Sunday, April 29, 2012

RoseHiker Part 1

It's ok, hold the press, I am back.  Did I miss anything!?

From my brief reintroduction into the world of media and internet, it appears that I missed relay recaps, announcements of people getting accepted onto Nuun relay teams, and other realllly important stuff of that sort.

Well.  I'm not sure how to jump back into blogging at the moment.  It feels....awkward....I truly had the ADVENTURE of my life these past 8 days and I don't know how to readjust to the mundane life of sleep-run-work-eat-repeat.  I am literally salivating at the idea of moving out of California and figuring out how to make a living at/near a national park.  I had these kind of thoughts when I last visited the Grand Canyon 1.5 years ago, but now it's hitting me more intensely.  I do not want to entertain a life of more days in an office than outside.  I must be outside!!! I need to hike, and run, and skip, and climb, and swim, and bike, and camp, and lay, and sit on rocks.

I know we all feel this way at times, and the convenience of close family/friends and the big city life keeps drawing me back in.  But if I may, I would like to recap some of my adventure here.  I mean it when I say that these next few posts are for "myself" -- I want to remember the story behind the photographs here, despite the fact that they may bore an audience that is here to read about running.   Consider this blog RoseHiker for the week.

VACATION HIKING/RUNNING SUMMARY:

Day 0: run in the morning in Oakland, 18 miles.
Day 1: hike 10 miles; various shorter trails.
Day 2: hike 14 miles; Angels Landing, Observation Point.
Day 3: run 7 miles, hike 9-11 miles; West Rim trail.
Day 4: hike/climb 10 miles; Subway canyon route.
Day 5:  hike 10+ miles; Fairyland trail in Bryce Canyon.
Day 6: run 13 miles, hike 3 miles.
Day 7: swim and walk in Vegas.

Day 0 was travel day.  We rented a Nissan Versa from the Las Vegas airport and were off to Zion National Park.

A+ passenger in my cheap Forever 21 sunglasses from 2008.
Day 1: We slowly began immersing ourselves into Zion: talked to a few rangers, took the shuttle tour (no driving allowed in the park except in the winter), and went on several shorter hikes including Emerald Pools, Grotto to the lodge, Riverside walk, etc.


We were there in the 2-week moth nesting season...there were literally hundreds of thousands of caterpillars.  You could not walk in certain areas without stepping on a few with every step.   They would fall from the trees onto your hair/hat or into your food...

Entering the empty park

Suited up for the 90+ degree weather

The shuttle ride takes you about 9 miles up the canyon, with a recorded voice tour that says stuff like "indians wuz here, this river is crazy and will wash out the roads, and don't hike at this trail unless you are cool with possibly dying"

This shuttle-stop included a very short walk to an overlook of this "Court of the Patriarchs."  It becomes quickly apparent in Zion that everything is named after something relating to religion.  A little heavy handed.

The Garmin is in the picture only because it is such a flattering accessory.  I ended up using it on 0 hikes, although I tried to use it on a canyon hike that you will read about later.


The reflection in my eyeglasses is the happy view I was staring at
Next stop was a short hike, infested with children that I frog-leaped over, to a couple pools and a waterfall.




We found out pretty quickly that the Narrows hike (which we had HIGHLY anticipated) was closed due to high waters.  This happens very few weeks of the year.  We begged various rangers to give us some sort of hint or sign that we could hike it at our own risk, or that it might open later in the week.  It never opened, but we got ourselves a canyon hike in a river, no worries.  Later post.


boooooo



The narrowing walls where the river hike begins

the Gentleman skipping rocks on the Virgin river  
The crowds were very slim this whole week -- and it was National Park Week which meant all the parks were free!  April is a fantastic time to hit these places.


The Gentleman found a real artistic opportunity to photograph me with this abandoned purse
Deeply pondering why the Gentleman was crouched down for this shot.  Turns out there was a cool monolith behind me or something.
 

I don't want to stretch this out into a long series of posts, but I'm tired and have to get prepared for a work-week so only one day will be summed up here.  The rest of the trip will hopefully be mushed into only one or two more posts.  For a sneak preview of what is to come...

I may have hiked a canyon in an astronaut suit.


Fill me in! Did anyone race while I was away? 
Any suggestions for how I can make a living in Springdale, Utah? (this is the entrance to Zion National Park).

Saturday, April 21, 2012

See You Soon

Farewell, sweet internet, I will see you in 8 days!

I'm leaving on vacation (uh....TODAY) and a full week without a word from RoseRunner is a terrible week, so I am stopping in to say please mentally prepare yourself for the loss of one out of the 6,098,832,402,322 things there are to do on the internet next week.  Or you could just browse through the archives to entertain yourself if you are going through withdrawal.

Wait, what--were you thinking that I would go on vacation and have someone do GUEST POSTS while I was gone?? In MY territory?!?  You thought I'd just be like "hey, if you drop by here to read what I have to say, then whether you like it or not today you have to read what this other person has to say"?

Well that's not happening.  Here are some possible reasons why I am not having guest posts this week ahead:
a) guest posts are the stupidest invention in the whole blog world;
b) guest posts are only good when they are rants by people I already like to read on another blog that I already like to read;
c) it didn't occur to me until right now to "maintain" my blog while I was on vacation; or
d) I have no idea who I would ask.   The one time I asked someone if they wanted to do a guest post, I was reeeeejected (I'm looking at you, Pam).

