Tuesday, April 21, 2015

RnR San Diego Half Marathon Training Log: Weeks 5 and 6

Whew. The past week and a half (including weekends) was pretty insane at work so I just didn't have time to write my Week 5 training log. So here are two weeks at once!

RnR San Diego Half Marathon Training Log: Week 5

Monday: AM 6 easy progression miles on San Diego Creek Trail + PM upper body strength and plyo/form drills.

Since I hadn't run my cutback week long run over the weekend, I figured I'd just run a bit longer than a normal Monday recovery run and push a bit more towards the midway point. My pace dropped fairly naturally and it ended up being a pretty perfect progression run: (1) 10:)2, (2) 9:44, (3) 9:39, (4) 9:47, (5) 9:13, (6) 8:48.

After work, hit the gym for some upper body work and my weekly plyo/form drills:

  • Drills: high knees through net, lateral and forward movement high knees through mini hurdles, and medium box jumps.
  • Three sets of 15 reps of four exercises: (1) squat to bicep curl, (2) seated single arm row on exercise ball, (3) cable tricep press, and (4) chest press on exercise ball.
  • Two sets of 15 reps of two core exercises: (1) BOSU single leg bicycles, (2) BOSU toe taps

Tuesday: Off. 30 minutes stretching and foam rolling.

Unrelated cat picture. Just Bea perched in a box.

Wednesday: 4 easy miles on San Diego Creek Trail with 5x20 second strides.

Despite coming off a rest day (or maybe because of? For some reason my legs are the most lead-like the day after a rest day), my legs felt like tree stumps that did. not. want. to. move. I really wanted to get outside, though, after a stressful day at work and nearly getting mowed down in the crosswalk as I left the office. And I caught a gorgeous sunset, so all was right. Finished with 5 rounds of 20 second strides.

Thursday: AM 4x1600m at Back Bay + PM lower body strength workout.

Goal for mile repeats: sub-8:00 pace for each one.

  • 1 mile warm-up
  • Dynamic stretching
  • 4x1600m: (1) 7:50, (2) 7:44, (3) 7:48, (4) 7:50
  • 1 mile cool-down

Nailed it.

Then rocked my legs further with a post-work lower body workout:

  • Three sets of 15 reps of four exercises: (1) leg press, (2) weighted hip raises, (3) single leg deadlifts, and (4) hamstring curls
  • Two sets of 3 core exercises: (1) 15x hanging knee raises, (2) 30 second "Superman", (3) 1:30 plank

Friday-Saturday: Off/work.

Spent all day Saturday at the office. Hadn't realized I would be at the office all day or I would have run earlier...

Sunday: 10 mile long run with 6 mile tempo.

Not about to be thwarted both days, I started my 10 mile long run at 6:00 a.m. at Back Bay and did the full 10 mile loop, starting on the hillier side so that I could run 6 of the miles at closer-to-tempo paces and make up for missing Saturday's tempo run.

  • Dynamic stretching (always and forever)
  • 2 mile warm-up
  • 6 mile tempo: (1) 8:55 -- half the mile was uphill, (2) 8:17, (3) 8:04 -- quarter of the mile was downhill, (4) 8:21, (5) 8:18, (6) 7:55
  • 2 mile cool-down
I worked almost all day Sunday as well, and was so glad I didn't have miles hanging over me and had gotten outside before work. Also was thankful weekends are super casual so I could wear jeans and boots that hid my post-long run compression socks...

Total Mileage = 26 miles

RnR San Diego Half Marathon Training Log: Week 6

Monday: 5 easy miles at Back Bay.

Heading straight into another work week when you haven't had any time off is mentally draining. I knew I needed some early miles in a pretty place to start the week off right. Back Bay delivered, despite the marine layer of clouds trying to get me down.

Tuesday: Upper body strength + plyo/form drills.

Instead of a two-a-day of running + strength, I moved upper body strength to Tuesday so I could spend Monday evening with Sourabh since I'd worked all weekend. I regret nothing.

  • Plyo/form drills
  • Three sets of 12 reps of four exercises with heavier weights: (1) chest press on exercise ball, (2) one arm elevated plank-to-row, (3) "Arnold" presses (note -- watched this on mute to check that it was the right exercise, no clue what he's saying...), (4) lat pull-downs
  • Three sets of 15 reps of two core exercises: (1) BOSU single leg bicycles, (2) BOSU toe taps

Wednesday: Off.

