Thursday, April 29, 2010

Mill Valley, CA

Here's the view from our balcony at Mill Valley Inn, a nice place to stay. I went for a short walk this morning through Mill Valley before leaving for the airport.

A house with a turret...
This is a fun town for window shopping. In the background is Pearl's restaurant (red sign) where I had pesto on a burger  - a good combination.

Tuesday I had mocha trifle at Champagne Bakery, a cute French place.

This was a fun little town to use as a base for part of our California vacation.

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Muir Beach

The storm rolled in quickly onto Muir Beach, north of San Francisco. We had walked down to the beach and over the rocks when it suddenly started raining Texas-sized raindrops so we headed towards the car. As soon as I was off the rocks and onto the sand I ran as fast as I could towards the car.

That was my first run since the Big Sur marathon last Sunday and I think I was laughing the whole way. A fun first beach run for me - even though I was in flip-flops! Maybe it was the excitement of the sudden rain, but my legs felt fine on that short run - no soreness at all.

After the beach trip, we ate at Pelican Inn, a British-style restaurant, where I had shepherd's pie.

Here are our last views of the Pacific ocean from the Muir Beach overlook. It has been a great vacation! Thanks for reading along as we vacationed in beautiful California!

Muir Woods Hike


Tuesday my husband and I went on a 4 hour hike in Muir Woods, just north of San Francisco, hiking part of the Dipsea Trail, where a 7.4 mile trail race takes place in June, and the Fern Creek and Ben Johnson Trails, too.

The hills were very uncomfortable for me to climb at first since I just ran the Big Sur marathon two days ago, but after a while my quads felt better and only the downhills bothered me. As you can see in the photos, I dressed in layers because it was cool and raining most of the time, but not all of the time. (The park gift shop has $3 rain ponchos.)

I'm glad we didn't let the rain keep us from hiking. The huge redwoods, the sound of the creek, the deer down the trail, the moss covered trees, the ferns, the mist, the wildflowers - beautiful!

Monday, April 26, 2010

Big Sur Marathon Thoughts

I shivered in my shorts and tank top while waiting for the race to start and there were two sections of the marathon where I was kind of warm, but other than that, we ran with perfect weather under clear skies.

There were plenty of water stops - after mile 5, I read they'd be about every 2 miles, but it felt like they were closer towards the end. I walked through them and I was happy to see them. Wonderful - a legal walk break up ahead! ; )

During much of the Big Sur marathon, we were either running up or down a hill. Surprisingly, the downhills hurt the most. The top center of my right foot started hurting on most of them at mile 9 - only a medium type of hurt, though. Because of my foot, I was happy to see hills up ahead! ; ) My foot is fine now.

Except for the not-too-bad foot pain, I felt better running this marathon than I did running the Houston marathon last January. I didn't get that same heavy-leg feeling I had before. Maybe running faster miles during training helped - many around 8:30 - 8:45/mile pace during long runs. Or maybe running with hills is somehow easier than a mostly flat course because you use different muscles when you go up and down the hills and it gives some muscles a "break".

Besides the hills, there were a few uneven, side-slanted sections of the road. My foot was sliding to the side of my shoe and it was uncomfortable, but not a big deal for me.

I felt better than usual after the marathon. No chafing thanks to Body-glide. My legs are stiff now, but maybe I'll loosen up later today. Walking uphill is uncomfortable, but getting up from a seated position isn't too bad.

This was the most challenging marathon I've ever run. I've only run 3 different courses, but yesterday a marathoner who has run Boston told me that this marathon is tougher than Boston. In the later miles, I remember wondering which is harder - running the Big Sur marathon or giving birth. I couldn't decide!

Although I didn't smile the entire time - the ocean waves, the cliffs, the rocks, the light house, the woods, Bixby Bridge, hearing the grand piano from half a mile away, fellow runners excited to be in such a beautiful place, really nice volunteers - all of this made it the most smilingest marathon I've ever run! : )

I finished! 

Big Sur marathon mile splits - 9:13, 9:16, 8:45, 9:14, 9:02, 9:00, 9:01, 9:15, 9:33, 8:30, 11:44, 10:24, 9:07, 8:32, 9:46, 9:59, 9:05, 9:37, 10:07, 10:55, 10:47, 11:01, 10:34, 10:55, 9:50, 11:41, and for the last 0.52 mile (because you always run a little long) - 9:21. Average pace - 9:48/mile. Finish time - 4:19:50. The plan - to run at even effort rather than an even pace.

Big Sur-Marathon Recap
Big Sur Marathon Expo

Sunday, April 25, 2010

Big Sur Marathon Recap

We drove the marathon route backwards on Saturday. Every time we were driving downhill I dreaded it since that meant uphill during the race. But there wasn't any time pressure this time and that meant I was mostly excited and not nervous, except at the start line where I was nervous, as usual. Just look at the route. We ran through the forest...

