Friday, July 27, 2012

San Francisco Marathon - Now With More Tutus

San Francisco... the site of my first marathon finish 1 year ago. And this time, I go there on a 50-mile week to run 26.2 miles again as a training run! Crazy! It's been a hard journey this past year but filled with so many memories!
My attire for Sunday's marathon - the singlet on the left... and the tutu!
I'm an Ambassador for the second year now with this race, and it will always have a special place in my heart as my first marathon. Plus, I love San Francisco, and you just can't beat the only marathon where you actually run on the Golden Gate Bridge!


This year, I want to go race this course. It was actually my PR marathon until April, and it's a course I like. I know where the hills are, the last 6 miles downhill plays to one of my few strengths as a runner, and I know I have gotten stronger since my last race in April, especially now that my iron deficiency that developed in May & June has been fixed.

However, I'm training for my first 50 miler in just 6 weeks. I have no taper going into Sunday's run and I've hit my highest weekly mileages ever with this being my second week over 50 miles. So when fellow SF Marathon Ambassador Lauren (@RunningLaur) said she was thinking about running the full marathon with our friend and fellow SF Marathon Ambassador Peter (@RussianBear), both of them in tutus again this year, and maybe we could run together, and of course I'd have a matching tutu, I asked my coach, "Race or run 26.2?"
San Francisco Marathon 2011 - Marshall Ulrich, Lauren, Peter
The part of Marshall Ulrich this year will be played by me. ;-)
The answer was run, don't race. Peter is running the Worth The Hurt 52.4, where you run the course backwards at midnight, and then run it forward with us at normal start time for the marathon. Lauren and I will be there to run, walk, and crawl with him through the marathon course. All the while, the three of us will be sporting matching tutus. They are true San Francisco Marathon tutus made to match the colors of my San Francisco Marathon Ambassador gear! They are created by another SF Marathon Ambassador Monika (@monikool), who has a company GlamRunner where she makes these tutus to benefit a cause she loves (Girls on the Run). In total, 12 of us, 9 of which are ambassadors, will be sporting these tutus on the course!
Had to try it on right when it arrived in the mail! My 4 year old's bad photographer skills at work here
So if you are running the San Francisco Marathon on Sunday, look for Lauren, Peter, and myself in tutus, along with many of the other ambassadors. We'll be a sight for sure. Say hi, make us practice our Princess wave for you, and be sure to give Peter a cheer as he'll be moving towards finishing 52.4 miles that day!

Monday, July 23, 2012

A Treadmill Worth The Investment - Review of the Nordictrack X9i Incline Trainer

Friends on Twitter and Facebook have already had to put up with my gushing the last 24 hours about my new treadmill. But I wanted to put a more extensive note all together about the treadmill's pros and cons in case anyone is treadmill shopping in the near future!

My old treadmill was several years old that I had gotten cheap from a friend a year or two ago. The motor burnt out on Wednesday. NOOOOoooooOOOO. Yes, I hate the treadmill. But I was using it more lately to try to hit my higher weekly mileage goals. This was a combo of trying to do miles conveniently (during the toddler's naptime, hopping on for just a couple miles to round out a run I gave up on early) and the heat completely sapping my energy and all my hydration.

So this treadmill death was during my big attempt for my first 50 mile week! My coach recommended the Nordictrack x7i Incline Trainer, a twitter friend supported the awesomeness of a very similar treadmill in the Nordictrack line, so I ordered my choice online from Sears midday Saturday, and they delivered it Sunday for an extra $10 weekend delivery charge. Even better, another $10 and they hauled away the old treadmill. And they completely assembled it. Win-win!

I went with the Nordictrack x9i Incline Trainer (generic pictures in this post come from this website).
I know nothing about Jillian Michaels, but it appears she likes this Nordictrack... when there's lots of money involved. (Maybe she likes it anyway. Just being cynical.)

It has a max incline of 40%, which I immediately tried when it was first delivered. I had to set it at like 1 mph but it was very cool. AND it has a max decline of -6%. So you can run uphills, downhills, and more importantly to a race course, rolling hills!

