29 Jan 2013, 12:04pm
1 comment

coyote hills half marathon (and some other stuff about running)

Hello, long-neglected blog o’ mine.

No one in my real life wants to hear all the details of my running hobby, which is currently consuming vast swaths of my time and even vaster swaths of my braintime. When I am not running, I am thinking about running. When I am running, I am thinking about absolutely nothing. Or, I seem to have some kind of running-induced amnesia. When I finish a run, I have no idea what was occupying my mind while I ran; I just know that I feel good. Yup, all that cliché shit about how forcing one foot in front of the other until your legs ache and you’re breathing hard is “amazing” and “addictive” turns out to actually be true.

So, on this blog that I originally intended as a “travel blog” in the loosest sense of the word, I’ll write about this kind of travel, too. Moving myself through space — albeit often in circles.

ANYWAY, dear blog, I ran my first half marathon on Saturday! It was awesome. It was the Coyote Hills Half Marathon, at Coyote Hills Regional Park in Fremont. The course included paved path, dirt road, a little bit of singletrack, and some wooden boardwalk, and probably two-thirds of it or more ran right along the bay. Very pretty. Sarah drove me there and she and Jack were great moral support, took some photos (I guess that part was more Sarah than Jack), and greeted me enthusiastically at the end of my first loop (of two) and at the finish line.

(at the start line)

(that pretty wooden boardwalk I mentioned. I took this photo on the second lap, by which point everyone was pretty spread out; this section was at the beginning of the course and our first time through was pretty crowded.)

(there were several volunteer photographers out on the course snapping photos, which were later uploaded for anyone to download for free! I skimmed for my turquoise shirt and found a couple photos I like. Note that photo on the right ’cause it’s relevant to discussion of the awesomeness of singletrack later in this entry!)

(Jack waiting for me at the finish!)

Some notes:

* I slowed down at the second aid station to check out the offerings. There were m&ms, which looked great, so I grabbed one of the little dixie cups they were in and tossed it back, expecting just a few. Ended up with a mouthful of candy and chocolate that I had to hurriedly chew and swallow before I choked. Whoops.

* For reference for future me, this was my Fueling Strategy (can I say that with a straight face?): I carried my handheld water bottle and refilled it once at the end of the first loop. I should have refilled it more than that or carried a slightly bigger bottle; even so this worked way better for me than just drinking at the aid stations would have, since I could space out my sips. I did also grab and toss back a cup of sports drink at almost every aid station (every few miles). In the pocket on my bottle I had some ginger chews and some mango-flavored chewing licorice; I ate a little of both of those in addition to the rather unfortunate mouthful of m&ms and a few fig newtons from another aid station. I was hoping for pretzels (salty!) and might bring my own next time. Even better, peanut butter pretzels.

* I spent the whole first lap leapfrogging with a guy in a blue vest, until the little bit of uphill singletrack towards the end of the loop, when I stayed right on his tail on the way up, passed him at the top, and didn’t see him again until after I’d finished. On the second lap, I came up behind some folks walking on the singletrack, pushed them up by breathing on their necks (I remember warning, “coming up behind you!” since there was no place to pass — they started running again), passed them at the top and bombed towards the finish line. The short section of singletrack was my favorite part, twice. I want to do more trail running! In fact, I can say with a certain amount of surety that the San Luis Obispo (or, SLO(w)) Marathon will be my first and last road marathon. Why pound the pavement on paths designed for cars when you can run surrounded by trees and nature and beautiful views and all that good stuff? Plus, I hear road races just have goo at their aid stations; no m&ms and fig newtons and orange slices or delicious ice cream sandwiches at the finish.

* There were delicious ice cream sandwiches at the finish.

* I finished in 2:24:45 (chip time). This means I beat my stated goal/expectation of 2:45 (I had never run the distance before, but my first ten-mile run took just under two hours) AND my secret goal of 2:30, but not my even secret-er goal of 2:15. I was worried because my recent runs had been (and, honestly, continue to be) super slow, but race energy is a great motivator! I didn’t feel like I was working harder — I was just having so much fun! Even had a kick at the end and spent the last half mile or so picking people off (see above re: singletrack). Awesome.

* The weather was SO PERFECT. The forecast a few days before was for showers, and it looked that way until about a mile into the race. After that, I was actually overdressed (though not by too much) in my long sleeves.

In conclusion, I had so much fun (OMG!).

I have been excitedly dreaming up new goals and lists of races I want to run, and kicking myself for getting excited about this thing with, like, the exact same season as wedding photography (summer weekends). The other day I turned down a wedding photography client for the first time ever… because I will be in Portland running this (the marathon, hell yeah) on her wedding day. So, in the interests of prioritizing BOTH this new awesome thing that makes me feel so good AND the well-being of my little growing business, I thought I’d make some plans and stick to them. Here is my, uh, potential Race Calendar (can I say that? Am I a “real” enough runner?) for summer 2013:

April 7th: SLO(w) Marathon.

May 19th: Bay to Breakers. 12km. A San Francisco institution, as they say. Costumes and drinking and I guess some running or something. I’m shooting a wedding the night before so I don’t expect to take this one seriously, but I don’t think anyone does anyway.

June 9th: the Dipsea Race, if I can get an entry. 7.4 miles from Mill Valley to Stinson Beach; the oldest trail race in America. Lots of hills and lots of stairs. They have a cool system of handicaps whereby everyone gets a certain head start time except, like, the 20-something men, so kids and grandmothers have all won the race in the past.

July 6th: the Dirty Dozen 6- or 12-hour endurance run. So, I have this idea about running 28 miles for my 28th birthday (on July 9th). This event is “how far can you go in this much time?” rather than “how quickly can you go this distance?” which sounds really fun — you do a 3.xx-mile loop over and over again and can see your friends every lap and run with all kinds of people and take breaks if you want and the whole thing sounds like a big party + awesome physical achievement. I think I could probably train for this post-SLO, except that a few weeks later I will be running the following…

July 27th: the Wildwood Trail Marathon, in Forest Park in Portland. Perfect to plan a mini-vacation to Portland around, plus running my first trail marathon in (not near, in!) my favorite city sounds great. I am already registered for this.

So! In the meantime, my training for the SLO Marathon is progressing, my fundraising is not so much (uhhh), and I am trying to decide which of these running shoes to keep and which to return (both are cushioned zero-drop shoes, which I want for long road runs in the interests of my body holding together for this marathon — one more reason I want to RUN MORE TRAILS!) –

(Altra Zero Drop Intuition 1.5’s, Merrell Bare Access Arc 2’s, and awesome dinosaur socks that my mom gave me for xmas)