So if you haven't heard, I'm booking it to UTAH, home of beautiful people (go Mormons!), elusive alcohol, everybody's favorite running blogger, and some of the most amazing National Parks (although I think the definition of "National Park" is "amazing").

I don't run very much while on vacation, so I expect maybe two runs, on the shorter side.  Mostly hiking.  Hiking in water.

"The Narrows" Zion National Park.  Sorry for stealing the picture stranger dude.


Before I jet off, I want to mention my future race plan.  Right now I have zero races lined up, but there are a whole bunch that I want to do.  I reaaalllly want to run a marathon, but I'm trying to restrain myself until I really feel like my buttcrease/hip is on the mend.  Half-marathons, on the other hand, are kind of a dime-a-dozen, and the last one I ran didn't bother my body, so sign up I will.

First, I just found out from Page that there is a half-marathon in Pleasanton (where I work!) next Sunday.  How have I not heard of this!?! It is the inaugural race, and I madly want in.  I am giving myself 24 hours to decide whether or not to sign up....it will require me getting up at about 5:30 a.m. the morning after I arrive home from vacation (expected return time is 8:00 p.m. Saturday night).  I could really regret signing up.

Next, when it comes to half-marathons, I am all about convenience.  I reallly don't want to have to get a hotel room, and I really don't want to drive more than 30 minutes the morning of a race.  While scoping out half-marathons in the bay area in the next month or two, the most convenient one is....

See Jane Run.  In early June in Alameda, which is just a 10 minute drive from Oakland.  It starts at a decent time, and is a nice and fairly easy course.  Only problem is, I ran it last year, and I whined up a storm about the bad aspects of the race. 

Me one the left, Katie on the right

Main gripes: too much estrogen-pandering fluff (chocolate and champagne is the theme), terrible crowding at the end of the course and at the finish line area (the line for the coveted chocolate and champagne glass was like 300 deep), and poor organization (the volunteers were sitting down when the front of the pack came by, and weren't giving directions.  I took a wrong turn and lost some time).

Despite all this, I am willing to give it another try because that is just how much I want to run another half marathon and just how lazy I am about driving to a half-marathon that is farther away.  I am also hopeful that they will get rid of the congestion problem when the half meets up with the 5k, and I also think that some real speedsters will show up this year so that I won't have to worry about being in the very front and getting lost.  I could also take a look at the map I guess, WHATEVER.

Other than this race, there is a half-marathon in wine country that a bunch of friends and I are planning on running.  I think in October?   I'd like to be ready for a full marathon by the fall.  In California.  Out of convenience, I'll probably just end up doing CIM again.  Give me recommendations if there is a good northern California one besides CIM for me! (I prefer not San Francisco).

My last thought, for you to ponder until we reconvene, is: what in the world of Carmen Sandiego happened to Jason Mraz? 

The Mr. A-Z I fell for in college
I'm afraid of this one.  He looks like he might talk at me about sustainable cacao and the art of doing yoga while churning your own butter
 

Thursday, April 19, 2012

Pet Sadness and Fast Miles

We all love animals, right?  I bet 98% of people, if not more, have loved a pet in their lives.  And the hardest, hardest, hardest part about the pets we fall in love with is when we have to live through a pet getting hurt or suffering.  And then they go die. 

I dream of the day I own my first dog with the Gentleman, and then the day when we get our second and maybe third dog, because I want a big, medium, and small.  And they will be best friends, and then the dogs will eventually end up looking like us.

Apparently this picture is hosted by crystalmoth.com

This has been on my mind because I woke up to the most horrifying news about my older sister's greyhound, Deja (pronounced like "Deja vu").  She and her husband already lost a greyhound to a slow and expensive cancer death a couple years ago.  Deja has been in their lives for at least 5 years. 

Deja and sister


She is alive and on track to be ok, but what happened is pretty disturbing.  So please fair warning, do not highlight the text below unless you want an image in your mind that is hard to erase.

Deja was playing with my sister's other dog, and somehow her skin got caught on some sort of water-sprinkler type apparatus.  As she pulled away, her skin went with it.  She skinned off a very large portion of herself, exposing muscle all the way through.  Her skin was flapping off like a cape.   She underwent a 3-hour surgery to stitch the skin back on, and things look ok.  Have you ever heard of such a freak accident?  I wonder if greyhounds have unusual skin.

I really don't even know why I'm sharing this.  But it has been on my mind all day, and I have literally been cringing and grimacing all day.  I cannot handle thinking about this dog in so much pain.  Which reminds me why I went vegetarian for a long period of time a while back...I'm a big old baby about this stuff.  I can only eat meat when I really detach myself from the actual source of the product, which is pretty easy sometimes when it tastes so familiar.  I've been eating it for 28-minus-2 years!

This reminded me of the last time that a pet sadness knocked me off my feet for a while.  My family lost our chihuahua, Cha-Chi, who we had since I was 12 until 25, in a terrible way.  A neighbor's big jerk dog (a mastiff I think) came over to our property, jumped over the short fence (which was all that was needed for a chihuahua), and killed her.  Just shook her and broke her neck.  That dog needs some serious anger management if this was all over Cha-Chi's annoying yips.  Our other chihuahua, Paco, survived a deer attack shortly after.  Nature is mean to chihuahuas!

