Friday, March 27, 2015

2015 Race Schedule

Since it's nearly April, it seems like a good time to discuss my 2015 race schedule. At least it's in the first quarter of the year, right?

Thursday's sunrise at Back Bay. Sunrise = metaphor about the sun rising on my running plans for 2015 (or something like that, I just like stuffing my posts with photographic proof of how gorgeous CA is).

I spoke to Coach Jess on Thursday, catching up a bit and discussing my short and long-term racing plans. I loved working with her so much when I trained for the Chicago Marathon, but it was rough to have to balance NYC law firm life with training. Now that I'm feeling fairly settled into my law firm here in Orange County, I'm excited to start training with her this summer.

Jess and I sketched out a rough race plan for the remainder of 2015. Just voicing my ideas and goals to her got me excited, especially when she didn't think they were totally crazy. (Not that I'm trying to BQ this year or something, but I do have a fairly aggressive marathon goal.)

A disclaimer of sorts. For some reason I hate signing up for races. I put it off for as long as I can. I'll even start training for a race with every intention of running it and yet not sign up for a month. Case in point: I'm currently training for the Rock 'n' Roll San Diego Half Marathon but haven't yet signed up. I think I trained for Surf City for five or six weeks before I actually signed up. Races are so expensive and I just hate the thought of wasting a race entry fee if work gets crazy or I get injured.

So, while I haven't signed up for any of the following races, this is currently my plan for the rest of the year:

10K sometime between now and early May - I'm on the hunt for a 10K to race in place of a tempo run. I've never raced a 10K and would love to work on my mental game in a middle distance race. I have my eye on a few in April, but need to see how they work out with my schedule since none of them are close by.

Rock 'n' Roll San Diego Half-Marathon (May 31) - Part of my hesitation in signing up for races is probably because the ones I'm targeting are all fairly expensive. I've never run a Rock 'n' Roll race, but this one gets rave reviews from those who've run it, and I really like the course profile. The past three weeks of training have not been very promising, so right now my goal is just to take some time off my current 1:52 half marathon PR from Surf City.

I want to run a sub-1:50 half marathon this year, and while I'm just not sure it's in the cards for May 31, I'm going to try training for it and see what happens. Having a race on my calendar keeps me motivated. At worst, it should be a fun weekend in San Diego before Sourabh starts studying for the CA bar exam!

Summer of Shorter Distances - After spending a good two weeks recovering from RNR San Diego without any training plan whatsoever, I'm going to start working with Coach Jess to build a good base for a late fall marathon. I'm excited to race some shorter distances this summer. I'd love to take some more time off my 5K time from last year's Turkey Trot. I'm hoping to head up to WA for a weekend, too

Long Beach Half Marathon (October 11) - When I started 2015, I thought I'd make Long Beach my goal fall race. However, I realized a few things after Surf City.

First: I really like having a training plan. It gives my runs and workouts structure and makes me excited about hitting the gym and completing runs. I love running, but I'm the worst about lying in bed and not wanting to get up. But you add in the guilt factor of skipping a workout and it gets me up and out. Once I'm a mile in, I'm awake and loving life, but getting out there is the hart part.  

My natural inclination is to make like Mason and be lazy.

Second: running in SoCal is AMAZING. Even during the heat wave we had last September, it wasn't crazy hot in the early mornings. It's so rare that the weather is a factor in my running schedule here. Also, there are trails everywhere that I haven't even begun to explore, meaning there's less of a boredom factor when upping mileage.

Finally: work can get crazy here, just like it could in NYC, but my day-to-day is way more conducive to getting enough rest.

The upshot of all this? I'm ready to commit to training for another marathon. I still want to run Long Beach Half, however the plan is now for this to be more of a midway point check-in rather than a goal race. It could even end up being scrubbed if it just doesn't work out, but since I've heard great things about the race, I'm hoping to run it.

