Wednesday, December 31, 2014

2015, here we come

Posted by Matt
I somehow thought I would train relatively hard through December and the holidas. But then as excuse after excuse piled up as December went on, - I was still recovering from CIM in early December, work was really busy, there was lots do for the holidays - my training really tapered off. Going home to Boston for a week, I was welcomed by my cousin with a sarcastic, "Welcome to Seattle" and it proceeded to rain for a solid week, which just added another excuse to my list to keep the training low and the eating high. So it wasn't until after Christmas, that I finally got a good workout in. That came in the form of 2 fantastic ski days trying out telemark skiing at Okemo mountain. Telemarking, for those unfamiliar with it, is downhill skiing, but your heel is not attached. In effect, this is essentially constantly doing lunges as you ski down the mountain, and it was a blast. I'm hooked and can't wait to get a pair for myself (I was renting boots and borrowing skis in Vermont). I also got a GoPro camera for Christmas and made a short film of our days at Okemo, which you can see on youtube here:

So now it's nearly the new year, my workouts are starting up again, and I'm feeling very motivated to gear up the training heading into the Ironman in July. That training, of course, will consist of lots more ski days (nearly every weekend that we can from now through April), so we'll have to make the most of short weeks and occasionally weekend to fit in the running, biking, and swimming so Katie and I will survive what we have in store for the summer. But I can't wait. Let's do this!
Katie Telemarking at Okemo

Sunday, December 28, 2014

A year in review: 2014

Posted by Rachel

2014, like every year since graduating college, was awesome. It always boggles my mind when people say something like "I wish I was kid again. It was so great having no responsibility." Sure, there are stressful things about being an adult, but I'll take the responsibility with all of the freedom that accompanies it. So here are some highlights of my 2014- running, triathloning, and life.

Not too much notable here. We took a weekend trip to Mendocino/ toward the northern coast of CA, and like every other beach vacation I've ever taken it was amazing.

This was a good month for running with a 5k PR. I had a (completely irrational) fear that because I turned 30 in November of 2013, I could never PR again. The LMJS Couple's Relay (a super fun race, by the way) proved this fear completely unfounded.

March is the month of my favorite race of the year: the Oakland marathon!! I vow to do some distance in this race every year that I am capable (logistically and physically).

In April I traveled to Denver for a conference and did some high-altitude running. It was also the month of our famous Bagel Tour.

In May we visited New Orleans for the first time. Not a solid place for running, but very conducive to eating extremely unhealthily and of course, drinking.

June was an awesome month for triathloning. We had a great vacation/race (PR!) in Monte Rio at Vineman (Olympic) and then later in the month a fun weekend of training and other activities in Tahoe.

In July we completed the Escape from Alcatraz duathlon. Despite being absolutely terrified of swimming from Alcatraz, I had a BLAST and even placed in my age group for the first time ever*
(*as an adult). 

There is one more thing that happened in July. I SIGNED UP FOR A FREAKIN' IRONMAN.

In August we visited the lovely Buffalo, NY for my Grandma's 80th birthday. We had some fun times at Niagara Falls, which led to a thought that I will one day run the Niagara Falls marathon (or half). We also did a blog group bioluminescent kayaking tour in Bodega Bay. Finally, on the last day of the month I had a huge PR in the Oakland Triathlon Festival- the result of a summer of hard training!

September was a very cool month, with a back-to-back-to-back trips. First I got some running and biking in at the Central Coast with my in-laws, and then I had the opportunity to go the the UK for work. I had 24 hours in London and I made the most of it with a 10 mile running tour. The whole time I just couldn't believe how lucky I was to be in London! It was awesome. The day I got back, I drove up to Lake Tahoe to volunteer for the Ironman and cheer on my friends in the 70.3, but disappointingly it was canceled.

In October we had the privilege of returning to Santa Barbara for a weekend. Although I struggled with running that weekend, no run could ruin a good-weather weekend in Santa Barbara. Later that month, I PR'ed in the Healdsburg half (miserable as it was) and had a great time eating and drinking with friends afterward.

In November, I turned 31 (disclaimer: I dislike prime numbers). But, we took an amazing trip to the Grand Canyon and Zion that more than made up for being a prime number.

Here we are. After a wonderful holiday and nearly 2 months of unstructured exercising, I think I'm ready to get back into it. IM Canada, 2015- here I come!!

New Year's resolution: blog more. 


Sunday, December 7, 2014

Race Report: California International Marathon (CIM) – 3:35:16

Posted by Chen

My marathon career is officially a quarter-century old! #25 is in the books with a 3:35:16. Not my best, but certainly not my worst – 5th fastest time overall. Do I wish I hadn’t taken so much time through the water stop at mile 24, causing me to miss a BQ by 16 seconds? Maybe, but given that 3:30 was my original goal, my mind wasn’t really focused on a BQ anyway.

Another one to add to the collection! It seems the ribbons are getting longer over time. Are human necks getting thicker? If so, I blame McDonald's.

I knew going into this race that a sub-3:30 would be a pretty big stretch. I knew I had the endurance, having done one 18-miler and five 20+-milers throughout my training cycle, but I also knew that I didn’t quite put in the speed work that I’d normally do before a goal race. As I mentioned in my previous post, I was basically starting from scratch 16 weeks ago, so it took me over half of the training cycle just to get to the point where 8-minute miles felt somewhat comfortable again. So, I wasn’t all too surprised during the race when 8’s eventually felt unsustainable, and I was forced to slow down in order to avoid a major bonk. And given that I ran a personal worst (4:11:15) at SF just over four months ago, I’m pretty darn happy with what I was able to accomplish this time around.

Marathon morning began like any other: 3:45am wake-up call. Bathroom duty. Break toilet with bathroom duty (Will and I make a great team. Sorry, Paige…). Breakfast of bananas and baguette. Out the door by 4:30am to meet Matt, Justin, and Bertram. Board shuttles to the start.

After what seemed like a way-longer-than-26.2-mile bus ride, we arrived at the start at 5:45am. We had a ton of time to just hang out on the bus and use the 300 porta-potties available (one of the many reasons I love CIM!). While hanging out, we overheard a couple people chatting about their Ironman experiences, and it totally made me nervous about drowning and/or flipping over my handlebars. Luckily, I wouldn’t have to deal with either of those sports today. At 6:30am, we finally got off the bus for good for one last bathroom stop, followed by bag check and lining up at the start.

I positioned myself between the 3:30 and 3:35 pace groups, and at 7:00am on the dot, we were off. For the first few miles, my main goal was to stay calm. Race nerves earlier this week caused me to have near-panic-attacks during my short easy runs, and I knew that my race would be over if that happened today. Looking around at the scenery helped calm me down, and I fell into a groove, running right around 8-minute pace.

