Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Marathon Training Begins Today

Haven't signed up for the race yet, but I'm starting the first day of my training plan today. I'm hoping that everything works out that I'll be able to complete the training and do the race. I've picked California International Marathon, because its December 5th date is pretty much right on track with my training plan.

Found this article on Active.com, which talks about splitting up your long run:


That makes training with Rory in the stroller seem a little more manageable. He would never nap long enough for a 4 or 5 hour run, but if I split it up, it might just work out. But who knows what his nap schedule will be like by the time the long runs start up? I'm just going to take the training plan one day at a time for now, hope for the best, and try to figure a way around if obstacles come up.

I'm using Cool Running's Beginner Marathon Training Plan as a base, and may end up splitting my long runs in accordance with the above article.


Alcatraz Challenge Video

I thought my race report was lacking in describing the experience of my race. This video this guy who did the race made gives you a much better idea of what the race was like.

Sunday, July 25, 2010

Raybon's Wharf to Wharf

Congratulations, Raybon on winning the Wharf to Wharf Challenge and completing the actual race today with a time of 55:38.  He had a really enjoyable race and is pleased with coming in under an hour, his time goal.

We still have a bit of a friendly competition thing going on.  I have to admit, I didn't even try not to compare his pace today and mine last week, since his original position on who would win the Wharf to Wharf Challenge was "whoever is faster gets to race without the jogging stroller."  I came up with the mile race, since figuring out who was faster over 10K didn't seem plausible, since one of us has to watch Rory at all times.  My pace was a little faster than his, but his was pretty close, and faster than my pace just a couple months ago.  So who knows who will be faster next month or in a year.  I hope he keeps running though, and given that he is a guy, and a former cross country star, if he does, he will get faster than me eventually.

Yesterday's Workout (And a longish story)

A few years ago I had something a little frightening happen to me.

It was my 32nd birthday. I was on my way to my first triathlon, the Tri For Fun in Pleasanton. I woke up really early in the morning to get there on time. I think I left the house around 4:30 am. (Those were the days when I could wake up early, do a race, chill out the rest of the day. and maybe even plan to sleep in again the next couple of days to catch up on sleep. These days, I still feel like I'm catching up on sleep from when Rory got up at 430 every morning.)

I was almost out of gas when I left my house in the Flip Flop mountains. I went to the gas station just 1.5 miles from my house. Before I could even get out of my car, I noticed an odd, but familiar person about 10 feet from my car.

It was a man who used to ride up my street.  OK, the picture to the left is not the man.  Thankfully.  The man who was there rides fully clothed (had a parka on at the time), and has a 'fro.  It could be his bicycle, though.

When I say this man used to ride up my street, I mean if I wanted to walk down my street on any given day, at any given time, there was a 90% chance I'd see him.  Seriously.  Day or night.

Granted, my street is a really nice street to go up and down.  It's 1.5 miles long, and doesn't have too much traffic.  It's nice and shady, in the redwoods, and even has a nice creek that runs along it.  But his behavior is still a little weird.  Most cyclists who log a lot of miles have cycling clothes and nice road bikes. They usually like a little variety in where they ride.

This guy would usually say hi to me, as much as I hoped he wouldn't.  It was always awkward, but usually I begrudgingly said hi back.  I resented having to say hi to him.  I felt stupid, not knowing whether acknowledging his presence would be safer than not.

Anyways, on this particular morning of my first triathlon, at 4:30 am, we were the only ones around.   He called out to me, "What time is it?"  I yelled the time back to him, without getting out of my car or opening the window.  He yelled at me, "I can't hear you, open your door."  I refused, and he yelled back "I'm not going to hurt you."  I can't remember what I said next, but he eventually left, without me getting out of the car.  At this point, I was too scared to get out and get gas, even after I couldn't see him anymore.  I drove about 35 minutes or to the closest gas station on the way to the tri, hoping upon hopes that I would not run out of gas in a place without cell phone coverage.

