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March training recap

March training recap

I lived the first 30 years of my life in the midwest (Akron area and Chicago, for those of you playing along at home), places with clearly defined seasons, and I distinctly remember growing up with the saying that March comes in like a lion and goes out like a lamb (or vice versa). The premise here of course is that March may begin with terrible weather, but by the end, it’ll be all lovely and stereotypical spring-like (or again, vice versa). Naturally, what follows is April showers bring May flowers. I’m not entirely sure if either weather assumption necessarily applies to the Bay Area, but it seems like the March metaphor at least works (perhaps a bit tenuously) for my running this month, since it started off harsh but ended quite kindly. And as for rain in April, well, I guess we’ll see.

All told, March included 207 miles, a DNS in an 8k and 10 miler, a PR in a 5k, a stroller PR and division win in a (probably short) 10k stroller race, and a PR in a road 10k and a woman’s division win. While the beginning of the month was pretty rough, thanks to a nasty flu + colitis flare + seemingly a bazillion other ailments all running concurrently through my body — and taking another week-plus to get to feeling 100% again — fortunately the month turned around, and I began to (eventually) feel normal. Electing to miss those first two races was disappointing, but I knew then (like I knew now) that it was in my best interest to just shut it down for a few days — even if it was race week — so that I could get on the fast path to health sooner rather than later. If given the option of being sick for 5 days or 25, it’s a no brainer.

at the Reach for a Star 5k, holding on to Sam’s awesomeness (PC: CT)
girl party at SIB with Meg, K, and G
hollering for my teammate, Julie, as she begins her “back” part of her 5k (PC: Dave/fitfam6)
with Paula and A, and Meg and K, and G, post-race. Lots of good vibes in this group (PC: Dave/fitfam6)
sea of orange at SIB in Santa Cruz (PC: Lisa/Wolfpack)
post- Hearts and Sole 10k with my teammate, Greg

As was the case in January and February, I posted most of my workweek miles with one or both of my kids (and a lot of my miles come from commutes). On average, I’d say that more than 50% of my total volume each week comes from running with the kids, either just with the baby in the stroller or with the baby in the stroller plus A on her bike. I was sometimes lucky enough to be able to swing a midweek run with new Bay Area transplant Char, whom I met in Chicago through a mutual friend, Corey, when Corey and I were still living there. Small world: soon after Corey moved to Chicago, we met up for a run (after chatting on twitter and realizing we had both run Eugene that spring). Her friend Char was in town, too, visiting family, so we three ran together one time, back in … hmm, probably September 2013, at Waterfall Glen (I think). If memory serves, I think the one and only time I ran with these three women was the day that I told them that C would be boarding an airplane later that night for an interview out here and that it was likely that we’d be moving. Crazy. My point: the running world seems enormous, but I guess just like anything else, it’s fairly small. You may not know everyone, but chances are high that you probably share a mutual friend. (Thank you, Strava and social media!)

very sunny and very windy on the last day of March (I think). not pictured: G, strolling under my arm. I love that you can see a sneaky smile from A 🙂

Toward the end of the month, I also had the opportunity to run Mission Peak starting from Ohlone College. When I’ve run MP in the past, it has always been by way of Monument Peak (and Mt. Allison and Mt. “EMS”), coming up from Milpitas or SJ, so it was a neat experience to run it from a different direction and start in Fremont. Fortunately, the trail wasn’t soul-suckingly muddy, and everything was just majestically and lusciously green. This was actually the first time I’ve been on trails since late October/early November because a) ARP has been closed for a while, presumably thanks to landslides and such and b) when I’ve run MP post-heavy rain before, it was pretty impassable … like take two steps forward and slide ten steps backward (while also potentially getting your shoes sucked off your feet) because it’s so damn muddy and the footing is for shit impassable … and I didn’t want to deal with it. The rain has let up a ton here, so I was optimistic that Mission Peak would be in pretty good shape. A huge group turned out — some to hike, some to run — and it was a blast. I would have never thought that I’d enjoy trail running as much as I do, so I look forward to spending many long runs on the trails near home over the coming months. For what it’s worth, I’m convinced that part of the reason I finally broke 3:20/1:33 last fall was because I spent nearly all my non-workout LRs on trails. I absolutely love running roads, but it’s hard to not have a good time when you’re literally frolicking like children through nature.  

perfecting my mid-run photography skills. still obviously needing work.
before we ascended Mission Peak, we swung over to Mt. Allison, home of these gems.
total creeper selfie pic. this was just part of the group who went to MP; add another 10 people who hiked that morning. it was awesome. this is from the top of Mission, with my back facing east (I think). L-R Dhananjay, Saurabh (the only person who apparently saw me do this, ha), Satish, Ajit, Chantanu, Amy, and JJ, with her back to us. Look in the background (around 1 o’clock), and you can see the stuff from Mt. Allison.

