Archive for April, 2013

1. Your feet have calluses and your calluses have blisters.

2. You wear compression socks under your jeans for Saturday night parties.

3. You run while on vacation.

4. You know what arnica is and how to use it.

5. You sign up for a race as a training run. [Spring Blast Half Marathon, here I come!]

6. It’s not “food,” it’s a “recovery” snack.

7. You have calculated and memorized the number of calories you burn per mile at your current weight.

8. You can name at least four different brands of commercial sports drinks, plus you have a recipe for making your own.

9. You wake up earlier for your long run on the weekend than you do for your normal day during the week.

10. You go to the gym and see the same woman there you’ve seen the last five times you went. You think, “Wow, that lady is always at the gym! I wonder if she has some kind of exercise disorder.” Then you realize she is probably wondering the same thing about you!

Missed the first 12? See You Know You’re a Serious Runner When.

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Week 12 of marathon training is in the bag and THERE IS ONE MONTH LEFT UNTIL THE RACE! Pardon my shouting while I have a minor freakout here. It’s getting real! I got the email from the Mountains 2 Beach race directors the other day with the race packet attached. I don’t think I’ve ever gotten a race packet so early — I’m impressed!

Training is going well, if by “well” you mean: doing all the workouts without missing a single one, and putting all the miles in (but not always at the prescribed training pace). Today’s 15-miler was tough, probably due to the fact that I had spinach salad and scrambled eggs for dinner last night because that’s what I had on hand. Carb-loading FAIL.

I’ve reached a point in this training round where I’m not exactly running for the joy of it anymore. I’m hunkering down and putting the time in and hoping it all pays off. I’m cutting myself a break for feeling this way — you know you’re in the thick of serious training when your mid-week tempo run (not your Long Slow Distance run) is 10 miles plus warmup and cooldown.

Thankfully several sights have cheered my way on recent runs. I tried out a new bike path in Diamond Bar, California the other day, and got a giggle thinking about whoever designed the path:

Diamonds for the Diamond Bar bike path!

Diamonds for Diamond Bar!

The city of Diamond Bar was named for the “diamond over a bar” symbol on the branding iron used by a local rancher. I passed a dog grooming shop with this clever name:

D Bar Grooming sign

Around mile 8 of 15 today, the river rocks spoke to me from the dry Santa Ana River bed:

River Rocks say Run!

And this was one of the last sights I saw as I finished up my run, tired but grateful:

Boston Strong

Boston Strong

How is your training going? Have you seen anything interesting on a recent run?

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Running emboldens me and humbles me at the same time. I can go from the high of finishing a great race to the low of gutting out a tough training run. Through it all I open myself up to feeling vulnerable, to meeting new challenges, to learning more about myself and the sport. And inevitably along the way I find little nuggets of encouragement, often when I need them most (Thank You Kind Sir, Twenty Mile Run to the Ocean, Twenty Miles on Coyote Creek Trail).

On Saturday I finished up week 11 of 16 weeks of training for the Mountains 2 Beach Marathon. Five more weeks to go. I’m vacillating between “Let’s do this already” and “I can’t believe it’s coming up so fast.” I’ve completed four of five 20-mile training runs. As the training ramps up and up and up, I find myself doubting my plan. Can I complete it without getting injured? Is it wise to follow an advanced marathon training plan for my second marathon? Saturday’s 20-mile run to the beach went well but left me feeling spent (as a good long run naturally should!) As I sat on the beach, warming up after soaking my tired legs in the cold Pacific Ocean:

Note that I am wearing a Saucony running visor. Then read the next sentence!

Note that I am wearing a Saucony running visor. This will be important.

I received word that I had won a Saucony running outfit from one of Another Mother Runner‘s “hump day giveaways”! I had just run 20 miles wearing my Saucony running visor, and I won a Saucony outfit!

Saucony spring running outfit compliments of Another Mother Runner!

Saucony trio compliments of Another Mother Runner!

Would you believe that I do not own any running capris? Or a running top that has a zippered storage pocket in the back? Or a windbreaker running jacket? How lucky am I?! It’s lovely to receive this much-needed running gear. Even more lovely is the encouragement it gives me. I choose to take this lucky win as a good omen, one that says, “You’re on the right path. Keep going! You can do it!”

