8 Apr 2014, 1:09pm

checking in again

with those goals of mine.

1. run enough to run healthy

i have been in physical therapy for several months now, and I AM RUNNING AGAIN… sort of. a few times a week, i get to spend twenty minutes or so alternating two minutes of walking with two minutes of easy jogging on a soft surface — so far, the 1/3-mile track about ten minutes by bike from my apartment (spoiler alert — i got an apartment!). i have done this a few times so far. the second and third times, i was completely pain-free.

i’m gonna say that again. PAIN-FREE!

the fourth time, my foot started hurting halfway through my planned intervals, so i stopped and went home and stuck it in a bowl full of ice water and sighed.

i’m doing my best to listen to my physical therapist and not push too fast or get too ambitious or impatient — which, it’s worth noting, has been a little difficult. um, before that first PT-approved jog around the track, there was a spur-of-the-moment nighttime half-mile run through my neighborhood that i definitely regretted the next morning, when i was not-so-pain-free.

it turns out that “running healthy” is, for me, not just about running enough to not be undertrained for events (which was my working hypothesis). i have been injured twice now in roughly the same way (soft tissue damage on the tops of my feet near my toes a.k.a. extensor tendonitis), and i am trying my damnedest to understand and modify my running mechanics to hopefully prevent any further injuries.

the other week, my PT videotaped (how’s that for an anachronistic expression? ipadded?) my running gait on the treadmill and showed me how i push off with the sides of my feet, which is putting extra stress on the tendons over there. she told me to focus on pushing off with my big toe, to balance out my body’s tendency to do the opposite. my right big toe — that’s my currently-injured foot — is chronically stiff, to the extent that my PT is theorizing that i’ve got some arthritis in there. at a certain point it’s a chicken-or-egg problem, but my body’s compensation for that problem would go at least partway to explaining my problematic mechanics and my injury. i am stretching it regularly and keeping an eye on it. and i’m considering buying a pair of more cushioned, less flexible shoes, at least for hard surfaces (whenever i’m able to run on those again — sure miss being able to run right outside my door).

i am also working on my strength and balance and all that good stuff. planks 4eva.

2. complete a 50km trail race

i emailed the race director for the smith rock ascent a while ago and dropped down to the 15-mile distance. i’m not sure whether or not i’ll be able to run it. my PT didn’t write off the possibility entirely when i asked her about it, so hey.

i’m not going after this goal too hard. i want to step back and make sure i’m progressing at a healthy, sustainable pace. so maybe my new goal is: train smartly. here are some guidelines i’d like to follow once i’m running regularly again. or, well, now. i am running regularly now. three or four miles a week, two minutes at a time. anyway:

– increase weekly mileage by no more than 10% each week.
– longest run of the week should be no more than 50% of total weekly mileage.
– at least two rest days per week.
– at least every fourth week should be an easier week.
– no shame in maintaining or even decreasing mileage from week to week, according to the feedback i receive from my body.
– no registering for races until i’m running long runs that are at least 80% the length of the race. yup, this might mean missing out on some cool events, and that’s okay. if i’m smart, i’ve got years and years of running ahead of me. i’ll have other opportunities.

i don’t think i can follow those guidelines and run a 50k before the end of the year (not quite). so be it.

i’m not sure i can run that 15-mile race in june if i follow those guidelines, either. i’m bummed.

i ran a marathon a year ago yesterday. the extra six miles from there to 50k are taking longer than i thought they would. but um. it’s a marathon, not a sprint, as they say?

