Tuesday, April 1, 2014

Running In A New City

Hi sister heroes.  Brother heroes, hello to you as well.

We have been living in our new home, in a new city, with a new commute, a different micro-climate, new friends, it's ALL new!  I haven't had much square footage to call my own in the 12 years since I first left home for college.  I can practically do speed repeats through the house.

This is what our house feels like to me after a lifetime in our apartment.  And I don't mean it feels like it is filled with museum sculptures. 
Other adjustments include: bleeding money.  Spending most of my "free time" doing house stuff.  Sleeping without neighbors stomping above or blasting music below.

It's plain fantastic.

I have begun to fall in love with the home.  It felt like a creepy stranger for the first few days there, but having friends and family over helped fill the space with memories and happiness, and I am able to associate it with a true home.  And each time I head out on a run, I grow more and more comfortable and happy with our neighborhood.

Aaaaand segue to running in our new city!

First Objective: Find a Track.

I wrangled my way into a new track.  It is exactly 1 mile from our house, and while it is not technically open to the public, I made friends with a teacher at the high school who opens the track so she can jog at 6:00 a.m. every morning.  She kindly gave me the ok to join her a couple mornings each week.

I feel a little terrible because the first time I showed up at the track to see if it was open, it was pitch black out but the gate was open and I saw another runner (the teacher) so I figured it was a free for all.  And I went off on a sprint.

It turns out I scared the shit out of the teacher, as she is used to running there by her lonesome.  Poor thing! It didn't occur to me that another runner would be stunned to see someone running by, at of all places, a track.

I like that the track is our little secret for now.

My track workouts thus far at the new neighborhood track:

-- 4x1 mile at a 5:55 average pace.  I like to think I could have run a 5th at the same pace, which was my plan, but I ran out of time and had to start running home after the 4th repeat.

--a 9 mile "tempo" at the track at about a 6:30 pace, cruising on the outside lane.  I interrupted the run by stopping at miles 3.5, 5, and 7 for about 15-30 seconds to stretch my left leg out.

-- 4x400 (81),  2x800 (2:53), 1x1 mile (6:03), 2x800, 1x400 (I intended to bookend with another 4x400, but I ran out of time.  Again.)

Second Objective: Find Amazing Routes for Long Runs

Two Sundays ago was a long run of 22 miles.  I thought it would be great to explore all the "trails" in the new neighborhood (Contra Costa Canal Trail; Ygnacio Canal Trail; Iron Horse Trail) but they are all so, so flat.  It didn't like it.  I'm used to long runs being full of hills.   It felt like a big cheat.

This past Sunday I strayed from these paved trails into neighborhood territory for my long run, and hit every hill I could. Hilly neighborhoods are all pressed up against Mt. Diablo and the related hill networks, so this was also what we would call a beautiful, stunning run.  It was my safe/wimpy way of capturing the beauty of running real trails, but avoiding the mud.  I ran by a freaking horse ranch.  21 miles* went by faster than it has for any of my other long runs while training for Boston.

running by a sweet little park in a sweet little neighborhood
*For inquiring minds I ran these 21 miles with Gushers for fuel because I couldn't find anything better the night before when I popped into a CVS.  How were they? So ridiculously delicious. But I also got a side stitch immediately after eating my first one.  Coincidence? I'm going to risk yes, it was merely a coincidence, and so I shall try them again because YUM.



Third Objective: Find A Route With No Interruptions For Tempos

I have not succeeded here yet.

See above: I ran one tempo at the track.

I also ran a 10 mile tempo on the paved trails, which are interrupted by traffic lights every 1-to-4 miles. My average pace was somewhere between 6:45-6:50 I think.  Fastest mile was 6:34 (last mile), slowest was 6:58 (hairpin turns and small hill).

I noticed something.  With some mayyyybe improvements thanks to my new physical therapist (more on that next blog post, which hopefully won't take me forever to write), my leg-lock was manageable during the tempo when I was running flat; but my leg flared with stiffness/weakness/lockiness when I ran up or down (in this case, up/down overpasses that were relatively weak elevation).  I'm thinking maybe I should have signed up for Chicago instead of Boston ;)

Fourth Objective: Find a New Gym

For the first time since I was...16 years old? I don't belong to a gym.  The gym has always been a great supplement to my running that I have turned to for the following reasons:
  • Too dark/early/late to comfortably run outside
  • Too rainy/cold/hot/windy/fire-smoky to comfortably run outside
  • Too injured to do anything but ride a bike or the elliptical
  • Yoga.  hahaha, just kidding, still just....can't
  • Easy recovery workout on the elliptical
  • treadmill tempo runs, where there are no stoplights to interrupt me
  • look into the weight room and consider possibly one day giving it a go
I haven't found a new gym since we moved, and there aren't any that I consider to be in jogging distance (within 1.5 miles).  There's something about the idea of *driving* to a gym to workout that makes my brain spasm, so I really prefer to be able to walk/jog there.