I called the police when I got back home from my triathlon.   I told the police what happened.  It's a little funny that I couldn't give a police report without pride oozing from my voice that I was on my way to my first triathlon.  Although, why is this funny?  I met a 9 year old who did her first 10K this morning, and she was so proud, it was the cutest thing.  Why can't adults be proud of themselves without it being kinda silly?  Anyway, I digress.  They seemed to take it seriously, and told me to call again if I saw him.

The next time I saw him (right in front of my house on his bike as I was getting out of my car), it freaked me out.  I called the police.  This time they were like "Um, it's not illegal to ride your bike down your street.  Sorry, can't do a thing."  I was annoyed at their inconsistency in their response.

Even a couple years after that, I would see him almost every time I walked down my street.  Also, many times when I'd just be leaving or coming into my house.  He even met my parents once.  Met my husband, too.  I've started referring to him as "my boyfriend" when I talk about him to Raybon.  I haven't seen him on my street for a while, thankfully, but I still see him in our little town elsewhere sometimes.  I would sometimes feel like I shouldn't walk down the street while pregnant, or when I walked alone with Rory when he was young, because he kind of scared me.  I'm sure it was safe, there are tons of people who walk down my street every day, because it was such a nice walk, but being an overprotective mom, sometimes I felt nervous and vulnerable.

What made me think of this was the workout I did yesterday.  I basically just rode up and down my street 7 times, to equal 21 miles and 1400 feet in elevation.  A modest, decent workout for someone hoping to do an Olympic length tri in a couple months.  I didn't have to ride somewhere that I would be out of cell phone coverage, and I didn't have to contend with much traffic.  I also had promised Raybon that this weekend he wouldn't have to take care of Rory much, since he raced the Wharf to Wharf today, and wanted to rest this weekend other than that.  I told him to hang a pink plastic bag where I could see it when Rory woke from his nap, so that I would know when to come in from my ride, and stop doing my hill repeats if I needed to.

This is a little different from the behavior of "my boyfriend."  This is the street I live on.  I have a good explanation.  I'm training for a race.  I have a baby I don't want to get too far from.  I don't do this every day, all day long.  But I couldn't help but wonder if I was being judged the way I judged that guy.  I'm not sure if this is just a humorous story, or if there is a moral here.

Why is this man's behavior somehow less acceptable than the crazy endurance athletes I admire? The answer, or course, has to do with social mores, culture, and subcultures.  But I'm someone who has tried at times in her life, to rebel against social mores that I found trivial or sexist.  I know there is a good answer to why his behavior is different, but I find it interesting that it is complex enough that it would take more time and thought to explain than I have room for in this blog post.  It has to do with matters of degree, and I'm not always sure where the line on the spectrum that separates acceptable from unacceptable should be drawn, just that I have my own opinion when I see something I view as unacceptable.

I really do believe this man is likely mentally ill.  Not sure he is dangerous to himself or others, and I couldn't diagnose him, but I believe someone could.  You might think this is kinda sappy, but he is God's child, nonetheless.  I don't intend to reach out to him or try to understand him to his core, but a little respect would probably be beneficial to my soul.  I wouldn't judge myself so much if I didn't judge other people.  I feel like a weirdo at times that I'm not within the happy confines of my sphere of loved ones, and maybe I wouldn't feel that way so much if I wasn't so quick to judge him or others.

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Fair or Unfair?

I'm going back and forth with the race director of Alcatraz Challenge about whether the race was conducted fairly. Let's just say I'm frustrated. I want to use this blog to make my case, since I'm not finding the email conversation satisfactory, but I'm not sure whether that would be passive aggressive, or if it would be a productive way of expressing myself and furthering a conversation amongst other triathletes and open water swimmers. The question is whether it is fair in an open water or multisport race involving swimming to use a boat to put people "back on course."

Sigh. It was a fun race. Can't let this frustration spoil it. I know I did a hard swim, and am a better swimmer than the results of the race reflect.

