Browsed by
Tag: trail running

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 (wks 9-5)

Two Cities Marathon training (wks 9-5)

This is such a good time of year to be an endurance athlete. It’s such a big weekend (Chicago, Twin Cities, Kona, IM LOU, Dick Collins, Healdsburg, East Bay 510, so many more I’m missing), and there’s just so much to look forward to and so many people to be excited for. It makes my soul sing! The air in the morning here is getting “California crisp” – what I call anything under 50 degrees – so while it’s still near the 80s, 90s, or even 100 in the afternoon, at least in the morning, it’s finally beginning to feel like fall (some days, anyway). So good. Every day of the year is a good day to do this stuff, but this time of year, it’s magical.

another autumn day
another autumn day


It’s been more than a while since I last posted any training updates for the Two Cities Marathon – which we’ll be staring down in less than a month’s time now – so alas, here’s a long overdue recap of how training is going. I’ll try to keep this short(er) and sweet(er) than my usual 2k+ word diatribes.

Picking up where I left off last time:

9 weeks out: 44.08 miles

long run: 16 with 10 at GMP (7:30, +/-). For not doing GMP in a while, this went fairly well (7:28, 32, 29, 19, 36, 23, 28, 34, 31, 17), even with the final 2.5 miles going straight into gusty winds. My stomach held it together on this run, too, which is basically akin to earning an Olympic gold medal. I’ll enthusiastically take it.

8 weeks out: 49.16 miles

speed: 10 miles with 5 at tempo (around HMRP, but I haven’t really raced a half well in forever, so I was shooting for anywhere between 7:05-13). I took to a park near home and lapped it to death, resulting in a map that resembled either a boot or a heart, depending on your mood: 7:04, 6:58, 6:59, 6:58, 6:53. Considering the last time I did a 4 mile tempo at the same park, and had to make an emergency stop in the woods so as to avoid the Big D, again the fact that I made it through this workout without that is a victory.

long run: a little over 18 trail miles (user error on le Garmin) at the beloved four peak run: Monument, “EMS,” Mt. Allison, and Mission for just over 3,600′ gain. So pretty up there. It’s always worth the work, and I’m forever grateful to tag along with Marc and Saurabh. It’s just so awesome and unlike anywhere I’ve ever run before moving here.

Regrouping at the top of Mission Peak before beginning our descent homeward
Regrouping at the top of Mission Peak before beginning our descent homeward


view looking eastward from Monument
view looking eastward from Monument


regrouping at the top of Monument Peak before going to EMS (right side) and then Mt. Allison (left side, with the towers)
regrouping at the top of Monument Peak before going to EMS (right side) and then Mt. Allison (left side, with the towers)


7 weeks out: 32.31 miles

-long run: 16 miles. No GMP goals, just time on my feet, with the run being made more enjoyable by company (Tri Geek for the first 4, Saurabh for the first 5, and Anil for the entirety). We also all randomly wore blue shirts on this run. I should have taken a picture.

No speed workouts this weekend because I decided to sleep in. Slacker.

6 weeks out: 50.58 miles

-long run: 15 with 12 at GMP (7:34, 23, 29, 33, 41, 36, 26, 43, 37, 37, 20, 15) with a good side of GI issues from miles 8-12 and a shit ton of mud. I decided to run in the Baylands for this, and I even recall thinking that the further I go in, the more likely it will be muddy, which will surely make the GMP feel a lot harder because my shoes will be getting sucked down into the mud (and also weighed down by it) … and yeah, that was a brilliant idea on my part. Mental training for sure.

-speed: about 10 miles with 5x1k at 5kRP (haven’t raced a 5k in a while, so I just used 6:35 as my pace based off a forever-old PR) with 50-90% jog recovery in between sets. Overall, this went ok: a 6:52 pace, 6:39, 6:30, 6:43, 6:27. I had some issues with getting the distance exactly right (my repeats were between .62-.64 miles each), but overall, for doing it a day after a big LR workout, I felt pretty good about it. This completed my first 50 mile week in a long time, which was also really satisfying. Healthy miles are the best type of miles.

5 weeks out: 50.36 miles

-long run 17 in stages (7.11 at 7:33 avg; 10.03 at 7:59 avg). Last Saturday morning, my kids ran the RNRSJ kids’ races, and on Friday night, a friend went into labor, so between the early morning races and the sleepover we had on Friday night with my neighbor’s three year-old, running early on Saturday just wasn’t feasible. I don’t like to break-up long runs, but I’d prefer getting the mileage in to skipping it altogether. The first run was way faster than necessary – I blame it on a huge adrenaline surge of trying to get in as much mileage as possible while everyone was asleep at home – but even with that, I felt pretty good when I posted the second bit that night, albeit with some bathroom stops.

almost at the end of the 800m kids' race. It blows my mind that she can run with her hair down bc that'd drive me crazy!
almost at the end of the 800m kids’ race. It blows my mind that she can run with her hair down bc that’d drive me crazy!


