Wednesday, November 05, 2014

2014 goal achieved!!

This morning's run took me over 2000 miles for the year.  It feels pretty great to meet this goal with so many weeks left in the year.  Awesome!

Saturday, November 01, 2014

Monday, October 20, 2014

Nike Women's Half Marathon San Francisco

Last year I ran the Nike Women's Marathon in San Francisco.  I met five girlfriends from Carlsbad there for a girls' weekend of fun memory-making that included the race.  They all ran the half marathon, some together but most individually.

This year we decided to try our luck again with the notion that if we got in we'd run it TOGETHER.  Nike had decided to make it a Half Marathon event only so it'd be perfect for the six of us to experience together.  Unfortunately, our group was not selected.

Several weeks after the disappointing news, I was at a Neighborhood Block Party that our old neighbors in Portland were having.  Another friend from the old hood who also did not get in and asked if I was going to try for the Second Chance drawing.  Who?What?Where?When?How??  I hadn't received this e-mail from Nike Women's that she spoke of.  She forwarded it to me on the spot.  The window frame was really short so quick decisions had to be made.

I immediately texted my girlfriends in Carlsbad. Some were not interested and that was understandable.  The Second Chance would not be a group entry; everyone was on their own.  Three of us decided to throw our names in again.  Only two of us got in.

Melanie and I began to make plans for our much-smaller and shorter girls' weekend in San Francisco.  Her kids have the two weeks following the race off from school so they were going to make it part of their family vacation.  We decided to meet up Saturday to do the expo, stay downtown together Saturday night and run the half marathon together.  She had started training for her first marathon (Carlsbad Marathon in January 2015) so the Nike Women's HM fell perfectly into her training schedule.  We would run the race as a training run for her.  I had just run the Portland Marathon two weeks earlier so a slightly easier pace (for me) sounded perfect.  It would also give us 2 extra hours to  hang out and catch up.  I miss my Cali friends!

I flew into San Francisco Friday afternoon.  I rode BART into the City and hopped off at the Mission & 16th station.  Another old neighbor (from the same hood as the Neighborhood Block Party I mentioned...  It really was a good time on our street during that time of our lives!) lives in the area where the Mission and Castro neighborhoods merge.  She has a one bedroom apartment with her 12 year old daughter.  She had made arrangement for her daughter to be at her dad's (he's another friend who lives just a few blocks away) so I could stay at her place and we could go out.  This night was so much FUN.  It was so great to just hang out with my friend, drink too much, dance too much, and just have a good time.  We didn't stay out late but I was pretty exhausted when we got back to her place.  I remember taking off my boots and laying down right where I was in the living room and falling fast asleep.

Saturday morning Melanie's husband dropped her and their two kids (6 and 8) off a block from where my friend's apartment is.  He does Ironman events and is currently training for Arizona.  A two hour run in Golden Gate park was the least we could give him.  Melanie, her kids, my friend, and I enjoyed a very leisurely breakfast without him.  After eating we said our goodbyes and Melanie and I took the kids on the trolley into downtown.  We must have eaten really slow because soon after getting to our hotel her husband pulled up to pick up the kids.  The rest of the afternoon Melanie and I spent going through the expo, shopping at the Nike store, getting lunch, and just hanging out.  Our hotel was 1/2 a block from the race start, Union Square.

The friend in Portland who told me about the Second Chance drawing also got in.  She and her husband made it a very long weekend in San Francisco to celebrate their 18th anniversary.  We met them for dinner Saturday evening and bored her husband with our running talk while we consumed our weight in pasta.

Finally!  Race morning!

Wednesday, October 08, 2014

Portland Marathon

Yesterday I ran the Portland Marathon.  It has been on my bucket list since I first began racing 12 years ago.  Two babies, two out-of-state moves, blah, blah, blah... it was a race I just never got around to doing.

Almost a full year ago my sister-in-law decided to sign up to run Portland.  It would be her first marathon and she was nervous and excited about the idea.  I thought it would be a fun bonding experience.  We met 14 or so years ago but I still couldn't tell you much about her.  It's one of those relationships.  I thought training for a marathon together could start to change that.

