Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Guess what I (we) did?

Posted by Rachel

1 year... simultaneously such a long time yet barely enough time.

We signed up for Ironman Canada. Whistler, here we come!! July 26, 2015

As for training, I currently have (and plan to maintain) a decent base in all three sports. I'll run a marathon in November, take a fat drunk December (this is what I call a glorious month with no formal training), then get it going in January. I'm very tempted to make up my own training plan based on what I think I should be doing, but I clearly don't know what I'm doing compared to, say, a real coach. So the jury is out on the training plan, and we'll see how it goes. I'm sure you all will hear plenty about it when the time comes. WOOHOO!!!

Sunday, July 27, 2014

“Race Report:” The San Francisco Marathon

Posted by Chen

Oh, hello, blog world. It’s been a while, hasn’t it? Sorry about that – I’ve been pretty busy doing that whole new-job-thang, which has left little time for things like blogging (and, frankly, running). But today, I’ve resurfaced to tell you about how I ran my 24th marathon this morning and how it also happened to have been my personal worst to-date. It’s certainly not surprising, given that I’ve averaged 22 miles a week since Mountains 2 Beach, in stark contrast to the 40-50 that I’d normally log in a regular ‘thon training cycle. So, as I toed the line at 5:42am this morning, I was actually aiming for a personal worst (which was previously a 4:08).

NAILED IT. 4:11, b*tches!

What was interesting about this race, though, was not how I physically felt. I actually felt pretty OK throughout, mainly because I was purposely keeping a very conservative pace. Logistics, on the other hand, were NOT my friend. Case in point:
  • The cab I had called the night before to take me to the start arrived to my apartment 5 minutes early. You might say, well, that’s better than the alternative, and you’d be right. Except that in my rush to get out the door, I completely forgot to grab my bag check bag full of all the stuff I’d need post race, plus the actual plastic bag I’d need to check the extra clothes I was wearing at the time. I only realized this fact as the cab got close to the race, and by then, it was too late to turn back. Great start.
  • They had all of, like, a dozen porta-potties in the start area to accommodate thousands of runners. I got there at a decent time, so I immediately got in a line, but by the time I got out, I decided that the lines were too long to try and go again. So I last peed about 45 minutes before I started running, which any one of my runner friends will know is essentially setting myself up for disaster. 
Lines weren’t bad to begin with, but got exponentially worse really quickly
  • I obviously had to pee for the first few miles, but I refused to stop at the first two water stops, where there were no fewer than 10 people in line for the small set of porta-potties at each station. It was manageable for a while, until I hit mile 5ish and realized that I now had to go #2. Awesome. I basically had no choice but to stop at the next water stop and spent 5 or so minutes waiting in line. Still, I felt much better once I got out, and I went on my merry way.
  • I navigated the hills through the Presidio and the Golden Gate Bridge just fine and felt that I was finally hitting a groove, when I looked down at my Garmin and realized that it had stopped timing and was merely showing the time of day. I’ve mentioned before that my Garmin is old and on its way out, but randomly stopping (without the battery dying) was something it had never done before. When I tried to start it back up again, it freaked out and began to stop and start itself every half-second, resulting in a crap-ton of beeping that was highly annoying to not only me, but all of the runners around me. After trying to fix it to no avail for a few minutes, I gave up, turned it off, and locked the bezel for good. 
  • I realized after my Garmin died that I hadn’t run a race without data in years. I do EVERYthing according to my Garmin – I adjust pace; I calculate my finish time; I take fuel according to mile splits; EVERYthing. I basically felt like I was running blind for the rest of the race, as I wasn’t catching sight of the mile markers and didn’t even know what time of day I had started running anyway.
  • I shook it off and kept going, telling myself that this would probably turn out to be a blessing in disguise, seeing as it would allow me to zone out and just run. All was fine for a while until I took my 2nd Gu and found myself having to go #2. AGAIN. Really?? Luckily, lines in the 2nd half of the race were much shorter, and I was in and out within a minute or two. As I took off again and tried to figure out what was going on with my digestive system, I realized that my stomach has become really sensitive to caffeine this year, as I essentially gave up coffee in January and have only had a cup or two since then. Perhaps I need to transition away from my beloved Chocolate Outrage flavor…
Anyway, lots of other things were less than ideal, but I think you get the idea. I’m still relatively happy with how I paced myself and satisfied with the fact that I never stopped to walk and forced myself to power up all the hills. Finishing was an accomplishment in and of itself today, and I spent the rest of the morning/afternoon with other fellow runners and friends, sitting in the sun, re-fueling, and relishing in post-race beers to celebrate Brandon’s recent birthday. 

