Sunday, July 26, 2015

Race Recap: 2015 City of Cypress 5K

On Saturday morning, I raced my first 5K of 2015, the City of Cypress 5K. I had been looking for a 5K to race as a fitness check-in for a couple of weeks. I figured it would be good to know where I stood speed-wise before I start marathon training.

The race was only the second time I've raced in 2015. I was honestly not sure I wanted to run the race, since I had to wake up at 5:00 a.m. on Friday to drive up to Downtown Los Angeles for a pro bono hearing (I'm doing an asylum case; as a corporate lawyer, appearing in court is not something I ever do). The closest 5K I could find was in Cypress, which is a 30 minute drive from my apartment, and I'd need to get there before 7:00 a.m. to register for the race and get in a warm-up.

I was still undecided about running the 5K on Friday night. Sourabh had a Mexican food craving (specifically for queso fundido; apparently studying for the bar exam gives you weirdly specific cravings like being pregnant does), and since he was just four days out from the bar on Friday, I wasn't about to turn him down. Also it's very difficult for me to turn down Mexican food...

When I went to bed Friday night, I set my alarm for 5:30 a.m., but thought I probably wouldn't want to race. Only I naturally woke up at 4:58 a.m. and felt pretty awake, and I knew if I did try to go back to sleep I'd just sit there in the dark feeling annoyed at myself for not racing. So I hauled my ass out of bed and got ready.

I ate half a Picky Bar, picked up an iced coffee from McDonald's for the 30 minute drive (this is totally a Lazy American cliche, but I really love the convenience of drive-thrus, especially early in the morning), and hit the 405 to head north to Cypress.

Once I got there, I registered, which took about 5 minutes since the organization was fantastic, then hit the bathroom. There were three real bathrooms by the registration area, and then about 15-20 porta potties near the start line.

I stretched a bit, jogged around for 15 minutes, did my dynamic warm-up routine, ran a couple strides, then hit the bathroom two more times because, ahem, Mexican food (sorry).

I ate a salted caramel Gu and sipped some water since the water station was before the finish line (it was meant for the 10K runners, but they were offering water to everyone before the race). Then I headed to the start line and listened to my psych-up playlist, which includes such gems as Fort Minor's "Remember the Name" and Eminem's "Lose Yourself". Fun story: I listened to this playlist before the first day of the California bar exam.

No corrals, but it was easy to get to the front.

As soon as the race started, I immediately regretted my decision to run with a shirt on. It had been cloudy up until about five minutes before the race started, but the sun had finally broken through the marine layer, and I was HOT.

Mentally, I just wasn't "right" for the whole race. I never felt like I pushed hard enough, but when I tried to get myself to kick it into another gear, I just couldn't find the mental discipline to do so. I almost always start races thinking, "why am I about to do this?" But this time that mentality didn't go away in the first half mile like it normally does.

The course is basically a large square through residential streets of Cypress, and it's all flat, so it wasn't super interesting, but plenty of families came out to watch so there were distractions. I mainly tried to pick people ahead of me to catch up to and then pick new ones.

Extremely sweaty post-race.

I ended up finishing in 24:06, which is 17 seconds off my PR of 23:49. My splits were: (1) 7:31, (2) 7:50, (3) 7:56, (.11) 0:47 (6:53 pace) <--- positive splitting like a champ.

I started the race well and just could not keep it up. I can't possibly blame the heat or the Mexican food or anything else for my failure to PR on Saturday because it was 100% a mental issue. I know that physically a 5K PR is within my ability, and Saturday's race was all about my inability to stay mentally strong in the latter half of the race.

I plan to run several more short course races in the next few months (with Coach Jess's blessing, of course) so that I can focus on the mental aspect of racing. I've definitely been a lot mentally stronger in races in the past, but I haven't raced much in the past year. I think more races can only be a good thing as long as they're shorter and aren't putting me at risk of injury.

One big, shining positive, however: I was first in my age group! I think most of the "fast" runners were running the 10K, but hey, any time you can end up with an age group win, the race can't be a total bust, right?

