Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Changing gears

We saw 5 such encouraging signs in 2 miles in Yosemite.

The picture above sums it up. I am almost there. Almost to race day. And I feel as ready as I can be as I start a gradual taper before heading off to race the WC100k in the Netherlands. The beginning of last week was pretty fantastic and had two great indicator workouts that I am as ready as I can be at this point. Now, it is just a matter of cutting back mileage, maintaining/increasing intensity and getting some good rest. It is time to change gears.

I planned my hard long run for last Wednesday because Nathan and I had planned a backcountry weekend for Friday-Sunday and were heading up to Yosemite for some running, camping and good fun. After hitting my mark in the earlier weeks workouts, I was just looking forward to logging some miles with a focus on adventure instead of speed, distance or pace. I wanted to finish out my week with high miles, but was stoked to be able to hit the trails to do so. Over 3 days, we logged nearly 65 miles, hitchhiked, didn't shower, save for the occasional dip in a lake, slept in a tent and generally just refreshed our souls with miles and miles of beautiful backcountry. It was a nice change of pace and even as the miles rolled on, I never felt tired or sore or worked over.  I just felt alive and excited. The high country rejuvenated me and made me excited not only for my race in 3 weeks but for things to come in the near future. There is something in nature that moves me and sets me free. I am happy that I had the opportunity to immerse myself this weekend, reset, recharge and change gears. I feel prepared to take on taper now and the race ahead. I cannot wait to see how it all plays out. 

GoPro views of Half Dome from North Dome

Taking a little dip mid run in mountain top Evelyn Lake.

Check out all my pictures from the weekend here (click on picture to go to picasa album):

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

The Pretender

Post 100k WC 2009 in Belgium. 4th place, team gold.

After Hardrock pacing, I switched gears and started focusing on my goal race for the early fall: the 2011 WC100k as a member of Team USA. My training started off well and I was feeling fast and strong, focused and like my training was progressing in a promising manner. One of my first big long runs on the road was a 5:07 effort for 42 very hilly miles from San Francisco to Fairfax to Stinson Beach. It was suppose to be a 4 hr effort but when I mapped out the route, I missed that google maps had sent me down a little known or possibly non-existent trail from Bolinas Fairfax road and I proceeded down the road that I was familiar with. After that run, I decided that it would be the only 5 hr effort I would do before the 100k. More than one might tax my body too much and I felt that I wanted to heed the lessons from Mad City 100k earlier in the year: that less is more.

I recovered well from that effort and a week later pounded out a solid effort at the SF Marathon with Nathan. I was very pleased with a 2:53 on that marathon course without any taper to speak of and the long run the week before. I took my normal day off on the following Monday and was back to training Tuesday with a good track workout in which I felt very strong. Wednesday I did a solid double workout day for a total of 20 miles. Thursday I hit a wall. I am not sure if it was a mental or physical one, probably a bit of both. I had moved my 4hr long run from Sunday to Thursday because I was heading out of town for the OR show on Friday and couldn't be sure I would have the time to do an effort like that while in Salt Lake. I doubted it. So in the wee hours of Thursday morning (I started running at 4:30am), I headed out with the intention of getting in my 4 hrs. It was raining, cold, windy and foggy. My body was feeling fatigued from the marathon on Sunday and my mind was saying, "I am just not that into this". I decided that physically and mentally, it was better to NOT push through so close to the marathon and did a modified route, covering 22 miles for the day. I finished up the week strong, including the hardest 15 minutes of my life at the Uphill Challenge, followed by a fantastic double day with friends on the trails in SLC. I ran 108 miles, despite no "long" runs and was satisfied.

Pre-100k training with Bestest Everest in 2009. 40 miles in 4:42.

