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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!!!)

2017 Stow Lake Stampede (SF, CA) race report

2017 Stow Lake Stampede (SF, CA) race report

A couple weekends ago in late April, I revisited the 5k distance for the first time since the Brisbane Reach for a Star 5k. Just like RFAS, the Stow Lake Stampede was a 5k on the springtime PA circuit — basically meaning that it was a team-scored race, so it was rich with Wolfpack camaraderie — and as an added bonus, the race was in SF, in Golden Gate Park. I rarely venture up to SF to visit, let alone to race, and fortunately, after the morning’s race and warm-up/cool-down miles, I’d get to spend some long overdue QT with Erin and Foxy, neither of whom I had seen since Erin’s wedding two+ years ago. A little bit of running with some friend time all but promised that it’d be a good morning.

I decided to forgo a formal LR that week in the interest of trying to be “fresh” for race day, which seemed to be the right move. A hilly but relaxed 8 miler around my ‘hood/through ARP on Saturday was enough to satisfy the pre-race itch without leaving me feeling taxed, and come Sunday, I felt ready to roll. Plus, Saturday was Earth Day; you can’t not run around and appreciate our world on Earth Day.

Pre-race, a handful of teammates and I ran the course as a warm-up and tried to notice what we could about the course: any slight “hills,” where the turns and tangents were, any tricky footing, basically anything that could seem insurmountable when you’re trying to run hard and fast. The SLS course was (IMO) arguably a million times better than RFAS in that a) there were no parking lots; b) SL and GGP in general are both really pretty places to run; and c) there weren’t any crazy turns or out-and-backs. It didn’t seem as pancake-pancake flat as RFAS, but it also seemed flat enough. Combine the course advantages with some beautiful and great-for-racing weather, and the whole team camaraderie environment, and any nerves I had were quickly replaced by loads of buzzing excitement.

chosen family. (PC: Wolfpack Running Club)

I can’t say a whole lot about the actual race and scenery, not anything like I could for something longer, anyway, but the Impalas, the USATF PA team who organized the race, did a top-notch job with all the race details. Running the course as a warm-up was a smart move for all the obvious reasons, and I think it also helped make the race seem to go by faster because I knew exactly what to expect and where to expect it: where the cones were, where I should be cutting tangents, where the road might have been a little narrow, all those little details that you don’t want to be surprised by when you’re going hot and heavy. The course was simple: we ran up to the lake, we ran around it, and we ran back to the start/finish line. It couldn’t have been more straightforward; I’m pretty sure the mile markers couldn’t have been huger (seriously, they were on big-ass construction signs that you could probably see from space); and like RFAS, it was a fairly no-thrills environment but one that was incredibly conducive to fast times. It was awesome.

Immediately after the start, I noticed Impala friend Robin (fresh off an impressive Boston in unforgiving conditions) spectating, as well as a few of my teammates, all eagerly hooting and hollering. Just like at RFAS, my teammates Claire, Sam, and I ran together for a lot of the race more or less in a pack, and dear lord — I can’t say enough about how driving compelling motivating awesome it is to race in such close proximity with teammates. We came through the first mile within paces of each other — Claire, me, Sam — and basically stayed this way for the duration of the race. Being with my teammates, combined with that whole notion of starting at yes thing that I talked about before, led me to feel like I was running footloose and fancy free, not at all anxious about the all-but-promised redline that I’d surely soon be riding. Being with my team, matching their paces, instead made me feel, or reminded me, that I had every reason to be running how I was, where I was, and that the best thing I could do in that race, in those moments, was to get outside my own head and just fucking run.

Let me tell you: it was liberating.

pack running. (PC: Wolfpack Running Club)

One of the last things Wolfpack leader, coach extraordinaire, and amazing human being Lisa told us before we began was to relax in the first mile and have fun; in the second mile to hold steady before we made a move; and in the third mile, to PUSH and pass evvvvvvveryone. While I can’t say that I followed her plan as prescribed, I will say that I never felt stronger or more comfortable in a 5k in my life. Claire, Sam, and I were close to each other through the first mile; we got a little spaced out in the second; and by the time we were in the third mile, I saw another (male) teammate ahead of me whose presence helped me close as hard as I could and finish with whatever I had left.

around mile 2 circling Stow Lake. Everyone was cheering for the Impala runner E-R in front of me, so I’d spell out I-N under my breath and convince myself they were cheering for me, too, because I am the coolest! (PC: Impalas)


finishing the thing and holy crap, pony for dayz! (PC: Wolfpack Running Club)

While I wasn’t clock-watching during the race, I’d try to catch my splits when my watch beeped, but I didn’t really have much of an idea about what my total time would be. Imagine my surprise, then, when at the finish line, I learned I posted 19:40 — a 15 second 5k PR from RFAS about a month earlier. (!!!!!!!) I finished the race floored — like beyond belief, did my body actually just do that? floored — but like any endurance athlete, my first thought of “wow that was kinda tough” was quickly replaced by “but I know I can do better.” Gauntlet thrown, self. Apparently, we’ve got some work to do. 

Post-race, my teammates Melissa, Gregg, and I ran around GGP for a bit, and then I met up with Erin and Foxy for brunch where I basically left feeling hoarse from running my mouth for an hour+ straight and with a sore face from smiling so much and so hard. Again: it was a good morning.

If you’re local, and especially if you’re on a PA team, I’d definitely encourage you to register for Stow Lake. It’s inexpensive; the course is fast and certified; the post-race finish area had a ton of food (including ice cream, which I somehow missed — blasphemy, I know); and I think I have yet to find someone who doesn’t love running in SF or in GGP. I’m looking forward to this one again next year.

Stow Lake Stampede was my only race in April, a bit of a break after racing nearly every weekend in March, and it was a great way to ease into SF Marathon training. The next time I’ll be circling Stow Lake will be during the back half of the marathon course, so in the next few months, I’ll have to hone my Jedi mind tricks to pull from my strength I felt during the 5k. Can’t wait!