That One Time Where I Accidentally & Unofficially PRed at the Lucky Run

On Friday evening, Ashley, Leslie, and I headed out for a girls weekend in Davis (my schedule prevented an earlier departure time).  We stopped halfway in Walnut Creek to get some good carbs at a delicious little Italian restaurant (the gnocchi was so good!). Then back out on the road. It wasn’t a very exciting evening as we promptly fell asleep once we got to the hotel.

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The original plan for the day was that we would all run the half marathon. However, as the saying goes the best laid plans… Leslie ended up having a 22 mile run scheduled for her Boston Marathon training and Ashley opted for a shorter distance (choosing the 7 mile run). Leslie’s plan originally called for her to run her 13.1 miles at a 7:15 pace, but with a cold coming on she decided to run only 5 miles at this pace. This allowed Leslie and I to run most of the half together. After she ran a couple miles, we met back up and decided that maybe an 8 minute pace would be good. The decision went something like this: L – “what pace you thinking?” M – “I don’t know.” L – “8 minute pace?” M – “Sure,” Serious planning there.

We were disappointed that there were only 4 port-a-potties at the start and agreed we would have to stop at the first one we saw. While it was a bummer that they did not have more at the start, they seemed to have a good amount on the course. We used the first one, at the 4 mile mark.

We never ran an 8 minute pace. The first 4 miles were just a race to the bathroom (7:31, 7:42, 7:40, 7:23). The next 5ish miles were out and back along the freeway. This was my least favorite part of the course. It was visually boring, had no shade, and the exhaust from the cars bugged me. We both wanted to out of that section (7:37, 7:33, 7:30, 7:40, 7:37). At one point, Leslie noted we were running a 7:30 pace and might want to slow down. I agreed, I had no intention of running that pace for the half but clearly we did not slow down much.

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The rest of the race was through parks and bike paths. It was never too busy, except a few times when the half marathoners overlapped with the 7 miler and 7k runners. It was nice and shady in these sections, much better than the freeway miles. There were a lot of turns in the course, but nothing too terrible. The only problem was the race coincided with Little League opening day so when we got back near the start, there was a lot of people walking on the race course. Due to this some people missed turns in the race, including Leslie, and ran some extra mileage. Hopefully in the future they don’t make this scheduling mistake. For a good portion of the race, we were entertained by a guy running ahead of us who high-fived many of the spectators and volunteers, as well as each mile marker. I hadn’t seen that tradition before in a race. Around mile 9 or 10, Leslie picked up her pace to get in her 7:15 miles and I kept around the same pace I had been running. I was pretty consistent with my pace overall (7:39, 7:33, 7:33, 7:28).

I crossed the finish line with a time of 1:41:55. That is only about 30 seconds slower than my PR and included the bathroom break. (I paused my watch for the break and had a finishing time of 1:40:12 an unofficial PR!). It would have been really cool for it to have been an official PR but I’m still really stoked about my finishing time as I never felt that I was running too hard and was able to keep a conversation with Leslie for a good portion of the run.

Race medals are getting a little out of control these days.

Race medals are getting a little out of control these days.

We met up with Ashley at the finish, Leslie handed me her (giant) medal and headed out to finish off her long run. After she returned we enjoyed a well deserved beer. Before leaving Davis, we enjoyed a good brunch at de Vere’s Irish Pub. Overall, this was a great little getaway. It just was too short!

13.1, 7, and 22 miles = well deserved beer

13.1, 7, and 22 miles = well deserved beer

Fit Friday: Running in the Rain

As the rest of the country faces severe cold and snow, California has largely been experiencing summer-like conditions in January. While this is nice in theory, it has contributed to already low water supply – pushing us into a drought. Yesterday, we finally got a little rain (and hopefully we’ll have some more this weekend). While yesterday was a rest day and most of the rain was finished by 10am, it got me thinking about running in the rain.

Finishing 2012 CIM in the rain.

Finishing 2012 CIM in the rain.

When I first started running, rainy days were my automatic rest or treadmill days. This was especially true while I lived in Southern California with our ridiculous number of rain free days. However, the first year I lived in Santa Cruz we had a ton of rain and I learned to suck it up and get out in the rain.