Last week, I put in solid effort after solid effort (with plenty of recovery efforts in there too). I had a good track workout on Tuesday (400, 800, 400, 800, 400, 800, 400, 800. All repeats 1:17-1:19, 2:40-2:43) and ran doubles everyday. By Thursday morning, I could tell that I was feeling off. Not physically, just mentally. I was feeling down in the dumps. I was feeling unmotivated. I was feeling grumpy. I think the weather was just weighing on me and couldn't talk myself out of the negative space I was occupying. So on Thursday afternoon, I did something drastic. I just drove and drove until I found the sun and then ran on trails until I was tired, a bit sunburned and uplifted by a few hours in the sun. It meant 25 miles for the day, but unlike what my training plan called for. I didn't care. I needed to be happier above all else. I needed to crawl out of the doldrums. Friday morning, Nathan and I chased the sun again, this time on Mt. Tam above the fog. I was feeling more uplifted, more like me. I had my long run planned for Saturday and Nathan and I made a plan for meeting up in Tennessee Valley after I did a 42 mile road loop (the Paradise loop+ more from the city). I set off in the wind, cold and fog but couldn't get my mind into the effort in from of me. By mile 7, I was texting Nathan that I just wasn't into the run. I decided to have him pick me up at mile 11.5 and I would run with him on Mt. Tam for a couple of hours. I managed 4 hours for the day with 2.5 hours of that in the glorious sun on Mt. Tam but the workout was not the confidence booster I wanted or needed. I still remember back to my last Worlds in 2009 where I had a fantastic 40 mile run which Jonathan joined me for the second half of. I had not yet had a fantastic indicator workout on this cycle. Instead, I was just worrying that I had overcooked myself somehow. I ran on the trails again Sunday and gave myself a break from the road. I just ran and enjoyed myself again instead of worrying about the miles, splits and what this meant for my race. I covered 110 miles for the week, again with no real "long run" and 4 days of pure trail.

WC100k 2009.

I went into this week determined to have quality workouts. I decided that it wasn't a matter of hoping for a good workout or week, I would simply decide it to be so and it would be. And in the two workouts thus far this week, it is abundantly clear that I am ready. Tuesday I headed to the track and focused on hammering out my relatively light workout of 5x400 repeats with 200 recovery. I smashed the workout, finishing my last three repeats in 74, 73 and 70. I pushed myself and found, much like I did during the Uphill Challenge, that I had yet another gear. I finished the last workout and received applause from a few onlookers. One came over to me and said that he has seen me working out at the track and that I really inspire him with my hardwork. It was a really nice compliment and I appreciated that someone took the time to say it. I warmed down with Nathan and was very stoked to have run a 70. I don't think I have run a 70 yet this year and I am encouraged by the thought of getting faster at the track.

This morning, I planned to do my long run as we have fun trail plans for the weekend. I didn't want to miss out on a good road effort, even though I was worried about my ability to motivate myself to hit another 4-ish hr road effort. I decided to run 50k and see what I could do comfortably hard. 

Before I headed out this morning, I read an interesting article entitled "You Become What Your Pretend to Be". It really resounded with me. It was exactly what I needed. Last Saturday, I did a lot of negative self talk and talked myself out of my workout. I was determined not to do that today. Instead, I would simply pretend and therefore make it so. So I pretended:
that I was strong
that I was fast
that I was motivated
that I was worthy of a gold medal
that I was ready
that I was inspired
that I could do anything

And from the start, the workout was completely different. I ran comfortably but felt a levity about the journey ahead. Instead of worrying how the workout would go, I simply told myself it would be a good one. By the time I reached the other side of the Golden Gate bridge, I was dripping with sweat and beaming with pride (mind you it is only mile 7 at this point). I knew I was going to have a breakthrough workout. I knew I would never have doubts. I knew that I would run strong and fast and push it harder with each passing mile. And it was so.

I ran out to the end of the bike path in Mill Valley and turned around, laughing at the headwind that seemed to blow in both directions. I was 13.5+ miles into the run in 1:29. I popped a gel and headed back towards the bridge. At this point, I decided that I would push the remaining miles despite knowing that all of the bigger hills lay before me. I wanted to get to mile 20 steadily and then do a fast finish. I hit the 20 mile mark in 2:14 and pressed across the Golden Gate bridge with a smile on my face. Making it back across the bridge is such a nice feeling. I feel almost home, even though when I got across I took a right turn and headed away from home. I was determined to hit a sub 3 for my marathon split despite miles 22-26 being very hilly and partially on trail through Land's End including a sand ladder. I made it through Land's End and sprinted down the hill towards the beach hitting the marathon in 2:55:44. I realized that I was what I had started out pretending to be. I cannot remember the moment when I crossed from "fake it til you make it" into this being the reality of things. I was LOVING the run. I felt strong and fast and inspired. I just felt good. My body felt alive even though I was running really hard.