Somewhere in these early miles, I saw an old man in a large white tutu gettin’ down to Taylor Swift’s “Shake It Off.” It was awesome. He would later make a reappearance somewhere in the 20s, and it was just as awesome then. I hope to be that cool when I’m 70+ years old.

I remember thinking that the course was a lot more rolling than I’d remembered. I was hoping that all of my hill training over the last year would come into play (living in Twin Peaks, EVERY run I do is a hilly run), but for some reason, my legs were feeling like I was pushing it just a little too much. Still, I was able to stay on pace for the first 13.1, and I crossed the halfway mark in 1:45:14.

1 – 7:55
2 – 8:06
3 – 7:59
4 – 8:00
5 – 7:57
6 – 7:58
7 – 7:59
8 – 8:05
9 – 8:05
10 – 7:54
11 – 7:49
12 – 8:02
13 – 8:04

My plan had been to keep it just above 8:00 minute miles for the first half, and then if I was feeling good, I was to drop it down below 8:00 for the rest of the race. Unfortunately, I could feel the fatigue starting to set in, and I knew I would have to slow it down to a more comfortable pace in order to avoid a major blowout. I never hit a wall, but I also never found my way back into the low 8’s after mile 16.

Miles 16-20 were probably the hardest for me, as I wavered between frustration, harping on myself for not doing speed work, and feeling like I should just give up and walk. If 25 marathons have taught me anything, though, it’s how to fight off negative thoughts and focus on the positive. I reminded myself how awesome it was that I was running my 25th marathon. 25! I distinctly remember a conversation I had in high school when my friends asked me if I’d ever run a marathon. My response: “No way. 26.2 miles is SO. FAR. Maybe I’ll run a half someday. Maybe.” Little did I know…

Funnily enough, I also kept reminding myself of how much worse the run will feel at the end of the Ironman next July, and then I’d all of a sudden not feel so bad for myself in the moment ☺.

Slowing down definitely helped, and by mile 20, I fell into a pace that still felt slightly uncomfortable but definitely sustainable. I focused on making it from one water stop to the next, and before I knew it, I had 2.2 miles left. I did the math and realized that if I picked the pace back up, I could still BQ, so I did what I could to use whatever energy I had left. Unfortunately, my legs were too heavy and also on the verge of cramping, so I couldn’t quite speed up enough. I crossed the finish line in 3:35:16, and my 25th marathon was complete.

14 – 8:11
15 – 8:15
16 – 8:04
17 – 8:11
18 – 8:28
19 – 8:14
20 – 8:32
21 – 8:19
22 – 8:29
23 – 8:30
24 – 8:44 (I think I had a small feast at this water stop)
25 – 8:25
26 – 8:24
26.2 – 7:52 (0.34)

Garmin stats:
26.34 miles
8:10.4 pace (8:13.0 official pace)

These stats nicely hide just how much I died.

I think I can safely say that out of all of the women 34 or under who were finishing around me, I was probably the happiest with my time (I can only imagine the disappointment of training for a BQ only to miss it by a matter of seconds). I know what I did wrong (ahem, skipping track. Like, every week), and I know what to do next time (um, go to track). I still believe a sub-3:30 is in me; it’s just a matter of time. And maybe timing.

But for now, it’s time to fully shift gears. IT’S IRONMAN TRAINING TIME, B*TCHES. HOLY CRAP.

Sunday, November 30, 2014

Not running in Grand Canyon and Zion

Posted by Rachel

This post is about two weeks overdue, but so it goes. In mid-November, Travers, Kristen, and I took a 4 day trip to the Grand Canyon and Zion. My only regret is that we weren't able to take an entire week and spend more time in Zion and add Bryce and Arches. This will be one of my future domestic vacations, for sure. There are very few places left on my US bucket list anyway, and about half of them will be complete after our post-IM vacation next year. But back on are a few snapshots from this vacation.

Grand Canyon

The first day we took the bus to several different lookout points inside the park. The second day, we spent the entire day hiking the Bright Angel Trail. Travers and I went out to the peninsula, while Kristen made it most of the way, to the garden. I wouldn't say Kristen loved the hike back up (did you, Kristen??) but she did pretty well. Next time she goes on vacation with us I'll give her a training plan :) Here are some snapshots of the Grand Canyon.

From the left: (1) Photo from vista points on Day 1, with Travers standing way too close to the edge as usual. (2) If you look really carefully, you can see me running. I'm pretending I'm a trail runner! (3) We made it to the edge of the peninsula, where you can look down at the river. (4) Me on the way back up, carrying some extra baggage :p (5) Driving out the east side of the park the next morning. It was chilly. 

Overall, the Grand Canyon was amazing and I'm so glad I went. Personally I'm probably not that interested in returning since there are lots of things that I haven't seen that I'd rather see first. But once is a must.


We arrived in Zion mid-day on Saturday, so we didn't have the time to do any of the longer hikes (plus, admittedly we were a little sore from the Grand Canyon the day before). We did a bunch of the small hikes though. Zion was INCREDIBLE, and I think we chose the right season. All of the trees were colorful reds, oranges, and yellows. Zion Lodge inside the park was pretty awesome, as well. The second morning, Travers and I decided we were going to attempt the Narrows. On the first day Travers had decided that the water was 55-60 degrees, to which I thought: "No problem. I open water swim in that shit all the time. Sure, it's cold, but it's not too bad." That morning, the air temperature was in the 30s. "No big deal," I thought, "the water will feel warm". We walked a mile from the bus stop the the Narrows and started trudging in the water. At first it felt cold, but I figured it would get better like it does for open water swimming. After a few minutes, it was getting worse, not better. I was laughing hysterically at how freaking cold it was. About 0.1 into the Narrows, I made Travers turn around. Getting out of the water I wanted to walk quickly back to the shuttle bus. I couldn't feel my lower legs or feet. At one point I stopped to take my shoes off so I could put my leg warmers back on, but I couldn't untie my shoes. The laces were frozen. It took me about 4 hours to recover from this. We couldn't hike for the rest of the day because I refused to put on soaking wet freezing cold shoes. When we checked out of the lodge, the guy at the counter told me the river water was 45 degrees. Zion fail.

From the left: (1) Zion and the Virgin River. (2) Hiking through rocks to the Emerald Pools. (3) Incredible fall colors. (4) Do NOT hike the Narrows in November, or any other time when the water temperature is < 55. (5) Neat rock formations in Zion. Can you see Travers?

