Tales From the Back of the Pack

Tales From the Back of the Pack

Thursday, October 28, 2010

A Week of Unimpressiveness

This week has been chock FULL of lackluster training.

Running in circles around the track isn't very motivating
Monday: 2 miles with lots of rest breaks around the HS track
Tuesday: 4 miles on the Greenway trail (actually this wasn't too bad)
Wednesday: Big Goose Egg. The vaGiants winning Game 1 of the World Series made me physically ill.
Thursday: 3 miles on the treadmill. Blah, but better than nothing.

I'm registered for the LA County Half Marathon on December 12th and so far I'm unintentionally putting in a minimal amount of effort to train for it. I always want to do my best in any race so I hope this Stella gets her groove back over the weekend, if not sooner.

I'll be racing in a local 5K in Whittier and want to finish not too far behind BD's 27 minutes. Maybe all this non-training will mean my legs will be rested and ready to crush a PR.

Besides being plagued by guilt for not training, I'm barely keeping my head above water surviving the work week and getting ready for the Halloween festivities.


Sunday, October 24, 2010

A Day of Being in the Moment

Yesterday's run was short and sweet (and wet). I drove down to the shore, the scene of last weekend's half marathon, to run in one of my favorite parts of the LBC. For 15 years my office was about 30 feet away from this area and I lived just a couple of blocks away.

Now that I live and work a little further away I don't take the time to drive the few miles down here to run. Last week's Long Beach Half Marathon reminded me that LB is a picturesque city and I'm lucky to be here.


A short 3 mile run at a sub 10 minute pace was just enough time to play through my current favorite songs in my play list --Taio Cruz, Eminem HOLLA-- and get my heart rate up for the requisite 30 minutes. My left knee is making it's presence known and I'm debating on whether to rest it for a while (NOT!!) or strap a band around it to make it cooperate (option 2 for $200, Alex).

The rest of the day? Finally carving up that pumpkin with the Puff

and watching the San Francisco vaGiants get a lucky strike three call to weasel their way into the World Series. Let's go RANGERS!!!


Great Sunday to everyone and GOOD LUCK to 50 Half Marathons in 50 States running in Alaska and KIMpossible and everyone else racing today. The PR is all you, baby!

Thursday, October 21, 2010

A 2¢ Final Thought About the LB Marathon

Yesterday the Puff and I drove over to Run Racing headquarters in Long Beach to pick up my personal items bag that I'd left at the race. I'd emailed them first thing on Monday about my bag and they responded promptly to confirm that they had it. They were actually going to mail it to me for free, but I was in the neighborhood anyway so it was convenient.

I never went to pick up my bag after the race because the bag pick up line looked like this:

I was standing at the end of the line when I took this picture. I told the girl in line ahead of me that there was nothing in my bag that was worth waiting in this line.

Her response? "My cell phone is in there, I have to get my bag." HUH? What's the point of bringing a cell phone if you're going to be without it anyway?

Why does anyone leave their cell phone/car keys/wallet/first born child in a stuff bag?


I don't understand the need. My iPhone is my MP3 player and it's strapped to my arm with a few dollars tucked in there with it. My car keys stay in my car and I remove the keyless remote which I tie to my shoelaces:

For the LB race, my stuff bag contained the following items:

1. Energy beans
2. A peanut butter sandwich (petrified when I picked it up yesterday, lol)
3. the long sleeve t-shirt I wore to the race
4. the long sweats I wore to the race
5. deodorant
6. pad/tampon
7. My race t-shirt

Nothing that I couldn't lose. And the only reason I even contacted Run Racing was because I really wanted to see if I could get back that race t-shirt.

I've been reading countless complaints now about the stuff bag issue at the race. I know the situation was a chaotic mess, but honestly people we need to take responsibility for our own contribution to the problem. I'd heard people had broken down the barriers and were bypassing the volunteers searching for their own bags amongst the tens of thousands of bags under the tent. YIKES!

When I picked up my bag at Run Racing yesterday, the lovely staff apologized profusely for the chaos surroudnig the drop bag problem (not a problem for me). AND............to compensate me for my trouble I got a FREE ENTRY to the LA County Half Marathon on December 12th!