Cha-Chi, below, in a cute lil cast.  She had a heart-shaped spot!

Anyway.  Thanks for letting me get that out.  I spend a lot of time daydreaming about what kind of dog I will get one day, and this stuff makes me wonder if I am brave enough to handle the hard parts.
*****
 RUNNING

Hot dang.  Track workouts get better and better!

I can feel my legs getting happier with the speed each time I show up at the track.

This morning, the Lake Merritt Joggers and Striders had a "tempo" pace workout scheduled: 3 one-miles at tempo pace, with a one lap recovery.  I was told tempo pace should be somewhere around 15 seconds faster than half-marathon pace.   My last half-marathon was a 6:32 pace, so I figured I would aim for 6:15-6:20 pace.

I think the workout is meant to help you work on your tempo pace, and not be a wild maniac who just sprints from the gates.  But I'm new to this track stuff, and I seem to only have "one speed" at the moment, so I ran as my legs told me to and they were totally not into a 6:15-6:20 pace.

Mile 1:  6:03
Mile 2:  5:58
Mile 3:  5:59
Mile 4:  5:57
Mile 5:  6:06
400m:   82 seconds

I don't think I've ever seen a sub-6:00 mile before on my Garmin? I did 5 repeats instead instead of 3, because I didn't feel done after number 3.  I was having a great time, and was feeling good, and it was a really beautiful morning. 

After the 4th mile, I recovered for somewhere between 2-and-3 laps (I was fiddling with my Garmin) which kind of screwed me over for the 5th mile.  I felt "cooled down" at that point, and it was hard to rev back up.  I don't like ending on the slowest note.

So, mad about that, I did one last 400m run to burn out my energy.  Then I was toast, and I jogged home.

No hip/buttcrease pain during the track workout (I'm beginning to think running fast actually feels better on it than slow) but when I got home tonight, the Gentleman wanted to run one lap around the lake (it was SO NICE OUT) and then it was really not feeling good.  Very temperamental.  The standing all day thing seems to be helping keep my hamstring/buttcrease loose, whereas it usually feels stiff on days I run and then sit.

My current situation.  A few adaptations from the last picture. And I wear flats to work, not heels! Only heels on special occasions, like a court appearance.

I also tried to photograph my purty headband at work

Are you sick and tired of reading about my track workouts? Because I don't think this is the last of it.

Have you lost a pet you loved? Any freak accidents? How do you handle the saaaaadddd?

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Nothing to See Here

Ohmygosh, I LOVE/hate the track! I snuck back over to the nearby high school track this morning because I was still dreaming of how fun the 10x400m workout I did last Thursday was.

I had booked about 6 miles by the time I arrived at the track, and because I am wimpy I told myself I wasn't going to do a legit track workout; I was just going to "try" one small thing out.  What I wanted to try out was one or two 800's, because I have heard a lot about this magical workout called "Yasso 800's" and I wanted to gradually ease my way into it.

Most of you probably know what Yasso 800's are, because it is one of those things that I have seen on runner blogs and in Runners World 50 times, but never cared to understand because I tend to gloss over "training plans" or "workouts".   But now that my brain actually gets the connection between "speed workouts" and "faster race times", I think I would kindly like to join the club.

Short story: Yasso 800's means you do 8-to-12 repeats in the time, in minutes, that you aim to run a marathon in, but in hours.   I want to run my next marathon in 2:59 (just under three hours) or less, so I would need to run 8-to-12 800m's in 2:59 minutes, which is a 5:58 pace.  Recover for the same amount of time.

Ok.  Ease into it.  I haven't run an "800" in, ever, so I knew today wasn't going to be 8 repeats.  I headed out for two laps at a pace that felt fast, but I had no idea what kind of pace it was.

First one: 2:53.  Not so bad, feeling ok, maybe I can do 5 of these?

Second one: 2:54.  Ummmm....I feel like death.  I think I'm doing these too fast.

Third one: 2:52.   Eff this.  Running hurts.  I can't breeeaathe. 

So I did three 800s, way too fast for my current capability, and couldn't convince myself to do any more.  It was the second lap of each 800 that was killing me.  So, aha! I compromised with myself that I would just do a few 400m's and thereby avoid that second lap.

I did four 400m, whipping out:  85, 84, 82, 80.   THOSE felt good.  After 800m, 400m seems so manageable.

*****

The ever present buttcrease issue felt pretty much fine during this track workout, but I'm still focused on making it disappear for good.  Besides pigeon-posing, I finally bucked up and did this at work today:


Now I can stand at work!  Which a physical therapist recommended to me.  I ended up putting a third box up for the mouse. Real professional...

I worked like this from about 3:45 p.m. until 7:00 p.m..  It felt fantastic at first, but then by 6:30 my wrist was hurting (the mouse positioning felt all wrong) and the heels of my feet were burning.  I think I need to wear good flat shoes if I'm going to keep this up.  And take some sit breaks.

*****

Yesterday I had some dental work done with my favorite dentist ever (I really admire her, I can't explain it) in Napa.   While my face felt like it was half melting from novocaine, I made silly faces at my cute niece.   And she made them right back

this was her Easter 'fit.

