Monday, March 2, 2015

You gotta get up and tri, tri, tri

I did it! I completed my first triathlon!

February was a rather inauspicious month, since I got really sick (for two whole weeks) and it pretty much derailed any sort of training I had planned to do for anything.

That said, while I was super nervous going into it, I had faith that I could at least finish. This triathlon, put on by Almaden Valley Athletic Club, is what they call a super-sprint distance:

400yd lap swim
5mi stationary bike ride
2mi outdoor run

So yeah, shorter than a sprint tri, but it was still my first triathlon of any sort, and as a result, I was super, super anxious. It's funny, because I know that I can handle each of those legs individually (especially with training), but put them all together and slap the word "triathlon" on it, and I was scared s**tless.

AVAC is SUPER nice (as a facility), and all the people I met who work there were super nice too. So even though I was terrified, they definitely made me feel encouraged and welcomed. They had the tri set up so that five people were going at a time (because there are only five lanes in their pool), in waves spaced 15 minutes apart. If you took longer than 15 minutes to complete the swim, they would have you split lanes with the next person, and they had extra bikes set up on the deck right next to the pool (so we didn't have to travel too far to start the second leg). I was glad to be in one of the earlier waves, because it meant that no matter how long I took, I wouldn't be the VERY last person out there, since the last wave wasn't even starting until 3 hours after mine did. We set up our shoes and things on tables ("transition area"), and we each had a "Personal Motivator" - someone to cheer us on, count our laps, adjust our bike settings, and write down our official time splits. That was a first for me - I've been running races since before timing chips, and I've never had an actually live person keeping my time for me before :) (Shout-out to Ashley! Thanks girl!)
Bikes were under those canopies. Rain was imminent.

I was in the third wave, and the person in my lane right before me finished with a few minutes to spare, so I was able to get in a short warmup before starting. I used to be a competitive swimmer in college (not a good one, but I participated, and I even lettered!), but 400s were not my event, so it was definitely not going to be easy even if I had trained. I also found out that one end of the pool would only be 2.5 feet deep, so even for a short person like me, flip turns would be a bad idea. (I ended up doing all touch turns anyway - I haven't done flip turns for a while, and I didn't have enough of a chance to get used to the timing.) I think I started out at a fairly good clip, but got really tired about halfway through, so I slowed down a lot, and ended up the last person from my wave to get out of the pool. Even so, I finished well before the next wave was supposed to start, so... I know it didn't take me longer than 15 minutes :)

I hopped out and struggled into my capris and socks and shoes. With the exhaustion and the slight dizziness, and all the wet skin, this took way  longer than I would've liked. I felt like it took me forever, from the second I got out of the pool to the second I started pedalling. Note for next time: jammer suit!

This part was fairly straightforward. My quads were burning a little, but I finished it in about 13 minutes. (I got to watch the clock for this one.) Whether due to the distance or to my better level of fitness, I didn't feel as wobbly after this leg as I did for the duathlon I did in May, and I didn't have to put on or take off anything, so my second transition was much faster.

The last leg was a 2 mile run through the surrounding neighborhood, and by all accounts this should have been a BREEZE for me. However, the best laid plans go oft awry, and I found myself having to walk a lot thanks to some twinges of pain in my hamstring and a side stitch. And I don't remember the last time I had to deal with side stitches, so this was an unusual occurrence for me, because I'm normally fine when I run. There were volunteers on every corner to cheer us on and direct us where to go, and I was greeted at the finish line by Ashley (writing down my time) and a group of young cheerleaders. As I made my way back to the staging area, someone placed a medal around my neck (which I wasn't expecting, because I thought that they weren't doing medals for this race), and that was that. I'm hesitant to officially call myself a triathlete (even though, technically, I have completed a triathlon), but I definitely felt accomplished as I sat down with my post-race bagel.

I'm still waiting to find out my official time and splits, but I think I had already been in the middle of slathering cream cheese on my bagel when the MC announced that it was 9:30 - an hour since my start time. So as far as I know, I finished the whole thing in under an hour :)

Edited to add:
Official splits! I did both the swim and bike portions in 10:16 each. (Weird, they were the same!) Faster than I actually thought! And my run portion was 26:29, which was also faster than I thought, because I walked so much. Including transition times, my total finish time was 49:35.

When all was said and done, it was a really fun, low-pressure experience despite my nervousness. Now that I know what to expect, I think I could definitely do this again. It was a great introduction to the world of triathlons, and I don't know if I will end up doing a longer one or not (especially with my packed training schedule this year), but I'm really glad I decided to do this one.

Next up: I don't have another race planned until Tinkerbell #4 in May. Right now, I'm focusing on getting back on track with my training schedule and learning how to play quidditch :)

Sunday, February 22, 2015

Raffle time!: See Jane Run

Hey you guys!

