2015 Race Plans!!!

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Feb. 1 Kaiser Permanente SF Half Marathon
(Registered)
Starts near the deYoung and hits the Great Highway in the middle miles. Merhaha love the Great Highway!

Mar. 22 Oakland Running Festival
(Pending my whims and fancy)
Have run ORF Marathon in the last two years, but pondering the half this year. Great course, great crowd… and merp, $95 from now until the expo :\ Paying that for a half seems… just… wrong.

May 17 Surfer’s Path / Capitola Marathon
(Registered)
Course winds through some great neighborhoods, W. Cliff Dr. (big fan), a couple bridges (yeehee!), starts and ends on the boardwalk (meh, but beach at least). Excited to see more Santa Cruz beach/bluff views.

Jul. 11 Mt Hood 50 OR Jul. 25 Siskiyou Outback 50
(Pending my whims fitness level, let’s be real)
Mt Hood now has a lottery-based registration, which I despise on principle. It is also 2.5 hours from Portland. Siskiyou Outback does not have lottery-based registration, and is 5.5 hours from the Bay Area. Latter currently winning. Both also conveniently avoiding the week where I may need to be in Mexico City for work (meh). Also, need to confirm a copilot/runner (or more than one) to keep me awake while driving to whichever one of these ends up happening.

Dec. 6 CIM
(Registering on Mar. 1)
For future reference, if CIM offers 500 runners an early, heavily discounted re-race registration option for the following year’s race… DO NOT WAIT TO DO IT. Now I have to wait until March and probably pay about $20-30 more :( Sad-bean town.

So excited!!! Hopefully my stupid right Achilles tendon, which decided to get pissy with me in the last couple days, does not derail these plans.

CIM 12/7 RR

Man. CIM was an amazing experience. I PR’d (gun time 4:15:55) and kicked hard down the last stretch… passed at least 5 people on my way to the finish line. My friend ran his first marathon, had many struggles (due to a nagging hamstring injury), but I believe has been bitten by the run bug… *evil grin*, and finished strong as well.

Saturday:
Getting to Folsom went very smoothly. Parking in downtown Sacramento for the bib pick-up went equally smoothly… traffic was a little much around the Sacramento Convention Center (where the race expo was located), but nothing compared to San Francisco downtown. Found a parking spot with a meter that didn’t ask for money (woohoo). Afterward, before heading to Lake Natoma Inn in Folsom, we decided to stop by Carl’s Jr for our pre-race dinner. Probably not the best idea, but it worked out quite well. Nom six-dollar burger with bbq sauce, hot sauce, extra ketchup/mayonnaise and fries!!!

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Saturday night:
Lake Natoma Inn is beautiful and awesome. However, there was an unfortunate wedding party that decided to be obnoxiously loud until the wee hours of the night. That, combined with some serious insomnia I’ve been having over the last few months, really did not help my getting rest.

Race morning:
Possibly one of the worst things of race morning that could’ve happened happened. Our bus to the start was scheduled to leave at 5:30am, sharp. Due to a FRICKIN frustrating miscommunication, my friend and I rushed downstairs at probably 5:31am (me with a backpack, my friend with a duffel and backpack and drawstring bag) just in time to see the bus ON THE WAY OUT OF OUR HOTEL PARKING LOT. I panicked. We both started jogging toward the increasingly rapidly departing bus, and then I started sprinting all-out because no way was I going to figure out mystery logistics (we were directed to take those buses for a reason) now. I shouted at the bus driver’s window and asked him to stop for us. Thank goodness he stopped. My friend and I got on, and we ended up helping out another straggler while we stopped. Everyone on the bus laughed that we got our race warm-up in early :)

Of course, now we had our huge assorted luggage on the bus. I ran through all the options for what we could do, the most promising one being offering one of the race gear bus drivers all of my cash and my firstborn to take our luggage to the finish somehow (and not steal all our stuff). We ended up meeting Mike of gear bus #1, who was amazingly gracious. He took special care of my backpack, and even put my friend’s killer duffel/backpack/drawstring bag medley in the front cab of his gear bus. He was a lifesaver. All of our stuff made it intact to the finish and I’m so grateful to him! I didn’t even have to offer all my cash, even some of it. I am not a fan of most people but Mike really made me remember how awesome some people can be. MIKE YOU ROCK!!!

