2015: looking forward

My last post recapped how my running fared in 2014, and I was beyond floored to share what an incredible, healthy, and fun year it was for me. It wasn’t so much a year about setting new PRs (though there were just a couple, by default of “I’ve never raced this distance before”) as it was about exploring my new home and the new-to-me trails here and kinda getting my bearings in the fine locales of the Bay Area.

Coming into 2015, I knew that I wanted to focus on two things this year: a springtime marathon PR (with a fuck, this-might-kill-me-in-the-making-but-I-feel-like-it’s-actually-somewhat-reasonable time of 3:15) and, if I played my cards right, a debut at the 50 mile distance sometime in the late fall/early “winter” here. Buuuuuuuuut, then…

That 3:15 marathon and autumn 50 miler can wait just a lil bit longer… :)

A photo posted by ginga ninja :) (@erinamg) on

 

ta-da! we made an embryo! yay, biology!

As much as I love running and training and working my ass off day after day, year after  year, and doing all this crazy shit that comes with marathon and endurance effort training–though my present descriptions of the work required is poorly selling how awesome it all really is–I’m reeeeeeeally fuckin’ stoked to be pregnant.

Really really really.

In the long-term scheme of things, there’s a shelf life to my fertility; on the flip side, I’m cocky enough to maintain that there isn’t one to my running. It makes the decision pretty easy.

To be honest, it’s a little weird to know with absolute certainty in January that 2015 isn’t gonna be my year to finally annihilate my marathon PR or get onto the 50 miler stage, but truly–that’s just fine. I’ve got bigger things–like, profoundly and exponentially life-altering bigger things–in store.

Tangential pregnancy explanations aside, when I was planning my 2015 race calendar, I did so a bit hesitatingly because we were trying to conceive. It made me even more excited to apply for and participate in races as a social media ambassador because I figured that I’d still be able to train for and actually race the events if I weren’t pregnant. Alternatively, if the stars aligned and I actually remembered how ovulation worked, if I were, in fact, pregnant by the time these events rolled around, I’d be happy to still help promote them in my communities. If I felt well enough to run ‘em, I’d do that, too. Everyone wins.

I’ll save my “running while pregnant” commentaries for future posts because I’ll have lots to say about it, much as I did the first time around with A. At any rate, without further ado, my 2015 calendar:

March 1 – 408k Race to the Row (SJ, CA)

408kSuper stoked to be returning to this race for a second year as a social media ambassador with the Represent Running krew. I kinda love 8ks, though I never actually train for them–I always just throw it in the marathon training mix–but they always feel to me like an interesting mix of the challenges of a speedy 5k with the work of a calculated 10k. If it’s anything like last year, this race will start outside the SAP Center downtown and wind its way through the city before ending up at Santana Row. There are tons and tons and tons of Wolfpack at this course, either running or volunteering, so please give a shout to your buddies in orange! RUNTHEBAY-EG will net you 10% off your registration costs, too.

 

April 26 – San Luis Obispo (SLO) Marathon

SLO marathon ambassador badge 2015

I’ve heard really great things about SLO and its races (a 5k, half, and full marathon), and getting to see another part of new-to-me California will be fantastic. It is fairly unlikely that I will still do the full that weekend, but we’ll see. GARVEYAMB will get you $10 off your 13.1 or 26.2 registration, and you can also register to be on my team (rainbows and unicorns… I’m all about the cheesiness). Aside from the fun that comes with being a social media ambassador and getting to meet lots of the other SM folks over race weekend, I’m also really looking forward to this race because Erica is coming in from Chicago to run the half as part of her Grandma’s training!  I love that gal! And David from Chicago will be in town that weekend and following week as well to run Big Sur, so it’s seriously gonna be like a little Chicago runner reunion. Yay friends from the midwest escaping Chicago in late April!!!!

with Erica (far left) and company at my last run-the-entire-Chicago-lakefront run in Dec '13. That might have been the last time I saw her!
with Erica (far left) and company at my last run-the-entire-Chicago-lakefront run in Dec ’13. That might have been the last time I saw her!

