January 18, 2010

Marathon Training!

I made it through my entire first week of marathon training - without skipping a beat!  If you haven't noticed, I suck at sticking to a training plan, so this is a big accomplishment for me (yes, I know it's only been a week).

FINALLY, I'm extremely excited and motivated to run and train for this race - I attribute this mostly to having music again, and my sub 2 hour half marathon last weekend - or maybe 2010 is just my year, who knows! This whole week I've just felt like running, and haven't given in to the TV (even with my recently developed Dexter obsession) or let feeling a little tired get in the way.  Running hasn't felt like a chore; it's been a blast and I don't want to stop!

For my long run on Saturday, I even got myself out of bed at 4am to do a 10 mile TRAIL run with Jeff - woah, woah, woah!  Although this was really hard for me since I never run hills and we did about 1000 ft of climbing (yep, I walked a fair amount), it was a great change of scenery, and I had a ton of fun experiencing some trails...butt, you will thank me later.  Jeff also made sure to tell me I did well, and I'm not as scared for my hilly half marathon on Catalina in about a month.  And, I was done with my long run by 7:30 in the morning - NICE!

Anyway, I'm really excited that training for my first marathon is starting off on a nice, positive note!  I have some jitters about my first marathon so good vibes like this are definitely welcome.  I want this to be a fun first experience; not one that will make me hate the marathon.

If you're interested in the training plan I worked up - you can check out my mess of a spreadsheet here.

My plan is not set in stone since I have no idea what will and won't work for me quite yet.  For my first go at this marathon thing, I don't want to work on my speed or worry about being fast, or too slow - I really just want to finish, so my main focus is just to build up my mileage.  I do have a goal time hanging out in the very back of my head...but that's where it's going to stay.  I don't want to be unhappy or disappointed in myself if I don't reach that time; instead I want to be happy and proud for having run an entire 26.2 miles, no matter how long it takes.  I still have at least a good 10 years or so to worry about getting fast!

If I don't want to work on speed, why do I have 5 mile track workouts every other week?  I just really miss track, and think it'll be a good way to break up doing lots of long, slow runs all the time.  I hope to make these workouts fun and relatively easy - nothing to wear myself out or make me puke!  In high school track and cross-country we would do push-ups and crunches for time after each workout, so I implementing that into my training as well.  I hate doing core workouts and I don't see myself making time to do any sort of lifting, so this is a quick way to get some of those muscles moving as well - better than nothing!

I really hope this excitement and drive I've had over the past week doesn't fade anytime soon - or at all!  I really want my first marathon to be a success, but for that to happen, I definitely need to love what I'm doing!

Here's to 15 more weeks of training!  And special thanks in advance tweeps for your daily ecouragement ;-)

January 17, 2010

SoCal Half Recap + PR!

I PR'd by 9 minutes!!!

I'm really surprised by this PR, since once again I did not train very well for this race.  I noticed the number of runs I've completed before each of my half marathons has been about the same (not many), but the distances I'm running have increased.  I ran a few 8-10 milers, and even a 13.1 mile run before this half...I guess the increased mileage is helping!

I really wasn't nervous for this race at all, and felt at ease when I lined up in the crowd at the start.  I recently got a new iPod for Christmas, so I made a fun playlist the night before and was excited to listen to it - running with music helps me SO much, and I realized a few days before the half that music was what I had been missing - once again, I was excited and motivated to run!

Anyway, I lined up at the starting line, and almost immediately became a stand-out in a crowd of a bunch of kids.  What?  I was thinking to myself, these little people (around 8-12 yr old) can't possibly be running an entire half marathon...at least not very fast.  I learned later these kids were all part of Students Run LA, and not only would they be running this half marathon, but they were gearing up to run the LA Marathon in March.  Wow.  I really hope I can run a whole marathon if they can!  And kind of makes me wish I had done something like that when I was younger.

Soon, we were off.  The first mile went by super fast.  I remember looking down at my garmin a couple times and noticed I was running around 8:30 pace, so I slowed down a bit, but not a lot.