THE BIG ONE: California International Marathon (December 6) - I AM SO PSYCHED ABOUT THIS RACE. I was contemplating a few full marathons, the others being in early 2016, but after reading about CIM and asking some CIM "alums" what they thought of it, I was pretty convinced that it was the perfect marathon for me to run. Jess agreed during our call on Thursday, and I am SO excited. I wanted to take a lot of time before committing to a marathon, especially since the Chicago Marathon was so incredible for me in 2013, but I feel totally ready to rock the marathon distance once again. I'm hoping to make a fun weekend out of it, complete with carb-loading in San Francisco.

My goal for my second marathon? Sub-4. It would require me to take about 20 minutes off my first marathon time. Given my recent half marathons, I think it's a doable goal. Part of my hesitation in running another marathon was that I knew it wouldn't be as meaningful as Chicago had been, so I wanted my next marathon to be a big PR. I feel like I'm in a place where that's possible, and I'm excited to train for that.

Here's to the rest of 2015, big goals, and grand training plans!

Tell me: what are your big races for 2015? Have you run CIM? Are you running it this year? Want to come to Orange County and run 20 milers with me this summer/fall?

Monday, March 23, 2015

Spring Half Marathon Training Log: Week 2

Last week, I got sick for the first time in a long time, and it derailed my training a bit. I still had a solid week, though, and my weekend of running has me excited both for this week and to explore new routes during this training cycle.

Monday: (1) 4 easy miles in AM, (2) plyometric drills + upper body strength workout in PM.

Four easy, recovery miles along the San Diego Creek Trail, finishing with 5x20 second strides. I felt fine that morning but started feeling worse and worse as the day went on.

I soldiered through plyometric drills (that's a raised agility ladder back there), and did the same upper body strength workout I'd done the week before, but by the end I felt queasy and abandoned the second set of core work to go home and eat/sleep.

  • Three sets of 12 reps of: (1) chest press, (2) fly, (3) high row, (4) low row, (5) shoulder press, (6) lat pull-down
  • One set of (1) knee-ups and (2) reverse sit-ups

Tuesday-Thursday: Off (sick).

Tuesday morning I was so sick that I had to leave work before lunch and spent the rest of the day sneezing and sleeping on the couch. Felt well enough to go to work Wednesday but really didn't want to push it after the strength workout Monday night that I think got me sicker (or at least didn't help). Did manage to stretch and foam roll a lot since I was pretty achey.

Friday: 3x2400m @ half marathon PR pace.

Felt pretty much 100% Friday morning, other than some residual congestion, so I decided to attempt the speedwork I'd had slated for Wednesday morning.

  • Dynamic stretching
  • 1 mile warm-up
  • 3x2400m repeats at (what I thought was) half marathon PR pace with 1:30 recovery in between: (1) 8:41, (2) 8:37, (3) 8:36
  • 1 mile cool-down
So I thought my half marathon PR pace was 8:42. Turns out my half marathon PR pace is actually more like 8:36/mile. Yes, I should have looked that up. It was in the right range, at least.

First repeat had me huffing and puffing, especially because I ran the steep, short underpasses that take you under roads on the San Diego Creek Trail instead of crossing the streets (I rarely have to stop early in the morning since there aren't many cars on the road). As I caught my breath and hacked up phlegm during my 1:30 recovery, two men across the creek yelled "hey, thank God it's Friday, right?" I could only manage a thumbs up, but seriously, thank God it was Friday. Second and third repeats were pretty smooth, even with the steep inclines, and the pace felt decent by the third one. Still, got some work to do over the next ten weeks!

Since the partners in my office were at the annual firm partnership retreat, we had a Hawaiaan-themed lunch party and were given leis to wear all day. SoCal law firm life is where it's at, I'm telling you guys.

Saturday: (1) 6 relaxed miles, (2) strength workout with Melanie.

I met up with Mary Kate for six miles of her long run at Back Bay. It was overcast and humid, but cool enough to make it a great morning for a run. I also hadn't run with anyone in a while, so the miles flew by as we chatted. Since I'd run 3x2400m the day before, I eased off the planned tempo and aimed for "conversational but not recovery" pace miles, which matched up with Mary Kate's paces well.