I hung around to eat a popsicle and cheer on the lead women for the 10K before jogging for 8 minutes or so as a cool-down, then drove home and took a nap.

First woman in the 10K coming in like a boss. Look at that gorgeous stride.

Now, I'm on the hunt for another 5K to try to redeem myself and PR. 

Race Facts

  • Parking: Free. I think as long as you arrived 30 minutes before you'd be able to park relatively close to the start line.  
  • Course: Loop of closed roads. This is not a scenic route. You're running on neighborhood streets, but it's kind of fun because a lot of families were sitting outside their homes, watching the runners. The 10K runs two loops of the 5K course. I would not personally be a fan of this because the idea of doing a loop and seeing the finish line so close then veering to the right to do the loop all over again would mentally kill me.
  • Bathroom situation: Six real bathrooms (three for men, three for women) near the registration/finish line area, and plenty of porta potties near the start. 
  • Swag: No medal unless you're doing the race as part of a series of Orange County races. Cotton t-shirt is included in registration price.
  • Price: $25 early registration (until roughly two weeks before), $35 "late" registration.
  • Corrals: No corrals, but I had no problem situating myself close to the front, and the race takes up about half a city street so it doesn't get too congested if you're towards the front.
  • Post-Race Food: Popsicles, bagels, bananas, and water bottles. The race is also part of the City of Cypress Festival, which has a pancake breakfast.

I would 100% recommend the City of Cypress 5K/10K if you're looking for a late July short course race. The organization was superb and the course was flat and fast.

Monday, July 20, 2015

July Training

It's been a while since I've posted, mainly because I haven't had much to post about! My three day weekend up in Washington was gorgeous, and Sourabh and I both had a lot of fun up there with my family for July 4 weekend, but it wasn't the most blog-worthy of weekends.

Well, besides the patriotic cake that my sister baked and I decorated.

Suck on that, Pinterest. 
And cuddling with Miss Porker (not her real name; that's Zoe, my parents' dachshund).

And of course, the hike we took up Skyline Divide with my dad, with views over the North Cascades, Mt. Shuksan and Mt. Baker.

Sadly, it was a bit hazy thanks to smoke from forest fires up in British Columbia drifting down. The Pacific Northwest has been much drier and hotter than normal this year, and forest fires look like they'll be a larger than normal problem up there.

I'm pretty sure no flowers are as pretty as mountain wildflowers.

Mt. Baker, also known as Kulshan. It has the second-most thermally active crater in the Cascades (Mt. St. Helens is the most active).

Skyline Divide is a tough hike, climbing roughly 2000 feet in less than two miles before you get to the ridge, which you can hike for several miles more. The views from the ridge are worth it, though, even with the flies you have to contend with before you break above the tree line.

Mt. Shuksan, looking picture-perfect as always.

I have a hard time drumming up much to say about base building, but I'm feeling strong as I head into the last two weeks before marathon training starts. Yesterday, I headed up to LA for a Flywheel class and breakfast with my friend Nicole, from law school, who I hadn't seen in a few months. I have some referral credits to use at Flywheel, but the only location is in LA, which is too far to go for a 45 minute class, even if it's free, so I was glad she was willing to give Flywheel a try with me. We took Lacey Stone's class since I'd heard great things about her teaching style.

The class was great and Nicole really enjoyed her first spin experience. Even better, without even feeling like I was killing myself, I beat my previous record power score by 21 points. That previous PR power score? It was from October 2013, a week before I ran the Chicago Marathon, when I was at peak marathon fitness.

I think I'm in much better shape now than I was then, especially when I look at the times I was running in my 2013 log versus what feels easy now. I'm excited to see how well I can extend that fitness to the marathon distance once I start training.

I believe I've mentioned previously that I'm doing an 18 week training plan for the California International Marathon (CIM). I know it's a long training cycle, but Coach Jess and I agreed that with my unpredictable work schedule, it makes sense to build in extra weeks as a cushion for any craziness that comes up at work.