Racing nearly every weekend in March meant that my long runs usually topped off around 13-15 miles and were often broken up into several runs (warm-up, race, cool-down). I’m not planning to unofficially-officially begin SF training until about 16 or so weeks out, so it has admittedly been nice to not have monster miles on tap each weekend lately. Plus, racing is a ton of fun! It’s grueling and all — that’s the point; that’s what makes it beautiful — but it’s also just so cool, in a somewhat terrifying sort of way, to put yourself out there for a minute (or many minutes, whatev) and let yourself be vulnerable for a change.

Running is really awesome for a ton of obvious reasons, but I think like a lot of activities, once you get into a rhythm of some sort, it can be tough to shake things up and try something new. Call this comfort, call it getting complacent, but I figure that if one of the reasons we run is to show us that we’re stronger than we give ourselves credit for, or that we enjoy the trials and tribulations that come with training and racing, or whatever, it’s hard, if not impossible, to get that sort of ongoing feedback if we stay comfortably perched in a way of training/racing that precludes us from getting uncomfortable (or gritty). Somewhat related to this point, as a social media ambassador for the SF Marathon (TSFM2017Erin or TSFM2017Erin5k for savings, you’re welcome!), I recently wrote a guest post for the SF Marathon’s blog urging people to get outside their comfort zones this year at TSFM, and it’s something that I’ve been telling myself, too. For so long, especially postpartum, I have been (somewhat understandably) reluctant to register for races because I tell myself I’m not in “race shape” or whatever, that if I haven’t specifically trained for an (insert race distance here) that I really shouldn’t even show up and try to do the best that I can on that given day. The thinking usually goes oh I’m in “marathon shape” but there’s no way I could run a decent-for-me (insert short race distance here). I don’t want to embarrass myself, my team, (and so on). 

Allow me to call bullshit … on myself.

I’m glad I’m finally getting out of that mindset. Here’s the thing: realistically, if your ability to pay your mortgage isn’t on the line, you don’t need to take yourself so seriously. You’ll fare better than fine. It’s just a race; you’ve got nothing to lose. (And hell, set those expectations super low, and you might just come out of it surprising yourself!).  The bottom line here is that if we’re all about using running as an avenue for self-improvement (in any respect of the word), it’s hard impossible to allow ourselves to improve if we stay put right where we are. Why not set big-but-reasonable goals and work your ass off to realize them? If you fail, you’ll at least have the luxury of failing with pride and satisfaction, if not also a bit of gratitude, knowing that you at least gave yourself the opportunity to try. I think the moment we become less afraid of failing or faltering, liberating feelings begin to manifest, and suddenly, those ingrained ideas of I can only do (this distance) because ______ or I can only run at (this pace) because ____ reveal themselves for what they really are: just BS nonsense we use to sabotage ourselves. The sky’s the limit, kids. Provided you show up every day, do your very best, and on race day, as long as you do the same, you’ve got nothing to worry about. These are the things I tell myself, in a loving and supportive way, natch.  

Otherwise, I have been running, and it is well and good, and I continue to be so grateful to be able to do this wonderful stuff. The gratitude permeates everything.

Reading: Just finished The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F*ck (eh) and A Path Appears (awesome). I’m in the throes of Amy Schumer’s book (eh) but still have a pile of nonfiction stuff on my kitchen table. My heart is in nonfiction, and there’s so much good and recent stuff out there that I want to try to figure out how I can read it all in the 25th or 26th hour of each day. Tips welcome.

Listening to/watching: Moana. No shame in my game. My eldest and I watched it every night for about a week, and the kids and I almost always listen to it on our runs/rides. (Otherwise, I don’t watch much. If we’re lucky, C and I can get in a date with John Oliver or Bill Maher).

Doing: A huge purge in our house. I will literally go stand in our garage sometimes now because it looks so much better than it did just a couple weeks ago. (Again, no shame). It wouldn’t pass Marie Kondo’s muster, but it passes mine! 

Anticipating: Family and friend visits over the coming weeks, birthdays, the summer!

Eating: Everything in sight that’s veg-friendly and isn’t nailed down (training, I see you).