We’re throwing up the “W” sign because all three of us set personal worsts today. Go team!

All that said, it’s probably time for me to buckle down and get my $h!t together. Rachel, Sandi, and I will be doing a team challenge marathon in November, where it will be our goal to run a sub-3:30 and also come within 26.2 seconds of one another. Those ladies have some serious speed, so I have a somewhat daunting amount of work to do between now and then. Track, anyone? 

Fastest post ever

Posted by Chen

I'm 16 minutes away from running the SF marathon, and I'm so completely and utterly undertrained! To my fellow co-authors - if you don't hear from me later today, please have the authorities hunt down bib 31115. I'll probably be passed out in Golden Gate Park near an ice cream truck.

At least the Bay Bridge was breathtaking to see...

Catch y'all on the flipside!

Sunday, July 20, 2014

Race report: Escape from the Rock duathlon

Posted by Rachel

Over the past couple of weeks, I have had quite a bit of anxiety about this event (specifically, the swim). I've been swimming for a really long time and everyone told me that the swim would be fine. It wasn't the distance I was worried about, but all of the unknowns in the Bay- the current, the lack of buoys/sighting, and the possible sea life.

Fast forward to today, and I don't know what I was worried about- I had a BLAST! The morning started at 4:10 am when I woke up and ate a giant breakfast. I was careful to not hydrate because I knew that we had a long time between our last opportunity to pee and the start of the event. We lucked out with parking, signed in, and set up our transition area.

The cap we got for the race- awesome!

About an hour after we arrived, we began the "march" over to Pier 39 to get on the boat. When I got on the boat, I couldn't believe that there was a long line for the men's room and NO line for the women's room, so I peed once more for the hell of it. We went to the top deck to enjoy the view during the boat ride, but it got a little chilly so about halfway to the island we went inside. When we got to Alcatraz we circled the island but had about 20 minutes to hang out before we had to jump off (yep, you heard that right). I started getting a little uncomfortable at this point because I get seasick REALLY easily, and we were sitting on an unmoving boat with a bunch of police jetskis going by causing the boat to rock. Before I knew it though, they announced it was time to get in water.

The way this works is that you go to the door and just jump off the boat (it's ~ 6 feet). The event was male dominated (if you didn't infer that from the bathroom line scenario) and whenever the guys would hesitate the volunteers would pretty much just push them off. When I got up, the volunteer was really nice and he said "you're going to be fine" (how nervous did I look at this point? I don't know). I jumped off and the water was actually quite warm for the Bay (62 deg). Once I jumped off the boat, I relaxed a lot. It was SO COOL being out there with all those people next to Alcatraz, and I think at one point I told a random stranger "this is the craziest thing I have ever done." Having Travers, Matt, and Mark there with me was helpful as well. Before I knew it, the horn went off and we were off. It was a "mass start" of about 500 people but I was pretty passive on this one and only got hit a couple of times. Before long, there were only a few people around.

They did have one lead boat that had a couple of orange buoys on it that we were supposed to use to sight. I knew that we were supposed to aim to the left side of the breakwater in order to get in with the current, but I couldn't see anything except that damn boat so I just kept following it. I felt like I was much farther to the left than many swimmers, but I kept reminding myself 'better left than right'. At some point, the water got a little bit choppy but it wasn't too bad. I just stayed relaxed and kept going, although I did swallow a disturbing amount of Bay.

As we approached the breakwater, I felt like I was way too far to the left. I don't know what the hell happened, but all of a sudden I was inside the breakwater (no idea how I got there) with about a quarter mile left.

