Monday, July 30, 2012

Death by Slurpee or Mary Poppins

Running

The best I could muster last week, a week during which I felt too sleep-deprived to push out a good speed workout, was 3x1 mile on Thursday morning.  Even though this felt pretty miserable, and I would have prefer to work harder for 4x1 mile or 5x1 mile, I was happy that my legs were behaving my demands to pick up the speed even when I really, really didn't feel like it.

5:57; 5:49; 5:51 (one lap jog in between).

A week of no (or almost no) speed work meant a week full of slower miles.  This in turn meant I falsely believed that I didn't need to take a day off of running, since all the runs were on the easier side.  I ran 12-13 miles/day on Tuesday through Friday, then 18 miles on Saturday, and found myself with a very tired and sore calf muscle on Sunday.

Monday and Friday are the days I typically do not run.  I didn't take Friday off, and now I shall pay.  I think the calf needs a day or two off and a little massaging, and will be fine.

And if you're keeping tabs, I caught up on sleep over the weekend.  Big time. 

Disappointingly, nobody takes pictures of me while I sleep adorably, so this image will do.

11 hours of sleep into Saturday, 10 hours of sleep into Sunday.  I can't think of anything more delicious than sleeping in.  Oh how I love sleeping in!!  I always thought adults outgrew this.  I can't recall ever seeing my parents wake up after 7:00 a.m.  While I haven't slept in past 10:30 a.m. in at least a decade, which I like to think is some proof that I have exited teenager-hood, I very very rarely wake up before 8:00 a.m. naturally.  Of course, 21 hours of sleep in 2 days put my sleep-meter at capacity, so the insomnia was back Sunday night.

Another thing I love besides sleeping in? Slurpee's.

My Ode to the Slurpee:

I have been dreaming of Slurpee's all Summer.  I went to bed Saturday night, excited to wake up the next day so I could get a Slurpee.

I love walking into a 7-11 and finding the flavor choices.  No two 7-11's are alike! The best flavor I ever had was in March of 2008 in Laguna Beach.  I think it was tangerine-mango.  I will never forget it.

To satisfy my craving, on Sunday we walked to one of the two 7-11's that are within 1 mile of our apartment (the rumors about California are true, there are 7-11's on every block) and I decided to forego my usual choice of the smaller Slurpee cup.  I went big.  I got the XXXXXLarge, whatever it was.  Practically the size of a gallon of milk.

I got the size on the right.  Plus 5 inches squeezed into the round lid area.

I happily chugged my Slurpee, so content to be quenching my thirst.  Then with about 1/8th left in the ginormous cup, I realized I wasn't so thirsty anymore, and was actually feeling pretty ill.  I proceeded to get a headache and stomachache, and tried to find a corner in Trader Joe's where I could take a nap.  Walking home from TJ's with groceries and a stomach full of 87 ounces of Slurpee was just about the hardest workout I have ever had.

While sprawled in a chair before committing to the walk home, the Gentleman tried to teach me a lesson through allegory in which he explained that I would be the worst kind of drug addict, because when I like something I tend to think the best solution is to imbibe the greatest amount possible of it.  It was then that I vowed to never get a Slurpee bigger than a size normal-human-stomach ever again.  And not to try cocaine.

Olympic Observations:

In no particular order:

1) Many of the women swimmers sound to me like they are deaf during their post-race interview.  Not to pick on deaf-person voices.  They're kind of endearing, in an Andre the Giant sort of way.

2) The women gymnasts give each other bitch-hugs right after they finish a performance.  Bend forward at the hips, barely touch shoulders, stiff pat on the back, and then walk away thinking, "I hope she gets fat."



3) Post-performance interviews are. the. worst.  Drinking game: one drink every time an athlete says "at the end of the day," or "gave it my best," or "did what I had to do."  I'm going to give a gold medal to the athlete who has the most genuine and unscripted interview, which will probably be Michael Phelps.  Have you noticed?  He gives the best interview answers, because they seem like something that ran out of his brain, rather than something pre-approved by a Public Relations person.  Go Phelps!

4) Speaking of Phelps.  His media-manufactured rival, Ryan Lochte, seems like the a world class douche.  Just a couple tiers below Kalon from the Bachelorette, Donald Trump, Charlie Sheen, etc.  While he's not quite on that level, have you seen his Mariah Carey-esque closet of shoes?  Or his hella smug grin?  Cocky diva.  Something about him gives me the shudders.

You love swimming, wearing a grill, and shopping for expensive bright shoes? We have nothing in common.


Nope.  Also not working for me.  Source.

5a) The Olympic opening ceremony.  No joke, the Gentleman and I spent two hours looking at the television, looking back at each other, and asking "WHAT is happening!? WHY are we watching this!? Ohhhhh the horror.  The horror."  Really, the ultimate point of horror was when I realized it had been 45 minutes of watching nurses dancing and children bouncing on hospital beds, and that I could no longer remember a time in my life that was free of dancing nurses.  Mary Poppins, save us from the dancing nurses!!

Save us Mary Poppins! Save us Tom Cruise!