I'm getting really excited to start marathon training. I have a lot more to talk about when I'm pursuing a plan versus just focusing on getting in quality workouts to build up my base. Plenty of running has been happening (about 20-25 miles a week), and a fair amount on trails, which makes the miles both more challenging and more fun.

In related and extremely exciting news, we're moving to a lovely townhouse that is next to a paved path system that circulates through all of Irvine and covers at least 50 miles total, is close to several trails, and is within a 5 minute drive of Back Bay and a track for speed workouts. We're moving at the end of August, and I'm psyched. It's a place we can see ourselves living for a few years until we can afford to buy a house. After moving every year in all but one of the past eight years (and often moving more than once each year), we are excited to be "settled".

Okay, picture time. Mostly from an incredibly gorgeous evening run I did along the Pacific Ridge of Crystal Cove State Park, but also one from a lovely sunset run I had at Back Bay a few days ago.

It drives me crazy how the San Gabriel mountains never really "pop" in pictures. In reality, they're 9-10,000 ft. tall!

Monday, June 29, 2015

Pre-Marathon Strength Training: Week 4 Workout Log

Last week was pretty awesome on the training front,  until it wasn't.

Friday after work, I hit the hills for some trail miles, and apparently I rolled my ankle pretty badly. The problem with me and rolling my ankles is that every single time it's happened, it seems incredibly minor and I don't feel like I've done any damage. I trip on a near-daily basis, and it's difficult for me to tell the difference between rolling my ankle and losing my balance. So every single time I've rolled my ankle, I don't really realize I did any damage until it starts hurting the following day, when I think back to what could have caused the pain and realize, "oh right, I kind of rolled my ankle while running, didn't I?"

Trail miles are so pretty, why can't my legs cooperate...
I guess my "minor trip" on Friday evening's trail run messed up my ankle, because late Saturday it started hurting, so I canceled my planned Sunday morning trail run with a friend.

So, I'll be spending the first part of this week avoiding weight-bearing cardio. I'll see how my planned lower body weights workout goes tonight, and will scratch anything that seems to hurt my ankle. Cardio will be swimming for the next few days because I'm determined to rehab this ankle ASAP so I can get in some mileage while I'm up in WA. It's going to be gorgeous up there this weekend! I AM SO EXCITED. Country July 4th's are the best.

In terms of future preventative care, once my ankle feels better, I'll be adding calf raises and more ankle exercises, because I love trails too much to give them up, but I've rolled my ankle out there too many times. I'm also going to look into purchasing trail running shoes with greater ankle support that are closer to the ground. I've been wearing my beloved Saucony Kinvaras, and apparently the added height can increase your chances of rolling your ankles.

Pre-Marathon Strength Training: Week 4 Workout Log

Since my sister and brother-in-law were visiting, I didn't want to spend much more than an hour at the gym or running most days, so I changed up my workouts a bit, only doing cardio and weights together on one day.

Monday: Lower body lifting workout.

Tuesday: 5.5 miles at Back Bay.

Wednesday: Upper body lifting workout.

Thursday: 20 minutes intervals (3.65 miles total, incl. 5 min. w/u and c/d) + lower body lifting workout.

Friday: 5 miles on trails at Crystal Cove (I start from Coastal Peak Park for free parking).

Saturday: Off (walking around Santa Monica and Venice Beach).

I had never explored the canals, so it was fun to walk around the beautiful little houses and feel jealous of the people who live there. We briefly chatted with someone as she walked from a neighbor's house to her own, and apparently a lot of the people in the area actually grew up there, so they aren't all millionaires (in terms of salaries, at least; the homes are all worth well over $1 million).


Do I have good looking family members or what?

Sunday: Off, RICE-ing my ankle.

BOO. I'm annoyed. Running has been feeling great lately and I was excited to get in a long run with my friend Allie while she was in the area.

Total Mileage = 13.15 miles

Do you have any ankle strengthening exercise recommendations? Trail running shoe recommendations? General tips to not hurt myself?