...and, of course, there were the ocean views.

 After having a great time at the family reunion, we arrived at our cabin late Saturday night. I woke up in the middle of the night and saw that my cell phone with my alarm on it was dead! Did I miss the race?! I checked the clock. It was 3:42 AM. I was okay, but after that adrenaline rush, who could sleep? So I got ready very slowly for my 6AM departure - happy to have not missed the marathon.

The Big Sur marathon is just as beautiful as everyone says. The hills were steep and long enough to make me take short walk breaks a few times. At first, getting started running again after walking wasn't too hard, but towards the end, I had to tell myself just to at least start with some running baby-steps.

The 2 1/2 mile uphill section around miles 10-13 was tough! I changed my eating plan (Gu and then Gatorade in between Gu) to eating and drinking more than I'd planned because it was such a hard run. 

Bixby Bridge

My finishing time: 4:19:50!!! I ran the Houston marathon in January (12 weeks ago) in 4:05. I read somewhere to add 20 minutes for the hills and wind in Big Sur. We had them both - sometimes at the same time.

Right after the marathon, I snacked on a banana, a cookie, pineapple-orange juice (race hand-outs) and 1/2 a Powerbar (I had eaten 1 1/2 bars pre-race).

We ate at Nepenthe restaurant where I had a grilled chicken sandwich when I finally got hungry for a real meal around 4 PM. Warning: lots of stairs, but it's worth it for the view.

We're staying in a Big Sur cabin at Ripplewood Resort. It's an old place, but we like it - there are flowers everywhere and the #15 cabin we are in has a living room and kitchen, but no hair dryer. : ( I do believe my husband is starting the campfire for s'mores! Sounds good!

Friday, April 23, 2010

Big Sur Marathon Expo

We flew from Texas to California and went straight to the expo today.  There were a lot of freebies handed out at the expo. I was surprised at the full-sized Odwalla bar and mint chocolate GU given away.

The shirt we received in our race packet is a nice tech tee that has the words "on the ragged edge of the western world" on the back.

After visiting the expo, my husband and I watched sea otters play in the water below our restaurant window 0n the Monterey wharf - the first time I've ever seen sea otters in the wild! (Later, we saw restaurants at Cannery Row we thought we'd rather try next time, though.)

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Thank You!

Thank you for all of your encouraging comments about the Big Sur marathon! : ) I hope to update Twitter during the trip and tweets show up in my blog sidebar. The hills make me nervous, but I hope I don't get there and see that they're not really too bad. I've been complaining about them for months and I hate to be wrong! ; )

Have you read Ryan Hall's Boston marathon recap? It's a good description of how the race played out and a good reminder to run with joy. He wrote, "Everything hurt but I tried to enjoy the moment as best I could despite the pain. Running has taught me how to enjoy even the not so pleasant moments."

Yesterday I didn't run and I felt sluggish. Today I ran 7 miles and tomorrow I'll get one last short run in before the marathon.

And last of all, here's the tiny indigo bunting bird that visited my back yard twice this week - the first one I've ever seen!

Monday, April 19, 2010

Big Sur Soon

I ran 8 1/3 miles in the rain today. It was cool at first (62*) because I was wet, but it didn't take long for me to start sweating. I ran four faster miles in the middle of the run - fun! The rain was great because it cooled me off, but I was glad I had my cap and sunglasses on to keep the rain out of my eyes. 

My plan for the Big Sur marathon is to run each mile looking forward to what the next mile will bring in the way of ocean views, cows and even a grand piano! 

It's really difficult for me to guess what my finishing time might be, but I ran a 4:05 in the January Houston marathon and if you add 20 minutes to that (because of the hills) you get 4:25. Taper nerves? Not yet! I'm just so excited to get started on our vacation to California!

That's a picture of our lemon tree - it came with the house we moved into last fall. Until a friend spotted the one and only lemon it produced, I didn't know what it was. And when life hands you one lemon, make lemon bars! The bars were especially good because of that lemon! The tree has flowers on it now and I'm hoping for two lemons this year! Maybe three!

Saturday, April 17, 2010

Running off the Baklava

If you are a Houston runner, you were probably at Memorial Park today! What a crowd! It's great to see so many people running. I ran 5 miles after not eating anything beforehand, something I hardly ever do, but I ate a huge dinner last night and I think that's why I wasn't hungry this morning.

Last night was date night! We went to Yia Yia Mary's Greek restaurant. Eating there makes me want to visit Greece. Too bad I wouldn't know how to say the names of any of the food correctly - I might starve! After eating a gyro, my husband and I shared baklava with honey on top. Since I started the day with a honey energy gel, it really was a honey of a day for me!
Have a great day! Remember to stop and smell the blooming flowers! And then remember to take some allergy medicine right along with me!

