Die Bug

The title is not german for "the bug."  It is all english.  Die, bug.

The past week has been full of running and running friends!

Kicked off last weekend with an engagement party for one brunette running friend, celebrated by 4 brunette running friends.

Aron, Jessica, yours truly, Jojo.  Just four girls and we're havin a good time, havin a good time
Tuesday I aimed for a 6-mile tempo, but it turned into a 3x2 mile tempo because I stopped after mile 2 and mile 4 for about 30 seconds to stretch out my locked calf/knee.  6:26; 6:28; 6:35; 6:37; 6:37; 6:29.  Good job, I still can't run 3 miles hard without something hurting.

Wednesday: get lunch with cute runner friend.  This was a splendid way to interrupt a day at the desk.

Thursday I was creative and made up a track workout.  I would be such a brilliant coach, slap together different track distance repeats at random.  The workout: 1600-800-400-400-400-400-800-1600.  1/2 lap to a full lap jog recovery in between.

My general goal was under 6:10 for the 1600s, under 3:00 for the 800s, under 1:24 for the 400s.  I STILL SUCK AT 400s.  Gah.  And unlike what I said in my last post about sucking and not caring, during this run I cared.  Frustration for everybody! 400s, you used to be my friend!


1600: 6:03
800: 2:53
400's: 1:24, 1:24, 1:25, 1:27 (what the douche?!) (ok looks like laps 1, 2, and 4 were 0.26 miles instead of 0.25 because I am not a skilled lap-button presser.  Minus one second each, deal, not as frustrated.)
800: 2:56
1600: 6:01.

Shorter repeats like this are great for me because I can get in some speed without it aggravating my leg-lock.  Anything over a mile of speed is still not cooperating with my body.

This run met a really rude finale.  While jogging home from the track in a slow trance, an insect latched onto my leg near the upper inner calf area where the calf meets my knee, and mid-stride, stung me with it's disgusting terrible poison.  It was sharp and in a startle I swatted it before getting a good look at the sucker, but I saw that it was huge and mostly black (no yellow).  Hornet? Wasp? Pouncing spider? Scorpion? Sword bearing monster ant?

I had a mile left to jog home while my leg started numbing, tingling, stinging, and generally spazzing out.

The leg continued to swell over the next 24 hours and it feels now (2 days later) like someone punched my calf muscle and karate chopped my inner knee.  and then sprinkled the itchiest hottest sauce ever on it.  Running has not been particularly comfortable with the swollen itchfest, but I'm surviving.

You know how babies have cute chubby legs and there is no knee to be found, just a marshmallow leg with some dimples where the knee should be? That's how my leg looks.

I hate bugs so much.  I will kill them all.  No one gets spared, no glass jars in my house for kind bug survival support, diiieeee alll of you die.

Friday: Meet with Flight of the Conchords and Dave Chappelle for a comedy fest at the Shoreline Amphitheater.

While I was creeping along in my car for over an hour to move one mile to park at the amphitheater, I was  staring at the crowds of bodies flooding into the theater (it has a capacity of 22,500 people). I kept thinking about the Boston marathon, and how there are TWICE that many people, which made my brain hurt.  This is incredibly nerve-wracking to me.  45,000 PEOPLE!? how can that be managed? how will I get anywhere? How? do? I survive that many people? I'm scared.  I know this will be an unforgettable experience but I already want to crawl under the comfort of a 3,000 person race.

The comedy show was wonderful.  The benadryl I was popping to prevent the swelling and itching on my leg caused me to sleep through Flight of the Conchords' set, which reminds me that FUCK YOU INSECT.

Saturday: Met with some of the bay area's finest runners (and Page, a part-time bay area pal) for a trail run in Walnut Creek at a time that mine eyes haveth never seen on a Saturday morning (8:00 a.m.).

Those clouds weren't bluffing; it started pouring for the last 3 miles of the run
After a long hard weekend run (and I consider 15 trail miles a long hard run), I am usually wiped, in a good way, and somewhat useless for the rest of the day.  Today, I felt peppy all day, and I suspect that the reason is because....I carried water during the run.  I hydrated very well.  Maybe water fountain stops aren't enough and I should always be carrying water on long runs?

Total miles for the week so far through Saturday = 70.  I'll likely run 14-20 tomorrow for a solid 85 for the week.  Obviously I have now cursed myself and will probably run 0 miles tomorrow.

Total miles of the week in which I was cursing a very specific insect and hoping for bad omens and terrible futures for all of that insect's family and friends = 30. 

The Most Inspirational Post. Not.

