Marathon Training Week 7

Marathon Training Week 7

The 7th week of training has come to a close and I completed what I’d consider my first true long run (16 miles).  At the outset of my training I told myself that I wouldn’t be a slave to the plan and I’ve by and large kept up with that sentiment.  As you can see below, I skipped a moderate length run on Thursday.  This past week was my first week working on Thursdays again in a long time.  I thought at least I’d get some miles in after work but after eating dinner, the motivation never materialized.  I still managed to get out and do 16 the next day so it wasn’t all a failure.

Here’s a summary of last week’s running.

( ) = # of miles on my plan

Tuesday – 3.1 (3)

Thursday – 0 (6)

Friday – 16.02 (16)

Saturday – 3.07 (4)

Sunday –  5.05 (3)

Weekly Total – 27.24 miles (32)

The rain has subsided for now so I was able to get outside for all my runs.  Tuesday’s run was a fairly quick one that I did after work in the dark.  I enjoy running in the dark on occasion as it is a whole different feeling.

I decided to head upstream on the American River Parkway for my 16 miler.  The day turned out to be beautiful if not a bit chilly.  I think it was around 38 F when I headed out in the morning but it warmed up into the 40s and was perfect for a long slow run on the bike trail.  Because of the previous rains, there were a ton of people on the trail either walking, biking, running.  At one point I found myself either being passed or watching these fast ladies speed down the pathway.  I have suspicions they were either from the nearby Sac State college team or possibly from the NorCal Distance Project.  These ladies were fast and definitely in awesome shape.  It was fun to see how quick they were.  I had a guy jogging in the opposite direction of me joking if I had fallen off pace (after some ladies had passed me).  I just laughed as I was going probably as slow as he was.

It was interesting to see what the recent weather had done to the trail and all the stuff around it.  There were quite a few trees that were downed.

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Near this tree there were a few of the orange traffic cones.  I ran by one and noticed that there were some keys sitting on the top just randomly out.  Of course I didn’t touch it but needed to grab a pic of such a strange occurrence.

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I do wonder what those keys may open.

Lots of wildlife were out enjoy the beautiful day as well.  First I noticed some of these turtles sunning themselves on a log in the river.  Now I do know there are quite a few invasive turtles (mostly red-eared sliders) but I don’t know if there are native turtles on the American River.

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And then there were some turkeys.  They were making quite a ruckus with all their “gobbling.”  The male also puffed its tail feathers at me at one point warning me off his lady friends.

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And then further down the trail there are some larger areas of quieter water where lots of different water fowl were hanging out.

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I made it to my turnaround point at William Pond Park.  This is the same park that hosts the Run The Parkway Half Marathon that I did last fall.   This was a good place to use the restroom and get some water and take my first gel.

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I then headed back downstream.

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Overall the run was good.  I felt like it was a much bigger struggle to do my long run from the previous week, which was only 10 miles.  I definitely started feeling sore and tired in my legs as I passed the 12 mile mark.  But I soldiered on and completed the task.

After getting home, I definitely stretched and foam rolled.  For the rest of the day, my legs were fairly sore.  Even the next morning my legs were very tired.  I managed to do a slow 3 that next day and then the day after did 5.  I will say that while I was still sore for my Sunday 5, the legs started feeling better midway through the run even if I wasn’t going too fast.  And today (Monday), my legs feel completely fine.  I think that semi-sticking to my training plan is actually getting my body accustomed to the mileage.

I’m not done with my February running (probably will do one more run tomorrow), but I’ve already surpassed 100 miles for the month.  And (*knock on wood*) my body seems to be holding up okay so far.  I had just a little bit of right knee soreness after the long run but nothing that stayed.

Here’s my uber slow 16 miler:

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-StewsCat

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Marathon Training Week 6

Marathon Training Week 6

Week 6 of training is in the books.  Overall I felt like this was a decent week.  I had a few aches and pains along the way.  My 7 miles on Thursday was done on the treadmill and I definitely pushed it (averaging less than a 10 min/mile pace, which is pretty quick for me).  And then following that the next day with a long run was a good test for my body/legs.  On Saturday morning I felt the result of the previous two days and woke up sore all over.  I still managed to get out and do my 5 miles though, which was again a good test of running on tired legs.  I’ve been trying to do some foam rolling after my runs since I’ve increased my mileage a fair amount compared to previously.  Last year I probably averaged between 15 and 22 miles per week.  So far I’ve been averaging in the mid to high 20s this training cycle.