The final 4.5 ish miles home were no easy task. It is uphill all the way from the beach but I was determined not to relent on the pace and zig zagged my way up the park, up each hill and sandy bit of trail. The miles ticked away and I approached the final giant hill up to my house. I pushed up it, grunting, sweat flying everywhere. I wouldn't go easy on myself even though I was nearly home. I pushed up and over the top and sprinted down my block and beyond my house. I simply couldn't finish my run .01 short of a perfect 50k. I didn't have to go far and I dramatically hit stop on my watch 3:29:13. 6:44 min/mile for a 50k. Wow. That felt good. 

As the article mentioned, "our attitudes influence our behavior" as well as "our behavior influences our attitudes". On this run, I definitely found this to be true. I started off the run with a positive, even if just pretending or slightly uncertain, attitude and it made my behavior positive as well. Because I felt positive, happy and hopeful about the run, my running was comfortable, strong and inspired. Then, because my run was going well, my attitude continually got more positive and inspired. By the end, I am sure I looked like a crazy person running 6:40s through the park with a wild grin on my face. I became what I pretended to be. It was the breakthrough I was hoping for and it shows me that come race day there will be no pretending. There will just be a goofy grin and joyful running as I count off loops in a small town in the Netherlands.

Friday, August 12, 2011

Fast Foodie Cooks: Weekly Recipe: Gluten Free, Sugar Free Whole Grain Waffles

I have been focusing on the quality and timing of my diet much like I was before my Olympic Trials qualifier earlier this year and trying to ensure that my heavy training load is fueled by high quality foods that maximize my training and recovery. That said, I've hit a point in this training cycle (4 weeks until race day!) where my hunger is out of control. I work at making sure that I am eating a small meal every 2-3 hours to keep the hunger at bay, but some days I feel like I need something more substantial to tame the savage beast that is my stomach.

This morning, after a 25 mile double day (10 in the morning, 15 in the afternoon- all trail) yesterday, I could tell today was going to be one of those days. We headed out before dawn to chase down some early morning sunshine and did a fantastic loop above the fog on Mt. Tam. I can't tell you how many times we simply stopped in our tracks and soaked in the sun's rays. Midway through the run, my stomach was already grumbling and I spent the rest of the run thinking about breakfast, like I do on so many runs. I announced to Nathan that is was a waffle kind of morning, as long as we made it home in time to make them. I knew my standard bowl of gluten free oats would keep me full for -.5 seconds, so I was hankering for something heartier. We finished up the perfect 10 mile loop and jumped back into the car and made our descent back into the cold, fog.

I've been working on this recipe throughout this training cycle because it accommodates the current restrictions on my diet. I am eating very few grains these days and usually its just my morning oats. I am always gluten free, so these waffles were naturally gluten free. I also wanted them to be healthy, so I included sorghum and buckwheat (whole grain) in my mix. They also had to be sugar free. I am not doing sugar or sweeteners right now, so that was a necessity. After a few trials, I am very pleased with how these waffles came out. They are whole grain, they are sugar free, they are hearty but not heavy and definitely not unhealthy. They are perfect topped with a drizzle of almond butter or peanut butter and make a typical dreary San Francisco morning seem a whole lot brighter.

Gluten Free, Sugar Free Whole Grain Waffles
1/2 cup gluten free sorghum flour
1/2 cup gluten free buckwheat flour
1/3 cup gluten free sweet rice flour
1/3 cup gluten free tapioca flour
1/3 cup gluten free coconut flour
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp salt
2 cups unsweetened non-dairy milk (I used So Delicious sugar free vanilla coconut milk)
1 egg
1 small banana, mashed
1/2 tsp almond or vanilla extract (optional)
butter to grease waffle iron
for topping: peanut butter, butter, maple syrup, fruit (optional)

Heat waffle iron.