I'm sorry that's all I have to say today.  I can't think straight, all I have on my mind is the FULL WEEK up ahead which will consist of just me, the guy that makes my heart melt, and the natural beauty of Utah.  Plus one day gluttony in Vegas.  I'm going to go burrow my nose in the books I grabbed from the library on must-do hikes in Zion...

Sunday, April 15, 2012

Boston Is So Hot Right Now

Gracie won the Caffeine giveaway, I e-mailed her Friday.  If only caffeine GU helped make hot weather bearable...she is running Boston tomorrow, and as everyone else, is probably really stoked about the whole 80+ degrees thing.  Sounds cruel.  But now maybe I won't be the only one who thinks Boston isn't better than any other well-organized marathon...

*******

Here's some running-related stuff I have done in the past few days.

On Thursday morning, I showed up to the high school track where the Lake Merritt Joggers and Striders do a workout every Thursday.  I ran there (2.5-3.0 miles I think?) and arrived when other runners were finishing up their workout.  I got wind from Merilee that the workout was 10x 400m at faster than 5k pace, with a half-lap recovery in between.

FASTER than 5k pace?!?  I've never participated in a 5k, but I figured that if I did, I would be running as fast as I possibly could.  I can't run faster than the fastest that I possibly can!

Regardless of the workout, I had decided not to participate, and to just run a few laps around the track and head home.  The rain was starting to pound.  So I ran a couple laps, and the rain started really pounding, and indeed I left the track and began heading home.

Then, suddenly, the rain completely ceased.  And I was like, "eff it.  I'm not going home.  Back to the track."  And then I did my first real, true, track workout as an adult.

I started the workout that everyone had already completed.  I thought I'd do maybe 3, 4, or 5 of the 400m repeats instead of 10, expecting my buttcrease to be unhappy.  By repeat number 5, I realized these weren't so bad and pretty fun even, so I did all 10.  With my wet shorts feeling like a saggy diaper.

I think that these are probably not much faster than my theoretical 5k pace.  Maybe just a tiny smidgen faster.  The 400m repeats, in seconds, were:

89; 87; 88; 86; 86; 86; 86; 86; 85; 83.

For reference, an 89 second 400m is a 5:56 pace; an 85 second 400m is a 5:40 pace. 

In my last post, I wrote about how in high school I could run 400m in 60 seconds.  So really, it kind of depressed me that running 400m at 23-to-29 seconds slower than my old stellar best felt pretty challenging. By the tenth one, I was tired enough that running the 2.5 miles home sounded brutal.

My butt was sore the next day, which reminds me that sprinters like Alenka Bikar need good butt muscles.

Same girl as last time.  Still impressed.

Here's another thing I tried this week that was brand new.  Once a week or so, I will plank for 60 seconds.  Just for good times.

Then I kept reading about how Ali was busting out 5-MINUTE planks, which.....blew my mind.  There are so many reasons that I can't even imagine doing a plank that long -- obviously, first, my abs start to burn.  And then, my back starts to ache.  And my elbows get angry.  And then my neck.  And then my toes.  And thighs.  Everything hurts!

Well, I tried my best.  I got to 2 minutes 5 seconds, and that was a victory for me.  I'll keep doubling my time planking for the next few weeks until I am at a 30 minute plank.  That will be cool.  I'll just write up an entire blog post while planking.

blog blog blog.  Other kind of planking.

Lastly, I ran long today, and something happened that hasn't in a long while--I found $$MONEY$$.  Three fivers off to the side of the sidewalk, for a total of $15.


Always the best reward, even though sometimes I stop and wonder who lost it and it makes me sad.  What if it was two 12-year old boys who were out for a good day, and their mom gave them this allowance to buy lunch?  Judging by the neighborhood I was in, I hope and think the person who lost this likely has money to spare.  haha wealthy Oakland hills, I have $15 of your wealth!


This $15 is one of my top 5 running finds, I think.  The best cash find for me while running was $40 (in Bel-Air, Los Angeles).  Once I found a wallet, with over $120 in it, which I was able to return to the owner.  And once I found a small purse, with an iphone and wallet with some cash and a dozen gift cards.  Also returned, although it would have been much quicker and easier for me to find the owner if she hadn't remotely locked her iphone (so I could search in her contacts for "home" or "mom/dad" etc.)

******

The Gentleman and I went on a City walk yesterday (we have a history of loving hiking, but not liking to drive to trailheads, so we often start a "city" hike from our front door).  We "hiked" to BART, barted to San Francisco, and then "hiked" to the Presidio from Embarcadero to check out the Walt Disney Family Museum.

Miniature things make my brain excited
Disneyland, 2007.  I asked Jack Sparrow to run with me, arms up and flailing every which way like he is known to do.  He obliged, and then we posed. 

Swooooooooon.  The museum was so cool, so well executed.  If I could give any advice for someone planning to go to this museum, it would be: that the exhibits getter better and better, so don't spend all your energy slowly reading the stuff in the first few rooms about Walt Disney ages 0 through 20.  Like I did.  Quiz me on his 13th year, I've got it all in here.

Walking all day is the best.  I can't wait for Zion....all the tips everyone has shared has been super helpful, and I am stoked.  Countdown is 6 days!