5b) The best part of the opening ceremony, for me personally, was when Mr. Bean dreamt he was in Chariots of Fire and he tripped the lead running stud.  I exclaimed, "too soon, Mr. Bean, too soon....Mary Decker Slaney", and that is my favorite inside-blog-reference-joke of the week.

Is anyone not watching the Olympics? It must be awkward at the water cooler for you.  I'm personally burnt out already.  

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Rainbow Runner

The following important things have been happening.

1) July 20th was national lollipop day.  I didn't know.  See's Candy built a 7,000 pound lollipop--in the Bay Area!  I also didn't know.   Too bad it is chocolate flavored, because if it was butterscotch, I would have hired a crane and discreetly stolen it for my personal usage as a lifetime supply.

source


I could handle that.

2) My niece turned One! This really makes me realize that I have been blogging for a long time, because I remember when my niece was born and I was putting her cute newborn face up on the blog.

Gemma....so much more mature than a 10 month old

It was a hot day in Napa, perfect for her first (of probably many) water-themed birthday.  Being a July baby and all.

Newsflash: her face is still cute.

And I wore the same dress to her birthday that I wore to her baby shower, if anyone recognizes my dress.  If you are a celebrity, it might sound gross to hear this...but...I re-wear all of my clothes.

Birthday Song.

All photos courtesy of my sister-in-law, Crystal

3) Running: some easy longer runs on the weekend, and several failed attempts to do speed work this week.

I cannot do speed workouts if I haven't slept well.  And I haven't.  Various things have been going on that have kept my mind buzzing at 2:00, 3:00, 4:00 in the morning. 

I have one solution for getting a speedier session in this week.  I'm trying to get a free entry for the San Francisco Marathon's "second" half-marathon, since I recently learned that they waive the fee for women who have run a sub-1:30 half marathon.  I missed the deadline to apply for a free entry, wish I had known about this...if anyone knows who I can contact, let me know! The race is this Sunday.

4)  Kari (Hi!) spotted something for me this week that reminded me to get pumped for CIM.  It is a video, made by CIM, from last years race.  I'm huffing and puffing into the finishers chute, at about the 2:33 mark of the video at this link.

 http://vimeo.com/45676160

The clip juxtaposes my finish with the woman who WON the race, which is hilarious, because the film cut kind of makes it seem like I crossed the finish line shortly after the woman who ran a 2:30.  Nice.

I was looking at the CIM registration page recently, and noticing that I had a few days remaining until the registration fee changed from $105 to $125.

Then I looked at the scale for fees.  If you are a super early bird, registering 9 months before the race, you pay $85 (which really is a great deal for a large--and one of the best--marathons).   If you are a late bird and register 2 months before the race (is that really even late!?), you pay $145.  $60 dollar difference! That's no joke.

I have never, ever registered for a race more than 2 months before the race.  I have registered for many races the day before, or the morning of.

What this means is that:
a) I will probably never run a race that requires super early registration (Boston, Big Sur, New York, and these days, the Napa Marathon); and
b) I will always pay more for races than people who can apparently see into their future and know whether they will be injured and/or interested in running a marathon in 9 months.  Who are you people??

5) I don't receive flowers very often...and when I do, I go overboard by taking 3,000 pictures of them.  I LOVE flowers.  And to state the obvious, I love roses.

But this....this was beyond my wildest imagination.

This is for real.  Roses that transported here from an '80's music video.

Blooming!  I have to figure out how to make this my new blog wallpaper ;)

I'll share who sent them, and why I received them, soon enough.  My lips are sealed for the time being.


I brought one to work.

I hope the rest of your your week is like rainbow flowers. 

Thursday, July 19, 2012

Only if You're Positive

Here's a thought.

I was thinking about blog comments on large blogs.  I was thinking about how they are usually a collection of: 1) praise/butt-kissing, 2) interesting thoughts or entertaining commentary, and 3) criticism--sometimes pegged as "a mean comment".

So three categories, yes? Maybe subcategories in there.  This applies to all blogs, running blogs, and is also something I noticed reading the fun comments in Ashley Spivey's bachelor blog (JUST as fun as watching the show, I swear...she has access to every screen shot, which makes for entertaining photo stills).

Anyway, looking back at those categories of comments.  I'm going to attribute a percentage to them.

Butt-kissing: 70%
Valuable input: 29%
Criticism/nastiness: 1%

That's a whole lotta love! Perhaps some of it warranted.  And amidst all the support is a tiny blip of meanness.

Why does praise far outweigh criticism on blogs? I think it may be because we are supportive people by nature....or because commenters desire reciprocal praise.  Or maybe it is because as the 14th century adage goes, "if you don't like it, then stop reading, nanner nanner nah", and people largely follow this ancient wisdom, so they're not around to criticize.

Whatever the reasoning, isn't it something, that the 1% of comments pegged as criticism get such a disproportionate amount of attention, backlash, and defensive action by the blogger and said blogger's readers?

For instance, consider this hypothetical comment, on any blog--running, fashion, parenting, cooking, etc.: "Amazing!! You are a wonder woman, and my hero and idol and GIRL, you go girl, there is NOBODY better than you!!"  (by the way, I have totally commented like that before....it's hard not to get excited for friends who post about great accomplishments.  And I have smiled hard when receiving comments like this!).  