Although I was not inconvenienced by the drop bag issue, I'm not above accepting a FREE ENTRY to the LA County Half Marathon. That's a $100 value! Hello, free race t-shirt and medal, here I come! After I run a measley 13.1 miles, that is. :)

Monday, October 18, 2010

Long Beach Half Marathon Race Recap

I think what augments my nervousness at the start of a race is that I'm usually unfamilier with the race logistics and end up driving or wandering around lost for a while. This time I knew exactly what I was doing and where I was going. Parking was a breeze. I hit the bathrooms at the Hyatt instead of the lines at the porta potties. Bag drop was easy. I walked directly to the start of the race.

Well go figure, but somehow I still managed to miss my wave start. I had to line up with a slower wave 6-hour full marathon, 3-hour half marathon pace group. It's hard to feel like a person when you're corraled like cattle. I worried that I wouldn't be able to keep up the pace I'd wanted because I was trapped by the amount of people around me. A couple of shots of the start of the race:


Once my wave started the crowd thinned out and I was able to weave around some slower runners. I must not have been the only one to miss my wave because most of the runners I was running with were at least as fast, most faster, than me. The 3-hour pace group in our wave was left in the dust.

The before and after pics:

Throughout the course my mind was kept busy as I went by all the familiar buildings and streets. We ran past The Reef restaurant where my good friend Renee had her wedding reception, past the building where I used to work, the street where I used to live. And then I over heard someone say that the Belmont Pool was the turnaround point. I knew exactly where that was and exactly how long it would take me to get there.

I avoided all the lines for porta potties along the route and waited to make my pit stop in the public restrooms along the beach path. I've run this beach path many many times before. Today it was so over crowded there was no room to maneuver. I minimized the weaving and passed runners by going off the path and into the sand because I knew the sand alongside the path was hard-packed.

As we approached the finish I knew we'd make a left turn at the Batman building and then downhill all the way on Shoreline Drive. This was where I started my sprint.

I hadn't admitted it to anyone other than myself but I was aiming for a 2:15 today. I'd picked up a 2:15 pace wrist band at the Expo on Friday and had been using it over the weekend to help me visualize a 2:15 race.

It worked!
my unofficial garmin time and pace band
The official race results:
FINISH: 2:15:44 PACE: 10:22
Overall: 3838 out of 9669
Women: 1665 out of 5824
Age group: 286 out of 925

This was the flat fast course they'd promised. And the Yassos are working, I'm a convert! Next Half is Huntington Beach Half Marathon in February.

Saturday, October 16, 2010

All in the Familia

This weekend (tomorrow!) is my 3rd half marathon right here in the LBC. But first things first.

FRIDAY: The Expo. Oh, but I do love me an EXPO.


We went through the entire hall twice, picked up new Brooks running shoes, Nathan hand held water bottle, GUs, beans, energy bars. Is there anything more fun than a running-themed shopping fest? Nope, nothing comes to mind.

SATURDAY: BD has himself been bitten by the running bug and signed up for a 5K this weekend. We drove into EastLA for the festivities. The Puff had made a sign for her dad (I helped a little) which we surprised him with and he loved.

He did really well, which is great. It's a little hard for me to be happy for him because he only started running like a month ago. His time was somewhere around 27:00. I'm bitter...I'd love to run a 5K in 27:00. Someday.

**PROUD MAMA ALERT** (kid pics below)
Finally after BD's 5K in EastLos, we drove back into the LBC for a 1-mile Kid's Fun Run that the Puff was running. The course was scenic loop around the Aquarium of the Pacific and the kids were treated like superstars. It was really sweet.

quarter mile in and looking good

starting to melt down after 1/2 mile, mom steps in for damage control

She chicked BOTH those boys!!

into the finish line chute

She medaled!

My four year old finished an entire mile her first race. Pretty cool.

Race recap after the Half tomorrow. No expectations (yeah, right), just want to do my best... and get a PR of course!

Running and Conversation

Oct 10, 2010 (5 days ago)

I would have described Friday's run in 1 word: BLECH!