Followed up the run with stretching then a strength training session with Melanie. We focused on the lower body, doing some supersets that exhausted the quads and glutes.

  • Two sets of 15 reps of two core exercises
  • Two sets of 15 reps of two supersets (two exercises per superset including kettlebell squats and weighted step-ups)
  • Two sets of 15 reps of an oblique exercise
  • Stretching focused on hips and hamstrings

After showering, Sourabh and I headed to local car dealerships to test drive several models since we'll need two cars when he's working. We took a break to grab tacos from our favorite local taco place: Taqueria El Zamorano.

I don't normally post food pictures, so I hope you understand how great these tacos are. Homemade tortillas and some kind of pork genius happen here.

Sunday: 9 mile long run.

Kara drove down from LA and we carpooled to Aliso Creek & Wood Canyon Park for our long run. It was so much fun to catch up and explore a new route. We kept a very relaxed pace (especially since I was hitting my highest mileage in a 3 day period in a loooong time). However, I was surprised that our pace was solidly in the 10's instead of the 11's or even 12's, which is what it felt like. Had pizza the night before so just had 1/2 a banana and a glass of Nuun to fuel and felt fine.

Splits: (1) 10:49, (2) 10:22, (3) 10:23, (4) 10:32, (5) 10:46, (6) 10:55, (7) 10:48, (8) 10:35, (9) 10:35

After finishing our run, we headed to Laguna Beach for brunch. We ended up at The Dock, which was literally right on the beach. We were definitely the least dressed up people there (because it's Laguna), but they seated us, so... oh well.

I got home and Sourabh wanted to walk Mason, so we headed to Peters Canyon Regional Park for a short 2.5 mile walk around the lake. Or rather, what would be a lake if we weren't in the midst of a multiyear drought. Southern California has put me in the odd position of hoping for rain instead of sun!

Finished up the weekend by making Skinny Taste's kheema matar, an Indian lamb dish that's one of Sourabh's favorites. The recipe was easy to follow and turned out to be delicious -- highly recommend for easy at-home Indian cooking!

Weekly Mileage = 25.7 miles

Monday, March 16, 2015

Spring Half Marathon Training Log: Week 1

I still haven't totally decided on a spring marathon, but right now I'm targeting the May 31 RnR San Diego Half Marathon. I've heard good things about it from friends and coworkers, it seems like a good course, and I love a downhill at the end of a race. My biggest worry is the price and the fact that I'll be in NYC two weeks before race day for Sourabh's law school graduation. For now, though, I have a 12 week training plan in place with RnR San Diego as the race at the end.

My first week of training was... dreadful. A late night airport pick-up Sunday night meant I had to switch workouts around (I simply can't start the work week on 5 hours of sleep), and then I woke up mildly sick on Friday. It wasn't anything serious, but it was bad enough that I was not going to skimp on sleep or push myself, especially because my friend Hana was visiting and I wanted to have as much energy as possible for her.

So here's how things shook out:

Monday: Off.

Tuesday: (1) 2.5 miles progression (2) lower body strength workout.

This mess-up is totally on me. I wanted to do 3-5 miles easy then head to the gym, but I totally forgot that with the time change on Sunday, it's still dark at 6:00 a.m. I lost some time hemming and hawing, figuring out what to do, before Sourabh rationally said (just run at the gym). He joined me and I ran 2.5 miles, starting at 10:00 pace then increasing the pace :30 each 1/2 mile, trying to fit in a bit more mileage. Since I'd had an easy-ish weekend, I didn't feel bad about making the easy miles faster, but this isn't the kind of thing I'd do once I'm really in training mode.

I focused on heavier weight and fewer reps for this lower body workout, moving between exercises quickly to make them supersets.