This complimentary comment might be replied to with a "thank you!" or "I agree", or more likely, skimmed over.  But it would never receive a "geez, don't get your panties so twisted, I didn't do anything THAT amazing.  It was just a recap/recipe/kid activity."

So, after 50 comments of pure love, LOVE love love, there might be this comment:

"love your blog, long time reader, but I disagree with xxxxx part of your post. That part was totally inaccurate/offensive.  Today, I find your blog annoying as shit."

And all hell breaks loose.

"if you don't like it, then stop reading!"
"get a life and stop being so jealous"
"haters gonna hate"
"Blogger, don't listen to what that person says, I LOVE you still, I 50-shades-of-grey love you.  I'm so hot and bothered!"

Human nature you know, to focus on the negative and forget about all of the positive, even when the balance is 99% to 1%.  But still, I find it so laughable that many bloggers become so defensive or bitter about criticism; it shakes them up, makes them lament that blogging is HARD....even though 99% of the time authoring a blog is an enormous ego-inflating free for all.

There exists a place for fair criticism--that I posit is not worthy of attack--and then on the other hand there is true Trolling, full of bad words and deranged crazy hate that can only happen on the internet or when you get too close to a homeless person whose brain has been fried into oblivion by drugs (ahem, I'm talking to you homeless chick who biked past me yelling "anorexic beaner fat bitch").

Aside from the rare troll, bloggers get so much support.  If they ever whine about internet negativity, tell them to clam it.  So much support! People who don't know me support my running 290834028 times more than my own family members do! And more than some of my closest friends! That is a bizarre thing to earn by doing little more than typing up your thoughts.  You get a lotta love for little output.  So don't go complaining when you get a little hate.

That said....I'm human; I feel GREAT when I read supportive comments so I have no complaints about the sway towards positivity in blog comments on this smaller blog. 

This guy will punch you if you don't LOVE this post


And I will applaud you and allow you to stay if you type that you love me

But if you just type something witty, I might get confused.


I thought I was going somewhere with this.  But I don’t know where....hmmm, how to close the deal...  Help me finish this up: what can be said about this dynamic of bloggers growing to expect praise, to the point where anything critical is pegged as "jealous"?

I’m curious, if you don’t have a blog, what is your take on all the love that is given to bloggers?  I remember back when I didn’t have a blog but I read them, I truly did think that many bloggers were awesome, I loved them, and I would think it was a BFD if one of them agreed to meet me or replied to my comment.  Now that I know what it’s like to have a blog, and I know how easy it is to throw any piece of crap up on to the internet….not as impressed.  Much more judgey.  Still have crushes on some bloggers, but realize they are very human and not….all that special.

If you do have a blog, what is your take on positive v. negative comments?  Do you love the support? Do you feel weird about receiving so much of it?  Do you believe any of it?  Does all of the love outweigh the occasional “hate”, or does the hate linger much louder?


*****RUNNING*****

With hitting the track for intervals once or twice a week, I've neglected any "tempo" runs, which to me means a run that includes several miles at a faster, not comfortable speed.  I have done maybe 10 of these in the past year, all on the treadmill, usually by running in the 6:20 to 6:50 pace zone for 1 hour.  I've never run this kind of "tempo" run outside.

Until nowwwwwwwww.

I ran it at the track, because while potentially dizzying, trying to tempo anywhere else would involve stop lights and people dodging and lots of tight little turns.

20 laps without any breaks = 5 miles at "slightly uncomfortable pace".  It felt comfortable enough--especially compared to what I'm usually doing at the track--through about mile 4.  And by listening to talk radio, it ended up not being as boring as running 20 straight laps might sound (actually, that just made it sound MORE boring I think...).

Also, it was raining even though it was July 17 in CALIFORNIA, a forecast that didn't even cross my mind.  I forgot to tell y'all that my summer running has been a breeze compared to yours...because it's been in the 60's and 70's in my hood (I recall one hotter weekend).  Don't worry, you'll have a huge leg up on me during the fall races with your extra challenging 100-degree-weather training.

6:23; 6:28: 6:29; 6:30; 6:23.

I guess if "tempo" is supposed to be faster than half-marathon pace, I didn't quite manage that. This is about my goal half-marathon pace.  Still a challenging workout, so good enough for me.

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

The Greatest American Distance Runner Ever Is....

Hey-O! Today I'm here to introduce a guest poster, and then step behind the curtains.  Definitely a different voice, so if you read here because you specifically like my junk, I'll be back tomorrow.  If you realize you like this post better than any I ever wrote, then tell the author so in the comments so he will start his own blog! 

I'm allowing someone on my turf for the first time, because after weeks of learning much more about running via emails with him than I do through my own web browsing (primarily about competitive runners and injury prevention), I realized he has a lot more to say about running than I ever will (ahem, except for talking about MY running....which never gets old).  He deserves a better audience than just...me.  