Road construction on the running trails, noise noise noise

I went 7.5 miles and only did that many miles because I'm afraid of falling behind on the 83 miles I need to log this month for TallMom's October challenge. I do my best work with a deadline.

In just a few short but dreadful miles I had reached the point mentally and physically where I was about to call a taxi to drive me back to my car. One of the perks of running through a densely populated, ok overcrowded, city is that you can always call a cab or hop on the bus to save your tired butt.

Another perk of running through city streets is that when you have to make a potty stop along the way you don't have to resort to going in the bushes. Or in your pants.

1 of 2 of McD's along my running route. This one has the nicer bathrooms.

I would have said BLECH! except for the fact that my little sister called halfway through my run all the way from three time zones away, Virginia, and saved the day.

Ericka had called just to chat and apologized for interrupting my run. She was about to hang up but I realized she was just what I needed to keep going: some company. I begged her to keep me company until I could get back to my car. For the next 3.5 miles Ericka chatted my ear off about her work, school, life, marriage, blogging, our family, Pete the dog, and just about every thing else under the sun. She didn't let me get a word in edgewise, and the way I was huffing and puffing I couldn't have managed much conversation any way. She got me all the way back to my car and took my mind off the ache in my knees and foot.

Run and done. Thanks Ericka! Call me anytime.

Ericka & I on the Dipsea trail when she lived in Petaluma.

This got me thinking about something I haven't tried yet: running groups. I don't know where they are or how to pick one, but they should be easy enough to find. I've seen people running in twosomes and threesomes and it looks kinda fun, kinda like a party. I'm going to look into the running group thing. It may be the thing for me.

Do you run alone or in a group? What do you prefer?

Saturday's mileage: 1.5miles. I may be sliding into a funk a week before my LB Half. Figures.

Eating the Rainbow today
R frozen raspberries
O fresh Peaches
Y banana
G frozen spinach and frozen peas
BIV fresh figs and grapes

And Another One Down and Another One Down

Oct 7, 2010 2:06 AM

Another week's Yasso workout bites the dust. Today was #8. !!! I felt strong throughout the set, which ended at 5.75 miles but I walked another .25 miles so that I could add an even 6 miles to TallMomontheRun's October Challenge.

I'm looking forward to finishing this series up in the next two weeks and then starting a new set of Yasso's at a slightly faster pace. Is it bad luck to be thinking that far ahead? I can't help it, but hope I'm not jinxing myself. If I can pick up the pace in another set of 10 Yassos, I may start to feel more comfortable with expecting myself to hit my dream marathon time of 4:30. Those recovery laps really help to mentally get through the 1/2 mile intervals. As you run, you're thinking "I can't hold this pace" but the beauty is you don't have to because you're going to be taking a break in just a little while. This stuff is brilliant.

In between those last two Yasso's I'll be running the Long Beach Half Marathon October 17th. I can't wait to run this race!

I am more excited than nervous about this one because this is my home turf. I know this city. I own this city. :) Having lived here for many years, especially when I was young and single and lived in the downtown area where this route runs, I feel a powerful sense of belonging to this city. I've walked, run, biked, bussed, taxi'd these streets for 20 years. I think many people who live here feel the same sense of belonging. I've been in various parts of the country, have randomly bumped into people from Long Beach and the conversation ALWAYS goes like this:

#1 Where in Long Beach do you/did you live?
#2 We have an apartment at 1st and Alamitos
#1 Oh, really? I live at 3rd and Cherry. We eat at that SuperMex on 1st and Alamitos all the time.
#2 We love SuperMex! We're friends of the owners.
#1 We know the owners too! I went to high school with their daughter.
#2 I am thier daughter's god mother!

Or some variation of the above. Seven Degrees of separation are reduced to only 1 degree if you live in Long Beach. In a city of half a million people, that's pretty impressive. Running through my old neighborhoods should be fun and nostalgic.

Tonight we went out to see another independent movie, Kings of Pastry. It's documentary about another type of marathon, a 3-day PASTRY marathon in France where the winners are awarded the highest honor of the pastry world. A pastry olympics (does that sound like an oxymoron?) of sorts which made the Food Network's "challenges" look like kindergarten play.

