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May training recap

May training recap

I blinked, and there went 31 days of May. Throw in there the beginning of the thick of marathon training, and hello, nurse! (We are rediscovering the joy of Animaniacs over here. United States, Canada, Mexico, Panama, Haiti, Jamaica, Peru…).

May kicked-off the more demanding parts of TSFM training, and I loved it. Part of what draws me to running and specifically, to marathons, is the structure that comes hand-in-hand with the training. Of course, there have been times in my life where I am happily running for the sake of running, and that works, too. I know plenty of runners who could easily keep running forever without a race on the calendar, and I know many others who would be the first to tell you that they likely wouldn’t get out the door each morning were it not for a race coming up that’s holding them accountable. Whatever floats your boat, man; that’s part of running’s appeal to me. The sport — the distance, the intensity, the speed, whatever — can meet you where you are. One size, distance, speed, whatever definitely does not fit all or even most. It’s liberating.

Alum Rock’n and rollin (see what I did there)

While I definitely appreciate running’s structure and flexibility, something else that I’m loving more and more lately is the community our sport fosters. Many people have this idea about the loneliness of the long distance runner — an idea I don’t particularly believe — but that’s not necessarily what I’m talking about here. When I talk about the running community and my love of it and for it, I’m talking about the fact that when you run, you share a bond with other runners that’s tough to qualify. As exhilarating as racing is, running and training endlessly, for days and weeks and months on end, to be able to run for a few seconds, minutes, or hours really well, is exhausting. It’s tedious. The minutiae can be soul-crushing after a while — even if you’re really excited and committed to working toward realizing your goal — and sometimes it feels like you’re going it alone or that you’re the only one who really cares.

Enter: the running community, your savior.

For as long as I’ve been doing endurance stuff, I’ve learned (and re-learned) how important it is for me to surround myself with a running community. To put it in the simplest terms, having people like you in your corner — other people who run — matters because they (we) get it. Of course, having other people with whom you can log miles is amazing — admittedly, talking to myself gets kinda old after a while — and the accountability you get from running with a buddy is also worth mentioning. Having a community who supports you from day one, through all the tedium, through the ups and downs that are inherent to any training cycle, and through all the self-doubt, is huge. It’s one thing when people congratulate you after a race because they know you’ve just done something important to you, so they’re eager to applaud your commitment; I think it’s something else entirely when you’re working alongside others who have seen firsthand the work that you’ve posted for so long and are well aware of your work over the preceding weeks and months. (All of these reasons are among the chief ones as to why I think Strava can be a great tool for athletes. Even if you can’t run IRL with others, feeling a sense of belonging and community with other runners online — particularly if they are local to you — can be a helpful alternative). I’ve been lucky enough to surround myself with a most excellent community of runners and triathletes throughout my own training, and it’s honestly as much fun, probably more, to celebrate my community’s training and racing milestones and PRs as it is my own. (Shoutout to my friend John for a stellar half marathon PR and for notching a berth to the NYC Marathon next year. Big hat-tip to Connie for outright winning an 18 mile race here in the Bay Area, and more kudos to Chai and Saurabh for posting impressive 70.3 PRs a month back). I rarely offer training advice here, but if you haven’t already, consider immersing yourself in a community of your sport of choice. It can seriously do wonders for your training: mentally, for sure, and physiologically, probably, too.

Screenshot 2017-06-13 at 3.57.28 PM
and sometimes, your community might be comprised of your kiddos … and that’s cool, too

Banter aside, May was good and quiet in my running world. I lost some training time to a flare early on, but I otherwise managed to pick up the pieces and finish the month by posting a new monthly volume mileage record, just shy of 250 (246+). I raced just once, the PA 10k up in Marin with Wolfpack, and accomplished my A goal of not pacing the murderous 10k distance like a tool and a distant B goal of PRing, hacking off 10+ seconds in the process. I’m a broken record by now, but honestly, it’s so nice to be able to run. The PRs are nice and hard fought for, don’t get me wrong, but simply being able to show up each day and do the work is gratifying. Marathon training can be gruelling and draining, of course, but it can also be really invigorating and a fantastic way of taking stock of life. I spend a lot of time in my head when I run, and I sometimes can’t believe that I can do this stuff and that I enjoy it, as dumb as that may sound.  My luck isn’t lost on me. I’m thrilled for how 2017’s training and racing has fared thus far and am stoked to see what’s coming at me next. The gratitude continues to permeate everything.