Here’s a summary of last week’s running.

( ) = # of miles on my plan

Tuesday – 3 (3)

Thursday – 7 (7)

Friday – 10.05 (10)

Saturday – 5 (5)

Sunday – 4 (4)

Weekly Total – 29.05 miles (29)

We were hit with another round of rain this past week.  More importantly or impactful, we had some strong winds.  This resulted in a power outage on Friday from 2:15 pm (I know since I was in the midst of catching up on some of my shows) that lasted until 10:30 pm that night.  I had received a phone call from the power company at 4 pm saying power would be out until the following day at 12 pm, so it was a nice surprise that it came on later that night.  Apparently a tree fell on some power lines on the nearby train tracks, which required some specialized equipment to remove the tree, lines and then replace the lines. With the power out, it gave me no choice but to complete  my chores before it got too dark.  We then went out to dinner and watched a movie (luckily my wife’s laptop had a full battery charge).  Then it was lights out early (we were asleep when the power came back).  I had unplugged the power supply to the TV since I knew that it would turn on once power was restored and figured that might be in the middle of the night.  My wife had previously purchased some candle-less candles that came in very handy.

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It was raining a decent amount on Friday morning but I decided to head out and do my long run anyway.  I elected to go down by the river trail to see what it looked like.  We had had a few days of dry weather and I wanted to see what the river levels looked like.  The river had receded and you could actually run on the bike trails (that were previously under water).  The receding water had left a thin layer of dirt/mud on the trails so it felt a little strange underfoot – not like running on a smooth surface.  There was a section that was really muddy and forced me to climb the berm and run on top of it.  The rain wasn’t so bad but the wind was biting at times and made me question why I was doing it.  As you can imagine there weren’t many people out.  A few other brave souls were out running though and one guy gave me a thumbs up from afar as you and I both kept on our runs.

I rewarded myself post long run with some bad for me food. Fish and chips and fried clams to boot.  There’s a small local fish and chips shop run by Koreans that I like to go to (and I like supporting local businesses).  So I stopped in and picked up their daily special.

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With the large amounts of rain that we’ve been getting, a lot of the area trees and plants have started blossoming early.  Since Saturday’s run stayed dry (looked like looming rains), I managed to get some shots of some trees.  One of the trees has these really cool looking purple-pink and white flowers.  The flowers are extremely short-lived on the tree and fall off relatively quickly – especially with the strong winds.

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There are a number of them in our neighborhood and I really like purple so it helps.

Another tree that has bloomed is the one that has a very distinct smell.  The flowers give off the odor of a certain bodily fluid (aka semen).  It’s very strange.

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Callery Pear (Pyrus calleryana)
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And there are a ton of Camelia trees in our neighborhood (including a few on our property).  I like them because of the various colors that exist.  These also tend to make a mess when they drop their flowers.

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Camelia

And finally one of our bare Chinese Pistache trees and one of our lavenders.  I’m just glad the lavenders have survived this long (we had previously tried to plant them in years past and they’ve all died).

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Chinese Pistache
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Lavender

I also broke in two new pairs of shoes in the last week or so.  I haven’t run in Mizuno shoes previously and so am trying my first pair with the Mizuno Wave Catalyst.  I’ve only done one run in them but so far they seem all right.  I also did my first run in a shoe I’ve previously run in, the Altra Repetition.  My original pair is getting towards the end of its life with close to 450 miles on it so I’ve started in on its replacement (same shoe, different color).

I think the Repetition is billed as a trail running shoe (it is a maximalist zero drop shoe), I’ve found it to be a great road shoe.   I’ve done a half marathon in my previous pair as well as a decent amount of long runs.  I’ve been a fan of Altra now for a few years and also run in the Altra Provision 2.0 currently  as well.  As I’ve said before, the diversity in shoes that I use in training I think helps to keep me from getting injured (*knocks on wood*).

-StewsCat

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Marathon Training Week 5

Another week in the books.  Overall am happy with how things went though my long run could have been better.  I’m just glad that I fit it in as I had minimal motivation to do it.  I even putzed around the house for a good 30-60 minutes putting it off and then finally walked out the door and got it done.

