Saturday, November 24, 2012

Quarry Turkey Half Marathon

Running has been ****-tastic lately. Insert whatever word you'd like there. I apologize to everyone who has been patient with my grumpy endorphin-less self. 

I had full intentions of running the 10k Silicon Valley Turkey Trot on Thanksgiving morning but after getting injured a few weeks ago and unintelligently racing the St. Louis Half Marathon, the left hip/butt pain left me with sub-par running or no running at all. I managed 3-4 miles at a time, with pain.

Fortunately when I got home for Thanksgiving break, the pain magically disappeared. Boom. Bay Area magic? I'll take it. But two days before Thanksgiving I ran 5 miles at a 9:30 min/mile pace, and it was hard. HARD. Heavy breathing, gasping for air. You name it, I felt it. Nope, no 10k race for me.

By some miracle, I was able to run 10 miles at around a 8:30 pace on Thanksgiving morning. That translated into a Friday morning last minute signup for the Quarry Turkey Half Marathon on Saturday. Casual. Trust me to do an impromptu race. I was desperately needing some motivation and confidence. 

Friday night. I ate my way through Thanksgiving #2. What? Who says we can only indulge once a year? Feed me, I'm a runner. This may not have been the best idea, but I wasn't meticulously planning my race strategy like I usually do. I woke up nice and full and ready to run.

Race day. Ran 13.1 miles, what's new? 1:45:xx. 2nd AG. 

Meh. Pretty much the same time as my first half-marathon a year ago.

That and I was less than a minute slower than the 1st female in my division.

But enough about me. I'm just grumpy (I'll get over it.) 

Today is about you. 'Tis the season to be thankful. And I am. Today marked my 10th race in the past year (or my 10th road race ever) so I just wanted to thank everyone who has ever supported my running. 

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

St. Louis Half Marathon Recap

I made it! I survived! Somehow I managed to run the St. Louis Half Marathon, even finishing in a decent time.

On Wednesday, four days before the race, my left hip started to act out. It was really tight and I couldn't quite pin point the pain. Some steps were fine, but other times I could barely manage to put force on the leg without feeling like I was going to crumble to the floor. At that point running the half seemed impossible.

I took Thursday, Friday, and Saturday completely off. No running. All I did was rest, eat, and stretch. I didn't even go get my bib, claiming that I wasn't going to run on Sunday; my friend ended up getting it for me, knowing that I'm stubborn as hell and probably would run it.

Fast forward to Saturday night. I tried "running" a few strides to see how it would feel. I took a total of 5 steps before crying out in pain. The odds did not look good. I decided then that I wasn't going to run. I spent the rest of the night doing some reading and eating cookies. No pre-race carbo load, no nothing.

I set my alarm for 5:30 so I could go to the race with my friend Jeff (who PR'd again, running a 1:32!) and cheer him on. I didn't lay any of my clothing out like I usually do. The next morning, I threw on some comfortable running clothing, grabbed my garmin, bib, and ipod, and headed out the door without eating breakfast as I wasn't planning on running. No pre-race rituals of coffee, oatmeal with peanut butter, and bathroom breaks.

At the start, there were physical therapists who were giving free consultations to runners in pain. I went up to them, described my pain, and they did some horribly painful stretches/massages on me and told me I was cleared to run. WHAT? I couldn't believe the doctor's words. It hurt to walk minutes before and now i can run? What kind of miracle worker, fairy godfather, genie in a bottle are you??

Well, I took a few strides 5 minutes before the start and lo and behold: MINIMAL PAIN! I wasn't compensating my form at all so I thought to myself, "I'll just take it easy and DNF after 2-3 miles."

2-3 miles turned into 5, then 8. At that point my hip started hurting a little, but I told myself to stay in the game and targeted a girl to follow for the rest of the race. At mile 10, my pace slowed significantly and my form started to compensate. But I was too far in to quit. I finished, awkwardly hobbling across the finish line in 1:46 and didn't positive split too badly!!

Some say I'm courageous for finishing. I think I'm a foolish, stubborn runner who likes pushing my limits a little to far for comfort. 

