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February training and such

February training and such

Rationally, I know February is a short month and therefore, would understandably seem to pass by more quickly than any of the other months in the year, but wow. It really seemed to fly by. In a short month’s timeframe, my in-laws were here, my parents were here,  we took a quick trip to Disneyland over “president’s day week” (which apparently is a thing in California … in addition to spring break later [yeah, I know!]), and I ran just over 205 miles, a lot of them with one or both kids. It was a good month.

Shamelessly screenshot from Marc’s Strava. This was a fun morning that basically amounted to a LR a la Uber, as we collectively picked up and dropped off everyone as they completed their LR distances. (Hi to Levi’s Stadium in the background). L-R Marc, Aditya, Ajit, Chaitanya, and Saurabh

 

yay for longtime Fleet Feet Chicago Boston Bound friend John coming down to SJ during a weekend  visit in SF. Nothing like running 10+ miles in pouring rain, in arguably the worst weather we’ve seen all year in SJ so far. We haven’t run together since well before I moved.

I concentrated most of my February to more of the same “getting ready to get gritty” mileage that January shared. I didn’t have any races — that’ll all come beginning in March — and it’s too early to begin training for SF, so the miles continued to be pretty carefree and fun. I ran whatever long run distance everyone else was doing on Sunday mornings; I continued to bump my tempo runs up to about 12-13 miles with up to 6 at tempo pace (which remains something of a mystery still; I’m a fan of the “make this comfortably hard” formula); and more often than not, I ran 6-7 days a week and with my kids on every run except the tempo or LR stuff. I absolutely love the structure that you get from marathon training, but it is also really nice to just run without much of a plan. At any rate, it seems to be a good match for the stage that I’m in right now.

right before she decides to drop the hammer and dust us

Unfortunately, I got a nasty flu + sinus thing + stomach flu and/or colitis flare and/or food poisoning (yea, super fun) simultaneously during the first week of March, and it ultimately resulted in me having to miss the Redding 10 mile PA race and San Jose’s 408k (the latter being my favorite race in SJ … and the second time I’ve had to miss it in as many years thanks to random sickness. Last year, it was strep >:/ ) It sucks getting sick any time of the year, but falling ill during race week (and then the girls getting some semblance of the nastiness) is like an especially wicked blow. Fortunately — newsflash — there will be (there are!) other races. You heard it here first. There aren’t an abundance of 10 miler or 8k races in these parts that I’m aware of, so I guess I’ll just have to hold my horses for those distances until next year. 

I know it doesn’t make for interesting blog reading when all I’ve got to say is “I ran, I am running, it was and remains good,” but there you have it. Hopefully this nasty ish from two weeks ago is behind me, and before too long now, it’ll be go time (again … and again … and again) this month with a couple upcoming 10ks and 5ks and the officially-unofficial beginning to SF training. I’m pretty stoked.

I’ve so often run a spring marathon that I haven’t routinely raced 5ks and 10ks in a very long time, so all this stuff I’m doing now is a real kick in the pants. Suffice it to say that I’m so outside my comfort zone with these distances and these speeds that I’m basically waving to my comfort zone from the other side of town. It’s bizarre to think that I (like many other marathoners) find safety and comfort in 26.2 miles over 3.1 or 6.2, but I think there’s real value to shaking things up from time to time. It’s how we get better at what we do; it’s how we get mentally resilient; and realistically, it helps prevent things from getting stale. Being able to do any of this stuff is a privilege and gift that most definitely isn’t lost on me, and for as tough as this can be, god is it ever a rush to run hard and to run fast.

(…remind me I said that.)

 

Reading: I started Nick Kristoff and Cheryl WuDunn’s A Path Appears after loving Half the Sky (natch). I couldn’t get through that Carrie Fisher book, though I gave it a decent go. Daniel Lieberman’s book about the story of the human body was also not what I was expecting, interesting as it was, so I also cut that one off. Elon Musk’s bio is also waiting for me on my kitchen table these days.

Watching: When I was sick and couch-ridden, I watched more of Captive, a Netflix documentary series. It’s basically what the name implies: a series about people all over the world who have been kidnapped or taken hostage. It’s fascinating, horrible, and at times, hopeful. I haven’t finished the entire series yet (there’s only 1 season, I believe), but what I’ve seen is really good … again, in that “god, how are some humans so horrible?” type of way.

Listening to: More of the same as January.

Doing (that’s not running): Starting a troop of Daisy Girl Scouts 🙂 

Eating: so much carrot ginger soup. I’ve been making it for a while now, and nary a week goes by that there isn’t a huge pot of it on my stove.

Appreciating: my health. Feeling like ass with the aforementioned flu et al. will do that to you.

training lately and spring racing plans

training lately and spring racing plans

For the first time in a long time, I’m voluntarily not training for a spring marathon. After I PRed Two Cities in November and then the Berkeley half a few weeks thereafter,  I didn’t think to myself well ho hum gee let’s just not do anything in the first part of 2017. Instead, I just figured that in time, I’d figure something out and would enjoy running for running’s sake. Intuitive training or utter indecision, I’m not really sure, but it has seemed like the right choice so far.