Overall, I think I will return to Zion two more times. This seems plausible since it is only a 2 hour drive from Vegas, where Kristen lives. One trip will be in the fall again to hike 1 or 2 of the longer more challenging trails with awesome views. Another time will be in the summer, to conquer the Narrows. This trip is highly recommended during a training off-season.

Thursday, November 20, 2014

Weak weekly mileage and a conference report

Posted by Rachel

My weekly running mileage last week: 6
So far this running week: 7

My mileage last week can be explained (sort of) by a vacation to the Grand Canyon/Zion where I actually did hiking and stuff. This week, I have no excuse except that I had to go to a conference that was a 2 hour drive each way. The conference was for printed electronics. Even though work is boring in blogland, I did see a few talks that were professionally completely irrelevant but personally kind of interesting. So, I thought I'd share them with you guys via this blog. I'm not a tech person at all so maybe everyone knew about all these, but I still thought they were interesting.

Semi-affordable product that could actually be useful for IM training: 4iiii's Precision power meter
The CEO of this company gave a talk and the history he presented was really interesting. He talked about some of the first communication devices in athletics and the evolution of ANT and today's devices. Now, they have (one of?) the most affordable power meter on the market- see link above ($400).

Most interesting product that I had no idea existed: Athos' "intelligent" sports clothing
According to the claims, this sports clothing can measure heart rate (not that exciting) but also muscle activation (bingo). I think it would be super interesting to know which of my legs is lazier, and also if there are certain muscles that I'm not activating as well as I should. I saw a sample of the cycling shorts and they were really just like regular ones as far as appearance, stretchability, etc until you turn them inside out. I don't have any idea what something like this costs (although this info does seem to exist on their website), or how the data is processed.

Product that we could've guessed was coming/may already exist but I still enjoyed sitting through the talk: Adidas miCoach
I think the hardware for this is pretty similar to what many other companies (Garmin, etc) already have as far as capability, although a few newer-ish technologies are incorporated (for example, the way they monitor heart rate). The part that I interpreted as interesting was their supporting software and data analytics to result in personalized coaching. Their technology is already being used by some professional sports teams. It is entirely possible that other companies already have this but I didn't get to watch them present at a conference, so you get this info instead.

And that concludes my extremely low level report of fun sports stuff that I got to see at a work conference. I wonder if people who ran in the 70s ever could've pictured today's Garmin and training tools, and what we'll be training with 20 years from now (assuming I can still move by then).

Thursday, November 13, 2014

CIM Training: Weeks 1-12.5 (and I did something really stupid)

Posted by Chen

I started this post exactly a month ago and was just waiting to finish out my 8th week of CIM training before I posted it to the interwebs. Little did I know that I would soon be hit with a cold/cough that would have me bailing on my long run that weekend and would subsequently knock me on my @$$ for the following two weeks.

That incident actually sums up my training cycle quite nicely – two steps forward; seemingly twenty-six point two steps back. Allow me to explain.

I went into this training cycle coming off a personal worst marathon and more low-mileage summer weeks than I care to count. And when I say low, I mean I routinely took 3-4 rest days a week and saw lots of weekly totals in the teens. In reality, I was relatively stressed about the new job, and running just fell by the wayside for the first time in a long time (read: years). But that’s a horribly weak excuse, so it really boils down to me being lazy as hell.

It was unsettling for running not to be a core component of my life, and it honestly felt like I lost part of my identity for a while there, as cheesy and as over-dramatic as that sounds. So when it came time to put together a training plan, I was ready. In retrospect, maybe too ready.

In my eagerness to get things started, I naively thought I could jump back into my normal routine from week 1, resulting in several depressing and somewhat alarming weeks of training. I was so worn out from the higher-than-lately mileage in those first few weeks that I actually considered going to the doctor to get my blood work done because I thought something might be legitimately wrong with me (I work in hematology oncology, so you can imagine the worst case scenarios circulating through my noggin). Really – I thought about that every day for about 2-3 weeks.

Then I realized: No, Chen. You’re not dying. You’re just ridiculously out of shape, and you have no reason to expect otherwise. 

It wasn’t until weeks 4 and 5 that I finally felt things starting to click. My easy runs were actually feeling easy, and my long runs were back to my usual paces. Tempo runs were starting to feel more like just a hard effort, and less like inhumane torture. And perhaps most importantly, I started to look forward to my runs, rather than dreading how tired they might make me feel.

And then the aforementioned sickness hit, leading to two weeks of poop. Yes, I was able to run, but none of my runs felt good, and I had to rework my training plan in order to account for my lower mileage. It was discouraging, and I started to let go of my sub-3:30 goal and started to focus on literally finishing the race.

Luckily, by week 10, I had recovered just in time to run the Healdsburg Wine Country Half Marathon at goal marathon pace (averaged 7:54 pace), followed the next day by a 20 mile long run. If you’re wondering why I chose to run 20 miles the day after a half, it was because I knew there was no way I’d be running 20 the following weekend since…

Week 11 ended in New Orleans for a wedding, and everyone knows that if you’re at a wedding, you’re definitely drunk, and if you’re at a wedding in NOLA, you’re barely classifiable as human. For future reference, 4 days in NOLA is 2-3 days too many.

Last week (week 12) was arguably my best yet: over 65 miles for the week, including a 12x400m track workout, an 11 miler with 7 at goal pace, and a 24 miler at 8:24 pace. I like to refer to that 24 miler as my magical run, magical not only because of the pace I was able to hold relatively easily, but more so because Matt (fellow blog author) and I randomly arrived at the exact same spot along Lake Merced at the exact same time, totally unplanned, and coming from two different cities. MIND. BLOWN.

For those who care about data, here’s a slightly more detailed look at the past 12 full weeks:

At this point, 37 miles stand between me and my three-week taper. And of course, as I sit here writing this post, I’m feeling feverish and achy. This training cycle really wouldn’t be complete without another few steps back, right? ;-) That said, I’m refusing to believe that I’m actually getting sick and that I will wake up tomorrow morning feeling downright sprightly. Wish me luck.

Oh, and that stupid thing I did?

If you’re keeping track, you’ll know that I’ve completed exactly zero triathlons to-date. I’m just going to ignore the fact that I’m signed up until 2015.

Sunday, November 9, 2014

Winning! (and also giving up)

Posted by Katie

Let's start with the good news shall we?

A few weeks ago I WON running shoes! Salomon trail running shoes no less which I already wear and love.

Bored one evening I happened to open an AnyMountain promotional email and at the very bottom was a description of a contest they were having. The rules were to post a picture to their facebook page with the hashtag #RunAway to enter and best photo will be chosen (based on likes? that part was unclear). Anyway I figured this was a pretty low effort contest and the prize sounded awesome (running shoes yay!) so I posted this picture.