Thankfully its 3 days after the race and I have been feeling very minimal pain/soreness in my left hip. It's slowly going away due to the amount of foam rolling, compression, and stretching I have been doing. I'm pretty sure that the pain would be gone if I had waited to run for a few more days. I've been cross training on the bike and the elliptical and will probably do so for the rest of the week. I want a full recovery soon so I can start training for a marathon in 2013!

As for the course, it's an out and back loop with tons of rolling hills. It passes Downtown Clayton, Washington University, and loops around Forest Park. Course support was friendly but sparse. I would definitely run the half again because its convenient and local. It's a small, challenging, and and well-run race with not much to see on the course.

Friday, November 2, 2012


Injuries are a runner's worst nightmare. Not only does it mean taking time off from something you love and look forward to doing every day, but it also means losing some fitness that you've accumulated. For me, it also means having to avoid the temptation to just "try it out" and run.

I've never been injured, despite logging continuous heavy mileage weeks. However, a few days ago, something felt wrong in my left hip. I couldn't quite explain the pain and wasn't sure if I just landed awkwardly and tweaked something or if the injury is something more serious.

After taking three days off, I can firmly say that it feels better. Does it feel good enough to race on this Sunday? I'm not quite sure. I'd rather take the DNS than put my long-term ability to run at risk. Missing a week of running is fine; missing months because I was stupid enough to race on an injury is not.

I think I'm going to decide whether or not to run on Sunday morning. For now, "RICE," cookies, and essay writing (to focus my mind on something else) is getting me through this hardship.

Oh yeah, I definitely forgot to mention. I impulsively signed up for the St. Louis Half Marathon last week. It would be a shame to miss because it goes right through campus. :(

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Love Your Body

I'm going to focus on something a little bit more serious today. It's national Fat Talk Free Week and I'm apart of a student-run group on campus called Reflections. We dedicate our time towards spreading awareness about eating disorders and promoting positive body image across campus.

The reason why I'm bringing this up here is because runners and all other athletes are not immune to "fat talk" and eating disorders. If anything, we have a heightened awareness of what we put into our bodies, how our bodies look, and how our bodies perform.

I, personally, am in a really good place with my own body. I didn't start to run to lose weight, like many others. However, one thing that did affect me was that I was in shock at how much I was eating when I started running. I started to run because I wanted to become a better runner and race various distances. Still, I was not aware of "runger" (run-hunger) and it quickly caught up to me. I started to become very wary of how much I was eating. It took me awhile to adjust my diet accordingly, but now I know how to fuel my body adequately so I can perform optimally. When I run more, I eat more. When I don't run as much, I eat less.

On the other hand, it's not that simple for others. Food and exercise for some consumes their thoughts to the point where it negatively affects their every day lives. Aside from the most commonly talked about eating disorders such as Anorexia and Bulimia, there are others not so well-known that are  ignored and disguised as an excuse for living an extremely "healthy" lifestyle. Orthoexia Nervosa is a disorder where healthy eating becomes an obsession and sufferers reject certain foods deemed as "unhealthy." Exercise Bulimia is where individuals feel compelled to exercise everyday to burn off calories consumed. This is very similar to the notion of "exercise guilt" that we often hear people talking about.

What I'm getting at is it doesn't matter what size you are. If you run, then you are a runner. You are a runner no matter how fast or how slow you are. It doesn't matter if you run or if you run-walk. Fuel your body, treat it well. As a runner, nothing is more important than "Loving Your Body." It'll thank you and help you reach your goals.

So I urge you to change the conversation about "fat talk" this week, month, year, even for the rest of your life. Saying "I feel fat in these jeans" or "You look so thin in that dress" are examples of "fat talk" that we should avoid. Shift the topic of conversation away from our bodies to other more important things such as personal accomplishments, upcoming travels, and things that simply excite us in daily life. Eliminating "fat talk" one person at a time makes all the difference.

Love Your Body (LYB),


Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Rock and Roll St. Louis Recap

For those of you who don't know how I did on Sunday... I don't know how you've managed to escape my excitement thus far. Here's a recap to get you on board!!

