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See Jane Run Alameda Half Marathon 2013

Looks like I'm devoting a post to a race that took place....7 weeks ago?  I've forgotten the formula of how to write a race recap.  I think I can do some reflecting and analyzing in order to learn from race failures and, you know, hopefully improve as a runner.  So there's value in posting about that angle.

See Jane Run Half Marathon, June 8, 2013
1:30:32
5th place woman/1534

The months leading up to this race were no joke.  I didn't just spontaneously show up one Saturday for this one; I focused on fitting in approximately one really hard treadmill speed session once a week for at least a couple months.

At some point I was flying through 10 half-mile repeats at 2:57 splits, and at another point I was running 9.5 miles in one hour for a crazy tempo minus a few short breaks off the belt to chug water and stretch.  But regardless of how much "easier" it is to run on the treadmill versus outside, there was no question that I was working hard.  It was pretty fun.  I felt myself getting faster (at treadmill running).  My leg-lock stayed the same, and I could never get past about 4 miles of tempo-ing without needing to stop and stretch it out, but I did get comfortable at the 6:20-6:30 pace, which is where I was hoping to stay for a half marathon.

There are some obvious possible reasons why, despite this hard work, I ran a 6:50 pace (by my watch; a 6:55 pace by the race results) instead of a 6:2x pace.

1) It was hot.
2) I had recently had the flu.
3) leg-lock

Hot enough to fry an ipod I SUCK AT CAPTIONS SO HARD RIGHT NOW

As for number 1.  Heat surely makes a difference, but....a 5 minute difference from my goal time? I don't think that should have been the case.  Maybe a 1-3 minute difference.  Maybe I'm a bigger heat wimp than most.  I heard the girl who finished after me dart for the shade right after the race that I was sitting in, and after asking her man support (boyfriend, husband, brother, who knows) what her time was, she replied "huh, about a minute faster than last year."  So I was thinking shit, this is PR weather for some people!? Then I should have been able to PR too.

The heat did melt me.  I tolerated it for the first two miles, and then the 3rd mile I ran my slowest ever half marathon 3rd mile.  I slipped to a 6:4x mile, which usually doesn't happen for me until I start to struggle around mile 8.  That was a mental shock, too, and so I slipped deeper into the heat funk, and all my remaining miles were somewhere around 6:40-7:05 (I think -- it's been, you know, SEVEN WEEKS.  And I don't hoard my Garmin data.)

der dee der.  That is the sound it looks like I'm making in every race picture ever.

I started out somewhere like 2nd or 3rd place woman (the first place woman was some sort of heat defying freak of nature who barely sweat at all with a 1:25:xx) and during that 3rd mile where the heat started to hit, one strong woman who I have seen at other races started walking.  And I thought, "I know exactly how you feel.  Like stopping right now."

you look like you're not running hard enough.  Oh hi Sushi House. 
Hey by the way, for all of you that are not perfectly located in the spoiled-weather belt of the California/Washington/Oregon coast, when I say it was hot, I mean mid-to-high 70s.  The exposed course made it feel a heckuva lot toastier than that, but just generally to be clear it wasn't what YOU REAL HEROES consider hot.  It was just TOO HOT for me to figure out how to race.  I've never done any speedwork in temps higher than probably 65 outside, 70 in the fart gym.  This is surely garnering me no sympathy with all you twitterers filling up my feed with your 95 degree tempo workout.

(Speaking of, follow me on twitter if you love people who post about once/week

2) The flu excuse.  Eh.  I sure felt heavy and slow this day, but sometimes thats just how I feel.

The reason I hesitate to give the flu excuse too much credit is because I felt just as sucktastic in March at the Oakland half, where I ran a 1:31.  It seems like something else is going on that isn't related to the flu, or the leg-lock (although it was pretty hot at the Oakland half too, keeping the heat in the running.)  Something else is sapping my energy.

3) The leg-lock excuse.  no comment for now.  Same old same old.  I stopped at mile 7 and 9 to stretch out the leg-lock.  A bicycling race support guy was like "don't stop! keep it up!" And I was like "you don't know me. ok fine."