You might remember this picture from my pre-race thoughts post for IM Lake Tahoe 70.3. I posted and promptly forgot about it figuring that lots of people would enter and I am not particularly lucky in contests. Then BOOM, I get an email saying I won and would I like to come into AnyMountain to pickup my shoes. Um yes.

 Salomon XR Mission my FAVORITE trail running shoe and in this sweet teal color. YAY
I have to shout out the Corte Madera AnyMountain staff, they were so super friendly and awesome when I came to pickup my shoes. I had the choice of several different models of Salomon shoes from light weight track shoes, to heavier hiking shoes but I ended up settling on a model that I already own, the Salomon XR Mission. I  love how they fit and I use these shoes for both trail running and backpacking (my other pair scaled Mt. Whitney!). Thanks again AnyMountain and Salomon!

Okay now for the "giving up" part of the title and the bad news. I've decided not to run CIM this year. I've been nursing a strained back for the past two months and not really giving myself time to heal. This all came to a head today on a run that should have been 18 that I convinced myself 15 was okay and then it turned into 5. I pushed through this back injury for Challenge Rancho Cordova 70.3 triathalon, and Healdsburgh half marathon so I was fully planning on being somewhat reckless again and going for the full marathon at CIM in December but I realized on my run today that I need a break. I am hoping that with this break I can get healthy and build some core strength before ski season and IM Canada training kicks off next year.

At least the 5mi that I slogged through had good weather.. #fogcity

Sunday, October 26, 2014

Healdsburg Half Marathon- the annoyingly long race report

Posted by Rachel

You've been warned by the title- this is a long one. I've divided it into three parts in case you want to skip something. Enjoy!

Part 1: The house

We rented a house for 12(ish) of the teammates. (We run as a team called "Running for the Win(e)". Thus, our blog name.) The house was amazing. Travers and I took a half day vacation Friday to pick up the packets and get there a little early. After that, it was rest and relaxation (and for Travers, wine drinking). The only concern was the pouring rain that was supposed to start that night and carry through the race. Sure, California needs the water, and I actually like running the rain (minus the extra chafing). However, the post-race wine festival is not as enjoyable when it's pouring directly into your alcohol. Although I suppose the state-wide drought is more important than our alcohol.

Left: Packet picked up, ready to go! Right: view from our amazing rental house

Part 2: The run

Saturday morning was finally race day. I didn't post any pre-race thoughts about how I thought I would do for 2 reasons: (1) I didn't want to say anything positive and jinx myself, and (2) I haven't done a single training run with more than 40 ft of elevation gain and this race had 500 ft. Granted, it's not insane for the Bay area or anything, but it's more than enough when you're pushing a hard tempo pace for over an hour and a half. Nonetheless, I didn't know how it would affect me so I set a goal of PRing (sub-1:38) with a secret speculation that I could probably do a 1:36 on a flat course and I could maybe possibly have a small chance of doing it on this course.

Miles 1-3: Uphill then downhill
The race starts with a ~130 ft hill within the first 2/3 mile. I have a tendency to begin races too slowly because I'm afraid of the pain of race death, but I knew I wanted to average 7:20 and I didn't want to lose so much time on the hill that I couldn't make it up later. So I charged up it and clocked a 7:40 for mile 1, and I hit mile 3 averaging exactly 7:20. In retrospect the uphill charging was a bad idea, but I didn't know it by mile 3 quite yet.

Miles 4-9: The rollers
For about 5 miles here I held a constant 7:16-7:20 pace which was right on target. They had a timing mat at the 10k mark and I crossed at 45:34 which is a 10k PR for me! (Disclaimer: My 10k PR is about 4 years old. But hey, I'll take it. With 1 PR already achieved for the day, can I just stop here? No? Crap, ok.) By the time I hit mile 6 or 7 in these rollers, I was really starting to feel the effects of the hills. It became clear that the mile 1 charging was a very bad idea. I tried to NOT think about how the race was only half over and I was already tired, but sadly my math brain knew there was a lot of running left. At the very end of mile 9 we started climbing and I knew that the race was about to get even worse.

Mile 10: The long, unrelenting uphill
We have run this race 6 years in a row and they have used three different courses. In the past we have always run down this hill (or skipped it altogether), and it even feels long running down it. In addition, we drove up it on the way to the race and it felt bad even in a motorized vehicle. Before the race I had calculated that if I could hold 7:20 for the rest of the race, bring this mile in under 8:00, and finish strong I'd have a chance for my 1:36. Needless to say, the hill was awful and I felt like I was barely moving. I wanted to quit and walk so badly, but I doubted that would even help much. The steep part of the hill was over by mile10.7 and I noticed my average pace for the mile was 8:20...shoot. As it flattened out at the top I really picked it up and squeaked in a 7:59.6 for mile 10. And it felt like DEATH.

Mile 11: Smallish up and down
In this mile, there is actually about 40-50 more feet of climbing before you start heading down. I remember feeling so good to not be on the giant part of the hill anymore that this went pretty quickly, despite the extra climbing. When I passed the mile 11 marker, my stupid calculating brain told me that if I could average 7:20 for the rest of the race I would get my 1:36. My body felt so heavy and I thought 'maybe I should just give up and go for 1:36 at a different, way flatter race.' But then I thought, 'I've already been suffering for the last hour.. what's another 15 minutes? I mean, do I really want to have to do this AGAIN? Nope.' Gotta love the internal dialogue that happens during a tough race.

Mile 12: Downhill to flat
I knew this downhill was coming and I was excited about it. I knew I needed gravity's help to get that 7:20 average. It felt terrible but my watch showed a 7:08 and I was thrilled to have banked some time, given how miserable I was feeling.

Mile 13: The END
This mile had about 30 feet of very gradual climbing. I don't know if most people even noticed it. I, on the other hand, was SPENT. Completely dead. From mile 12.0-12.3, I kept looking at my watch constantly. I would hope that 0.1 mile had passed, but each time I looked I had only moved about 0.02. I saw my pace for that mile creeping up slowly each time I looked  7:23...7:24...7:25. Around mile 12.3 I couldn't take it anymore. I wasn't going to lose my 1:36 with 3 laps of a track left. I put my head down, decided not to look at my watch anymore, and basically just started flailing all of my limbs as much as possible in an attempt to move my body in the forward direction and come in at my goal time. I felt like wanted to vomit. I thought to myself  "I will not run again after this for a VERY long time." Finally, at some point I saw a banner that said "FINISH" and somehow eventually I was actually there. I got my PR (1:36:36!) and I hated running (seriously) and I hated that course.

