Monday, March 29, 2010
I had high hopes of a good run at the Oakland Half Marathon. My training has been going well; a few mid-teen runs and a couple of hill runs had me feeling I could easily enjoy the day and not exert myself too much. I was looking forward to seeing old friends, chatting a little, running 13.1 miles and going home to get through my weekend stuff. It didn't quite work out that way.
Saturday I went to the "expo" and picked up my race packet. It went smoothly and easily, first getting my card, then my number with the timing tag, then my tech shirt. The expo was a disappointment because there was no there there (sorry Oakland, couldn't resist). There were mostly local purveyors of services, a couple of other marathon booths, a Gu tasting booth (although they weren't selling it), a Clif booth (they weren't selling either), and race merchandise which I didn't even look at. My "goody bag" contained a bunch of literature and fliers, a teeny bottle of EVOO, a sample sized bag of Gu Chomps, a wrist sweat band from an insurance company and that was it. Not so goody after all.
I carpooled Sunday morning with Ellen, a great chance to catch up with my original running partner. She's substantially faster than I am now (... everyone is substantially faster than I am now) but we had the ride to chat about everything. We decided to park at City Center since it would only be $5 and that way we wouldn't (1) lose the car and (2) have to walk too far. We got there way early and were able to sit in the warm car for a while before heading out.
The morning was cool, sunny and a bit breezy. I wore shorts for the first time this year (with 100 SPF sunscreen on my legs, paranoid much?), a long sleeved top and throwaway gloves. Because it was supposed to be partially overcast turning to total overcast, I was wearing black. Not my smartest idea, but it turned out to not be a huge factor.
I met up with a few people I knew and then went to stand in the front of the back of the crowd; I wanted to be in front of the walkers but behind everyone else. It was pretty good placement although many walkers seeded themselves way up front since I continued to pass them for the first couple of miles. Finally the anthem was sung, a few words from the mayor (which we couldn't really hear), then the horn and we were off! "Off" being relative, of course. It took a few minutes to cross the start line and start running.
I felt really good that first mile, holding myself back so that I wouldn't be pulled along with the crowd's enthusiasm. My plan was to go 9:1 the entire race, plus walk through water stops. That worked for all of one whole mile. A short way into mile 2 my legs felt heavy and my lungs started heaving. I was dizzy and my stomach was queasy. I seriously considered just turning around and going back to the start but figured it would work itself out in the next couple of miles as I warmed up. It didn't.
The race was very well run, the waterstops were frequent enough and well stocked and staffed. The street closures were handled professionally by the Oakland PD and the majority of Oakland's residents were happy to see the race and runners (except for the honkers in their cars trying to get somewhere important). The route was varied and interesting and I saw a few areas of Oakland I'd never been through. I tried, really tried, to to get into the spirit of things and my body didn't want to cooperate.
I knew by mile 2 that I wouldn't be sticking to my plan but I really thought things would improve. I reviewed the route in my head and tried to figure out how far I'd have to go to walk back to the finish, compared with how far I'd have to go to stay on the course. It always worked out shorter, or even, to continue the race.
I tried gels, I tried drinking water and electrolyte fluid, I tried running and walking and shuffling. If I ran either my lungs couldn't get enough air or my legs felt like cement posts. If I continued running I got dizzy and nauseous. While walking I just felt dizzy. My muscles and joints ached and I felt like I had the flu. I was alternately hot and chilled. I tried to see the beauty of the sunny day, tried to enjoy the fact that I was out there. I kept telling myself that any day I could run, no matter how poorly, was a good day.
At about mile 10 I saw one of my old TnT buddies, now a coach. I was telling him that I was having one of those days that every runner has, but that you hope comes on a day you haven't paid to run. My timing was just off and I told him I hoped that it meant my crappy run for this training series was over. He walked with me for a couple of minutes and we talked about our upcoming plans and races, then I ran on.