Folsom hotel peeps got our own heating tent. It is weird, because in places like heating tents, a lot of awkward (but mostly done in a nice way) sizing-up of others happens. It’s kind of hilarious. Then there are women participating in their own fitness fashion shows. Way too many women show off and wear too much makeup (even any makeup is confusing to me) before running 26.2 miles.

Race:
The weather at the beginning of the race was pretty darn perfect. Lots of humidity (I think close to 100%), probably around 60 degrees. A light rain would’ve been nice, personally. Could’ve been a bit more nippy.

My race itself was actually not very eventful.
Some tidbits:

  • Around mile 4, the smell of horse shit was overpowering for a good 400 meters or so.
  • Around mile 8, there was a man on the right side of the race (stone-faced, not cheering, but observing) on a fold-out chair. In his lap was a sizeable (and equally stone-faced) goat, with its legs tucked in perfectly.
  • Around mile 14, there was a man with two llamas on leashes on the left side of the road.
  • Around the end of mile 14, I saw my friend trip and almost fall way up ahead. When I got closer, he’d been helped to sit on the side and was working through a cramp. I yelled at him that I would see him at the end. I then proceeded to tell every person at the next aid station that someone needed help a half mile or so back.
  • Somewhere between mile 18-20, my gluteus medius and/or tensor fasciae latae started tightening up pretty intensely. Every step felt like my hips would start spasming and cramping at any moment, and the next step I took would be the one that would wipe away the previous awesome 18 miles. I ended up power-walking through most of the rest of the aid stations as a way to not exacerbate the issue.
  • Miles 22-24 were struggle town.
  • The home stretch felt great. I could see the finish line from the second to last straightaway, and when I turned the corner, I turned on the jetpacks. Not sure where they came from. I took that last corner verrry tight, squeezing between some lady and the metal barriers, and quickly gauged the women between myself and the finish (didn’t notice until later that there were separate finish chutes for the men vs the women… odd), and set my sights on the asian girl with the gray tank. Good running form completely broken, I surged forward, grunting rhythmically like those annoying tennis players, and made it past my target (see pain-face/success photo below!). And then almost collapsed. After wobbling and holding my hips (and then my knees) through the finish chute, I got my medal, space blanket, water bottle, and finish line photo.

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Fueling went well. Did either a swig of both water and Nuun or just water at the aid stations before halfway. After the halfway point, alternated water and Nuun // water and GU and Nuun. Ate all of ze orange slices at the last couple aid stations.

Thanks to Nike, Oiselle, Garmin, Saucony, and Balega for making awesome running gear. Nike/Oiselle: no chafing anywhere! bahaha! Garmin: ridiculously accurate GPS tracking. Yay! Saucony: my feet were happy throughout. Balega: I only had the tiniest blister on one of my toes. Previous marathons, it looked like my toes had boils on them.

Post-race:
Spent the next hour or so running around the various medical/icing/massage tents and huge food and bag pick-up areas trying to find out what happened to my friend. I went by the bag pick-up a few times and the super helpful bag volunteers let me loiter multiple times and confirm that my friend’s huge luggage pile was still unclaimed. Ultimately, he called to say he’d finished and was in one of the finish line buses going back to our hotel.

After a long ride back to Folsom, we were able to get back into the hotel room and take showers. We then scoped out the pasta situation near the area, went to a place that was randomly closed, and then just said fuck it and went to Olive Garden. We went through two baskets of breadsticks, minestrone and chicken/gnocchi soups, seafood alfredo and stuffed chicken marsala, and two fruit smoothies. It may be biased to rate Olive Garden after having just run a marathon and waiting 2 long hours to get back to the hotel/to being not disgustingly salty/sweaty, but it was so damn delicious.