******

What is your favorite track workout?  What's the biggest bucks you have found while running?

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

The Time When Five Miles Sounded Impossible

I never would have guessed I would be a long distance runner.

When I first started loving running enough to do it as a sport in middle school and high school, I thought "distance runner" meant you ran the 5k.  I even thought the people who ran the 2-mile race in high school track were batty.  Who wants to run around the track 8 times when you can train instead to run around just 1/4 of a track!?

So I started out as a sprinter.  I ran the 100 meters in middle school, and if you run the 100 you by default also run the 200 meters. And being fast also helped propel me into the long jump sand pit.


Long Jump 2001

I learned I was fast from playing soccer.  I had a few coaches who would instruct the teammates to just chuck the ball over everyone's head towards the opposite goal and let me chase after it.  It was always easier to run fast when I had a ball that I wanted than to run fast on a track.

I did well enough in these sprints for a white girl, knocking out 13.1 seconds in the 100m and I think my best 200m was a 26.4.  Eventually I was pushed towards the 400 meters, which was a distance that would make me soak through 3 shirts with nervous sweat.  This distance made me nervous because I was so untrained for it! I would burst out in a full sprint that would last for the first half-lap; as I turned the curve my legs would begin to tighten; and by the time I was sprinting the last 100m straightaway, I was certain that I had no legs.  They fell off around the 330 meter mark every time.  I just wasn't training my body to be strong enough to finish with the power that I started with.  Is this an allegory for how I run the marathon and half-marathon, or what? My best in the 400m was 60.x, I would guess 60.8.  Pretty good if you remember I had no legs for part of it.

Looking back, I wish I had recognized that I had the ability to run fast for longer.  I wish I tried the mile, or the 2-mile.  In that fresh state, I'm sure I could have broken 5:00 in the mile, no prob.

I was also a relay girl, through and through.  Oh, I adored the relays.  Loved them! I ran the 4x100 and 4x400.  The relay teams I was on set a school record in both races while I was in high school, and the 4x400 record still stands!  You can see it here, if you don't know my real name, the first and last both start with a "C", but the rules in here are that we don't write out my real name.  Professional security, ya dig?

4x100 Relay, 2001

I remember when we did "fitness" for soccer, we would sometimes warm up with a 1-2 mile run.  I was fully cognizant of the fact that running aerobically at a steady pace for longer than 10 minutes was super challenging, and I would play mind tricks to help myself last.  I would think things like, "pretend that your mom's life depends on running one more mile! Some evil guy has a gun and is saying if you don't finish this mile, she's a goner!"  I would take that a step further, and ponder whether I could run 5 miles without stopping if my life depended on it, and I'd be like "well, I guess I'm dead either way, cuz I would die at the 4 mile mark."  I swear, once I pushed myself to finish a 3-mile run by imagining that N*SYNC was watching me, and would like me more if I finished.  And give me concert tickets or something.

Well, now 5 miles is a short run.  And Justin Timberlake is a nobody.

Another change from teenage RoseRunner to adult RoseRunner is....that now, for the life of me, I cannot say "yes" to an invitation to join a relay team.

Every year my name gets thrown in the hat when people ask around for a runner who might be able to join a relay.   I have said thanks, but no thanks, a lot lot lot of times.  Once I said yes, and then because of law school finals, I had to say no.  Which was kind of a relief.

Here's all I really know about adult distance relays:

1) They are usually huge fundraisers for what I imagine are worthy causes
2) They involve sleeping for 1.2 hours in a van.
3) They involve running between the hours if midnight and 5:00 a.m.
4) They involve sleeping in your own stank.
5) They can make for incredible memories.
6) THEY INVOLVE SLEEPING IN A VAN.

I'm not your token prima donna.  I love camping. I don't like primping.  My insomniac brain seems to love not sleeping well.  I love running.  I love memories.  I like other runners.  But I haaaaate being in cars, and I haaaate trying to sleeping in cars/buses/trains/airplanes.   I also dread the jet-lag feeling that follows for a full week when you skip a night of sleep.

I was going to write a classic RoseRunner "divisive" post about relays about a month ago when I was asked to join a relay.  Then the influx of Hood-to-Coast and Nuun relay stuff started developing on many running blogs, and so it seemed too obvious and desperate to devote a post to it.  Especially because I didn't (still don't) really have anything to say about relays, except that I can't bring myself to do one.  I wish I could say I was a good enough person to do it just for the charity aspect.  I will run for charity during the day between the hours of 6:00 a.m. and 10:00 p.m., but after that, these legs are hibernating.

I do think that running on a relay team for the purpose of competing -- like really competing, for one of the top 3 spots in a relay race -- would be fantastic fun.  And even more fun if the relay was during the daytime. 

********

Today I ran 14 miles, and threw in 3 one-mile "efforts" at miles 5 (6:49), 8 (6:15), and 12 (6:29).  I'm all over the place...the fastest one felt the easiest, the slowest one felt bloody hard.

Last, in case this motivates anyone else to take the GU giveaway, I'm also forking over two of these big powder packets of Gu Roctane: lemon-lime and tropical fruit.  They have caffeine in it.  I'm keeping the no-caffeine grape one for me.  We're now up to 9 Gu, and 2 of these.