I was pretty sure if I continued my shuffling I could finish before 3 hours and that became my last goal. As I came around Lake Merritt I shuffled to the next light post, walked to that car, ran to the parking meter, shuffled to the corner. Repeat as necessary. It became apparent that I would not, in fact, break 3 but I wanted to finish strongly. Then coming down the last hill (and one of the only hills on the route) I saw my coach and stopped to hug and talk. I stopped for several minutes and didn't care about time any longer, it was more important to talk with him. Finally he sent me on my way. At that point I was shivering from the cold since we were talking in the shade.
There were lots of people cheering in the runners and I managed to run, slowly, the last couple of tenths. I crossed the finish line, grabbed a medal and a heat sheet, and trudged along. I got a bottle of water and a quarter of a bagel and made myself eat and drink, trying to stop the shakes and ease my stomach. It didn't work too well. I saw a friend and chatted for a few minutes, glad to be standing still, then went to find Ellen who was meeting me over by the beer tent.
I found her and figured that beer wasn't going to make me feel any worse so we stood in the long line. I got a few ounces and we continued to walk around. The beer tasted good but I only had a very little since I didn't want to get sick on the way home.
I went home, showered and collapsed on the sofa. I felt as if I had just run a particularly hard full marathon. All of my muscles, all of my joints, all of my internal organs hurt. I guess it was from pushing myself while I didn't feel well. I didn't want to eat but I forced myself to have a few slices of turkey for the protein and to drink water to rehydrate. I napped on and off for a couple of hours but mostly just lay there reviewing my race.
Today I'm sore from the top of my head to my toes. That poor performance took a lot out of me, but I'm not going to let it get me down. I've had those good training runs recently and I think the bad run was the aberration, not the good runs. I'm looking forward to my longer runs, looking forward to getting back out there.
Any day you can get out and run, or any day you can get out and walk, is a good day. It might not feel that way at the time, but I'm lucky I get the chance.
Wednesday, March 24, 2010
This year I decided I wanted to run Vermont, so hills are back in the picture. Our longer runs have had a little hill here, a little hill there. But nothing like the hills I'll face in the marathon. Seeing that the race has a 6 hour cut-off and seeing that I'm running slower than I ever have before, I realized that I need to get a bit of hill training. Or a lot of hill training.
The return of Daylight Savings Time meant I could do a short hilly run after work. We've avoided Inspiration Point (and the damn cows) except for a couple of easy walks, but it was time to give them a try. Yesterday after work I met Anita for a planned 4 mile run. Our (my) intent was to do a firm 9:1 for 2 miles, turn around, and 9:1 for as long as we could before I blew up on the hills. It actually worked as planned, with a couple of exceptions.
We started out slowly (... like I'm running any other way lately) and the first hill had us both huffing and puffing. I literally gasped my way to our first walk break and never did catch my breath before that short little minute was gone. We made it through the first mile, continued on. A 9:1 with our pace usually has us running the hill leading up to the short forested part and sure enough, despite checking my watch desperately to find the walk-9, it was all run. I was determined to suck it up (heh) and keep going, so keep going we did.
When we got to the 2 mile marker I decided we should go out to the 2.5, turn around, run our complete 4 miles and then walk the rest. We kept going but right around the corner, to my cownsternation, was a large bovine on the side of the trail. My heart sped up a bit, but I decided to tough it out and edge around the far side. We ran a bit further and as the path opened up I saw on the other side of the trail: 3 more big -- really big -- cows gazing at us. Getting to the 2.5 marker would have meant squeezing past in both directions.
That was all I needed. We turned it around and hoofed (heh) it back down the trail, away from all that beef. Seriously, I wish they didn't cause my heart to race, my teeth to clench, my brain to freeze. It's dumb. It's silly. But the whole thing about a phobia is that it's irrational. Cow anxiety, sheesh. As if I don't have enough things in life now making me anxious.