Monday, July 19, 2010

Alcatraz Challenge 2010 - Update

I learned from an anonymous commenter on my last post that a lot of people were brought in by boat and moved closer to shore during the swim. That actually makes a lot of sense. I looked back a few times during my swim and saw that there were a lot of people behind me, but when I got onto shore and looked out, there weren't many people still out in the water. So maybe I wasn't such a bad navigator. I did have to run up the beach a little bit because I missed coming in near the finish line. I did try to follow the instructions given before the race on how to navigate the swim as best I could, so maybe I couldn't have done better than I did.

Wonder how many people got helped out by the boat. I wonder if they even took count of them. It doesn't seem fair exactly... In my mind, if you get helped by a boat in a swim, you should DNF... Maybe they just didn't want to disappoint people? Or maybe they were afraid people crazy enough to want to swim Alcatraz would not have got on the boat if they knew they would DNF, so it was their way of putting safety first?

Sunday, July 18, 2010

Alcatraz Challenge 2010

Subtitle: Am I Still a Swimmer?

I swam from Alcatraz to Crissy Field (1.5 Miles), and then did an out and back across the Golden Gate Bridge (7 Miles.)

Overall Time: 2:15.51
Age Group Rank: 16th out of 24
Swim Time: 1:10.59 (Holy cow that's a long time)
Age Group Swim Rank: 22nd out of 24 (Seriously???)
Run Time: 1:01.50 (For a 7 mile run, that's an 8:50/mile pace. Faster than any pace I've ever done in a running race longer than a mile.)
Age Group Run Rank: 9th out of 24

I'd been looking forward to this race for a while. The Alcatraz swim has its obvious history that intrigues me. People think of swimming it as being a sort of death defying feat. I just really like swimming from landmarks, islands, or through natural channels. It's fun swimming and seeing the famous bridges and looking backwards occasionally to see Alcatraz in the background, and San Francisco in front of you.

This is probably a bad motivation, but all the people who seemed pleased with the idea that I would have to give up swimming after I had a baby would probably have to eat their words if they knew I swam from Alcatraz. I mean who cares what catty people like that think?

Anyway, I've swam Alcatraz before, and found it to be an easy swim the first time I did it. I didn't do it in a race the first time and I didn't time myself, but I don't think it took me all that long, and I didn't find it all that difficult.

Today is a different story. I think the conditions were a little rougher than usual, with the fastest time coming in around 40 minutes, when normally they'd be around 30 minutes. But looking at my swim rank, I'm pretty sure the conditions weren't the only thing going on. I did have trouble navigating. I had a long day yesterday, and Rory woke up about once an hour last night. I guess open water swimming takes more brains than I had available to me.

I know I'm a bit slower than I was before I had Rory, but even a few months after I had him, my ranking in other races were not quite as bad. So I'm not sure what happened, but I do know that next time I do this swim, I will take learning more about the currents and how to aim more seriously. The first time I did the swim, it was in a small group with tons of kayakers, who told me where to aim every time I popped up my head. This time I got almost no help whatsoever. I'm not complaining exactly, I just had my expectations in the wrong place. I think I may have given some bad advice to another participant based on my past experience, which I do feel pretty badly about. (Sorry, person who will never read this blog.)

Pretty happy with my run though. I didn't even feel like I was hurting in the run to get that pace. Guess my mileage and speed work is starting to pay off. 40 seconds faster than my last 10K mile pace, and faster than any pace, even before Rory. The question occurs to me now, am I a runner or a swimmer? Maybe I'm a triathlete, who has to figure out how much work to put into each sport? Even saying I'm a triathlete first, and swimmer second is something I would not have said in the past, but that might even be true.

True to my roots though, I did not wear a wetsuit for this swim. I was put in the "Aquathlon Wetsuit" division, but that's because there wasn't a non-Wetsuit Aquathlon division. It's a little ironic that I insisted that part of my reasoning is that real open water swimmers don't wear wetsuits, when my poor navigation makes me think I'm not much of an open water swimmer. OK, maybe I'm just tired and not able to get into the ocean as much as I'd like.