Friday, April 16, 2010

Sweet Ten Mile Run!

Today's 10 mile run was fueled by a peanut butter and raisin sandwich for breakfast and a gold Honey Stinger gel that I found at Luke's Locker yesterday. I ate it after running 4 miles. If you like honey, you'll like this gel - tastes just like sweet honey! It's thinner than honey and goes down easily. I had no stomach problems with this new-to-me gel, but I've never had any problems with any gels or chews. I bought some more mint chocolate GU, too, because it tastes like frosting.

More phantom pains - today my other shin hurt! Just a little, though. I iced it later. It was warm (65+ degrees) and humid today. It felt good to put my face and arms in the cold water at the water fountains and then to run with the wind blowing on me, cooling me off. I was covered in a thin film of salt when I got home, though. Hello, Summer!

I was happy that my shin pain didn't stick around and that the heat didn't slow me down today. It was a great run! Today's splits: 9:39, 9:14, 8:56 (started 2 1/2 miles of hills), 8:40, 8:50, 8:43, 8:39, 8:31, 8:33, 9:02 with an 8:53/mi ave pace.

Thank you for all of your helpful travel tips in the comments in my last post! I'm making a list and checking it twice! 

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Traveling Tips

My Big Sur Marathon confirmation postcard arrived this week! I'm getting ready for the flight to California. I'm gathering travel sized toiletries and stocking up on Dramamine - the "less drowsy" formula so I'll be awake for the race expo on Friday. Do you have a favorite travel tip? My mother-in-law told me I could pack underwear in my pockets if I run out of room in my carry-on bag.  Maybe you have a better tip than that! ; )

I made muffins last night. This is old news if you follow me on Twitter, but here's a new picture. ; ) The Ellie Krieger Pumpkin muffin recipe is good the way it is, but the muffins were even better with dried cranberries and walnuts. Pictured are the plain ones. I like the way the muffin tops turned out on these - big, because I filled the muffin cups to the rims. I ate one with a banana before today's run. Yum!

After today's run I drank a chocolate cream Myoplex nutrition shake given to me as a local race freebie. Too bad it tastes like there's medicine in it. My husband likes Myoplex strawberry powder drink mix added to milk, though. I haven't tried that.

I ran 6 miles Monday, but that afternoon my shin was slightly uncomfortable so I took the day off on Tuesday. No worries, just being careful.

Today I ran 8 miles with five miles around 8:45/mi pace. No shin pain, but I had a slight pain on the bottom of my left foot at first. I ran through it, hoping it would pass. It did. Sometimes pains just go away and they're nothing. The middle miles were kind of hard, but not too bad. 

A couple of you have mentioned kicking your ankles when you run. I think of you every time I kick mine now!

Saturday, April 10, 2010

Run Happy

Yesterday was my last big mileage day before the Big Sur marathon in two weeks. The weather was very nice. The average temperature was 55F/13C and sunny. That 17 mile run (9:11/mi ave pace) was easier than Monday and Wednesday's 12 mile runs. What a difference 15 degrees makes!

After running 9 miles yesterday, I noticed that I was hardly sweating and that my legs felt fresh. After running 11 miles, I sped up for four miles and it wasn't as hard as usual to do. I cooled down with two miles towards home and I felt like I could have run farther. I wish every long run could be like that! After the run, I made myself some cocoa and a snack.

Today I ran 6 miles with my dog. Those shoes in the photo are the second pair of Asics 1140's I bought for $60 at Sports Authority on Post Oak Blvd. Great price! I can't wear no-show socks with them, though, or my ankles get rubbed raw on long runs from the shoe tongue. I've worn 1140's since January. I haven't had any problems that kept me from running this time around, so I think they're great!

Happy running!

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Train Hard

Today's goal: run 6 of my 12 miles at 1/2 marathon pace (for a 1:50 finish - 8:20 - 8:23/mi). I broke the 6 miles up with a 5 minute slow run after 3 miles. I did have two slower miles, but four of the miles were fast enough to get me an average pace of 8:22 for the 6 miles!

Here's how I made it through those 6 tough miles... I told myself to lift my legs and the rest of me would follow. Played catch up to the runner ahead of me. Played count down the tenths of miles on my Garmin. Looked at people. Ignored people. Sorry, people! Actually, I did say hi to someone! And smiled at someone else. : ) Remembered the line at the top of my blog: train hard. And before I reached the point of "I can't run another step", the hard part was over and I could run easy. : ) What thoughts get you through the tough miles?

I had to stop more often for water today. Temp: 70F/21C and humid, but mostly overcast. It was a shorts day! ; ) Of course, but I'm looking for the positive! No more gloves! No more freezing through my warm-up!

One long run and one easy run to go this week and then it's 2 week taper time for the Big Sur marathon!

