November 26, 2012

Setting My 2013 Race Calendar

I've been thinking a lot since my last post, where I pondered what athletic endeavors I would do in 2013.  Although I still have not made my final decisions, I have gained more and more clarity as to what I want to do.  I think the answers lie in my goals, which are to push myself , do new things, stay fit and have fun.

I am still planning on the 6 half marathons I discussed in my last post. I love half marathons, and may even add a 7th if I can find one next fall that doesn't entail travel expense.  But I was still unsure about my triathlon plans. That decision I have made for sure: I will NOT be doing another half-Ironman (70.3 miles) in 2013. However, I loved the training I did for SuperFrog, and was so proud of myself when I finished, so there will most likely be another one in my future. As I wrote before, there are only two 70.3 races in San Diego: SuperFrog and the Ironman-branded Ironman California, which is in Oceanside. Given that I want to do new things, I think I want to skip SuperFrog next year, and sign up for Oceanside 70.3 in 2014 (it's already sold out for 2013).  So that big decision is out of the way. I am nervous about it, especially the hilly bike ride and the hard 8-hour cutoff that Ironman mandates, but I think I can do it.  I know I'll try my best, regardless.

So, what else will I be doing in 2013? Well, I decided that this year I want to do something in each sport that scares me.  I loved conquering my fear of doing a 70.3 this past year, and want to smash through other fears. These are my proposed plans:


I am 99% sure that I will be signing up for the Tiki Swim, which is in September.  This is a 2.4 mile point-to-point swim (full Ironman distance) in Oceanside.  Yes, there is a 1.2 mile option, but I've done that---my half-Ironman was 1.2 miles. I know I can easily swim 1.2 miles, and building up to roughly 4200 yards shouldn't be that much more of a stretch (I've done 3000 yards without too much difficulty) yet still a challenge for me.  I think the biggest challenge will be fighting boredom---after 2500 or 3000 yards swimming in the pool my mind goes numb with staring at the black line.  But I'm excited about the race.  There is a 2 hour, 20 minute cutoff, which I should be able to do (I did the 1.2 mile swim at SuperFrog in less than an hour, and that included fighting those huge 6-foot waves twice in the double-looped swim).  I also hear there is an aid station on a kayak about halfway through, which should be interesting.  So while the Tiki Swim scares me, I'm also excited about it.


I am also 99% sure that I will be signing up for the Xterra Mission Gorge Tail Run in February. While the distance doesn't scare me (it's 15k, or 9.3 mile) the terrain terrifies me.  I don't run on trails. I am pretty clumsy and am sure I'm going to hurt myself. In fact, years ago, back in 2003 I did a 4 mile trail race (this was while I was in the middle of training for the Rock 'n' Roll San Diego Marathon) and I twisted my ankle on some rocks.  However, a friend of mine has been pressuring me to run this with him, and I finally relented.  He promised me he would help me up and down the hills. So, in the name of doing something that scares me, this trail run is it. I guess I need to start training on some trails over the next few months. I have been running a bit on some horse trails lately, but I need to really get out to the real hill trails to train.


This is where things get fuzzy for me. Most things involving the bike scare me. It's no secret the bike has always been my weakest leg in triathlon.  When I was training for SuperFrog, my longest training ride was 60 miles and I promised myself that I wouldn't ever have to bike one mile further. Well, now I'm reconsidering.  I'm thinking about doing a century (100 mile ride).  The San Diego Century is in June, and while it offers shorter distances (33 and 67 miles) I would do the full, which is actually 103 miles.  The distance itself isn't the scariest part---it's the hills.  This ride goes over hills so steep (for me) and so long that I'm truthfully not sure I can do. If I sign up, I need to commit to major hill training over the next 6 months.  Ideally I would have a better bike; that's not in our budget right now but I think I can do the ride on my current bike. I'm about 50/50 right now on signing up for this.  The idea alone frightens me.