(from buzzfeed)

3. invest time and money in my photography business and make it awesome

re: time — damn is it ever hard to find time while working full-time at another job. re: money — i just don’t have it right now. see below (move-in costs!), and also above (physical therapy costs money). that said, i’ve spent a couple days recently experiencing what it would be like to be doing photo stuff full time, and it would be pretty fucking great. i have been doing a lot of important but as-yet inconclusive thinking about my career and the direction in which i’d like to move in my working life.

here’s a photo i took this past week of a production of julius caesar at reed:

4. move out of my parents’ place

CHECK! i moved into a studio apartment in mid-february. signed the lease and got the keys on valentine’s day. i love living alone. i love my neighborhood. i love my big ol’ south-facing windows. it’s pretty much everything i dreamed of. i’m still working on making the place what i want it to be — hanging pictures and so on. but it’s getting there. my bathroom is all pink (pink towels, pink bathmat, pink shower curtain, a pink print on the wall). no one has to like it but me.

5. do an unassisted pull-up

working on it. i’ve been climbing at the bouldering gym on a pretty regular basis since december-ish. last weekend i sent my first v3, which felt awesome. a while back i got really frustrated with my foot injury and thought to myself, “damn it, if i can’t run, i’m just gonna climb ALL THE TIME and get really good at that instead.” i guess i tend towards extremes sometimes. i climbed three nights in a row and my arms hurt for days. not in a good way.

i’ve been trying to listen to my body. i have not been super disciplined about doing pull-up practice NO MATTER WHAT because my body has told me that isn’t cool. my elbows were doing this funky pain thing for a while. it might have had something to do with how carelessly i was sitting at my desk at work. not exactly ergonomically, i mean. it’s all related. getting sun and sleep and good eats — all these things will help my body heal and get stronger and let me do the things i want to do with it.

so anyway, i haven’t really checked in on my progress towards this goal in a measurable way in a little while. but i can do negatives/eccentric pull-ups hella slowly. and if i start at the bottom, hanging from my pull-up bar (i put up a pull-up bar in the kitchen doorway of my apartment, of course!), i can noticeably bend my arms a little bit.

6. ride bikes on dirt

the weather is getting nicer and i’m getting psyched for summer. my boss says i can borrow his wife’s old mountain bike sometime.

7. practice vulnerability and intimacy

it’s hard to measure progress on this. i sort of feel like i’m throwing stuff at the walls around me so i can see them. like they’re force fields — the spark when something hits lets me know where they are. i’m trying to be brave, vulnerable, and compassionate with the people in my life, and with MYSELF, which is possibly even harder.

i’m really into brené brown’s book daring greatly, by the way. can’t recommend it enough. here’s a sneak preview of sorts.

5 Feb 2014, 9:22pm
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checking in

hiya, blog. it’s been a while. in december, i set some goals for 2014. somehow, it’s already february, and i wanted to check in about how i’m doing with them. here they are.

1. run enough to run healthy (i.e., stop getting injured when i push hard at road races, which happened several times in 2013)

i haven’t run since december 1st, when i totally rocked the seattle half marathon, finishing in less than two hours and blowing my previous PR out of the water. an hour or so later, my foot was killing me. my injury is similar to the injury i sustained at my marathon in april, except on the other foot. i’m not sure what is causing these injuries, exactly (my shoes? my stride? running on concrete and asphalt? undertraining? probably not overtraining), but i have been seeing a physical therapist, working on my strength, and cross-training by bouldering, lifting, swimming from time to time, and using the elliptical. at this point, my foot doesn’t hurt most of the time, but it’s still stiff and sore when i wake up in the morning, and i’m not ready to run again. i want to do recovery right, i.e. slowly — i think i said that last time, and then i got excited to be running again, and running fast, too.

here’s a way to think about this: months and months ago, when i had more free time and was spending a lot of it consuming all the media related to ultrarunning that i could get my hands on, i read this blog post, the gist of which is: training for an ultra? everything is ultra training! and then today i read this interview with ultrarunning legend ann trason, in which the interviewer says of trason’s recent decade-long break from ultrarunning:

“Sometimes, in a really long ultra, we’ve got to take a long break. We’re talking a nap on a cot, an hour in the chair, four pukes in the woods, some period of time where we sit things out and let our bodies and minds undergo a system re-set. After that, we get up and go again.”

good metaphor, right? apply it literally to running a race. apply it figuratively to training for the race. to running in general. to the pursuit of just about any goal. so, i’m still training. still pursuing these goals. one way, if not another.