The incline/decline would sell it alone for more people, but the next part is the real kicker. A feature called iFit. It has a 10" touch screen that can actually show you the course you are running. For someone like me who has trouble just zoning out on a treadmill machine, this was a winner. You map a course on Google Maps, or choose one of their popular courses. Then, you choose it on the machine, and it will do the course WITH all the elevation grade changes you would have running it in real life. Then, on the screen, it shows you the Google Maps street view, in pretty darn good resolution, for the course as you run it, moving you along the path and changing the views with the speed you are running.
Not. My. Arm.

My first test was miles 10 to 15 of the San Francisco Marathon course I'll be running on Sunday. I mapped the 5 miles on the computer on the iFit website, then the wifi of the treadmill picks up all the data. A couple miles in I could already tell this was a much harder workout than a standard treadmill. My hips and gluteal medius (hope I said that muscle right!) were more sore like real road with the constant ups and downs of the course. And it was fun to relive the actual race course.
Entering Golden Gate Park at Mile 12 of the SF Marathon
I could imagine this is a great training tool when you have a training cycle designed around a specific race course you can't physically get to for a practice run. 

After those 5 miles of the SF Marathon course, I ended up staying on it Sunday for my whole long run of 16 miles! I ran...

  • 3.2 miles more of the SF Marathon course. Miles 15-18.3. This is smack in the middle of Golden Gate park, has some decent elevation gain, and was good for me to see on the screen because it was a hard section for me last year because you started to feel like you would never ever finish running in that park!
  • 3.3 miles on the canals of Venice, Italy!
  • 2.5 miles on the Monterey Canal. 
  • 2 miles along the road through Zion National Park in UT. That one was more challenging with an 11.5% incline at times!

So while I don't plan to get all my miles on the treadmill, I will add it in more often through the Texas summer and while I'm working on just accumulating so many weekly miles.

Cons for this treadmill? 

  • While it's a little expensive at $2,000, not sure I would really put that as a con since a lot of treadmills people buy new are $1200-1300. 
  • The iFit application they use for mapping could use some improvements. I'd love to import map data that I've exported out of a program like my Garmin or MapMyRun.com. 
  • And you can't start a workout in the middle. So if you just want to run certain miles, you should only map certain miles. Example: I mapped the San Francisco Marathon in 5 mile increments. Because you can't just jump to mile 10 to start if I had mapped it as one big single map. 
  • It will tell you your net elevation gain when you finish but not the split of how much ascent and descent you had. So if you mapped an out and back course, you can only see that you netted 0 ft gain. Sigh.
  • I haven't figured out how to see my average pace. I can see my current speed expressed as pace. I can see my time elapsed and distance covered. But I'd love to see a changing figure for average pace.

Coming up for me on the treadmill... I mapped the first 15 miles of Big Sur Marathon. I can't wait to see the views on the screen. Or deal with the big incline that comes from miles 10 to 12. Known as a challenging course, it should make for a good workout in the near future!

And generally on the treadmill, I'm excited to have this for quick evening 2-3 mile runs. Where it's a pain to completely gear up, sweat to death, and then shower, sometimes for the second time that day. Instead I can hop on and add on a few more miles to my day anytime I want. 

Thursday, July 19, 2012

A Workout Example - Making the Time, and Making the Timing Work

Yesterday was my biggest midweek workout ever. I had 1 hour strength training session with my sadistic trainer Donnie scheduled for 8 pm, AND my coach Jeremy had put down 10 miles in my 50-miler training plan. How to fit it in when I'm a mom and part-time business owner?

I worked and had meetings while the girls were in school (sometimes I swap things around and try to do workouts during their school time), so I knew I had to get it all in at night. This is going to sound disjointed, but it's a reflection of what life is like!

5:30pm, wolf down a dinner and change before hubby gets home at 6 pm as he said he would feed the kids.
6 pm kicked off the workouts.