Great documentary, catch it if you can (and if you're into that sort of thing). I always love a night out during the middle of week, don't you? I hope your week is going just the way you want it to.

Eating the Rainbow today:
R grape tomatoes
O peach slices
Y ?? Missed this one today. Does popcorn count?
G Artichokes and baby broccoli
BIV figs, yummm

What a Difference a Weekend Makes

Oct 4, 2010 11:44 PM

I had such great intentions to get a long run in on Sunday. Church even kindly cooperated by starting at 9am instead of 8am this weekend. But to no one's surprise I never made it out the front door Sunday for a run. Come to think of it, I don't remember if I ever changed out of my slippers the entire day.

Today's run was do or die. I had to get it done or have a big FAIL on my conscience. And guess what? I DID IT. The best part? I kept a great pace the whole way! On the mill, I can bust out 9:30min miles all day, but getting out onto the trail it's a whole different story. Outside I can never keep any kind of steady pace, nevermind a decently fast pace. (If there's a secret to it, someone please tell me!)


Today's run was just so sweeet. My legs made their decision as to how far they were going to go totally independent of my head. They carried me for eight miles and I unofficially (& barely) PR'd with a sub 10min pace. Maybe it's the Yasso's I've been doing or maybe it was the fact that I rested and ate crappy food all weekend and my body was screaming to get back into our normal healthy routine. Whatever it was, I'm ecstatic about the results.

Sweet runs like the one I had today are the reason I keep running. While I wish I could have more good runs, I do realize that if I did, they wouldn't be as sweet.

After a gluttonous weekend of Foodtruck food, Dodger Dogs (see you next season, boys!) and mom's famous fried fish tacos, I'm ready to get back to Eating the Rainbow today:

R grape tomatoes and strawberries
O peach
Y banana, pineapple
G baby broccoli
BIV frozen blueberries, grapes

Hope your runs are Sweeeet!

Run, Eat, Shop, Repeat!

Oct 2, 2010 2:44

Yesterday was cross training day--step class! I used to think Step class was like the 90's version of Jazzercize (not that I ever actually did any jazzercising) but I've come to learn that step class is NO JOKE. It's an awesome way to work up a sweat and feel spent without hurting in all the wrong places like in a spinning class. Spinning classes are for....men. IMO.

Sometime during the workday, I realized I had to work Saturday (today). Boo to work on the weekends! and a bigger BOO because I won't be able to run Saturday morning. So after work on Friday I headed back to the gym for a second time to run 4 quick miles on the treadmill before heading out to Venice Beach for FIRST FRIDAYS.

The first Friday of every month the gourmet food trucks around LA convene in Venice Beach along Abbott Kinney Blvd and I get to participate in two of my favorite pastimes: eating AND shopping.

First on the agenda was to hit the Grilled Cheese Truck hard and early because this line will get hours long if you dilly dally. Plus you run the risk of the trucks running out of food before you get to the window. Here is a picture of the scene when we first arrived (we were 10th in line). About an hour later the line was no longer a line but a HOT MESS of people and mass confusion

     Signature grilled cheese with cheesy mac, BBQ pulled pork and carmelized onions.

The grilled double cream brie with pears and honeyed walnuts. BLISS!

And the Puff also spotted herself a truck, Cool Haus, waited patiently in line and scored herself an ice cream sandwich. Vanilla ice cream sandwiched between two chocolate chip cookies. She is a classic kind of ice cream sandwich girl.

The shopping was also lots of fun, walking up and down the sidewalk going in and out of the cute eclectic shops. Venice is a unique place with a great, laid-back vibe. Not something everyone enjoys, but I absolutely do.

I actually crossed someone off my Christmas list last night. SCORE!

Someone I love may or may not be receiving a pair of cowboy wellies for Christmas

Another First Friday gone until next month. I'll try to convince myself that all the window shopping I did while eating copious amounts of food truck food negated the calories we consumed. One can always hope.

And if the walking isn't enough, this Sunday is General Conferences which means no Church which means I'll have time to get a long run done this weekend after all. I'll be able to run in the morning and then come home to watch the meetings on TV in my sweaty running clothes. A WIN/WIN!! unless you're sitting next to me.