Thursday: AM 8x200m hill repeats + PM lower body strength.

Huh. So I thought I took Thursday off. My dead legs this morning (Tuesday) after hills Thursday, 5 miles Friday, 10 miles of trails Saturday and 12 miles Sunday are starting to make sense...

Anyway, I headed to Quail Hill for hill repeats Thursday morning. 1 mile warm-up then 8x200m hills ranging from 0:53-0:59.

I had wanted to do 10 reps, but emails were flying on the deal I had closing, so I ran 3/4 of a mile cool-down then had to head home, shower, and head in to work.

Friday: approx. 5 miles around Yale Loop with Monica.

Five moderate paced miles around Irvine with Monica, chatting about everything from the donuts to Edward Snowden. We'd been trying to connect for a while but our running/life schedules never met up, so it was good to finally make it happen!

Also had a delicious dinner at Lola Gaspar in Santa Ana on Friday night.

I agree, Lola Gaspar. I agree.

Saturday: 10 hilly miles on Bommer Ridge Trail with Sheila and Kristina.

We met up at Coastal Peak Park to run Bommer Ridge Trail. It's not as hilly as some of the other trails in Crystal Cove (we covered somewhere between 800-900 ft, I think? Really need to connect my Garmin one of these days), so it allowed us to pick up a bit of speed, but also got some good hill work in.

Oh also, it was GORGEOUS. Crystal clear day so we could see the San Gabriel and Santa Ana Mountains, and saw down into Laguna Beach at our turnaround point. It was also just a really fun run because of the company. Can't beat gorgeous views and fun run buddies.

And we're pretty sure we saw David Hasselhoff hiking with his trainer so... clearly an amazing day.

Made more amazing by a trip to Sidecar Doughnuts with Sourabh.

I jokingly referred to this on Twitter as Sourabh and my monthly pilgrimage to Sidecar Doughnuts to taste that month's special flavors, but I think we do go at least once a month... This place is just SO GOOD. That cinnamon roll was incredible. Possibly the best cinnamon roll I've ever had? I mean, combine cinnamon roll with doughnut and how could it not be good.

Sunday: 12 mile long run with 6 mile progression.

I feel like in every training cycle, there are certain tough runs that you mentally log away for race day, so that you can pull them out when that "I can't go on" feeling starts to settle in. Sunday's long run was totally that kind of a run.

I felt awful Sunday morning so opted for more sleep before heading in to work for several hours. Once I got home around 4pm, I took an hour to allow my late lunch (tuna sandwich at 2:30pm) to digest before heading to Huntington Beach.

I parked on a side street to avoid the $15 beach parking / $6 town parking, then jogged down the sidewalk toward the bike path. First thought: "what the hell, how is it so windy?" There was a sustained 10ish mph wind with gusts of up to 20mph.

I had headed to Huntington Beach thinking it would be fun to get some beachside miles in, not realizing that it was a windy day and I'd be running straight into the wind.

Evidence of the aforementioned wind.
First six into the wind, second six with wind at my back (but it had died down a bit by then), salted caramel Gu at mile 4.

Splits: (1) 10:05, (2) 9:51, (3) 10:00, (4) 9:52, (5) 9:20, (6) 9:01, (7) 8:49, (8) 8:32, (9) 8:19, (10) 7:48, 2 mile cool down

The paces actually felt pretty easy and sustainable until mile 10's sub-8 pace. I was happy to finish that one.

By the way, I checked to see if I was right that the wind died down right around when I turned back, and sure enough, it dropped to more like 6-7 mph with much smaller gusts according to weather.com. That makes me feel a lot better about the ease of the faster miles since my feeling that the wind had died down was correct and I didn't have the same strong wind I'd been running into at my back for the second half, pushing me along.

These kinds of runs are tough but they also are so important for race day. Every race reminds me of the importance of the mental game, and the more you can draw on pushing through discomfort or the fact that you didn't give up, the stronger you can run come race day.

Total Mileage = 35.5

Highest mileage week so far this year and, I'm pretty sure, highest mileage week since I was marathon training in 2013. I am shocked by how good I have been feeling. I truly think my commitment to strength training has paid dividends in my general health as a runner, as well as how much I'm embracing hill work (in the form of trails and running hills in general, therefore utilizing different muscles from regular flat runs).