6:00 pm - 1.3 miles in the 100 degree heat index around the neighborhood.
6:30 pm - 4.1 miles when I picked up neighbor and running pal Sarah who wanted 3-4 miles.
7:30 pm - covered in gnats and nasty sweaty so wipe down and change shirts
7:50 pm - 0.55 miles on TM waiting for trainer to be done with previous session
8:00 pm - 1 hour session where it feels we did everything to aggravate my core, quads, and hamstrings. Good endurance training but painful. Thanks, Donnie.
9:00 pm - 2 miles on TM, hill program up to 4% max grade.
9:30 pm - rushed home because I didn't know if things had changed that my husband would have to go into the office to put out any fires.
9:40 pm - cleaned up a little, hopped on our home treadmill. Found out our treadmill motor was burnt out. It was used and lived a good life. I had already been thinking to replace it in the next month.
10:00 pm - 2.05 miles on TM, hill program up to 4% max grade, at the gym again which is luckily 3 minutes away.
10:45 pm - Back home and done for the day. Time to shower!

There you go - that's 3 hours and 10 minutes of workouts totalling 10 miles running and 1 hour of strength training.

I also know strength training is so nebulous so I asked my trainer to write down everything we did so I could reflect on how much we do in 1 hour. Our workouts change EVERY time based on what's sore, what's tweaked, what workouts I've recently done in my running, and what's coming up in the next couple days, and how mentally I'm feeling.

Here was last night's workout...
Squat to Snatch (glutes/hammies) with 10 lbs - weightlifting - 3 sets of 12 reps
V-up (core) - on back on floor, touch arms/legs then apart like a V - 3 sets of 12 reps
Cleans (glutes/hammies) with 20 lbs - weightlifting - 3 sets of 12 reps
Side Jackknifes (core) - 3 sets of 12 each side
Overhead Walking Lunges with 9 lb bar - 3 sets of 20 reps
Hamstring Curls with 85 lbs - 3 sets of 12 reps
One-Leg Lateral Balance and Reach (quads, hamstring) - 3 sets of 15 each side

So there you go. There's an example of my day where I was just trying to get it all done. And an example of why I long to be an 8 minute miler, where that workout would have taken about 45 minutes less. LOL. I want to be fast solely so that I wanted have to worry so much about time efficiency.

50 miler training continues - 6 miles on the plan for today, then a rest day, and then back-to-back 14 milers this weekend.

Happy Running!



Wednesday, July 18, 2012

A New Challenge Awaits - Woodstock 50

After volunteering at Western States 100, I was so overwhelmed and inspired by these amazing 400 athletes, many of which I saw face to face helping them across the American River at the Rucky Chucky crossing. Monday, I tried to shake some of the feelings. By Wednesday, though, the path was clear.

I texted my coach Jeremy...

I couldn't stop thinking about the amazing weekend and how these ordinary people had worked to do something extraordinary.

It was time for me to do a 50 mile race. So then the hunt was on for a race. Jeremy suggested a handful. Suann and I spent one evening texting back and forth discussing a million races. Amazingly, a lot of them were timeframes that would not work for my race directing life. When I'm directing a race, starting 3-4 weeks before I don't run as much, and I tend to not take the best care of myself (eating, sleeping, hydrating) during that stressful time. Bad timing to do a 50M or hit peak training weeks.

Other items that were considered: big course time limit (12-13 hours would NOT work at my pace), not too rocky (I'm a tenderfoot), and gentle climbs (since big climbs would slow my pace even more!)

Peace, Love, and 50 Miles

Enter the Run Woodstock event. They are all about a weekend of "Peace, Love, and Running." September 7-9, in Hell, Michigan. That sounds like something I can get behind. After my last 3 big races I had participated in had a very competitive field - fantastic runner Max King won Gorge Waterfalls 50K, Jemez 50K/50M was filled with an amazing group of ultrarunners, and Chattanooga Stage Race brought runners who train numbers of miles I can only imagine.



They have fun with their event. I'll be running 3 PINK loops, on their very pretty colorful course map. They also have the Hallucination 100M, the LSD 100K (Long Slow Distance 100K), and every other distance down to the 5K.

Other details:

  • 15 hour time limit
  • Fairly non-technical gentle course
  • Fairly flat (for an ultra) course - 3900 feet total gain / loss
  • 3 loops - I don't think I could stomach some courses that are 8ish loops!
  • Should be good weather - mid 50s to low 70s

Booked and Committed

While the decision was made, I wanted to lay low as I watched my iron levels go back up. I've confirmed now that we have that under control after treatment.