2. complete a 50km trail race

see above. i registered for june’s smith rock ascent 50k before getting injured, but i’m pretty sure that particular race is not realistically in reach. in december, thinking my injury would heal quickly, i wrote out a long training plan and copied each run into my 2014 planner. every day or two i cross another one out. with any luck, i’ll be able to run the 15-mile race instead.

when i’m back to running, i’ll recalibrate my goals. some possibilities: the mckenzie river trail run (september), the oregon coast 50k (october), the silver falls 50k (november), or the frozen trail runfest (december).

3. invest time and money in my photography business and make it awesome

i wish i had more time for this, but that’s not a good excuse. i am working with a graphic designer friend on polishing my branding, and hope to get a proper portfolio website together soon. i just set up my first google adwords campaign. i photographed an elopement last week. it was great. want to do more.

4. move out of my parents’ place (heeeeey)

i think i’m less than a month away from this. i’ve never lived alone before — i lived in dorms in high school, and dorms and shared apartments and houses in college and afterwards. i’ve been staying with my folks since i left california this past summer. soon i will have my own small studio apartment. my own kitchen. i mean, shared with ravi & anoushka, of course. i’m sure they will make themselves at home.

5. do an unassisted pull-up

now this i have been really plugging away at. practicing negatives (jumping up to the bar and lowering myself as slowly as possible), practicing with the assisted pull-up machine at the gym (i can do three pull-ups with 40lbs of assist weight), bouldering at the climbing gym, working on my strength. wanna see my guns? here’s where i’m at, today –

yup, i just put a picture of myself flexing my not-very-impressive(-yet) biceps on the internet.

6. ride bikes on dirt (xc and/or cx!!)

this is something i intend to do this summer.

7. practice vulnerability and intimacy

this is #&%!ing hard, but i’m trying.

11 Apr 2013, 10:12am
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SLO(w) and unsteady (san luis obispo marathon report)

I finished the SLO marathon on Sunday (spoiler alert). I am really sort of struggling to come up with words to describe it. It was easy, and hard, and really easy, and really, really hard.

We drove down to SLO on Saturday — picked up my mom at the San Francisco airport and headed south. Checked into our hotel (which my mom chose out and generously paid for, a super-convenient two-minute walk from the start line — VERY appreciated the next morning when everyone else was waking up at ridiculous-o’-clock to catch a shuttle bus) and then went to scope out the finish area and expo and get my race packet and all of that stuff. Saturday night was the Team In Training “inspiration dinner”; I showed up early and helped my team’s mentors and captains shake cowbells at everyone arriving.

(me with my mentors, Rachel & Marssie)

TNT had a bunch of regional teams from all over California participating in the event; a bit less than 200 runners total, I think. Cumulatively we raised half a million bucks for the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society. Anyway there were carbs and speeches and then they sent us home to sleep. Or lie in bed, anyway.

One of my teammates kindly brought me some puff paint so I could add my name to my jersey, so I did that, showered, braided my hair, and then unpacked the GPS watch I’d finally bit the bullet and bought and had my mom bring down from Portland for me (my folks run a bike shop that conveniently carries such things). I poked around at it until past when I ought to have been lying horizontal in the dark, shrugged, and added it to my stuff laid out for the next morning:

I set my alarm for the entirely reasonable hour of 4:30. I actually woke up at 3:30, managed to kinda sleep again until 4:00, and then gave up and got up, got dressed, got breakfasted, and sat around until my mom was ready to walk me over to the start. I found some of my teammates back at the 5:00 pace corral and we chatted nervously until the minutes had ticked past to almost 6 and the powers that be encouraged us to move towards the start line. Dean Karnazes made some bad jokes, someone sang the national anthem, and then we were off!