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I then had to drive back because my friend got the itis.

My friend’s run:
My friend had a fantastic race up until that moment I saw him trip and start cramping. I saw a man (also racing) help him up and bring him to the side to sit. Over the course of the rest of the race, he ended up cramping a few more times and was offered salt tablets, more salt tablets, electrolyte drinks, water, food, words of encouragement, negative motivation (whatever it’s called… “I don’t want to see you sitting, stop sitting, get up and run!”), even massages, from a combination of spectators, race volunteers/medical staff, and other race participants. Apparently, one runner almost tripped trying to get to him while he was on the ground cramping to give him support. This sort of thing, the we’re in it together-ness, the selflessness, the kindness, is just really beautiful to hear about, and it makes me feel warm and fuzzy inside. Makes me love running and the other people who love it as well all the more.

:)

Marina Bay Half Marathon 6/22 RR

I felt inspired, after a trip to Domenico’s in Alameda, CA to stave off death from extreme hunger and then a very long nap plus a couple of World Cup games, to write a race report.

First things first… I got a PR yay! 2:07.30, approximately 12-13 minutes better than I did in my first (and only, before today) half marathon. Pushed hard to make it before the 2:10 pacer group. Pretty happy with the result, considering my ongoing ankle issues. I definitely am feeling the effects of favoring my left leg today, though.

Fun highlights and quick synopsis: Felt great and relaxed through the first 8 miles or so. Traded places with a couple of men and women, resolved to finish in front of a couple of them who looked like they had particularly good stamina. Ended up finishing before 90% of that group of people I identified.

I tweaked the same ankle on which I have that bone bruise/possible stress fracture issue with about 3.1 miles to go. I’d just passed the 10 mile marker, and was not feeling very strong. I reacted to a woman ringing a cowbell from her backyard, and lost my concentration briefly and tweaked it off the side of the paved dirt path. I thought that would be the end of any good time I’d built up thus far.

Thankfully, that wasn’t the case. The odd-feeling pain of hyperextending took about half a mile to somewhat subside, although I did have to consciously favor the left leg a big more the rest of the way.

There was this Asian woman running ahead and then eventually behind me most of the time with a very loud GPS that would spit out stats every half mile (she was one of the people I had chosen to pass, hopefully). Ultimately, as she started to fade, she became more of a marker approx 10 seconds ahead of where the 2:10 pacers were. At some point, she dropped even further, and I could no longer rely on her gps contraption to keep me safe from the looming 2:10 sign. With around 2 miles left, I decided to start my push. I probably shaved my pace to somewhere around 8:30, 8:45, placing my target on this guy up ahead: “If I get to where he is relative to the pacers, I will be good to go.”

Half a mile later, my left foot started feeling the added pressure, my biceps and triceps were screaming at me (this never happens, btw), and my lungs were not okay with this stressful pace after having propelled me through 11 miles. But the key to today was just… not letting myself walk. I knew that with my unknown ankle condition, my increasingly angry left foot, and everything else, that letting myself walk would be a slippery slope to losing my sub 2:10, and who knows, it could’ve gotten worse. 2 miles is a long way.

With about a mile left, the Asian lady again came out of nowhere to challenge me! I hadn’t heard her gps for a while, and there she was, high turnover feet pattering and passing me on the right. Oh hell no. She again became my benchmark, even though the pacers had been dropped to probably 30+ seconds back both of us at this point. I decided to renew my push. She WAS my 2:10 pacer, I decided.