One more funny thing. I was tempted into buying a pair of shorts for this swim at Sports Basement last night. 20% off coupon and vanity made me want some cute ones I could wear under my swim skin. (Not too skimpy or anything, but tight enough to wear under my Farmer John swim skin, and without the padding in my tri and bike shorts.) But I did the entire run with a Fu Manchu mustache obtained from debris in the ocean. Why did I get one? How come no one else I saw did? People were staring at me, and the person who put my medal on laughed at me. Only after Raybon pointed it out to me after the swim did I even know about it. So despite spilling $30 on a pair of shorts to look less like a dork, I looked like a total freak. Bwa ha ha.

I gotta say that even better than running faster was walking around San Francisco on Fisherman's Wharf afterward and realizing where I'm at in my life compared to last time I was there in 2006 when I did my last Alcatraz. I'm happy. I really like my life. I love being a mom. I am left pondering what I did wrong in the swim, but a bad race doesn't get me down like it once did.

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Magic Mile

I was wondering if I could predict how fast I should run a 10K based on how fast I ran an all out mile. I googled it and learned about Jeff Galloways' magic mile.

Here is a link to the calculator:


It calculates my times for various distances:

5K pace (5K time): 7:41 (23:50)
10K pace (10K time): 8:13 (50:54)
Half Marathon Pace (Half Marathon time): 8:34 (1:52:13)
Marathon Pace(Marathon time): 9:17 (4:03:08)
Marathon Training Pace (Marathon training time): 11:17 (4:55:32)

My 10K's haven't been anywhere nearly that fast. I've either gotten a lot faster in the last 2 months since I ran a 10K, I've been running too slow, or I'm just a much better miler than a 10K runner. The race I'm running this weekend, the Alcatraz Challenge, isn't really a good test, because it is hilly and not on a closed course, with lots of pedestrians on the Golden Gate Bridge.

And the Winner Is...

Raybon, with a time of 6:34.73. Splits: 1:23.85, 1:40.05, 1:49.70, 1:41.13

We each raced a mile on the SLV track. I went first, while he watched Rory, then he ran while I watched Rory.

My time was 7:08.3. Raybon didn't record my splits. Don't like to go negative on this blog, but ARGH. He called them out to me, but he called out my overall time on each lap, not the split for the lap. So here is what I remember, but my math is a little bit suspect: 1:45, 1:49, 1:51, 1:43. Pretty confident those are about right.

I'm pretty happy with my pacing. I'm reading a book called "The Runner's Body" and it says that though even pacing is an ideal many strive for, the fastest runners do sort of what I did. The example they give is for 10K and 5K runners, but maybe it works for a mile, too. Their first 1K is their second fastest, they get progressively slower, until their last 1K, which ends up being their fastest.

So Raybon wins. But I am happy that my mile time was at least close to my 1 mile P.R. from when I was 13 (7 minutes, and I think about 2 seconds.) Wish I beat it, but at least it is close.

Monday, July 12, 2010

Wharf to Wharf Challenge Update

It turns out that strollers are not allowed in the Wharf to Wharf. While I have heard from people that if you stay in the back, there isn't a problem, staying in the back pushing a stroller doesn't sound like my kind of fun. When I think about it, pushing a stroller in a race with 15,000 people wouldn't have worked anyways.

So, I'm letting Raybon do the race, while I watch Rory and chauffeur him to the start and from the finish. I'm racing this weekend anyways in the Alcatraz Challenge 1.5 mile swim and 7 mile run. The Wharf to Wharf is Raybon's favorite race, so I don't want to take that away from him, since he's been training for it.

But this in no way means that we aren't going to do our 1 mile race. We're doing it tomorrow. The stakes have just changed. The winner now gets $75.00 to spend on whatever they want. ($75.00 just happens to be the amount you have to buy from SwimOutlet.com to get free shipping. I need a new suit really badly.)

So who do you think will win? Raybon isn't the least bit worried.