2016 Star Wars Half Marathon

So I caught up to Alea and am now also the proud owner of a Star Wars Half Marathon medal! I ran my first half on January 17, 2016–just this past Sunday, with our other friend and her brother, but not Alea this year (saaad!) It was quite an experience. I’ll try to cover as much of the feels/highlights as I can:

Pre-race

I definitely learned my lesson from last year–absolutely nothing but food and rest the day before, and minimizing the Downtown Disney shenanigans/staying up late. My friend Erin and I did pretty well here–Friday and Saturday were pretty low-key and revolved around food and napping. What I didn’t expect was my new caffeine habit and how it would affect my well-being. I foolishly did not pack enough coffee and started to get a raging frontal headache. Thank goodness Erin pointed it out and reminded me to stock up at brunch, which solved 90% of the pressure in my brain. Lesson learned: do NOT mess with your routine–if your diet involves (legal) substances (ahem), golly, now is not the time to go cold turkey.

Sorely needed coffee, and welcome sustenance.

Race morning

I had a small dose of coffee packed, along with my French press. Drank that and water first thing after getting up. Had a slice of bread folded up with some Nutella and PB for sustenance. Thankfully was able to go to the bathroom, all was well–just nerves. Got on the shuttle with no major drama.

This year I decided to wear a throwaway sweater to the start line–thankfully there was no rain, just cold. This year’s weather was very good, quite warm (high 40s-low 50s) at 4 am, and just a touch of fog. Sat in the corral bundled up until it was time to go.

Nick, Erin, me at 4 am!

Race proper

The 2016 course was not well-designed. A series of narrow lanes in the first five miles created noticeable bottlenecks where everyone had to slow down to a walk. Granted, there’s not much you can do about it while in the park; space is what it is, but I felt like last year’s 10K still allowed you to enjoy the park and go along for a jog without feeling hindered. The route opened up once you came out onto Harbor Blvd and into Anaheim itself, but it took about 45 minutes to get to that point.

Hello California Adventure!

After an hour in, I was able to run/walk fairly consistently, but I noted an energy crash right at mile 8. I hadn’t practiced with race day nutrition/gels/bars, so I was somewhat worried about accepting some of the Clif energy gels at the nutrition station. Next half, I want to practice this, because the energy deficit really slowed me down. My legs weren’t too bad, nor was my breathing, but the lack of food and core strength whittled away at my pace.

Steampunk Chewie.

Finish line

I was fortunate this year to have my family at the finish line with me. My aunt and uncle waited at mile 10, and my parents waited at mile 13. It was somewhat nerve-wracking, wondering if they’d found their way to the course, but once I saw them and passed them by it was like an emotional boost. I wasn’t too tired but there’s something about knowing people are there for you–not just the cheerleaders, bands, and random folks coming out to watch–but someone there to see you. I know I won’t always have this type of back-up at all my races, but for my first big race, it felt really good to have them there.

Candids at the recovery area. My parents made signs to greet us with!

I also am glad that several of my friends ran this race with me–even if we weren’t on the course together at all. My friends Nick and Erin came from the Bay Area to run, and one of my local running buddies, Steven, was there with his team. Everyone went at their own paces, but we managed to meet up at the finish for a group photo.

My first half!

Parting thoughts

I had a lot of fun in my half–barely thought about anything, really. There were too many emotions and events to really feel down, and that crowd boost really buoys you through the tougher parts. Every time I participate in a race, I appreciate volunteers and bystanders a lot more. Perhaps this is due to understanding the struggle one goes through during a race. At any rate. I’m still a bit sore in the legs and back; haven’t quite recovered yet, so my focus for the next few weeks will be rehabilitating and getting back to the schedule. I have a 5K lined up for February that I want to PR on–so it’ll be back on the track for me soon enough.

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2016 update

Still here, just busier. Still running. Not bouldering as much anymore, because I sprained my right wrist pretty badly in September and it made me scared about missing time off work (which is primarily computer-bound.) I’m mostly running and lifting for now.

Star Wars Half Marathon is in TWO weeks. Two weeks. It hasn’t sunk in yet.

I hope the mental training I’ve been practicing will allow me to stay calm and focused for race day.

I’ve been running without music for the past few months. It’s been weirdly liberating–now I’m not worried about draining my phone battery, but it’s also been somewhat illuminating to spend time listening to my thoughts. Letting them come up and practicing pushing them away in my mind. Learning what makes me speed up, or what demotivates me. Sometimes I think of a song with a fast beat, and my feet move accordingly.