I went abreast of her, then just as quickly as she reeled me in, I refused to let her. Over the last half mile stretch, I dropped her quickly, focusing on form and the rhythm of each bound (which felt more like trudge). I caught quite a few more people on my way down the last two straight stretches to the finish line… Kumi ran out of the Riveter building (he told me later) and screamed at me to go, and struggle was plainly on my face at that point. A liar male volunteer yelled at me that I was almost there, the finish is just around the corner (it was an additional 100 yards after rounding the corner thanks very much sir), finish strong. A couple others said the same. I nodded deliriously at every mention of finishing strong. Yes. Why the heck not, I was going to PR, might was well make it the best PR I could make it.

I didn’t have quite the kick as I’ve had in the past (1 12K, 1 HM and 2 Ms), but I didn’t have a greater overall race than I did today, so I’m ok with what kick I did have left. PR yay.

Takeaways:

Saucony Kinvara 5: more cushion for the pushin. YES I AM A CORNBALL. But really, I just got them a week or so ago, when i was sidelined due to an inflamed, possibly pre-stress fracture or mild stress fracture ankle. First time these beauties were used, and boy did they deliver. My shoes have been the A5s for the longest, but after the ankle thing I wondered if a little more support would help. yessir. Below is a pic of the pair I own – Citron/Vizi Orange/Purple.
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Best compliment of the day: guy who said to me post-race, “You had great form! It gave me energy.” That’s really awesome :)

Note to self: tapering is probably really important. Yes, I tapered against my will, but maybe it’s a good thing.

Note to self 2: must do more upper body exercises, even though I already do. after running a while, i tend to bring my arms up higher (my relaxed form has my arms barely doing a pendulum near my hips) – they don’t cross my chest, but they swing more near the sides. I need to stay more relaxed somehow, loosen up my neck/shoulder/arms and get them stronger too.

Race execution/score:

Pros – nice location with a lot of parking. Packet pickup was a cinch, with a lot of options including race-day pickup (although I heard that got packed and ugly… that’s not their fault). Bib assignment was also done at whichever location you decided to show up at, and there were 3 (SF, Oakland and Corte Madera). Great race locale (who knew Richmond was that beautiful?), beautiful views, nice crisp air and breeze. Cool and comfortable throughout. Weirdly, course went through a dog park, but I don’t have a problem with that.
Cons – aid station volunteers were not trained. There weren’t enough of them, either. How do you run out of things you say every fuel station will have? Not enough signage/volunteers directing traffic. No trays upon trays of orange slices, halved bananas, gummies, water, juice, etc at the finish line. No, you had to walk all the way down that last straight, half the distance of the much longer straight before the final turn, go into the Riveter building, go UP THE STAIRS, to a weird large warehouse-looking floor that had stale half bagels, NO MORE WATER/FLUIDS by the time the middle of the pack (me + most people) finished, and some random knicks and knacks like red vines and popcorn (again, wtf?). I had to settle for that stale bagel and had to walk DOWN THE STAIRS and out to the place where Nuun set up, just to get something with water in it, even if it was weird fizzy flavor tablet water. (PS do not buy Nuun. Too hyped for no good reason – plus, anyone else been reading too many running blogs with people shilling this item/company?). I’d rather have Airborne, plus Airborne has alleged(?) extra benefits of immune support.

So… I’d give this inaugural race a 6 out of 10. I’m not that hard to please, it would’ve been a 10 out of 10 if they’d had adequate quantities of food and beverages in the ENTIRELY SUFFICIENTLY spacious location behind the finish line. But 10 out of 10 because it ended up being a good day for my running stuff.

Injury and June 2014

I’d say the injury started a little less than a month ago. I’d return from great runs and then, after cooling down for a bit and stretching, I could see that about an inch above the base of my ankle bone, the bone was tender and the tissue would continue to be inflamed in that area, even after a typical round of icing. Nearing the extreme ends of dorsiflexion and plantarflexion was very difficult, but I couldn’t exactly attribute the pain to that ankle area… the pain felt more like a tense rubber band somewhere inside the core of where my leg and feet met. Stretching too much, too quickly, felt like it would snap or rupture something inside.