And so below you can find the post written by Doctor Runner.  Doc Runner is the father of one of my bestest friends that I have known since the age of 6.  He is a lifelong runner, and a close observer of Olympic track and field since 1964.

Your guest author's butt, 2nd from Right.  Next to my friend's butt, on the Right.
 ********

Heading into the London Olympics of 2012 it is worthwhile asking who is the greatest American distance runner ever.  The USA does not have a particularly illustrious history in distance running but there have been some notable triumphs over the years.  In the 1964 Tokyo Olympics, America scored a shocking double with Bob Schull winning the 5,000 and Billy Mills the 10,000.  Both were so obscure heading into the Olympics that they couldn’t even be considered dark horses.  America also earned the bronze in the 5,000 that year but no American male has medaled in either race since! That’s right, there have been 66 medals handed out since 1964 in those two races and none has been won by the USA.  America did win a silver in the 1500 in 1968 in Mexico City by Jim Ryun but that was actually a huge disappointment because he entered the Olympics as the world record holder in the mile and heavy favorite only to succumb to the 7,000 foot altitude and the first great Kenyan runner (marathon excluded),  Kip Keino, whose victory heralded the future dominance of Kenya in the distance events.  American Frank Shorter did break through to win the marathon in 1972 in Munich and returned to earn a silver in 1976 in Montreal.  Almost 30 years later Mebrahtom Keflezhigi, a naturalized American citizen, took a silver medal in the 2004 Olympic marathon in Athens--but that is it for the USA men’s team: a total of 3 golds, 2 silvers and a bronze in races 1500 meters and longer over a 60+ year span.

How have our women fared? Well bear in mind that the history of female distance running in the Olympics is a very short one.  The longest race included in the female Olympic schedule prior to 1972 was 800 meters! Apparently it was the belief at the time that women were far too fragile to endure the rigors of running hard for much longer than 2 minutes at a stretch.  In 1972 the 1500 was added, and since there were no fatalities, the 3000 and the marathon were added in 1984, as well as the 10,000 in 1988.  The 5,000 replaced the 3,000 in 1996 and the 3000 meter steeplechase was included in 2008 bringing us to the current alignment, on par with the male races.  How have American women done since the introduction of distance races?  Not bad relatively.  Joan Benoit won the first marathon in 1984 in LA (many of the powerful Eastern Block runners boycotted that Olympics in retaliation for the boycott of the 1980 Moscow Olympics--this was the Cold War remember--but Joan was clearly the best winning in 2:24:52).  Other American standouts were Deena Kastor who won bronze in the 2004 Athens marathon, Lynn Jennings who won a 10,000 meter bronze in Barcelona in 1992, and Shalene Flanagan who also won bronze in the same event in 2008 (Beijing).  Total them all up and surprisingly American women have out medaled the men in distance races 4-1 since 1984.  

So the greatest American distance runner ever must be one of these Olympic medalists, right?  Well, Frank Shorter’s achievements were tremendous to be sure.  He was an excellent 10,000 meter runner as well as a great marathoner and a very good 5,000 meter competitor.  But despite his gold medal, he never held a world record and didn’t really dominate.  Joan Benoit was a fabulous marathoner who recovered from arthroscopic knee surgery 17 days before the Olympic Trials in 1984 to win, but her success was largely limited to the marathon.  In fact, the greatest American distance runner of all time never won an Olympic medal.  One could make a strong case for giving the title to trailblazing marathoner Alberto Salazar,  or versatile and precocious Steve Prefontaine (neither of whom ever medaled in the Olympics) but I think the best ever was Mary Decker. Who? Mary Decker aka Mary Decker Tabb and later Mary Decker Slaney the winner of the historic 1500/3000 double in the 1983 World Championships in Helsinki (arguably the greatest single track meet ever held) and the most dominant female distance runner America has ever produced.





She burst on the scene in the mid-70s winning international 800 meter races as a 15 year old.  After injuries derailed her young career, she blossomed In June and July of 1982, setting world records in the 5,000 meters (15:08.26) and the mile (4:18.08).  But she was just warming up.  On July 16th, 1982 running on a whim and without specific preparation she broke- make that obliterated by 42 seconds- the world record in the 10,000 meters at Hayward field in Eugene, Oregon winning in a time of 31:35.3. With that race she had posted the fastest American time in every distance from 800 meters to 10,000 meters and had set 6 world records.  Just think about that for a minute. The following year at the 1983 World Championships she won both the 1500 and 3000 meters and in both races she out dueled a 2 time Russian Olympic gold medalist down the stretch to win.  

Mary was injured and couldn’t compete in the 1976 Olympics, and the USA boycotted the 1980 Moscow Olympics, but she arrived at the 1984 Los Angeles games at her peak and was the odds on favorite in the 3000 meters.  What happened next was heartbreaking but memorable. Decker was leading the race after 1500 meters when a young runner from South Africa, Zola Budd, tripped her while attempting to pass.  Decker tumbled onto the infield and out of the race while the pack sped away, her hopes for Olympic glory receding in the distance with them. The pictures below capture the agonizing few seconds that ended Mary’s best chance to win Olympic gold.  










