12 September 2014

Currently Loving

It's been a long time since I've done a currently loving post, and I have a few new items to share from shoes to hydration to clothing. New running gear is my favorite!

Disclaimer: All thoughts and opinions are my own, and I was not compensated to write this post in any way.

Hoka One One Clifton
I have actually found shoes that seem to be working for me after trying what feels like everything on the market. Shocking, I agree. Enter the new Hoka One One Clifton, a very light but cushioned road shoe that launched a few months ago. I tried them on at the SF Marathon expo and fell in love. So far I've taken them up to a 15 mile long run with no issues, and I'm hoping they'll be my NYC Marathon shoe.

I love the Clifton because they give me cushion without weight, and they still seem to be supportive. They are wide enough for me to wear a normal women's width, likely because they upper is soft and forms to the foot well. They come in 3 fun colors, of which I now own two so I can rotate them. The sole is thicker than standard running shoes, as is customary with Hoka, but I find the sole to be much more 'normal' feeling than other Hokas I've worn like the Bondi 3 or the Kailua Trail. If you are curious, I'd highly recommend trying them out.

My favorite Clifton color, bright coral.

Salomon S-Lab Sense Hydro Set
Even if you think you hate all hand bottles, this one might be worth another look. The soft flasks come in many sizes and fit into a unique hand 'glove' that lets you carry the flask without needing to grip at all. I have the standard size set that comes with the 1250ml flask; it sounds small but has been sufficient in many cases. It enables me to carry water for miles in between refill stops and is great for carrying some water on hot days. (That said, if I'm going out on the trail for a long run without available water refills, I take the full on hydration pack instead.) I expected to replace the flask with a larger one and never found the need.

Bottom view. 

Top view.

Scratch Labs Exercise Hydration Mix
While crewing for Matt at Western States, I discovered Scratch Labs for hydration and immediately loved it. It has a light but good flavor and comes in a few varieties, my favorites being Orange and Raspberry. It's a powder to mix into 16 ounces of water and it goes into solution easily. Scratch isn't carbonated at all, which my stomach seems to prefer during workouts. I also use and enjoy Nuun, but I find Nuun to be a good during-the-day drink as opposed to a during-a-workout drink.

Large packet for home, single servings for travel.

Oiselle Verrazano Bra
The Verrazano bra is the new version of the Strappy bra, and I find it to be a fantastic update. The strap location feels better, I like using the removable cups, and the overall fit just feels more right to me. I needed to replace bras and had been waiting to find one I loved; finally, this is it! There are four fabric variations: scantron, chevrona, standard, and charcoal. Charcoal is more compressive and too tight to me, but many ladies love the extra support. The other three versions are similar to one another in level of compression but vary in color offerings and texture.

Things to note: I'm small busted and don't need a ton of support, but many friends who are better endowed than me still love this bra (especially the charcoal version). The idea is that having two straps balances the weight without causing pain points. I'm also long on the shoulder-to-under-bust measurement, meaning bras don't always hit properly below the bust, but the Verrazano styles fit me.

Back view Scantron bra, photo from Oiselle.com

Front view Scantron bra, photo from Oiselle.com

Vivobarefoot Jing Jing Flats
These flats aren't running gear, but they keep my feet happy when I'm not running. I find most flats to be uncomfortable, toe-pinching, and heel-blistering. The Jing Jing causes none of those issue for me. It uses the Vivobarefoot running shoe platform and is shaped like a foot to give the toes space. The heels have never caused blisters even when the shoes were brand new, and the barefoot sole is comfortable for walking around campus at work or for a day in the city. They have a flat, barefoot-like sole and no specific arch support, but somehow they still feel supportive. Even better, they aren't too expensive at a retail price of $70 (I found all of mine at better prices than retail at Zappos.com) and they come in a variety of colors. 

Vivobarefoot Jing Jing in Black. Please ignore my sock tan line.

Your turn! What gear are you excited about right now?

08 September 2014

On Trail Running

It's no secret that I love trail running. If I could run trails exclusively, I'd be a happy girl. After my excitement about Western States crewing, I made a point to drive to parks after work to run more trails during the week. I started doing more long runs on trail, climbing again, and feeling like I was finally getting some hill-climbing fitness back after the hip flexor injury cut me off from trails last January and caused me to drop my 50K plans for June.