Appreciating: The longer days (like everyone else) and (as weird as this sounds) this little bird who must be perching in a tree right outside our home. The thing begins squawking really early each morning, and admittedly, it’s kinda annoying as hell, but it’s also really sweet. Being able to sleep with windows open in winter (spring?) and starting my morning every day by way of a bird tweeting at me (the literal, old-school tweeting, that is) is just kinda… cute. Add a few cups of tea and my local newspaper to the mix each morning, beginning around 5:30, and Tweety rounds out a nice little team here. (Again: no shame. Pretty sure I’m 33 going on 93).  

Two Cities Marathon training, Santa Rosa, and my effing stomach

Two Cities Marathon training, Santa Rosa, and my effing stomach

In my last post, I said that I had decided to bow out of pacing the 3:33 marathoners at the Santa Rosa Marathon because of the continued stomach issues that I was having, the same stuff that made me back out of TSFM two days pre-race. I’ll take a quick aside here to talk about SR for a second because surely, if you read running news at all, you probably saw earlier this week that many racers ended up running longer than 26.2 miles (in effect, an accidental ultramarathon) because people took a wrong turn before the first 5k and tacked on mileage. A lot of what I read villainized and straight-up blamed the 3:03 pacer – the fastest full pacer there was – for taking the wrong turn and throwing off so many runners behind him, and therefore costing many people their BQs and PRs.

Pacers are human, guys. Even though there were other runners in front of the 3:03 pacer, who also did the same thing, it’s important to realize that pacers can obviously also make mistakes, too. You can miss a turn; you can have a shitty day (literally); you can get sick or injured – whatever. Pacers aren’t infallible. Taking a wrong turn in a marathon course (and especially that early in the SRM course, when you’re essentially running in darkness [early race start time] on dimly-lit streets without a lot of signage or volunteers, and on the part of the course that has a lot of turns) can happen to anyone. I doubt many of us have every turn memorized for our races, let alone for the long ones like marathons. I know I sure as hell have never memorized every turn for any race that I’ve done, and I’ve also come close to making a wrong turn mid-race. I feel awful for the folks who went off course, but I also feel especially awful for the pacer because so many people are assigning blame to him. It’s not his fault. It’s shitty that it happened, no doubt, but hopefully some positive changes will be in effect for future years – things like having more visible course marking at intersections, getting more volunteers at potentially-confusing parts of the race, things like that. I know SRM is talking to the BAA, so who knows? Maybe folks who would have qualified, had it not been for the longer distance, will be able to run Boston in the spring after all.

Anyway, deciding two weeks out from SRM that I wouldn’t be able to pace it because of my ongoing stomach issues was smart. I’ve continued to have “issues” since then – a lot (a lot) of the big D, abdominal pain and discomfort, that sort of thing. The good news is that I don’t have any of the bad stuff like Celiac sprue, ulcerative colitis, or Crohn’s; 9 vials’ worth of bloodwork and an endoscopy verified all of that. The annoying news is that we still don’t know what’s up, so I’m getting some additional testing done, including testing for parasites (!!) that might have set up shop in my body when I was in Kenya. If you want to think about something really disgusting, think about the likelihood that a worm, amoeba, or some other nasty-ass bug could have been living inside you for THE PAST SEVEN YEARS. Oh, and of course, you test for parasites by literally collecting samples of your own shit, so there’s that. #glamorous


Hopefully, all this testing will yield some answers, and things will begin to calm down. If it’s in the cards, I’d like to race Two Cities Marathon in early November, so I slowly began training for it a few weeks back. I’m loosely following a trusty Pfitz 55/12 plan, basically doing the prescribed speed stuff and LR stuff but doing whatever I want/whatever the baby will let me for all the other runs during the week. There’s been a lot of stroller running – single or double – and so far, so good. We keep it casual and fun.

Here’s how it’s shaken out so far:

  • 13 weeks out: 30.81 miles (one week what would have been post-TSFM)
    • key workouts: 10 miles of SRM pacing practice with Saurabh; 8:00 avg. It was tough to nail down exactly an 8:07 pace – I tended to swing faster – but it wasn’t impossible, so I thought that I’d still be able to do it.
  • 12 weeks out: 30.10 miles
    • key workout: 9.03 miles of trails at Rancho San Antonio with Saurabh, Tri Greek, and Nina at 8:55 avg for over 1,000′ gain, which was just good for the soul. I hadn’t been to RSA to run since I was pregnant, back in January ’15, so yeah… needless to say, it was a tad more comfortable to run there not being “with child.”
it's pretty there
it’s pretty there