In a large bowl, whisk together the dry ingredients until well incorporated. In a small bowl, mix together milk, egg, banana, and almond extract. (Baker's note: for extra light and crispy waffles, whip egg whites vigorously until you get soft peaks- because there is no sugar you won't form good peaks). Add the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients and mix until combined. Don't over-mix.

Grease waffle iron with butter to prevent sticking. Scoop 1/4 cup of the mix in each of the waffle molds (our waffle iron makes 4 square waffles). Cook 5-6 minutes or until done. Top with butter, peanut butter, maple syrup, fruit or any of your favorite toppings!

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Just as you are- reflection from Outdoor Retailer

Running back from the Wasatch Wobble with a fast crew

Mark Darcy: "I don't think you're an idiot at all. I mean, there are elements of the ridiculous about you. Your mother's pretty interesting. And you really are an appallingly bad public speaker. And, um, you tend to let whatever's in your head come out of your mouth without much consideration of the consequences... But the thing is, um, what I'm trying to say, very inarticulately, is that, um, in fact, perhaps despite appearances, I like you, very much. Just as you are." (Bridget Jones Diary 2001)

I've always loved that quote (and that movie for that matter) and I feel that way about the ones I love: I love them just as they are. I love them when the grow and change, I love them when they stay the same. I love their faults and mad skills. Just as they are.

Krissy and Ellie running back from the Wobble

Reflecting back on my few days at the Outdoor Retailer show in Salt Lake City, I realized that is not often I ask myself if I extend that sentiment to the way I feel about myself. Do I love myself just as I am? In running, as well as in all aspects of life, I continually try to grow, improve, and better myself. I work hard to do these things and that journey is not always an easy one. There are not always confidence markers along the way to make you feel like you are heading in the right direction. I love to grow, learn, change, strive. But in that pursuit, it is easy to lose sight or focus on the person that you are right at this very moment. I realized while I was at OR that I don't always give myself for the person I am right now, just as I am, this work in progress.

Bonneville Shore Trail.

The fantastic folks at Salomon flew me out to Salt Lake for the show and it was an overwhelming experience to check out all of the new products and see all of the excitement of the show. I had fun talking to Salomon product designers and offering feedback on things, it was cool to check out all the Spring/Summer 2012 products. I got in some great running including a night run with a fantastic group of speedsters in the Wasatch (followed by late night burritos!). 

One of the things I was participating in at the show was the TrailRunner Magazine Uphill Challenge. I came into this challenge with a great deal of self doubt and trepidation. The Uphill Challenge is 15 minutes at 15% grade on a treadmill (up from the usual 10%). You run head to head with another competitor and there are about 20+ total participants over the course of the day. Whomever runs farthest wins (man and woman). 

Boxing Bear Running Climb- night run in the Wasatch

Arriving in SLC, I was definitely feeling tired, slow and nervous. After smashing the SF marathon the Sunday before as a training run and then picking right back up the peak training, I was daunted by the idea of the Challenge. I tried to laugh it off, tried to push out the self doubt but the negative thoughts proliferated as my turn crept closer and closer. They say, I thought, I am not a good hill runner. They say, I am a good road runner, flat runner, downhill runner. I admit it, after its been said so many time both directly and indirectly, I started to believe that sentiment, I started to believe that I am some how less because my best skill is not uphill running.

Krissy and I atop the Wasatch. She is a true inspiration and friend.

I warmed up in the parking lot, watched Krissy and Liza go head to head and was further made a nervous wreck when Krissy had to stop half way through because of a strange flutter in her lungs/chest. I see Krissy as an extremely talented uphill runner and watching her have to pull out mid way through did not instill confidence. She told me that I shouldn't take what happened to her as an example of how it would be, but its hard to accept since she is one of the toughest cookies I know. I was glad she was ok and made a smart decision to pull. 