On Saturday morning, I took the metro to the expo in Downtown St. Louis. I was in and out fairly quickly as there wasn't really much going on. Compared to the RnR San Diego expo, this one had significantly fewer booths but was still run smoothly.

My friends and I had a pretty fun, leisurely day. Post expo, we went to get crepes and massages. I had never gotten a massage before a race, and I was pretty nervous as to how it would affect my performance. Luckily for me, it wasn't a painful Thai massage and I felt like the masseuse got the blood flowing in my legs to warm me up for Sunday's race. I had decided not to run on Friday or Saturday and leave my legs fresh and ready to go for the race. Then, we went shopping and I got a new race top from GAP, which could have been an extremely bad idea but I didn't chafe! Win.

After a few hours on my feet, we came home so I could rest up and carboload. In other words, I decided it would be a great idea to make triple fudge banana bread from How Sweet Eats. DELICIOUS.

I think i had about a third of the bread that night/morning. Perfect pre-race fuel? I think so.

I made the perfect playlist on my iPod Shuffle. I like to listen to electronic dance music that will keep me motivated and energized. Around 2 am I finally fell asleep...I slept for about 3 hours... from 2am-5am. Excitement got the best of me! I got up pretty groggily, so I had 2 Starbucks' via packets to get me going and then ate a New York City plain bagel. Delicious. Thankfully I had laid everything out the night before so my morning was extremely easy going; I didn't have to worry about forgetting anything last minute. I wore Asics DS racers, Pro Compression socks, Lululemon running skirt, Nike Pro Compression sports bra, and my new Gap tank.

Around 5:45, my friend Jeff (who ran a 1:35! so speedy) and I took the metro down to the race, which was the best idea ever because it literally took us to the start line. It was also so much fun seeing all the other runners up so early in the morning ;) We got downtown around 6:15, and I headed to the Brooks VIP porta potties which were super nice. I had gone to Mizzouri Running Company the week before to get Nuun and the nice guy working gave me the vip pass for free. The VIP porta potties were located in trailers had running water/lights like a real bathroom. The toilet paper even said Run Happy! No long lines= happy runner. After a quick stop to the gear check, some warm up strides, and stretching we were ready to go.
I was in Corral 1.... Immediately after entering the corral I felt extremely nervous, wondering if I belonged there. I have a tendency to start out too fast, only to burn out in the end. I wanted to run a smart race this time so I headed towards the 1:40 pace group only to see PACER RON! He paced me for about 17 miles of the GO! St. Louis Marathon before I fell apart. I was so excited to see him again and hopefully keep up this time. Redemption at last. I also saw my finance professor (he ran a 1:27!!!!) at the start line. Needless to say, everything was going in my favor. The temperature was perfect; It was a cool start and comfortable throughout the rest of the race.

The race started 10 minutes late which bothered me a bit because I had warmed up in advance and had started to get a bit cold. I also didn't feel so great for the first 5 miles or so (the banana bread was catching up to me!), mentally debating slowing down or trying to keep up. I'm glad I ran with Pacer Ron as he kept talking to me and encouraged me to keep running. Around mile 7, I started to feel better and realized that I could potentially hit sub 1:40, so I kept on going. At mile 8.5 I choked down half a gu, and I definitely felt it kick in. I was on top of the world at mile 10, feeling better and stronger than I did at the start of the race. At mile 11.5, Pacer Ron told me to surge ahead. He had been watching me run and said that I looked strong and told me to find my final kick. I dug deep for the final mile and a half and crossed the finish line with a huge smile. THANK YOU PACER RON!!

I finished with an official time of 1:38:56.

Beyond. Ecstatic. Negative splits. Sub 1:40. What else could I ask for?

Everything, and I mean everything played out perfectly. I say perfectly because I don't want to make excuses for why I could have run faster. Could I have? Maybe, probably. Do I actually want to dwell on it? No. I'm proud of my PR and there will be times in the future when I can crush it.

Also, what?? This was on the official website. Sweet. I was hurting towards the end...

Next goal: 1:35. Let's go.

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Training Reflections: Make it Hurt, Make it Count.