Last time I swam in the Bay, my cap line chafed REALLY badly. So of course, this time I Body Glided the crap out of it. Unfortunately, in this last quarter mile my cap kept slipping off indicating that I may have gone overboard on the glide. I had to stop about 3 times to pull my caps back on (I had doubled up), but it wasn't that big of a deal. Also toward the end of the swim both calves started to feel like they were cramping up, but I stopped kicking and it was a complete non-issue on the run. Then, the swim was over! According to my Garmin, I swam 1.56 miles (the course was supposed to be 1.5, so not bad! in 39:09 or 2.4 mi/hr).

I may have gone a little overboard on staying left, but ending up in the right place was a huge win so I can't complain

This race was transition neutral, which was FANTASTIC since I am a notoriously slow transitioner. I made sure to rinse off all possible chafing areas, fix my hair, drink some water and eat a Gu, and casually make my way to the run chute.

For the first 3-4 miles of the run, my feet were completely numb. I don't think it was affecting my pace, but my form felt kind of random. The run was pretty uneventful for the most part. There was a big hill over Fort Mason within the first mile which damn near killed me, but the rest was flat and I settled in. I was trying to run comfortably and enjoy my second favorite sport. I really like out-and-backs when I'm doing an event with people I know because I get to see them all at some point. Also, the turn-around was super cool.

We had to touch Hopper's Hands at Fort Point/the Golden Gate to turn around. I should mention this photo came from artandarchitecture-sf.com because I am kind of new at blogging and don't know what sort of copyright laws exist with regards to use of random internet pictures on personal blogs. 

The run was great and it was a little bit short of 7 miles (6.76 miles on my watch, 6.80 on Matt's; Garmin pace 7:48). I felt really strong and was very happy at the end. If anything, I left a bit too much on the course (both swim and run) because there's so way I should've felt that great after an hour and a half race. I even ran over to the porta-potties to "cool down" and my legs felt quite fresh. But, I'd much rather under-perform and have as much fun as I did than die and hate the race :) I would most definitely do this event again!

I love the gear for this race!

Of course, afterward we had the obligatory brunch:

Check out Matt's sandwich behind my omelet

My plan for the rest of the day: do nothing.

Thanks to Katie for driving us this morning AND rowing a volunteer kayak to make sure we stayed on course/didn't drown!

Friday, July 18, 2014

MALT ride, Alcatraz anxiety, and 10 day countdown

Posted by Rachel 

This entry is a little bit late, but this week has been pretty busy. Starting last Saturday, first there was the MALT ride (MALT = Marin Agricultural Land Trust). We learned about this ride through my aunt and her friends. When we signed up back in winter/spring 2014, I was on the fence about the whole thing until I saw they were serving 3 Twins ice cream. SOLD! I decided for sure I would do the ride, and Travers convinced me that it made more sense to do the 60 than the 40 (although at mile 30 on that day, I couldn't recall what this logic was). The ride was great but pretty difficult. Almost none of it was flat and we ended up climbing > 4400 feet on already sore legs.

The first rest stop was at mile 30, and they had a few special snacks (see photo).

 Pita slices with locally made goat cheese and fruit jam, as well as just straight up cheese

The roads were pretty desolate and Travers and I were able to ride side-by-side for a quite a bit of it. The only slightly congested part was on highway 1, but the great views made up for it. At one point, Travers said “listen to that”...and it was shotguns again! Luckily, it was a middle-of-nowhere shooting range, and no humans or cows were being shot at (that I know of).  

At the end of the ride, we were treated to the BEST FOOD EVER. Of course, I ate the ice cream so quickly that there is no photo. Instead, here is Travers with some cows after the ride:

Burger with homemade pickles, homemade ketchup, field greens salad, cherry tomato and eggplant salad, and a lemon rice salad (ice cream not shown due to fast consumption)

I also had my first dream about the Alcatraz swim last weekend. Before races, I often have some strange dream about it. In the week before my first 70.3 last year, I had at least 3 nightmares where I was swimming in Lake Merritt (if you’ve seen this lake, you know why this is a nightmare). My dream about Alcatraz was much different. In my dream, my sister was swimming Alcatraz with Travers and me. Ever since childhood my sister has never been concerned about being punctual (in high school I used to threaten to leave the house without her daily). In this particular “anxiety” dream my sister made us late for the Alcatraz and we missed the boat, arriving just in time to watch it pull away. Better than a dream about swimming in Lake Merritt or getting eaten by a shark, I guess. One of these days I’ll publish the recurring marathon dream I used to have.