Screenshot 2017-06-04 at 10.08.40 PM
from the 10k in Marin (PC: Tamalpa Runners)

Reading: Angela Duckworth’s Grit was awesome and totally deserving of a review here; I’m working on it. Evicted opened my eyes, enraged me, and broke my heart on every single page of the 300+ beauty, and it’s something that all of you should read right now and come go long with me so we can discuss it. Matt Frazier’s No Meat Athlete Cookbook, so far, is good, and I look forward to making more from it. Next up in my reading docket is Siddhartha Mukherjee’s The Gene (I loved Emperor of All Maladies), Doree Shafrir’s Startup: A Novel, and Homesick for Another World, a recommendation from David Sedaris (whose new book I’m also anticipating) I had read about in the paper a few weeks back. Oh — and I stumbled upon this blog by Dr. Jen Gunter. Her writing is biting and scathing but also very timely and important; if you care remotely about women’s reproductive rights, bookmark the hell out of her page. I want to hug her.  

Watching: Master of None’s new season (I’m a loyal Aziz fan), Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt’s new season (I don’t find the writing particularly funny, but I love the timeliness of the humor now), Bill Nye Saves the World (so good! And fun to watch with the kids!) and I finally saw Rogue One (so Shakespearean! Discuss the ending with me!).  

Listening to: More of the same … though now I use certain podcasts to put me to sleep. 🙂 It’s not an insult to the podcasts; honestly, it’s just that so many hosts have voices that are so rich and velvety that it’s hard *not* to fall asleep.

Anticipating: Impeachment (hey, everyone’s moonshot is different, amirite), our midwestern sojourn soon to see family, a couple more races pre-SF, and A doing her first tri this summer!

April training recap

April training recap

As I sit down to write out my previous month’s summary, I realize that I didn’t take notes anywhere about the month. Dumb move; it makes writing these little training snapshots unnecessarily arduous. From what I can recall, compared to the racing-nearly-every-weekend that was March, April was considerably quieter. That said, it was still my highest-volume month this year and possibly ever (just over 240 mi). The one and only race was the Stow Lake Stampede, a PA 5k up in San Francisco at (you guessed it) Stow Lake. At the very beginning of the month, I lost a weekend’s worth of runs to some nasty puke bug I picked up from my kids, both who had it in the days prior; fortunately, it wasn’t anything like what I had gotten at the end of February, so the kids and I alike bounced back from it pretty quickly. I’ve said it before, but I’ll say it again: trying to train or race through sickness just isn’t my jam. If I can be sick for 2 days or 12, I’m obviously going to choose the former. It’s just not worth it to me.

destroying my 5k PR and smiling in the thick of it (not running hard enough, apparently) (PC: Impalas fb)

It wasn’t until nearly the end of the month that I realized I had begun an unintentional run streak from the beginning of April. I’m typically pretty adamant about taking one day off from running each week, but for the past month+ now, I just haven’t. I think all the “life” pieces just lined up, and it made more sense to run each day than to not. I’ll explain: during the work week, typically by Friday, I’ve logged around 40 miles with my kids. 24 of those miles each week are school commutes with both kids, A on her bike and G in the stroller, and the balance is comprised of me pushing G in the stroller for non-commute miles, usually in the ~4-9 mi range, and typically usually about 6-7 — nothing wild. Sometimes it makes more sense to run to places the kids/kid and I were going to go anyway (the library, the pharmacy, a playground, and the like), and honestly, I feel like it often takes less time to get the toddler in the stroller and the big one on her bike and just go than it does to load up the car with the kids and all their accoutrements, the seeming thousands of toys, books, snacks, whatever they insist they need for our 10 minutes in the car. It just seems simpler, and instead of more time in the car to drive someplace that’s only 1-2 miles away, we make a small parade out of the endeavor, and it’s suddenly fun and not another task.

strollin and rollin

My observations from this school year seem to suggest that, particularly with school pick-up in the afternoon, it costs as much time to drive there/back as it does to run there/back. The school traffic in the afternoon is just crappy enough that regardless if we drive to/from pick-up or if we run there (and then run/bike home), we’ll get home at the same time, practically to the minute. Weird, right? If I have to sit in traffic in the car with two kids, or run home alongside them, and we still get home at the same time, it’s a no-brainer.