I'm alive! Don't worry, I have been keeping up with my running despite being swamped with school and work. How fitting that during the week of midterms I finally decide to sit down and write this post. ;)

I want to reflect on my training for the last two months.

Running, for me, is 99% mental.  I run when I'm happy, stressed, or sad.  I run to free myself of any connections to my daily responsibilities, giving myself 2 hours of blissful "me time." I also run to contemplate issues that weigh heavy on my mind.

The mental part of becoming a better runner, however, is a different game of its own. It requires transforming your attitude about yourself from negative to positive. My attitude going into a run determines how I feel the entire duration. If I go in thinking that I'm too tired, then yes, within two miles I'll feel like I need to stop or slow down. Self-doubt is one of the worst things that hinders our abilities to become better runners. I've found that I'm good at running set distances, but awful at keeping pace.

You don't know what you're capable of until you actually do it. I has this mental debate about a week ago when I realized that I had just skimmed through this training cycle without any real work. Sure, I ran pretty much every day, fitting in about 60-70 miles a week, but none these were quality workouts designed to make me a better runner.

So two weeks out from this race, I tested myself to see how far I could push it.

Workout One: Closed a 10 mile run with a final mile of 6:57<--- I never run sub-seven miles, let alone at the end of a run!

Workout Two: Two sets of 5 milers, with the second set faster than the first. <--faster than my sub 1:40 half marathon goal pace!

Needless to say, I've been selling myself short. How fast am I capable of running? Much faster than I've been giving myself credit for.

What am I going to run this Sunday? I don't really know. A sub 1:40 would be great, but I'm greedy and I know my body can do a lot more than my mind says it can. All I can do is taper, fuel up, and get ready to run.

Monday, September 10, 2012

Whether or Not to Face the Weather?

I sometimes run on treadmills.

I really rather not.

But I can stick with it for 10+ miles at a time if necessary.

I've heard the name "dreadmill" before and although I think the running outside is much, much better, I don't think that the treadmill is all that bad.

Especially when you're faced with some unpleasant weather...

So where is this going? Let's say that St. Louis weather can be a bit... unpredictable. One minute its blazing hot at 90 degrees with no wind; you can barely catch your breath, let alone stay hydrated. Then out of nowhere, the sky turns from  a slightly suspicious gray color to pitch black. This is not a situation you want to be in.

Last Friday, I went out for my daily run. I was feeling great considering that temperatures were a bit cooler. I am still adjusting to the hot, humid St. Louis weather and enjoyed the slight breeze on Friday. Out of nowhere, four miles into my run, the sky turns dark. At 5pm. You could imagine the words I said in my mind. I was about two miles away from my apartment.

BOOM. Thunder struck.

This was not good. I knew what was coming.

The downpour wasn't too bad. I could take the rain; I simply used my hands as a sort of windshield wiper every few steps so I could actually see what was in front of me. But the hail. The hail hurt.
Big clusters of hail hit my chest, face, head-you name it. I ran through hail and rain for two miles. My roommates stared at me in horror as I walked through the doors, making a mess and leaving a trail of water.

But it was kind of fun? I waved at cars whose passengers were probably thinking "sucks to be that girl." But really, I wouldn't do it again.

Moral of the story?
Run on a treadmill if it's hailing. Bruises + Pain = not good for future runs.
Run outside and push through if its too hot, too cold, or too windy. It'll make you a better runner.

Thursday, August 30, 2012


I apologize that I've been absent for the past two weeks or so. Things have been pretty hectic lately.

HOWEVER, I have exciting news! On October 21st, I will be running the Rock & Roll St. Louis Half Marathon. While I have ambitious goals to PR, I really just can't wait to run another race. The energy and excitement around race day just makes me so happy :). That being said, the next two months will revolve around running fast and shorter distances. I hope to make it out to my school's track (hopefully the track kids don't intimidate me too much...) and bust out some speedy intervals.

My running for the past week since I got back to school has been pretty inconsistent. I forgot how hot and humid it gets in St. Louis... note to self, never move away from California. I successfully completed a 10 mile run my first day here, but that's because I ran early in the morning. Late afternoon runs here are impossible. With temperatures reaching the high 80's, I struggled to keep my pace and had to stop multiple times at water fountains in the past few days. Next week marks the start of my half-marathon training plan so I hope to get my water/heat problem sorted out before then. I'm thinking that I might have to get a fuel belt for the first time...

