Category Archives: Running

Half Marathon Training is Underway!

I started a week later than planned, but training for the July 15th Napa2Sonoma Half Marathon is officially underway. Trying to start training the week of the Girls on the Run 5K was not a good idea. Last week my workouts pretty much consisted of loading and unloading race equipment and running around the race site. I did sneak in a few shorter runs, but nothing groundbreaking.

So far this week I did a 3 mile easy run with Cash and then 3 miles of speedwork before tackling today’s 8 miler. I wasn’t sure how the run would go since I haven’t run further than 4 miles since my April 1st 10 miler. After that race I had big plans to stay in race shape and still do a weekly long-ish run until I jumped back into formal training. Fail!

I was looking forward to the run this morning because I really enjoy training. I like having a purpose to my workouts and a goal in mind. I am much more motivated when I have a structure and plan to follow rather than just the mentality of “I should do something”. While I was excited, I had no expectations for pace and even told myself that cutting back to 7 miles would be okay.

I woke up at 6, made my coffee, hopped on my 6:30 weekly conference call, ate my PB and banana toast and headed out the door at 7:30 – right on schedule.  The weather was perfect – sunny, still a little cool, light breeze. The first half mile was tough – everything felt heavy and slow and I wasn’t sure how 8 miles would go if that continued.

Luckily, I just had to get some cobwebs out, and by mile 1, I was feeling pretty good. I remained cautiously optimistic until the halfway point where I had a Hammer Gel and headed home. At that point, my pace was 9:43 which I was pleased with. I would have been happy with anything until 10 minutes at this point. Once I hit mile 5, I really fell into my groove and cruised home. The last 2 miles I kicked it into high gear and really wanted to finish strong.

I finished in 1:16:52 for a 9:36 pace. I was very happy with that! Decent pace, negative splits and felt good the whole time. Can’t ask for much more on the first long run of training after a month hiatus from long runs. A great start to training. 10 more weeks till race day!

Some other thoughts on half marathon training:

  • At the beginning of the year, I set out to PR at N2S.  That is still my goal, but I am going to have to really focus on my training. My schedule this summer is really filling up fast with Bachelorette parties, weddings, road trips, work trips and more. I have all of these worked into my schedule, I just need to really focus on it and stay committed and do all that I can while I have the time.
  • In order to get faster and break 1:57 (hopefully 1:55), I am going to really focus on speedwork, hills and increasing my total weekly miles. To get better I need to run more – doing the same thing won’t change anything.
  • Food is fuel, not just for fun. This will be hard with the weddings and traveling, but eating what my body needs to perform is what is most important.
  • Efficient cross training – I have one day of yoga and one day of cycling built into my training to keep me healthy, limber and keep my weight down (hopefully).

Here is what my typical training week looks like:

Monday: Speedwork or hills
Tuesday: Yoga
Wednesday: Easy medium distance run
Thursday: Rest
Friday: Long Run
Saturday: Bike or Rest
Sunday: Easy 3-4 miles

2012 SacTown 10 Miler Race Recap

This morning was the 2nd Annual SacTown 10 Miler. You can read my recap from last year’s race here. I don’t typically repeat many races, but I think this race is becoming a tradition. I really hope they keep this race on the smaller side. Last year there were only 530 participants and this morning there were 1300 anticipated. It is so nice to run smaller (relatively) races. 1300 people is so nice compared to 7500. The course was never crowded and it was easy to get around around before and after. I think there had to be close to 1 porta-potty per runner at the start. Okay..onto the recap.

After a solid 8 hours of sleep (I went to bed at 9:30), my alarm went off at 5:50. I like to give myself plenty of time in the morning to drink my coffee, eat my PB and banana toast, get dressed and do my business. Rushing around the morning of a race is not worth an extra 30 minutes of sleep. I stretched and foam rolled, covered most of my body in BodyGlide, and grabbed all my race essentials and headed out the door at 7:15 so Aaron could drop me off at the start.