  • 3x10: (1) glute bridges, (2) squats, (3) deadlifts, (4) hamstring curls
  • Core work (30x horizontal and lateral scissors, 1:30 plank)

Wednesday: Upper body strength workout.

I'm at a new gym location and I love the weights layout. They have my favorite upper body machines all in a row, making it really easy to bang out an upper body circuit quickly. I focused on increasing the weight each set.

I always write out my strength workouts ahead of time then take a picture and just read it off my phone at the gym.

  • 3x12: (1) chest press, (2) fly, (3) high row, (4) low row, (5) shoulder press, (6) lat pull-down
  • 2x15: (1) knee-ups, (2) reverse sit-ups

Thursday: (1) 4x1600m repeats at half marathon PR pace (2) therapy yoga class.

Hit Back Bay early for some mile repeats. This was the key workout of the week and the only non-negotiable. I wanted to see how my PR pace felt over mile repeats. It felt GREAT. The first mile was a bit rough because I didn't do enough of a warm-up (I ran an easy mile but I'm going to try to build in more of a warm-up before speedwork going forward). However, after that, each mile felt more and more relaxed, despite a faster pace. I took 2:00 recovery in between, which was probably a bit much in retrospect.

That evening, I hit up a therapy yoga class at the gym. I went into the class expecting more of a restorative yoga flow, but it turns out it's actually very much a therapy class. We used trigger point balls for self massage, focusing on our hamstrings, IT bands, backs and necks. I'm going to try to make this a regular part of my week because it's at 7:30 p.m., which I can typically make if I don't have a very busy day at work, and it felt like the perfect recovery day activity. (Thursdays will normally be recovery days but since things were switched up, it was a speedwork day.)

Friday: Off - sick.

Friday night we had the best meal I've had in months (maybe years): dinner at Playground in Santa Ana. Even with a drink each, the total came out to $40, and the food was phenomenal. The chef produces a new menu every day (other than the vinegar fried chicken and sticky pudding), and some of the dishes were totally weird but incredibly delicious. Sourabh and I want to go back at least once every few months to try the new dishes on the menu. Can't recommend this place highly enough if you're looking for a delicious, exciting meal in SoCal.

Saturday: Off - sick (walked 4 miles around Disney).

Sourabh's friend was kind enough to gift us his free tickets to Disneyland/California Adventure, so Hana and I hit up the park for four hours Saturday morning.

It was fun to check it out, but we were happy to be leaving as the day got hot and the park got crowded. The morning at Disney really wore me out, so I knew it was a better idea to rest than to run or hit the gym.

Sunday: 10 mile hike in Santa Ana Mountains.

Our friends Leah and Bjoern drove down from LA early Sunday morning and we took Harding Truck Trail five miles up to Laurel Springs before heading back down for 10 miles total before it got too hot. When things dry out, the springs stand out bright green against the mountain, but we actually had to look for it to tell where they were since everything is so green right now.

The trail goes for over 10 miles one way, so it's a great long run if you're a trail runner. The route is also beautiful -- you have views of Orange County and the Santa Ana mountains for almost the entire hike.

Looking south toward Laguna
Thanks to a Twitter recommendation, I knew the best place to park for this hike was the Tucker Wildlife Sanctuary (29322 Modjeska Canyon Rd, Silverado, CA 92676 if you are looking for an address to punch into Google Maps). It's right at the trailhead and parking is free!

Iced coffee was a necessity after the hike, and then we all drove to EATS Restaurant at Hotel Irvine where we met up with another pair of friends who were in town with their extremely adorable baby. EATS is a hit and miss restaurant. Good burgers and comfort food small plates (great for sharing a bunch of delicious food post-long run or hike), but their salads and fish dishes are lackluster. It's a great spot to meet up for brunch, though, and centrally located in Orange County.

We closed out Sunday with a walk along the ocean at Newport Beach, then I crashed on the couch and finally got back to reading The Science of Running. I got sidetracked and set it aside but am excited to finally finish it.

Goal for week 2: make it better than week 1!