So, if I'm not doing a 70.3 this year, will I do any triathlons at all?  I want to do at least one.  There are many in San Diego that I haven't done, but will probably only do one in the interest of my race budget. I'm eying the Chula Vista Challenge, an Olympic-distance triathlon in August.  I can't see spending the money for a sprint this year, especially since I'm training for much longer distances with my runs, bikes and swims. 

So, that's my proposed race schedule for 2013.  I will most likely throw in a few more 5ks to do with my son, since he likes to do them, and if the Awesome 80's Run comes to San Diego again I would once again do the 10k since I loved the medal (and the new-to-me distance).  The thing about San Diego is that there are no shortage of races to do---whether running or triathlon, and any distance (except for full-Ironman distance) but I can't do them all.  Seeing what my goals were--especially the "try new things that scare me" part--is helping to whittle down the list.

November 9, 2012

What Next?

Now that my daughter is back in school (re-started yesterday, after almost a full month off!) I am able to resume my workouts.  It seems like a lifetime ago that I was exercising almost daily.  Just 6 weeks ago, on September 30, I did my first half-Ironman triathlon, SuperFrog.  A week after, so only 5 weeks ago, I did the Portland Half Marathon. Then my life went to hell in a handbasket when my daughter broke her neck.  She spent 2 full weeks at Children's Hospital. During this time I got a few short runs in, but nowhere near what I normally would have run.  She's been home for 2 weeks now, and I've been able to do a few runs (and 3 races, including my first 10k and two 5ks) and 2 swims. I  haven't been on my bike at all since SuperFrog.

But now that she's back in school, and I have some time to myself in the day where I don't need to coordinate childcare with my husband, training is back on.  Yesterday, after I dropped her off, I went on a 3 mile run. Today I did a 40 lap (2000 yard) swim. I am planning on biking tomorrow, although if it rains as predicted I might spin at the gym instead. Regardless, there will be cycling of some sort tomorrow. I need to get back into my routine.  Yes, it seems like it's been a lifetime since SuperFrog, but really, it's only been 6 weeks.  I've actually lost some weight, despite not exercising the way I normally do AND pigging out on Halloween candy, and I suspect it's a loss of muscle (probably from no biking!) Now is the time to turn things around.

What I've been pondering recently are my new goals, especially as related to triathlon.  I always train best when I have a goal to work toward, a race to run.  I have lots of half marathons planned in 2013:

New Year's Race Los Angeles Half Marathon, January 5
Tinker Bell Half Marathon, January 20
Carlsbad Half Marathon, January 27
San Diego Half Marathon, March 10
La Jolla Half Marathon, April 28
America's Finest City Half Marathon, August 18

What's missing from this list? Triathlons.  I have NO clue what I will be doing in 2013.  One big question is, do I want to do another half-Ironman?  I'm not sure, but I think I do.  At the end of SuperFrog I vowed I would never do another one, but I'm already forgetting the misery that was that run.  I don't want to travel for a 70.3, so I'm left with 2 choices in San Diego:  SuperFrog or Ironman California.  IMCA is already sold out for 2013, but I could consider it for 2014.  . But Ironman-branded races have a strict 8 hour cutoff in order to be official, and while I was just barely over the 8 hour mark for SuperFrog, I was still over. The bike scares me---it's very hilly---but the swim and run should be easier than SuperFrog (there should be no big waves and no beach run like I had to contend with). I'd have to really commit to major hill training over the next year.  Alternatively, I could do SuperFrog again (fact: I met one of the race directors a few weeks ago when I bought another commemorative t-shirt, and he said that if I could finish that race course, I could do ANY race.  He himself thought the course, especially the run, was ridiculously hard.)

Regardless of if/which 70.3 I do, I might also want to do a sprint or Olympic-distance triathlon.  I'm thinking of doing SuperSeal Olympic (I have a 25% off code since last year's cancellation).  But there are other races in San Diego, triathlons I haven't done before. The San Diego International Triathlon is just short of Olympic-distance (a little shorter swim and bike) although the bike goes up the same steep, grueling hill on Cabrillo National Monument that I did in last year's Oly.  And San Diego, birthplace of triathlon, has tons of other sprints that would be fun to do.

