A Tale of a Run

Good morning, friends!

I had a crazy long training run yesterday. Like, ridiculously long and I’m amazed that I can still stand this morning. You know those runs when you set out and are like, “oh, this’ll be fine. I’ll just blast through this and totally have time for my life at the end of it.” completely underestimating how long these miles will actually take? Yeah, it was one of those.

It’s been a goal since I moved to the East Bay to hike around Lake Chabot. The route is 9 miles, and I had always intended to make it a 3ish-hour hike. Once I started half marathon training, I realized that eventually I would be able to run it, and I was sort of excited about that. Because I get excited about weird things.

The opportunity presented itself this weekeend, when I was scheduled to do a long training run. I’m using the Aaptiv app (<– affiliate link!) for my training program, and according to the plan I was supposed to run around 10 miles in 100 minutes. Ha, that’s cute. But I figured I could do 7.5-8 miles in that amount of time. And I thought I could run around the lake until the run time was up, then just walk the rest of the way as a cool-down.

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It started out like that. But I had never been to the other side of the lake before. I headed out on the Eastside trail as I usually like to do, with no idea what I was in for.

Hills. I was in for hills.

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And it was a legit trail back there. At some point the paved path turns into dirt, and then it starts switchbacks up and down the ridge behind the lake. I was warned by my friend that there was a beast of a hill around Mile 4, but I was not anticipating all of the rough terrain and climbing. My calves started getting tight and cramping, despite all the water  I was throwing down from my Camelbak. After I passed Mile 4 I did a lot of walking up the hills and jogging back down for quite some time. After Mile 6.5 I was almost walking the entire way. My legs were just done.

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At some point I realized I was in the trail system, and I wasn’t sure which trail I was supposed to be on. That’s okay, I just need to make sure the lake is always to my left, and I should make it back to the Marina. And the views were getting more and more gorgeous as the sun burned through the clouds.

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Eventually I made it to a parking lot. And it wasn’t the parking lot I had parked in. In fact, I had no idea this lot existed, or exactly where I was. Crap, I took a wrong trail somewhere. I had been running Strava to track my mileage, and I looked on my map to see what was going on.

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Well double crap. I was supposed to pick up the end of the red line, and I was about a half mile off the trail that took me back to my car. At this point I realized that there was no way I was making it back home anytime soon. I had plans to head up to Healdsburg for some wine tasting, and I realized I was in no way going to be home in time for my friend to pick me up. So I texted my apologies and strategized a new plan for getting a ride as I hiked back to the main trail.

By the time I was done, I had completed 9.6 miles, averaging a 14 min/mile pace. Good lord, I felt so slow. But most of it was because I was walking up every stupid hill for five miles. At least I got some good hill training in?

I finally made it back to my car, my 100-minute run now transformed to nearly 2 1/2 hours of slogging through trails, and I was ridiculously late in meeting up my friend. I blasted back home, boiled some eggs as I took the fasted shower ever followed by a quick cold bath to cool down my legs, slammed the eggs down as I put myself together in some cute “wine tasting tourist” attire, and skipped off to BART to meet up my friend.

Happy ending time, we got our wine.

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I would love to hike the lake loop again some day when I have the time and not under the marathon training pressure, but I think for my next (and last!) long run I’ll find a different course so I can try to run the distance instead of having to pepper so many walk breaks in. I’m still not exactly sure where my endurance is for 13 whole miles yet, and race day is looming ever closer. But at this point, the only way out is through! I’ll just show up, run as much as my stumpy little legs can, and see what happens.

Go make it a great day!

The One of the Wipro San Francisco (half) Marathon Race Report

Um, wow. Just … yeah. Wow. I am humbly blown away by the response to my bloggy return. To all of my blog friends, internet-based and real-life, thank you so much for your kind words! I always feel weird reaching out and, you know, not being perfect, so I can’t tell you how much I appreciate all the love.