I stepped on the treadmill, feeling tight, sore and unenergetic. A small crowd was gathered round to watch Gina and I face off. We were the last ladies pair and Gina, running for team Inov-8, was the defending champ. I flipped on the treadmill and did a bit more warming up. I had the incline on 3.0 and inquired (probably a bit desperately) if 3.0 was equal to 3%. I was hoping not, since it felt incredibly difficult, but alas, it was so. I took one deep breathe and thought, hell, its only 15 minutes of my life. I just have to keep going for 15 minutes, I don't have to necessary do it hard or fast.

With a countdown, Ashley Arnold sent us off at 15% and I cranked up the speed to around 5 mph. My strategy was just to run steady and not try to go out to fast. I planned on increasingly slowly, then in the last 1-2 minutes cranking it up to "one misstep and you are flying off the back" speed. I focused my eyes, not on the speed or incline, but on a single spot on the ground. I focused, not on the "I can't do this" sentiment, but on the "I CAN do this. I don't care what anyone says. I can do this." I realized that to succeed I needed to accept myself for who I am, just as I am. I am a good runner, uphill, downhill, road and trail. And I have one thing that mattered more in a challenge such as this than anything else: true grit. For 15 minutes at 15% grade, it is a lot more about what you can bear mentally and physically than skill. For 15 minutes, I could hold on, I could run harder than I thought I could. I could say YES I CAN, instead of I can't, this is hard. I'm not good at this. 

Yes I can get 12+ people into one self-portrait. Oh wait...

Gina and I clicked off identical 10ths of a mile. Holding the same speed steadily as the seconds slid away. 10 minutes gone, I still had legs. I pushed a bit. 13 minutes, I started cranking, pushing and finding my body still had more to give. In the final minute, I had it cranked up to 7.5 mph and felt like I was flying. 15 minutes, done. 1.35 miles. I had won my match up and was the 2nd woman overall for the day. There was a moment on that treadmill when I was able to see that who I am right now, even as I pursue challenges, goals and growth, is worthy. I realized that I am good enough, just as I am. I am good enough not when I achieve those challenges, goals or growth, I am good enough right now. I think it is amazingly easy to forget to give yourself credit for who you are right now, flaws and all, halfway there (half way to where? There is no destination), smack dab as a work in progress. 

Ellie left a piece of herself on the Wasatch

I stepped off the treadmill genuinely surprised by myself, not because I did so well, but because of the depth of self-doubt that I had to overcome. I was surprised that I had forgotten to give myself credit or celebrate the person that I am. We all do it, of that I am sure. But I am happy that I had that moment as I was cranking along, where I said Yes to myself again. It makes you feel superhuman to believe in yourself, just as you are.

Over the rest of the show, I walked and ran around feeling renewed. I have been challenging myself with big pursuits this year and it is the first time that I have genuinely felt empowered by how I am going after it, instead of feeling like I am not doing enough, that I could be doing more. I let go of the self doubt and with it came levity. To face challenges with yes instead of no makes the difficult pursuits seem so much easier. Sometimes you just have to get out of your own way I think.

Joe, the mountains and the sunset.

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Fast Foodie Cooks: Weekly Recipe: Farmer's Market Frittata

I haven't been posting nearly enough recipes on my blog. I am currently in the best shape of my life, culinarily speaking. I am geeking out on seasonal produce, creating amazing meals for my clients and coming in to my own as a personal chef. I think everyone can be their own chef, so I might as well help this along by providing you recipes that help fuel me up with the healthful energy I need! My goal is to post a weekly (ok regular) recipe post with some delicious goodness that is being thrown down in Casa De Ninja!

Farmer's Market Frittata
Serves 2-4 (2 as a main, 4 with something else)

8 large organic eggs
1 tbsp unsalted butter
1 tbsp olive oil
1 cup spring onion, baby spring onion or regular onion, chopped
1 cup baby bella mushrooms, sliced
1 cup zucchini with blossoms, zucchini sliced and blossoms separated, sliced- set aside.
2 garlic clove, minced
salt and pepper
optional: 4 ounces crumbled goat cheese

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.
Saute the onion, zucchini, mushroom and butter/olive oil in a 10-inch oven proof skillet (such as a cast iron) or pan over medium heat until starting to turn translucent, about 4 minutes. Add garlic and cook 1 more minute. 