Tldr? Basically I haven’t been running consistently for about 2-3 weeks. I don’t believe that this issue can really be resolved by a podiatrist or similar, even though I’ve tried. I’ve just been resting.

Thankfully, June has been providing me with enough entertainment to distract me from the fact that I can’t let loose during a daily run.

  1. San Antonio Spurs, established as my team since middle school, won their 5th NBA Championship beating the Miami Heat! Ahh, that was a blissfully sweet revenge and, more importantly, an incredibly amazing feat. But for me, an avid and grudge-holding fan, I love that revenge aspect. Lebron James was so full of it, and Pat Riley was apparently out getting the phrase ‘Three-peat’ trademarked so he could use it for gear and accessory sales… BWAHAHAHAHAHAH LOSERS!!!!!
    But of course, the beauty of the Spurs’ game, their sportsmanship and their ass-whupping of the Heat (without any referee assistance AHEMHeatwinningin2013AHEM) are much more worthy of celebrating instead of just schadenfreude.
    * For those who are knowledgeable of the NBA, the West Conference was a heck of a gauntlet that really made the Spurs’ gentleman’s sweep of the Heat a relative cakewalk. Bwahaha to those who predicted it would go 7 games.
    ** For those exTREmely knowledgeable of the NBA, I became a Spurs fan in 1998. How freaking lucky can a budding basketball fan get? Sure, it’s been a heartache since 2007, but I can’t complain. AT ALL.
  2. FIFAAAAAA! It began a couple days before the Spurs closed their winning run, and it’s been an excellent daily distraction since. I love how the world stops working (mostly, anyway) during this time :) I have zero vested interest in any of the teams, but I do have some general favorites. In no particular order: Mexico, Chile, Colombia, Cote D’Ivoire, Japan, Costa Rica, Nigeria, Ghana, South Korea. I think I like good teams that aren’t favorites and African/Asian countries. However, if China made it, I wouldn’t be an active fan. I am also not an active fan of the United States. I’m a bit self-hating/self-notcaring, in a sense, as I am a Chinese-American. I’d rather Germany and Ghana win the group of death. African countries (like Ghana) + Japan have the best fans, and Colombia (their hips don’t lie) and Ghana (bad-ass shuffle-twerk step) have the best GOL celebrations imo. Also, the names Samurai Blue (Japan) and Black Stars (Ghana) are just totally BOSS.
  3. New job! I’ve been working with Wikimedia’s UX research team on a variety of projects hoping to prove I’m worthy, and I’ve now been officially offered a position on the team! So very stoked about this move. Extrication from the legal machine complete! Thank you and good-bye, NORE.
  4. Reading – I read Haruki Murakami’s semi-autobiographical novella What I Talk About When I Talk About Running in one night! All runners should check it out. I definitely felt like I could relate to his approach to life and running. You may not, but regardless it’s a good read. I am now going to attack his 1Q84. It is much more daunting, approx 1000 pages.

Anyway, I’m deciding whether to run the Marina Bay Half I signed up for, which is tomorrow (6/22). I can now walk up and down stairs without taking hours to do so. When I wake up, ankle creakiness isn’t the first thing I feel. When I stand up, I’m not bracing for an inevitable wince or supporting myself with the desk or chair to avoid that wince. I can flex without sharp or even very dull pain, but I can tell I’m not 100%. I’m thinking to just do it, and bail during if it starts acting up again. My only anxiety lies in the fact that even when it was getting bad 3ish weeks ago, it still wasn’t very clear I was screwed up until AFTER my runs. We’ll see, I guess. I don’t really care that it might be my first potential DNF. I may update about how it turns out, or I might get lazy. You know the deal with blogs! :)

Happy National Running Day!

Hello everyone – I haven’t posted in a while, as it usually happens after I decide to start posting again. It’s a vicious cycle… I write something I think is relevant, or interesting, or something exciting I achieve or experience, and I find myself second-guessing whether it actually was worth posting. I just have existential crises often, I suppose. There are just so many running blogs out there, replete with amazing photos and stories and reviews (or not-so-amazing photos and stories and reviews), that make me question whether one more is… anything in the larger scheme of things.