As is true 99% of the time, I am completely enjoying running.

However.  I find myself feeling disassociated from any semblance of....a goal.

I'm going through the motions of "training" or running--again, enjoying myself--but not mustering the passion to care about the results.  Not particularly concerned that more often than not, the results aren't impressive.

Example one:

My easy runs have gradually gotten slower, and slower, and slower over the course of a year.  There was a time when easy runs were a 7:40-8:00 pace.  They have been 8:30-9:30 pace forever now.  It's a rare peppy day when I'm mindlessly cruising at an 8:00 pace.

Example two:

I ran 12 x 400s last week as my once/week hard run to motivate myself for the San Jose RnR half marathon in 2.x weeks (boooooooo hisssss RnR.  Since it doesn't affect me, as a non-elite and as someone who has unimpressive knowledge of elites, it's not my place to rant.)

I ran each one in 84-87 seconds.  Aka 1:24-1:27.  I'm not sure why I'm in the habit of typing it out in seconds instead of minutes:seconds.

That is exactly FIVE seconds slower than what I could and should be running them in.

Earlier this year, 79-82 seconds was the game (1:19-1:22).  No problem.

A five second difference for a little one-lap repeat is pretty huge, no? That's a 20-second difference per mile.  Ouch.

So here's where I am at, to bring it full circle: cognizant that my running progress is stagnant, or in decline, and then not really.....caring.  Noted. Move it along.

This entire year has been so non-running focused for me.  You've heard it all before: I have more responsibility and have been consistently busy at work.  House hunt.  Wedding planning.  Honeymoon planning. Bachelor watching. Food.  So much food to eat.

There are other shifts in my devotion to goal-based running this year.  I find myself caring more about getting in some healthy socializing at 11:00 p.m. on a Friday or Saturday night than being up early for a weekend run.  I care more about visiting my niece at TrainTown at 10:00 a.m. than waking up early on Labor day for a run.  I care more about getting early brunch with the Gentleman on a Sunday after a week of seeing each other for a collective 3 waking hours than going on a 3 hour run.

Trying very hard to suppress a smile at Train Town

I cannot focus on running goals.  I cannot get myself to care about them this year.  When it feels like a huge accomplishment to peel myself out of bed after 5.5 hours of sleep to go for a run, I can't muster the extra energy to care what my pace is on that run, or if I follow some speed work plan.  Just going for the run is enough.

Speaking of being underslept.  I also hit the track last week Friday for what I hoped would be a 5-ish mile tempo run around a 6:30 pace.  It was my fifth morning in a row of sleeping 6 hours or less, and I was feeling the weight of the lack of sleep.

The way I would describe how it feels to be running when you are underslept, is like having a bad dream.  Like you're doing everything to propel yourself forward, but some mysterious force is holding you back and it is confusing as hell.  Like you are underwater.

My first mile was 6:53, and so that game plan of 6:30's went out the door.  I managed to succeed in turning the run into a "progression" 5-miler instead, with: 6:53; 6:48; 6:42; 6:38; 6:24.*

That will do I suppose.  I'm too tired to care.

*ya know, track miles are so, so much easier than normal miles, so I take these numbers with a huge grain of salt.  I would add 30 seconds to each mile to reflect what I would probably be running on the open roads.

In further pathetic news, I also have this problem where internet "inspiration" has the opposite effect on me.  Reading about other runners on twitter and blogs who are so devoted to catching their goal--their Olympic trials qualifier, their sub-3:00, their BQ--makes me feel like sighing and giving up.  Like, THAT'S what a goal getter talks like.  It's on their brain and fingertips all the live long day. It's the first thing they think of when they wake up; it's an intense drive for them.  My drive to reach running goals is just this little whisper buried underneath piles of youtube videos and legal papers that says "if you feel like it, run hard today.  Or tomorrow.  Or whenever."

Does anyone else get unmotivated by vocally motivated people?

I need some diversity in my twitter feed.  The running chatter is sometime a bit much.

Swimming And A Tummy Picture So Be Warned

Since I quit the fancy gym with the adult-only, underwater music enhanced, saline lap pool, I haven't been swimming.

Which is really too bad, since Free Country sent me a swimsuit at the beginning of the summer.  I needed one pretty badly; the one-piece I was wearing was a tad tiny (it was meant for high school water polo players, who wear their suits very snug to avoid the grabbiness involved in the sport) and it would rub against my skin and chafe if I was swimming for an hour or more.

The Free Country selection isn't very large, and isn't necessarily targeted at performance swimming, but I settled on two reversible pieces I liked.