For the third topic in the title of this post, it looks like we are TEN DAYS AWAY from signing up for our first Ironman. It’s about to get real.

Monday, July 14, 2014

The Un-Training Plan

Posted by Will 

Last Saturday started the 1-month countdown to the Paavo Nurmi Marathon that Sandi and I are running.  Normally this is the point in time when I’m thinking about getting my last quality long run in before the taper starts.  99% of the work has been done so I usually am just looking to get in a 2.5-3 hour run where I’m consistently hitting my paces.  This is more of a mental benefit and confidence booster than anything else.  Unfortunately I will have to change my normal routine considering that I started my training plan yesterday with a breath-taking run in San Francisco.

Breath-taking…not because of the views, but because 1,300+ feet of elevation (including stairs and sand) made it almost impossible to breath.   The 18 miles I logged yesterday was more than most of my weekly mileage totals since the Oakland Marathon in March.  Next weekend I will try to get another long run in before the “taper” that I don’t feel like I really earned in the first place.

I think this comparison shows nicely the difference between finishing a hard training plan and trying to play catch-up after spending 4 months in Lazyville.  The left splits are my last long run before CIM and the right splits are yesterday’s long run.

I will have to do better before Santa Barbara in November.

Tuesday, July 8, 2014

Race Report: Alameda Mayor's 4th of July R.A.C.E.

Posted by Sandi

Last Monday, on a whim, I signed Will and myself up for a 4th of July 5k. While it wasn't a tough call to make, there were some pros & cons to consider:

  • Local & convenient location
  • Cheap -$25
  • Late race start (9:45 AM)
  • Advertised as a 5k following the 3.3 mile parade route?
  • Parade starts immediately after the race – parking and driving could be an issue
  • Neither one of us has trained to race a 5k 
While, the cons apparently outweigh the pros, I decided we would do it anyway. We planned to allow for extra time before and after the race.

Will and I were happy to find other runners from our running club before the race started. We were able to warm up with them and also get a quick breakdown of the course. During our warm up, we were informed that the official course marker did not have time to mark the course, so we would be relying on other runners and our Garmins for guidance and pacing.

 I repeatedly asked Will if he wanted to run with me, but he said his goal was to break 21:00 and that he wanted to start conservatively. My goal, on the other hand, was to break 20:00. I really wanted to PR (19:53) but decided I would be happy with a sub 20:00.

The great thing about 5k’s is that they are short! You may feel like you need to vomit but they are over quickly!

My splits:
6:14 (.1 miles)

I came just short of my goal with a 20:04, but I am still happy with my finish! Although there were some incredibly fast runners racing with us, I still managed to place 1st in the Female 19-35 age group.

Look at that, the race route is on the shirt...genius!
Will and I celebrated immediately after the race with mimosas!

Monday, July 7, 2014

Race Report: Zoom Quarry Lakes Half-Marathon, 10K and 5K

Posted by Katie

I feel a little funny calling this a race report since I didn't really prepare at all. Originally I had signed up for the half marathon (months ago actually) but I really hadn't trained for it per say. My runs so far have been in the 4-6 mile range, slowly ramping up for Lake Tahoe Ironman 70.3 and one weekend I did get to 8 ish miles, but it was broken up in two parts.

I did prepare by making this sweet cake and eating it the day before, Happy BDay America!
I knew completing the half would be a real challenge based on my training (or lack thereof). Part of me wanted to see what would happen but the other (and more rational part) knew that I would be at serious risk for hurting myself and derailing my training. The more logical side won out and the morning of the race I switched to the 10K distance. I guess I expected to simply switch my bib for the appropriate number (bibs starting in 5 = half marathon, bibs starting in 4 =10K) but instead there was a bit of shaming.