If you have run, or would run, an overnight relay: why?  Why are you so much braver than me?


Did anyone else run track events, at any age?

Monday, April 9, 2012

Laughing

Not sleeping makes me feel like I'm on drugs.  I didn't get more than a couple winks (one wink = one hour, right?) the night before Easter because I couldn't turn my brain off.  Caffeine makes that happen for me.  All day Sunday I was delirious and just a giggle-puff.  Everything was making me laugh.  Some of it was actually funny.

I got to my parents house and opened the fridge because that's what you GOTTA do when you go to your parents house.  What I found is a very typical occurrence in that household: a jar of something (I think horseradish) sitting in the fridge, with nary a lid to be found.  No lid.  Just sitting there growing mold and frostbite flavor.  I laughed like Seth Rogan for a while.  My mom can be frazzled, but the funniest part is that she is so brave about food that she has NO FEAR at all if a food item is 2+ years expired, or fell of the table and rolled through a ball of dog hair, or has been sitting in the fridge without a lid.  She's like, "oohhhh, it's fine, the lid probably just fell now."  (There was no lid to be found anywhere).

I hung out with this cutie-pot-pie on Easter and we did a lot of giggling

That evening as I was getting packed for the next work day, I realized I didn't drink a smoothie that I had brought to work on Friday, and so it was sitting in my work bag decaying.  I picked up the steel thermos and held my breath tight as I prepared to open it over the sink to wash.  Twist, twist....GASEOUS EXPLOSION!!!  All over my face and my white coat.  All in my hair.  I half cried/half laughed/100% went EWWWWW.  It smelled. 

Then I opened my 3-pack of Peeps, in preparation to eat them in a few days once they start to go a little stale.  Stale Peeps are the only way to eat Peeps, who's with me!!??

For the holiday weekend, we also had a feast of Asian food at this place in Oakland with the Gentleman's family. I reallllly recommend the place to you locals, and to international readers who are considering catching a 17 hour plane ride here to try it out, don't do that.  I also realllly recommend the neighborhood donut shop we stopped at after dinner, Colonial Donuts, where I always get the best donut which is a French Glazed.  This tower we purchased made me cackle with anticipation.

French Glazed is the ripply beige one in the middle.  The Gentleman always gets the Apple Fritter, the Goliath in the top right.
 

This past weekend brought Easter, and Passover, and April 7, which is the 11-year anniversary of the day I lost the only grandma I ever new.  My family is very small -- I was raised with 0 cousins, 0 aunts, 1 estranged uncle I have met twice, 1 grandmother, and 1 grandfather.  Grandfaja.  I just wanted to say it like Goldmember.

I guess this is a Jewish tradition, I don't really know, but my mom gives me a candle twice a year to light for her mother and father on the days they passed away (these are the grandparents that I knew).  It's a strange day to "celebrate," the day of one's death, through the lighting of 24-hour candle.  During those 30 hours (the candle is like a miniature 8-day miracle, lasting far longer than 24 hours it is marketed as), each time I walk by the candle, I devote a few moments to thinking about them.  


24 hours in.
 
This April 7, I though about how my Grandma had this genuine high-pitched whooping laugh, like she might cry laughing, and she was always so eager to laugh.  And her warm yiddish accent, and how she would call me her "little kitten" and hug me SO hard, and how she always hand bandages on her hands from cooking us feasts with dull knives.  I thought about how her bright pink lipstick was always on her teeth, and I found a drawer full of that bright color in her beauty desk after she was gone.  I thought about how happy she was in life, for someone who survived the Holocaust and lost an unfathomable number of family members at the age of 14.  I thought about how she survived through the worst, only to lose her life at the Young and Healthy age of 77 by tripping on a sidewalk curb during her daily walk.  I was 17.  I learned why people say "you should sit down" when they tell you bad news, because suddenly I was on the floor.  I wore black to school the next day.  I left early and when a fire-engine siren blared behind me while I drove home, I pulled over and cried because the sound meant someone else might be dying too.  Everything reminded me of her death.

This is the only picture I could find on my computer with her in it.  I think this must be 1999 or 2000.  I'll talk about the dolls some other time.

2001 was a rough year. 

RUNNING

I think I ran fartleks this morning.  I just realized that this is easily the main kind of speedwork that I do, but it didn't connect that a name for it exists.  I usually thought of it as "intervals". 

Fartleks means you run fast until you squeeze a fart out, and then you slow it down, and repeat.  I'm sure I'm not the first to make that joke.  Fartleks actually means "speed play," isn't that right?  Nobody can prove that the term wasn't created due to somebody farting during a drill.  Try and prove it, you can't, so it is at least 50% likely to be true.

This is more or less what I did.  But unlike this idiot, I wore my hair in a ponytail

One out of every 5 runs or so, I basically do speed play.  I run around the lake, and I run fast until I hit a designated spot in my eyesight.  Usually in the realm of 1 minute.  I think this is about 70% of a full-out sprint, and if I glance at my Garmin, it is typically somewhere between a 5:30 and 6:30 pace for that minute.  I'll do about 10-12 of those in one lap of the 3.5 mile lake.  Today I did two laps.

By the way, when I looked up the word "fartlek," this image is one that came up.