I've done some speedwork and two-a-day workouts the last few weeks. I've done some midday heat training. I've upped my midweek running. I've been putting in weekend back-to-back trail runs. I'm secure at 35-45 mile weeks. It's time... A New Challenge Awaits.

I signed up this morning, I booked all of my travel, I'm working on getting a pacer for the third loop set up, and I'm proud that I have given myself permission to reach for something bigger! 8 weeks to race day!

Friday, July 13, 2012

Flashbacks on El Scorcho

2 years ago, I ran El Scorcho as my very first 25K... 6 months pregnant... in hot Texas summer heat... at midnight in July... wearing a headlamp... oh, and a tutu!

I am so blessed for the friendship over many years of Elizabeth, who was also the ultimate reason the race director to let me do the race. Elizabeth ran every step with me to keep an eye on my health, with the race director checking in on us every loop. I don't blame him - he doesn't get a lot of pregnant round bellies at this race.

This race was actually what flipped the switch to "Yes, I'm ready. I want to run a marathon" although I shoved the thought down and denied it for a few more months.
My dear friend Elizabeth who has run El Scorcho every single year - this year will make 6 times!
Enjoy the 2010 El Scorcho race report, especially if you are preparing to run it for the first time. Nice part of my level of detail is you can really get a sense of what it feels like to be there.
Are you blinded by the white preggo belly?
Yeah, modesty goes out the window when you are hot.
Skip forward a year and in 2011, I ran it just a couple weeks before my first marathon at the San Francisco Marathon. And that year, the heat got to me. It was not a good race for me physically, I threw up on the course, and it mentally freaked me out since it was really my last long run before my marathon. Although I can say that the San Francisco Marathon temperatures in the 50s never felt better after experiencing El Scorcho right before!

So my 2011 El Scorcho race report is an interesting contrast to 2010. Enjoy, it's like watching a trainwreck happen. ;-)
Trying to strike a pose as I was already melting pre-race. 
This year, no El Scorcho for me. :-( Steve is working longer hours this month and next to finish up their video game, Borderlands 2, which hits shelves September 18. Since I'll already be gone for the San Francisco Marathon in 2 weeks, I couldn't take the time to do this race as well, since getting to Fort Worth + pre-race nap + pre-race social time + race + drive back home + recovery/sleep = basically the whole weekend.

But I have a lot of friends running on Saturday night, so I'll be thinking of all of them. Don't think I'm not running this weekend though - I have a 14 miler scheduled for Saturday AM on the Big Cedar trails, and then another 14 miler (so nice I do it twice!) Sunday AM at Northshore trail!

Oh, and big news: I just unveiled the art for the finisher medals and Challenge Plate for New Years Double today. I hope everyone likes it - I'm so excited! Biggest ones I've made yet (5 1/2 inch round Challenge Plate)!

Monday, July 2, 2012

Growth as a Runner - Measured in Miles

Your growth as a runner can be measured by many things - your speed, your placing in the competitive running community, or completed running events. But for me, in the last year, it's been most measured for me in my miles run.

2009: 457.2
2010: 426.4
2011: 1002.7 (of which 544 miles were in the first half of the year)

And I ended out the first half of 2012 with... drumroll please... 696 miles!

Yes, the mathematician in me has already calculated out the percent increase this year's mileage to date represents: it's 28% more miles than the same time the year before.

And it's 3 times more than half of my 2010 miles.

Does that mean I expect to hit about 1400 miles for the year? No, not likely. I'm a mess around the time I am race directing. I don't take very good care of myself - eating, drinking, sleeping - and I don't run very much. And with two races on my fall calendar to produce for the first time, that'll be double that effect. So chances are likely I will have minimal running from September 22 to October 13 (Showdown Half Marathon and 5K), and from December 10 to January 1 (New Years Double).

Do I have a goal number of miles in my head? I have several friends who do. 500 miles, 1000 miles, 1200 miles for 20"12", or 2000 miles. Me, not so much. I have goal races, and I want to hit the number of miles I need to enjoy those events. No more, no less!

How is your running going now that we're halfway through 2012? Do you have a mileage goal?