 

after the March Madness half in a Chicago 'burb in March '12!
old pic, but after the March Madness half in a Chicago ‘burb in March ’12! I ran that race with a horrendous sinus infection (protip: don’t do that).

 

June 20 – ZOOMA Napa Valley 13.1 or 10k

2015-ambassador-badge

Again stoked to be returning to run in Napa in late June as a part of the ZOOMA Napa Valley social media ambassador gaggle of women. I ran this race so poorly in 2014 that I was hoping for a redux this year, but obviously that will have to wait. It really is a super fast and beautiful course though, so in case you need a reason to come to Napa in June, there you have it. :)  ERIN15 will give you 10% off your 10k or 13.1 race costs.

 

Aaaaaaand that’s it for my 2015 calendar. My due date is 8/21, and depending on the obvious factors like how I’m feeling and how the lil fetus is doing, I’d like to run through the entirety of my pregnancy again. Time will ultimately tell, of course. Maybe I’ll be able to throw in some more pregnancy races in there and some postpartum, or maybe some pacing efforts as well, but we shall see.

If there’s one thing I’ve learned from being pregnant before, it’s simply that, well, kinda like marathon training, there’s a lot you can control–as well as a whole lot you can’t. One day at a time. :)

2014: looking back

2014.  Ahhh, 2014. You were good to me.

In many of my posts throughout 2014, I kinda jokingly-kinda seriously wrote that I signed up for a lot of Bay Area races in 2014 as a coping mechanism to moving from Chicago, but it wasn’t until I looked at stuff as I was preparing this post that I realized that, holy shit, I ran and raced and paced and trained a lot last year — to the tune of about 2,567.26 miles, a new yearly personal distance record for me by about a few hundred miles, if memory serves. That’s more mileage than what it’d take to drive from our home here in SJ to my folks’ place in northeast Ohio! Crazy stuff.

What matters more though is that the miles were healthy, injury-free, (super important) and very fun (also important) and that 2014 was a solid year for my training and for my long-term goals. While I didn’t realize that sub-3:20 marathon, I’m actually quite pleased with how the year played out and how my races went (for the most part); that sub-3:20 would have been vegan icing, but really, I’m floored. I’m smart enough to realize that if I only run to net PRs that I’ll be disappointed about 99% of the time, so fuck that. Running’s about more than PRs; it’s about discovering new places, testing ourselves, meeting new people (lots of that for me in ’14)… you know what I’m saying. At the end of the day, whatever numbers my Garmin watchface is throwing at me only matters this much.

Anyway, in 2014 I notched a couple new distances (12k, 50k, trail half) and naturally, everything I ran here was on brand new courses/in brand new-to-me locales, so it made the 2k+ mileage from the year pretty fun and exciting. Unlike my Chicago-based running, I did most of my training here by myself because not many people are into meeting up at 4am for a morning jaunt before work (note: where are you, SJ-based predawn runners?!).

I present to you my year of running, in 2014, a la statistical and photographic highlights. Cheers!

 

the month-by-month breakdown
the month-by-month breakdown

52° degrees at 7:40pm on Dec 21 as I'm heading out for a run. #soconfused #defnotinChicagoanymore

A photo posted by ginga ninja :) (@erinamg) on

First run in CA, on 12/21, just a few hours after my daughter and I had flown in from Chicago. I generally don’t take pictures of my feet (because… why?), but I also generally don’t run in shorts in 50-degree weather in December, either. Helluva way to welcome me in, CA.

 ————————————————————————————————–

A year’s worth of racing… 17 (!) in all, with 2 DNSes

January: no races, just lots of training  mileage for the Oakland Marathon

The pic below is from one of my first runs in CA, and I was obviously stoked to be reunited with my E-twin for the first time since we trained together for Boston & Chicago ’10. She was one of the only people I knew who lived in the Bay Area before we moved out here. This was from the run in the Marin Co. Headlands where we met up with other folks who were also TSFM ambassadors. It was awesome.

