Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Summer Fun

It's been a long time since I've written in the blog, and even longer since I wore a race number. But, it's summer!!! And with the long days and great weather comes opportunities to race.

About a week ago, I ran the Missoula half-marathon with my friend, Deb, and and new friend, Lanelle. We had a great time on a beautiful day. It was great to be out there with lots of other runners and just enjoying the run. We ran a pretty mellow pace, but it was great to finish with gas in the tank and feeling like I could keep going.

So, half-marathons are a great distance. Enough to be challenging and pretty hard. But, the training doesn't take too long.

Marathons --- now that's another story. It's getting to the time when we need to get serious about the long runs. When it comes to the 15 to 18 mile runs, it really starts to get hard.

But, it's summer.... Time for some (serious) training fun. That's what we're all about.

Friday, April 2, 2010

Spring Break in California

Spring break in California. A chance to reconnect with old friends and do some favorite runs along the beach and trails in San Clemente.

We are lucky with the weather. We arrive to perfect 70 degrees and sunshine, ocean breezes and all the flowers in full bloom. Even though it's been five years since we moved to Montana, it feels like we never left. I always forget how hilly the runs are around San Clemente -- but my legs soon remember.

We easily slip into the routine of morning runs and afternoon tennis. Of course, it's great because we're on vacation and we can avoid the crowds and the rush hour traffic.

It's a great way to get back into regular running. There are no excuses --- perfect temperature, lots of time (we're on vacation!), and a willing running buddy. My friend, Kris, is the world's most consistent runner. 36 years of daily runs, multiple marathons and half-marathons. The original iron-woman. We were training partners for my first marathon. She's been my source of advice for training, hydrating, stretching, and all other running questions.

I end the week feeling like I've been to running / tennis boot camp (24 miles on the rolling streets and trails) and multiple hours of tennis.

Time to head home --- but what a rejuvenating week!

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Season re-cap

My racing "season" is over, for the most part. I have two more 5K's penciled on my calendar (Miami Corporate run and a Memorial Day 5K), but that's basically it. It's just too darned hot to race down here in the summer time!

In a word, my season was awesome! Between October and March, I ran five half-marathons, two 10K's, and two 5 K's. I ran almost every race faster than the year before, setting personal records in every distance and winning two first place age group awards (10K's). That's 5 finisher medals, 1 age group medal, 1 age group trophy and 9 t-shirts! Sweet.

I believe the primary success factor was maintaining a higher mileage base during the off season. My running group kept at a 12 mile long run base all summer. They were very SLOW and sweaty miles during mid-summer, but we kept 'em going. Ramping up in Fall's cooler weather was a snap in comparison to previous years when our long run distance dropped to 6-9 miles.

So the plan this year is - do the same thing! Keep up the mileage, keep cross training, stay strong, stay healthy (hopefully) and have fun. It won't be long before I start ramping up again for the Salmon Marathon in September!

Monday, March 8, 2010

Beach party!

I have to admit, the 131 Miami half marathon does have its appeal.

The weather yesterday was absolutely perfect - mid-50's temperatures, light breeze, clear skies - beautiful! I was a little unsure of the parking situation, so arrived near the South Beach start area around 4:40 am to find plenty of spaces available at one of the recommended parking garages. The late night partiers were weaving their way back to the same garage to drive home and crash for the morning. A couple of short-skirted, but pleasant, girls asked me about the event, and marveled at the distance (13 miles!!!?). It's a juxtaposition that never ceases to amuse me: bleary-eyed, scantily-clad party-goers crossing paths with bleary-eyed, scantily-clad runners in the pre-dawn hours.

The race had a nice-size field of around 2000 runners. The race took us up Miami beach and over a causeway and back in a loop to the start. The organizers really did try to have entertainment on the course. One of the nice things about running along the causeway is that you could hear the entertainment (drum line, DJ or band) from both sides. There wasn't a lot of crowd support, but the onlookers that were there were vocal and enthusiastic. All of the runners were very friendly, and everyone really seemed to be having a great time. There are several fairly stiff bridges on the course, but the view from the highest bridge was spectacular - you could see miles of bay and the Port, and skylines of both Miami and Miami Beach. And did I say that the weather was perfect?

I really didn't care about my time, I was just running for fun! Is it just me, or does 13 miles just not seem as far as it used to? The miles passed quickly. The last mile was on a winding bike path by the beach and almost before I knew it, the race was over. I finished in 2:05, a VERY respectable time for me considering all of the bridges, and totally blowing away last year's time of 2:16!

The best part of the race, IMO, is the finish line party right on the beach. There were the usual post-race bagels, fruit, cookies, muffins, etc. But there was also a beer tent - Sam Adams, some GOOD stuff! And arroz con pollo (chicken and rice), and all sorts of vendor samples, salsa music and beach cabanas. I have never seen a race with beach cabanas and lounge chairs at the finish. It was very cool! Unfortunately, duty called and I had to scoot off to make it to church on time. But for those who had time to hang around, it was shaping up to be quite a party!

So, will I do it next year? Maybe .... I have a lot planned already and it will depend on how I feel. Just two suggestions for the organizers - a Broward County packet pick up option and negotiated parking rates! I paid $18 for less than 4 hours in a City parking garage, ouch!

But, it was fun .....