Unfortunately, it doesn't seem that trail running likes me back. Aside from having my share of falls - which I think could improve with more focus and picking my feet up when I'm tired - my hip flexor is acting up again. My gorgeous PG&E to Black Mountain climb of a long run a couple of weeks ago resulted in constant hip tightness and mild pain that just isn't going away even with all of my PT exercises, foam rolling, and stretches. I can't help but worry about going back to that injury place that took so long to get through - if I can even be considered to be 'through' it yet.

I love getting 'lost' in the woods. But not really lost.

Am I worrying too much? Do I still run trail and just see how it goes? Is it just leftover mild pain that isn't an issue? I haven't returned to the doctor because I don't think I'm at that point yet. That said, the fact that I can run road with much less hip aggravation makes me think I should play it safe at least until the NYC Marathon. That would mean no birthday Steven's Creek Striders 30K and many, many long runs on road.

I mean, who doesn't want a view like this on every run?

I so badly want to be this trail ultra runner who can handle crazy climbs and run at least 50Ks. I want the challenge, the views, and the solitude that comes with trail running. I long to sign up for another 50K and to run only trails to train for it. I really envy everyone out there who is doing these things, and I love following your stories.

What's a girl to do?

01 September 2014

Weekly Recap: Long Weekend Fun

It's been a great training week and I managed to follow my training schedule pretty darn well. I'm proud of myself! As I mentioned in my last weekly recap, Run Coach was confusing me with all of the changes in the schedule. One of the big ones was that it switched the originally-planned 15 miler to an 11 miler, and I wasn't at all comfortable with backing off so much.

I'm pretty sure the schedule issue was related to paces looking too slow (trail running) and doing too much mileage on one week (changing my long run day.) I used my own judgement on the change and stuck to the originally scheduled 15 mile long run this week. Strangely enough, logging that 15 mile run made the schedule change back to the original. Don't worry Run Coach, I can do it.

Last week's workouts.

Last Sunday, I didn't do the recovery run and instead went biking with friends. We did some climbing on Calavares Boulevard in Milpitas and then had a lovely coffee chat. I'd never ridden in that location before, and I really enjoyed the scenery. The downhill after the climbing, however, scared the heck out of me. I'm clearly not comfortable on the bike yet.

Tuesday I met Kevin at Rancho San Antonio for an easy 6 mile loop. We ran a new route and climbed Upper Meadow Trail, which I loved. My calves were cramping badly and I walked way more than I wanted, but I need to go back to run it. That was a very runnable climb.

Wednesday is speed work day, and I actually did it on my own. Winning! I always get nervous about speed work, but this time I'd had a tough day at work and felt really ready to go at it. I ran a warm-up, 6 x 0.25 mile repeats with 0.25 mile easy in between, and a cool down. This was my first time doing speed intervals on road as opposed to a track, but it really worked just fine. I ran the paces I wanted to and felt great afterwards.

Thursday was an easy run day, and I was feeling pretty tired. I thought I should be able to pick up the pace but it just wasn't happening, I felt like I was moving in slow motion and it was very hot. At least I got some miles in. 

Saturday brought my long run day, for which I was in Monterey with my family. I can't think of many more inspiring places to train than along the Monterey Bay, and I had a great time running there. My stomach wasn't cooperative for the first half of the run, but finally I got through it and enjoyed the rest. I felt strangely good for the 15 miles, and even my Sunday recovery run was great. I'm surprised and thrilled with that outcome!

And of course, I had to take some fun weekend photos of running and hanging out with my family.

Near the beginning of the 15 miler. Loved the fog.

Driving Highway 1 with my parents.

High up at Hurricane Point.

Bothering seals. The white one wasn't happy with us for the photos.

Marina selfie.

Wine tasting with my parents at Regale.

On to next week. How was your training this week?