Along with a few other teammates, I started the race with my teammate and mentor Rachel, who does a five-to-one run/walk ratio. We ran the first five minutes and then walked — she took an extra walk through the next interval to warm up, and since I was trying to take it easy what with my cold and all, I walked with her. After the next run interval, I kept going.

My pace for the first few miles (except for the walking at the beginning) was pretty similar to what I’d been doing during long training runs — 12:30-ish minutes per mile. The half marathon runners had started a half hour after us, and a little less than an hour in, the lead half marathoner’s bicycle escort passed me, followed shortly thereafter by the lead half marathoner himself, and soon after that a whole slew of very fast runners. I started speeding up too, without really intending to. There were plenty of purple-shirted TNT runners to exchange “go team!”s with as they ran past. The next few miles passed quickly. Somewhere in there I saw my coach Geoff, I think. He was happy to see me doing well and not suffering from my cold. I also remember passing a TNT booth where our team manager Liz was hanging out with a cowbell cheering for us.

After the half marathon turn-around, the road got a bit lonelier, and I plugged my headphones into my phone and turned on some music. I felt great. I remember at one point having a kinda spiritual experience while listening to Ke$ha’s “Tik Tok” of all things: “you build me up / you break me down / my heart, it pounds / yeah, you got me / with my hands up…” I kept cruising and started to keep an eye on my fancy new watch. I was running 11:30 miles like it wasn’t no thing. I felt like I had a lot more in me. When I hit the halfway point at around 2:40, I thought: whatEVER, I can totally run the second half in 2:20 and make 5:00. LET’S GO.

And I went. Miles 13-19 or so rocked. I pushed my pace a bit and my splits here look like: 10:25 / 11:04 / 10:56 / 10:29. I hit the marathon turnaround and passed Rachel going in the opposite direction, cheered her enthusiastically and kept going. Geoff was somewhere along the course in here and he ran with me a little ways. I was feeling pretty high here. Pretty sure Geoff tried to temper my enthusiasm a bit but I was not gonna be dampened. Especially when he pointed out a runner just ahead who turned out to be my mentor Marssie, who I had never come close to passing in training. In retrospect, I should’ve taken a hint from that. Instead, I waved goodbye to Geoff (”see you at the finish!”) and caught her. I was imagining my triumphant finish and in my head I was already checking off the goals I’d set (finish, finish happy, finish strong, finish in under 5 hours) — “check, check, check, MOTHERFUCKIN’ CHECK!” (Hubris.)

(I’m not actually sure where on the course these photos were taken, but there you go.)

There were some hills in this section, and it was starting to get a bit harder, but I was close to the 20-mile mark — the “just a 10k to go!” mark. I hit it, passed it, and tried to up the pace again. I ran the 21st mile in 11 minutes even. Then I got to the 21st mile marker, and… here’s where, when I told the story to my teammates later, I gestured with my hands diving towards the ground and then exploding. With sound effects.

I walked the next four miles. Marssie passed me again, of course. The barefoot guy I’d passed a little bit before (whose feet were clearly very tender at that point) passed me too. I’m not really sure what happened exactly. My calves were tight and my left groin muscle was kinda twinge-y and weird; I couldn’t seem to stretch it out. I don’t know if those are things I couldn’t have run through. Maybe I lost the mental game when I realized I might not make my 5:00 goal after all (I was not getting the speed I was hoping for for the effort I was putting in). Maybe I had really outrun my body’s capabilities. I was surprised to discover that “the wall” is not the same thing as a bonk. I have bonked before, on bike rides — not getting enough calories or salt sucks. That was not my problem on Sunday. I was hydrating and fueling like a machine. I was totally on the ball as far as that went. I guess, like a machine — the tank was full but the engine wouldn’t start.