The festival:
After about 20 minutes, I started not feeling like death and I was able to enjoy the festival with the team (minus the rain in the wine problem). We stuck around until the end and I'm glad we did- Team Running for the Win(e) got 2nd place (and 6 bottles of wine!)! Great job, team :)

Part 3: The party

Fellow blogger Will turned 30 this weekend, and like every good 30th birthday party we celebrated with a lot of alcohol. The theme was tequila and tapas and we had plenty of both. We also gathered around for the Giants World Series game and drank our victory wine. Awesome cap to race day!

Upper left: view from the house in the rain, Upper right: victory wine, Lower left: we all know what this is, Lower right: Everyone pitched in with some homemade tapas!

Now we're back home, and my quads aren't enjoying the stairs to our apartment but I've decided that I don't hate running anymore (or the Healdsburg course). My plan is to hang out and not follow any regimented training until 2015. Tonight is lazy, World Series watching time (the only time I watch baseball). Go Giants! (As a side note, I found it amusing that they chose the lead singer of Staind to do the national anthem at this game. I was surprised at how well he hit the notes, although the lyrics not so much).

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Santa Barbara, how I miss thee, too

Posted by Rachel

A while ago, Matt posted about how awesome Santa Barbara is. I can only echo those sentiments. Travers and I were fortunate enough to be able to take a "work trip" there last weekend. It started out as a little bit of debacle. Our flight from SFO was completely canceled and we ended up having to drive our car which has a check engine light on. It's great having a check engine light code reader to know what's wrong with your car, but it really doesn't help when you don't understand the problem and whether or not it's going to land you on the side of the road in Prisonville, CA in the dark. Fortunately, we made it without any issues (other than traffic). We also ate at Applebees (the only place in Salinas with a salad), which was my first time eating there in... a decade? We attended a symposium on Friday (ok, that was legitimately not vacation), but after that it was VACATION TIME.

 Santa Barbara perfection

I was super excited for my 16 mile run Saturday morning because I could run all of my old favorite routes at once (after all, 16 is long enough). My excitement faded quickly after about 4 miles when the run started feeling like death. Somewhere around mile 10 I was in the middle of a 6 mile stretch without water. I had brought $7 with me in case of an emergency that would require a short cab ride, and I was ready to pay the ENTIRE $7 to ANY random stranger than I saw that had a bottle of water. Sadly, none did. Luckily, I somehow made it despite every single intersection having a green light and denying me an opportunity to rest. After the run we could enjoy the beach and eat.

Top left: I somehow managed one of those cool jumping pictures, despite my disaster run
Bottom right: 10 points to whoever knows what Travers is holding (he knew; I didn't)

The next morning I had ANOTHER terrible run, albeit much shorter and hillier. Luckily, the beach delivered again and it turned out to be an awesome weekend. We have to go back there more often.

Saturday, October 11, 2014

Race Report: Challenge Rancho Cordova

Posted by Katie

Oh ya so I did this race last weekend and here is the (late) report.

Surprised? Me too. I did not post my pre-race thoughts on this one because my only pre-race thought was "Well this is going to be a DNS or DNF... and that sucks". Let me explain...

*DNS- Did not start
*DNF- Did not finish

As Matt mentioned, we signed up for this race as a substitute for the cancelled IM Lake Tahoe 70.3. It seemed wasteful not to put our summer of hard training to the test and we were already planning to be at the race to cheer on friends. I had two hesitations... 1) I took a pretty nasty fall on a trail run the monday after Tahoe and my back was feeling tight and 2) My first day at a new job was scheduled for the day after (turns out interviewing like a marathoner works!). The fall was silly, I was running downhill on a steep section of trail and Kona (our dog) cut behind me and misjudged my speed and ended up taking out my feet. Youch. Initially my back was just tight... but then the Thursday before the race I knew something was wrong. I decided to swim anyway and that turned out to be a horrible idea. By Friday everything hurt. In a last ditch effort to save this race I saw my amazing chiropractor who also does ART. She confirmed that my back/glutes were a total mess and as a triathlete herself, said I should listen to my body and not do this race. Spoiler alert... I listened to 1/2 of this advice, but seriously that ART stuff works magic!

The nice thing about going into a race thinking that you very likely won't finish is that there is no real pressure. My "race" plan was start swimming... and see how that goes. That was it. I decided I would just take each section one at a time and see how my back felt. In all honestly I fully expected to only do the swim and then feel like death. I even mapped out the shortest route from T1 to the finish (two different places) in case I needed to bail. To my surprise the swim went well. This was the first race/open water swim that I did not panic and I was super proud of myself. Usually I hyperventilate and do the breast stroke for a while... and I didn't do that! I just swam. #soproud

One nice but also somewhat weird thing about the Challenge Rancho Cordova race was the wave starts... it was Pro men, Pro women, Men <35 years, Women <35 years, Women 35+, Men 35+, and Aquabike/Relay. Okay... I might be new to triathalons... but I do know that Men 35+ are really good at triathalons. A big pack of 35+ men caught me right at the end of the swim and then I was basically around primarily older gents the entire race. Not sure what the rationale was there?

I exited the swim with 43:28 a bit short of my 40 min goal and took my sweet time in transition (5:03) and then figured what the heck... might as well bike. The bike course was really nice, rolling hills with most of the climbing in the first half and then mostly descending in the back half. My only struggles were with aid station / stomach / hydration. For some reason aid stations #1 and #2 only had gatorade when I went through. I had only brought one water bottle with me so for most of the race I was drinking concentrated gatorade. In training I normally dilute Powerade to half the recommended concentration... so full strength gatorade tasted way too sweet. It was also awesome to know that Danielle was out there on the course. Originally I was hoping we would start together being in the same age group, but they had Aqua/Bikers start at the end. My only complaint was at mile 29ish we were on a road that was HORRIBLE. Okay horrible is a little dramatic... but it was so bumpy and my back was feeling every little bump. Luckily as we passed an "Entering Sacramento County" sign the road got MUCH better! Thanks Sac!

Not nearly as hilly as Tahoe... but also not flat.
 Then miraculously it was time to run! Finally a sport I understand. Due to an unseasonably hot weekend by the time I started the run it was approximately 88 degrees and when I finished it was most likely in the 90s. (Not being dramatic... it was 100 on the drive home). At first I scoffed at stopping at every aid station (spaced 1 mile apart). Then I quickly realized that stopping at each station was MANDATORY. I developed a system of taking two water cups and one ice cup. Drink one water, dump one water on my head and then dump the ice down my shirt and within one mile I was dry, hot and thirsty again. Also, at mile 3 I dumped a full cup of gatorade on my head. I swear I asked "water?" and the volunteer said "yep" and splash dumped it right on my head...I laughed really hard for a good quarter mile. I also started to loose my grasp on simple math and though that I would not be able to hit my goal time when in fact I was ~20 minutes under at the end.
Consistent pace + water stops
 Another sort of odd by product of staggered starts and two loop run courses is that you never really know if people are finishing or just starting. As I passed one woman I said "great job" and she replied "I wish it was over" and I cheerily said "We are almost there!" because I was (at mile 12) apparently she was not and she snapped back "I AM JUST STARTING". Err oops... good luck then...

