Tuesday, March 19, 2013

The New Plan



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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The new Non-Plan Plan:

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


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

And then, TRAILS!

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

Rim Trail.  Source

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

32 comments:

  1. Yay Oakland Half!! I'm so excited. Hopefully I'll see you there! It's weird that we haven't seen each other around the Lake for months now. I'll be hanging out by the Running for a Better Oakland tent, FYI.

    I'll have to check out the Lafayette Reservoir - thanks for the info. I just ran the Briones Reservoir on Aron's recommendation and I LOVED it, though it is one of those places I wouldn't want to go alone. But it is SO freaking beautiful.

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    1. Oh, I'll have to check out Briones! I've been wanting to. I'll go for a hike with the dude. Hope to see you at the Oakland running festival!

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  2. I love the Lafayette Reservoir! My grandparents live like a half mile away so I've spent a lot of time there. The Rim Trail IS insane - I remember doing it following a hiking trip in the Sierras thinking it would feel effortless after backpacking, but it most certainly did not. It was tough! And I felt like such a loser when I saw someone running it. I almost felt like I should sit down on my butt and slide down some of those hills. I'm impressed you did it not once, but twice!

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    1. If your grandparents ever want to sell their house, PLEASE CALL ME FIRST

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  3. I'm so envious of people that live by trails and hills. I'm in Florida, so the only time I run on an incline is when my route has an overpass or a bridge. I do appreciate beach running, though. The only thing I have to watch for is jellyfish.

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  4. What a pretty place to run! Jealous.
    I'm taking time off this Spring after two 10ks. I've instituted a nonplan as well, but I have yet to just let my leg sit there immobile and heal.
    Hope the new PT is helpful. And good luck in the race this weekend!

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    1. Eesh, time off after two 10Ks is apparently my "plan" now too, because my hip girdle-induced ham stuff came back after my Sunday race! Is there some kind of hip/high hamstring plague among the running blog world this past year? I should probably try lower mileage for a while... and more core/hip stuff to address this. But blergh that's a no-fun plan.

      Those trails look incredible.

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    2. sweatykid, I think you're the one who directed me to the hip exercises video, no? You better get on it! Let's fix ourselvessssss

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  5. Good luck. I am always really jealous of west coast weather for that sole reason. The racing season in NY is generally excludes November through February. Then since this is my first year not being in Southern VA heat in the summer maybe I'll be able to do some longer races in the summer.

    Anyways-I hate trail running because I feel animals will maul me as well. You could hand me a one mile paved loop and I'd do laps around that.

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    1. I hear you, race season in MT ends after Thanksgiving Day and picks back up again at St. Patrick's Day. There are a few races sprinkled in there, but usually hard to get to given distance and crummy weather. The price we pay for living in a cold climate :)

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  6. Trails trails trails!!!!! We need to set up a date very soon :) Off to email...

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    1. Text me an invite already! ;) next weekend?

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  7. Hooray for trails! They definitely will make you stronger. As for racing shoes, have you checked out the Brooks ST Racer? They are nice and light, but their structure is more similar to a traditional running shoe than the Cadence is. I ran my last marathon in them with no problems. They might be worth a try for you!

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    1. thank you for the tip, will check them out. Sounds pretty perfect!

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  8. Trails can do amazing things - for training and for your mental game. They are freaking hard but here in CO I swear the people on trails are a hundred times nicer, friendly and more supportive than those on the road. We are all fighting the same thing - the terrain, not the clock!

    So glad you've gotten onto some trails you like, you'll have so much fun with them! I just took a friend out on trails for her first time...love at first run!

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    1. I always hear that trail runners are friendlier, but I was getting shut down! I gave a few small talk openings and got nothing in return. It's official, some runners are cool and some are dicks, no mater where you find them

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  9. Trails are so awesome for building strength. You should come check out some of the ones around Seattle, 1400ft of elevation gain is a humbling experience.