Stay tuned for a more thorough update tomorrow! I don't have classes on Fridays so I'm hoping to wake up early for a long run of 14-16 miles or so.

Friday, August 17, 2012

It's Play Time!

Recently I've been switching things up a bit which has made running 1381904810x more fun.

Yesterday. 7 total miles! I went to a local trail that overlooks the bay. You know how wind makes you feel like you're working hard and running fast, only to see that your pace is like one full minute slower than your usual easy pace? That's pretty much what happened, except for the lovely fact that headwind followed me even after I switched directions. So after two slow miles I decided to pack it in...and found myself on a treadmill at the gym instead.

So beautiful. So little motivation.
I was in a grumpy mood; it was so nice out and I bailed on a beautiful run. So, to make things more fun, I decided to run mile repeats to avoid treadmill boredom! I wasn't going incredibly fast, but I did a total of 4 7:30 miles with quarter mile jogs in between. I'm hoping to sub 1:40 in a fall half-marathon so I have to start practicing running at a 7 something pace again. (During marathon training I mostly ran in the 8 minute mile pace because my goal pace was an 8:12 mile.)

I definitely think the treadmill has its place in training. While treadmills are sometimes not calibrated correctly, they are great in keeping you right on a target pace. I, for one, have a hard time pushing myself to do an outside tempo run; it's too easy to slow down when I'm feeling tired. However, once I punch in a goal speed on the treadmill, I am more likely to stick it out.

Today. I went on a 3 mile hilly hike with my friends Emma and Deborah. It was great to get out and soak in a little sunshine.
Me and Emma!

Me and Deb!
Despite the being in the 70's, I wore my compression socks. My mileage has been a little higher this week since the marathon. I averaged 40 miles Monday-Thursday so it was important to get in a little recovery today.

The highlight of my week?

Well, that's to come. I have yet to try them out yet but I can safely say that I'm a total sucker for new running toys. It's play time!

Thursday, August 9, 2012

Getting Back into the Groove

Ah the post-marathon blues... are surprisingly non-existent! I run for pleasure, not punishment so I still embrace my daily runs.

This morning I ran 7 easy miles on the treadmill at a 8:34min/mile pace. The past few days I've been exploring the trails and streets around my neighborhood without any goal distance/pace. I live in a pretty hilly area, so the relaxed pace was welcomed. I tend to avoid any significant elevation changes during training for fear of getting burnt out and not finishing a workout, which is silly. Hills and tempos are meant to be challenging and will help me meet my goals.

For example, this was my run yesterday.

The downhill was fabulous. However, I definitely took the lazy way out and walk/ran the 2 miles uphill back home.

For some, post-marathon recovery requires lots of rest and no running. I took the following Monday and Tuesday off, but resumed with a 3 miler last Wednesday. My breathing was a little rough; I couldn't quite catch my breath, but within a few days everything resumed to normal. I probably could have used one or two more days of rest but I'm glad to be moving again!

Monday, July 30, 2012

Race Recap: San Francisco Marathon

I still can't believe that the SFM is over. When I signed up for this race 8 months ago after running my first half marathon everyone thought it was a joke, some hopeless dream an amateur runner was chasing.

Needless to say I proved them wrong. First with the St. Louis Marathon and now with #2 in the books. I still have so much to learn and so much room to grow with this sport. The thing you can appreciate the most about running a marathon is that NO MATTER how in shape and ready you are, come race day ANYTHING can happen. The uncertainty, the risks and the post-race reward all make running so worthwhile. All you have to answer is "HOW BADLY DO YOU WANT IT?"

I wanted it badly. But I did not know what "it" was. A PR? A BQ? A race where I would finish strong and not feel like death? Running in honor of my track friends?

Two Days Before...

So let's rewind to EXPO day. I had a little conversation with the 3 hour marathon Pacer that went a little like this.