Okay, sappy stuff over with. I promised a Wipro San Francisco Half Marathon race report, and sweet 8 lb 6 oz baby Jesus help me I will not let my computer eat this one.

Where do I start? I was a beautiful day for a half marathon. Sunny and warm on the East side on the Embarcadero, a friggen’ fog-tastic ice planet of Hoth over in Golden Gate Park. As all SF mornings start out, I suppose.

When I registered Hulk an myself for the race, we had two options: one was to run the first half of the marathon, and the other to (see where this is going?) run the second half of the marathon. The start/finish of the marathon was on the Embarcadero and Howard St, about a mile from our apartment. Since we’d need to shuttle one way or the other, I decided the preferrable option was to shuttle to the second half start line at Golden Gate Park, then walk home after the race. We’d have to wake up a littel earlier to battle the pre-race zombie hoards at the shuttle pick up, but at least we wouldn’t have to stand around on post-race legs waiting with the rest of the post-race zombie hoards for the return shuttle. This turned out to be a fantastic decision. My best one of the whole race experience, for sure. Hulk was impressed by my forthsight.

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So impressed.

Anyway, we boarded the shuttle at 7:00 am near our apartment and headed to our 8:15-ish start. Hulk was in the wave in front of me since he’s a big, strong, manly man and much faster than my stubby little legs. So I got to do a lot of standing around alone.

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Just me and my 5,000 closest friends.

Which made me hungry. And thirsty. And, since Hulk and I are cool kids (not to be confused with smart kids) I didn’t bring food or water or anything with me to the start. By the time my wave started, I was sprinting just to find the first water station. Which was about 4 miles in. And those little dixie cups with about 1/2 oz. of water in them was not doing it for my thirst monster. I pounded about 5 of them as I jousted with the other more prepared runners grabbing their little sips.

Somehow I survived and made it on to the Gu station finally. I grabbed the Gu’s or whatever the voulenteers had in their hands and them in my bra for later. I think I grabbed someone’s phone as well, I’m not sure. Anyway, after a spectator was also handing out full-sized water bottles in the Mission I was able to pound down sufficient water and feel good about life again. That was about 9 miles into it.

The Grant Ave. Lululemon also had a cheer section around mile 8 and were giving out bananas. That was awesome.

I also ran into one of my neighbors (not literally) who was running the second half. That was awesome, too.

Okay, then we came around AT&T park. I had fun at this point, because even though it was around mile 11, this is where we always ran to train so I felt like I was on my home turf. I (kinda) knew where the finish was, so I just cranked it and entered “mantra mode”. I try to forget about everything except making my legs go and I have a couple of phrases I cycle through to keep me focused. I repeat “just go”, “XX miles to go” and “almost there” the way a crazy cat lady repeats her cats’ names. I don’t think I annoyed too many people since by this point everyone is either too comatose to care or I’m passing them anyway.

Then I saw the finish line, sprinted and about tripped on my face, finished anyway, and met up with Hulk who was waiting for me by the medal chute.

As we were herded through the free food line I took a peek at our results. Here was me:

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You can’t really read it, but it says right there – 2:21! Woot! My last half was over 2 years ago, and I ran a 2:36. So I was pretty happy that I about cut a minute off my pace. Hulk was a modest rock star, of course. His first running race EVER and he pulled a 1:46. So hot.

And then we walked home. And then we died.

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It was like this, only not as cute.

And then we remembered my brother was watching the Squish and we should probably, you know, feed them or something. So it was Super Duper Burger all around!

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I can almost say, “do you want fries with that?”

(Okay, this was from In-n-Out. But I didn’t take a post-race meal picture. Plus I felt the need to squeeze in another Squishy shot somehow.)

In other news, my friend reminded me on Facebook that I am still registered for the North Face challenge in December, since last year’s race was cancelled and I have a free entry this year. I completely forgot about that. So if you are going to ask if I’m doing another race soon, the answer is that I suppose I am.

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The cool kids

Conclusion: bring water regardless if you think you’ll need it or not, and no one looks good posing with a “duck face”.