Is this someone famous?  You don't have a booty like that and then not get famous.  It's straight-up gorgeous.  I can't stop staring.

It's going to rain for the rest of this week, so this is a good opportunity to take some extra rest days and tend to relieving myself of this buttcrease issue.  I was considering trying to somehow use the blog to keep me accountable to this, by posting how many minutes per day that I:  a) stretch; b) strengthen; c) foam roll; d) use witchcraft healing elixirs.  Maybe, maybe not.

Saturday, April 7, 2012

Micah True, and GU for you

I can't believe that the running-blog community hasn't already been swarmed with posts on this news story, and I can't believe I forgot to write anything about it too.  Maybe this already has been discussed to death and I am just behind on my blog reading?

Caballo Blanco, aka Micah True, passed away.  While out on one of his character-defining runs.  :( frowny face to the 12th power.



I go through phases where I care about reading the news, and then I won't check the news for 2 weeks and suddenly learn there is an uprising in Egypt.  Last week was one such week when I forgot to check SFgate.com for the 5th day in a row, and an attorney bounced into my office to ask if I had heard about Caballo Blanco.  (I LOVE that most of the people in my office know that they can dork out about running with me, as they all have a little bit of a runner in them.  One ran a marathon xx years ago, one does Bay-to-Breakers, one is a soccer coach, etc...).  

I was shocked.  I have 8 pages or so left in Born to Run (it's called savoring....I don't need 1.5 years to read a book normally) and it feels like the book will now forever be frozen in time.  It is destined to be incomplete for me, because this central non-fiction character, a character who was painted as, more than any other word, ALIVE, lost his life while doing the thing he is iconic for. 



Curious to learn what happened.  Although bad things can and do happen while someone is running on city streets alone (which I do regularly), I never runs trails by myself.  It sucks, because it seems very romantic and rewarding to run in silence with only the sound of your footsteps and breath out in the wilderness, but I can get lost just as easy as anyone.   Realizing you are really lost while hiking, which has happened to the Gentleman and me, is a sickening and frantic feeling.  Can't imagine how much worse it would be on your own.

One of the hikes, in Sedona, where we got a few hours off-course.

Help

VACATION PLANS

Bloggers on vacation is usually one of the most boring things that can happen.  I don't know why that is, you'd think it would be fun to live vicariously through them, but it is usually just a lot of pictures of scenery and food. 

Well I'm due for a vacation.  My last one was in June of last year, when I went to Yellowstone and Montana for a wedding (each link is to one of my vaycay recaps).  Two pictures from the wedding that I adore but never shared:

http://merydonald.blogspot.com

http://merydonald.blogspot.com

Being the national park junkies that we are, we are planning to go to Zion national park and Bryce Canyon.  Maybe top it off with a little Las Vegas.

Questions, because there is so much goddamn stuff to dig through on the internet that I am becoming overwhelmed: 
A) Any recommendations for places to stay near either Park?
B) Any must-see hiking trails or other attractions nearby?  How many days-worth of activity could I spend at each place?
C) Is Las Vegas the best airport to fly into?

Alternatively, we could book a flight to New York City.  the Gentleman has never been...so that trip is somewhere on the horizon.

RUNNING.  AND PLEASE, TAKE MY CAFFEINATED GU

Today, it was beautiful out and my weekend companion was at work (he is in the tax field) so that could only mean a leisurely long run. 

18 pretty comfortable miles done (except for the uncomfortable stuff discussed below), and you know we are inching towards summer when my visor comes out for runs and becomes stained white from sweat and sunscreen.

Embarrassing.  I wash it every 4-6 runs.  There is a white Nike swoosh under those salt crystals.

Since our food stock tends to disappear by Saturday morning (I usually grocery shop on Saturday or Sunday), I had only bad-for-running sources of food to eat before the run--an apple, string cheese, a can of chili, Trader Joe's Indian Food.  Pre-run I prefer to eat a banana and some flour-based thing like pretzels, wheat thins, a cookie, or sugar-based like jelly beans.   I took this opportunity to reach into my new bowl of neverending GU that I hoarded on Thursday.



I had a Chocolate Raspberry "2X caffeine", and took a peanut butter "no caffeine" for the road.

I guess I can only handle 1X caffeine, since I have used them before races with no problem.  2X caffeine....is....oh boy.  Let me put it this way.  I ended up crouched in some bushes about 10 yards away from a beautiful wedding.  Horrifying.

My disgusting loss is your gain, if you can handle caffeine.  Please, somebody, take these from me.

8 double-caffeinated Roctane Gus

Chocolate Raspberry and Blueberry Pomegranate
To make it worth my trip to the post office, I'll try and throw in a peanut butter GU and some other sport-related treat in there. 

To enter, pick a number between 0.00001 and 0.01.   Is that too annoying?  Fine.  To enter, just comment, and if you are commenting on some other discussion and do NOT want a caffeine-induced diarrhea run, then just say "no diarrhea please" or something to that affect.  The victor will be chosen at random by next Friday.
 

Thursday, April 5, 2012

Social Theory

Lately I have been participating in a lot of happy hours and tasty beer imbibing, and I....love it.  There is the inconvenience of suddenly realizing it is 9:00 p.m. and I have to pee soooooo bad and I haven't eaten dinner yet and I have to get the heck home to prepare for the next day.  But having the evenings free instead of being in the office has turned me into a social slut.  