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For my fourth 20-mile training run in this cycle, I sought to mimic the downhill grade of the Mountains 2 Beach Marathon course. I wanted to test out my knees and see how they’d handle an elevation loss of 1,000 feet (which is even greater than the M2B course). So, I plotted a route from Cook’s Corner (an old roadhouse in South Orange County) down the Aliso Creek Trail to Alicia Parkway, Crown Valley Parkway, and Pacific Coast Highway all the way to Salt Creek Beach in Dana Point, California.

I woke up at 6:30 a.m., enjoyed breakfast with my husband, and headed out the door after good luck kisses from each of my girls. In my haste to get out the door before it got too hot though, I forgot my second running pack, the one that had my three gels and my extra Fluid sports drink powder! I had 40 ounces of Fluid with me, but that wasn’t enough for 20 miles. I had to stop at a Stater Brothers grocery store near the trailhead and scrounge up some more fuel. I lucked out and found these sports drink mix packets by Gatorade:

Thank goodness for this find!

These powder packs fit perfectly in the elastic in my FuelBelt hydration belt!

I’m not a fan of red dye 40 but other than that I’d say it’s a decent product (no corn syrup!) and I liked the Fruit Punch flavor. It was only $2.99 at Stater Brothers for a tub of eight packs (enough to mix eight 20-oz. water bottles).

Right at the start of the trail these two looked at me like they thought I was crazy for running in the heat, and I pretty much agreed with them:


I stopped at every nearly every drinking fountain along the run. I also kept an eye out for restrooms. The first porta potties were LOCKED so I was particularly happy to see this park at mile 6:

Aliso Creek Bike Trail in Lake Forest

I kept up the pace well until after the 13.1 mark and even stayed strong (if not as fast) all the way through several of the hills as I ran on the roads at Alicia Parkway and Crown Valley Parkway. It got tough as I had to stop at each stoplight though. Every single time it got harder and harder to get going again. Thank goodness at mile 17.5 my husband and girls met me with a gel and some more Fluid (and more kisses and hugs). It was awfully hard to complete those last 2.5 miles after that, but this sight cheered me on my way:

American flag

Finally I saw Salt Creek Beach in Dana Point:

Salt Creek Beach Dana Point

I finished 20 miles, not at as strong a pace as I started but a gosh darn good pace for the heat of 2 p.m., and I met up with my family on the beach. I did a quick “ice bath” in the ocean, warmed back up in the sun, and then helped one of my kids jump rope with the long strands of seaweed she found on the beach. Afterward we shopped at Gelson’s supermarket for popsicles for the way home and steaks for dinner. We bought grass-fed organic beef. As my husband drove me back to my car at the top of Aliso Creek Trail, we passed a sign for local grass-fed beef. I’m afraid those cattle in the first picture … could be future Gelson’s steaks.

Did you exercise this weekend? What did you do? Are you a vegetarian?

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When 9/11 happened, I watched the news from my 15th floor apartment in Cambridge, looking out over the Charles River to Boston.

The 2002 view of Boston from my apartment side of the Charles River.

The 2002 view of Boston from my apartment side of the Charles River.

Two months pregnant with my first child, I remember feeling vulnerable at being in another large American city, and wondering what kind of world I was bringing a child into.

Fast forward seven more months to April 2002. As my husband and I drove our newborn baby girl home from the hospital through the streets of Boston, we had to follow a detour back to our apartment because some sort of race was going on that day. I wasn’t a runner back then; I didn’t appreciate that that marathon was THE Boston Marathon.

Me and my five-day-old "Boston bean" in April 2002

Me and my five-day-old “Boston bean” in April 2002

Fast forward 11 years to April 2013. From the safety of Southern California I watched the news yesterday of the bombings in Boston, my heart breaking for the people there and for the community of runners everywhere. I’ve come a long way since 2002, and now I am a runner. I ran a marathon in 4:02 and I work toward the ambitious goal of 3:45 to qualify for Boston. I know how hard all those Boston marathon runners trained to get there. It saddens me to see the loss of the life, the injuries, the distress of all those affected. And yes, it saddens me to think that those who finished the race, and were not injured, had their race experience tainted by tragedy. It saddens me to think that some 5,742 runners did not get to finish the race.