I just want your creamy thighs -- Prince quote that I try to incorporate into daily conversation as much as possible

I wore it for a number of minutes of strokes against the current in the Russian River during a July camping trip.  Other than that, I wore it to vogue for a selfie for the benefit of the blog.  See above.  Creamy thighs.

One of the best parts of this summer.  She's a world class camper. 

It does the trick! And now I am really craving a swim.  Especially after peeping on Page's swimming pool of choice in Portland.  Bay area pals: anywhere in the east bay I can drop $5 ish to use a lap pool? Anywhere 30 minutes of Oakland works for me.

That's it folks.  Hoping to find my goal-motivation sometime in 2014.  Maybe a little race in Boston next April will get me pumped to make something happened.  I signed up and was accepted.  Jubilated and terrified at the same time (because of the crowds...I don't like big crowds...)

Running Stories

Where my running at!?

First stop, blog reading.

I'm using inoreader.  One of you recommended it, and I like it.  I wish there was an app (wait, is there?) Still not my beloved Google reader, but I'm catching up on old posts, and happy to see we all still sometimes have great runs, bad runs, and hot runs.

My blog readin list.  I subscribe to me.

Inoreader.  I like it.  Hopefully they send me some free blogs for mentioning it.


the hip flexor pain I referred to has been destroyed.  So I've got that going for me.

This summer I had a love affair with not worrying about getting enough speed or miles in, and instead casually maintained a "base" so I can dive into a race whenever the urge strikes.  I don't think I've lost all the speed....maybe half of it.  The impressive speed work I mustered over the summer is as follows:

4x1 mile at the track at 6:15 pace
3 mile tempo at about 6:40 pace

The end.

And it probably comes as no surprise since I'm a running junkie, my weekly mileage all summer has been solid (outside of the approx. 2 weeks where I was having some hip flexor pain).  A little lower than my norm when I'm looking square into the eyes of an upcoming race, but solid.  Flipping back to the beginning of August, my weekly miles have been:  62; 80; 59; 88; and this week was 87 in large part thanks to a very energetic weekend where I stomped out 39 miles.  More on that below.

Recently, I looked at the clock and realized I am signed up for a half-marathon that is in less than 4 weeks!  I have never felt so ill-prepared to run a race.  Yes, I will run it "for fun", but I also don't see any reason to disappoint myself too much, so this week I decided I can handle one hard run a week.  All the other days I can do what I want.  Just one hard run a week.

This past week I settled on 5 mile repeats. I really enjoy mile repeats.  Slow enough that my lungs aren't bursting, and I get a recovery every mile.  And I only have to do 5 of them. Tempos are my fear--no rest breaks!  I like rest breaks! But then when I'm racing, I realize I am accustomed to them.  Whoops?

I picked a 6:10 pace for the mile repeats, which is about 10 seconds slower than what I am capable of when I've been working hard.  I told myself something that I usually don't: that it was non-negotiable.  That I had to finish the workout.  Even if it was hard, I would run as close to a 6:10 mile as I could, exactly five times.

It worked.  6:09; 6:07; 6:08; 6:06; 6:03.

In between each repeat I slowly jogged a lap around the track.

Mental trick: I run on the outside lane, which ends up being about 3.5 laps for a mile (by my Garmin) instead of 4 full laps.  When you are running in circles, it's nice to cut down on the number of circles.  I would LOVE to find a track that has a 1-mile loop.

My left leg still seizes up around my quad-knee-calf during speed work.  Leg-lock.  Still working on my new insurance plan so I can meet with a physical therapist on a regular basis.

I also have been occasionally remembering to try this hocus pocus thing I read in a very old Runners World (I'm about 7 months behind on magazines) about breathing patterns while running.  Matching your breaths to your foot fall, the rule is: in, in, in, out, out; repeat forever.  It's supposed to balance the repeated stress on one side of the body that could be caused by an "even" breathing pattern.  I tend to only remember to practice this when I'm running hard or up a steep climb.  It's a nice little brain mantra.  I've been running a lot of hills.  My niece is the cutest.  What are we talking about?


The creepiest thing I ever did while running:  this Saturday I set out for a fun long run on a hot day at about 10:00 a.m.  On these weekend runs, my goal is to do whatever I want and soak in the beautiful day.  Because they are so aimless, I tend to find myself lazily knocking out 8:30-10:00 minute miles.

On mile 2, I was right on pace with a checked-out 8:45 minute mile on my watch, when this perfect little runner girl in her perfect little spandex and her perfect swishing ponytail blew by from behind me.