Guess what! Not so bad. It’s usually hard to convince myself to get out the door but I never regret it once I do. It’s an automatic way to ensure I don’t overheat and its fun to splash around in the puddles. There’s something about being in the rain and getting soaked that reminds me of being a kid, carefree as I dash along my way.

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There are a few things to keep in mind, however, when running in the rain. Be careful of slippery roads, realize that cars have less visibility so be bright, pack on the Body Glide (you will likely blister or chafe more if you are running long distance in the rain), and don’t use the rain as an excuse to not hydrate.

I’m hoping we’ll see more rain soon and inevitably that means more rain runs too!

Do you like running in the rain? Why or why not?

Fit Friday: Winter Olympics

Today I had a rare rest day on a Friday. And so I was reading the web rather than running this morning and saw some articles about the Winter Olympics. It seems a fitting topic since we’re 2 weeks out from the games beginning.

Being a Californian, I’m not much of a winter athlete. I can hold my own on a pair of ice skates or a snowboard (although my fear of ski lifts kind of ruins it for me), but really I have no skills in these sports. But what if I did, what sport would I want to compete in? Clearly there are the obvious choices based on speed such as speed skating (seems similar to running on a track-ish) or cross country skiing. I don’t think any of the trick sports would be good for this clumsy gal. And I could never put my life on the line for the luge sports.

But then it hit me (along with the NPR story this morning), I could totally rock curling! Plus, really how much competition would I have in the US? I got this, right?

Credit NPR

Credit NPR

But one thing I can tell you, I’m not jealous of the USA athletes who will be rocking the Olympic version of the Ugly Christmas Sweater in Sochi:

Hundreds of knitters found gainful employment leading up to 2014

Hundreds of knitters found gainful employment leading up to 2014

 

What winter olympic sport would you want to compete in? Do you look forward to the games?

Fit Friday: Fleet Feet Racing

Good morning Fit Friday followers!

Today is another Fit Friday announcement. Yesterday, I found out that I will be joining our local Fleet Feet Racing Team.

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I am pretty excited to join their team. I already know some of their runners on their team, some who I have run with before and some who I have not run with before. I am also very excited because they are coached by one of the coolest runner chicks out there (go Michelle, you rock!). I had worked with many members of the Fleet Feet Santa Cruz family back in the fall when I helped my friend Leslie coach their NWM training. But there are many runners in the group that I don’t know and I’m excited to make more running friends in my community!

Does this mean I am leaving my beloved Santa Cruz Endurance team? Heck no! That group holds a special place in my heart and helped me grow as a runner (not so long ago). So I will be representing both teams, alternating between events (and of course, also showing some SFM pride along the way! – did you forget you can save $10 registering for any of the SF Marathon events with the code DSC10TSFM2014A59??).  I like to think of my running groups more like that Girl Scouts song (awkwardly sung by Diane Keaton when she accepted the award for Woody Allen at the Golden Globes): “make new friends, but keep the old.”

SCE runners represent at the Capitola Half Relay, May 2013.

SCE runners represent at the Capitola Half Relay, May 2013.

I love being part of the running community (both on a local level through these groups and through social media). Finding people who share my love of running is inspiring and keeps me committed to my goals. It’s great to have a group to join for workouts – especially those tough ones on the track. And through these groups, I have made friends who will join me for long runs, exploring trails, tackling hills, and keep me from bailing on runs when I shouldn’t (and forgiving me when I do!).

Do you train with a running/workout group? If so, what do you love it about? If not, would you want to and what do you love about your solo runs?

The Garmin Forerunner 220 Review

Last year, my super awesome hubs got me the new Garmin Forerunner 220 for our 2 year wedding anniversary. (Ok, actually he told me that was what I was getting because even though I already had it on my wish list, it was not available for a couple more months.) This was a pretty nice surprise considering he has purchased all the GPS running watches I have owned (and I remember him saying he was never getting me another one, ha!). Well after waiting what seemed like forever, I finally got the new Garmin right before Thanksgiving. Now that I’ve had the watch for a little while, I wanted to share my thoughts because I LOVE this watch! I’m breaking down the review into 5 categories: Reliability, User Friendliness, Options, Comfort, and Style.