Running/pushing G while going alongside a biking Big Sis has been a neat experience so far because I feel like we just tend to talk about whatever comes to her mind: stuff she learned at school, comments her peers said, her random observations about her surroundings, whatever. In that way, it’s kinda like any other training run I’ve ever shared with an adult, where the conversation comes easily and just flows, taking on a life of its own. Plus, running with my kindergarten daughter who just began biking to school in January has been really cool simply because she’s made such huge gains in a short amount of time (#mombrag, right? No really, she has. I have data to prove it!). Most people I run with have been at it for a long time, so I don’t often get to share in the experience that comes with hitting fun milestones and accomplishments, be it largest distance covered, quicker paces, or whatever. Dare I say that many of us become somewhat accustomed to being able to run X number of miles in Y pace, and sometimes, the novelty of it wears off. Sharing in this endeavor with a newbie — albeit someone cycling, not running — helps remind me really how big a deal it is to be able to move our bodies in this particular way. (I’ve said the same stuff about running while pregnant. Running and “life experiences” has a great way of throwing perspective at us sometimes, doesn’t it?). Obviously, my eldest doesn’t particularly care about how fast or far she’s riding — and rarely will she ask me what her time was or anything like that — but it’s hard not to pull my mom card out and tell her how awesome she’s doing and how strong she’s getting. Suffice it to say that from this side of things, it’s been a cool experience.

Aside from the general run-commuting and a 5k that resulted in a huge surprise PR, April was all about week over week consistency. Thrown into that mix were a couple runs up in the trails at Monument Peak and Alum Rock with a gaggle of friends, a couple TSFM promo runs at some local running stores, and a great overnight trip down to spectate Austin’s Big Sur marathon. Definitely no complaints.


mile 23 at BSIM had an acceptable view
post-race celebrating! apparently we all got the memo.
while the BSIM wasn’t affected by the bridge that was all but destroyed this winter, much of Big Sur residents/those immediately south still are effectively cut off 🙁 

With SF still about 70 or so days out, I feel like we’re still in the early stages of training (and thus, the shorter long runs and speed stuff), but I’m feeling well and am looking forward to May’s training and racing.

pretty sure this is my I AM MOANA moment at MP (PC: Connie)
sharing Monument Peak with these gals (Connie, Char, Meg) plus Jesse (pic cred!) was a highlight in April. Summit surfing! 
always the money shot. Ascending to Monument
post-Monument run, over at Mission. Apparently the summit is where I’m standing, though the trail marker/selfie backdrop is where all the folks are congregated. 
second go at Monument in April, and we brought more friends! this time around, we had Char, Jesse, Connie, Meg, plus Bob and Kim as well. (PC: Connie, I think)
the petal power is STRONG coming out of Ed Levin Park

Sorry this doesn’t make for more interesting blog reading, but hey, no news is the best news sometimes. I’ll never complain about being able to run consistently and enjoyably.

Alum Rock earth day shot 🙂



Reading: I read both Anna Kendrick’s autobio and that of Amy Schumer. Admittedly, I like Anna Kendrick and the films I’ve seen her in, but I don’t know that I’d even recognize Amy Schumer on the street because I tend to live under a rock when it comes to most pop culture stuff. Their books were fine, just fine, but I suppose if you really dig them and their acting/comedy backgrounds, you’d enjoy them. (TBH I’m not sure why I grabbed these items at the library). I started Elon Musk’s bio (again with the celebrity biographies… ), which is pretty fascinating, as well as Angela Duckworth’s book about grit, aptly named … Grit. And of course, you can’t go wrong with the NYT or the local newspaper. Local politics are both hilarious and fascinating.

Listening to: I’ve been on a bit of a podcast break for a while (do you ever do this? I binge and then abstain for long periods of time for some reason), but I will say that I’ve enjoyed listening to KQED’s Bay Curious podcast about all the weird stuff throughout the Bay Area. Shoutout to Man Jose!  Musically, I’m loving New Found Glory’s new album Makes Me Sick (I’m a huge NFG fan). I think we missed them on their most recent Bay Area tour stop, but I’d love to see them when they return.  

Enjoying: This time of year. I feel like this is the time during the school-year when things seem to start flying by, with special events, year-end programs, and the like coming at us hot and heavy basically every week from mid/late-April until the last day of school. It just seems like there’s a lot of positive vibes in the air, and the longer days seem to buoy that a bit. (I could, however, do without the egregious levels of pollen in the air that have all but shut my eldest’s poor eyes each morning).

Dreading: Basically every time I get a push notification from the NYT.  This GD president.

Watching: Nothing new to report here (although Breaking2, while technically in May, was pretty fascinating to watch. I can’t wrap my head around it).

Anticipating: Our yearly Midwest sojourn in late June to see my fam, heavier TSFM training, and some races in Ohio (with my sis!!!)