Although she continued to race for the next decade, injuries and age slowed her and she never regained her dominance.  But despite her spectacular Olympic failure her body of work makes her, in this writer’s mind anyway, the greatest American distance runner of all time.

Here are links to Mary’s memorable races in the 1983 world championships- 


http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dJi-QDkNFKw
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NRSM7ER0q1M



******** 
  
Seriously WATCH those videos...she is a gazelle.  WATCH her kick at the end of these races! I don't know about you guys, but I was completely ignorant to all running that took place before the year 2000.  Learning about the history of American distance runners in the Olympics was a joy...

Monday, July 16, 2012

That's Not My Name

36.8 miles this weekend.  Running long finally feels like it used to, back before I vacationed in Zion, hiked a ton, and came back to find that 16 miles felt like twice that. 

I know this is odd, not normal, but 20 miles is hands down my favorite and most comfortable run.  It has been, for years, for at least 6 years, even though I go through phases (like these last 3 months) where it has felt strenuous and challenging.  I love 20 miles.  It is the perfect distance on a weekend to feel like I TRULY went on a run.  Less than 12 miles, usually a blip in my day.  Go longer, and it becomes an event.  A memorable part of my day. 

On a good 20 miler, I wake up the next day and feel like I can do it again.  No soreness, no fatigue. 

So on Saturday morning, I went for a run while the Gentleman played basketball.  I didn't know how many miles I would run, until I hit about 15 and knew that I didn't feel like stopping anytime soon.  Truth be told, I didn't feel like stopping at mile 20 either, but I wanted to be home before noon, so I stopped at 20 miles.

I ate one peanut butter Gu at mile 12, drank some water, stretched.  Other than that, 20 miles, average pace of 7:42, just under 2 hours 34 minutes.  My buttcrease was disappointingly feeling aggravated, and increasingly so as I sped up closer to to a 7:00 minute pace (i.e. the last 5 miles).   Still not cured.

As my first 20-miler "this season" of what I hope will be a lot of 20-milers before my next marathon, I was happy that it was so comfortable.  It was accidental that it ended up being faster than my average long run, so I'm anticipating what paces I can push when I intend to go on a 20 miler with more effort.

Saturday.  This sweatshirt may or may not have my last name on it.  Just don't go typing it in the comments please :)  Trying to keep my professional reputation separate from the reputation on my whinerunner blog. 

Sunday, I planned to work during the day and run in the afternoon--something I almost never do except for occasionally a short 4 miles or so.  I left at 3:30 p.m. and felt like a brick, even though my breakfast, while large, was finished at 11:00 a.m.  I loathe running in the afternoons.

Since I couldn't handle the stomach anger that was happening while running, I had to change things up.  I headed over to some park stairs next to Lake Merritt and ran up them.  12 times up, 12 times down a hill and around the block (I hate running down stairs).  Hopefully this is good for glute-strengthening, since I'm supposed to be mastering that and all.  And I choose stair-running over squats any day.

All said, 16.8 miles, about 13 of which consisted of me trying to squeeze out a fart.  Just saying, it seemed like it would be the solution to making my stomach feel better.

*****

Happy news: my car is safe and sound.  The police found it in a Target parking lot early Saturday morning.  A few things were noticeably gutted (5 speakers, my sunglasses, a leather-man pocket knife, a mirror...) but many more things were untouched.  Actually, everything was touched, and then thrown back down haphazardly.  So whatever.  No idea what this thief was after, but a $430 towing fee and a $25 car wash (inside and out!) later, it is home and happy.  I REALLY did not expect to get that car back, so I was pretty stunned all day Saturday when I went through the long steps of retrieving it.


Missing speaker # 1

yo yo yo, heads up! Next post will be the first ever RoseRunner GUEST POST from the doctor-running-enthusiast that I often nerd-out with via e-mail.  He has a wealth of knowledge about Olympic running and accomplished American runners and a compelling perspective on these athletes....stay tuned.

What's your happy distance? Any one else joining me by picking 20 miles?

Thursday, July 12, 2012

On to the Next One

I've been getting in a lot of miles this week, not particularly quality ones, mostly easy with two semi-attempts at a track workout.  Monday was 10x400m with 1/2 lap jog, at 82; 82; 80; 80; 80; 81; 82; 81; 83; 82 (a sleepwalk compared to the speed my fellow Rose has been whipping out). Wednesday I went for 5x1 mile, but I stopped at 3, for 5:49; 6:02; 6:05.

On my Wednesday visit to the track, I saw two men as I arrived that made me certain I was in the wrong place.  Where is my normal track, with those two gossipy women who walk on the outside lanes, and the older man in the sweatsuit that jogs clockwise, and the two young girls who sit on the grass inside the track and stretch for 40 minutes? And why are these two elite Olympian-esque guys sprinting up a storm?

I don't actually know if they were Olympians, but they looked to me like very important Ethiopian/Kenyan racers (I admit to having zero skill in identifying the country of origin of someone based on their appearance, so I don't know whether they were born in Oakland or Africa or South America but let it be known I COULD tell by their 0% body fat, their sinewy skinny runner muscles, and their floating sprint across the track, that they were elite runners).
I stared in intimidation.  Halt! How can I join thine glorious elite runners on this simple track, which turns to gold upon their light-footed prances?  It was a Shakespeare moment.