Notice the giant slash through my number and the written in 10K... #bibshaming.
The race itself was super fun! Probably the smallest race I have done but Matt’s family was in town and we had representation in all distances. It was really fun to race with them and cheer as those doing the half distance crossed the finish. I actually thought that Matt and I might cross the finish together… the half marathon started at 9am and it takes Matt ~1hr 25mins to run… the 10K started at 9:25 and takes me ~ 1hr, so it is possible that the timing would work out which would be really funny! In actuality I ran 55min and he did 1:26 so we were off by a few minutes, but that meant I was there to cheer him on!

Some thoughts on my 10K race:

I knew a PR was a real possibility as I haven’t done many 10K’s and I certainly have never specifically trained for one. I actually didn’t look up my prior PR (which would have been wise for goal setting purposes) but then again I did nothing to prepare for this race so the fact that I showed up and had sneakers on was a win. Going out, I felt pretty good and decided to try to keep it at 9 minute miles which I knew was in the vicinity of my prior PR. The race thinned out pretty quickly on the trail, but there was one girl up ahead of me keeping a steady pace so I decided to just sort of stay where I was and keep the distance between us the same.

At the turn around point, we headed back down the creek trail and had a slight headwind for about 3 miles. At this point TWO guys, fell in directly behind me to draft. Being a slowish runner I have never had this happen before, and it was only a SLIGHT headwind so it seemed really odd. Personally I am all about drafting and helping each other… but usually if I find myself sticking with a random person I make a point of saying “hey it seems like we are running at the same pace, you have been in front for a while, I can pull for a little” or something like “it seems like we are running at the same pace, do you want to push each other to keep this pace through the finish?” you get the picture. Also the trail at this point was ~6 feet wide with no one in sight, so drafting that close behind someone was really unnecessary. I was really just out there to run my own race and when one of the guys coughed hard and I could feel it? I got annoyed.

Lap Splits:
1: 9:03
2: 9:05
3: 9:07
4: 8:54
5: 8:44
6: 8:27 (Rash attempt to shake drafter)
7: 8:39

I owe a thank you (of sorts) to this person and their inappropriate drafting because had they not been right on my heels for 3 stinking miles I would not have pushed it so hard on mile 5 in a rash attempt to drop them (successful) and because of all that I ended up with a PR and 2nd in my age group!

Matt ran the half marathon and there was some course confusion in that race which was unfortunate. The lead pack that he was with (3 other guys) went the correct way, but a group behind them got confused and accidentally cut off 3 miles. Nothing the race director could really do afterwards, because the results were of course a little unfair*, but I do hope that they station a volunteer at that intersection next time because it was a bit confusing. I definitely saw two 5K runners make an incorrect turn there (but in that case they added extra distance).

*Update 07/07/2014:
Apparently someone walking by maliciously flipped the sign around which caused the group of half marathoners to go the wrong way (who does that?). The results were corrected though and Matt was rightly placed 4th overall and 2nd in his age group!

After the race we went back and grilled some great food, hung out and watched some soccer with great friends and family. All in all a pretty incredible Saturday! 

Friday, July 4, 2014

Happy 4th of July!

Posted by Rachel

Just a quick update here. We enjoyed our day off from work by heading to Aquatic Park for an open water swim at 7 am. (Ok, "enjoyed" may be the wrong word. 'Took advantage of' is possibly a better phrase.) Earlier this week we received the athlete's guide for the Escape from the Rock duathlon. I've been worrying about this Alcatraz swim for some time now, and the guide did little to help. There's actually a section called "What to expect during the swim", and if you scroll down a little bit, "mild panic" is a category. Yep. Luckily, I felt much more comfortable after completing my longest ows of 2 miles this morning at a decent pace. I know the Bay out near Alcatraz will be much choppier and probably colder than AP was this morning, but at least I'm not so worried about the distance anymore. A huge thanks to Travers for making me come back in the water after I got out of the swim just to point out the jellyfish. I had read that these live in the Bay, and according to the internet they are not the type that sting. I have have no time goal for Alcatraz- just completing it without getting eaten, stung, or ending up at AT&T park or the GG bridge will be a win in my book.

We further took advantage of the day off by eating gelato and visiting my favorite park in Oakland. Here are some pics:

Great views of SF from my favorite park. Admittedly, I made Travers take this pic fully intending to make it my new FB pic (which I did, in case we're not friends and you can't see it).