Some of it these events are purely social, and some are more "marketing" -- which is me trying to gain a relationship with other lawyers in Alameda county, as I begin to focus on figuring out what kind of law I want to practice rather than just taking what I can get (ahem, litigation).

Speaking of social.  I'm about to use my sociology degree (UCLA 2006, double major political science wha-what) for the very first time ever.  And I'm probably going to use it alllll wrong.

Here's something meta to think about, as it is always meta to blog about blogging.  Blogging has invited a new and unexpected social element into my life.  Sure, I was already enveloped in social media through Facebook and MySpace and AOL IM way before this baby blog came to life, but those sources were always for socializing with people I already knew, from the comfort of my couch, in sweatpants, with a pint of ice cream at 1:00 a.m.  Liz Lemon style. 

She eats AND wears dessert

On the other hand, blogging introduces me to many people that I would never have met otherwise, because I generally don't stop spunky girls/boys while running around the lake to shout "Hey! You like running too??! Cool, let's talk about it!"  Same goes for expos and races, although, I have made a few temporary friends during a race.  We suddenly turn into lifelong buddies who have been bunking together in the army and are like "we got this! let's do this, together!" but then since you don't actually know each other, one of you zips off and the love story is over.

Our moment of friendship lasted about 0.8 miles


I was hesitant about this whole "meeting people through my blog" stuff.  I certainly did not pursue it.  I think, if my memory serves me correct, I can blame it all on the incredibly warm and inclusive president of the unofficial bay area cool kid runners, Aron.  She spotted me at a race and said hello, and from then on out, I was on the e-mail invite list for social runs and cookie parties.

We ran around the house while eating cookies, cuz we are runnnerrrsss.  We actually mostly sat.


I have grown to seriously, crushingly, appreciate these bay area runners -- even if 84% of our interaction continues to be online.  It turns out, most of them are just as cool in person as they are online.  Most, not all.  I'm teasing, but seriously, ohmygod what if they all think I am a lamewad in person? Balls.

I started really thinking about my appreciation for meeting new peeps last Monday, when I met with Sesa, Megan, and Megan's bff Jacqui.  The Bay Area girls (that's me and Sesa) met the New York girls for the first time in person, and after getting past the introductions, Megan said something that cracked me up.  To paraphrase, she said "it's a relief to meet you guys and learn you aren't weirdos in real life." I think it's fair to say we all made the cut for real life interactions.

However, this cannot always be the case.  There is definitely not a 1:1 correlation between what someone is like on the internet, and what someone is like in real life.  Myself included, for sure.

While some excellent internet personalities may not translate into real life, I do not necessarily think that is a bad thing.  As a person who has a tendency towards introversion, it shouldn't be embarrassing to be eloquent and outspoken on the internet (or any other positive combination--funny, witty, bright, supportive, excited...) while in reality they are.....not that way.  Or straight up awkward.

Two choices: a) Awkward, or b) Tubular

awkwardfamilyphotos.com  Just Do It.


Not everyone is going to be George Clooney, stepping into a room and stealing the spotlight.  We're not all charmers.  Some of us HATE the spotlight.  Which kind of contradicts having a blog in which you mostly talk about yourself.

I just wonder, I wonder what potential there is for discomfort in this whole meeting-people-through-blogs thing.  Nobody's going to jump back to their computer after a meet-up and type about how AWKWARD the whole thing was, so I have no feedback from the blog world on how often meet-ups fail.  I also wonder, really wonder, what juicy gossipy stories there are out there about meeting a blogger or reader in person, only to learn that a conversation couldn't be held past two minutes.

We're in the future, it's 2012, so it's not surprising that some may be very comfortable with a keyboard, but not with flesh and bones.

Another thing that I wonder, is how bloggers who have a really high readership balance their sanity with the vast number of readers/bloggers they meet, or who ask if they can meet.  I'm sure the bigger the blog, the more everyone wants a piece of them.  There's a bit of that celebrity factor, where I guess everyone thinks they "know" that person.

So. What is your best met-on-the internet story?  Whether you met your BFF, your Significant Other, or someone who straight up scared you, I want the deets.

I worked from home today ($10 gas money in my pocket + one extra hour not in my car + refrigerator 4 steps away = love working from home) and I got outta the house around noon to run 4.5-ish hilly miles with this fine lady, around a gooorrrrrgeous part of El Cerrito.  East Bay forevvaaaa!

Then in the early evening I drove into the city that shalt not be named (ohhhh, San Francisco you are so HARD to travel in and out of), to run with these fine ladies for another 5.5-ish fresh windy miles.  And I admit it, San Francisco is absurdly beautiful to run through. 

Photo stolen courteously from Jana

The run was co-organized by a company called Strava that I initially assumed made some running product like clothes or sports drink, but it turns out they have a daily-mile type app....I gently waded away from a conversation about the app because we know my historic rant about Daily Mile.  However, since a lot of you find Daily Mile really useful, feel free to check out the link.  They are cool in my book because I walked away from the run with my pockets STUFFED with free peanut butter Gu.

Fitting that I ran twice with friends today, given the social theme of this post.