Keep On Keeping On

Sep 30, 2010 8:34 PM

Wednesday's cross day was looking to be a big DNF but luckily the Puff was willing to be bribed to go to the Kid's Club with me last night and I did a great strength class. I love it when my world is working with me.

Today was week 4 of the Yasso's and I'm proud to report they are DONE. 7 Yasso's down and a whole week to forget about the sweat and tears. I overslept again today (surprise surprise) so I hit the gym to get them done. Because I was using the mill and not the track, I came up with a super sophisticated system to remember which Yasso I was on:

It looks something like this _ _ / _}_ /_ _}/_ _/}_ _/_ }_/_ _} The 2 horizontal lines each represent a lap, together a half mile or 1 Yasso run in 4:30 (9min per mile pace), the slash is a recovery lap and the squiggly line marked each mile. So I knew that at exactly 5 miles I would have finished 7 Yasso's. I know, super stupid, but it worked. Small minds...

Truthfully, I do like this Yasso business and I'm looking forward to finishing them up in the next few weeks. I had an epiphany of miraculous proportions today while I was running that once I was finished this series, I could always start over again at a faster pace. I'll say it again, samll minds...

Working up a sweat 5 days a week whether it's running or crosstraining is just so physically gratifying. There have been numerous times over the past few years that I've fallen off the exercise wagon. There have been times when I didn't put on a sports bra for weeks at a time. I'm delighted to find myself bitten by this running bug, and someday may even become a real runner.

Eating the rainbow today:
R strawberries (sour, end of the season)
O carrot sticks
Y pineapple chunks
G grilled zucchini in my salad
BIV grilled eggplant in my salad, frozen blackberries

Tomorrw is First Fridays in Venice, where a whole bunch of LA gourmet food trucks convene and we can hit them all up in one fun location. This month I've got a my crosshairs pointed at the Crepes Bonaparte truck and the grilled cheese truck. I've got a fistfull of cash and I'm ready to binge!

It's Too Hot To Run

Sep 28, 2010 6:42 PM

Summer is in now in full swing in SoCal, finally, with record breaking heat waves. Problem is that SoCal just doesn't know how to do extreme weather. They say Angelenos can't drive in the rain, and this is absolutely true. The reason for this is that we are so unaccustomed to having rain fall here that we go on about our drives as if the rain weren't pouring down diminishing our visibility and making the roads slick. You can expect a minimum of an hour added to your usual commute time when it rains due to all the car accidents.

Similarly in the extreme heat, people think they can go on about their regular business and are shocked when all the airconditioners working overtime simultaneously will cause power outages around the city.

Or, like me, will get outside to run and be totally dumbfounded when we realize it just is physically impossible to run in this heat when you're not acclimated to it. You just can't, you will die.

I've been feeling a litte run down since my Half marathon on Saturday. Throat felt raw and my knees were achy. Sunday was a rest day which helped some. Sunday tagged Monday as a rest day and that helped a little more. But now it's Tuesday and I NEED TO RUN. In addition, I've recruited some friends to take up running again and will have company for my upcoming races. I need to make sure I'm not left too far behind.

But did I mention it's too hot to run?

So I had to pull a Moonstruck Cher today and slap myself to 'snap out of it'. I finally made up my mind to drive to the gym to do a few miles just to loosen up and I'm so glad I did. When do I ever regret a run? Never. I had a great tread mill workout in an air-conditioned gym.

4 miles, 37:38

It may not be much compared to some, and maybe even not much compared to what I've done before, but there is something about running that makes me feel like I'm Superwoman. Makes me feel like I accomplished something. I ran 4 miles today...in 38 minutes. I love saying that. Swimming or biking might have the same effect for me but neither of those activities are as convenient as running. I'll stick to running.

How did your run make you feel today?

Eating the rainbow today:
R-strawberries, tomatoes and marnara sauce
G-spinach, lettuce, cucumbers
BIV-blueberries, eggplant in the marinara

Rose Bowl Race Disaster

Sep 25, 2010 11:50 PM

Today was my half marathon at the Rose Bowl. Woke up at 5am, and BD was already at my house to pick up the Puff (thanks BD!) so I could run my race. Nice! I dressed, ate a quick breakfast and drove 28 miles to Pasadena.