26 August 2014

Guest Post: The Town's Half Marathon Recap

For those of you who don’t know me, I’m Paulette’s husband, Kevin. This is my first guest post on the blog and I’m writing it to share my experience last Saturday at a cool new race in Oakland – The Town’s Half Marathon. Paulette was offered a free entry to the race, but it conflicted with Bird Camp, so the race director gave her a free entry for a friend or family member instead. I’ve typically had good experiences running in the East Bay and jumped at the chance to run this inaugural event.


I like to take transit to Oakland, when feasible, and I was happy to learn that I would be able to take BART to both the race expo and the race itself. On Friday, I caught a VTA express bus near my office in downtown San Jose and took it to the Fremont BART station, where a horde of Raiders fans and I caught a BART train to Oakland. The race expo was outdoors in Palm Plaza at Jack London Square, which is less than a mile from the closest BART station in Lake Merritt. I arrived towards the end of the race expo, so I basically just stopped by to pick up my bib and shirt. The race expo was right next to the iconic Heinold’s First and Last Chance Saloon (est. 1883) and I was tempted to stop in for a beer, but I knew it would take me some time to get home and I wanted to be well rested for the race.

On the Saturday of the race, I was able to park for free at the Fremont BART station and take the first BART train at 5:54 AM directly to the start line at Frank H. Ogawa Plaza, which is adjacent to the 12th Street Oakland City Center BART station. Taking transit allowed me to get there about 30 minutes before the race, which was enough time to use the porta-potty and take a few pictures.

It was cool and foggy on the day of the race, which was ideal. I was recovering from a cold and decided to run with my hydration pack. It was convenient to have extra fluids with me and taking the pack allowed me to carry additional GU Energy Gels and a Picky Bar.

Since this was an inaugural event, Mayor Jean Quan was on hand to say a few words and participate in a ribbon cutting ceremony. This was followed by a jazz keyboard rendition of the National Anthem and the much anticipated start of the race.

Ribbon cutting ceremony.

The start line.

Several friends have asked about the course, so I’ll take you through it. From the start, the course headed toward the waterfront and made a loop past the Port of Oakland and Jack London Square. From there, runners went back through Downtown and up Broadway towards Piedmont. The course then took runners up Piedmont Avenue and around Claremont, before looping back towards Lake Merritt. Runners then made an extended loop around Lake Merritt before returning to Frank H. Ogawa Plaza and the finish line.

The course map.

I’ve run a few races in Oakland in the past and this was easily the most scenic. I enjoyed seeing both the Fox Theatre and the Grand Lake Theatre movie palace on the course. I ran a training pace for most of the race and finished in 1:50:31.

The Fox Theatre.

The Expo: As I mentioned above, the race expo was the Friday before the race in Palm Plaza at Jack London Square. Volunteers were helpful and I didn’t have to wait in line to get my bib or shirt. There were a small number of vendors selling their wares out of tents on the plaza and, of course, free samples of Nuun.

Course Support: There were an adequate number of volunteers on the course and I felt that the Oakland Police Department did a good job directing traffic. I saw a few angry drivers who were upset at being diverted by the race, but generally people were cooperative. There were about six aid stations with water and electrolytes.

The Finish Line: The enthusiastic volunteers at the finish line promptly gave me a medal and swag. Instead of bottled water, finishers were given reusable water bottles and directed to a water station where they could fill them. Food at the finish included bananas and “PB & Awesome” sandwiches from the folks at Oakland Juice & Co.

The finish line.


The Swag: As advertised, the race shirts were gender-specific technical shirts with a cool design. The medals were also well done and incorporated the oak leaf logo from the race. Finishers got a Brita filtering water bottle in the color of your choice and a mason jar for complimentary beer and wine. Strike Brewing had a tent in the beer garden near the finish and I enjoyed a jar of the Blonde, which was perfect for post-race recovery at 4.5% ABV. Did I mention that there were free race photos!?

Nice shirts

Check out the mason jar full of beer!

Overall, I had a blast at The Town’s Half Marathon and would recommend it to anyone looking for a late summer half marathon in the San Francisco Bay Area.

24 August 2014

Weekly Recap: NYCM Training and New Trails

What I discovered over the past 2 weeks: I'm not very good at using Run Coach. I suppose it's been a strange couple of weeks with traveling, but I need to get better about following a plan. I didn't write a recap for last week so I'm documenting it here too.