I felt really good, so I kept running around 8:45-9 min pace...and was still cruising along at this pace by mile 5.  The goal I set for this race about two months ago was to break 2 hours - and I knew I needed to run around 9:10 min miles to do so.  But by the end of [inadequate] training, I definitely didn't think I could do it because running 5 miles just a little faster than that was difficult for me.  But I had just ran 5 miles in about 44 min - ah! That was faster than my 5 mile race PR!  I kept telling myself I really needed to slow down or I was going to totally burn out...but I couldn't.  I kept finding people to pass ahead of me (usually little kids), and still felt pretty dang good.  I was just going to hang on to my pace for as long as I could.

Mile 8 came along and I finally started to feel it.  This is also when I realized that even if I did slow down some, I had a good chance of breaking 2 hours and I got really excited.  This is also when I started to drive myself crazy thinking things like "ok...if I hold on to this pace till mile 10, I can then run 10 min miles and still  break 2 hours."  I must've done these annoying calculations about 20 times before the end of the race...especially once I got to mile 10 and I really just wanted to walk.  Everything hurt at this point.  I've obviously been in pain in my other 2 half marathons, but nothing like that - guess I finally learned how it feels to race.  This also makes me wonder how much harder I could push myself, and what kind of pain tolerance I have - assuming I'll find out before or during my first marathon in May!

So at mile 10 I definitely slowed down some.  A few of the kids started passing me too, which was annoying.  I started looking at my garmin a ridiculous amount (I did this the entire race and it started to annoy the crap out of me), and continued calculating what pace I needed to maintain - which is probably why when I got to mile 11 I thought I was at mile 10.  Despite driving myself nuts, that was a nice surprise.

I hate mile 11 tho, and it was a huge struggle.  It's always the point in the race where I'm tired and in pain and there's nothing exciting about it like mile 10 where you realize you only have a 5k left, and mile 12 when you realize you only have a mile left and before you know it you're at the finish line.  Mile 11 just sucks, for me anyway.  I tuned into my iPod and just focused on getting to mile 12.

I was in some sort of zone at this point (didn't even look at my garmin) and before I knew it I saw Pete, Jeff, and Jeff's son Thunderclap sitting on a curb - I was almost to the finish!  I rounded the corner they were sitting at and ran the last 0.1 miles as fast as I could.  The race clock said 1:59:40, so I knew I had broken 2 hours - holy crap!  Did that really just happen?  Then I started walking towards my "fans," and already in pain, realized yes, yes that did happen.

This picture makes me laugh.

I finished with an official time of 1:58:57 -  just the kick-start I needed for my first week of marathon training: maybe I don't totally suck at running afterall!

Also, congrats to Pete on getting his PR in the 5k that day, and getting closer to his goal to qualifying for Boston :-)

Race Splits:

Mile 1 - 9:03
Mile 2 - 8:53
Mile 3 - 8:50
Mile 4 - 9:04
Mile 5 - 8:45
Mile 6 - 9:00
Mile 7 - 8:50
Mile 8 - 9:08
Mile 9 - 9:07
Mile 10 - 9:17 - yep, definitely started getting tired :-)
Mile 11 - 9:31
Mile 12 - 9:26
Mile 13 - 9:21
Mile 0.13 - 0:47

January 13, 2010

Carless Inconvenience

It's been 7 months since I sold my beloved 1995 Saturn SC-1, and I want him back.

My dad purchased my Saturn my senior year of high school after a not-so-tragic, person-less accident that resulted in my 1990 Mitsubishi Mirage getting totaled by a truck - happiest day of my life!  We received $800 for the $2k of damage done to my Mirage (that was MAYBE worth $200, so I couldn't stand making the poor guy pay $2k just because he forgot to use his e-brake when he parked on a hill), sold it to my step-bro for $100, and purchased the Saturn for $1500.  Not too shabby.

Five years, 80k miles (long distance relationships can be a b*tch), a few repairs, and a weird noise or two later...I sold my Saturn for a measly $300.  I was about to graduate, get an awesome new bike, and move across the country, so I just wanted to get rid of it - it definitely wasn't going to make the 1500-some mile commute from Madison to Huntington Beach, anyway!

When I moved here, I decided I didn't want to buy a car - looking back, I think I just got really sick of deciding anything having to do with a car, and the idea of another loan was definitely a major turn-off.  So for the past 7 months I've gotten by with biking, utilizing public transportation, and borrowing Pete's truck more often than he'd like.  Frankly, I'm sick of it.  I want my Saturn back.