I’ll be back later (hopefully) with a race update/etc. or perhaps a lifting update, but for now, hooray it’s 2016 and we’re still here trying our best to be healthy. The new season begins.

Still counts.

image1 copy redV0

 

These V0s scared the crap out of me and were (IMO) v difficult mentally. My body didn’t want to cooperate; my legs didn’t trust the last few footholds for the final boost up to the top.

I made it up there thanks to the encouragement (heckling) of my fellow climbers. Thank you people in the gym with me.

Every new hold touched counts. All effort counts. It is something more than old me would have ever done, so it’s already 1000000000 times better than not attempting at all.

I am close to being overfatigued and overtrained this week because of lack of sleep. Climbing takes a lot out of me and takes up a large portion of the night. But in 2.5 hours I get a total body workout + lift time at the end (squats, chest, biceps, shoulders) that I feel is a good routine. My body is responding to the load and is changing slowly. However, I need to be cautious as not to lose any more months to injury or sickness.

I am still afraid that one day I’ll lose sight and fade out or hard quit working out.

2015 Fitness Project “The Grind”

I’m still alive and kicking!

This year I don’t really have a theme or big overarching goal like last year–last year’s was to run a 5K before my birthday (aka #juicyjuly.) Well I did that and then some. This year, I’m feeling a bit adrift–the injury sidelined me for a solid month, and life in general is a bit in flux (when is it not, really.) I got a new job with new responsibilities that tire me out more, and it’s only now, 7 weeks back into a run schedule that I’m seeing the 2015 theme form, if you will.

I call it “The Grind.” (real breakthrough here gais)

I think it’s funny considering I am getting into coffee–but the theme works. I do the same things five days a week. I desperately plan activities to break myself out of the rut, lest I go insane. I run to give myself an organic high. At any rate, I’ve been tagging my running activities under this theme and I’ll probably use it for all the other fitnessy bits. It’s also got staying power–the Grind never really ends; it’s the whole accumulation of things you need to do. Like work, sleep, eat, etc. Staying healthy and fit as I’ve learned now isn’t “just a hobby,” it’s something that becomes intrinsic when you choose to put it in your life.

I’ve gained probably about 7-8 lbs since last year–my thighs and butt are a lot bigger (comparatively, still no Kim or Beyonce here) from running, but I’ve got some unwanted fluff in the arms and stomach. The stomach is the toughest place to slim down. Diet…is tough to manage. I’ve got to shift my life back to include cooking more at home. I’ve re-incorporated running after the injury, I’m tentatively stepping back into climbing more regularly, so diet and cooking home food will be on the list of things to allot time to once more.

The Grind. I like it; it sounds doable, and I’m hoping the philosophy carries me through for a while.

easy does it

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New run set-up: Brooks Ghost 7, custom orthotics, Balega Hidden Comfort socks.

So we’re well into the second quarter of 2015 and there have been a lot of lessons for both Alea and I. We’ve had some fairly major awesomes, like Alea running her first half marathon and me my first 10K; I also completed a local race series in March. But with it came some growing pains, specifically–I developed tendinitis in my right foot when I segued into half-marathon training. Alea’s also been off and on injury-wise. Fitness is exhilarating, but it certainly exacts a toll on the body if you’re not careful.

I’m really grateful that so far my orthotics and new running shoes are keeping my legs and feet pain-free. I’m going to see the doctor soon to hopefully get an all-clear, but in the meantime I can’t wait to get back on the grind. Mentally, I feel pretty disheartened by the set-back, but I’m hoping I can just snap back to my former fitness from last year. I was so strong and in comparison to these last few months, I looked pretty good then.

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Update: 5/16/2015

2 weeks into “full time” running–back to 2 short, 1 long run per week. Foot doing okay, but I’m definitely better at understanding my fatigue and what I can and cannot do post long-run. I can’t over-schedule myself after a long run and utter dedication and respect must be paid to stretching, hydration, and nutrition after. “Nutrition” being that I eat after the run, and that I try to eat a little better throughout the week–not skipping, or overdoing it. Same with hydration. The last two weeks have seen meh quality sleep, but I’m working on being more firm with shutting down and shutting off before 12 pm. WIP.