In a large bowl, beat the eggs. Add the squash blossoms, salt, and pepper and cheese (if using) and combine. Pour the mixture over the cooking vegetables and place the skillet in the center of the oven. Bake for about 50 minutes, until it puffs and a knife inserted in the middle comes out clean. Serve hot directly from the pan with a side salad of fresh mixed greens.

Monday, August 1, 2011

Two for the road- SF Marathon race report

Photo from the article about us in the SF Examiner
Copyright Cindy Chew/ SF Examiner

Last Sunday a great article about Nathan and I running SF Marathon came out in the SF Examiner. We had fun being interviewed and doing the photoshoot and were look forward to the first time actually running a race together. We have run the same race before, but we have never stuck together the whole time. We have run plenty of miles side by side, but I was curious to see how it would play out in a race circumstance.

I signed up for SF marathon quite some time ago as a training race for the upcoming WC100k. In years passed, I have run a marathon as training for other 100ks and like doing a hard "speed workout" by racing a marathon. I asked Nathan if he wanted to join me and he did so we got signed up as elites. I never was focusing on this race and neither was Nathan. For me, it was a part of training. The week before the race, I ran over 115 miles including a hard 42.5 mile run. The week of the race, I trained pretty well for the beginning of the week and did a mini (2 day) taper for the race. I wanted to go in tired, but not wrecked. Nathan has been in recovery for the past few weeks after Hardrock. He runs when he wants (still mostly every day) but without a specific race in mind, getting his legs back moving and feeling things out. Before the race, we discussed our goals. I wanted to run a low 2:50 (right about 6:40/mile pace), even though the course is very hilly and slow. Nathan had no specific time goal, didn't really know his legs would feel and thus, just wanted to hang with me. 

My mom was in town for the weekend, so I kept myself busy Friday and Saturday playing host to her and didn't get much into the race hype, except for a brief visit to the expo to get our packets. The SF Marathon is the 13th biggest marathon in the country (despite it being crazy hilly for a road race) and the energy from everyone involved was great. 

Marathon morning was way too damn early. Ultra early. We got up at 3am, ate and headed out in a taxi down to the Embarcadero. We headed into the VIP area and caught up with friend (and eventual winner of the marathon) Mike Wardian. We did a little shake out run down the embarcadero and were soon enough standing at the line ready to make our way into the darkness (5:30am start!). Even after the warmup, I was not really sure how my legs were feeling. They didn't feel great, but not horrible either, just kind of tired, without zip. I figured I would be able to tell soon enough how they were feeling. I looked around the starting corral at the other elite women and I didn't really feel like I was racing against them. Instead, I felt like I was focused on my goals to run my race.

Off we went and Nathan and I fell in to step quickly off the line and were joined by Scott Dunlap. He said his race strategy was to stay behind me. We chatted for a bit and I felt he and Nathan quickening their step a bit and I pulled back. Scott continued ahead and joined up with the lead female pack which was about 30 seconds ahead (5-6 women). I felt no desire to chase and figured that things would shake out with the first hills and the group would splinter. At which point, I would pick up the pieces.

Nathan and I just clicked along. I wasn't wearing my foot pod but checked the time on my Suunto T6c when we'd pass mile markers. I did the occasional lap to gauge a mile here and there. I felt like we were running pretty consistent and Nathan assured me we were running strong. With tired legs and "training through" a race, it is sometimes hard to gauge your own speed. What feels fast in a training run, might actually be quite slow comparatively. Luckily, we were right exactly where we wanted to be: clicking off the miles. I won't say it was easy, but it wasn't a struggle to maintain the pace. The hills, although quite challenging, actually felt fantastic to me and we would eat up ground on the lead pack and even started picking off women after the turn around on the bridge. 