I had plenty of time before the gun went off at 8, so I warmed up, peed, and found a spot in the sun to wait for the start. My goal for pacing was:

Mile 1-6: Strong and steady – try not to go out too fast
Mile 6-8: Start to pick up the pace a bit, but save some in the tank
Mile 8-10: Give it my all and push through

I notoriously go out too fast in races. This race was no exception. My mind tells me to hold back, but the race excitement makes me think I might be able to hold onto that pace. Two miles in my pace was around 8:57 and I was hopeful I could hold on for the next 8. But slowly between miles 2 and 5 my average slowly started to creep up.

I saw Aaron and Cash at mile 4.5 and ditched my arm warmers.

The weather was PERFECT this morning. It rained all day yesterday, so everything was clean and fresh and the sun was out and there was no breeze!

I had my Hammer Gel just after I saw the boys and got a burst of energy. I knew it would be tough, but I was determined to still try to hit my 1:30 goal. I was half way – I could do this!

As I got closer to the finish, I kept getting closer to a 9:00/mile average and I was more determined than ever to get there. I saw my mom around around mile 7 and friends just before mile 9. It is always fun to see familiar faces on the course – thanks everyone for cheering me on and for those who helped at the Girls on the Run water stop!

I have always been an endurance athlete. In Junior High I was the go-to miler on the track team (that’s long in track and field), on my competitive swim team I excelled at the 200 and 500 yard distances.  The last two miles of the 10 mile distance is where I strive – I am able to push through any pain and fatigue to get the job done. And that’s what I did!

I saw my average tick down in those last few miles to 9:03 and that’s where I finished. I forgot to stop my Garmin and the official results aren’t posted yet, but I am guessing I finished right around 1:30:40.  That is 3 minutes faster than the same race last year! I’ll take it!

Hanging out with Kellie at the Girls on the Run booth after the race.

Aaron and I immediately headed to Selland’s for Prosecco, coffee, eggs, fruit and potatoes for her and beer for him.

Very proud of my dedication to my training for this race and the race itself. Ready to keep the momentum going as I gear up for Napa2Sonoma this summer! The rest of the day includes beers, movies on the couch and Mexican food (a post-race tradition).


Good Form Running Seminar

Saturday I took a Good Form Running seminar at my local Fleet Feet.


Good Form Running focuses on 4 areas of running in order to prevent injury and run more efficiently.  I took a Chi Running clinic about 5 years ago and found it overwhelming, but GFR takes some of the concepts from Chi Running and simplifies it a bit to focus on the most important aspects – Posture, Midfoot, Cadence and Lean.


Here you can see how most people run vs. what we should look like when we run


I attended the seminar as a refresher and to take away some tips to run more efficiently.  After a full marathon and several half marathons, I’ve got the distance and endurance down. But now I was to get faster, more efficient and prevent injuries. The most important thing I took away from the session was cadence. By shortening my stride and running at 180 BPM (beats per minute), my stride will naturally look more like the one on the right above. The average/comfortable cadence for most people is 150 BPM. That slower cadence gives the stride time to lengthen and leads to heel striking.

We practiced running at 180 BPM and compared it to 150 BPM and the difference was quite noticeable.  Our instructor suggested adding just a few BPM each run and not jumping right into running at 180 BPM. What was surprising to me was that the studies people have done prove that 180 BPM is the ideal cadence whether you are a 12 minute miler or a 5 minute miler.

There are cadence apps you can download to check in with your cadence and also MP3s you can download to come up on your iPod during a run. Checking in at the beginning of a run and then again later on when you are tired.  You should still be at 180 BPM.

I am not going to go out and change anything tomorrow, but the class was great for a refresher and I will definitely keep the tips in mind and be more conscious of my posture, midfoot and cadence.

Have you ever taken a class on running or other sport?

Race Prep – The Week Of

With race day for the Sactown 10 Miler 1 week away, this is an important week. Training for weeks on end doesn’t make any difference if you don’t take care of yourself the week before the race. Getting sick, wearing yourself down or pushing your body too hard can ruin a race. Since one of my New Years Resolutions was to take every race seriously through training, I am taking this week leading up to the race seriously, as well.  Here is my plan:

  • Get more sleep. In general I get more sleep than I think most people do.  But I think my body needs it. So this week I am going to make an effort to get to bed just 15 minutes earlier than normal. And allow myself to sleep in a little more than usual.
  • Hydrate! Hydrating on race day is not as important as leading up to the race. A couple weeks ago I picked up four big bottles of coconut water on sale at Whole Foods. I am going to make sure to have one glass every morning and evening along with my normal H2O intake.
  • Massage – today I got a 90 minute massage to help restore my muscles after training for 8 weeks.
  • Daily foam rolling and stretching. As I write this I am rolling my eyes at myself. How many times have I proclaimed that I would start stretching and foam rolling daily? But I think I can do it. I am only committing to 7 days of daily stretching and rolling. And I know it will make a big difference.
  • Yoga x 2: I am going to try to make it to two yoga classes this week to get nice and loose. I plan to shoot for the beginner classes so I don’t get sore.
  • Fuel my body. I always try to focus on fueling my body with the best possible stuff, but race week it is uber-important. No wine (increases dehydration), no dessert (not the sugars I need). As I type this I am missing my evening glass of wine and ice cream already!
  • Keep moving – But don’t push it. It is often tempting the week of a race to not run at all. You want to rest your body, but there is fine line. Pushing yourself means you can arrive at the start line exhausted and not rested. Doing too little means your muscles might be stale. It is important to go easy but still run. I will be doing a combination of short speedwork and short tempo runs at race pace to keep my legs fresh and ready to run fast without wearing them out.
  • Mentally prepare  and pump myself up! Reading old race recaps and Runners World always gets me pumped up!



A Run With A Theme

We are 10 days away from race day. That means time to start checking the 10 day forecast!  Spring races in Sacramento are a crap shoot as far as weather goes. And time to start doing whatever the opposite of a rain dance is:

This morning was my last long run before the big day and it was pretty important. Since being sick a couple weeks ago, I hadn’t ran more than 6 miles for a few weeks. Today called for 10 miles and my mind was just not into it this morning. We had a volunteer appreciation event last night for Girls on the Run, so I was on my feet all night and didn’t properly fuel (a glass of red wine, cheese and chocolate covered strawberries are not ideal).  Luckily I did plan ahead and made an early dinner of quinoa pasta with tomatoes, spinach and capers so that I could avoid the really bad food at the event. On top of that, we were woken up in the middle of the night by Cash who was having ear issues and wouldn’t stop shaking his whole body. Cue 3AM ear cleaning and more shaking and that made for not the best night’s sleep.

But I was determined. And so began the theme for today’s run – determination. I had my usual PB and Banana toast, coffee and programmed my Garmin with the goal of 10 miles at 10 minute per mile pace. I couldn’t imagine running faster than that this morning. While Aaron was still sleeping (he spent the night on the couch with the dog so I could sleep), I leash Cash up and brought him with me for the first 2.5 miles.

After dropping Cash off, I took off for the final 7.5 miles. With potty breaks and sniffing, Cash and I averaged 10:28 pace, so I had some making up to do to get to my 10 minute pace goal. It was a perfect morning for running – cool and crisp but sunny. I was determined to get all 10 miles in because I knew it was my last chance before the rain rolled in for the weekend. I sort of kissed my pace goal goodbye and was just focused on getting in the miles, not matter the pace. I have a Hammer Gel at mile 5 and continued on my way.

At the turnaround point, with 3.75 miles to go, I was at 10:15 pace and then I scrolled to the virtual partner screen on my Garmin. When you set a distance and pace goal, Garmin provides you with a little virtual partner to race. I never think much of the little guy, but this morning he was laughing at me.

I was .15 miles behind him and at the moment I was determined to catch up to him. I really pushed it the last 3.75 miles and with 2 miles to go I was only 335 feet behind him. Right around the 9 mile mark I finally passed him! It was as if I was really racing someone rather than a stick figure. Whatever it take, right?

I wound up finishing the 10 miles (accomplishment #1) with a 9:55 pace (accomplishment #2).  Determination is often what it takes to get through a race, and definitely what it takes to have a successful race. And it is all worthwhile when I come home and my fantastic husband makes me this delicious breakfast sammie!

2 slices Udi’s, 1 scrambled egg, ham, spinach, cheese, tomato. Doesn’t it look like the sandwich is sticking its ham tongue out at me? I showed him – I bit his tongue right off!

What situation have you needed lots of determination to get through recently?