This week's focus is going to be more on speed, I think, followed by a cutback week the following week.

Shout out to Michelle for not only running Boston in nasty weather conditions but BQ'ing the course (yet again -- this girl is ON FIRE) and to Carrie who just ran her first triathlon in a new, tougher age group and podiumed, coming in second. BOOM. Way to be inspirational badasses.

Friday, April 10, 2015

Weekend in San Luis Obispo

Sourabh and I spent last weekend in San Luis Obispo, a college town located about halfway between San Francisco and Los Angeles. We drove up Saturday morning and drove back Sunday afternoon, which gave us just enough time to have a couple tasty meals and explore two awesome trails.

Mason was ready to go.
The drive up to SLO is gorgeous after you get out of LA, especially if you take the Chumash Highway (Route 154) from Santa Barbara, which runs through the Los Padres National Forest, passing Danish imitation town, Solvang, before meeting back up with Highway 101.

We stopped for lunch in Solvang, since I'm a quarter Danish and wanted to check out what imitation Copenhagen looked like. I grew up outside of Lynden, WA, which has an imitation Dutch downtown, so I wanted to see what the SoCal Danish version looked like. It was cute enough to drive through, but pretty packed on a Saturday afternoon, and I think the main attraction there is wine tasting, which we weren't interested in since we were going to be driving another hour and then hiking.

We bought some baked goods from Olsen's Danish Village Bakery  & Coffeeshop, but I'm sad to say the almond tart and florentine simply did not live up to the deliciousness of the Lynden Dutch Bakery in my hometown. If you're looking for wine tasting, though, it seemed like there were plenty of tasting rooms along the main drag.

Once we got to SLO, we headed straight for the trailhead.

We wanted to hike up one of the nine volcanic peaks that dot the SLO/Morro Bay landscape (this Wikipedia article has a cool picture that shows them all in a line).

We hiked up Cerro San Luis, which gives you a gorgeous view of the city and surrounding hills. The main trail is 2.75 miles one-way and has roughly 1,100 ft. elevation gain, but it's almost all uphill so it's not as intense a climb as the hike we did on Sunday.

Quick PSA/reminder for dog owners: always bring plenty of water if you're hiking with your dog. Dogs can't sweat so they can overheat more easily than humans. And be prepared to carry them if they need a break (slash are lazy and just give up after half a mile...)

The peak gives you an awesome 360 view of the SLO area. It was actually pretty windy and chilly at the top, so we didn't spend much time enjoying the view, but it was a great reward for the hike up.

Once we got back down, we checked into our hotel (the local Best Western, which wasn't terribly cheap but was the most affordable and decent dog-friendly option), and drove into town for dinner. Sourabh had read great reviews of Petra, a casual, college town-type Mediterranean restaurant. We shared their lamb shawarma and chicken shawarma platters, along with sides of dolmas and baba ghanoush. They had hard cider on tap, which I love to see, so I had a pint of that, and we shared their enormous and delicious baklava for dessert.

I was unable to stop from digging into the hummus before taking a picture.
We drove over to Morro Bay to watch the sunset, although we ended up huddled in our car for about 30 minutes since it was cold with the strong wind coming off the water.

Sunday morning we woke up early and drove to Coastal Peaks Coffee for breakfast. I always give almond milk espresso drinks a try when they're available, and I'm usually disappointed, but the almond milk latte I had here was great.

After finishing our breakfast, and providing plenty of scraps for the extremely vocal local birds, we drove a bit north of SLO along Highway 101 to hike the Reservoir Canyon trail up Murray's Hill.

It's about 2.5 miles up to the top and gains about 1,200 ft. of elevation, with a lot of that gain in the last mile.

The first mile follows along a creek, which was actually running. Given the years-long drought in California, it's pretty rare to find running water, so that was cool.

The trail is completely worth slogging through, though, because the views of the Central Coast from the top are absolutely stunning.

I wish my pictures fully captured how gorgeous it was up there, but you'll just have to believe me.

We headed back down, my calves complaining about two days of descents in a row, and then stopped in town one last time to grab smoothies for the drive back to Orange County.

Mason promptly passed out on my lap and barely woke up for the 3.5 hour drive back.

One of my favorite things about living in California is how many cool places are a weekend trip away. This trip showed us that we could pack a lot in to just two days without spending very much money (total cost was about $300, including gas, which isn't much compared to how much weekends away used to be in NYC).