Nathan was making it look easy and I wondered if he was having to work hard at all. Coming off the bridge we easily cruised up a decent grunt of a hill and found our way in to 3rd place (well I was, who knows what place Nathan was in). I was drinking water at all the aid stations and finally popped a GU at mile 11. I was looking forward to getting into the park and starting on the easier half of the course. We ran into friend Jimmy Dean, who was out to pace a friend to a BQ. He was a week out of rocking AC100 and it was great to have him cheering us on. Nathan and I had a lot of support out there. It is so much fun to run your hometown marathon!

 Cruising in the park. Photo by Paul Mosel.

Arriving in the park is a nice feeling because you get a good 2 mile gradual downhill before another extended (but very gradual) climb out of the park. It also marks halfway, with the "easier" half remaining, so that was good too. Nathan and I had discussed my race strategy before the race. I had decided that I would establish in the park whether or not I would actually start racing or if I would settle in wherever I was and just cruise. Hitting the bottom of the park, I was also hitting a lull in my energy. I was in the weeds and not feeling awesome. Nathan was feeling good, at least good enough to grab a beer at mile 16 from the Hash House Harriers, chug it and then catch up to me. I was not feeling good enough to be amused. I think he was actually a bit tipsy for at least a few miles. Running makes the alcohol get into your system quick! I started to feel better and though I could still see the lead two women, I was not feeling that I would give chase. I decided to stay consistent and let them come back to me in the waning miles if they faltered. I popped another gel to get me out of my funk and we worked our way around Stow Lake and out of the park. Reaching Haight St the crowds increased and I got to see my mom cheering for me. It is the first time she's seen me race, so it was as exciting for her as it was for me!

Nathan was still chugging along side me, steady and seemingly strong. He said that he was definitely feeling the lack of speed work and was tired, but I was confident he would hang with me. I was feeling less funky and we picked up the pace a bit as we rolled up Haight St. I was a good 3 minutes behind the lead women, but was unconcerned. We continued to cruise, rile up the cheering sections and thank all the volunteers who were out there.  Once we hit mile 20, the miles started to feel quicker and easier. I was coming in to my favorite part of the race: the furious finish! I could smell the barn and was certainly ready to be done, as was Nathan I think. We continued to pass guys, moving up past at least a dozen or so in the last 6 miles, if not more. We caught up to Scott again just before mile 24 as he was suffering from a foot issue. The last miles wind around Mission, Potrero, Dogpatch and then finally head towards the ball park and finally the Embarcadero and finish line. We zoomed through Dogpatch and were picking up speed passing mile 24. Then came the headwind. I wanted to push in the last few miles, but also was walking a fine line of not wanting to run too hard, especially since I couldn't see if there was any reason to chase. Near the ballpark, I could see one of the lead bike escorts and calculated she was a good 1:30 ahead of me. Not a distance I was going to make up in less than a mile (into a headwind). I was happy with the race we were running, it is exactly the race/pace/time I wanted to run. Nathan and I zoomed onto the Embarcadero together, enjoying the cheers of the crowd and passing a few more guys for good measure. With less than 100 meters to the finish line, I sped up to pass another guy (I am so nice) with Nathan on my heels. I made sure to get him next to me and we crossed the finishline holding hands in 2:53:55. Good enough for 3rd place.

This was a good race for me in my training and a good confidence boost. I have had some good long road runs, but there is nothing quite like a race to gauge fitness. 2:53:55 is a fast time and even faster considering how slow the long grinding hills make you. I am excited for the rest of my training in the next 6 weeks. I have some longer quality sessions remaining and some mileage to be done, I can't wait to see how things shape up on September 10th in the Netherlands! I finished the week at about 80 miles total with a few quality sessions and a good race. That is a very satisfying feeling. What's even more satisfying is running an entire race with someone you love. The first time I ran SF marathon it was with my sister and we crossed the line hand in hand. This time, I got to run my 4th fastest marathon time with Nathan and cross the line hand in hand with him. It was great to have his company, pacing and encouragement along the way. Even though I got a lot of attention for my third place finish, to me it is a shared victory because he was there with me every step of the way! 

You may also enjoy:

Related Posts with Thumbnails