I think I’d also expected to be back in town at this point (we were out in farmland/vineyards outside of town for much of the race) and thought there’d be more spectators, but no cigar. Let’s be real — even when I did get back into town, I’m sure many folks who’d been out to cheer had long ago gotten bored and gone home. There were a few awesome folks out, and a lot of the race volunteers and course marshals were great about cheering and encouraging runners, though.

I got back to the TNT booth I’d passed earlier and Liz very kindly walked with me for quite a while, telling me about hitting the wall at her first marathon. She headed back to her post and I walked on into town — kept telling myself, “I’ll run after the next aid station” or “I’ll run when I get to the next mile marker.” I finally started running when the course turned onto a multi-use path, with maybe two miles to go, hoping to keep my time under 5:30. Running actually kind of made my groin muscle hurt less, but everything else hurt more (my calves were so tight it felt like there were baseballs shoved in there underneath my skin. Or something). Anyway, I was shortly thwarted by a bridge over some railroad tracks with steep ramps at either end. I ran again on the other side, though, and managed to shuffle-run the rest of the way to the finish. I felt really, really slow, but apparently ran the last mile and a half at a 12-minute pace. Right before the downhill finish, we crossed under the highway and then went up a little hill. I think it was on this little hill that I felt the first sharp pain in my left foot. I kept running because at that point there was no. other. option.

At the top of the hill (pretty sure it would not qualify as a hill in any other context), with the finish line in sight, a TNT coach I didn’t know (from the LA team) greeted me — my mom had been talking with him and sent him to run me in. He was very nice and chatted with me for a minute, then peeled off to let me run the last few hundred meters by myself. I smiled at my mom and my teammates as I passed them and high-fived Andrew as I passed him.

About ten feet from the finish I burst into tears. It was a completely unexpected and completely uncontrollable reaction. I shook my head, wiped my eyes, put my arms up and a smile on my face to run across the line, got my medal, started crying again, and stumbled past the “finish photo” set-up mumbling “not right now.” I was simultaneously happy and proud and completely devastated, by which I mean empty — without reserves of emotional and physical energy — just totally spent.

I had to walk through a “recovery tent” sponsored by Jamba Juice that contained NO JUICE (their logo had been on the mile markers, along with silly taglines, some of which referenced the AWESOME JUICE they were going to give us at the finish line, so I felt pretty let down), just lots of sweet snacks that looked utterly unappealing (I had been force-feeding myself sweet stuff for 26.2 miles). I wandered in it for a moment, disoriented and crying and avoiding eye contact with the volunteers (I was the only runner in there), grabbed some apple chips and walked back out onto the grass. Andrew and my mom were walking towards me and I burst into tears again.

That and the next bit of this report probably sounds like complaining, but I was not at all unhappy, exactly. I felt awesome, too. I have no idea how to effectively communicate what was going on in my head and body.

All I wanted to do was take off my shoes and lie down on the grass. Eventually they let me. I peeled off my socks and discovered I’d totally destroyed two toenails, despite zero blister or toenail problems in training. Big ol’ blisters underneath them and weird discoloration. Pretty sure I will be losing them in the near future. The medic who my mom eventually had me talk to told me they grow back in six months to a year. This was not a disappointment — just something to note. It happens. At least I won’t have to worry about those particular toenails in my next few races. ;)

My official time, conveniently texted to my mom, who’d set up her phone to receive updates every time I crossed a timing pad — technology is nifty! — was 5:30:40.

I was pretty sure that I have a stress fracture in the third metatarsal of my left foot. A few days later, it’s feeling a little better…

I got some ice for my feet and sat in the sun by the TNT tent. Eventually a volunteer came by with smoothies, partially redeeming the lack of juice in the recovery tent. I was not at all hungry for anything else. Geoff came by too and only kinda-sorta said “I told you so” (kindly). I hoped to see Rachel finish but didn’t feel capable of getting up. We ended up passing like ships in the night, I think, but I saw her out at a bar later that night.