The scenery was great around the Bowl with the sun just coming up over the hills. Laker girls were on hand for the pre-race warm-up. Hooray.

  Once the race got started it went pretty well for the first 4 miles or so looping around the Bowl on the running trail. As we got into miles 6, 7, 8, 9 the flat fast asphalt suddenly turned into a very difficult trail of dirt, sand and loose rocks, which I don't recall there being any mention of beforehand:

Besides this trail being very steep and difficult to run, the elites started to pass us right about here and at some points there was no room for us to both be on the trail together. We literally had to step off the trail and into the bushes every time we heard a volunteer shout RUNNER COMING DOWN so that the elites could get past us on their loop back. I always hate to lose my momentum, slow as it is.

I really started to get a bad attitude about this race here. It was increasingly feeling like we were being punished for choosing to participate in this race. We'd paid a fee of $75 to run this little event, and what did our $75 buy us? The race t-shirt was a crappy white cotton men's shirt. Strike one. There were no road closures. We were having to weave through the regular "civillian" traffic that runs daily in this area including walkers, strollers, bikers, dogs, rollerbladers. At some points I couldn't see any other racers around me and was seriously wondering if I was even still in the race. Strike two. The water stations ran out of water before our last loop. Out of water in this heat?? Steeeriike threeeee!! And the icing on the cake is that there were no electronic timing chips. Really, where was the money spent?

After the weird off-road gravelly sandy trail part, the route took us around the Rose Bowl twice more before heading into the finish line chutes. There hadn't been anything very interesting to see the first time around, the third loop was just agonizing. And by now the temperature had gone from 59 to almost 90 degrees.

Afterwards, I indulged in the "free" pancake breakfast and inhaled a Jamba Juice smoothie. Nice!

That helped adjust my mood during the drive home. And I needed the fuel because immediately after running a half marathon I had to attend a funeral, then had to rush over to meet the Puff at her cousin's birthday party and after THAT I had a church function/dinner. Shouldn't my world stop when I run a half mary?

Does your world stop when you do a long run?

My time was 2:24. I was hoping to do much better than this, but I'll take it. It was one of those races where I felt I could have done better if only it hadn't been such an odd route or such a hot day, but that goes with the territory.

Is there ever a perfect course, perfect day, perfect race?

In Bart I Trust

Sep 23, 2010 6:07 PM

Today was week 3 of the Yasso 800's. This means I am up to 6 Yassos now. I vaguely recall mentioning in an earlier post that they were kinda easy. Today Bart himself reached his hand through my treadmill and slapped me upside the head for thinking that they were easy. Today the Yasso's weren't that easy, no not easy at all. But I perservered through it, and now they're behind me until next week.

1x800 4:17
2x800 4:13
3x800 4:17
4x800 4:20
5x800 4:20
6x800 4:00- just wanted to get it over with already

Average pace was 7mph and 7.5mph for that last 800. And I felt great afterwards although my knees sometimes feel like they belong on an 80 year old woman instead of a not-yet-40 year old one. But I'm still following the pied piper. Still trusting what Bart says about me running my first marathon in a sub 4:30 time.
Tomorrow is another rest day and then Saturday morning I'm running the Say No to Drugs Half Marathon at the Rose Bowl.

While I loooove baseball and my LA Dodgers I am yet one more girl that is just not into football. HOWEVER, I once had the opportunity to visit the UCLA football locker rooms at the Rose Bowl and walk through the team tunnels and onto the grass and it was....very cool.

Unfortunately it was an experience wasted on me. The entire time I was there I was thinking of a dozen other people I knew off the bat who would have appreciated that whole thing.

It would be fun to get to do that again on Saturday but I'm not not holding out any hope.

Are you fall races coming up and/or done? Are you ready??

Eating the Rainbow today:
R grape tomatoes
O carrot sticks
Y nothing yet
G romaine & spinach salad
BIV grilled eggplant and frozen blackberrie