Thursday, April 10, 2008

Running Journal Month 4 (April 2008)

Week 18 (4/28-5/4)
Weekly mileage: 26.5
Mileage to date: 444.8

Being back on my feet running again this week felt awesome. The poison oak has mostly gone away and my foot didn't hurt after Sunday's DSE race. I'm so excited for Quicksilver already. Even though I live near San Jose, I've never been there, so it'll be interesting.

Race Stats:
DSE Walt Stack 10K - 48:08; 7:44 pace; 47/120 overall; 8th F; 3rd Age

Week 16 & 17 (4/14-4/27):
Mileage to date: 418.3

Week 16 was a bust. Running the Muir Woods race on the 12th did not seem to make the foot injury worse, but it certainly didn't help it get better. I was forced to do other non-running exercise during all of week 15. Running made the metatarsal area hurt more, so I just didn't run and focused on trying not to get too depressed about it (a difficult challenge). On Sunday, went to see my friend's team finish the 199 Mile Relay ( ). They did great despite being plagued by injuries of varying types. After they finished, we went to a little vegetarian restaurant in Capitola called Dharma ( ), which had an array of very healthy plates. It was a good day.

During Week 17, I took a more active approach to the recovery and visited Athlete's Advantage, a deep muscle therapy massage center where Nathalie worked on my foot, releasing some of the tension that had built up. It felt better to walk on for the next few days, so I went back again on Wednesday for another session. She mentioned her friend Adam, who owns Runner's High in Menlo Park (, so I went over there for an analysis. Adam watched me run in various shoes for about 45 minutes or so, and concluded that I need shoes with slightly more arch support. I bought an insole for my current shoes since they are new and a new pair of Saucony ProGrid Omni 6 stability running shoes. I really liked the way they felt on my feet, so I decided to try them out. We'll see how it goes.

As for the race on the 27th, originally I was signed up for the 50k at Big Basin on the 27th, but had dropped it to the 25k the week before. The drive to Big Basin turned out to be a little longer than anticipated, however, and I ended up starting the race about 5 minutes late; at that point, I dropped down to the 17k, figuring it would be better for the foot and I was starting late anyway. It was a good decision. My foot hurt a little bit, but mostly I felt fatigued and my stomach was upset, so I was pretty happy not to have to do another loop. That being said, the trail, waterfall and redwoods were amazing as always, and I tried to enjoy them while I was out there, even though it was hitting the 80s near the top of the hills. The course was not a fast one, but I felt particularly slow. Even on the 17k, I got a bit dehydrated, but it was a good run overall because my foot felt okay after. My conclusion is that I think I can start running in Week 17 again, which makes me happy.

Also, on the 26th, my oldest and greatest friend ran an awesome first marathon. A big congratulations to Christina!!!

Race Stats:

PCT Big Basin 17k (elev. gain ~2,110') - ~ 1:55 (I'm guessing b/c of the late start and failed watch!); 22/89 overall; 7th F (woulda been 4 0r 5 if I started on time); 3rd Age (either way)

Week 15 (4/7-4/13):
Weekly mileage: 20
Mileage to date: 405.8

This week was a lesson in recovery and restraint. I spent it icing and limping around the office, trying not to get overly frustrated with the state of my foot (and failing). I kept up the yoga and went climbing on the gym wall on Friday, but I only ran once on the treadmill on Thursday, and my foot didn't love it. Nevertheless, it seemed a bit better Friday, so I decided to run the Envirosports Muir Woods 25k starting at Stinson Beach and climbing part of Mt. Tam, mostly because I absolutely love the trails in that area. The weather reached the low 80s that day - by far, the hottest weather I've run in. I wore a white tank top, shorts and sunblock, and doused myself with the water at the aid stations, which seemed to do the trick. The trails wove in and out redwoods and through streams, with views of the ocean at some open parts near the top. My foot doesn't seem to be worse for it, so I'm glad I ventured out. Other highlights from the week included seeing Eddie Vedder play at Zellerbach in Berkeley and climbing all over San Francisco (and, finally, up Coit Tower) on Sunday.

Race Stats:

Envirosports Muir Woods 25k (elev. gain: ~3400') - 2:38:56; ~10:14 pace; 35/138 overall; 8th F; 2nd Age

Week 14 (3/31-4/6):
Weekly mileage: 11.4
Mileage to date: 385.8

Recovering from knee, foot, poison oak and stomach ailments. Ridiculous!