So... any recommendations for where our next weekend trip should be?

Tuesday, April 7, 2015

RnR San Diego Half Marathon Training Log: Week 4

This was a major cutback week. I ran 3 miles. While I was active every day, I was in desperate need of a cutback week after last weekend's hill repeats / strength / 1100 ft elevation gain 9 mile trail run (yeah, didn't think that combo through well...). I did not realize how beat up my body would be after trail running. Of course looking back at it, it was clearly a poor idea to run a hilly route the day after hill repeats.

But trails are so pretty! 
My cutback week would not normally consist of 3 running miles, however with work getting busy, the hiking in San Luis Obispo on the weekend, and the clear signs my body was sending me Wednesday and Thursday, I decided to just chalk it up as a lost week. I think you can generally have one or two of those over the course of a training cycle and be okay. That's one reason I like a 12 week training cycle for a half marathon, and a reason I'll be doing a longer training cycle for the California International Marathon. My job is unpredictable and I don't always know how my body will react to things. If it's saying "no, that's too much, stop it," I want to be able to pay attention without ruining my training.

Sourabh and I drove up to San Luis Obispo for the weekend. The trip was a huge reminder of how happy living in California makes me. It's about a 3.5 hour drive, which initially seemed like a bit much for just two days, but the entire ride is so pretty that it didn't feel like too much for a weekend away. I'm going to do a separate post on the hikes we did and food we ate, so this training log will be short and to the point.

RnR San Diego Half Marathon Training Log: Week 4

Monday: Running form drills + 40 minutes stationary cycling + 20 minutes upper body strength.

I have running form drills on my schedule for every week. I do a mix of side and forward low hurdles, high knees through a net, and some low box jumps, focusing on activating different muscles and keeping good form.

I thought my legs could use a break from running so decided to cross-train instead of run on Monday. They probably could have used a straight rest day, which Melanie told me on Wednesday when I wondered why I was so fatigued.

  • 40 minutes on a stationary bike, pace at about 13-14 mph the whole ride.
  • Three rounds of 15 reps of chest presses, high rows, and lat pull-downs. 
  • Two 1 minute planks, 30 seconds side plank on each side, 15x Supermans for core.

Tuesday: Off.

Did 15 minutes of yoga/stretching, focused on quads, hamstrings and hips.

Wednesday: Strength training with Melanie.

Focused on upper body again because my lower body was clearly not having it during our plyometric warm-up.

  • 1/2 mile warm-up and dynamic stretching.
  • Two sets of six reps of plyometric drills (side and forward jogging through low hurdles, high knees through ladder).
  • Three sets of 15 reps of three heavy upper body exercises.
  • One set of 15 reps of two core exercises.
  • Longer stretching session focused on quads, hamstrings and hips.

Thursday: 60 minute yoga class.

The Thursday night therapy yoga class has a new instructor who was focused on more of a slow flow than therapy tools/exercises. I liked the class but am bummed that there isn't that option on my gym's schedule anymore since it was a great class at a good time for me. I'll keep this class on my schedule, though, because I can use all the stretching I can get.

Friday: 3 easy miles around Back Bay on trails.

Gorgeous run on the trail side of Back Bay after work. My legs were finally starting to feel a bit more normal.

Saturday: 5.5 mile hike up Cerro San Luis in San Luis Obispo.

Hiked up Cerro San Luis, an ancient volcanic plug, and got about 1,100 ft. of elevation gain in. Not running, obviously, but at least it was quality time on my feet.

Sunday: 5 mile hike up Reservoir Canyon Trail in San Luis Obispo.

That's Pismo Beach in the distance. No, there was never a disaster there (although I thought it was a real thing the first time I saw Clueless in the 90s...)
Same story as Saturday, but this time with most of the 1,100 ft. of elevation coming in the last mile of the hike. Gorgeous views from the top of Murray Hill!

Total Run Mileage = 3 miles *womp womp*

I'm really jazzed about this week so far, though. Amazingly solid 6 miles with a terrific progression yesterday morning (ran a longer and slightly less easy Monday run than normal to make up for no cutback week long run, but the great thing was the pace never felt like it wasn't easy, just wasn't a recovery pace). I also have fun running plans for this weekend! Now let's see how tomorrow's mile repeats go...