Then I knew without a doubt that my true calling as a blogger had finally arrived.  My job, in this moment, was to spy on these elites, and then pass on to all of us hobby joggers  (whatever "jog" means) what their highly confidential workouts are.  Here's what I got:

A lot, lot, lot of 400m repeats, with about a 30-45 second walk/standing break in between.

They must have been running the repeats under 70 seconds.  I was in the middle of running a 5:49 mile around the track on the 2nd lane when they came speeding by on the inside lane.  So I'm thinking a low to mid 4:00 minute pace.  Yuck.

****

It's been hard for me to get super excited about a marathon this year.  I love not worrying about tapering.  And I love not hobbling for 3 days from sore marathon legs.   I know I read a common sentiment on other running blogs about how NECESSARY it is to take breaks--as in, one or more weeks off of running, to recharge etc etc and everyone comments, "yes, me too, I totally need breaks every once in a while," but I have virtually.....never craved a running break.  In 10 years.  Maybe 1-3 days max?  So to that extent, marathon training and tapering is a big ole burden and interruption in my enjoyment of just running to run.

However, I do want my 2:59 marathon, and I do enjoy many aspects of running a marathon, so I guess out of default convenience it is looking more and more certain that I will just run the California International Marathon (CIM) in Sacramento, CA again, and call it a year.  Making it exactly 1 year since my last marathon.

The convenience factor of this race for me = excellent organization, cool weather, wonderful course, and the most important factor of all, it is within 2 hours of my home.  Chicago would be wonderful, Grandma's marathon in Minnesota is on my list, I love the idea of running a marathon in Ireland, or Greece....but.....I'm not going to steal our shared vacation funds so that we can get on a plane to Chicago, have the Gentleman watch me run by him for 11 seconds, and then fly home.

Marathons close to home it shall be.


CIM YesterYear

Seems like everyone is running CIM this year.  I expect to see some blogger faces, yes?  If you will be there, I hope to meet everyone!  We can all join hands in the expo and walk up and down the aisles, taking over with our advice and running stories, throwing frozen yogurt at non-bloggers, it will be soooo blogger cool!

Besides CIM, I also have at least 2 half marathons on my horizon.

Water-to-Wine half-marathon in Sonoma, and a trail marathon in Santa Cruz.  Both are in August.  Some other half-marathons that I ran last year in the fall will be approaching too, and because many of those are small, cheap,  less than 1 hour away, and earned me free running shoes, I may join some of those again too.  I can consider it my training for CIM, since I know I won't stick to any other marathon training plan.

My number one goal between now and early December for CIM, is to find my perfect pair of marathon running shoes.  My Goldilocks pair.  Not too thin, not too cushiony.  Last year I wore the Asics Gel Nimbus, which I like, but a tad too thick and cushiony.

I'm running dry on thoughts to share right now.  Miss my car.  Thanks for validating my anger/sadness, and thank you BRITTANI for always knowing how to cheer me up....came home tonight to a box delivery of See's Butterscotch pops.  :)

Sunday, July 8, 2012

Sad Song

I know I have a reputation of being, like, so extremely chipper and upbeat and probably exude  the spirit of a Broadway musical.  Did I get that right?

Well in a change of pace from my classic Rodgers & Hammerstein song and dance (sarcasm), I've had a pretty bum week.  Pretty much right after my reign as 800m Queen Supreme, the week went downhill.

I was sick on Fourth of July.  Our fabulous plans for the holiday were semi-thwarted by my lack of energy, but we still managed to hike (a little less than one-mile each way) up a hill in Napa to a viewpoint for fireworks.  The homemade (not machine made!) rosemary bread that the Gentleman made, and our selection of cheeses, were delicious even though my congestion swindled about 60% of my sense of smell/taste.

Bread and Cheese and Legs

Hunkmeister

On Top of Napa


Cherries, Olives (always Castelvetrano!), Jalapeno Salami, Cherry Tomatoes

Full of picnic anticipation


I trudged through the rest of the work week.  I was sick, but trying to bust out a trial brief, so I made my way to work and fought the foggy head.  I also fought with my health insurer over a $1100 dental bill (!!!) that the insurance is only paying $250 of.  Leaving me with an $850 bill for some super special porcelain fillings that are too future-forward for the insurance company to cover.  I lost that fight.

By later in the week, my cold was compounded by Esophageal Spasms, something I have occasionally suffered from since March of 2010, and while I'm sure there is a spectrum of how painful these can be, when I get them it literally feels like someone is crushing my heart with a squeezed fist.  Even WebMD compares the sensation to a heart attack, so I'm pretty sure I'm not a huge wimp and these spells are actually very uncomfortable.  Still had some spasms last night, so this part of my week is still not going well.

Saturday, I was really looking forward to heading to Napa for my brother-in-law's grand opening party for his new car restoration shop space.  (If you live in the bay area and are--or know--someone who is interested in vintage cars or contest-winning paint jobs, please pass his name on! His talent amazes me).  The party was to begin at 5:00, so the Gentleman and I headed to a nearby AMC to watch The Amazing Spiderman at 1:30 before heading to Napa.