Race Stats:
DSE Great Highway 4M - 30:43; 7:40 pace; 44/118 overall; 4thF; 1st Age

Running Journal Month 3 (March 2008)

Week 10 (3/3-3/9):
Weekly mileage: 5.5!
Mileage to date: 283.5

This week's numbers look like I just skipped out, but actually, I traveled to Ogden, Utah for my friend's snowshoe race. We spent 4 days there, and snowboarded for two of them. Snowboarding was how I remembered it from the one time I've tried it before - difficult and fun. We visited Antelope Island, the salt flats and a dinosaur museum as well. I love the nature in Utah, but I wouldn't want to live in SLC. I gave myself permission to take a break from running if needed while I travel. While maybe one day I'll be organized enough to run and travel, I wasn't quite there yet and I didn't want to miss out on anything while I was there.

Week 11 (3/10-3/16):
Weekly mileage: 24.5
Mileage to date: 308.3

I ran in a new place this week out of necessity - the baylands in Palo Alto, the park off of Shoreline Blvd. It was scenic and flat and served my purpose, but it was windy as hell. I forgot I used to fly my stunt kite there...

Race Stats:
Emerald Across the Bay 12k - 59:06; 7:55 pace; 529/2971 overall; 32/306F Age Group

Week 12 (3/17-3/23):
Weekly mileage: 47.4
Mileage to date: 355.7

Kept it up at Rancho and on the good ole treadmill. And then, on Saturday, had an absolutely awesome time running PCT's Pirate's Cove 30k. I felt great, and the views were a dream. Mostly ocean. So glad I did the 30k because the shorter one would not have had the same ocean views. On Sunday, I ran my first 5k. My legs were tired from the 30, and my ankle was aching, but it was interesting to try a shorter race. The roller coaster race had a very short but steep uphill at the turn around, which caught many runners by surprise.

Race Stats:
PCT Pirate's Cove 30k (elev. gain: ~3570'): 3:17:26; 10:30 pace; 29th overall; 5thF overall; 3rdF Age
DSE Easter Roller Coaster 5k: 25:56; 8:20 pace; 35/150; 6thF overall; 1st Age

Week 13 (3/24-3/30):
Weekly mileage: 18.7
Mileage to date: 374.4

And the pain begins... everything that could possibly go wrong with my body going wrong at the same time! A runner's fear realized. The list was long: I banged my knee; I was covered in poison oak (from the 30k maybe???); I had some mysterious stomach problems happening due to what my doctor told me was a severe bout of dehydration; and, last but not least, my left foot felt like it was either sprained or had a stress fracture. I didn't run during the week at all other than a couple miles on the treadmill Friday. Thought I was better by the weekend, so I ran two races... Nevertheless, I had tons of fun eating all kinds of jelly bellies from the Jelly Belly Factory in Fairfield on the way back from the race in Granite Bay.

Race Stats:
XTERRA Chanoko 16k - 1:24:34; 8:27 pace; 22/55 overall; 4th F Age
DSE Embarcadero 10k - 47:07; 7:34 pace; 37/171; 4thF; 2nd Age PR

Running Journal Month 2 (February 2008)

Week 5 (1/28-2/3):
Weekly mileage: 25.1
Mileage to date: 145.1

My journal notes deteriorated during this Week 5. Although I kept making new discoveries and having new experiences, running no longer felt "new" in the same way. Regular life, job and a cold invaded. I also realized my feet were taking a pounding at the Dish with its concrete path and hard, dry rocky side "trail". Since I had discovered Rancho, I thought it was time to abandon the dish for a while in order to save my joints. My notes state emphatically: "get better fast" and "no more dish!" The week ended on a high note, however, since my interest in running led me to meet a new friend (who runs too), and everything negative from the week faded away in a second.

Week 6 (2/4-2/10):
Weekly mileage: 32.9
Mileage to date: 178

My cold deteriorated into an ear infection. I kept thinking my immunity was low due to running, and it may have been. Hard to tell. My life was rather chaotic and everyone at work was sick. Nevertheless, I stuck with the running, mostly because I was fearful that if I stopped, I would never get it going again. This is a true beginner's fear. It's very real, however, and not to be laughed at - many people who start running don't stick with it. For some, it's just too time consuming, for others, they don't find a way to enjoy it. All too vivid are the pre-running days and a beginner's mind knows how easy it would be to fall back into that easy, yet unfulfilling pattern. If I knew what I know now, only a few months later as I write this catch-up blog, I would have been better off. I needed to realize that I had actually fallen in love with running, and that it wouldn't be something I would easily give up, even if I had to take whole weeks off for various reasons. At that time, I didn't realize this, however, and pushed through the pain of running while sick and stressed. The week ended on a better note, with a hike up Montera Mountain near Pacifica.