    • the other key workout: 15 miles with 13 at SRM pacing practice pace at 8:01 avg. I literally thought about whether I should be pacing at SRM for the entire 15 miles, and ultimately, the fact that I had to think about it – and the small detail that it felt way harder than it should have (thanks, stomach) – made me decide it wouldn’t be wise for me to just show up and hope for the best.
  • 11 weeks out: 36.06 miles
    • key workout: LR 14 with 9 at GMP (7:40, 7:30, 7:29, 7:31, 7:16, 7:27, 7:32, 7:27, 7:26). This felt pretty good. It was nice to run faster than a GA pace for a long run for a change, and in the process, since I was running through Alviso (where you’re surrounded by water), everything looked the same and I managed to overshoot the distance, hope for the best by taking a turn that I didn’t know for certain would lead me back to the main road, and alas – making it back. Thank you, Levi’s Stadium in the distance, for being a makeshift compass.
surely you can see how it could get confusing after a while...
surely you can see how it could get confusing after a while…


  • 10 weeks out (just last week): 45.27 miles
    • key workouts: just shy of 8 miles with 4 at tempo (7:08, 7, 6:56, 7:01) with a side of OMG WHAT THE FUCK IS WRONG WITH MY STOMACH. I started the warm-up feeling like things would turn south; they did; I thought I was in the clear; I wasn’t; and at mile 3 of my tempo, I could choose to either stop my watch (which I don’t like to do during a tempo run) to go have “an emergency” in the woods … or wear my own diarrhea. I barely finished the run and promptly stayed in bed, in the fetal position, until 5pm that night. Coincidentally, the last time I had been that sick was the antepenultimate day before TSFM, and this time around, I got sick the day before the Santa Rose Marathon. Gah, foresight. Thank you.
    • the other key workout: 17.37 miles of trails (3,621′ gain) running up and down Monument, “EMS,” Mt. Allison, and Mission Peaks with Saurabh and Marc at 11:13 avg. Anyone who lives in the Bay Area should put this run on their list. It’s just awesome. For not running these trails in a long time, I felt pretty good on them, and magically, even though WWIII was going on internally the day before, my stomach felt great. I should write a separate post about this run, if for no other reason than to have a reason to post more photos from it.
I’ve posted all of these pics on IG already, but that’s ok


Four peaks, a touch over 17 miles and over 3600' of gain, and it took us five miles to get above the fog. #worthit #runwolfpack #runSJ #teamrunthebay #runlocal #seenonmyrun #nofilternecessary
it took five miles to get above the fog, and once we got up top, we watched it slowly creep in. So cool.

After ascending and descending Monument Peak and then the unnamed "EMS" Peak, we three headed over to run up and down Mount Allison. On our way down, we were treated with this gem of a view of Mission Peak popping up over the fog (look closely). We got over to Mission with juuuuust enough time for a few photos before the fog ate it all up. What places running can take us. Hot damn. [PC: Marc!] #runwolfpack #runlocal #teamrunthebay #runSJ #seenonmyrun #nofilternecessary #fogust #armswingheavilyinfluencedbyalotofstrollerrunning #latergram

Leaving Monument Peak and heading for --> "Mt EMS" --> then Mt Allison --> Mission Peak. Squint, and look at nine o'clock to find @bhasin and @marckrejci. Such good stuff! #latergram #runwolfpack #runSJ #runlocal #teamrunthebay #seenonmyrun #nofilternecessary


Rio-inspired. (Another gem from this morning's 17, atop Monument Peak). #runwolfpack #runSJ #runlocal #teamrunthebay #nofilternecessary PC: Marc!
HAIIIIIII,  MOM!!!!!!!! (this one and the other one of me: PC – Marc)


Other things: I’ve substituted a lot of my predawn running for stroller mileage later in the day, which I’d like to think is making me stronger. If nothing else, my transverse abdominus says what’s up to me near-daily now, and man, after a few days of DS running, my upper body was SORE. If I can swing it with my schedule, I’d like to alternate my long runs between roads and trails, saving the flat or rolling-roads for long runs with workouts in them (like GMP) and spending time on trails when the goal is purely mileage-based. While TCM isn’t a trail marathon, I think there’s some benefit to including trail mileage – even if only a little – in each week’s volume. We’ll see though. There are other things I want to incorporate into my schedule each week – formalized strength work and some amounts of yoga come immediately to mind – so I’ve just got to a) care and b) make it a priority.

Enjoy your long weekend!