It's about that time of year when people are figuring out their race calendars - whether it's your first race or your hundredth, it's good to plan out your training ahead of time.

As you may know, I'm an ambassador for See Jane Run! I've been doing SJR races on and off for years, and a couple years ago, I decided I really wanted to help promote this race company because I love how empowering and friendly it is, and I fully believe in the SJR philosophy, which is that anyone can be a "Jane" - it doesn't matter how fast you go or how many miles you run. And if you can run a mile, then you can run a marathon. (If SJR had a full marathon, I would be all over that, btw).

SO... I have a free race entry to give away for any ONE of SJR's 2015 races:

  • Half marathon or 5k in Alameda (SF Bay Area) on June 21st
  • Half marathon or 5k in Seattle on July 12th
  • Duathlon or triathlon in Pleasanton (SF Bay Area) on September 27th

To enter, please follow the instructions below. The winner will be chosen on Sunday, March 1st.

a Rafflecopter giveaway
(Starts 12am EST 2/23 and ends 12am EST 3/1)

If you find, after March 1st, that the odds were not in your favor, fret not! You can use my code below for 25% off your race registration. Bonus: The same code will get you 10% off your purchases from SJR as well.

Please enter, share this post, and enjoy your runs :)

Monday, February 16, 2015

Quick recap: Heart to Start 10k in Hillsboro, OR

This isn't going to be much of a recap, because I'm on vacation visiting family, but I managed to squeeze in a 10k - the Heart to Start 10k (part of the Heart Breaker Half run) in Hillsboro.

When I was looking ahead at this weekend, I knew I'd be out of town and I didn't want to just skip a 6-miler (or have to map out my own route in an unfamiliar area), so I decided the best thing to do would be to find a race - and luckily, there was one exactly the distance I needed, in the town where I was staying. Perfect.

Of course, the only NOT perfect thing was that I've been sidelined for the last two weeks with a bad cold/sore throat, so I haven't run at all. So this was really a difficult run because they were country roads with rolling hills - I might've done a better job if I were in shape, but such as it is, it was a difficult one. Luckily, one of my friends whom I haven't seen from college came out to run with me, so I had good company for the whole thing :)

The race started/ended at Liberty High School in Hillsboro, which is probably the nicest high school I've ever seen. Holy wow, the facilities! Can someone get me a job there, please, so I can fulfill my dream of moving up here to the Portland area finally? Okay thanks!

Official time: 1:29:05. Definitely slow, but hey, it was a BEAUTIFUL course, and I had a good time. I'm not sorry, even if it was difficult for me. Time to get back on track now, as soon as this cough gets better.

(Everyone got the same medal, regardless of distance)
Next on deck: the AVAC Super Sprint Tri at the end of the month. I'm stoked, but I haven't had a single chance to get to a pool so far. Hopefully I can go this coming weekend, if the weather's nice.

Monday, February 9, 2015

Never enough purples! - Colourpop Cosmetics

Purple is my favorite color. Showing off my ColourPop purples today

From left to right:

Dare: "Shockingly bright neon purple with hot pink and violet glitter"
Lace: "A deep rich blue violet with a pearlized finish"
Envy: "Black saturated with violet glitter"

Trying to capture the sparkles

All available at!

Monday, February 2, 2015

Race recap: Kaiser Permanente Half Marathon

Participants' shirts
People often like to say that they go running to clear their heads, but that happened rather literally this weekend.

On Thursday I fell ill with a really bad cold - not as bad as the one I had over Christmas, but I definitely was so congested that I was dizzy all day at work, and even had to skip workouts. (I know, right?) On Saturday morning, I even fell down my stairs like Brittany Murphy in Clueless. I kid you not. That's how out of it I was.

I really debated whether or not to run the Kaiser half on Sunday, but by the end of the day Saturday (after some aggressive hydrating and medicating), I was at least not feeling dizzy anymore, so I decided I would just go and take it easy.

I woke up feeling okay, but the long drive up and the morning congestion (in my head, not on the road) had me feeling dizzy again. I was feeling dubious as we rode the shuttle to the start line in Golden Gate Park, but the crisp San Francisco air revived me a bit, and I felt pretty much fine by the time we started.

There was a half and a 5k, and to my surprise, we all started at the same time, with the HMers on the left and the 5k-ers on the right (as their course would split off from ours almost immediately). Even though I had only run 9 miles total in the two weeks since Star Wars, I have been going to the gym twice a week, so my legs were actually feeling strong. Despite my promises to run conservatively, I found myself running at a fairly fast clip for much of the first half, aside from the hills, which I decided to walk. They weren't large hills, like the ones San Francisco is generally known for; they were gentler, but more prolonged. There were some great stretches of downhill/flats where I ran straight through a handful of intervals - I just felt good, so I kept running. I wasn't tired or dizzy. I just felt really refreshed. I could almost forget that I had a really bad cold.