That arm should NOT be glistening with sweat at the 1.5 mile mark.
So my alternate reason for falling 5 minutes short of my goal could be that:

1) I overdid it with the training.  Too much speed work, and then on race day I was burnt out.  Perhaps, but why did I feel pretty good week after week on speed work days? Occasionally I felt terrible and I would take the day easy.  Maybe the race just landed on one of those days that I happen to not feel good for no identifiable reason?

2) low iron? I haven't been very good about supplementing here despite regularly high miles.

3) Diet? I don't see or feel any weight gain, but I have been...how do we say...eating a lot of junk food.  Not enough of that good old quinoa and kale.  It's summer, there's a reason to eat ice cream and pie for dinner practically 34 times a week.  Maybe my engine is running low on some other good stuff that it needs.

4) Who cares.  A huge part of me doesn't care at all why I fell short of my 1:25 goal at this race, and just wants to give it another stab later this year.

THE RACE ITSELF.

Having run SJR in Alameda 3 times now, each year has absolutely been a different experience.

The first year was frustrating and I hated it (search the archives).  I got lost, the volunteers were severely unhelpful, the mass merge with the 5kers was a disaster.

The second year was great.  The volunteers were spot on, the weather was fab, I was grooving in first place until mile 13 (ugh.)

Blame Runners Rambles for taking all of these pictures.
This year was the year of marketing.  SJR pumped up their game, really spread the word (hence, I found my way on board as an ambassador for the race), pumped up the expo, pumped up the sponsors (See's Candy hell to the yes), and had a great crowd turnout. The volunteers were pro.

The event went smoothly.  I recommend the race, and even though the course is not exactly.... interesting the third time around, I may still run it again next year.

Still, I would highlight a few problems that need to be addressed, since the good news is that SJR has thus far done a good job addressing the problems that arise.

First, there was this incredibly thin, almost invisible fishing-wire type string at around waist-height separating the 5k and half-marathon lanes for the last mile of the race. It scared the shit out of me.  I kept imagining running into it and slicing myself in half, or at least tripping.  How about some thick yellow CAUTION tape or something?

Second, a summer race may need to start earlier.  A portion of the heat issue could have been avoided if the race started at 7:00 a.m. (when it was 68-ish degrees) instead of at 8:00 a.m. (when it was creeping into the 70s.)

Third, the finish line area is still a shit-show.  Has been every year.  Free champagne sounds lovely and all, but I have never bothered to try it given how long the line is with the finishing 5kers who have been milling about for a while.  I blame everything on the 5kers, sorry.  In a perfect world, I would hold that race on a different day or have them finish somewhere else, but neither are realistic options I'm sure.

Last, the SJR slogans.  the.....slogans....

SJR has so many fantastic messages that I support hardcore.  They are a loud proponent of the idea that running is for all women of any shape, size, color, background.  The running store owner's goal is to share her passion for running with EVERYONE.  She does not want anyone excluded.  The more the merrier.  Yay!

Somehow, by devoting the cause to the running of women in particular, SJR has fallen into some marketing schemes and stereotypes that are problematic and that make myself and others cringe.

Namely, "I ran for chocolate" or "I run for chocolate and champagne."



The medal this year (photo from another ambassador's blog)

At first glance, it's not so harmful to stereotype women as lovers of these two items.  I wouldn't be appalled if an all-men's obstacle course race had a slogan of "running for the beer and wings at the finish line" or something equally stupid.  No more harmful than the countless sitcoms that present the husband as a bumbling dunce and the wife as the ole ball and chain.

But, please read Angela's post here for a very insightful analyzation as to why this kind of logo raises concern for many women.  It may be all in good fun, but it is blatantly contrary to the message that "running is for women of all shapes and all sizes" when in the very same breath you state that running is also about burning the naughty calories you ate.  In other words, "running is for all shapes and sizes but don't forget to not get fat!"  This reinforces the message that running is an act of guilt to counterbalance calories in, kind of like saying..."I stick my finger down my throat so I can eat chocolate."  Ew.

I don't want to blow this out of proportion because I have no doubt that the slogan is in good fun--the intent is for a "wink wink, we are women and love chocolate" bonding thing.  And no joke, I was stoked when I found out See's Candy was a sponsor, my head dancing with visions of 20 pounds of chocolate for winning.  But just as when I was 5 years old, my love for running is independent of my enjoyment of chocolate.  I love filling my senses.  Filling my taste buds with excitement for the fat and sugar hit of a dessert.  Filling my legs with satisfaction when I spin them around the neighborhood.

