's a trait I picked up from my father.  The man enjoys his daily walk to the mailbox more than the average person.  MFR on the other hand hates mail and doesn't understand why I stop daily (usually with my hands full) to empty out our tiny mailbox in the stairwell.  I am sure if it were up to him, we'd check it once a week and that would only be after a complaint was filed.

Since Amazon Prime became a thing I started this blog and have hooked up with some pretty cool races and companies, the daily mail delivery has gotten even more exciting.  I get a little too enthusiastic for Nuun shipments, race swag, issues of RunnersWorld etc...  Thanks to being a Zooma Napa Valley Half Marathon ambassador, the daily deliveries lately have been off the chain (that's a saying right?). If you like cool companies, races and sponsor swag, you should apply to be a Zooma ambassador for a race in your area.  Here is a sampling of things I've recently received from their awesome sponsors:

CytoSport/Muscle Milk:
Talk about the hookup.  When three full size boxes showed up at my office, I thought there was a mistake or all of my wine clubs decided to ship on the same day.  Instead it was just Muscle Milk showering us with product love.  After a workout, I crave Chocolate Milk like no other. My fridge is now stalked full and it's becoming a post run ritual to immediately grab a muscle milk (and a Cherry Limeade Nuun over ice) and down it while I am stretching.  With 25 grams of protein it's a great replenisher.  I am looking forward to trying the Cytomax flavors and gels as well.
Vanilla, citrus, choc, choc light, energy chomps, replenishers for days

Zooma Shirt & Hat - Also from Muscle Milk

I had heard a lot about Feetures but had never tried them before.  I am a convert.  Although I never really had a sock brand I was loyal too, I do now.  They are so comfy, perfect thickness and they don't rub AT ALL.  Plus the neon color palate is right up my ally.  They also sent us a cute drifit shirt, some chapstick and this adorable handwritten card.

Feetures Socks!
Sporting my shirt and yellow socks at Nov Project last week

Altra:  How many races actually send you a brand new pair of running shoes?  Zooma does.  Altra sent each ambassador a pair of their Intuition 1.5's.  After some weird foot pains and embarrassing pictures with those horrific five fingers, I was over the whole "barefoot" running phenomenon.

But I'd heard some great things about Altra so figured it was worth a try.  It's a zero drop shoe that is said to keep your foot it's natural, healthy position.  Bonus, it doesn't look like a creeper aqua sock/foot condom.  The zero drop advantage is meant to improve your form and get rid of heel striking.  If you're interested in a neutral shoe or are injury prone, Altra has a good approach to building up to the zero drop.  They are flexible, cushioned and come with insoles in order to gradually build up to a neutral stance.  Altra also has a great Run Better series which gives you tricks on how to improve your form.  I don't think they will be replacing my Launch's anytime soon but I plan to rotate them in to help improve my running form.

Ultimate Direction: UD sent us their Handy10 handheld water bottle and the Meow running belt.  I am a purist runner and don't like carrying things or having additional weight strapped to me.  I usually don't even take my phone unless I want music or it's really early morning and I am scared of stranger danger.  I do have an exception for carrying water when I get over 15 miles and the only thing I am willing to take is a handheld. You won't find me running with a fullsize waterbottle or hydration belt.  I've ran 3 long runs with the Handy 10 and it's great.  I usually put my credit card and two gels in the pocket and it's super light.  It's not big enough for an I-Phone so I am not even tempted.  I did make an exception and wore the Meow belt during Big Sur and RNR Half since I needed my phone and additional fuel.  It's comfortable and didn't ride up which is impressive considering my lack of ass-ets to hold it in place.  I am still not a huge fan or running with something around my waist but if you don't mind it, I'd give this one a try.  Both items are part of the Jenny Collection which were designed by women runners for women runners.  It's also more stylish then most the options I've seen.

On top of all that, Athleta has been supporting the Zooma group by hosting VIP shopping trips and group runs all over the bay area.  A huge thank you to Zooma and all the sponsors for spoiling us ambassadors.  I am sure to go through major mail withdrawal after June 28th.  

Rumor has it that Zooma Napa has less than 200 spots available so if you're thinking about it, get signed up! All of these companies will be at the expo/race (where Carla Brinberg will be speaking) so you can even try them out for yourself.  You can still use the code NAMB10 for 10% off.  If you are running, make sure to check out the Zooma facebook page for local training runs around the bay area.