24 April 2015

Goal Race on Deck

The San Luis Obispo half marathon weekend is upon us! This is the one I designated as my goal race a few months ago, and I'm pumped to travel to SLO this weekend to run the course. The weather forecast is great and aside from being incredibly tired from all of the painting and moving, running has been good. I'm still hoping to go for it on Sunday!

The last few weeks of training have gone well; I have been doing regular track workouts again since January and increased my trail running (and hill climbing!) distances again. I'd say I'm where I want to be for now, and if things don't work out I have the Eugene Half on May 10 for another shot this spring.

The majority of my training runs for this event have been with the Go Far run group, which I'm loving. I have always been a bit of a scaredy cat when it comes to run groups (am I good enough? Can I keep up?), but this is no longer true! Everyone is very welcoming and my fears were completely unfounded. I've loved having the support, advice, pace buddies, and challenging group track workouts to keep me going.

 Go Far on a Saturday Rancho San Antonio run, top of PG&E trail.

Go Far enjoying more hill climbing in Quicksilver!

And of course, post-track strength work. (Photo from Meghan)

Let's do this!

17 April 2015

Oakland Half 2015 Race Recap

On March 22, I ran the Oakland Half Marathon and I'm finally posting the race recap. This was my third time running the event and fourth year attending it; last year I deferred because of my hip injury but went to cheer on Kevin and friends. My big reason for liking the Oakland Half is that the logistics are easy. The half starts at 9:15 am, making it possible to take BART to the start and avoid parking hassles. It's local, so I can sleep in my own bed and get home quickly. In addition, I love the post-race beer in Snow Park and relaxing in the grass with friends.

Kevin and I went to the expo briefly on Saturday to pick up our packets, although we didn't stay long or meet up with anyone because we headed home to paint our bedrooms. We painted primer on two whole rooms that day, perhaps not the ideal day-before-a-race activity but something we needed to get done.

We took the first BART to the start line on Sunday morning. I love seeing all of the runners on the train heading to Oakland. It's an easy 10ish minute walk from the station to the start and we still had plenty of time to wait in the long gear check line. It was already pretty warm that morning, but then again the race start time is later than others so it has time to heat up.

I hadn't been planning for this to be a goal race, partly because it is early in the spring and partly because we've been busting our butts with the house stuff and I'm so tired! That said, when it came time to run I figured why not give it all I could that day? I started out at a pace of 9-9:15 minutes/mile and was happy that I held on until about mile 8. I knew going in that my fitness wasn't at PR pace and I'm ok with that. Doing weekly track workouts and running hills has been helping a ton though.

By mile 9 my legs felt like they wanted to stop cold turkey and were incredibly heavy. I tried to forget about it and slowed down but kept running. The backend of this course always feels warm and that day was no exception; there is a lot of sun exposure and the miles around Lake Merritt are especially brutal every time. I finished at 2:05:08 and I'm happy with that time for now. Other recent half marathons have been in the 2:10 range, so I consider that progress. I hope to someday get back below 2 hours again but we'll see.

The highlight of this race is that I felt the best I have fitness-wise in a half marathon since the hip injury in January 2014 - and that's a big deal to me!

After I finished, I met Kevin in Snow Park. Oakland had an interesting change in beer choice this year to Erdinger, including both the non-alcoholic version and the alcohol version. I love Erdinger so no complaints there, I just thought the presentation of the non-alcoholic one was interesting. They offered it pre-race as well as immediately post-race as a 'recovery beer with vitamins' and were marketing it specifically to runners. They also served it at the expo.

Kevin was a fan.

We grabbed our non-alcoholic Erdingers and then drank them while waiting in line for our real Erdingers, of which each person could get two. Oakland does a great job with the post-race festival and free beer or wine. 

Waiting in line...

We sat in the park for a while and I finally got to hang out with Cathryn and Jen and to meet a few other runners and Twitter friends in person! It was great to talk and enjoy the sun for a while. They ran the relay together with the most awesome shirts

Overall, it was a really fun race day and I'd recommend the Oakland half to others. The course is flat, it's a small race (about 5K people), it's well-organized, and they have nice medals and shirts. Check out my past race reports for more experiences and details too: 2012, 2013

 Medal close-up!

Long sleeve shirts.

Have a great weekend and happy running!

03 April 2015

I'm still here!

Life has been extremely crazy lately, hence the little hiatus from the blog. But I'm still here and trying to get back to it soon, at least to post more often than I have in the last month. So why has life been crazy, you ask?

We bought a house!

We have porch!

It wasn't easy, but we were pretty lucky when it comes to buying in the Bay Area. We had our first offer accepted and even beat a cash offer, which is pretty much unheard of. Despite some lender delays due to the snowstorm in Alabama, we closed fairly quickly and then began the long road to getting the house ready. Our realtor team was awesome and I'm pretty sure their connections and negotiation skills won us the bid.