Also, I'm looking at other running races. I know I'm in love with the half marathon distance, but I enjoyed my first 10k and am looking at the Coronado Valentine's Day 10k.  And a certain friend of mine is pressuring me to do my first trail race with him. I hate trails, but am crazily considering this sufferfest of a 15k. Why not try something new? I'm also loosely considering a long swim race (2 miles or so) or a long bike (either a century or a metric century, even though I swore I'd never bike a mile past 60).   There are plenty of both to look at in San Diego.

The bottom line, I have nothing on my race schedule after next August. And no triathlons at all.  What to do, what to do.........

November 6, 2012

Shelter Island 5k Race Recap

On Sunday I ran in my second 5k of the weekend (see my first recap here), the Shelter Island 5k.  Normally, I don't like to do 5ks, preferring to spend my race money on half marathons and triathlons.  I've been doing a few 5ks recently, but only because my 8 year old son has started to run and I like to do short races with him. But I haven't done a 5k on my own (sans son) in years.  I changed my mind for this one, though.  My cousin came out to visit from the east coast, and he just started running and doing 5ks.  He really wanted to run a 5k in San Diego on his trip, so we both signed up. I also got two of my neighbors, who had never done a 5k or a race of any sort, to sign up.

With a 7:30 race time, we had to leave the house early. I always like to get to races with plenty of time to spare, in case of getting lost, traffic, etc, so we left the house at 6:00.  It was daylight savings that day, so the early wake-up call didn't feel so bad. We easily found our destination, which was near the San Diego Airport, parked and went to the race site.  We picked up our bibs, and then had a LOT of time to kill before the race started.

I had no real goals for the race.  Usually my race times for a half marathon are at about 11:30 minute mile, maybe slower.  On last week's 10k I had a 10:56 minute mile pace, which was fast for me.  I didn't know what to expect out of myself on a 5k without my son to slow me down. I decided to play it by ear.

When the race started, there were a LOT of walkers in front of me. I had to do a lot of weaving to get around them, then kicked it into high gear to pass them.  The "high gear" mode seemed easy for me, and I was shocked when I looked at my Garmin:  a 9:40 pace.  I NEVER run in the 9's....I'm always thrilled when my pace is in the 10 minute mile range!   Half a mile later I looked down again----and it still said 9:40.  What?  Who was this speedy woman taking over my body?

The rest of the race my pace stayed in that range. Whenever I would look at my Garmin I would see anything between 9:20 and 9:50. I couldn't believe it! I was fast! I did have to take a few walk breaks, which I know is kind of sad for a 5k but I couldn't sustain that fast pace for 3.1 miles straight.  The course was beautiful---into Point Loma, and around Shelter Island. The views of the water, boats and palm trees were gorgeous. I was glad I had chosen this race for my cousin, as he was impressed with the views.

With a final burst to the finish, I set a 5k PR with about a 10:06 average pace (which included the walk breaks).  I was so happy and so proud!  I'm used to running these shorter distances either with my son or my dog, and I guess if I were to run by myself I could get speedier.  After the race I was able to collect my t-shirt (cotton, but nice) and goody bag.  There was a champagne breakfast, but my cousin and his girlfriend (who cheered us on) didn't want to go.  We decided to nix the shuttle back to the start, and walked the mile back to the car.

This was a very fun race for me. It was awesome doing it with my cousin and neighbors (who both had a blast as well) and I was thrilled to set such a great PR for myself, and discover an untapped speed.

The Color Run 5k Race Recap

This past weekend was a double race weekend for me; each day I ran a 5k (see the other recap here).  Saturday was the San Diego Color Run.  While this wasn't a true "race" (ie it was untimed, and people did more walking than running) I still feel compelled to recap the fun. The Color Run is a new type of race where you run through color stations at every 1k mark; at those points, volunteers douse you with color (I believe it's a dyed cornstarch).  You start off in a white shirt, and end up looking like a rainbow.