I ran SJR because it is a well done, conveniently local all women's race.  I did not run it for chocolate. 

Publish

What just happened????

Something, my friends, extremely brave.  Intrepid.  Courageous.

I KEPT MY JOB.  Instead of keeping my blog and quitting my job.

Shazaam!  That's real life, isn't it?

This isn't to say that I am done here.  This is to say I haven't had the motivation, energy, time, or balance to blog.  I warned you 2013 would be a slow year here! But I don't intend to shut this all down.  Let's get that out of the way first.  I'm not quitting blogging.  At least, that isn't an official choice I have made.  There certainly is some strange contagion floating around that is making the exit awfully tempting....sayonara to the Queen Bee of Bay Area running bloggers (that is a compliment), Aron!  And Cate!

This is a picture that includes Aron and Cate.  And other lovelies. 

(there really is some correlation with the death of blogs and the death of Google Reader.  I simply haven't found any replacement that interests me, so I'm officially not reading any blogs.  What am I going to snark on now!??)

I understand that I don't have any obligation to blog, and I don't owe anyone an explanation or an apology.  However, I personally do not appreciate when people who I have followed for months or years suddenly drop off the face of the internet earth.  So out of appreciation for all the support, wisdom, straight-talk, love, and occasional hate, I certainly do owe some discussion for why this blog went into hibernation! (And a reminder that it may continue to be quieter here for a period of time....)

Blogging is work.  Barely, but you put in the minutes to write, to find the pictures, to respond to the comments (I admittedly don't always respond to comments).

**It can especially be HARD work to open your email inbox to copy/paste the description from the Running Product (c) that is sponsoring your post for a pretty penny.**  (See the irony here, is that people who blog for a living do the most mindless posting.  Here's a picture of stuff in my purse.  Here's a picture of me sweaty after running.  Here's a picture of Running Product (c).  And us mere hobby bloggers, who deal with a real 40-80 hours of work per week, have to actually come up with the content.  With our brainz.)

For me, blogging is mostly fun, but still, sort of work.  

This past month, I have had to decline any smidgen of extra "work."  Real work has been the S word (stressful) and consuming.  As in, surprise-wake-up-call, you-have-to-work-on-the-Fourth-of-July even-though-you-made-a-lot-of-fun-plans consuming.  But thankfully, I worked hard to earn some play time.  There was a 4-day trip to Austin, Texas in there.  And a fullfilling and rejuvinating camping weekend.


Salt Point State Park.  Oh, the goggles? Yeah, I'm a genius.  I got sick of my eyes burning and pulled these out of my gym bag in the car trunk.  The first use the swim goggles have gotten in a while...

And then of course, wedding planning.  This still mostly involves looking up wedding dresses on the internet.  I've gotten almost....nowhere.  A dress is in the mail on the way.  A real dress, not stun guns.  Oh, inside joke, sorry you wouldn't get it.  I'll explain.  I ordered a dress a while back and instead got stun guns.  It was a hilarious story that I was really proud of until it turned out to just be a UPS mixup.

Just another stupid dress that isn't "the one."

Where to backtrack to....

There is so much that has fleeted in and out of my mind that I have wanted to share and blog about in the past month-plus of barren deadland on roserunneristhebomb.com

One thing, for instance, is that I need to recap the last race I ran (also over a month ago!).  And as a SuperJane I am contractually obligated to write a recap.

Can someone psychoanalyze why it is that the first time I became obligated to write a blog post is the first time I didn't want to write at all? 

The recap will be short, and I'll get it up next.  All there is to say, really, is that it was a 90 minute blur of dreaming about slurpies and swimming pools.  It was fucking hot.  

So hot that my ipod was just extra weight. 

So hot that I sweated cloud patterns

Rewinding from the June 8 race.  I'll try to catch you up.

You could possibly call the theme of this month+ in running “RoseRunner tries to run in the heat and fails.”  So many hot, hot, unbearably hot runs for one poor little un-acclimated northern California runner who runs all of her runs in perfect 50 degree morning air, or less than perfect 70 degree hot fart gym air.

9 days before the See Jane Run half marathon, I came down with a wimpy strain of the flu. Symptoms included: feeling deadly tired and having no appetite.  For about two days, I ate tiny pathetic meals that are reserved for the people who read Shape/Self/Health magazines (1200 calories a day!) instead of my normal 9 course dinners that would make a Shape reader cry with disgust.