We have been painting up a storm but still have a long way to go before we are done. Many of our non-furniture items have been moved at this point and we've had a couple of new furniture pieces delivered, but again we still have a lot of work to do. Living in two places is hard (let me state the obvious, right?)

I'm in love with this house for its older home character, tall ceilings, and the beautiful kitchen. It's the kitchen I've always wanted and I can't stop feeling incredibly lucky to have found this house! Tonight will be our first official night there with the whole family - me, Kevin, Akai, and Willow. I can't wait to bring the cats over and to see if they like the extra space as much as we do.

And although I haven't been blogging or tweeting much, I've most definitely still been running! In fact, we've had quite a few amazing trail runs lately. I'm feeling stronger on the hills again, which was tough coming back from the hip injury and basically no trail running in 2014. I'm signed up for Skyline to the Sea 50K in October and I hope everything works out this time.

To end this post, here are a few of the epic trail running photos from recent runs. Cheers to the weekend!

 On the way to Pirate's Cove during the SFRC group run.

Kevin, Sophia, and Christy heading down to Pirate's Cove.

 Bridge beauty during our Oiselle Ninja loop meet up.

 Robin and Ayesha at my favorite part of the Ninja loop.


The whole gang. (me, Robin, Kate, Michelle, Ayesha)

Tuesday morning trail run with Go Far Run Group at Rancho San Antonio.

Sun-washed but fun Go Far photo on a Rancho Saturday run.

08 March 2015

Run-Seeing in London, Part Two

The second part of my London trip was just as great as the first! I was finished with the work portion on Friday, but I stayed until Sunday morning to have more sightseeing time over the weekend. On Saturday, I headed out on another run to the Tower of London and passed by a few landmarks on the way. After arriving at the Tower of London, I went inside to tour the area and to see the Crown Jewels. Absolutely amazing.

Again, I'll use photos for the rest of this post to share my time in London. I'm happy I had the opportunity to go and hope to visit again sometime.

St. Patrick's Cathedral.

 Chapel for the College of London

 My hotel - such a pretty building.

 City statue.

 Tower of London.

 Side of the Tower plus the Tower Bridge.

 With the Tower Bridge, my favorite.

 'Elephant' inside the Tower of London.

 Oh no! This was along the outside walls where they would defend the Tower from enemies.

 Inside the armoury.

Regent Street at night. Beautiful.

Although the trip was fun, I'm glad to be back in California and finally feel caught up on jet lag now that it's a week later. I enjoyed some fantastic trail running this weekend - look for it on the blog later this week. Happy running!

24 February 2015

Run-Seeing in London

This weekend's long run was extra special because I'm in London! I'm here for work meetings until next Sunday, and I loved having the new run scenery. I went to London once before 8 years ago, but it's different to be here on my own and to explore without a tour group.

On Sunday, I headed out to run in the perfect 40 degree temperatures. My plan was to run toward the River Thames and then to turn right to see Big Ben, Westminster Abbey, Buckingham Palace, and Hyde Park. Running off the jet lag felt great and run sightseeing is the best! I'll leave you with photos for the rest of the post.

 London Eye along the River Thames

 Big Ben. One of my favorite photos (so much going on!)

 Approaching Buckingham Palace.

 The park around Buckingham Palace.

 Gardens in front of Buckingham Palace.

 Buckingham Palace.

 Exiting the Buckingham Palace and surrounding parks area. Pretty road.

 Kensington Gardens fountains.

 Kensington Gardens fountains.

 The Princess Diana Memorial Fountain.

 Swan in Hyde Park along the Serpentine.

 My dorky selfie with the Horse Guard.

Enjoying a flat white with brunch post-run. So good.

12 February 2015

Race Discounts: SF and SLO Marathons

I don't know about you, but I always look for discount codes before signing up for a race. I'm excited to share that our SF Marathon Ambassador codes this year are good for a whopping $25 off the entry fee! It's good for either half marathon or the full marathon.

The SF Marathon events hold a special place in my heart; the 1st half marathon was the race that turned me into a runner back in 2009. While visiting from Michigan and staying along the Embarcadero for a conference, I watched the runners finishing the race and discovered the course went over the Golden Gate Bridge. That day I said I would run a half marathon someday and it would be SF, and four years later I succeeded in that goal. By the time I'd trained for that half marathon I was hooked on running! Now that I happen to live near the city - I still lived in Michigan when I traveled here to run it the first time - it's become a tradition.

This year, I'll be tackling the full marathon for the first time and earning my 52 Club sweatshirt. I'm pumped! Join me for the race on July 26, 2015, and see how great the course is for yourself.

Use this code for $25 off your SFM entry fee: TSFM2015PAULETTE

Finish party (main finish line) with a view of the Bay Bridge.

Also, if you are still considering the SLO Marathon or Half Marathon events, sign up soon! The race is on April 26 and coming up fast. I'm training for the half and hope to go for the PR that day.