I also finally did my Tuesday run, which has always been on my schedule but I’ve never done.  Part of it is due to a change in my work schedule, which gives me some time after work to run and also due to my new treadmill (post is yet to be published about it).  I was still sore from the race 2 days prior to Tuesday, but I think it was good training for my legs.

Here’s a summary of last week’s running.

( ) = # of miles on my plan

Tuesday – 2.39 (3)

Thursday – 6.05 (6)

Friday – 5.25 (14)

Saturday – 11.5 (5)

Sunday – 2.35 (3)

Weekly Total – 27.54 miles (31)

This week’s runs highlight the gravity of the large volumes of rain that we’ve been experiencing this year.  My Friday run showed just how much the river had risen.  It’s amazing to see in the pictures the difference between an overcast day on Friday and a beautiful blue sky day for my long run on Saturday.  Many of the areas of the bike trail were completely submerged in water.  Also there is a golf course on the north side of the river that lies by the river.  Most of the course is underwater as well.

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Golf course under water
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Bike trail under water

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View along the bike trail at Sac State
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A road to nowhere
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Normally this a grassy field

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My long run took me on a tour of East Sacramento, including the bagel shop we like to get bagels on the weekend.  My long run was a test of my mental persistence.  I had a few cocktails the night before and was just feeling overall tired.  My training plan has been thrown askew because of the race and it changing my long run distance.  I need to get back on track.  I was originally going to head upstream along the river, but as evidenced in the pictures above, I could not go past Sac State so decided to run through campus.  Since it was a Saturday, the campus was relatively empty.

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Looking forward to week 6.  So far my legs are fairly sore but no major injuries (*knocks on wood*)

-StewsCat

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2017 Surf City Half Marathon race recap

Last Sunday I completed by 19th half marathon.  It was the 21st running of the Surf City Marathon/Half Marathon in Huntington Beach, CA.  I grew up about 20 minutes from HB and so this was kind of a homecoming race.

I had originally signed up for the full marathon last year.  Currently my overall long-term running plans are to complete a full marathon every other year (to hopefully give my body time to recover and just  not tax myself too much given my history of injuries).  I had been contemplating between Surf City and the Carlsbad Marathon.  Eventually I settled on Surf City and my good friend KP was thinking of doing it as well (though in the end she couldn’t due to scheduling conflicts).  I was excited about the race and the course didn’t seem too bad.  One gripe I read about the full distance was that there was a lot of “looping” back and forth along PCH and the ocean.  So it could be a little disheartening because you see the people that are a few miles ahead of you and realize you still have a ways to go.

The Big Sur Marathon lottery came a few months after I signed up for Surf City.  I thought “why not sign up for the first timer/bucket list lottery and see what happens?”  Sure enough, I received the email that I made it in and could register for 2017.  So I did.  Now I had a decision to make.  Surf City was on February 5 and Big Sur is on April 30.  With such a short time between races I knew that I shouldn’t try to do 2 full marathons in such a short time (see above about me being injury prone).  I made the decision to drop to the half marathon for Surf City.

The race expo was set up in a large tent on one of the parking lots along the beach southeast of the pier.  The organization for the bib and t-shirt pickup was well done.  You had to know your bib number ahead of time because within the front of the tent, they had lines with a certain interval of number (1-1000, 1001-2000, etc).  And then they had a separate area with lines based on your shirt size.  So I was able to pickup my bib and shirt and tote bag within just a few minutes of arriving.  This was good because I only had a few minutes to check out the expo as we were heading to meet friends for lunch.

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The rest of the expo was similar to most large races.  There were quite a few vendors offering some samples as well as other booths that were selling various running gear, most at a discount – as is usual at race expos.  The one different thing at this expo was that there was a large amount of race merchandise not running related.  They had mugs with the run surf city logo and some other things that I don’t normally see at race expos.  Overall I picked up a few samples of Larabars and some other granola type bar.  Expo day was what you imagine as your prototypical California day.  Blue skies, sunny, semi-warm.