Thursday, March 4, 2010

Last Half

Well, the last for this season anyway!

Coming up this Sunday is the 131 Miami, part of a half-marathon-only series brought to you by the same folks who produce the Miami Marathon. The first 131 race was run in Ft. Lauderdale in November 2008 (which I did) and the second was the 131 Miami in March 2009 (which I ran). The series has since expanded to a number of cities all over the country (Atlanta, LA, Chicago, etc).

There are a couple of things I'm not crazy about with this race. The course spends a lot of time on the Julia Tuttle causeway which not only has fairly sizeable bridges on either end (which you have to run twice each!), but you are also sucking exhaust fumes from the causeway traffic which is still running alongside you. Also, the packet pick up is very inconvenient - either go WAY down to South Miami to a FootWorks store, or to Miami Beach the day before. If there was a big expo, it would be worth the trip, but driving an hour for a 5 minute pickup isn't very palatable. Fortunately, a friend already had to make the trip herself and picked up mine for me, what a gal! Also, March can be very warm (last year was pushing 80), but this year is promising to be quite cool, maybe even in the 40's! Brrr!

So I'll run the race one more time, but the jury is out for next year unless they really blow me away with the revised race course and amenities .....

Monday, February 22, 2010

Ren-fest and Running

Ahh, February. Sunny, warm and beautiful. Just another South Florida winter weekend!

The Florida Renaissance Festival is currently in full swing at Quiet Waters Park. It's an absolute must-do in my book, so the boys and I headed up there Saturday for a day of Celtic music, sword fighting, and renaissance fare. Yes, I am one of those dress-up geeks. Sean and Nathan elected not to go "in garb" this year, but at least they didn't pretend not to know me. Jeff was out of town, attending a homeowners association meeting for our cabin in Gatlinburg, so it was just the 3 of us.

Running around all day in the heat in heavy garb and eating street food probably isn't the best taper strategy, but it IS fun.

After a lovely day in the 16th century, I was rudely awakened by my alarm Sunday at 3 am for the Ft Lauderdale A1A marathon / half. It's a scenic run, starting downtown Ft. Lauderdale, to the beach, through a park, and finishing up and down A1A. The weather promised to be cool, clear and calm - perfect!

Ever have one of those days where you're just not feelin' it? I dragged myself slowly and a bit reluctantly through my pre-race routine and headed downtown. The A1A a nice middle-size race, with a field of around 5000. Enough to be exciting, but not overwhelming. As we assembled in the corrals, I booted up my new Garmin 305 GPS watch and figured this would be a good test run for the device. I wasn't expecting too much from myself, though; feeling sluggish and a little acid stomach-y from yesterday's faire fare.

The field started off slowly, and I did too, figuring I'd just take the race as it came. But as the race went on, I started feeling better. As the sun came up, and we hit the beach with its cheering crowds and rock bands, I perked up and started hitting my stride. How great is this - running along the beach, seeing the sunshine and beautiful ocean, everyone happy and smiling around me. It's a "great to be alive" moment. There's nothing like going out for a long run to pep you right up! Since I ran most of the race not paying attention to any possible finishing time (not caring really), I was surprised and pleased to finish at 2:04, quite a respectable time for me!

Maybe tapering in the 16th century isn't so bad after all.

My new toy performed beautifully (except for pairing up properly with the heart rate monitor, I should have done that before I left home, too many interfering signals!). It was nice to be able to check my pace and the distance as I went along. The REALLY cool thing was hooking it up to my computer afterward and downloading all of the data. I can see the course on the map, look at cool graphs, ooohhh, ahhhh. I'm such a geek.

Another weekend of fun in the South Florida winter sun ....

Thursday, February 18, 2010

All's quiet

I haven't blogged for a while, but I'm still running!

I ran a 5K on Feb 6, a Rotary 5K event for which Motorola was one of the sponsors and our Wellness center staff did the warm up. A small-ish group (about 10-12 people) from work participated in the event. I ran a so-so 27 minutes, legs still tired from the previous week's half-marathon. Still, it was definitely fun, especially when my Wellness friends were there cheering us on at the finish! I just love that.

It's that time of year when you can literally run races every weekend, Saturday AND Sunday if you want. Between the three counties, there's always something happening, usually multiple happenings. My running group friends participated in another event last weekend - a 5K run followed by a 100K bike ride for a charity event benefitting a local pediatric hospital. I contemplated running the 5K, but felt I needed a week off from hard racing. I'm glad, because it turned out to be a VERY chilly morning - upper 30's to low 40's. (I'm such a wimp) THEY totally rocked it out. I did a couple of medium-long runs on my own (10 miler on Saturday and 7.5 miler on Sunday) instead. Running from my house is warmer, no standing around for events to begin!

One more thing to mention - I got a new toy: a Garmin 305 GPS unit! I'm still figuring it out, but it looks to be one cool gizmo. (Justification: All of my friends had one ....) It will come in very handy when I start ramping up my long runs in the spring -- no more trying to calculate mileage in my head. After 18 miles or so, my calculating ability goes right out the window - I can't even add 2 and 2. Something about all of the glucose in my brain draining down to fuel my legs .... I get really stupid. Fortunately, we have technology!

Next up: Ft. Lauderdale A1A half marathon this Sunday .... 6 am sharp!