Until I figure out what to do - or if I ever do - I haven't cross-trained in a really long time.  And I have been forced to run in some pretty serious rain and darkness.  It turns out it is not that bad.  Rainy runs can be rather lovely since no one else is bothering to run and the roads are all for me.  I suppose I may not need a gym.

Miscellaneous:

  • Plank (UP TO A 4:35 PLANK holy hell.  I think about quitting 847 times during a plank this long, but I am stubborn.) 
  • I'm now incorporating wall sits into my routine.  So far 2 x 1:20 minute wall sits, I'm a wimp at them.  Many of the routes I am currently running in my new neighborhood are flat as a pancake so I need something to make the quads burn a little.  
  • I'm still topping out at 70-75 miles per week, which is slightly unsettling for me.  This is the lowest marathon mileage for me since I've been recording miles.  Long runs feel LONG to me.  I'm worried I've lost some of the endurance that used to be one of my strengths for a marathon.  We shall see.  If it works, I'll stick with this lower mileage next time.  If it doesn't, I'll consider cranking it back up to 80-90 miles per week next time. 

Also recently got in a Friday night meal with Angela, Alyssa, Margot and Sesa, four great blog friends that make me feel mushy enough to say that blogging can really enhance your life.  Very excited about the addition of Margot to the Bay Area running community.  Sorry SoCal but she's ours now!

We spent the evening enabling each others freakish running habits. Thank goodness for running friends who make us feel a little bit more normal.

Well reader heroes, see you next time.

30 comments:

  1. I bought a $20 weight set with adjustable dumbbells and tada, home gym. But me and my chronically injured self does like the access to pool, exercise bike, and elliptical.
    Congratulations on the new house and neighborhood, and have fun finding all your routes and runs!

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    1. Thanks my dear! I have two dumbbells. The only time i've touched them in the past 2 years is when we were packing to move. :(

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  2. Dear blogger hero,

    New neighbourhood looks lovely - glad you're enjoying it!

    I have seriously considered using Gushers for fuel. I would if anyone sold my favourite childhood snacks any more, but I can't seem to find them at the supermarket. So shot bloks will have to do.

    Last year I finally bit the bullet and joined a gym, and have been pleasantly surprised by how much I've used it. The strength training seems to be doing good things for my running, the one yoga class I go to is taught by the least BS-y yoga teacher on the face of the planet (short, round, loud, and hilarious are not things you normally associate with yoga instructors), and the pool, the glorious pool... Oh, and be careful about running in the rain/ dark. I know enough runners and cyclists who have gotten into horrible accidents that way. Suburban traffic scares the shit out of me.

    All the best for Boston! (No pressure...at all...)

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    1. I love gyms. I go through phases where I exclusively run outside and give the gym the cold shoulder, but I've always enjoyed being a member. It gives me an excuse to watch the news in the morning or read a trashy magazine on the elliptical.

      Fingers crossed I don't get hit by a stupid car! I'll remain cautious

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  3. Hey!! I was just wondering how you were settling in. I might have to copy the format of your post. I've enjoyed exploring new routes, but I still miss the Lake goddamit. Neighborhood sidewalks are not my fave, but at least there aren't any traffic lights. I'm loving running at Lake Chabot, but have been too lazy to try out new-to-me trails just yet.

    Oh, and totally with you on the "feeling like I'm living in a palace" thing. I was just telling T about how when I think about apartment living now, I shudder. #nevergoingback #suburbs4life #housingsnob

    Glad to hear that some of your leg lock issues are resolving! Hope the other ones go away before Boston!

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    1. I actually don't miss the lake so far (or the small apartment)....except for the ease of access to water fountains. I only know of a couple water fountains out here so far. the running options here are really fantastic which has kept me from being too wistful for my old Oakland habits. I'm having a great time exploring!

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    2. Yay, glad to hear it!
      Now that you mention it, I miss the infrastructure of the Lake (e.g., water fountains, bathrooms) and the familiarity (I know X route will yield Y miles) more than the Lake itself.

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  4. First, I wish you would post more often so I can feel like a hero again in my life (but really).

    Second, I am really glad everything is going well there. I have always belonged to a gym for every reason you have stated. My 24 hour gym is literally my favorite thing ever. It's so freaking nice to go whenever I want. Anyways I hope you find that.

    I've always found that runs on "country roads" go by much faster. I cannot imagine running in a city and being stopped by crossing the road, ect.

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    1. You never run in a city!? or have to cross roads? wow, I assumed everybody has to deal with that, which is naive in hindsight. Yeah unless I run short loops of 1.5 miles over and over, I hit stop lights for the main roads. Stop signs are even scarier, because cars drift through them without really looking for pedestrians/runners.