I didn’t get a picture of my pre-race meal but we had pizza.  That is always my go to before a race.  Since we were staying at my folk’s house, we picked up some good pies from a local pizza joint that I’ve had previously called Ameci’s pizza and pasta.  We enjoyed the meal with one of my sisters and her husband and 3 kiddos.  It was a nice fun night and I was able to go to bed early (9:30 pm).

Race morning started off early for me as usual.  Since there is not a ton of parking around PCH and Huntington, I elected to just park at the Civic Center and take the free shuttle to the race start area (~2.5 miles).  I toyed with the idea of parking and walking that 2.5 miles but decided I could be patient and take the shuttle.  Luckily about 2-3 minutes after I boarded one of the yellow school buses, we were off and to the start area about 15 minutes later.

The start area had porta-potties lined along the boardwalk.  I walked around the expo tent area and then went to use the facilities.  The full marathon started at 6:30 AM and the half marathon didn’t start until 7:45 AM.  They had a wave start that was separated by about 2-3 minutes each.  I had predicted a slower time (~2:10) so was in the 5th or 6th wave.  About 10 minutes before 7:45, we all crowded up and lined up.

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A previous mayor and current city council member of HB sang the national anthem and I must say she did a fabulous job.  And then we were off…Except not.  The wave starts definitely made me antsy.  I don’t think I actually crossed the start line until about 8:03 AM or so.  By this time I had to pee again.  Ooops!  I told myself I’d made it through the first few aid stations (where the porta-potties are) and then stop somewhere to pee.

Much of the half marathon course runs along the Pacific Coast Highway (PCH aka Hwy 1).  The first 2.5 miles took us north on PCH and then we made a right on Seapoint street.  PCH is relatively flat but the right turn on Seapoint immediately took us onto a gentle long incline into some neighborhoods. We continued and made a loop in the neighborhood (miles 3-5.5).   On the return trip of the loop, it was mostly downhill which was nice.  The first few miles of the race I was lagging and going much slower than normal.  My Garmin tells me that my paces for the first 4 miles were: 10:47, 10:31, 10:35, and 10:45.

After making our way down from Seapoint, we turned north again on PCH and this took us along the Bolsa Chica Ecological Reserve on our right and Bolsa Chica beach on our left.  I’ve been to both places previously.  You can walk along these wooden boards in the Ecological reserve and see the wildlife (lots of birds).

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As a kid and through high school we went to Bolsa Chica to do bonfires and just  hang out.  I finally stopped somewhere in the 7-8  mile area to pee and this slowed me down a little bit.  Shortly after the 8 mile mark we made a U-turn on PCH and started to head back towards HB.  Just before mile 9 was the CLIF Shot energy zone.  Here they were handing out some Clif gels which I managed to get a few Mocha ones.  I hadn’t brought any energy gels with me so it was a nice time to get one and take one.

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It was a straight shot down PCH from mile 9-13.1.  As we got closer back to Huntington Beach, I could see the full marathoners heading north on the boardwalk.  At this time I was glad that I had dropped to the half marathon because I can only imagine how disheartening it can be to watch the half marathoners heading to the home stretch while you’re still running in the opposite direction.  While I don’t think it is the worst thing, especially given the views of the crashing waves while you’re at it, I was glad that I wasn’t doing it.  They also don’t shut down the boardwalk so the runners have to weave their way around bicyclists and other tourists.

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I was feeling strong from miles 10 onward and continued my run-walk method.  I didn’t stick to an exact (4 minutes run : 1 minute walk) but did it more by feel.  Miles 9-13.1 splits were: 10:17, 10:13, 10:29, 10:01, 9:54, 9:12.  The 10:29 most likely was due to me stopping to take pictures.

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I didn’t do a sprint to the finish since this was more a training race than anything and ran it in at my normal pace.  I felt really good overall after finishing.  I picked up my massive medal, water, chocolate milk, banana, Bai, protein bar.

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Beer line

Initially I was going to get my complimentary beer but the line to the beer garden was super long and I didn’t feel like sticking around so instead walked out on the sand and beach.

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There were a few special things about this race.  It was my 19th half marathon and essentially from my childhood hometown.  I suspect that my marathon training helped me accomplish the race with more ease than I am used to.  I’m satisfied with my race time.