Coming into the finish I felt good, and was happy to be done running in this crazy heat. Afterwords there were burritos, beer in mason jars (swoon), free massages, and raffles that Matt and I BOTH won giftcards!
Home stretch
Done and done!
Ladies at the finish!

In general I feel that (famous last words about to be uttered) the 70.3 was not that bad. Or at least not as bad as I thought it would be.

So naturally....

Thursday, October 2, 2014

Double Digits on a Dreadmill

Posted by Chen

I swear I’m going to start blogging more than once every 2 months…

Today, I’m writing from the fine city of Norfolk, VA, host of a work-related training that I just attended. Actually, I don’t know if Norfolk is a fine city or not, as I haven’t moved beyond a quarter mile radius of my hotel. Normally whenever I travel, I try to see the city I’m visiting by going for a run around the area. I thought I’d be able to do the same here until I arrived and realized that Norfolk has exactly zero runnable roads. There are no sidewalks or shoulders on the main roads, and side roads are too short and winding, requiring more turns than I allow myself when I’m in a new city and highly prone to getting lost.

That left me with my only option of running on the hotel treadmill. Now, I should say that I’m actually a treadmill veteran who used to do over 50% of my runs on that crazy machine. I primarily did so for safety / weather / convenience reasons, and I generally didn’t mind it. But in the past year or so, I’ve been running exclusively outside, and the dreadmill has since become unbearable.

So with 10 miles on the plan, I was less than excited. I arrived at the gym to see that it was literally half the size of my hotel room (which granted, is a large suite). Still, I knew I was in for a mental adventure, and so began the following train of thought:

Pre-run: Good – there’s only one other person in here. But crap, he’s on one of the treadmills. I hate when there’s a sea of empty machines and someone else gets on the machine right next to you. But sorry, dude, there are only two treadmills, and they’re both in the same corner of the room. Sorrrry.

Mile 1: I can’t hear the communal TV. I wish I still had an iPod. Dude next to me is listening to his iPod. I bet he’s having more fun than me. Treadmills are so weird. Don’t fall off.

Miles 2: Holy shit, it’s burning up in here! I can’t breathe. I wonder what the thermostat is set to… not that it matters, because there’s a locked plastic box around it. Why can’t we change the temperature, Residence Inn?? What are you trying to do to us??

Mile 3: Treat this as a good mental training day, Chen. Ignore the heat. Ignore the boredom. If you can get through this, a marathon in cool weather will feel delightful. Yeah, delightful. Go with that.

Mile 4: Dude just left. Now I can turn up the TV and actually know what’s going on. And… what’s that?? Is that cool air blowing onto my face??? I don’t know how this is happening. I wonder if the hotel staff is secretly watching me, thinking, “damn, that girl is sweaty as hell, we better pump up the A/C.” WHATEVER. IT’S AWESOME. STALK AWAY, HOTEL FOLKS.

Mile 5: Emeril Lagasse and Ty Pennington are on Good Morning America trying to break the record for the tallest stack of pancakes. Previous record was 2 feet, 10 inches. Can they do it?? They’re using pumpkin pancakes. Mmm. I’m hungry.

Mile 6: It’s getting hot again. Where did that cool air go? Maybe I don’t need to do 10 miles today… maybe I can just add on some extra miles tomorrow. No, Chen, you know that won’t happen. You’ll just get home and order crab fried rice instead. Suck it up.

Mile 7: My shirt is completely soaked. I forgot how much sweatier you get when running indoors and there’s no airflow. Glad I’m alone in here. That dude from before would be horrified right about now.

Mile 8: They did it! 2 feet, 10.25 inches! I wonder what they’ll do with all those pancakes. Maybe they'll mail them to me if I ask.

Mile 9: Live with Kelly and Michael just came on. Sounds so weird. Wonder what Regis is up to these days. Kelly has ripped arms. I need to start lifting again.

Mile 10: OMG. I’m so sweaty that I can feel my socks squishing and my shoes are now squeaking against the belt. I hope I don’t wipe out. Don’t wipe out. That belt is super sweaty and you don’t want your face to rub against it.

Mile 10.2: Thank the good lord - I'm done and I didn't face plant into my own puddle of sweat!

Post-run [looking in mirror]: OMG I GOT SO SWEATY THAT MY (WHITE) SHORTS ARE NOW SEE-THROUGH. Can I dry it off? Nope. Should I wrap the towel around myself while I walk through the lobby? No – they’ll think I’m trying to steal their towels. OK – just walk really, really fast and hope none of your coworkers are also attending this training and staying in the same hotel. Annnnnd here we go…. No guests in lobby… and front desk person is on the phone, not paying attention! #WINNING!

Sadly, I have to do my run tomorrow on the same treadmill, but only 5 miles this time. I'll be sure not to wear white shorts.

And, since I don't have any pictures of Norfolk, here's a picture from my flight over:

You better believe I filtered that $h!t

Sunday, September 28, 2014

September is a good month

Posted by Rachel

Not my favorite month, but a good month. Traditionally, fall has always been my favorite season. Technically we don't have legitimate seasons here in California, but there's still something about September-November that's pretty awesome. This month, between my trips to the central coast, London, Tahoe, etc it has definitely been a fun one. Here are some thoughts I've had since my last post (the London run):

-An hour after I walked in the door from my London trip, I got into the car and drove to Lake Tahoe. I was signed up to volunteer at running aid station #1 and I was excited about cheering on my husband and friends in the race, which was probably helping to fend off the jet lag. I had asked Travers whether the drive would be smoky, and he had said "only a little". When I was driving, I noticed the smoke was way more than a little. WAY more. When I got there, everyone seemed in good spirits and optimistic about the race continuing, so I didn't say too much and got into it. The next morning I was supposed to be at the aid station at 9:00 am, so I thought I'd wake up at 5:30, get a run in, and head to the swim start at 6:30 before heading off to my post. It wasn't too smoky in King's Beach so maybe there had been a favorable shift in the winds. I was excited to see the pro swimmers and the start of the Ironman, in general. I ran a bit and was standing on the beach in my running clothes when I heard the announcement- the race would be canceled due to smoke. Even as someone much less invested in the race than the hundreds of suited-up swimmers around me, I still couldn't believe my ears. After he repeated it, I started sprinting back to the rental house to tell my friends what I had heard. I saw them half way and they had heard it, too. Huge disappointment! The only good to come of it was that we made some pretty tasty breakfast sandwiches and hung out at the house for a while. Also, a couple of those friends are now signed up for 70. 3 Rancho Cordova next weekend so I can't wait to see how awesome they do!