When Andrew and my mom got me back to the hotel, I took a shower, got dressed, and tried unsuccessfully to eat some chips and guacamole from the Mexican restaurant next door. I felt kinda headachey, dizzy, and nauseous. So I took a nap instead, and woke up a few hours later feeling much refreshed and, at last, hungry. We went out to dinner and then dropped my mom off at the hotel again so we could go hang out with a bunch of my teammates and celebrate.

3 Apr 2013, 12:13pm
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here we go here we go here we go

I am running my first marathon on Sunday. Therefore?, I came down with a cold on Monday evening. I have been chowing down on vitamins and Emergen-C and hot tea with honey and massive amounts of lemon. Just hoping for the best, I guess. I hadn’t gotten sick in ages — my third year working with snotty preschool or elementary school kids and I figured I’d already gotten every cold bug west of the Rockies (the first year was rough). Guess not! But I won’t get this one again. Isn’t that how it works?

Other than that, I feel ready. I wanna go pound it out. I’m psyched. A week and a half ago I ran 20 miles — my last training run with TNT. Went great! Didn’t track it on my phone or look at the time when I started or finished, which I think worked in my favor. I was slow, for sure, but steady. Once you’ve got steady, fast starts to come, right? I think so. I’ve got as long as I need.

(The last turnaround / pow! pow! Killed it! / “Ice bath” in the ocean.)

The week before that, I made an arguably misguided decision to run my first trail race and second half-marathon race at the Rodeo Valley Trail Run. It was kickass, by which I mean it kicked my ass. I went by myself, which meant I spent 45 minute or so before the race standing around sort of awkwardly thinking about how I gotta make some trail running friends. The race itself felt smaller and more casual than either of the races I’d run previously — instead of a big arch and/or balloons, the finish line was marked by cones and a banner off to one side reading “finish,” and race staff wrote down runners’ times as they came through. The start line was another set of cones set up a couple minutes before the start, which was marked by a countdown on a bullhorn. The 30k and 50k runners started first, and then us half-marathoners a quarter of an hour or so later. And we were off!

The route started out going up a big hill, which was a sign of things to come. I was not super steady in this race. I ran the first five miles or so somewhat, er, ambitiously. I warmed up quickly and ran most of the race with my light jacket tied around my waist — next time I’ll shiver at the start line instead. Or take a page from my bike touring experience and wear arm warmers I can roll down to my wrists. Anyway, I came into the first aid station feeling great.

(Feeling good; looking ridiculous. What is going on in this photo??)

In the middle section of the race (miles 6-9?) I fell in with two or three other women who were running at about the same pace as me. I kept stopping to take photos with my phone of the trail and the fog (which were quite pretty) and leapfrogging with them. I chatted with them a bit and we worried together about being lost when we hadn’t seen hide or hair of any other runners for awhile, nor any ribbons marking the course. Eventually ribbons appeared and the trail started to head downhill for awhile, and the other women pulled ahead of me, and I didn’t see them again. I do not feel at all confident running down hills! I worry about hurting my joints and/or crashing to the ground. Things to practice!

After the second aid station there was a long climb that I pretty much totally failed to run up. I got passed a lot here, though mostly by quick 30k and 50k runners, I think (they ran another loop from the second aid station, to make a figure-8, before continuing on the same loop we were on). I was feeling really tired, and the hills kept coming. The sun was finally coming out and the views were getting more and more beautiful, but I was beat. The last couple of miles were narrow, technical trail up and down and up and down. I stood aside a lot to let faster runners pass. Towards the end I was passed by the tall, graceful woman who was just behind me in that photo taken at the first aid station — she cheered me on and then rocked the last downhill to the finish line. I followed as best I could and finished a little over a minute behind her.

I was hoping I’d broken three hours; I wasn’t sure what time we’d started but I knew it was a little later than the advertised start time. Turns out I finished in 2:42:27! Yes slower than my first half marathon (at 2:24:42) but with more than three times the elevation gain and more technical trails. I was pleased.

