Wednesday, 8 November 2017

Malibu Half Marathon

This was my big come back race after many months of not running thanks to piriformis syndrome with sciatica. It was also my first west coast race after moving from South Carolina to California. The training I did was with the LA Leggers, the official training partner of the race. The training was a nice slow build up with lots of crosstraining in the pool. Other than one long run which I cut in half because of a really tight hamstring everything went relatively well.

 Through the club I got a nice discount and the race ended up being $105, still an ouch inducing price for a half IMO, but races in general seem more expensive on the west coast. This year the race did a t-shirt, previous years was a beach towel.
The packet pickup was the day before in Malibu. It was well organized. We parked easily and got everything we needed fast. All the volunteers (and on race day) were lovely. The whole thing was laid out in a parking lot at Zuma beach around 30 minutes from my house. Can you tell it doesn't rain often in California? 
How else could I tell the race was in California? The main sponsor produced Matcha bars. The food truck there sold acai bowls (in SC this would be BBQ). I tried probiotic coffee and non-alcoholic beer. I was even handed Peppermint essential oils after crossing the finish line to put on my sore muscles. I also think there was a meditation zone. I'm not making fun. I love eating healthy and smelling like peppermint but I think I'm in cultural shock!!!

For the race itself, I carpooled with two running friends, leaving my house at around 5.30am for a 7am race start. We had prepaid for parking and ended up around a 10 minute walk from the race start. The race start area had tons of porta-potties and hand wash stations. No lines there....but my body would not cooperate (TMI). Mildly worrying considering I'd also consumed a large coffee that morning! 

As we lined up the race start was delayed around 10 minutes, as cars were still streaming in, due to a crash on the PCH. At this point I was feeling distinctly sardine like as the starting shoot was narrow and really jam packed. It spread out pretty quickly once we got going. My friend and I stuck with the 2 hour 30 pacers for the first mile, as this is our usual long run pace. Eventually, we got sick of the uneven pacing and ran a little faster. That says a lot about the pacing considering how cautious I was feeling, in their defense they were first time pacers. My friend watched our pace, pulling me back when I got a bit too speedy and I timed our walk intervals (5 min run:1 min walk).
The course was an out and back on a closed lane of the PCH. The temperatures were nice starting out but by the end of the race it was warm. Luckily, most of the course had shady patches and the open sections made up for the heat with spectacular views of the ocean. The race also put out loads of aid stations with water and Gatorade. Some also had honey stingers and nice salty pretzels. Every aid station also had at least one porta-potty (appreciated that at around mile 8). 
I felt really good for the majority of the race. This really surprised me because most of the course consisted of rolling hills.....the nemesis of my weak core. I probably pissed my friend off because I got cheerier as the race went on and I realized I was staying strong. Around mile 8, I realized my running buddy was on pace for a PR and it became my mission in life to help her get it. It really required very little effort until about the ten mile mark when it got hotter and the shade went away. I think she might have hated me for the last two miles, not really, ok, maybe a tiny bit, but it was a distraction for me and she got a 2 minute P.R hurray! 

I got my shiny medal. Slathered my calves in peppermint oil and chugged my non alcoholic beer as we waited for our other friend to finish. Then I got to try out Normatech recovery. It basically squeezes the shiz out of you feet and legs to clear your lymphatic system back towards your body. Other than it hurt my feet a little, it was quite enjoyable, and I got to lie down for a few minutes.
We walked back to the car along the beach and got to see 10 or so dolphins playing in the waves....they even swam right under a swimmer! At that point I was already on a little high and watching something as cool as that added to it.
After going home, eating and having a nap I felt fine. My calves were tight, which seems to be my new thing, and lower back (glute med?) was a tiny bit sore and tight. Overall, I've felt way worst after runs at the beginning of training, yay!

Finish time (chip): 2.26.03
Half Marathon: 36
State No.: 17+DC

I enjoyed this so much! So much so, that I was tempted to sign up for the Monterray Bay Half next weekend, a big bucket list race for me. I'm even camping 20 mins away on race day. New sensible me kicked in and I didn't do it. I probably won't even get to do a long run this weekend. 
Now that I have a somewhat decent level of fitness, and completed a half feeling good, it's time to start upping the training volume slightly. The plan is to add in more easy runs and to start more intensive strength training. Fingers crossed it goes well and I can start getting my half time back closer to the 2 hour mark.

Next race: Thanksgiving Turkey Trot 5k

Wednesday, 4 October 2017

Training and life right now

2 months (and a bit) into our move to L.A. and I can say I'm really happy here. I'm naturally shy and anxious which generally makes me tend towards the negative but right now I'm embracing and really holding onto feeling content with everything.

So many glasses

Life wise:
The apartment still feels like it has way more of someone else's stuff than ours. Our landlady/friend still hasn't taken much away. That sucks. However, I've been a lot more forward about rearranging her stuff (non-private things obvs.) to suit us! It feels a bit more like ours now.

There are also a lot more dog-friendly apartments, within budget and target area(s) coming onto the market. So, possibly moving in January seems like a positive thing rather than super stressful.

Boomer has been left on his own and coped pretty well a few times. I haven't had the need to leave him very often but knowing that I can has made me a lot happier.

I am organizing my re-education for a new career. It's happening very slowly but its happening! I got my GRE prep books in the mail yesterday and boy are they humungous. Luckily, other than some vocabulary I haven't come across before, it seems simple enough. I just need refreshing on basic principles and lots of practise. I haven't taken a formal exam, other than my driving test, in over 10 years. I also have to take Math and English placement tests, for the community college that I want to take classes at, so lets hope a couple of months of GRE study helps that too.

Special offer haircut at the festival
Socalizing is good. We haven't gone out a lot but I meet new people every week through running and even have met a few people who I'll catch up with every week or twice a week, if they go to track too.

We have ended up doing something fun ourselves most weekends which is nice. The last two weekends there have been street festivals within walking distance of our place.

10 miler
Training is going well. Some weeks are better than others. I was fine on a 10 mile run (2 weeks ago) but found a 5 miler last week hard because my lower back got really tired. I'm trying really hard to look after it but its the one area that I'm struggling to improve through strength training. I wonder if I tore something like my gluteus medius (that then triggered piriformis syndrome) and its still healing...who knows.

I'm putting a lot of effort into mobility and strength. I do a little bit almost everyday. Nothing heavy but I'm finding its paying off. Starting back to running I had some ankle pain but regular stretching and a bit more ankle and foot exercises has made that go away. Post injury my left leg (hell the left side of my entire body) is weaker but I feel it getting stronger every week.

Livingroom gym
Right now, I just can't believe that I'm back to double digit distances on two runs a week. Granted, I'm also doing two x one hour sessions of swimming and lots and lots of walking as well. One of my runs is long and slow and the other is a track session that is usually a mile warmup and 2 miles of speed work.
Wednesday Track
Board walking :)

I'm looking forward to upping the workload a little, after the Malibu Half Marathon (Nov 5th), by adding in 1-2 extra runs and some heavier lifting. For now I think the low mileage has worked out perfectly for me. It won't get me running a half marathon fast but my first objective was to be able to run at all.

Most importantly I'm really enjoying working out right now, even swimming.....who knew that could happen.