I woke up on the third day, a Saturday, feeling like myself except for the fact that I was under-fueled from being sick.  I nevertheless met up with Jessica in San Jose for a long run (19 miles) on a hot day.

We hit mile 6, and I’ve never felt so depleted on a run ever.  This must be what hitting the wall really feels like.  I simply felt empty.  Note to all runners who are trying to get over the hurdle of a certain distance: it really is about fuelEat a bigger dinner the night before. This has always worked for me to comfortably get through 16-23 mile runs without fail.   That big dinner you are picturing? Even bigger.  Now add 3 pieces of toast.  You're close. 

I bought and chugged a Gatorade, and then felt empty again.  At mile 12, I bought and chugged another Gatorade.  It was so hot.  Hardest run I’ve been on a in a long time, and I conked out on the couch the second I came home for a long nap.  This did not bode well for the half-marathon one week away.

Then Tuesday before the half, I ran 8x400 meter sprints (around 82-84 seconds) because I thought it would wake up my legs for the half.  Nothing notable about this, except that it was only the second time I did ANY track week in the last 6 months, which may not have been wise.  To do right before a race.

The Thursday before the half, I hopped on the treadmill for three, measly, little, half-mile repeats at half-marathon goal pace (6:25-6:29).  I’ve run miles and miles at this pace on the treadmill in the past  few months, so 3 half mile repeats, with a full 1.5 mile relaxing recovery in between, was supposed to feel easy and just a little reminder of the pace I was gunning for in 3 days.

The repeats could not end soon enough.  I had nuthin.  6:25 pace was knocking me out.  Does not bode well for the half marathon!

Aaaand, then the forecast for race day was 80 degree.  Predictable recap to come, I promise.

After SJR, I worked, worked some more, and earned 3 days off for a mini-vacation to Austin Texas! whoa! cool city.  Very, very insanely holy shit kill me now hot.  So humid.

I stayed naked the whole trip, it was truly too hot for clothing 


Torchy's Tacos, thanks for the recommendations! 

I got tore up by bugs (fire ants?) and one of the bites turned into a Harry Potter scar (I never scratched that thing; it was just shaped like this.)

Waiting to watch the bats come out at sunset

Gordoughs donuts.  We ate so, so much in Austin.

I ran outside 3 times while I was there, during which I chugged about 9 gatorades (that's 3 per run geniuses), lost one t-shirt to a garbage can due to it being a completely worthless soaking wet sweat sack, and generally lost more sweat per run than I typically lose per year while running.  All the locals were running like it was normal.  Way too hot to be outside for any reason, running being the stupidest reason of them all.  But oh, those acclimated Austin locals, barely sweating, running 8:00 minute miles to my careful 9:00 minutes.  I was careful. It occurred to me that this was perfect weather to pass out in.

Upon returning to Oakland, land of the hipster (the less-tattoed hipster in comparison to Austin) and perfect weather, I've felt like I can take on anything.  I ran for 3 hours in 80-90 degrees this past weekend, and it was no thang.  Barely even batted an eye. Without humidity, that's like a comfortable breeze.  

Running has of course been happening.  If I flip through my running log, we've missed:

62 miles (May 27-June 1)
56 miles (June 3-9)
77 miles (June 10-16)
91 miles (June 17-23)
93 miles (June 24-30)
74 miles (July 1-6)

Took a little taper thing for the half marathon, and then stopped running hard.  Not running hard makes running volume very easy.  90 miles at 7:30-9:30 paces is definitely an "easy week" compared to 60 miles with some sprints and tempos.

Notable events while running recently include:

  • Stopping for fuel in the middle of a long run by....eating a bunch of cherry plums that were hanging off of a public tree.  
  • Finishing up runs (four times now) by getting the biggest size Slurpee at 7-11, and then run/walking the 3/4 mile home with it.  I get a lot of stares doing this.
  • Falling asleep after running on the weekend.  What is happening this summer?  
You know what, let me just end by saying I apologize for the jumbled post.  I'll try to commit to 1) a SJR recap; 2) a wedding planning recap; and 3) a running/life recap.  This is a peek into all three. 

Publish.  Finally.