Week 7 (2/11-2/17):
Weekly mileage: 43
Mileage to date: 221

This week marked the week of my first organized running event ever (other than school sports). I never thought I would be entering trail runs after only a month and a half of running, but sometimes a friend can provide the inspiration/encouragement that makes you try something you never otherwise would have done on your own, and to your amazement, you discover you are capable of more than you ever thought. This sentiment summarizes how I feel about running generally: it's a perpetual challenge where you can push yourself harder than you ever thought possible and triumph. That's why time comparisons don't really matter in the end, it's about you vs yourself. I was a bit nervous for my first race, especially since people kept asking me if I had "trained" for it, and my answer was "no" just running a lot... but I tried to focus on thinking of it as just another training run in a place other than Rancho (which it basically was). I took a belt full of liquids, and donned my usual running tights, and just headed out on the trail along with the group. There were parts that were a bit steeper than Rancho where the herd power climbed, but it evened out. The course was not as scenic as some places, but I love being surrounded by trees and trails, so I enjoyed it. I felt a bit frustrated at one point at not knowing how far along we were, and some chick said we still had the majority to go. I passed her a bit after that, mostly cause I didn't want to hear any more of her good news. I didn't go out too fast and I felt good through the course. The finishing line took me by surprise and I was really happy I didn't have any serious problems along the way. It was a great day. The next day even beat that though because I hiked the double dipsea course, with some deviations, and the trail at points meandered through mossy green fairy worlds and spit me out at Muir Beach. Any time I come across the ocean, I feel like I'm home.

Race Stats:
PCT - Sequoia 20k (elev. gain: ~1960'): 2:02:15; 10:01 pace; 10th F 5th Age; 40/100 overall

Week 8 (2/18-2/24):
Weekly mileage: 13
Mileage to date: 234

I'd like to say that I felt strong after my first race, but truthfully I was tired, and spent most of this week doing yoga, weights and climbing, as well as recovering from my ear infection. The week ended on a high, however, with a climb up Mt. Tamalpais, where I had never gone before.

Week 9 (2/25-3/2):
Weekly mileage: 44.3
Milegge to date: 278.9

Feeling rested, I pushed up some of my Rancho runs to 11ish miles this week. I raced my second race on Saturday, the PCT Skyline Ridge 23k, and had my worst race experience to date. I went out too fast, and spent the second half of the race feeling absolutely awful, psychologically and physically. I asked myself why I was running, why I thought I could do any of this, where my life was going. I'm just glad there were no obvious cliffs around considering my dark mood. Nevertheless, I finished with relatively good numbers. Of course it matters that all the fast women were doing the 37k, but I tried to cheer myself up. Even though my stats made me feel a little better, I took the don't go out too fast lesson to heart, because I never want to feel that way again during a race! On Sunday, I did my first 10k with DSE (see link at right). DSE has a casual and fun city runner vibe totally different from PCT, but this felt like a totally new world because the course was paved and relatively flat. I like running the hills and trails more, but I also like the festive atmosphere of the DSE events.

Race Stats:
PCT Skyline Ridge 23k (elev. gain: ~2170'): 2:16:59; 9:35 pace; 12/59 overall; 2nd F; 1st F Age

DSE Windmill 10K: 47:20; 7:37 pace; 57/150 overall; 11thF; 4th Age

Running Journal Month 1 (January 2008)

Week 1 (Sunday 12/30/07 - Sunday 1/6/08):
Weekly mileage: 28.5

"Pain is just weakness leaving the body."

On the last day of 2007, I decided to start my running at the Stanford dish. The main loop of the dish is 3.7 miles, but if you add on the slope that goes out toward 280, you get another 1 mile down and 1 mile up, for a 5.7 mile jaunt. I hit the dish 5 times the first week, and then finished the week off with a 9 mile hike up Monument Peak in the Ed Levin County Park in Milpitas with my favorite hiking group around, the Intrepid Northern California Hikers, or "I.N.C.H" for short ( In this first week, I bought many running books and discovered Pacific Coast Trail Runs (see link on right). I thought that after a few months I might be able to run a short PCT run. So anyone reading this doesn't get the wrong idea, the first week of running was full of highs and lows. Notes in my journal from that week include: "ultras here I come", "love running in the rain" and "ankles feel like stumps."

Week 2 (Monday 1/7 - Sunday 1/13):
Weekly mileage: 34.4
Mileage to date: 62.9

This week was a gym treadmill and dish week. Having not monitored times thus far, it was hard not to pay attention to the times on the treadmill, where I felt happy with a high 9 and low 10 minute per mile pace. I should note here that, though I barely recall high school cross country, I remembered training rather hard during that season as a freshman, and I also remembered it being difficult for me to get down below an 8 minute mile. With that in my head, I figured at almost age 30, 9-something per mile was pretty good, at least for a beginner. It's all about staying positive. And anyway, my focus began with a need to spend time outside on the trails, not a need for speed... The big discovery of the week was Rancho San Antonio open space preserve (, which is on my way to work and so soooo much better to run at than the dish. At Rancho, you weave past creeks and over little wooden footbridges in the forest, and then gradually climb up to higher open places with panoramic views of the bay. Another discovery was Road Runner's running store in San Carlos ( By this time, I had also established a somewhat regular cross training routine consisting of yoga three times a week, climbing wall at the ymca (gym of choice), elliptical workouts and weight training three or so times a week in a "bodypump" class, plus whatever other sit-ups, push-ups, pull-ups, other weights and activity I could fit in. Somewhere in between it all I managed to fit in being a lawyer... One of the hardest things about fitting running into my schedule is the waking up early bit. Notes from my journal that week include: "yay, woke up early!" and a note about it being stupid to do a 9.4 run without hydration.