-Monday spin class: I hadn't biked in a week so I started a little slow. I realized my power meter was reading about 20 W. Hmmm. Am I THAT out of shape, or is this thing broken!? Eventually, the screen showed the word "POWER" with a picture of a battery with a line through it, which hopefully confirms it was broken. At the end, my average was 7 W, and I realized I like spin class a lot better when I don't know my data!

-I'm in week 3 of my half marathon training plan and I had both some great (track, tempo) and some not so great (long, easy) runs. Being a few weeks into running has been a good reminder of how much I love the sport. Between that and swimming, it's no wonder the triathlon is a pretty good fit for me. Still working on that positive outlook for biking :)

-Broads Run Broadway: For Sandi's birthday, our "present" to her was to all sign up for a 5k and run it with her. Initially we were going to run it aiming for a PR, but earlier in the week we received an email informing us that the run was untimed. So we (well, most of us) decided to have a little fun with it (one of us ended up seriously "racing"). Halfway through, I was running by and I heard "water" and decided to ignore it because we were only running 5k. Then I heard the same voice yell "wine!". Wine?! I put on the brakes and did what I had to do. After the first time I had wine during a race I swore I'd never do it again, but how bad can 1.5 miles be?! Turns out it was ok this time, although I still won't have any in the Healdsburg half next month. The theme of the run was "dress up as your favorite movie star", and since we already had a real life Sandi, we decided to be Grease-themed. We ended up winning a trophy inscribed, "2nd Best Dressed Broads" for our awesome costumes!

Thanks to Danielle for the picture, and Michelle, Sandi, and Chen for the costume/hair!

October- here we come!

Thursday, September 25, 2014

Challenge Rancho Cordova!

Posted by Matt

A super quick post, but we couldn't resist - the training was done, a half ironman must be run. And now with a very, very extended taper going into Challenge Rancho Cordova on Oct. 5th. And I dragged Katie in with me :)!  Hopefully the King Fire will go quietly into the night and not cancel another race. Wahoo!

Monday, September 22, 2014

Cancellation Report: IM Lake Tahoe 70.3

Posted by Katie

I had big plans for this race ( finish it primarily), and I couldn't wait to tell you (the internet) all about it. Unfortunately for reasons beyond my control there was no race today... Ironman Lake Tahoe was cancelled.

Saturday night I could hardly sleep I was too excited/nervous for the race. The house we rented was a short walk to the start so we were able to get up at a reasonable time (5:30am... although I was up at 5) and have breakfast and relax at the house before walking down to the start. Just before 6:30 we decided to walk over to the start to get our body markings and watch the full ironman pro race start. As we were walking Matt and Travers were chatting and I heard the person on the PA say something like "mumble mumble cancelled, mumble, please don't enter the water". WAIT WHAT?!?! Somewhat in shock, we listened again and this time heard clearly that the race had been cancelled due to hazardous air quality conditions in the area especially Squaw and Truckee (on the bike and run course). Thousands of ironman triathletes on the beach let out a collective UHHHG.

It was somewhat hard to grasp in Kings Beach where the air seemed to be fine. We had checked the air quality ratings online, and knew that things were really bad (into the extremely unhealthy levels)... but it is just hard to wrap your head around that when you are standing in your tri gear ready to hop into the water and get this show on the road after months of preparation...

Air Particulate Measurements (Courtesy of

Air quality ratings

So at 6:00am Truckee and Squaw valley had ratings of 450 and 500 ug/m^3... and as you can see from the key above 150+ is "Very unhealthy". Even Tahoe City just down the road ~10 miles from Kings Beach was ~150. Certainly I think the race directors made the right call, but after 4 months of training.. the disappointment was also huge.
Sad face.
  Trying to make the best of things we decided to pick up our bikes and then do the swim anyway. The air quality was at a healthy level in Kings Beach and the buoys were still out with a few kayak and paddle board volunteers out keeping an eye on swimmers (though technically they didn't have to, thanks volunteers! you guys rock). So Matt, Travers and I put on our wetsuits, Rachel gave us an official "cannon" and we were off.

Ready set SWIM!
 The swim actually went pretty badly for me, which was good in a humbling kind of way. The first few buoys there were small waves hitting us head on. Granted they were pretty tiny and produced by the wind... but I am a baby and train in the pool and super small lake/pond where it is always calm and flat. Once we rounded the far end things got better and the swim (with lots and lots of breast stroke pauses) ended up taking me 48mins. Definitely off of my < 40min goal and is a great lesson in that I need more open water practice/confidence. 

Swim finishers

Next it was time to pack up and go get our run bags (and car) at Squaw. We saw quite a few people on bikes... I hope just trying to get their bikes back to Squaw and not biking the course because the smoke was awful. Imagine the foggiest day in San Francisco... now imagine it is not fog, but a hot campfire. Just walking to the T2 area my throat and eyes felt raw. I felt awful for the volunteers still around to distribute shirts and collect timing chips. I hope they didn't have to stick around too long, or Ironman had a plan for particulate masks or something to help the volunteers.

Not your typical view of Squaw...

When we picked up our run gear they were handing out finisher shirts, hats and medals. I have a confession to make... I love the shirt! I am totally going to wear it (though it does feel wrong since I did not actually "finish"... but hey I did an unofficial 1/3 of the race.. that counts right?).

So what now?

Great question. Ironman responded today with three options:
1) Discounted $50 registration for Frogman (this wekeend) or Silverman (next weekend)
2) Discounted $50 registration for IM Lake Tahoe 70.3 2015
3) Half off $125 registration to various US 70.3 races in the spring/summer 2015.

Since Frogman is in the ocean (see above: Katie is terrified of swimming in waves) and Silverman would cost a lot extra in travel and bike shipping... I am leaning towards option #2.

Part of me wants to to a 70.3 soon... part of me wants to focus on the half marathon and marathon I have coming up in October and December... we shall see :)

Sunday, September 21, 2014

London running (sightseeing) tour

Posted by Rachel 

Last Sunday morning- a gorgeous 14 miler on the packed sand of the beaches of the California Central Coast as the sun rose and began breaking through the fog.

 picture of my in-law beach vacation the evening before an amazing long run

40 hours later- my own personal running tour of London. I am having an awesome and lucky month! Now, I’ll go through my run in exhaustive detail, just in case anyone cared!
The first part of the route was a tour of the Royal Parks. After passing Buckingham Palace, I ran through Green Park. Beautiful, open, and spacious, there were tons of runners and cyclists (where permitted) in this park. (Question to ponder: why do so many British runners wear backpacks?) They also provide lawn chairs for the public- pretty neat.