In lieu of racing a spring marathon, I’ve instead decided to take a big leap of faith and try to race the short stuff with Wolfpack this spring on the PA circuit. Wolfpack is a USATF-registered running club, and the PA (Pacific Association) circuit is basically a series of races throughout the Bay Area and beyond — some as far afield as Redding or Sacramento — that other USATF-registered run clubs run and try to accrue points. My impression is that you can think of it as going to a track invitational, where a bunch of different school teams are competing against each other and are trying to accumulate as many points as possible to win the meet, except that our “meets” are various races (that are open to everyone, btw) and that we accrue points over an entire season before deciding the winner rankings. The other difference is that the teams aren’t school-based; I think they’re based either in geography (Wolfpack out of the south bay, Impalas out of SF (I think)) or companies (Strava). Spring is road racing, and autumn is cross-country, and I’ve never done either with the team, so I’m pretty excited for it. There are some incredibly fast women and men on my team — who also happen to be pretty fantastic human beings — so I’m looking forward to the season and to seeing folks more regularly.

The race distances in the spring and early summer include everything from a 1-miler all the way up to a half-marathon, and some of the distances we’ll be racing I haven’t actually raced in veritable eons (hello, 10 miles and 10k). It should be fun and challenging in a sadistic, why-do-I-do-this-to-myself sort of way. We all find strange things that bring us joy, right? Whatever floats (rocks, shakes, makes you feel like you’re going to get thrown overboard) your boat, I suppose.  

In the meantime, running has been going really well, and for once in my life, I’m revelling in not really having a tight plan at the moment. I finished January with about 235 miles in the bank — just shy of my highest-volume month in 2016, when I was in the thick of training for Modesto — and I’ve been feeling fantastic. For me, in this proverbial “season of life” with the young kiddos at home, that’s a respectable volume. I think all but one week this year has been 50+ miles, which is somewhat mind-boggling because a) I peaked at 50+ training for Two Cities last fall, and I did that volume for precisely one week; b) when I did it in the fall, I felt great but definitely felt more fatigued; and c) it was with much greater intentionality during marathon training than what I’m doing now. It’s funny. I didn’t really plan for the year to start out this way, but I’ll gladly (read: enthusiastically) take it.

Not going to lie, I love that this is my view for a lot of my miles right now.

It’s easy to get bogged down in the statistics about the miles, speed, elevation, or whatever else, but it’s all ultimately futile if the miles aren’t healthy or if you’re digging yourself into the ground. So far, happily, that hasn’t been the case. It doesn’t make for great blog reading — everything is wonderful! yay, running! yay, life! yay, yay, yay! — but eh. That’s alright. All of the miles I’ve posted this year have been healthy and fun, and I really can’t ask for much more than that. More often than not, the miles are easy or easier — my favorite paces — though I’ve thrown in one tempo run nearly every week (I’m up to a whopping 4 miles there; I believe in the slow build for speed and intensity) for some variety and to teach my legs how to go again. Tempo stuff is what I usually find to be the most challenging, if for no other reason than I get into my own head and self-sabotage, but it’s a work in progress.

I don’t ever dare say that this stuff is easy, but it seems like things are clicking, and it makes me excited for this spring and training for the SF full in July. We’ll get there when we get there. If you want to call this period “base building,” that is probably an accurate statement. I’ll call it “getting ready to get gritty.” I think grittiness is an apt attribute that one should aspire to cultivate for racing, so that’s what I’m going with here. 

Other random stuff not related to running:

Reading: I think it was way back in November, but I finally finished The Emperor of All Maladies: A Biography of Cancer by Siddhartha Mukherjee. Within the past week, I just finished Timothy Caulfield’s Is Gwenyth Paltrow Wrong About Everything?; Thomas Friedman’s Thank You For Being Late; and Trevor Noah’s Born a Crime. Though they were all different in tone and topic, they were all really excellent. I’ve just started reading Daniel Lieberman’s The Story of the Human Body and Carrie Fisher’s The Princess Diarist.

Listening to: Matt Mira and Doree Shafrir’s Eggscellent Adventure podcast that chronicles their trials and tribulations with IVF. Holy shit, that stuff is tough. Even if you’ve never used IVF, you probably know someone who has, even if that person/persons hasn’t said much about it. It’s really informative and entertaining — they have a great dynamic together — and man, I am so rooting for them.

Calling: my representative, nearly every damn day. I feel like I’m on a first-name basis with at least one of his aides. (Hey, Judith. What up, girl). If you’re dissatisfied, do something about it. Wallowing or brooding are counterproductive. #resist #shepersisted

Comprehending: the fact that the little one weaned off breastfeeding. She’s 18 months, the same age that her sister stopped, so while I predicted it’d be around this time, it’s still emotionally kinda tough (but also kinda not, which doesn’t make a lot of sense, but whatevs. Fucking hormones).  

Appreciating: the rain. Winter was my favorite season when I lived in the midwest, and it’s my favorite season here, too. Blasphemy, I know. Bring on that precipitation and those perfect 40-degree mornings.

Anticipating: my parents’ arrival at the end of this week!!!!!!!!!!!!!

 

Next up: Redding 10 miler with Wolfpack (first PA race!) and then the 408k (an 8k) in San Jose (which, if you want to run, REPRESENTEG will net you a discount, woot).