Originally, I was supposed to do this with my whole family.  I thought it looked fun for the kids, especially  my 8 year-old son, D.  When I showed him the YouTube video of the race back in March (when I registered) he was SO excited. It was just up his alley.  Similarly, my daughter, A, watched the video over and over again, wanting to be part of it. I also signed up my BFF (best friend forever) as he recently made his bucket list and on it was to run a 5k (he never had before).  However, now that A has a broken neck and is wearing a halo until January, she couldn't do it.  I sold her bib, and my husband's, to a friend and her daughter. I went to the expo on Thursday to pick up our stuff:  bibs, white shirts, white headbands, and a packet of color which we were instructed to save for the finish line.  They also had other official Color Run merchandise for sale, which I didn't buy.

On Saturday morning we got up, got ready, picked up my friend and her daughter, and headed down to Qualcomm Stadium where we met up with my BFF.  We did some prep work first, by laying down towels on the car seats and taping sheets down on the floor.  I did NOT want to get my car color-coated!  I also secured a bandana to my head; I had read that was recommended, as the color can be hard to get off and I wanted to protect my scalp.  I did not bring my Garmin, as I did not want it to get ruined (also, as an untimed fun run I didn't care what our time was). My friend brought me an old white skirt to wear, so I was all in white. Soon we joined the many, many people, all in white shirts, to wait for our turn to start.

Once it was our turn, we started running.  Soon we hit the 1k mark, which was the pink zone. Everything and everyone was COVERED in pink.  They had volunteers with big squirt bottles full of the pink powder.  You could just run through and get a little on you, but of course we had to stop and have them totally drench us with color.  I have to admit, it was FUN!  My son, especially, got very colorful.  He had them pour powder all over his shirt and head.

The rest of the run was similar.  At 2k we ran through yellow; at 3k we ran through orange, and at 4k we ran through blue.  At the finish line, was a big crowd dancing to music, and every 10-15 minutes or so they would count down to have people explode their color packets.  We definitely looked like a rainbow at the end.  One cool thing was someone went onstage, where the DJ was, and proposed to his girlfriend. That was unexpected and fun to see.

Once we got home, it was shower time. I had to really scrub myself raw with a body scrub and washcloth, but was able to get the color off.  My son took a bath; the water turned bright green!  After draining and refilling the tub, he was able to get most of the color off. To this day, 3 days later, he still has some blue in his ear and some green on his scalp. I highly recommend putting a bandana on your head, as I did; washing my hair was easy.

I will definitely do this race again next year.  If it were just me, I might not (once is enough) but my son loved it, and I really want my daughter to experience it, too. If it comes to your area, sign up!

November 1, 2012

Awesome 80's Run 10k Race Recap

This past Saturday I ran in the Awesome 80's Run 10k.  This was a race I had been looking forward to for a long time, mainly because I wanted the medal, which was designed to look like a cassette tape.  The race was put on by the same people who did the Hollywood Half Marathon.  They had their inaugural 80's-themed run over Labor Day in Pasadena, and I desperately wanted to go.  However, I couldn't justify the travel expense to Pasadena just to run a 10k. So when it was announced that it was coming to San Diego, I signed up immediately.

I felt very guilty about going, though. My daughter, A, had just come home from two weeks in the hospital (after breaking her neck) the day before.  I didn't want to leave her....but at the same time really wanted to do this race. I NEEDED to do this race. After a stressful two weeks at Children's Hospital, I needed to celebrate and do something just for me.  My husband was very supportive and told me to I went!  You were supposed to dress up in 80's clothes.  I had been planning to go shopping and try to find something preppy to wear, but obviously I had literally no time to shop in the past few weeks.  Fortunately, my friend I, who was doing the race with me, saved the day by getting us both matching neon green tank tops, neon mesh fingerless gloves, and neon headbands.  With my hair in a side ponytail, I was ready to re-live the 80s.

As a side note, this was my first-ever 10k!  I know it's weird, being that I've done countless 5ks, 14 half marathons, 1 full marathon, and 8 triathlons (including a half-Ironman!) but I had never done a 10k. I had attempted a 10k a long, long time ago, but took the easy way out and only did the first loop, making it a 5k. I always regretted that day, but that happened a lifetime ago, back in 1999, and before I really fell in love with running. The only 10k I have done was part of an Olympic-distance triathlon, but I'd never done a stand-alone 10k.  This race would be an automatic PR.