 

February: SF Kaiser Permanente Half with Erin, Foxy, Chicago Meredith, and Austin and friends. You know what’s fun? Running a half in the cold and windy rain. You know what’s not fun? Getting horrible diarrhea around mile 10 of the aforementioned half marathon and having to shit outside a locked bathroom. bleh (at least I had the lovely view of the ocean…)

just a few strides away from finishing the thing (photo cred: Meredith)
just a few strides away from finishing the thing ( cred: Meredith)

 

March: Race to the Row/408k. I kinda love 8ks because they’re such a weird distance–not as killer as 5ks, but not as calculated as 10ks–and doing this as a race ambassador and the day after a 20-miler (and in the throes of a 70+ mi week) set me up for low expectations for how I’d perform. To be sure, it was my slowest 8k in many years, but it was awesome! Seeing so many Wolfpack teammates before, during, and after the race was also wonderful. And! The 408k was my first race actually in SJ proper.

 

Of course, the big event in March was my first goal race of the year, the Oakland Marathon. I had trained like hell for it in hopes that I’d break 3:20, even knowing that the course was pretty tough, and while it ultimately didn’t happen, I had a total fuckin’ blast during the race, had a fun time that weekend with Chicago-based friends old and new, and placed as the third woman OA. If all that wasn’t enough, I also was part of the winning team (RunningAddicts) for the marathon competition. It was incredible, and that race has a special place in my heart. :)

cred: Linh/RA
cred: Linh/RA

 

April:  A team of San Francisco Marathon ambassadors and I ran the Ragnar 200-mile SoCal relay in early April, thanks to the flurry of businesses who had sponsored us (TSFM, Zensah, Gametiime, Nuun, Fitsok, and Skechers). Relays are typically draining as hell but, predictably, a lot of fun, and spending a good 24 hours in a van with other runners is just a party… especially when you inadvertently abandon your team captain in the middle of the night somewhere. (Sorry, Chris). That little oopsie aside, Ragnar SoCal was a great experience!

pretending like I drink beer. [cred: a nice stranger]
pretending like I drink beer. ha. [cred: a nice stranger]

 

April also brought me my first opportunity to be a pacer, and it ruled!  I got the 1:45 group at the Santa Cruz half marathon with Adam, and the pretty course, combined with a great group of runners, made for an excellent experience. I can’t recommend pacing enough; it is so much fun and deeply gratifying.

team 1:45, brought home in 1:44:28. :) (cred: Linh/RA)
team 1:45, brought home in 1:44:28. :) (cred: Linh/RA)
with Meg post-SC half, one of the many races this girl PR'ed in 2014. (that's the look of a PR smile if I've ever seen one!) [cred: Meg's friend]
with Meg post-SC half, one of the many races this girl PR’ed in 2014. (that’s the look of a PR smile if I’ve ever seen one!) [cred: Meg’s friend]

 

I also made a last-minute decision to run a local 10k in late April, and I fared decently and kinda unofficially PRed, but the course measured really short (annoying). At any rate, it was enough for an AG and podium finish. 10ks are killer little beasts, but I kinda like ‘em. I think this was the weekend before Boston, and since I knew so many people running it in 2014, I felt like I had to get in on the racing action.

 

May: Another opportunity to pace a 1:45 HM group at Brazen’s Western Pacific races. This time would be my first go at pacing by myself, and it was way more nerve-wracking than when I had done it with Adam in Santa Cruz a month earlier. Dealing with mile markers that didn’t line up with my Garmin, along with my horrible inability to do mental math on the run, while entertaining very nervous runners… yeah, slightly stressful, but ultimately still super fun.

leading my group to salvation
leading my group to salvation… or a 1:44:30 HM

 

Also in May was the ever-popular Bay to Breakers, the world’s oldest footrace, allegedly. I signed up for the craziness that is B2B without any real expectations because, well, it’s Bay to Breakers. Well, I take that back; my goal was to “not run like a moron.” I had never before run a 12k (automatic PR?), and I didn’t really know what the course would be like in SF, nor did I know how to pace the thing, but the weekend with Erin, Foxy, and Ryan was a blast, and running the race in my old Girl Scout vest from elementary/middle school was clutch. The race, by the way, is goofy as hell but really… do it once. It’s kinda an experience.

