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.