August 10 to 23

Last week in Bend, I ran a little extra because I wanted to enjoy the terrain and trails while I could. It's not every week I have the chance to run in such a beautiful new (to me) place. It also didn't help that I had to move my long run from Saturday, August 9, to Sunday, August 10; Run Coach doesn't like any schedule switches and gives me big fat exclamation points. This is one of those times I REALLY wish it would give me Monday to Sunday total instead.

My other frustration with Run Coach is that it changed the schedule after I entered workouts last week. Perhaps because it thought I ran too many miles (due to the long run day change) it tried to back me off? Originally my August 23 long run was 13 miles, and then it changed to 9-10 miles. Hello, confusing.

For this past week, I started with Sunday off to enjoy the last day of exploring Bend. Saturday's long run was really tiring and I was feeling the altitude, so the rest day seemed like a good idea. Monday is my normal rest day, and I took that too. I don't think it's uncommon to need some catch up time after travel.

Tuesday I ran my planned 5 miles on trail at Rancho San Antonio, a new route for me. I'm glad I found a 5 mile route I like there and will be using it again. I felt decent except for super tight calves that warmed up after a couple of miles. 

Wednesday ended up being 3.5 miles instead of 4 miles because I had GPS issues and had no idea how far I was going. Considering I was guessing, 3.5 miles really isn't that far off. The most frustrating part is not having the Strava data!

Thursday brought a 2 hour long dentist appointment for fillings and a very sore mouth, so I went out for soup and pushed the run to Friday. I had nothing left after such a long time in the dentist chair that evening. Although Thursday would have been speedwork in the form of 400s, I knew it wasn't smart to run two hard days in a row and instead ran an easy 5 miles on Friday. Correct distance, just not the speed paces. On the bright side, it was a gorgeous day and I felt great. 

That brings me to Saturday; I had an amazing and beautiful long run at Rancho San Antonio. I generally don't like running trails alone, but I felt pretty safe going to a busy park and did it anyway. Kevin had other run plans and I didn't feel like slogging on pavement for 13 miles. Side note: I ran the old scheduled mileage because I didn't understand why Run Coach changed it. 

I did the outer loop at the park, starting with a big climb up PG&E trail to almost the top of Black Mountain. I've done this a couple of times partway up, but never to the top. I was pleasantly surprised how nice it was up there! After about 4 miles of mostly uphill climbing, you come to the edge of the park where the trail turns into single track with tons of switchbacks. Another mile or so climb takes you to the top of that foothill, at which point the trail splits to go back down into the park or up to the summit of Black Mountain. I wasn't prepared for the summit mileage-wise but should do it someday. The total climb to the trail split was about 2400 feet.

Looking across to the other side, where I was heading (eventually...)

Many tree-covered switchbacks on the way up.

My favorite view from the upper trails.

After starting back down on some steeper terrain, the trail becomes gently-sloping-downhill-single-track-bliss for a few miles. Nice views, shaded tree cover, and soft dirt made me a happy girl. I considered taking photos but was enjoying the run too much to stop. Eventually the trail curves around the back of Rancho and into the park back towards the parking lot. It was a tough, but really enjoyable, route. The full loop is 12.5 miles, not 13 miles, but I decided my time on feet for the day was plenty thanks to the climbing. 

The lovely elevation profile.

For next week, I'd been expecting a 15 mile long run until Run Coach changed again. It now says 10-11 miles, which seems too short. I'm feeling like it's behind where I prefer to be in training for NYC and think I might stick with the plan it had set originally. I have no idea what to think of the constantly changing mileage right now. As someone who tends to plan ahead, it's driving me crazy.

In other weekly news, I decided to buy the Anatomy for Runners book by Jay Dicharry. We heard him talk in Bend, plus I read a review of the book by Jen and decided to go for it. His talk on mobility and activating muscles was great, and I could tell it would go well with my recent hip issues and exercises. I can't wait to read it!

Happy running!

18 August 2014

Bird Camp

I returned from Bend, OR, last night and I'm ready to go back. Oiselle held a team running camp, aka 'Bird Camp' there last week and over the weekend, and it was spectacular. I'm so happy I was able to experience the scenery of running in Bend and the camaraderie of the ladies on the team.