"So I can't decide if I want to go for a BQ or not... I mean I think I might be able to run a 3:35 marathon but I'm not sure and don't want to die in the last 10k."- Me
"What was your last marathon time and where was it?"- Him
"3:56.... in St. Louis"- Me
'rolls eyes...' "This is REALLY hard course"- Him
"BUT I was injured and forgot to taper then! I feel much better now"- Me
'rolls eyes again...' "Have you done hill work and track repeats?"- Him
"Kinda..."- Me
'sigh' "Well if you want to...just do it. Or try. I don't think you'll be able to make up time in the downhill if you go out too slowly, you'll have to run 7:30 miles" (you're stupid)- Him

I probably should have listened to Mr. Pacer Dude. After all, his PR is a 2:30 and even he says that SF is a tough course. I blissfully ignored his wise words and went about my day dreaming about 3:35.

Yep, those are some hills.

Race Morning

My alarm went off at the lovely hour of 3AM, but let's be honest here; I was up before my alarm went off. Dang insomnia. Still, though, I felt rested and ready to rock and roll (or run.) I headed downstairs and quickly ate breakfast of coffee and oatmeal with peanut butter and banana in hopes of digesting for a few hours before the 5:30 start time.

I had laid out my gear the night before so after getting back in bed for 40 minutes or so, I quickly got dressed and headed out to my car. My mom and brother were accompanying me to the race so all I had to worry about was getting mentally ready; they took care of driving/parking and the rest.

I got to the start at around 5:20 and really had to go to the bathroom. There were tons of porta potties, but also tons of people. Fortunately I made my way though the line and jumped into Wave 3 1 minute before the start time. Whew, cutting it close. Before I knew it, my wave was off and running and so was I.

 Good Morning!

At this point I was still struggling with the decision to try to BQ or not. I kept glancing at my Garmin, mentally cursing myself for going too fast (BQ pace) or going too slow (3:40 something race pace.)

F* it, I decided I was going to go for it, even if it meant that I was going to crash and burn at the end. I was going to give it my all.

Miles 1-5 went by quickly. The course was flat and fast along the Embarcadero and temperatures were perfect. Overcast and cool. My pace was right on track and I was feeling great.

We started climbing at mile 6 to get up to the Golden Gate Bridge. I saw the climb from the distance and mentally got ready to drive up hill and pump my arms. My pace slowed significantly, but I finished the hill without feeling winded and knew that I would make up time on the downhill. Miles 6-10 were on an out and back on the Golden Gate Bridge and I got back on track despite the rolling hills. Running on the bridge was eerily blissful. The mist blanketed my whole body and fog surrounded the whole bridge. At this point I was running without music so I soaked in all of my natural surroundings. (I was planning on turning on my music after mile 14 for a bunch needed second half boost.)
Then came miles 10-15, which were a few of my favorite miles. Crowd support for the first half marathon was super. I high fived chains of people and had a HUGE smile on my face, almost forgetting that I was running a marathon and still had 16 miles to go. Starting around mile 12 I started falling off pace a little bit, but ended up keeping that pace for a few miles. I clocked right at 1:50 at the half and knew that I needed to run massive negative splits to hit a 3:35. Knowingly accepting that it wasn't going to happen, I focused on having a great run and feeding off the energy of the course support. My left ankle started hurting at this point, right around where I tie my shoe laces; instead of stopping, I decided to run through the pain.

We looped around the Golden Gate Park for a few miles and hit some rolling hills. Fortunately I was somewhat knowledgeable about the elevation here; I had run a Turkey Trot and walked around the park after Bay to Breakers. At this point I turned on my music and had a great mental boost, but the music soon stopped as my iPod ran out of batter after a quick 20 minutes. (I thought I had fully charged it?) The muscle fatigue started to set in and my body definitely knew I was running a marathon. I employed a strategy and started walking through aid stations to catch my breath. (I definitely think this strategy works!) I stopped at mile 17 to retie my left shoe lace in hopes of making my ankle feel a little better. It worked for the next few miles.