 

Little fish in a big sea

So I guess I’ll just dump the foot shenanigans here too.

I suppose it comes as no surprise that after running hard for a year things begin to break down. I hurt my foot (I’m officially calling myself hurt now) sometime in early February; I would limp for a week after eight mile runs. Saw the doctor in March who said I’d gotten tendinitis. I’m now entering my third week of braces and orthotics (custom-made for my shoe!) and I haven’t run more than 1-3 miles and definitely I have not been running 3-4 times a week.

I’m pissed, sad, and stressed out, but what can you do? As Alea reminds me, I’m hurt now, and if I keep going at the same rate of activity I’ll be benched forever. So off my feet it is. It’s affected all of my working out–I tried climbing a little bit, but obviously I couldn’t do that with a giant ankle brace strapped on my foot. I’m pretty much just walking and doing very very light jogging (sometimes.) The last time I tried to run, I stuck to about 1-2 miles and that’s been okay. But I don’t really want to risk it anymore, so I had to find something non-impact.

Enter swimming.

Technically swimming isn’t a “new venture” for me–I’ve been swimming since I was working out in college. I just haven’t done it regularly until about three weeks ago. Stumped on exercise and needing the movement, my mom challenged me to find a local pool–I found an indoor one in a nearby city. $3 and an hour later, I was back in the game! It was bloody amazing. And my cardiovascular reserve from running (some of which I’ve retained) helped me get through the first 50 yards okay.

I’m talking to a few people to figure out a swimming workout plan, since I’ve already noted that swimming for an hour (with some breaks on the kickboard and just floating for a few minutes when I’m super winded) gets my shoulders kind of tired and hurting. As in hours later I have some slight sharp pains. I was told to swim slower to warm up, and to gently move my arms through the stroke sequence while on land to warm up. This helped on the latest swim I did earlier this week, and I also went a little slower to make sure my other joints didn’t get injured. That seemed to work well, so I’ll probably repeat that warm up routine when I get to the pool this weekend.

I can’t wait to go again this weekend; despite the number that chlorinated water does on my skin and hair I like to swim; it feels more like play than exercise. I suppose that’s really what’s worked in this latest fitness push, which if I reach my second-year anniversary this November will be the longest time I’ve consistently been active.

Something to look forward to later this year.

Run Seal Beach 

I did it! I finished the third and last of the OC California Race Series runs at Run Seal Beach today. I ran three 5Ks over the span of 9 months and today’s 5K was the last I needed to complete the race series. Here’s my breakdown of today:

5 am – wake up and get ready
6 am – drive to Seal Beach Pier (finish line), change into my shirt, use the restroom
7 am – walk to start line (First St and Marina), warm up/stretch
8 am – run

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Seal Beach Pier before sunrise. 6:50 am

Things I did better this time:

– Woke up earlier and didn’t rush getting to the site
– Taped up and stretched my right ankle/foot before running
– Hydrated and ate two hours before running

Things I didn’t do so well:

– Drank coffee the day before (dehydrating)
– Didn’t sleep well Thursday night –> tired Friday morning

What I still don’t understand is why I get mean headaches after I run. All things considered, this race wasn’t on a warm day, I’d actually drank enough (I thought) and I slept okay if not a little more than I did for my Star Wars 10K. I don’t get it. My muscles are mostly ok, my foot is not complaining even when I move it, but the damn temporal headaches. Maybe this is post-run stress? I do know I still get nervous.

My official times for the race series are as follows:

City of Cypress 5K/10K (June 2014) 33:22
Los Alamitos Race on the Base (Feb 2015) 34:38
Run Seal Beach (Mar 2015) 34:23

Didn’t break my 2014 Cypress run PR, but I’m happy to be at a pretty consistent 11:00/mi average. Not bad. My baseline performance puts me at the solid middle of the pack for my gender and age division, but there’s always room for improvement. I’m excited.

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Yay!

This is my first running series completed. I’m definitely open to doing something like this again, like the Beach Cities challenge (any combination of half or full marathons in each of the three cities: Huntington Beach, Orange County (typically Costa Mesa/Newport Back Bay), and Long Beach.) But first, my foot needs to recuperate so I can aim for Long Beach Half–OC is in May and might be too short to train properly.)

As always I am glad to be able to exercise and happy that my body lets me do something awesome every day. I hope I can keep up my fitness for a long time.