Photo: bike trail along Memorial Drive where I ran 6 miles yesterday

Monday, April 5, 2010

Humid Run

A Rose at the Houston Museum of Natural Science 

12 miles with hills, but take it easy. That was today's plan. The "take it easy" part was because of a minor uncomfortable feeling here and there - nothing major. I saw my pace for the fourth mile and wondered what was wrong with me, but decided it was just the humidity. Sweat drips into your eyes and stings. Your legs feel heavy. Listening to music and singing along (silently!) helped. Thanks to the humidity, I did take it easy.

I ate watermelon Luna Moon energy chews (90 cents on sale at Target) at mile 6. Time to eat them: too long - as long as it takes me to run 1/3 mile. I started eating them before reaching a water fountain, got a quick drink, and finished eating them on the way to the next water fountain. My apologies to the people I ran beside. I hope I wasn't chomping too loudly. They're good, but chewy!

There's the shirt I wore today that gets me into the Happy Trails Lime Green Shirt Club! And there's what I ate before and during today's run, too. Just happened to have some extras for the pic. This is the shirt I'll probably wear at the Big Sur marathon, too. I'd been planning that even before I knew about the club! ; )

Pre-run: Cookies & Cream Powerbar bar (good)
The Run: 12 miles @ 9:31/mile ave. pace
Post-run: @ mile 10, to get my mind off the run, I planned a yogurt/granola/banana snack, but when I got home I was too hot to eat and drank good ol' chocolate milk instead

Saturday, April 3, 2010

Bluebonnet Run

Today I ran 12 miles. I warmed-up for two miles and then I took off, hoping to average 8:45/mi for 9 miles. Running faster takes some concentration for me. My pace was okay until I ran up a hill and forgot to speed up to make up for my slow time. I did better in the next mile, though. That was a relief! Once I start slowing down I worry that I won't be able to speed up, that I've hit the end of the speed for the day.

This was a hard workout. In the last mile, I checked my Garmin at the 11.85 mile mark and then again at the 11.92 mile mark. Are we there yet?! My clothes were soaked, dripping with sweat, when I finished. I don't usually ice bath after 12 milers, but today I did and it didn't feel too bad - I was so hot. (66 degrees when I started running and it probably reached the low 70's, but it must have been humid.)

I made it home and I checked my Garmin, wondering what my average was for those middle 9 miles. Somehow I managed to average an 8:45/mile. Happiness! One more week of hard running for me and then it will be time for a two week taper! Here's an article I read that mentions a short taper.

I took a picture of some bluebonnets (Texas' state flower) along my running route. Here I am in the middle of this huge city and there are masses of bluebonnets all over the place! I hope you can find patches of beauty where you live, too. Happy Easter!

Thursday, April 1, 2010

Let's Run!

 First pink ones I've ever seen. Kind of pretty! Sort of! ; )

Come on! Let's run 11 miles!

First, we'll run over to the water fountain, two miles away, at Memorial Park. Slow down! It's our warm-up and I'm kind of tired. I don't know if I can run four miles at 1/2 MP (8:20/mile) with a short break in the middle after all. And then some hills, too.

We get a drink at the fountain and turn our music on. Beep! It's the 2 mile Garmin beep. We're running fast now. The tired feeling is forgotten. Let's get up to an 8:20/mi pace. Slow down! Oops, not that much! Okay, we're good now. We finish one "faster" mile and our time is good (8:22). We keep going. 

Running fast is hard now. I'm working in song increments: run fast for one whole song. And do it a few more times. What are you doing to make it through each mile? Pace for this mile - 8:08. Time for water.

We walked to the art fair on Saturday.

Time to run now and I'm running song-by-song again. Our pace is fine. We finish the third "faster" mile (8:10) and I'm confused for a second, thinking it's time to stop, but we need to run one more fast mile.

Uh-oh, we're running up a hill and my arms are so sore from the weight work I did two days ago. We pump our arms to get up the hill. We have to maneuver around people on the narrow path. I forget my sore arms. I want to finish this last mile strong. We're almost to the water fountain. Run fast to the water! Finish strong! The pace for that fourth "faster" mile: 8:12. Bingo! : )

We stop for a gel and some water. I'm tired, but you're just getting started! We start running again - just an easy mile. What a relief!

We've run hard today, but now we'll conquer those hills - about two miles of mostly hills. We run hard up and down, over and over. It's hard work, but the time flies and soon we run over to the water fountain.

The two mile run home feels so long. I'm so tired. Oops, make that a 2.25 mile run home. Tomorrow we can run .25 less than planned! Anyway, 11.25 mile run: done!

One last art fair pic: Treebeard from Lord of the Rings.

I noticed something new at Garmin Connect today. There's "average pace", which I've always used, but now there's also "average moving pace". Couldn't find any info about this, though. I didn't change any settings on my Garmin to get this and I don't have it set to stop keeping track of my pace when I stop running. Any ideas? 
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