Since I'm one of the world's worst decision makers when it comes to this sort of thing, I took the usual route and made a quick list of pros and cons to help me along.

Why I like being carless (pros):
- Gives me the ability to save a lot of money and pay off student loans

Ta-Da!  Honestly, this is the only real reason I like not having a car.  Yes, there are many other reasons, like how I get good exercise from biking everywhere and can appreciate sights and sounds people miss out on when driving...but what makes me think if I had a car, I couldn't experience these things, too?  Seems to work for lots of other people.  The environmentalist side of me pats myself on the back for not having a car, but I truthfully don't care enough for that burden to outweigh the proceeding cons.  I can be environmentally conscious in other ways, and me not having a car isn't going to make the world better (unfortunately).

Why I don't like being carless (cons):
- Commuting to work via bike or bus uses up an entire hour of my morning, and evening...every day.
- Unless I want to spend hours commuting, I'm limited to activities within a ~10 mile radius of HB.
- I have to plan to go everywhere - hard to be spontaneous when you have to work around a bus or train schedule, or allow yourself lots of time to bike.
- Since helmets are a necessity - MY HAIR IS NEVER, EVER CUTE...not that I'm the kind of girl who really cares that much, but it eventually gets old.  And, I can't pull off the look nearly as well as PunkRockRunner :)
- I don't like being cold, wet or cold and wet.  I'm not about to complain about SoCal weather, but the mornings get cold, and the few days a year it does rain are unwanted and I bug Pete for his truck...which leads to the next con...
- I hate bothering Pete for his truck.  Even if I wash it, fill it with gas, change the oil, etc...I still feel guilty asking to borrow it, and I'm not entirely convinced he truly likes letting me...

So, it's pretty obvious there are more cons than pros.  Even though the one pro I do have is a pretty big deal to me, I think it's time to give in and settle for convenience.  I don't know how long I'll be living in this SoCal heaven...so I want to be able to explore, venture out of Orange County, and truly experience California while it lasts - and look cute doing it! :)

I've learned to love biking enough that I know I won't give it up if I get a car...in fact, I might appreciate it even more knowing I don't HAVE to do it all the time - it's nice to have options.  

Currently seeking a reliable car for $5k or less (aka no loan! where did I get the idea I had to buy something shiny and new, anyway?) 

Suggestions?  Also, I'd prefer not to have to mow it...

January 3, 2010

23 years; 23 proud memories

Yesterday was my 23rd birthday, and as part of my birthday celebration, Pete and I went on a nice bike ride down the coast from Huntington Beach to Solana Beach.  It was an absolutely AMAZING day outside, and although I love my home state, I am SO glad I didn't have to spend my birthday cooped up inside because of -15F temperatures.  I hadn't done any biking for a couple weeks so I was a tad timid about this 75 mile ride (longest ever by about 4 miles)...but I made it!  And, I had a great birthday :)

So in honor of my birthday accomplishment, I thought I'd share 23 things I've accomplished or learned over the past 23 years that I'm proud of or are at least worthy enough to mention.

In no particular order of recollection (hello, randomness)...

1. Biking 75 miles in one stretch
2. Running 2 half marathons
3. Completing a 9-day, 400-some mile bike tour
4. Moving outside of my comfort zone: almost 2000 miles away from home (still not sure why they needed an 18-wheeler for my small room full of stuff)

5. Graduating from UW-Madison with a BS in Materials Science & Engineering
6. Making the Dean's list all 4 years
7. Summiting Mt. Baldy while totally out of shape

8. Winning a coloring contest in 2nd grade
9. Being the high-scorer in a high school basketball game (14 points)

10. Graduating from high school
11. Getting 1st place in the 800m at a high school track meet
12. Being a big sister

13. Getting accepted into UW-Madison, and then into the engineering program
14. Being front row, center in a few of my many dance recitals
15. Learning how to fall in and out of love
16. Getting rid of my car
17. Running a 5:40 min first mile in a cross-country race (and then freaking out and slowing down for the remaining 1.5 :-P)

18. Getting a poem published in a book in 5th grade
19. Learning to play the guitar and clarinet
20. Completing an 18 mile hike while going from Two Harbors to Avalon

21. Learning to appreciate traveling
22. Having research results published in a journal
23. Making life-long friends

And many more...but my memory isn't that great.  Through all it's ups and downs, I love my life! :)