It turned out to be for the best. Except for one slightly extended walk break we 9:1'd it right on back again, including the hill I had said on the outward bound that I'd be walking on the return. Yeah, I was wheezing like a bellows and at one point I think my quads were yelling loudly enough to be heard at the Golden Gate, but I kept on running. Heck, it was just 4 miles, right?
What made this a good run was the scenery. Yeah, it was gorgeous. From the views straight across the Bay, as far as that Golden Gate, to the vistas of the spillways of the reservoirs in the other direction. It was every shade of green imaginable. The wildflowers were yummy yellow, baby blue, sparkling purple and orange orange. We saw a murder of crows soaring on the thermals and perched on the pylons. The lowering sun, blowing wind and low-60's temp created the perfect conditions for running.
Today my legs are a little sore, my lungs are very irritated, but my spirit is high. I'm a bit more confident that the run in Vermont will go well, including the hills. I'm hoping to get to IP several more times before the race, increasing the mileage and my hill stamina. I'm glad I got to see the area in all it's spring glory!
Tuesday, March 16, 2010
Yesterday was a beautiful day to run, but I didn't. The sun was shining, it was quite warm, the wind was gently wafting through the grasses. But the pollen count was off the charts and I still had a sore throat so I decided gulping in great breaths probably wasn't the smartest thing to do. Excuse? Possibly, but at least a good one. I've had my cold this year and I'm fighting off this next one for all I'm worth.
Saturday morning I ran 15 miles with Anita, again on the Lafayette-Moraga Trail. We went from the parking lot to the end and back and averaged about 45 seconds per minute faster than the week before. It was a scenic run, but there was lots of dodging everyone else who was taking advantage of the cold, sunny dry morning. We're still horrifically slow, but the nice thing about that trail is we finish running faster than we started. I take it as a good sign that although I'm tired after these runs, I'm not in the least bit sore.
I finished the feet on my second pair of socks. That's a good thing, because I don't really like the yarn. I have a blue streak across my finger, where I wrap the working yarn, so I have a strong feeling that I'll have blue tootsies when I start to wear the socks. There's still the leg to knit but I've decided to make these short, probably 3 inches of pattern and 1 of cuff.
I figured we weren't going to have any more hard freezes this year so I started cutting back my frost-burned jasmine. A little late, as it turns out. I had to carefully clip around all the new growth. I also decided that this year I absolutely have to find a new gardener. The current ones keep the grass short, but I think they do that by killing it. Anyone who knows a good, affordable gardener/landscaper in this area, let me know.
I took my nephew out on Sunday to buy his Hanukkah present. Yeah, we're a little slow but at least we did it sooner than last year. He's an enjoyable kid to be around and we have fun together on our little jaunts. I can't wait to see what he's going to come up with to get for his 13th birthday, this October. Knowing us we won't be shopping for that until the following January. He's going to be an interesting teenager.
I'm having my usual trouble adjusting to the spring time change. I like it being dark in the morning but I think it's going to take a couple of weeks to reset my sleepy switch at night. Right now I think I could sleep from about 5:30 pm to midnight very well. That's actually more than I usually sleep but then what would I do from midnight on?
That's all I've got for now.
Tuesday, March 9, 2010
My run was faster than expected, a reason for all the wheezing I did. "Faster" is of course relative. One dude on the trail kept passing me, stopping to stretch and then zooming past me again. The only people I pass are meandering along either in conversation or with a pokey pup. But I was consistent in my "speed" and felt great when I finished.
This renewed my newest commitment to consistent runs. I figured it's light enough out that I can gradually increase my mileage to 6 and still finish before it gets dark and creepy on the trail. Little did I know that it's already creepy on the trail. As I sat here tonight, blissed out from a good run, I came across this article. This happened right when I was starting my run, exactly where I was running:
Crap! Now what should I do? Continue running and hope this was an aberration? Run the other direction (which has always seemed the creepier route)? Start later? Start earlier? Run on my treadmill (uh, yeah. Right. That's worked well all winter)? Carry a large stick? Run faster whenever I see someone?