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    1. No kidding? I hiked a bit of Mt. Rainer when I visited Seattle a few years ago but didn't realize it had a lot of other trails to offer. Sounds a little like the San Francisco bay area

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  10. I don't even like "outside", but that photo of the Rim Trail makes me want to leave my hermetically sealed, downtown NYC aerie and get some West Coast dirt on my shoes.

    As a member of the "butt crease pain" club, I also have a plan that includes stretching, strength and some cross-training, but I'm getting the first two via Pilates. (I do find it hard to participate in workout with such a goofy name, especially since "Pilates" is pronounced sort of like you'd say "Puh-lease" in an irritated way.) But all that core strength training seems to be helping somewhat. And although I hate group workouts (not much of a joiner), this does seem the best way to get me to do exercises I don't like doing but I know are good for me. (I can usually manipulate my personal trainer/Pilates instructor to go easy on me, but not so much the group class instructor.)

    Some of the exercises are very weird - the "Peter Pan" for example (with your legs in straps pointed in directions that look like Peter Pan flying on stage). And there's a Pilates variation called CoreAlign that has me looking like a Great Dane on roller skates. And there's that whole "lie on this table and put your legs in straps" thing that reminds me a little too much of a visit to the gyno. But it does seem to be helping my running by enabling me to build some strength so that I take some of the strain off my hamstrings (where they insert into the glutes). And it's always a good thing to laugh at myself.

    Have you ever tried Pilates?

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    1. I have most definitely never peter panned, and never Pilate'd! Maybe with a video I would give it a try at home? Like you, I hate group workouts. But I'm actually pretty good and at playing drill sergeant on myself at home when I want to.

      What kind of cross-training are you doing? Sometimes I wonder if elliptical/swimming make it worse. I almost feel the buttcrease is tighter after an hour on the elliptical...

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    2. I usually alternate between the elliptical and the treadmill - I find the elliptical doesn't bother the butt-crease thing, especially if I pedal backwards. When you use it, tilt forward slightly at the ankles and don't use the swinging arm bars - just hold on in front. It's closer to the position you use for running - without the pressure on the hamstrings. I find it demands a bit more of my quads.

      Lately, I've added the recumbent bike (a regular upright bike kills my lower back). I would love to use a rowing machine (used to own one), but since the "herniated discs - paralysis" episode in 2010, the whole bending forward thing hasn't been doing a lot for me.

      If your budget stretches to a few private classes, it's worth doing a few private lessons in Pilates before doing it own your own. Having an instructor look carefully at your form is a good idea because you get more out of the exercises if your form is correct, and you can risk injuring yourself if you do something wrong. (Reminds me a bit of scuba diving. Love the experience, but need to pay attention to the instructions or I'll die.)

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  11. Wow. I just stared at that picture of Rim Trail for way too long. Gorgeous! I have major runner jealousy right now. That just sounds like such an awesome run. Have fun at your race! And good luck with the shoes!

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  12. That trail looks gorgeous! But that race map looks crazy! You weren't kidding when you said there were turns. Good luck this weekend! Let me know how it goes!

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  13. That trail looks so great- tough, but great. And I am glad to hear that there are lots of people on it because I am also paranoid about getting eaten while running in "wilderness" areas. My husband showed me this video http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=He7RsjcRiGM which certainly doesn't help. Even though I know there aren't grizzly bears in MN.

    Good luck this weekend!

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    1. dude why film while you are running? that was 3 minutes of boring and 1 minute of holy shit I'm never running trails again.

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  14. yes, those hip exercises seem similar to mine... I'll post about my routine one day

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  15. Yep, I'm with you. Love that race except for all the turns.

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  16. Great plan!!! I should follow your advice and get some butt/girdle strengthening in. The Rim Trail looks absolutely beautiful!!!!!! Enjoy the trails - they are addictng!

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  17. omg the perf race location! hope you have another great half and next year win the big bucks! that trail looks so awesome! also I just started wearing the Saucony Mirage and love it! maybe check that out at your local shop.

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  18. Perfect plan. 50 mpw my ideal mileage when I am not in marathon training mode. Enough to jump into some shorter races, but no so much to take over my life. Good luck!

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    1. It feels no different than my old 70-80 mile routine for some reason....?

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