 

Aaaaaaand finally, in late May I headed up to the fine state of OR to “run”dezvous with my people Austin, Kelly, Traci, and friends for another go at a sub-3:20 marathon, this time in Newport. It was an incredible weekend, and Austin and I both managed to fare well in our AGs and OA–with a shiny new PR for him!–even though I managed to dehydrate myself mid-run and foolishly kick much, much too early. All good stuff though–a lovely weekend with friends and a pretty good marathon to boot: my idea of a good time.

his and hers
his and hers
whole lotta love in this picture
whole lotta love in this picture … friends, marathon weekend, Oregon, and a grocery store!

 

June: June gave me the opportunity to head up to Napa Valley for the first time to run the ZOOMA Napa Valley half marathon as a social media ambassador. Being a social media ambassador for this inaugural race allowed me to meet a bunch of super cool women, and I was impressed with how smoothly the race went. I raced like absolute shit, but hey, the race was pretty as all get-out. Napa in June is just hot hot hot. I pulled another AG and high OA finish here but was too frustrated and irritated with myself to be happy about it. I’ve since filed this race under “don’t run like a jackass” and “come back to fly on this course because it’s really effing fast.”

Napa-ing, home of a beautiful and potentially fast course, but one that wasn't mine for the taking
Napa-ing, home of a beautiful and potentially fast course, but one that wasn’t mine for the taking [cred: Siming/RA]

 

July: Just a few weeks after ZOOMA Napa Valley, I had a comped entry to run in Los Gatos at the Jungle Run half marathon, so I figured it’d be a decent tune-up race in advance of The San Francisco Marathon. Los Gatos is a pretty area, and the course isn’t very flat, so again, I figured that it’d give me an idea of what was in store for me at TSFM. Things were going well until, surprise surprise, around mile 7, my stomach decided that then and there would be just fucking perfect to have rip-roaring diarrhea mid-race (remember the Kaiser half in February? Yea, deja vu). That was horrible, but somehow I still squeaked in with a decent time (high 1:37), though I had been on pace for something faster prior to the gastrointestinal debacle. bleh.  At any rate, seeing lots of Wolfpack and RA on course was great, and I secured another AG finish. The JR was a harder course than ZOOMA NV, but I was faster at JR (even with the shit stop), so it was also kinda redemptive.

Of course, the big race in July was The San Francisco Marathon, which became another target race for me because I had learned that I’d be pacing the 3:35 group at Santa Rosa a few weeks later. TSFM is awesome, and super tough with about 1,000′ of gain, but it’s one of my favorite marathons to date. Being a social media ambassador for the race allowed me to meet lots of people in the months preceding the event, and the weekend was just a blast, as marathon weekends usually are for me. Chicago Meredith was in town, Erin B came in from Chicago to run the full, Erin and Foxy and Foxy’s sister all ran the full (with Foxy’s sister doing it as her 35th marathon before she turned 35), and yea… just awesome. Again, the goal was for a sub-3:20, even with the tough course, and while I whittled away time from what I had posted at Oakland and Newport (and TSFM ended up being my fastest 2014 marathon on probably the toughest course, go figure), I still was just a jiffy shy of a sub-3:20. Whatever. It was awesome… and hey, I was on the winning team (RunningAddicts) for the marathon competition again and pulled a high AG and OA finish. woot!