I never really hit the wall. Exhausted but still happy describes exactly how I felt. I saw my mom and brother at mile 20 on Haight street which was absolutely amazing. I had NO idea where they'd be on the course; we never talked about it before and it was such a surprise to see them. Due to my excitement, I ran mile 21 a lot faster. The last 10k was especially excruciating for my left foot. With each step on the gradual downhill, I thought my foot was going to fall off.

I'm still disappointed with miles 23-26; I really didn't want any miles over a 10 minute pace. I definitely did NOT need the two walking breaks I took but I sure as hell wanted them. At the mile 25 mile mark I told myself I'd run it in all the way, no matter how quickly or slowly it took. I did not want spectators watching me walk. Looking back on it, considering that the last .61 miles were at an 8:37 pace, I don't think I gave it my all which is quite defeating. (Dang it, I thought I was running the tangents but I guess running a perfect 26.2 is near impossible.) But no marathon is without the mental and physical struggle of pushing your body and soul to the next level. For future races, I definitely want to work on not getting too emotional during the last 10k and accept the pain.

And here's what we've all been waiting for...

Obviously no AG win here or BQ. The 19 and under competition is much easier; not many teenagers tackle on the daunting marathon and I was fortunate enough to have the privilege of getting an award in STL.

However, I still ran a 3:49 on a tough, hilly course just 3 months after my first marathon. With a flat, fast course and more speed work, I definitely think a BQ is calling my name in the future. I'll have to work hard, but hard work pays off. To say that I'm thrilled with a 7 minute PR would be an understatement. I'm still riding the post-marathon adrenaline rush 36 hours later and loving the sport more than ever. I ran in honor of Alan and Gabby, two talented runners whose lives were tragically cut short. With each name written clearly on my arms, whenever I had any ounce of self doubt (read: walking breaks) all I had to do was look down and know that they would have cheered me on for a strong finish. Thank you, both of you, for being such wonderful and inspiring people in my life. 

Also a HUGE shout out to my mom and my brother. THE BIGGEST THANK YOU EVER for dealing with my craziness the few days prior to the marathon. I was an absolute wreck; nerves got the best of me. Thank you for waking up at 4 AM on a Sunday and thank you for walking 6 miles to get to Haight Street in the cold for watching me for a good 10 seconds. You two are the best.

Cheering from the start...

To the sweaty finish!

 I'm not really sure what's next. For the first time in about 9 months I have no races scheduled. I'm thinking maybe some 10k's and an attempt at a half marathon PR. We'll see. Stay tuned!

Saturday, July 28, 2012

I'm Bad at Tapering.



And I'm itching to run. It's been two weeks of "taper" and I can firmly say that I'm awful at following rules.


Here's a look at my mileage for the last two weeks.

Week of July 16
M- 5 miles
T- 5 miles
W- 10 miles
TH- 6 miles
F-10 miles
S-6 miles
SU- off

Week of July 23
M- 6 miles
T- 10 miles
W- off
TH- 8 miles
F- off
S- off

So there has definitely been a decrease in mileage these past two weeks.  I peaked around 75 miles two weeks ago. Recently, I've been running at very easy paces just to get my legs moving and blood pumping. Everything feels great; I have no lingering injuries and YES I REMEMBERED THE CORRECT DATE THIS TIME. (for the St. Louis Marathon I went through the entire training cycle thinking the marathon was on April was on the 15th... I ran 24 miles the week before the race...)

I'm not exactly sure what my pacing strategy will be like for tomorrow. San Francisco is notoriously hilly and I don't know if I've done enough hill work. I think I'll just let everything fall into place and run the best race I can.

Is it "Worth the Hurt?" Absolutely. See you in 26.2!

Thursday, July 26, 2012

Running Tip: How to Buy the Right Pair of Shoes

I've rotated through many pairs of running shoes during the last year. The biggest problem I've encountered is really finding a pair that offers enough support without feeling too cushioned. To find out whether a pair of shoes works for me or not I actually have to buy them and try them out for a few long runs. A few little circles around the store simply does not do it for me.

That being said, I can't recommend a specific pair of shoes for you. Each person has their own preference; weight and running stride also factor in to determine which shoe works best for injury avoidance and overall running experience. However, I can tell you what has worked for me in the past.