I think she was the only walker in her "diaper dash" heat :) (and yes, marathonfoto thinks you'll pay for pics of your kid walking about 5 feet...)
I think she was the only walker in her “diaper dash” heat 🙂 (and yes, strangely, marathonfoto thinks you’ll pay for pics of your kid walking about 5 feet…)


Another weekend without a speed workout – what should have been 600m repeats, I think – due to volunteering at RNRSJ in the morning with Wolfpack and my disinterest in running a workout that evening. An easy 5 it was instead. Better than nothing.

always fun times volunteering at RNRSJ
always fun times volunteering at RNRSJ with Wolfpack. Big Sis has done it with me for two years now and genuinely seems to look forward to it.


she felt like a rockstar bc so many runners came over for a side-5


For the most part, training is going rather smoothly, and I’m happy with how things are going and how my body is feeling. As has been the case since I last wrote about my training, I’m still posting nearly all of my runs during the week with single or double stroller, and my weekend running is usually one day of the speed/threshold stuff and the other day as a long run. I’ve done more GMP work this cycle than I usually do, and as is often the case, GMP at times leaves me a bit terrified, wondering how the fuck I’ll be able to try to hold that pace for the race. I often feel like throwing down GMP mileage during marathon training is as much about the mental games as it is the physical. No doubt it can be intimidating, but it can also be a lot of fun. It shouldn’t be so easy that it’s effortless, but it’s also a little unnerving when it feels somewhat hard and like you can’t wrap your head around that pace for the marathon distance. Basically: I think I’m exactly where I need to be.

This training plan will have me max out around 55 mpw, which is a little lower than what I’ve usually done (closer to 65-75), but I feel confident that it’ll suffice. Historically, I haven’t had any problems handling the 60-70 mile weeks, in terms of injury propensity or family stuff, but it also necessitated a lot of 4-6am running during the week, and quite honestly, I’m just not all that interested in doing that right now. I’ll get back to that schedule eventually, but right now, I’d rather just wait to run during the morning daytime hours, with the baby, post-kinder drop-off and/or piecing my miles together with drop-off and/or pick-up. Having a decent percentage of my running volume as stroller miles means (aside from the fun quality time and the slight promise of some semblance of a morning nap) that a lot of my mileage is pretty easy and casual, which for marathon training is good. Back in the day, I couldn’t understand why you shouldn’t run hard and fast (GMP or faster) on nearly every run; these days, I’m pretty much the opposite. The easy days should be easy so that the hard can be hard. If it works for the pros, it’ll work for me. Pushing weight in front of me definitely helps keep my “easy” pace in check.

Life circumstances have dictated that I basically throw out the scheduled programming for weeks 5, 4, and 3 and rearrange things pretty significantly, so just like with anything else in marathon training, it’s a bit of an experiment of one and so far, it’s been fine. It’s amounted to breaking up long runs between a.m. sessions with (or without) the baby and p.m. sessions solo, post-bedtime, as well as front-loading a week to accommodate for family travel, in addition to rearranging things to accommodate for a scheduled colonoscopy that ultimately didn’t happen (grr! stupid false positive pregnancy test!!) and for two mornings of spectating/volunteering at RNRSJ. It’s all good stuff, aside from the thwarted colonoscopy – which I have to reschedule in a week’s time, ugh – and luckily, running is fairly flexible. It just necessitates some creativity and, when necessary, letting go when it’s just not feasible to get 100% of the training in. On that note, it wasn’t until about 7 weeks out that I started doing “the little things” more regularly, but I still need to routinize that stuff better. I feel like a lot of runners are in that boat; we’ll move the world to make sure we post all of our scheduled mileage for the day/week, but we somehow just can’t find the 10-20 minutes each day to get the rest of our body in tip-top shape. Working on it…

And finally, on the GI front, there’s not a lot of news to report. I’m still having the same issues, at about the same frequency and intensity, which sucks. Fortunately, the endoscopy, parasite tests, and lactose testing all came back clean – no worms or milk allergies for me – but because I’m still having issues on the regular, a colonoscopy is in order, which is shitty in both the literal and figurative sense of the word. I last had one when I was still in Chicago, circa 2012, and it didn’t offer any answers, so I’m not anticipating much this go around either, but it’s worth a shot, anyway. A lot of good news has come from all of this – basically, I’m really, really healthy; I don’t have any absorption issues; there’s no underlying systemic inflammation; more things I’m forgetting – so for as shitty as this stuff is (you’re welcome), all told I’m very glad to be as healthy as I am, inexplicable diarrhea be damned.

Good luck and godspeed this weekend, friends!!! xo