We hit the Great Highway at about 7 miles, and I don't know if it was the exertion, or the direct sunlight, or the interminably straight stretch of road, but I got really mentally fatigued. I decided then to break up my 4/1 interval into a shorter one, which was a strategy that worked really well for me at the Star Wars Half when my legs felt shot through. (My legs felt fine though - the rest of me felt pretty exhausted.)

I didn't have a particular time goal other than to finish under 3 hours - maybe even to beat my Star Wars time. I kept a close eye on my watch, and continued to push myself to meet my 4:00 interval when I could, and to stick to my shorter intervals when I couldn't, and not to just straight-up walk any intervals. I really WANTED to just be like, Forget the clock, just relax, but I always feel like I will hate myself for it, so I kept pushing - I was tired, but I could still run, so I ran whenever I could. My mantra for the day was "You don't have to run fast - you just have to run," and I chanted it in my head to keep a steady rhythm.

So imagine my surprise when I came in at 2:45:25, and JUST missed my PR by less than a minute.

Like, not only did I beat my Star Wars time (which was my current season best) by four minutes, but I very nearly broke my own personal record, on a day when I wasn't trying to, because I was sick.* In fact, if there hadn't been a hill right before the finish line (Kaiser, that was so mean!!!), I might've actually beaten it. Who knows.

Well, I'm tremendously proud of this run, PR or not. I feel like I showed up with the odds against me having a good run, and thanks to my strength training and my private pep talks with myself along the course, I ended up with my second fastest half marathon that I've ever run, and definitely the fastest in almost two years. I fought through a lot of mental sludge yesterday along the Great Highway, and I did the best I could with what I had. I guess I had more than I thought.

I really felt like I fought for this one today.

The race was well-organized. There were shuttles to and from the parking lots along the Great Highway, and Kaiser even MAILED us our bibs. I also kinda liked how they handed out shirts after the finish line. (I'm not a running snob except for this one thing: I don't like wearing the shirt for the race I'm running until after I've run it, so it always bothers me a little when I see other people do it. At this race? Wasn't an issue.) Good work, Kaiser! I almost forgive you for nearly making me deliver my baby in a waiting room.

Next on deck: A 10k in Oregon while I'm visiting my brother, and then at the end of the month... my first triathlon! It's an indoor, super-sprint (like, shorter than a sprint distance) triathlon held by Almaden Valley Athletic Club. I need to break out my goggles and swim cap and put in some work at the local pool.

*For the record, I'm actually still sick. It's like my body knows when I'm doing my happy thing, so it put my cold on hold for me while I was running, and then this morning when I woke up, I was miserable again. *shrug* I've spent all day at work trying not to pass out.

Monday, January 19, 2015

19.3 miles in a galaxy far, far away...

This weekend in January for the last three years has been Disney's Tinker Bell Half Marathon weekend, but for 2015, they decided to move that to May and to have, instead, the first-ever Star Wars Half Marathon weekend. And of course, not only did I HAVE to do it too (I'm not a Star Wars super fan, but I do love the original three movies more than I love Tinker Bell, actually), but I just HAD to sign up for the Rebel Challenge: the 10k and the half marathon on back to back days.

Be crazy I must. I haven't been running a ton since my marathon, mostly due to a really bad sore throat, but I did manage to get in 17 miles last week and 11 miles the week before that (with long runs of 10 and 6 miles, respectively), so I wasn't going into it cold by any means, and I did get in a double-digit run just to get my body up to speed. Of course, a 10-mile long run is great for a half marathon, but for a 19.3 mile weekend (even if it's broken up)? I can't say I wasn't nervous. I wasn't scared about not finishing, but about finishing really slowly or really miserably.

At any rate, I was still excited. I don't have it in me to do cool costumes, but I was looking forward to seeing what other people would wear and also just to run through the parks again, which is one of my favorite things about Disney races. The other thing I was SUPER looking forward to was the medals :) But more on those later.

Thursday, January 15, 2015

A strong start to the new year

Look, it's me! At the gym doing gym stuff!

I've got a couple more weeks before I get back into serious run-training, so I've been able to put forth a little more effort into lifting at the gym. 

Here's me PRing my deadlift at 315:


And here's me maxing out my backsquat at 265 a week later:


My coach thinks I've got some real potential for powerlifting, if I could work on my bench press.

So does this mean that I will soon get to add powerlifter to my athletic resume...? ;)