Use this code for $10 your SLO entry fee: FERAMB

SLO has released the medal preview - I can't wait to earn this one.

Don't hesitate to email or tweet me with questions about the events. I'd love to help!

03 February 2015

Race Recap: Surf City Half Marathon 2015

We spent this past weekend in Huntington Beach for the Surf City Half Marathon. This is a race I've wanted to check out since moving to California, and I was lucky to get a free entry from the race company for helping out with The Town's Half giveaway and race report last summer. Kevin came along and paid for an entry so we could both enjoy the event.

Huntington Beach was really nice; this was our first time there and Kevin's farthest point south so far. We stayed near the expo and start line at the Shorebreak Hotel and loved it. Comfortable and relaxing. After a late night drive on Friday, we slept in and then went for a little shakeout run along the beach on Saturday. The scenery on the beach path was gorgeous and the sun was awesome. It's almost always sunny in the Bay Area too, but I swear this was brighter. 

Beach path run.

After the run we cleaned up and visited the expo, which was in a tent along the beach. It was a pretty large expo and had the usual types of vendors, but we felt like there were many less free samples. Picking up our bibs and shirts was very quick and there was no line when we arrived around 2 pm. The most eventful part of the expo was taking a photo on the surf board backdrop.

Surf's up!

The rest of Saturday was spent hanging out at The Bruery tasting room, eating pizza, and resting in the hotel. We picked up our Reserve Society membership order at The Bruery and tried a few beers by sharing a tasting flight. I really wish we could have had more, but that whole running thing was getting in the way...

On Sunday, the half marathon started at 7:45 am (later than the marathon.) It was pretty warm in the morning and only got hotter; I really think this race would benefit from an earlier start time. It wasn't HOT compared to other races I've done, but I prefer nothing above 65 degrees and it was mid-70s with extra heat from the bright sun. Somehow there were people running in long sleeves and/or pants which blows my mind.

The wave start was very smooth and they put about 2 minutes between each one. You found your wave based on your bib number. It wasn't patrolled, but people seemed to do well at self-seeding and I didn't have any crowd problems running at the start. One thing I found strange were the runners with strollers who started from the front corrals because they were causing a bit of congestion and tripping people. Then again, I'm always getting passed by people with strollers and I'm sure they were in the right wave.

I have been feeling drained lately and had decided a couple of days before that this would be a training run pace, and I stuck to that goal. There was definitely no targeted training or tapering for this one and my mileage has been increasing over the past few weeks. The race started with a long straightaway down the PCH for a couple of miles. We turned right and looped through a little residential neighborhood with a little uphill and downhill to enjoy. We then headed back to the PCH and turned right to keep going out farther. 

About 3 miles or so later we turned around for the out and back section. From there, we stayed on the PCH along the water until the finish line. Talk about a long, straight route! I find things like this pretty brutal because there are no turns or hills to anticipate. On the bright side, we had the ocean view to our right. The marathon made yet another turnaround onto the beach path to do a second out and back section before finishing. 

I was using it for a training run at long run pace, so I don't have any exciting tales to tell about pushing myself or feeling like I wanted to fall apart. I finished in 2:16:35; my time is much slower than usual partly due to the training pace and partly due to one portapotty stop and one rock-in-my-shoe stop that together totaled 3-4 minutes.

Feeling fancy with two medals.

More beach path scenery from the shakeout.

After finishing, we headed to the expo tent to get the 'California Dreamin' medal, an award for running both an SF Marathon event and Surf City. It's a fun bottle opener. Next we went to the beer garden area where we were surprised to find that each participant got 2 beers. They even had a selection: some super light beers like Bud Select and a few Kona Brewing beers. I enjoyed the Big Wave Golden Ale and Fire Rock Pale Ale, both from Kona Brewing. 

Race Details.

The Support. The water stations were about every 1.5 to 2 miles and well-stocked with volunteers, water, and Vitalyte. There were plenty of portapotties along the course, and I didn't even wait in line when I needed to go. That said, I had trouble finding the portapotties near the start because they were farther away from the corrals (also, why I had to stop during the race.) They handed out Gu Chomps around mile 7.5. There were not many spectators along the route, but the scenery made up for it. 

The Finish Line. As mentioned above, the finish line had a great beer tent. They also left the expo tent up including the Nuun booth, Fig Bars table, and tables to get the special double medals. This was a convenient way to organize people after the race. The finish line also had a band playing in the beer tent area. 

Swag. The shirts are cute and came in men's or women's specific cuts. The women's are v-neck, which I like. The medals are little surfboards and very high quality, plus the extra 'California Dreamin' medal is awesome. Last, they handed out packets in race specific reusable shopping bags.

Shirt and medals.

And that's it! Overall, it was a very fun weekend in a beach town and the race events were super well-organized. I'd recommend the event and think it could be a great PR course if you run well in warmer temperatures.