The New Plan

The season for great local races continues in the bay area of northern California.  As far as I can tell, this is every season except for January.  January is like, whatever guys it's dark out.

This Sunday, I will embrace the one race that includes waking up AFTER 8:30 a.m. on a Sunday (can you believe this!).  It's Oakland’s own half-marathon, which as part of the Oakland Running Festival starts at 9:15 a.m. approximately a half mile from my front door.  My port-o-potty will be my own bathroom.  Luxury.

I was on the edge of upgrading to the full marathon a few times this week, because I learned that the top women FIVE DEEP get paid with some Franklins if ya know what I mean, and last year, woman number five ran a 3:20.  It's a bloody hard looking course so no disrespect to the 3:20, but nobody has ever handed me money after a race and it seems possible! Plus, I've got to run the full Oakland marathon sometime. 

In the end I figured there's always next year.  And I also figured I just love the Oakland half marathon too much not to do it.  The whole 9:15 a.m. thing. 

The one thing I don't love about the Oakland half marathon is it is so crazy full of turns.  Lots of turns, makes it impossible for me to tangent the thing and get anywhere near 13.1 miles by my watch.  Running the tangents is a great myth.  I kind of believe only bicycles can do it. 

Look at the bizarre turns in mile 1 and mile 6.  What the?? Oh, I can see my house from here!

The timing isn’t fabulous, because I hear that you need months and years and eons to recover from a marathon, and this Sunday will put me at a solid 3 weeks post Napa Marathon.  But I’m not scared.  Can’t scare me!  

I tested out some speed this a.m. by sprinkling three lone 6:20 miles into a 12 mile run, and it felt good.  My foot issue has been completely non-existent since the marathon (oh, GOOD timing you super idiot foot).  Maybe that’s because I’ve been running 50 miles/week or less.  Maybe it’s because I’ve only worn the Brooks Cadence shoes once since the marathon.  Maybe it’s because my foot was acting up at a bad time.

Regardless, I’m once again facing a race and don’t know what shoes to wear.  Cummon perfect shoe, find me already!

As mentioned, I’ve been at about 50 miles/week these last few, and trying to keep up with what is my new non-plan plan.

The new Non-Plan Plan:

  • Butt/Hip girdle exercises 3-4x per week.  Mostly including donkey kicks, fire hydrant, clam shells, etc. (I generally follow the stuff I learned in this video). 
  • Hamstring and Piriformis stretch 1 full minute, everyday.
  • 2 minute plank, 2-3 times/week.
  • Swim 1x/week
  • HILLY trails 1x/week (will always have to be a weekend.  Not gonna drive out to a trail before work, not a fan of running after work).
  • Visit new physical therapist in SF recommended by a family member.
  • Run whenever.

Last week my non-plan plan was perfectly executed.  I had my very first warm-weather swim since I started swimming in October 2012.  It was a solid 70 degrees-ish when I headed to the pool last Monday evening at 6:30 p.m.  (thank you time change).  What a world of difference this makes! The water felt like butter.  Terrible metaphor, but, it just felt more pleasant overall.  To not be shivering to death unless I’m pumping and kicking non-stop.

And then, TRAILS!

A friend recommended I visit the Lafayette Reservoir and run the Rim Trail.  I think he secretly wanted me to die.  That thing was H-A-R-D but  I can’t tell you the last time I had so much fun on a run, headphones out, just me and my lonesome.  

Rim Trail.  Source

It was harder than it should have been because I was not properly prepared (only brought 200 cals worth of sugar gummies, by mile 15 of 18 I felt my energy deplete).

I parked a good mile away from the Reservoir (free neighborhood parking yo), ran the inner-perimeter of the lake counter-clockwise, turned around and ran it clockwise.  I dodged 8,984 strollers.  It was a very, very wholesome scene, with perfect families everywhere out for a Sunday walk.  But very crowded.  Not my favorite.  I did, however, enjoy how the entire perimeter was all waves of short up and downs.  The perimeter of my neighborhood Lake Merritt is pancake flat, which isn't as spicy.
The inner perimeter got me up to 7 something miles. 

The only picture I could find of the inner trail....and it has a stroller in it.  Source.

Then I went up, up, down, up up UP, for the Rim Trail.  All told, the elevation gain is more than 100ft/mile, which for me is a lot, but the hard part was the pure steepness at certain inclines.  I liked slowly trudging UP them, but running down those parts scared the shit out of me.  The trail was dusty and slippery, and I could not control myself.  But somehow I did. By tip-toeing.  Maybe a little lobster crawling.

After running the almost-5 mile rim trail…I turned around and ran it the other way.  Thank goodness for the water fountain at the peak of the trail, because while I had my measly 200 cals of gummies, I did not bring any water.  Amateur.

Got back to my car with 18.4 miles, 3 hours, and wobbly legs.  I cannot wait to go back!

One reason I'm going on and on about my excitement for the discovery of this 5-mile Rim trail is that it felt very safe to run by myself without worrying about being mauled by a mountain lion or collapsing in dust from thirst.  I saw another runner or hiker about every 90 seconds.  Not that I can’t run trails with friends, but sometimes it is much more convenient to just head out spontaneously, and since this is only a 12 minute drive from my house I actually think I can fit this trail into my life.  Without getting mauled by a mountain lion.  These are my priorities.  And these are my fears of trail running. 

Trails WILL make me a stronger runner. And then I can feel like I’m sort of doing strength training work without doing the dreaded squats or dead lifts.