Then a couple of friends from California decided to also run the Portland Marathon.  All good, until my SIL moved to the Bay Area several months ago and then two weeks before the race my two friends also bailed (due to injuries).  Not that I really need someone to run a race with me, but it is always fun to share a race with a friend or two.

So, that's the background as to how I found myself at the starting line of the Portland Marathon yesterday.  Two months leading up to race day I dealt with a cranky ankle.  More specifically, a really sore Achilles.  I adjusted my running form to run more comfortably.  I avoided hills, both up and down, and stuck to flats as much as possible.  I also wore shoes with more arch support.  Anything to decrease stretching the Achilles seemed to help.  It still hurt to run, but after a mile or two the pain would subside enough to run.  I figured this might hurt really bad after the marathon (and it does!).

Marathon morning: I decided to stay at my mom's house in Oregon City for the weekend with the family.  The kids have their own room and for things like this Mike will sleep on the sofa until I leave so I can get a good night sleep (he tends to snore).  I don't sleep well at my mom's house because the mattress is simply too firm for me but I got a pretty decent night of sleep before the marathon.  When my alarm sounded at 4:30am, I was wide awake and ready to go.

I arrived downtown pretty early, maybe 5:45am for the 7am start.  Parking is a breeze at that hour.  I found on-street parking (meters are free until 1pm) on the same block as a Starbucks just two blocks from the race starts.  Of course, my corral was around the corner so maybe 5 blocks away but not an issue with the crowds. 

Two years ago I ran the Portland Half Marathon at this same event.  Shhh.  It wasn't my bib but a friend's who was injured.  We're in the same age/sex division so I didn't feel too bad about running it for her and snagging 3rd in my age group.  Anyway, so I knew the first 11 miles of this course well.  It's blazing fast, even with a good climb early around mile 2.  I set a half marathon PR at this race two years ago and I know that yesterday I could have done it again.  Easily.

I hung out at Starbucks chatting with a couple of different people, drinking a smaller coffee than usual, and using the restroom.  About 30 minutes before the race start I headed back to my car to get my race things, lube up, apply sunscreen, etc. Once that was done, I did an easy jog over to my race corral.

The B and A corrals are right next to each other.  No one is checking bibs so there were many runners with bibs that indicated were in the wrong corrals.  There are also a gazillion port-a-potties between the two corrals, but about three gazillion runners lined up for them.  I had just used the restroom at Starbucks but got in line anyway for one last go.  At 6:58am, I was still in the port-a-potty line.  Good thing I've gotten pretty good at going quickly! 

Upon leaving the port-a-potty area, I headed into corral B as my bib indicated.  I think it starts with the 3 hour marathoners so I started walking down the block to find my 3:45 pacer.  I had decided that if I started with the 3:45 group, I could probably run the whole thing in with them.  Maybe pick it up at the end, but at the very least finish with them.  Unfortunately, I was unable to find them.  Maybe I registered for a faster time that put me in corral B and the 3:45 group were the first in corral C?  I don't know but I didn't have time to figure it out.  The race was starting and I was standing smack dab between the 3:35 and 3:40 groups.

I love running in Portland but I don't love running on the city streets.  I found myself starting at the ground directly in front of me as we began the race and headed into Chinatown.  Before the race began, I realized I had some garbage in my pocket that I needed to throw into a trash can.  It wasn't the kind of garbage I wanted to "throw to the curb" so in Chinatown I jumped up onto the curb and tossed it into the can.  I then stepped back down into the street but must have stepped wrong because I was sent reeling.  Visions of my recent trip on a Seattle street immediately came to mind.  I don't know how I managed to catch myself from face planting right then and there but I did.  Nothing hurt so I forced myself to push it aside.  This was about .75 miles into the race.  Can you imagine?

Pretty much right from the start I found myself behind two girls and a guy who were clearly running together.  They looked like they were all business with a clear agenda.  They were running an even pace.  It wasn't a hard pace so I fell in step with them and ran with them until they pulled away around mile 15 or 16. 