I headed to Bend first thing in the morning last Wednesday, and after a long layover in Portland I arrived at Seventh Mountain resort for camp around 1:45 pm. The resort property was beautiful and also happened to connect into the Deschutes River trail. What?! Trail running out my back door? I'd love to have that every day of my life. A few of us went out for to run and explore the area almost immediately, and I was pretty much on a giddy runner's high for the rest of the evening following the trail run.

We have arrived!

Happy runners. 

Attempting a selfie of everyone. 

Deschutes River view from the trail.

The following day started with activation exercises taught by Little Wing, which I should really do more often or at least once a week. Many people headed out on a run after that, but I held myself mostly to a hike with friends because we had a 5K race that evening.

Hiking with Ayesha and Jessica.

Camp included a number of sessions around topics like goal setting, nutrition, training, mobility, and yoga. I feel like I learned a lot and really enjoyed it too. Meeting Stephanie Howe, who recently won Western States, was a big highlight.

Stephanie Howe!

Later Thursday evening, we headed to the Deschutes Twilight 5K. I used this event as a tempo run and kick off to marathon training speedwork. It was harder than I thought it should have been for the pace - likely due to the altitude - but I feel like I did ok. It was really fun to have so many Oiselle singlets in one place!

Before the 5K started.

 Post-race they gave us Deschutes Twilight Summer Ale! My kind of race.

 Hanging out with Farron, Sophia, and Laurel.

 With my camp roommates Tracy and Jill.

We ate at Cafe Yumm after the 5K which was awesome; I'm a big fan of Cafe Yumm! I really like the edamame bowl with tofu, so I even bought my own to satisfy that craving. Yumm sauce is the best. 

Friday morning brought a trip to Smith Rock, a park with tons of rock climbing routes and trails to run. Friday is generally an off day for me, so I did the shorter 4 mile-ish route up Misery Ridge. I'm not sure why it's called Misery Ridge because it's absolutely beautiful. The climb up was tough but much shorter than I expected, and after that we could run the rest because it was down and flat. I hope to go back there someday.

 The overall view.

Taking advantage of the photo op.

Looking back on the climb up Misery Ridge.

 With Laurel at Monkey Face rock.

 Running the flat.

 Farron on the trail by the river.

With Christy, Mel, and Farron after the run.

The rest of Friday brought yoga, pool time, form drills, and core work. I was tired but extremely happy by the end of the day. We had burgers for dinner on Friday and then a Q&A session with elites Kara, Lauren, Stephanie, and Kate. I love listening to their stories!

Next up was Saturday morning, the long run I'd been waiting for. Running along the Deschutes River trail was gorgeous as always, and I was able to see so much more of the river on the long run. My 12 miler was full of great scenery, slightly rolling trails, river rapids, and Dillon Falls. I have to note I was much more tired at the end than I expected with the lack of climbing, likely due to the other activities and the altitude. 

I didn't end up running with a big group because I didn't find anyone going my distance at my pace, but I was content to enjoy the trails on my own anyway. I chatted with people as I ran into them. I somehow got off trail on the way out and took a dive on my knees trying to duck under a low tree, but I luckily didn't find that spot on the way back. Note to self: don't try to run while ducking way forward, you will lose your balance. I admittedly dilly dallied a bit and took photos; there was so much new scenery to enjoy.

 Group running by on the trail.

 View of the falls.

 View from the mountain bike trail I climbed accidentally. Worth it!

More Deschutes River.

Robyn and Jess coming up behind me.

On Saturday afternoon we headed to downtown Bend for sightseeing and a dinner party. I went with a group to 10 Barrel Brewing and then to Deschutes Brewing; Bend has some great beer! 

Hanging out at 10 Barrel.

Last but not least, Oiselle put on a party with tacos and donuts at a local bar called Crow's Feet. Dinner, dessert, beer, dancing, fun people - it doesn't get any better than that. It was hard to say goodbye on Sunday morning, but alas it was time to go home.

Bend, I hope to visit again soon!

And finally, a photo with the banner!