Expo fun with the newly-minted Ironman and everyone's favorite Bart. …and the Chicago shorts :) #tsfm2014

A photo posted by ginga ninja :) (@erinamg) on

Hell yea! Team RunningAddicts went 1-1-2 at @thesfmarathon!! Awesome work, gang!!! #tsfm2014

A photo posted by ginga ninja :) (@erinamg) on

 

August: About four weeks post-TSFM, I paced the 3:35 group at the Santa Rosa Marathon up in Santa Rosa (wine country) with Ko, another RA buddy and sub-3 guy who was actually one of my 3:20 pacers at Oakland in March. SRM is one of the top courses in the country in terms of how many folks in its field BQ each year, and leading a huge BQ group was just remarkable for me. I honestly never thought I’d be a strong enough runner to comfortably pace folks to a 3:35. To say it was surreal is kinda an understatement. Anyway, SRM would be my first full marathon pacing opportunity, and I was stoked beyond belief. Austin also came down from Portland to run the full in an attempt to sub-3 for the first time. Our rundezvous again was a lot of fun–we’re good at that–and he netted another marathon PR and secured his Boston ’15 slot, Ko and I brought home our 3:35 group with time to spare, and I experienced my first California earthquake: seriously, talk about a crazy, crazy, crazy morning. Pacing a full marathon is a lot of work–no surprise there–but man, this shit’s good for the soul.

ready for world domination
ready for world domination on marathon morning
chasing Ko
chasing Ko and bringing up the rear around mile 23
barrelling through DeLoach. (see what I did there...)
barrelling through DeLoach (see what I did there…) around mile 10
With Anil (top left); Chris (top right); and Austin (bottom). SO HAPPY!
celebrating awesome performances and hefty PRs with Anil, Chris, and Austin post-race

 

September: Shortly after SRM, I was going to begin training for CIM, my goal race of the fall/winter, but I learned that life/family would necessitate a DNS this year. Instead, I shifted focus from road marathons to a trail 50k and thought I’d try my hand in the beginning of training at a trail HM+bonus (13.5 miles), Brazen’s Trail Hog race here in SJ at Mount Hamilton. It was fun and super dirty–the drought was horrible, making everything super dry and super dusty–but it was a good way to kick-off 50k training and get an idea of what the hell I was getting myself into.

October: I had two races in October, both half marathons, but neither was an actual race for me as much as they were just training runs for the 50k. Rock n Roll San Jose was part of a 20-miler, and the Nike Women’s Half to benefit the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society was part of an ~23 miler and was really more about the fundraising I did for LLS than it was about the actual footrace. RNRSJ was fun–it’s a fast course, and I saw lots of Wolfpack and RA friends–and Nike Women’s was hilly, and foggy, beautiful, and personally meaningful, given my connection to the cause.

hello, team south bay!
hello, team south bay of team in training!
around mile 12 or so. this gives a great glimpse into how foggy it was!
around mile 12 or so. this gives a great glimpse into how foggy it was!

 

November: No racing for me in November, just more training for the 50k. I posted a DNS for the Silicon Valley TT 10k because of some last-minute travel to Disney. Lots of trail action in November though.

also a good departure from same ol', same 'ol. en route to Monument Peak in SJ, CA (11/14)
en route to Monument Peak in SJ, CA (11/14)
in Alum Rock during a weekend double with Saurabh. We posted most of our CIM/50k long runs together between October-December.
in Alum Rock during a weekend double with Saurabh. We posted most of our CIM/50k long runs together between October-December.

 

December: And finally, the big one of the year: the Woodside Rambler 50k. The DNS for CIM meant that I’d be left without a target race for the fall/winter, and Woodside made a lot of sense, even though (or because?) it’d be my first 50k and first real trail race. I can’t speak highly enough of the race organization, trail running, or the ultra scene or ultra community, but seriously. It was fuckin’ awesome. Meeting another twitter/strava buddy Kowsik was a nice touch, too. The race made for about 5,000′ of gain in just under 6 hours of running and was absolutely incredible and totally worth every minute, second, and hour of it. And hey, another AG. :) icing, baby.

running under the redwoods
running under the redwoods

 

2014, you ruled were fun were fuckin awesome.

Gracias por todo.

Ruminating on my love of the run