WALNUT CREEK — A woman walking along a trail was robbed of her iPod by a man who claimed to have a gun, an East Bay Regional Parks Police Department spokesman said.
The woman was walking on the Iron Horse Trail, north of Newell Avenue, at 4:15 p.m. when the robber walked up to her and motioned that he had a gun in his waistband, police said. The woman did not see a gun, but handed over her iPod.
I don't think I'll sleep well tonight.
Monday, March 8, 2010
Last Monday was a big milestone for me. It was 20 years to the day that I started a new job. New boss, new responsibilities, new co-workers (and new paycheck). Back then I was a 35 year old, married, non-running, non-knitting, very lonely smoker. My new job ended up being one of the best thing that's happened to me.
At times hectic, at times boring, sometimes repetitive and often instructive, it's really been several jobs working for the same person as the company changed around us. I've spent more time with my boss and co-workers than than anyone else in my life. These people have seen me though divorce, death and marathons. They've become good friends, my family away from family. We've had tough times at work and some personality conflicts but like a functional family we've resolved any problems and moved on.
Thursday, March 4, 2010
But it was gorgeous out. Probably mid to low 50's. Storm clouds passing by but never dropping rain. The sun low but still in the sky. Very little wind. The recent rains have left everything looking clean and fresh and growing. The grasses were that lovely shade of new green, bending in the slight breeze. Fruit trees had their fragile pink or white blooms. A few early poppies were closing up tightly for the evening to come.
I slowly wheezed my way along the trail, enjoying every breathless (literally) moment that I was running. Pollen is not my friend but it was so enjoyable running off a cruddy work day that I didn't mind my lungs working so hard. I may have scared a few people as I noisily gasped my way along the trail but I smiled to let them know I wasn't at risk for dropping dead in my tracks.
When I finished I felt fabulous. Tired, sweaty and dripping,wheezing. But fabulous nonetheless. Not a traditional runner's high, just a run well done, an accomplishment of which I was absurdly proud. My plan and my hope is to do this at least a couple of times each week after work. I doubt I'll get anything else done tonight but I don't care. Once again, I am a runner.
Monday, March 1, 2010
I've had lots to say lately, but it never looks right when I type it out. It's stilted, jumbled, cold and ends up looking like endless whining (which it is, but doesn't have to look that way) or senseless babble (which it also is, but ditto). So bear with me.
There's been a little cross-training, a little running (very little), a little sleeping, a lot of knitting, a lot of family, a lot of eating and drinking. When the sun shines I've been happy and energetic and when it's gloomy I want to scoot under a shrub and hibernate for another month.
Every night at bedtime I think in panic "ohmygod I'm running a hilly marathon in 3 months" and tell myself that tomorrow's another day and I'll do a good run then. Once in a while I run that run but more often run/walk and even more often than that I plain old walk (or sit on my ass). I'm having a lot of asthma problems, some of them I'm sure related to RWF since there's been weight gain but I'm at that precipice where I need to run to lose weight but I can't breathe well enough to run until I lose weight.
Changing the subject to yarn, I bought oodles of gorgeous yarn at Stitches West. It seemed that this year every independent dyer had an Amy colorway (which would be true-red with shades of black and gray or white). Splendiferous yarny goodness in every booth and thanks to my new love of knitting socks, I didn't feel at all bad buying
We celebrated my mom's 82nd birthday this weekend. Like the Energizer Mummy, she keeps on going. There are good days and bad days with a couple of very good days or very bad days thrown in. It's hard being her main emotional support and I have to keep telling myself that it doesn't matter that I didn't sign up for the job. I'm hoping that the good days will continue and the bad days are kept to a minimum.
Anyone know any 12.5 minute milers who want to run about 5 miles in the Valley area after normal work hours a couple of days each week? Maybe what I need is just a running partner!