What's the most important part? Choosing the Right Store 

From personal experience I can say that choosing the right store is key towards purchasing the right pair of shoes. Everything else (finding the right fit, size, etc.) will follow.

I bought my first two pairs of shoes at Foot Locker and would advise against it. They sold me the Asics Gel Kayanos. While I'm sure these shoes work for someone else with a larger build/different stride, they definitely did not work for me. Coincidentally, these shoes also happened to be the most expensive Asics... hmmm interesting... Anyway, the Gel Kayanos are heavy and were weighing me down during long training runs. (at 5'3" and 108lbs I did not need shoes that weighted 9.7 ounces) I was also wearing the wrong size shoe! You're supposed to size up in running shoes to avoid getting the dreaded black toe nail. Unfortunately I didn't know this at the time (evidently neither did the sales person) and purchased the Kayanos anyway. Moral of the story? Don't go to any store where the sales people probably don't know what they're talking about/ aren't runners. BUT! If you do know what shoe you want, then go to Foot Locker/Online Retailers during sales and score yourself a snazzy deal!

Road Runner's Sports is a national running chain that I frequent because of its great customer service and return policies. However, it can be a hit or miss. The first time I went into the store, they had me go through their Shoe Dog program which analyzes your stride to determine your foot arch, flexibility, and pronation. I have high arches and overpronate so I was put into the stability category. (there's also neutral and motion control) Great. However, the woman I worked with seemed unsure about the shoes I was looking at. I was looking at the Pure series by Brooks and asked about the difference between the Cadence, Connect, and Flow shoes. She just brushed off my questions. Another downfall to Road Runners is that they definitely try to sell you more than you come in for. I was told that I needed insoles which were like 100 dollars a pair?! No. I'm sure they just wanted me to spend more money. However, the best part of Road Runners is their VIP program. For 25 dollars a year you get 10% off everything in the store and a 90 day return policy for worn shoes. This is great if you want to try a new pair of shoes but aren't sure about them. You can wear them for a few weeks, and if you decide that you don't like them, return them for your trusty old style of shoes!

I can only speak for the few local running stores I've been to, but for the most part you pay for what you get. You definitely won't find gear on super sale. The upside is that the service is top notch and you work with people who love the sport, love talking about the sport, and most importantly want to help you love the sport as well. I got my first pair of Brooks Adrenaline GTS shoes from Movin Shoes in San Diego and they have been my favorite pair of shoes so far. The sales person had me run outside while monitoring my stride, giving me feedback on which pair of shoes helped correct my overpronation/heel striking the best. I believe this is more effective than having your stride monitored on a treadmill first because you want to see how a pair of shoes affects your stride. I think the quality of service and experience of going to a local running store is definitely worth the price. Plus, they usually have run clubs where you can get your run on and meet new people!

My Gear

I currently rotate through three pairs of shoes.

Brooks Adrenaline GTS 12- Primarily used for long runs. Great support without weighing me down. My favorite pair of shoes. Ever.
Mizuno Wave Rider 15- A great neutral shoe but not ideal for me as I need more of a stability shoe.
Asics DS Racer 9- Just purchased, but I bought them as a lighter racing shoe that still offers support.

Finally, don't forget to buy new shoes every 400-500 miles or when your knees start to ache! You don't want to risk an injury just because you wanted to get a few more miles out of your shoes. Happy running!

Saturday, July 14, 2012

A Confidence Boosting Long Run

I left my house around 7:30 this morning to embark on my final long run before the SF Marathon. Surprisingly, this run felt GREAT. During my last 20 miler, I ended up walking/running the final 7 miles due to dehydration and exhaustion. I gave up at mile 13 on my last 16 miler....

Not today. I was determined to finish strong and was prepared to mentally grind through the pain. Miraculously, however, I never felt winded and actually had to make myself slow down. I ran a little over 20 miles at an average pace of 8:35. Now I feel both mentally and physically ready for the marathon! Bring it, SF. :)

Today's Stats. I didn't end up taking any Gus simply because I didn't need any. I had a sip of water at mile 6 and grabbed my water bottle at mile 12.