Instead of medals, they gave out mugs and then served soup in them. Nice.

One more running milestone to share — not the first time I’d wiped out (that was a few months ago), but the first time running made me bleed –

(On a run around my neighborhood on Monday.)

9 Mar 2013, 8:21pm
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super sore vs. Super Soar

Hey bloggity blog: I am super sore. Previously, perhaps, I have been Super Soar, my superhero alter-ego as captured in this photo from earlier this week:

But that was before today’s 18-mile training run.

Got through it, albeit slowly. I can’t figure out how I ran that half marathon at a just-over-eleven-minutes-per-mile pace. It took me just short of four hours to run 18 miles. And by “just short,” I mean I had about twenty seconds to spare. I’ve been hoping to finish my marathon (four weeks from tomorrow!) in under five hours, which seemed possible in light of my half marathon time and now seems somewhat discouragingly out of reach. Or maybe race energy is just that powerful? (Powerful enough to transform me once again into… Super Soar!?)

So, here. My goals for April 7th:
1. Finish in under five hours.
2. If I can’t do that, finish strong.
3. Or at least finish happy.
4. Barring that, finish.

And then, keep going. A year ago the idea of running 18 miles was unthinkable — I mean, it did not cross my mind at all as a thing to do. If it had, it would have seemed impossible. But today I did it. So, hey. I will get faster. I will get stronger. I am already faster and stronger.

(The turnaround of one of today’s run’s out-and-backs.)

17 Feb 2013, 1:11pm
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alone in the woods

I returned one of the pairs of shoes I posted at the end of my last entry, went for a 6.5-mile run in the other, cleaned off the soles, packed ‘em up, and returned them too. They made my foot all tingly and felt weird and heavy (forgive the technical jargon). Last Saturday I ran 14 miles in my Merrell Pace Gloves with no problems. If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it?

However, after six months running exclusively in minimalist shoes (and a little time before that running short distances in huaraches or barefoot), my toes bump right up against the end of my Pace Gloves. I have gained at least half a shoe size! More toe spread? Bigger foot muscles? Falling arches (I hope not, and I don’t think so)? They are still comfy enough to run in, but between that and the wear on the soles, I told myself yesterday when I went out for my run that if I could run 10km in less than an hour, I’d buy myself a new pair. And:

Don’t worry, I won’t make a habit of sharing screengrabs like this. I was pretty psyched, though; notice I didn’t even pause the app before taking the screengrab! The internet says this means I should in theory be capable of running a marathon in 4 hours and 33 minutes. Hah! Hah! — Assuming my phone didn’t mess up the distance too badly. That 14-mile run? My phone said it was 15 and a quarter! False. I want a GPS watch for my birthday. Anyway, it’s good enough for me, and regardless, new shoes are on the way.

Last Monday I went for a hike-slash-trail-run in Marin; I did a loop from Stinson Beach as recommended in this post: Dipsea Trail to Steep Ravine Trail up to Pantoll Ranger Station, then Matt Davis Trail back down to Stinson. Steep Ravine was so beautiful, you guys. And yes, pretty steep. It is a stretch to call what I did trail “running.” But I didn’t mind, because I felt like I was hiking in the Shire. I am thinking about it now and daydreaming about being back on that trail. I would do it every day if I could, until I could run the whole thing, but I’d walk anyway to make it last longer.

The Matt Davis Trail was all right, too ;) –

I don’t think I’d ever really gone on a substantial (this one was 7.5 miles) hike by myself before, and it was really nice to be able to move at my own pace and take as many silly timer self-portraits as I wanted. Which I did, clearly. When I got back into town, I had some time to kill before I needed to get back on the road to meet A. for pizza in Berkeley, so I went to my favorite secluded beach near the farm where I lived and worked in 2011… which resulted in this, which pretty much sums up how I felt about the day:

29 Jan 2013, 12:04pm
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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)