Probably not. But today, national running day, I feel it’s important to post this link. It’s inspirational, and maybe my posting it will reach a couple people who may not have seen it otherwise.

http://rw.runnersworld.com/findingstrong/

Morgan Hill Sunday Long Run

I was in Morgan Hill for much of this last weekend with a friend, watching and yelling at high school ultimate frisbee players (not just for the random fun of it – this friend coaches a team from Alameda). But after a tiring Saturday of constant yelling, standing all day in the hot sun while enduring buffeting, ice-cold gusts of wind and the resulting lack of desire to complete my scheduled weekend long run, I decided that I would not repeat this mistake and slack off again on Sunday. [note! I’m currently on a novice marathon training plan for CIM in December. Despite having run 2 marathons already, I am butt-slow… technical term?… and also 25+ miles/week would wreak havoc on everything]

Early Sunday morning, I planned out a route on google maps, a nice out and back from where all the ultimate games were being held (Morgan Hill Outdoor Sports Center). I was not very excited about this given the bizarre weather on Saturday and the general vibe of the city. Very SoCal, nothing’s close to anything else, sprawling houses in weirdly Stepford/nice but simultaneously totally uninviting side street neighborhoods, random vacant lots/fields with alternating nice manicured grass and then dirt/tumbleweeds. I figured dragging that Point B destination marker to somewhere green on the map with a body of water close by would make things more enjoyable. I don’t own a smartphone so it’d be difficult to remember all the turns in a loop course, so I chose the out and back route to the south point of Andersen Lake.
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8.8 miles total. I arrived at the fields and cheered for about 15 minutes. Put on my light blue Gap breathe racerback tank, turquoise Brooks Run Happy bra, fresh green (but more like neon yellow) Oiselle mac roga shorts, neon yellow/blue Saucony A5s and my newly acquired Nike Tailwind12 sunglasses and set off.
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Maybe one of these days I’ll get a Garmin or a smartphone and therefore a smartphone app like mapmyrun and can write about splits and such, but I can tell you that the entire 4.4 miles to the lake, minus perhaps a total of 1000m, was uphill. And not just gradual inclines like in the first mile or two. About 3.4 of the 4.4 miles of the way there was on East Dunne street, and the 1 mile of Thomas Grade street that I took as a shortcut before turning back on to the East Dunne road again was a brutal incline (see below for a google maps shot of a part of Thomas Grade).
 photo tgrade.jpgThe road just loops on and on like this. Endlessly. There were a few people out on their wonderfully manicured front lawns on this street, looking at me like I were insane. And I kind of was. I should’ve checked out the route before I chose it. But it ended up being quite challenging and fun.

After that horrific mile (but with splendid views), I finally turned back onto East Dunne. This meant I had about another 1.5 mile or so to go before I’d hit my destination bridge that crossed the bottom tip of the lake. I could finally also get into a rhythm on this part of the route, as well – the road wasn’t just a pure incline and there were a series of long rolling hills that made up the rest of my journey to the bridge.

There was sporadic tree cover, and a good amount of wildlife. Saw a few deer, lizards, and a few fat men feeding their middle-life crises with insanely perilous speeding. A couple signs saying there were mountain lions hanging about the area. Due to unclear signage, ended up running onto a Holiday Drive for perhaps a half a mile detour. Mistook a few trees for mountain lions. More beautiful scenery, cool trees, and a sweet view of the lake before hitting the bridge.

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there is a deer in that picture. smack dab in the middle.

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success bridge!

The way back was the same in backwards order. Friend said I looked like a hot mess upon my return back to the fields. Doesn’t matter! Running in new places is always fun, and ended up being a lot more fun than I thought Morgan Hill had to offer. I will add some images when I can figure out a way to get them off my non-smartphone and onto a computer…