      I would love a 24 hour gym. Not sure why, since I know I would never go between 11:00 p.m. and 5:00 a.m.

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  5. This whole post makes me miss living and running in CA so much. Walking to the gym is not an option here sometimes (it's why I actually belong to the gym..to avoid going outside in that weather!).

    Also I am super impressed with your plank! I'm happy with a minute!

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    1. I started with a minute, which I used to consider very tough! I'm loving doing this 5-second-increase with the plank thing, because unlike my running as of recent, you quickly see serious results and improvement. Constant plank PRs! Give it a try. Just add a few seconds each time you do a plank, and suddenly you'll be at 3 minutes.

      California is the best. Buuuut, the grass is always greener. I mean the cost of living here. The traffic. Whoof.

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  6. Come run shell ridge with me! It is the opposite of flat! I gave up the gym a few months ago and have been almost enjoying my dark early morning runs. They're definitely better than a treadmill anyway. You can always swim at heather farm for cross training!

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    1. I definitely will run there with you! Can't wait. Are weekend mornings best? I need to learn everything you know. Like, what's the sitch with heather farms? Can I just pay for a day pass to swim? Is it crazy crowded in the summer?

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    2. 5 bucks... 5:30 AM-7:00 AM, and 7:00-8:30 PM. Weekends 11-4. It can get crowded sometimes but it's rare to have more than 2 in a lane (recently anyway). Sunday mornings are my shell ridge time!

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    3. Thanks for the knowledge! Lets run once I recover from Boston, I can help you get through like, one fourth of your intense Iron Man training days :)

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  7. Sister heroes ftw!!! Also, I am insanely jealous of all the trail options you have by you now, even if they are freakishly flat.

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    1. You're not allowed to be jealous when your running playground is San Francisco! But hey, come one over and run a few miles with me any time.

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  8. This post made me so happy. I love hearing about all the awesome great parts of the new house!! I really want to come see it soon!!! I hope you will have me :)

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    1. I need company if you want to come this weekend...

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  9. Ha!! I a member at a gym for those exact same reasons. I do not do any classes or weights but I like having access to a treadmill or bike whenever I need it.

    Your training looks great. Finding a good tempo route is always a challenge. My best option (when I don't want to deal with stopping for traffic) is a 1.66 mile loop near my kids school. So this means for long tempos or long runs with marathon pace miles I end up doing it several times in a row. I'm sure you'll find something good soon.

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    1. Running a loop many times sounds dizzying to me, but I bet it builds mental toughness. I should do that. I'm sure I could easily find a 2 mile loop. Then no excuses for "having" to stop and take a break!

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  10. Now you have all this space, why don't you think about buying a good treadmill instead of joining a gym? Sounds like you only really use that, and a few months' gym fees would pay for it. And you could buy an elliptical if/when you needed it? After all, the dark and rainy season is pretty much over. That's what I'd do, anyway. Really glad you're so happy in Chateau RoseRunner!!

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    1. thank you for permission to make my dreams come true! I have always wanted a treadmill and an elliptical. Since I was like 16. I always imagined as a grown up I'd have all this money and a big home and just get that done.

      I think, in the next year or two, I just might get it done.

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  11. Once you stop bleeding money for the new house, start looking for a high quality, secondhand treadmill. You can probably find a really good one that's been used mostly as a clotheshanger for under $1000, or even under $500. I suspect that the advice I got from one of my photography instructors about buying secondhand gear also applies here. He says he never buys secondhand gear from photographers because it's been over-used. Instead he watches for listings posted by lawyers who buy themselves expensive toys but then never have the time to use them :) So go hunting for a treadmill owned by a lawyer, not a runner (and of course, not lawyer-runners like you or me).

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    1. I'm sure I can provide a very good home to an under-used treadmill. Under $500 would be amazing. I shall hunt for the lazy lawyer treadmill sale.

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  12. I love that you love your new home :)

    So awesome that you've found good places to run and a good PT and training is going well.

    I'm so jealous about your #bloggymeetup! And I'm really looking forward to seeing you next week :

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  13. I felt a little strange in my home too when we first got it. But like you said, filling it with your belongings and making memories there, helped make it feel like our own. Exploring the neighborhood on runs helped too.

    I've been debating quitting the gym myself, but the damn pool keeps calling me back. And the cycle classes. I guess I still need it if I want to do a tri, right? lol.

    Congrats on the purchase and your new home. Very exciting :)

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    1. Thank you! I'm definitely still in excitement stage. Every time I come home is a treat.

      Once summer truly arrives....I may be enticed to join a gym for the pool.

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  14. The picture of the gushers makes me want to go run out for one now! Congratulations on getting to wall sits of 1:20... I can't stand them but have incorporated them into my leg warm-up.

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    1. How long do you wall sit for? I have a coworker who said in his high school basketball days, they did wall sits of 15+ minutes. I think the human body would die before that

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