Anyhow, onto the recap!  The race was on Fiesta Island, which, despite it's nice-sounding name, is a desolate island that I think is very ugly. I have done several triathlons there, and a long bike session there for half-Ironman training, and it's ugly and depressing to me each time.  The views of the water are ok, but always to your left is the island itself....brown, dry and gross.  I knew that parking would be awful, and with a 7 a.m. start time I wanted to get there very early.  We didn't have a chance to pick up our packets beforehand (I was too busy at the hospital) and we needed to get those too.  My friend I was supposed to pick me up at 5:45, but at the last minute we changed the pick-up time to 5:30.  Very early, but I'm glad we did, as I read later that parking was a nightmare.

Because we left so early, we got one of the last spots in the first and closest parking lot.  Yay!  We got our packets and came back to the car (still in the dark) to put on bibs, timing chips, etc. While getting our gear on, I had realized she forgot her iPod....I gave her mine (complete with an 80's playlist I had put together) to use.  Before I did SuperFrog, I never would have run 6 miles without music, but that training taught me I could.  Doing that half marathon sans music toughened me up!  Finally we got out and wandered to the start line, where I found my friends Steve, Angi and Andrea.  I was so happy to see them, especially Angi. It was her first race post-cancer (she and Steve were walking the 5k) and I had paid for her entrance fee in celebration of her beating cancer.  After hitting the port-o-potties, it was race time.

me, pre-race

start line

We crossed the start line with 80's music blasting---Eye of the Tiger.  One thing that frustrated me was that since there were no corrals, and there were people doing the 5k and 10k, and runners and walkers, people were all mixed in together. I crossed the start line and literally had two women in front of me walking so slowly they were almost stopped. It was as if they didn't realize they were doing a race and had crossed the start. It took some time to weave around the walkers before I found my groove.

Pac Man


Run DMC--loved these costumes!  

The Blues Brothers

The race was two loops on Fiesta Island (the 5k was one loop).  Although I was music-free, I was never bored.  The costumes people had on were amazing....there was always something to look at.  Many people had on the requisite neon, as did I, but there were some other seriously creative costumes.  Madonnas, Rubic's cubes, Run DMC, Slash, 2 Ghostbusters with the StayPuft Marshmallow Man, the Blues Brothers, Richard Simmons, Michael Jackson, Strawberry Shortcake...I took as many pictures as I could, but I highly suggest you visit the official website and/or Facebook page to see more.  

lots of neon

I don't know how they ran in the Rubik's cube costumes!

hard to tell, but these are two GhostBusters and the StayPuft Marshmallow Man

 After the second loop on Fiesta Island, the 10k-ers had to do a short out-and-back loop on the sidewalk.  This was fine...except for the part that we had to climb a hill to get up to the "back" part.  There were no stairs, and climbing up a steep hill in the dirt was no fun at all; also it slowed down our running times. Not cool at all.  But that was my only real complaint about the race.  There was plenty of water, a good thing because for the first time (in a race more than 5k) I didn't bring my fuel belt. I figured I could get through 6.2 miles without water if I needed, but was pleased to be able to take a cup halfway through at the aide station.

the steep dirt hill we had to climb

I ran the race fast for me....I finished in about 1:08, with an average pace in the high 10's! I NEVER ran that fast....I think all the stress from the recent weeks has been making my runs (including training runs) faster.  I crossed the finish and got the coolest medal I've ever had. I LOVE the cassette tape look!

me, post-race,

 I had a really good time, and was so glad I did it. I was home by 9:30, in plenty of time to spend the day with my newly-home daughter. I got to do a long(ish) run, burn a lot of stress off, and do my first 10k. I would like, totally, you know, do this rad 80's race again next year, dude, especially if they have another totally tubular medal like this year.  Otherwise, gag me with a spoon!