Week 3 (Monday 1/14-Sunday 1/20):
Weekly mileage: 24.6
Mileage to date: 87.5

Most of my notes from this week are about ankle pain. I was basically doing all hill training and my shins and ankles were feeling it. On that Saturday, I went on a 21.1 mile hike with 5500' elevation gain in Henry Coe State Park with Inch. I thought it would be hard, but I felt fine. I think the running made it at least psychologically easier because I kept thinking, I'm just hiking, not running. I discovered another running store: Running Revolution in Campbell ( I finished reading a great book by Dean Karnazes: Ultra Marathon Man. I thought it was a good read and inspirational. Notes from my journal include: "too much too fast??" and "funfun but blisters!!"

Week 4 (1/21-1/27):
Weekly mileage: 33
Mileage to date: 120.5

By this time, I was experimenting every so often with doing double plus loops on the dish to get in a 7.4 or 9.4 mile run instead of the 5.7 mile one, and I realized that the second loop is always easier. In my head Iwanted to run much further, but I had heard stories about stress fractures and other scary running injuries and, of course, the famous 10% rule (don't up your weekly mileage by more than 10% each week), so I kept the miles down for the time being. Running rancho was bliss; it was quiet with perfectly packed smooth and buoyant mud trails - running heaven. Notes from my journal: "1 month baby! congrats!" (I feel it's important to praise yourself for your endeavors...)

Here we go!

One cold day back in December... no, even further back: one hot day in Death Valley in November ’07, I was on my way down the trail at Telescope Peak after a glorious but quick sojourn to the summit; near the end, my friend sped ahead and so, feelin’ good, I ran the last piece of the trail. Despite many REI trips to prepare for the Death Valley jaunt, I was not cognizant of the fact that Telescope Peak is almost 12,000 feet high and I was a bit surprised that I felt a little woozy and somewhat winded running down that trail; what I was even more surprised about was that I LOVED the feeling of running on that trail. Despite the effort it took to move my body (after decades of not running) I felt like I was floating through nature, detached from the physical world around me (it was downhill, after all). I was satisfied, finally, because one of the reasons I went to Death Valley was to escape the very physical, real world where I usually reside up in Silicon Valley. That satisfying feeling hung out in my head for the next month or so, waiting...

Then, one cold day back in December, I felt a sizzle of energy even though almost dark out. I grabbed what I thought were running shoes, threw on some random yoga type workout clothes, grabbed my hiking headlamp and sped up to Monte Bello Open Space Preserve with the mission of running up Black Mountain where I had hiked before. I knew it was a relatively short trail up, a few miles maybe, and felt I could do it. Not analyzing my plan before its execution (like I usually do) was key, and refreshing. If I had gone down the safe path, there would’ve been a million reasons not to go...but I drove up the windy road in my convertible and starting jogging up without a thought. I slowed a lot on the hill, even walked some, but reached the top at a moderate jog. By that time, my hands were freezing, my eyes were watering, my feet were aching, I had encountered a massive herd of deer glaring at me from the edge of the trail that made me wonder whether they really and truly are herbivores, and, most importantly, and unexpectedly, I felt more alive than I had in years, perhaps ever; the feeling was visceral; and the city lights melting into a sea of stars above the rocky top of Black Mountain provided the perfect place for me to soak it all in.

In that place at that time, my mind shifted; I changed. Even the parking ticket waiting for me in my car when I got down didn’t derail me (note to self: no more parking 30 mins after sunset please). I was about to embark on a new adventure, and I knew it.

I’ve never been a runner; in fact, I hated running up until November. I ran one horrendous season of cross country my freshman year of high school and, while I got progressively better, I grew to hate running because of the experience, bad coach and no real fun. Never again, I thought... I’ve gone through periods of being "in shape" - hitting the gym, doing aerobics and other things. But I thought runners were masochistic and annoying and that they didn’t really know how to really take care of themselves. Sure, I was entitled to an opinion, but it is clear to me now that I was wrong. Very, very wrong.

I’m writing this blog for many reasons: to keep my friends and family involved in my new passion, to satisfy my craving for a creative outlet for my thoughts, and, mostly, just for myself. Running is something I do purely for me and so is writing about it. So, readers, wallow in my selfishness! I’ll be posting the next installment soon...