Another very cool thing about this park- it's at the port and you can go get a close-up of the cranes transferring ginormous crates between the dock and boats. We didn't go over there today but you can see them in the background.

They took out a huge chunk of the old Bay Bridge. Where did they put it??

Looking forward to the rest of the weekend-BBQ, dinner, movie, and wine (well we don't have any specific plans for wine but it seems inevitable). Happy 4th everyone!

Tuesday, July 1, 2014

An interesting ride Saturday

Posted by Rachel

It's been almost two weeks since my first legit bike crash. I was going to make a post about it with a nice picture of my bloody leg, but decided against it. Luckily, other than scrapes and bruises, nothing was seriously injured and I only broke two bike parts, which cost a total of $35 to replace. Overall, a win for a fall that probably could've been worse. The worst outcome from the fall is probably constantly freaking out that it's going to happen again. I've been really really slow and super careful on downhills since (and if you ever rode with me before, you know I was already like that), which I really need to get over.

Anyway, this story was intended to be an interesting one about our ride Saturday. Sandi and I got on the BART at 7 am (after I saw her one block ahead of me looking very lost despite the fact that the BART station was right in front of her). Luckily, she managed to find the door just in time and we were off. We rode from the station ~6 miles to the start of the California Sprint Triathlon (with a pit stop at Peet's, which finally has coconut iced lattes!! which conveniently fit perfectly into my back water bottle cage), which was fellow blogger Brandon's first tri!

We were there in time to cheer for all 3 sports. Brandon did great and a lot of the athletes seemed really appreciative that we were out there cheering. We had to have Chen tone it down a little when she started yelling at the runners "you're on the best sport!", since I'm pretty sure the non-runners were shooting her some dirty looks :p By 9:00 am we were already sweating just standing there cheering, so we knew we had a long ride in front of us (not to mention the poor people who were running!).

After Brandon finished, Sandi and I headed out for our bike ride. We went east through Livermore, over part of the Altamont pass, and back through Livermore. At first, after we got through the town of Livermore, the roads were really awesome for biking: long, flat, and very little traffic. The only downside was that it was starting to get a little bit windy. Then we started heading up the pass- the climbing wasn't too bad but it was strange that there was NOBODY else around. No cars, no other cyclists. We crossed over 580 and that's when it got really windy. There were a bunch of wind farms (yay alternative energy) that were making a creepy whistling sound. I was riding really cautiously due to my fear of falling, so Sandi pulled ahead a little bit (it was curvy and hilly). At some point, we passed a lone house called the "Windy As$ Ranch" which had grills going and 4th of July decorations out, but still NO sign of life (very bizarre). Finally, we saw a few other cyclists, and then eventually a lone runner (where the hell did he come from??). The downhill was terrifying due to the wind and I took it REALLY slow, but finally it flattened out toward the bottom and my mind began to wander. I thought "wow, this kind of reminds me of our Bodega Bay run* minus the guns." Well I  got to the bottom a few min later where Sandi was waiting for me, and we made our left turn to continue our ride and heard a gun shot. We looked over just in time to see a man standing 5 feet from a cow and the cow fall over. Since I had all these horror movies in my head thanks to the seemingly out of place "party" ranch, I was worried that the man would subsequently try to shoot us, even if just out of boredom, so we started riding more quickly and got out of there. 10 or so miles later, we rode into Livermore and stopped and enjoyed lunch and a wine tasting. I obviously didn't want to try to carry any wine (what would be worse if I fell carrying wine- the shards of glass, or the fact that I wasted wine?), but Sandi bought a bottle and put it into her bike jersey. Three women from the triathlon were there and were very impressed/amused with Sandi's dedication to getting wine, so they took a picture of the wine in her jersey and we talked with them for a bit before heading out.

(*Bodega Bay run: We unintentionally found something we shouldn't have on a deserted trail run, which we suspect was a "farm" related to drug production. We encountered two people holding guns running in our direction. We got out of there as quickly as possible.)

Overall, it was a fun bike ride on a new route, and my first long-ish ride since my fall. Other notable training-related news: I hit 4000 yards in my swim this morning going strong the whole way (yay!), but then had a miserable track workout (boo). Also- where's the marathon, Malibu??