Wha--hey! I can do that TOO!

And so I sped up.

I fell into pace behind her (check it: this is the creepy part) but gave her a distance of about...20 yards? We were running around the busy Lake Merritt, so it wasn't particularly unusual for me and dozens of other runners to be on her tail.  As I creeped, I found we were running a steady 7:20-7:30 pace, and noted that it felt nice, not crazy hard, and wondered why I normally slog so unmotivated at my slow weekend long run paces when this felt...better.

I stayed behind her, very pleased to have my secret special pacer, and a very compulsive pacer at that.  She would look at her watch about every 30 seconds.  That's nuts.  I check mine when it beeps at the mile mark, and that's it.  So I continued to pace behind the nutso compulsive pace-checker perfect little runner girl.

Chasing that ponytail (or one that was similar to this)

After 4 miles of creeping, I found her route too boring to continue following (she was running small 3-mile circles around Lake Merritt...when I do Lake Merritt loops, I spice them up into LONG loops of about 6-7 miles by taking all the zig-zag trails).  So I turned up towards Montclair and immediately fell back into my slow slog pace.

Weird.  I never thought I was one for needing a pacer, but it sure makes the pace feel easier, and it feels better than what I have apparently termed "slogging".  Slogging almost makes me tired and more fatigued from the run.  I also never knew I was a creepy stalker.  Sorry perfect little runner girl.

Ended Saturday with 18 miles in the bag, fueled along the way by 3 tootsie rolls (the skinny long ones) and a G2 grape flavored gatorade from 7-11.

The desperate-to-like-San-Francisco thing I did for running: Today (Sunday) it was slated to be another hot one in Oakland (88 degrees) so I had this magical thought that I would BART to San Francisco, where it is always cold and foggy and miserable and urine-scented, and beat the heat.

Back in 2008 when I lived in the City during my 1L year of law school, the only thing I really liked about the City was my running routes.  Ocean views are pretty cool.  So with nostalgia-tinted glasses, what I actually thought was I would BART to San Francisco and have a sweet dance through the beautiful, adored, running routes of my memory.  I wasn't thinking about the urine scent and such.

I ran all over that City.  21 miles (the longest I have run in...geez...4 or 5 months?).

I ran along the Embarcadero, Fort Mason, Crissy Field, Golden Gate bridge, Baker Beach, Coastal Trail, Ocean Beach, Golden Gate Park, Pan Handle, Hayes Valley, Financial District, ALL OF THE PLACES.

And nowhere did I find a single moment where I felt peaceful.

Coastal trail--a jewel. (photo source)

This CITY man, it's just soooooooooooooooooo crowded.  I spent every second of that 3+ hour run mentally preparing for which way to dodge to avoid a billion people and 2 billion dogs (2 dogs per person for EVERYONE in San Francisco).  There was a ton of stuff going on in the city--America's Cup, Giants game.  hipster sit-ins on grassy patches.  6 billion dogs needing to pee.  Maybe it was an unusually busy Sunday.  I don't every remember it being THIS crowded.  I mean, the coastal trail? Since when is there practically a line to hike/run there?

Well, got that out of my system.  Nostalgia tint gone, back to hating San Francisco.

I'm also angry that all of the water fountains I used to rely on during my routes were gone for pretty tourist renovations.  A lot of things looked different. CHANGE? Don't speak of it.

(It was nevertheless a nice, cool temperature run, and I felt strong enough to finish with 21 miles on the back of an 18 miler Saturday. Who knows why.  One highlight was turning my head to see what all the tourists were looking at during my climb up Fort Hood and seeing team Oracle sailing like whoa.  Next time I'll go for a run earlier to avoid the crowds.)

The "W" word: I will eventually blab about the wedding. For now I'm going to keep soaking in the memories, and wait until the professional photos are delivered so I can decorate my fancy words with pictures.  I have to apologize for talking about the "W" word repeatedly over the past 4 months during planning....the second the thing was over, I realized that nobody gives a shit, and I should have kept it all to myself and my lovely friends/family who were supporting the planning.  Every day since then there have been 12 pictures of girls in white dresses posted on my Facebook feed, and I'm like, DON'T GIVE A SHIT.  Sorry for getting caught up in it all.  When it comes to me and the Gentleman, turns out I give a shit.  If you also give a shit, like I said, I'll recap it eventually.

Shittyblogger:  So glad you enjoyed meeting her, she loved all your suggestions for what to blog about next time and will definitely make another guest appearance.  The content is neverending y' long as running blogs exist, there will be a plethora of hilarity....good times for all.