On my wrist, with backlight on.

On my wrist, with backlight on.


Reliability

So far, I have been very impressed with how quickly it connects to a GPS signal. I have only run with the watch in my town, so we’ll see how quickly it connects when I am out of town but so far so good. And a crazy thing I noticed is that even when I don’t immediately connect to a signal, my mileage is pretty accurate (comparing to when I have run the route before). The watch has a built-in cadence tracker and seems to be pretty good at figuring out distance even without a satellite (this was always a frustration to me with my previous Nike+ iPod add one and watch).

User Friendliness

This watch is crazy easy to use. The  color screen (in daylight) is very easy to read and navigate. I can quickly start my run and glance at the information I need right away. The only thing is if it’s not bright out, the screen can be hard to see and I use the backlight more than I did on my previous watch. The watch also has two data screens that you can navigate through while running (with three fields each). While on most of my runs, the basics is all I need (overall time, mileage, and lap pace), I love having a second screen (currently I have mine set to lap time, lap distance, and instant pace). And it’s pretty simple to make changes to the screen. The only thing I’m not loving is when I have a workout paused, it gives me the total time of my workout but not distance (I’m sure there is a way to change this, just haven’t made the effort to do so yet).

Images from Garmin site

Images from Garmin site


Options

There are a TON of options for this watch (some I’ve tried, some not yet). Live track allows someone to follow your run if you run with your phone. While most of my runs are with friends, I love this idea if I do have a long solo run. This way if I’m gone longer than expected, the hubs can see exactly where I am. I haven’t tried it yet, but seems like a great idea. The watch uses bluetooth to do this and I have used the bluetooth option to upload a workout to the Garmin app on my phone. This was pretty awesome and worked really well. I’d love if they opened this up to other sites/apps such as Strava. I mentioned the cadence tracker already but thus far it seems to be pretty spot on and could have a lot of potential. My previous Garmin didn’t have a live auto pause function, it wasn’t until I uploaded my workouts that I saw my stops. This one has one and you can customize it to stop when you hit a certain pace. So far, it seems to take about 5-10 seconds to actually pause the watch, so I need to play with my settings a bit. For most of my runs, that’s just fine but if I have a lot of stops or am concerned with pace, I still manually pause my watch. This watch allows you to put workouts on it through the Garmin Connect site. This is AWESOME! My previous Garmin only allowed it through the watch and was fairly limited. This week I uploaded an interval workout (with multiple mileages and paces for speed). Having it on my watch and doing all the thinking for me was a great and I did exactly what I needed to do on my workout. This feature is definitely a win for me!

Comfort

Ok, one of my favorite things about this watch is how comfortable it is. I couldn’t believe how much lighter it felt compared to my previous GPS watches. I barely even notice it. And the slim face keeps the bulkiness down. I often wear this watch when I’m not running too because it’s just comfy.

Style

Another reason I wear this watch outside of my runs is because I think its super cute. While it’s not really appropriate with a cocktail dress, for day-to-day wear it’s great. I love the purple and white combo (don’t worry guys, they have a nice black and red version too, see above image). Because it’s sleek it’s not overtly noticeable but I have definitely received a couple of compliments on it. In fact, I think this is one of the best looking sports watches out there. I am really excited that Garmin seems to be upping its game with the looks of its device.

Side shot, on my wrist

So overall, this watch is a real win for me! My friend also has it and so far I think she loves it as much as I do. There is also a pricier version, the Forerunner 620. It has some cool extra features, such as the race predictor and recovery tool. I’m sure these are really nifty, but it didn’t seem worth the price for me and what I want out of my watch. So there you have it, a solid running GPS watch that I easily recommend. For a much more in-depth review, see the DC Rainmaker post (this site has AWESOME reviews).

*As much as I wish Garmin had given me this watch, these comments are truly my own and in no way did Garmin influence any of my thoughts.*