One of his cars, in his new shop.  Yum.

The movie was OK.  Andrew Garfield out-hunks Tobey Maguire by one-thousand points, and Emma Stone wins for biggest eyeballs in the movie industry (close contender to Mila Kunis).  When we left the theatre at 4:00 (long ass movie), my car was gone.

Gone! My car was stolen.  I am heartbroken.

The good ole days.  In my sweet car....


I hate admitting that I am so devastated by a material thing.  I understand, you know, that nobody is hurt, that I have my health, this and that and etc etc.  But my car...which has been mine since 2004 (8 years!) and in my family since 1999, is the closest thing I have to an appendage...or to a pet.   That car has been through every single significant event of my adult life with me.  That car is the only part of me that was the same at age 20 as I am today.  That car was a fucking great camping car.  A great 4-wheel drive car for driving to Tahoe.  It smelled like me.  Every little nick and dent in that car has a story.

And dammit, I kept stuff in that car.  And all of that is gone now too.  The CD collection that I began building when I was 13 years old until now....all gone.  My favorite dress-up shoes, that I was going to wear once I got in Napa.  Books, clothes, board games, newspaper articles that I was saving, the sunglasses that were the Gentleman's first surprise romantic gift to me....they were all in my car.  To be clear, it wasn't a messy car--it was bigger, like a jeep, and these little things were under car seats and in the trunk.  And since I've moved 10 times since age 20, sometimes a lot of your belongings just end up in the car.

Heartbroken.  There is no silver lining, and that's ok to just admit and say that this SUCKS.  People keep trying to tell me that the silver lining is that now, I can get a new car! A car that I like better!

Shut up!  This is like being the inconsiderate friend who says you can get a new dog after your pet passes away.  You can't replace one unique thing with another.  Shopping for something new doesn't fix all problems.

Not only that, but as I hope most people already know...being 2 years out of law school does not make you rich.  I'm very thankful that we both have comfortable jobs (the Gentleman is also in the legal industry), but we are strapped to loans and bills just like everyone else.  We aren't high rollers....our vacations are usually in tents, and we live in a relatively crappy pad, in order to bust our asses saving so we can hopefully get the hell out and purchase a home in the next year or two.  So it's not exactly a silver lining to get to (have to) purchase a new car when it's not something budgeted for.

If there was any silver lining? It was that I got to hang out with a cop for 10 minutes while filing my police report.  Don't even get me started on how much I love cops.  Even though I know they don't care about stolen cars.

Writing helps.  I'm feeling 90% over my sad fest.

In better news, my cold was finally letting up today, so I enjoyed a slow 19 miles out and about in Oakland.  I was full-on prepped to start sprinting the second I saw my car (as if I would actually spot it).  Dream on.

And since food can make many things better, the Gentleman decided to make the loss of my car better by opening a recipe book.

My lamb and mint burger.  I'm really enjoying this non-vegetarian year.


Hey sympathy party: has anything been stolen/lost that made you really upset?
Anyone suffer from esophageal spasms?  Find anything that works for you?

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

Yeah So What

Sssshhhhhhh.

That is my premature HUSH to the influx of 4th of July recaps that are about to flood on to blog posts.  I think Holidays are my least favorite thing for blogs, because it means every blog is about to sound the same.  I had a New Years! I had a Halloween!  I'm guilty of this too.

By the way, I was on the phone with an opposing counsel today, and I asked if he was taking Wednesday off for holiday.  He is a man approaching his elder years.  Our conversation continued as follows:

Him: "Yes I am.  It is my favorite holiday."

Me: "Is that right!?"

"Yes.  I have a strong passion for early American History, and the Revolutionary War."

"So how do you celebrate your favorite holiday?"

"Well, I start by reading the Declaration of Independence out loud right after waking up."

"Wha--huh.  How long does that take?"

"About 45 minutes."

The conversation continued on.  Just so you know, no matter how hard you wear red, white, and blue tomorrow, there is no way you like this holiday more than this guy.  Don't even try.

But what I'm really here to say, on a pseudo-Friday night, is that I don't care what day it is because TODAY, I conquered the Yasso 800m workout and am self-appointed 800m Queen Supreme for this day.

(Please appreciate my horrible, fabulous, blog-title pun.  Yeah So = Yasso).

It feels so SO nice to see progress in my running.  It's been a long time since I really can say I have.  You know, scratch that, I don't even think that this is all progress--I think I just had one of those great run days where everything fell into place.  Which still feels freaking great.

Not long ago, I visited the track for a speed workout for the very first time, and shortly after tried to run a couple 800's with the knowledge that some people (although not most) believe Yasso 800m repeats indicate your marathon time capabilities.  I ran 3x800m repeats in the 2:53 range and then felt completely dead and had to walk home.

Then I built my way up, eventually running 7x800m repeats in the 3:00-3:02 range, and then 8x800m repeats in the 2:55-3:01 range.  The goal was to eventually work my way up to 10x800m at 2:59, so that I could cross that off my list of possible things that may help me run a 2:59 marathon.