(1) Buckingham Palace (pic from the day before- there weren't that many tourists out at 7 am), (2) Green Park

Then I went on to Hyde Park and Kensington Park. Hyde Park has a lot of colorful flowers, including a rose garden. This was another gorgeous park to run in. I crossed into Kensington Park and then ran along a body of water which, according to my map, is called the “Serpentine”. It is here that I found the open water swimmers. Hello, triathletes of London! I felt very at home here, and there were tons of people running as well. I’m glad they were swimming here because I had looked at the water in the Thames yesterday and it was not pretty. I also noticed that they have a species of goose here. I think the Canada Geese near Lake Merritt are the bastard cousins of these things. The London ones look cleaner and nicer and actually stay out of the running path. (Random sidenote: yesterday I saw some tourists petting a squirrel. What?! And eww.) Then I crossed over the Serpentine (on a bridge of course, not via the water) and ran back out through Hyde Park. On the way out, I saw the police force which looked just like the officers of the Oakland Police Department (ha!).
(1) Hyde Park, (2) open water swimmers! made my day (3) the Serpentine (running trail of London) (4) LPD

From here I moved onto Piccadilly Circus. I thought from the internet pictures that this would be a British version of Time Square, but it wasn’t really. It looked like it was ok for shopping but that’s not what I was there to do. Surprisingly, of the many roads off-shooting from Piccadilly, I actually chose the right one to run down (a freaking miracle). I moved onto Trafalgar Square, home to The National Gallery and a giant statue of a blue rooster (don’t know). (Ok, I googled it and apparently the statue of a big blue cock is supposed to represent feminism. Still don’t know…) Anyway, it is after Trafalgar Square where if you look at my Garmin map, it starts getting a little crazy. I started off the right way, but took a turn right because that’s really what it looked like on my map. I second guessed myself quickly, and a nice British gentleman informed me I was running away from the river (ie. the total wrong way). So I followed his directions as far south as they took me, then proceeded to go the wrong way AGAIN (although St. James Park, which I took a detour through, was lovely). Finally, I turned around and kept running, eventually spotting Big Ben and Parliament which I knew were on the river. Thank goodness for gigantic landmarks.

(1-2) Piccadilly, (3-4) Trafalgar Square, (5) cool unidentified arch, (6) something else unidentified, (7) lost in St James Park, (8) finally found the river!

At this point in the run, I had accidentally added almost a mile with my “detours”. I was pushing mile 7, and the fact that I had only eaten 1 snack (fruit on the plane) and 1 meal (dinner) the day before was becoming very evident. So I took a detour off of the Thames River and found a shitty coffee shop that was next to a bunch of businesses. Everyone in this shop was dressed for work, and the guy behind the counter was giving me an eye. (Yes, I was the only sweaty person in there. But I’ve been in much, MUCH nicer coffee shops way more sweaty). I purchased water and a Snickers hoping it would hold me for at least 3 more miles.

So onward I go, passing a really neat pedestrian bridge. The river trail was SO confusing. It kept taking tiny detours from the river, many of them seeming to go through buildings (or at least through areas that were enclosed on most sides). I would’ve certainly got lost if it weren’t for the runner a few steps ahead of me who was luckily going a similar pace. I was probably annoying the crap out of him running his same pace just a few strides behind him, but he did me a huge favor. I don’t know how anyone could possibly do a tempo run in this area because of course, my Garmin was going nuts. A ways down, I got to London Bridge. Given that I had already added mileage and I was on the brink of dehydration, starvation, or both, I decided to cross over to the south side of the river on London Bridge rather than continue onto Tower Bridge. Luckily, I could see Tower Bridge from London Bridge and that was good enough for me. As I climbed the stairs onto the Bridge, I began to wonder about that children’s song “London Bridge is falling down, falling down, falling down…” Luckily, it did not fall down as I was running on it, and as someone who lives in earthquake land London Bridge is probably the least risky of all the bridges I run on.

(1) London Eye, (2) neat pedestrian bridge, (3) London Bridge, (4) Tower Bridge, which sadly I did not reach

After crossing London Bridge, the path heads away from the river again. Looking at the map I thought it would be obvious how to get through this part, but of course in real life it wasn’t. So I decided to walk this part and happened upon an awesome “hidden” market (Borough Market). It seemed to be mostly locals in here for breakfast and the food looked awesome. I saw an excellent looking coffee shop which I can only assume to be the London equivalent of Blue Bottle judging by the line. I would love to return to this market next time I hit up London (and not in the middle of a run).

Borough Market- highly recommended not during a run

I finally found the path again and the next couple of miles were easy to follow (and nearly continuous running minus 2-3 pictures). I passed the London Eye, a couple of museums, and the Aquarium before returning over the Big Ben Bridge (not sure it’s called that). I ran through St James Park AGAIN (the difference here is that this time I was actually supposed to be running this way), through Buckingham Palace (not the actual Palace but the garden/circle surrounding it) and then back to my hotel for a total of 9.7 miles. I originally mapped 11 but given my detours, if I had continued onto Tower Bridge it would’ve been 12-13: no thank you on a Tuesday morning after a looong plane ride.

(1) London Eye, (2) Big Ben + Parliament, (3) St James Park

I would highly recommend this run if you ever visit London because I got to see a TON of stuff. Normally I’m a huge advocate of biking when traveling because you can see more stuff more efficiently than running. However, in this case, there are 2 issues with it: (1) A lot of the parks, etc say ‘no cycling’ and people actually follow these rules (2) Cyclists do bike with cars, although there is often no designated bike lane. Combine trying not to die via double decker bus with every single traffic convention being completely backwards, the bike option seems a little high risk to me.

Thank you, city of London, for the heads up (you don't want to bike here)

After the run, I showered and noticed that the Changing of the Guard Ceremony was taking place soon at Buckingham Palace. Since I paid a hefty fee to stay right near Buckingham, I figured I might as well take advantage of this! The Palace grounds were PACKED and I chose a random place along a fence hoping I’d be able to see something. It turned out that if I hopped up on this fence and balanced just right (read: burning quads) I could actually see quite well! So as if 10 miles wasn’t enough, I got my quad strengthening in for the day, too.

I can only assume that the first dudes were shift one and the other dudes were shift two

And I shall leave you with a few other pics that aren't from the run but represent things about London that I enjoyed. Summary: go to London.

(1) Westminster Abbey, (2) ham hock, (3) some modern buildings of London