Race time: 2:17:37

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-StewsCat

Marathon Training Week 4

Marathon Training Week 4

Another week of training in the books.  I can’t say that I did a faithful job following my training plan but overall I am happy with what I did.  All of my training for last week was done in a different part of the state – southern California.  I had previously signed up for the Surf City Marathon in Huntington Beach last year.  After finding out I had made it into Big Sur, I decided to drop from the full marathon distance to the half marathon for Surf City.  This did require a small fee to change but I thought it was worthwhile and at least timing wise the 13.1 miles would fit into my training regime.

Since we were doing some of the touristy stuff as well as setting up times to hang out with friends, I shortened some of my runs and altogether skipped another one.  I won’t feel too bad about it though since I had a fun weekend.

Here’s a summary of last week’s running.

( ) = # of miles on my plan

Tuesday – 0 (3)

Thursday – 5 (5)

Friday – 2.7 (10)

Saturday – 0 (5)

Sunday – 13.1 (4)

Weekly Total – 20.8 miles (27)

First thing I did after getting off the plane and settled at my parent’s place is go for a run in my old hood.  Originally the neighborhood they live in was built in the 50s or so.  However, over the years people have demolished homes and rebuilt them in all sorts of styles.  In the last 5-10 years, there have been a lot of crazy houses that don’t fit into the area.  You can see the difference between more original housing and new housing below.

The race (recap to follow) took place on Superbowl Sunday so we decided to make a weekend of it.  Both our families live down in SoCal so it was easy.  My folks were out of town but let us stay at their place and use their car (yay for free lodging and transportation).  My wife had never been to the Getty Center in LA and has always wanted to go.  So this time we had some free time and decided to make a day out of LA since it is a good drive from where we were staying in the OC.

Normally SoCal is sunny like 95% of the time.  We happened to go down the weekend that it was rainy and overcast for 3/4 of the time.  After spending the first day down hanging out with the wife’s family, Friday morning we set out for LA and the Getty.  Due to the rain, traffic was slow going but at least we were moving so I can’t complain that much.  And then we arrived at the Getty and surprisingly there were quite a few people visiting as well.  Normally people go to the Getty less so for the art and moreso for the beautiful garden and views of the city.

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I had previously visited and thought it was nice.  Seeing the galleries and visiting the property is free except you do have to pay $15 for parking.  Due to the large amount of visitors, the tram that takes you from the parking structure to the actual facility was backed up.  The Getty sits on top of a hill and you park at the base of it.  Even though it was raining, they offered for people to walk up to the Center.  I grabbed one of the complimentary umbrellas (my wife brought her own) and we started walking.  Not 100 feet into the walk, another employee offered a free shuttle bus to the entrance.  Yay for free and no walking in the wetness.  We did kind of a speed walk through many of the exhibits as that is our MO.  Unfortunately the large garden was closed due to the weather and rain.  The views of LA were also obstructed due to overcast conditions.

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After leaving the Getty we made our way into Culver City to have a late lunch at Father’s Office, which is a gastropub that was founded by Sang Yoon, who has been on Top Chef.  He developed the Office Burger, which he calls the perfect burger.  Watching him on TV, he also talked about how much he detests ketchup and that you can’t ask for that at his restaurant.  We both ordered the burger and fries and had some beer (and I had a cocktail after my beer).  Overall the burger was filled with quite a punch of flavor and was very yummy.

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Saturday turned out to be a beautiful day.  Clear blue skies and sunny.  In the morning, we hit up the race expo to pick up my bib and shirt.  We were meeting up with some friends for lunch so didn’t get to hang out too long at the expo.  We met up at Ballast Point Brewing in Long Beach.  I thought Ballast Point was a San Diego brewery and it is but looks like they’re doing well enough that they have branched out their locations.  Their grilled fish tacos were delicious and I had the Sour Wench Blackberry Ale.  It was quite tasty and refreshing.  The views from the outdoor seating area weren’t so bad either.

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After Ballast Point, the wife and I weren’t done with our day drinking just yet so drove over to Belmont Shores to have some more beers.  We ended up at Belmont Brewing and enjoyed some beer and another great view.  I do love the ocean.

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I probably shouldn’t have had all that beer the day before a race, but I couldn’t pass it up.  And overall it didn’t affect my race all that much.

Up Next: Surf City Half Marathon Race Recap

-StewsCat