I fucking ran the shit out of 10x800m in 2:59, with time to spare.

2:55; 2:54; 2:54; 2:57; 2:56; 2:53; 2:50; 2:52; 2:55; 2:50

I felt good the whole time.  Felt easy.  I didn't even jog full lap recoveries--only about 3/4 lap jog until I wanted to go again.  My buttcrease felt 80% perfect (the best it has in a while).  It wasn't too hot out (thank you Northern California).  I ate way too much on Sunday and Monday, which I have noticed sometimes leads to great workouts (tapping out on carbs maybe?).

(Hey, help me out.  I set my Garmin to 0.50 mile intervals when I run these.  Am I right on this? 800m is the same as 0.50 mile?)

And now, pictures to complete the blog package.


At a spectacular wedding, watermelon cocktail, Bride behind me

We were in a museum!!!

This is a cake.  I'm trying hard not to apologize for the terrible quality of these pictures, because then you would say "well then why didn't you just not post them!?".  But this wedding was incredible, and this is all I've got.


Also, my youngest sister just returned from Tanzania, and I'm trying to make this photograph of her famous.  Because I find it striking.

Apparently, the kids asked permission before touching.  So that's nice.

Sincerely,

Your 800m Queen Supreme.  4 hours remaining.

Monday, July 2, 2012

I'm Worried About My Heart

Let's call June 30 the halfway point of the year (and it also happens to be my half-birthday, something I remember mattering when I was 3 and 4 years old and a half year was a huge portion of my life).

This half year, I have logged 2050 miles.  That's a lot of miles.  A lot more than half of my total from last year (3162 miles).  Maybe this is because I haven't tapered--and then recovered--from a marathon yet this year, which can make for 2 very low-mileage months.  

2050 miles.  I should note that somewhere around 100 of those miles were "hiked".  If I did the math right, that is an average of 11.3 miles every day.  That is an average of 80-90 minutes of running/hiking a day. 

Let this be my bi-annual super congratulations to myself for all these wondrous miles and number crunching!!!

Actually! Quite the contrary.  I'm sharing this as a good starting point to explore a new and potentially very scary and serious medical finding that makes my high mileage the opposite of congratulatory: distance running may be fucking up my heart and could ultimately lead to me dying at a younger age than someone who runs less.  So not cool.

I've never run with the motive of extending my life.  Sure, running has cardiovascular benefits and is generally believed to be healthy, but I've never thought, "the more I run, the longer I will live!"  Therefore, these recent studies aren't exactly spinning my world on its head.  

But it is really worrisome and frightening to read that my #1 hobby may be detrimental to my longevity.

Well let's dive into the study. It's about to get medical in here.  

The  Mayo Clinic recently released an article about the negative health consequences of endurance training.  Several weeks ago my dad (the anti-runner) sent me an early abstract of the study.  Then, more recently, a friend who practices medicine and is also a running enthusiast shared the article with me, as well as his early thoughts on the subject.

Pulling the language of his email and some of the study excerpts, the findings were as follows:


A 15-year observational study of 52,000 adults found that runners had a 19% lower risk of all-cause mortality compared with non-runners.  (So far, so good!).  Running distances of about 1 to 20 miles per week, speeds of 6 to 7 miles per hour, and frequencies of 2 to 5 days per week were associated with lower all-cause mortality, whereas higher mileage, faster paces, and more frequent runs were not associated with better survival.  (In short: for optimal survival, run slowish, not too far, not every day).

Studies also analyzed the effects of long-term long distance running via MRI results of 102 ostensibly healthy male runners from ages 50 to 72 who had completed at least 5 marathons during the previous 3 years.  These results were compared with 102 age-matched controls. 

The comparison found that about 12% of the marathon runners had evidence of "patchy myocardial scarring"--which was 3-fold more common than in the control group.  (I think this means running more than one hour regularly can lead to "something not good for your heart").



In conclusion, in some individuals, long-term excessive endurance training may cause adverse structural and electrical cardiac remodeling, including "fibrosis and stiffening of the atria, right ventricle, and large arteries." Cardiovascular benefits of vigorous aerobic endurance training appear to accrue in a dose-dependent fashion up to about 1 hour daily, beyond which further exertion produces diminishing returns and may even cause adverse cardiovascular effects in some individuals.


My Doctor Runner Friend noted that the studies raise some disturbing questions that are particularly worth considering for younger runners, who still have the chance to halt any potential damage. 

Read the details here and here, which is where the excerpts above were found.

There is a long list of questions to still be answered here (especially relating to how these findings relate to women, and how to identify signs that a runner may be at risk), so I don't think anyone needs to quit running longer than 60 minutes at a time.  I certainly don't plan on quitting long runs anytime soon.  I wouldn't even know where to begin.  But I am anxious to learn more.  In the world of running, the rules and facts seem to change by the year, so we can't jump off ship just yet.

Disclosure: I was paid a stipend by the anti-runners association to write this review.  I'm kidding.  This review is depressing!  Please share your thoughts, experiences, and your knowledge.