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 packet 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 the SO, watching and yelling at high school ultimate frisbee players (not just for the random fun of it – the SO 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. The SO 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…

Genderfuk.

People mistake me for a man all the time (I am an Asian woman with hair that is somewhere in the world of Jenny Shimizu’s, Rihanna’s and Justin Bieber’s hairstyles). It is amazing how often it happens and the wide spectrum of outfits I have worn when this mistake occurs. Sure, I’ll give you the benefit of the doubt when I am wearing a large, thick sweatshirt, but when I’m wearing a v-neck tee with colorful printed storks on it and I’m not wearing a bra, can we take a damn moment to take a look before calling me a ‘sir’? Do I actually need to show you my bare breasts and vagina? Sorry, my hair is like Rihanna’s but I’m not Rihanna. Plus, it’s not that people ever even have to address gender-specifically. Someone even looked at me incredulously once after I presented my ID for club entry (my driver’s license photo has me with my long-gone tresses) and said without taking a breath, “You’re a liar!” After I stared him down, he quickly realized his mistake and proceeded to make excuses about it. Yes, bitch, I cut my hair and you are a moron for thinking I would give you a fake ID with somehow unflinching confidence and without a fistful of other cards proving my identity stashed in my jean pocket.

However, there are moments that I appreciate gender confusion. Genderfuck is a conscious effort to mess with traditionally held standards of gender identity (DO NOT [,crazy bouncer,] confuse that or use that as an excuse to fuck with me existing in my own skin/hairstyle. I am not genderfucking by BEING, I am just me, a woman!). There is an annual party at Stanford called Genderfuk (technically with an umlaut, pronounced gender fyook), and people dress up, cross-dress, don’t dress. It is wildly fun and sometimes shocking. There are also quite a few models like Elliott Sailors who are females working often as male models. Ah, good bone structure! Also, moments like this… MotoCorsa up in Portland, OR decided, after yet another typical boring Ducati motorbike photoshoot with yet another bikini model, decided to shake things up a bit. And I must say, they did an excellent job. If you are grossed out… I’m not sorry because you don’t have a sense of humor. To grow one, try moving to the Bay Area for a bit. Or apparently, Portland!

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But I digress – I like these moments because they allow people to express themselves and remove conventions people hold, at least briefly. And with Elliott and the Manigale MotoCorsa photoshoot – it really highlights, to me, the ridiculous standards to which women are held in the modeling industry, and how it inevitably affects women in society. In addition to that great bone structure, one of the reasons Elliott began exploring modeling as a male was because she, at 31 (but clearly still with an exquisite face and figure), was no longer getting calls for conventional female shoots. And the hopefully at least somewhat satirical Manigale shoot reflects how ridiculous it is that we require these women to not only look perfect but to pose uncomfortably in the most ridiculous ways, to allure and please men (yes, I know, women buy motorcycles too. but still… main purpose of these shoots would be to attract men).

And sometimes, it’s just fun. Example: my best friend donned a wig yesterday for Halloween – he was Miss Bon Qui Qui.

Bully.

Some thoughts:

Bully Sticks – Dog Owners! You know of these helpful, pungent little things. Kai is currently going ham on a braided bully. It is truly a great way to distract the little buggers, despite the odor. Did you all know that they’re made of bull penises, though? Yeah, I didn’t either. Something to ponder.

Anyone, but mostly recruiters – Please manage your time. Be prompt and responsive. If you are soliciting on LinkedIn and then you schedule a call, why would you be late? Am I being too difficult, or is that just rude? Personally, I suppose I am also rude… I arrive early… but I do always call on time. Bully for me!

Passive aggression – Workplace agitator and morale killer! Unless incompetence is involved, there is no need nor place for passive aggression. It is absolutely the worst when the doer is the one who exhibits incompetence through passive aggressive actions.

Backdoor bragging – Made famous on that one 30 Rock episode! Jenna loves to back-door brag, and so do so many individuals who on some level have bought into the Silicon Valley/SF Bay Area life of one-upping and keeping up with the Joneses and all that. It is infuriating and I wish I weren’t here sometimes. I feel like, while at Stanford, I found myself so enveloped in this mentality and the back-door bragging that oft accompanies this mentality that I limited my life and career choices in a, in hindsight, very soul-crushing way. More on this later, probably.

Bully. :( Happy humpday, all.

Revival.

Dusting this off. It’s been a while, but I felt the need to bring this back.

Some basic changes were made to reflect a more positive outlook on life I’m hoping to attain/reflect. However, this is a truly confusing and overwhelming time in my life at the moment… so enjoy.

Kaizen means ‘good change’ in Japanese. It is also the name of my recently acquired shiba inu pup (I call him Kai for short).

Running is another thing I greatly enjoy. Love shoes, apparel, wearing and living the active lifestyle.

Life is just life. It is what you make it, and I’ve always been very negative about it. Maybe someday that will change, and that is my hope as well. But for now, the reality is that my posts won’t always be very positive.

On that note… life updates.

The shiba pup. He is hilarious and infuriating. It feels like he generates more pee than I give him in food and water. He is also terribly adorable.

I took the LSAT earlier this month. Things were mentally placed on the fast-track, but immediately after taking the test I felt an emptiness that was either or both that I didn’t care enough about law school and that I just don’t know about life in general.

BREAKING NEWS***
One of my bosses at work just sent me a gchat about a potential Sriracha shortage. Apparently, the city of Irwindale, CA has cracked down on the Sriracha factory located there due to many reports of unsavory smells emanating from said factory. They really just need to deal with it though. Or we all have to create a Kickstarter for some sort of odor-neutralizing aerating whatever machine. My boss keeps a bottle on her desk… I thought I’d be cut off until further notice on the case, but she says: “no, we will share in what could be the last few precious drops and the tears that follow.”

Truly a sad day.

Briefly back to my sad overview… I basically do not want to be a paralegal anymore. I want to do something more substantial and involved. I want to manage something (but not necessarily someone). But I have no idea what that is.

This blog will hopefully be a somewhat regularly updated brain fart of shiba photos, running expedition recaps, possible product reviews (assuming I ever replace my worn Saucony A5s), and general updates on my life.

-D