I did some snooping around to see how they did.  I saw one later around mile 21 but wasn't able to catch up with her.  Anyway, from what I could find they were all from Houston.  The girl I talked to is a very experienced marathoner and ironman (it was tattooed on her back, right above the waist band).  She and the other girl's husband were pacing the other girl.  Their goal: 3:38 to get her under the 3:40 she needed to qualify for Boston.  It would have been a big PR for her, too, if they had succeeded.  Unfortunately, they all finished together around 3:48.  I felt bad for her because I know how disappointing that can be.  But, I was also happy to see that even if I had managed to stay with them I would have still missed that 3:45.  I'd still be kicking myself today if they had finished under 3:45. 

Not many costumed runners at Portland.  The one guy who will always stand out was the one in a Gingerbread Cookie costume.  He must have been so hot!  I saw him on the out & back portion of the course and he was miles ahead of me.  However, I passed him before the 13 mile mark so he was falling flat fast.  I chuckled when I passed him and heard him squeal, "Hee hee hee.  You can't catch me!"  Clearly I did.

This race was the first time I didn't carry any fluids.  And although it was a warm day, I don't think it hurt me.  I drank from every single aid station and I think it was adequate.  Early on, I didn't stop but grabbed and drank as I went.  I need to practice this because I kept getting water and ultima up my nose.  Later on, I simply stopped, guzzled, and then moved on.  I don't think much time is wasted doing that.  I alternated between water and ultima in the first 10 miles but after that I took both.  I also took 4 Gu gels and 8 salt tablets over the course of the marathon.  I still ended the race with my legs covered in salt.  Yuck.

"The Bridge".  Not as bad as people make it out to be.  I didn't stop and walk until mile 23.  I slowed going up and over the St. John's Bridge, but I wouldn't call it hard.  Even with it's placement within the miles (17 is at the very top of the bridge), it still wasn't difficult.  Immediately following the bridge, there is a big dip and then another climb.  Those hurt a little. 

Overall, the course starts fast.  I think it's a fast HM and all the marathoners and half marathoners start together.  I'm not a fan of the industrial areas of Portland and quite a few miles are spent in this area.  Once the marathoners split from the half marathoners around mile 11, we started climbing.  It was never hard but a slow, steady climb.  There's one relief near Montgomery Park and a few flat miles running on Hwy 30 (yuck!), but there's a good incline from mile 11 until you crest the bridge at mile 17.  I was not expecting any of that.  Once over the bridge, it's up and down for a little while.  You flatten out along the bluff near the University of Portland but that's pretty short.  At mile 22 you run down the steep street that passes the Adidas campus.  Then a little more flat before climbing to get over the Steel Bridge.  The final stretch running along the waterfront and into the finish chute is also an incline.  Overall, more hills than I was expecting.  Maybe if I'd started with the 3:45 group then the hills wouldn't have been an issue?  Who knows.  The last mile was torture but running into the finish area is pretty cool.  The crowd is deep and wildly cheering for everyone.  Loved that. 

Will I run Portland again?  No. 

Crowd support good?  Awesome. 

Organization good?  Top notch.  Portland does a fantastic job, just wish the course was more scenic.
Weather?  Beautiful but too warm for me.  It was 62* at the start and we were in full sun about an hour in.  I just can't run in temps that high.  I envied all the men who were removing their shirts.  I wasn't dripping with sweat, it was pouring off of me.  After I finished and found a Starbucks restroom to clean myself up in, I saw I had chafed in places no one should ever chafe in.  Ouch.

Overall, I ran strong until the last few miles and am pleased with my effort.  It took me years to get under that 4:00 mark.  This past year I have done it several times and I think it's becoming my new "sure thing".  I still hope to make 3:45 my "sure thing" but I'm happy with how I've progressed as a runner.  I'm more consistent.  I'm stronger.  I now have no doubt a 4 hour is in the bag.


OFFICIAL FINISH TIME:  3:58:23 (9:05 pace)
5 Km:25:03 Pace: 8:04
10 Km:50:21 Pace: 8:06
8.9 Mi:1:10:54 Pace: 7:58
Half:1:46:40 Pace: 8:08
17.5 Mi:2:27:16 Pace: 8:24
21.1 Mi:3:02:06 Pace: 8:37



Wednesday, October 01, 2014

Monday, September 01, 2014

Friday, August 01, 2014