So today I will wear a race shirt in honor of Boston.

wear race shirt in honor of Boston

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Long story short, I had no desire to run 15 miles yesterday, but I did it and at an 8:55 pace (6.7 mph) on the treadmill (full disclosure — I broke it up into mile repeats with a 0.1-mile walk break in between each mile, plus a cool-down walk at the end, for a total of 15.65 miles). Unfortunately for the guy next to me, I felt a little grumpy as I warmed up during my first few miles. Why that guy chose a treadmill right next to me when there were five other treadmills available I don’t know, especially since he started chanting the minute he got on the treadmill. Out loud. Loud enough for me to hear with my headphones in as I watched endless inane episodes of an Extreme Couponing “marathon” (how apropos, marathon training to a marathon of shows).

I tolerated the guy’s rhythmic nonsense ohms and dow-dows for about five minutes. Then I gave him a pointed look, which he ignored. After another five minutes, I turned up the volume to my headphones. I could still hear him. After yet another five minutes, I snapped. It surprised even me when I turned to him, tapped on the arm of his treadmill, and said, “No more please” and put my finger to my lips. He was horrified. I was mortified. I know the poor man was just trying to get into a zone with his walking and breathing and meditation, and I yanked him right out of that zen state. But the dude seriously put a kink in my zen state. There might not be an explicit rule against chanting while you are walking on the treadmill, but it’s just plain good gym etiquette not to disturb those around you. You don’t talk on your cell phone, you don’t sing out “I’m just a girl in the world” along with Gwen Stefani on your iPod, and you don’t chant! However right I felt about that though, I’m so embarrassed by my reaction that I may never show my face at the gym again on a Sunday afternoon! At least the man had the grace to nod to me wordlessly and to stop chanting.

Have you ever encountered an instance of bad etiquette at the gym? Did you say something (either to the person or to the gym staff)?

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I did a lot of ski runs this past week while in Mammoth for spring break, but my most favorite “run” was a 10-mile loop of running from the ski resort up around Lake Mary and back down to town. I started at Juniper Springs Resort next to Eagle Lodge:

Juniper Springs Lodge Path

The elevation at Juniper Springs is above 8,000 feet so I took it easy with a warmup walk up to Lake Mary Road to hook up with the Lakes Basin Path, a 5.3-mile bike and running path with over 1,000 feet in elevation gain/loss:

Lakes Basin Path

I took breaks to stop and read every interpretive nature sign along the way. I learned that this area stands at the western edge of the largest contiguous Jeffrey Pine forest in the world, and that the resin of the Jeffrey Pine smells like vanilla and butterscotch! I stood at the edge of a volcano and admired the view:

Jeffrey Pines at Mammoth

I’d planned my 10-mile route carefully using MapMyRun and Google Maps, but I hadn’t planned for this:

Lake Mary Road closure

In the winter the city plows Lake Mary Road up to the edge of Twin Lakes. The snow on the rest of the road is then groomed for cross-country skiing, snow-shoeing and walking. Undaunted, I jogged through the snow on the designated walking section of the path to the left of the groomed ski trails:

groomed cross country ski trails

I like to think I was only one of a handful of people who made it out to see frozen Lake Mary that day:

Lake Mary in winter

After the loop around Lake Mary on the aptly-named “Around Lake Mary Road,” I ran down the mountain on Old Mammoth Road, a snowmobile and hiking path to the historical site of old Mammoth City. At the base of Red Mountain, formerly known as Mineral Hill, sat an 1878-79 mining camp.

Mineral Hill in mammoth

A sign explained that for the 1,000 miners in the area there were no less than 22 saloons, with each “saloon” being not much more than a 10-foot square shack with a barrel of whiskey inside!

With all the historical and nature interpretive signs and the gorgeous views, I simply felt joyful for the entire run. Right up until the point that I realized I’d lost my driver’s license when it fell out of my running pack as I removed my cell phone to take a picture somewhere along those 10 miles! Doh! So, on the day we were scheduled to leave Mammoth, I drove back out to the trail and retraced my steps on the snow. Fifteen minutes later I spied my license, sunken in the melted snow at the foot of the historical sign in the mining camp!

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