Thursday, April 25, 2013

Throwback Thursday: HS XC

I haven't been able to shake the thoughts from what happened last Monday at the Boston marathon. It was and still Is something that shook me to my core.

As I mentioned a few times I feel the bombings weren't an attack on runners, but an attack on innocent people. it could have (unfortunately) happened anywhere at any event.

Bunker Hill monument and I circa early 1990's

I've got a lot of memories in Boston because my Daad is from there, and because L also has ties to the area. Boston is a wicked awesome city.

Running the 2011 Boston Marathon with Daad & Tribu, and spending 4th of July 2010 with L in Boston.

What I'm doing to help...

I wanted to do something to aid the survivors of the tragedy, I have decided to donate one dollar for every mile I run for 2 weeks to The One Fund.

On a lighter note...

My Daad sent me some old photos recently which put a huge smile on my face.

Can you spot me in this photo?

1998 HS Cross Country Team

Powering through a drainage ditch. Belch.

I ran XC 2 years (sophomore & junior) in HS, was plagued with injuries and eventually quit to focus on music my senior year.

I improved a lot over the 2 years- my very first race in 1997 I ran 30:00 for 3 miles, and then was Injured the entire year. I was an expert at strength training & pool running and came back the last race of that season with a 24:00.

I still run like that...

The 1998 season afforded me more races & slightly less time being injured. I dropped my time to 20:59 for 3 miles. (I wish I kept better records of my times!) I was nowhere near the fastest runner on our team. I sometimes helped our team out being the 4th or 5th finishing runner on varsity.

I'm thinking this year I might finally run faster than 7 minutes a mile in a 5k & beat my 15 year old PR.

My Daad also sent me an old photo from a 10k he did in 1983, where he ran a 37:xx. I thought we look a lot alike in these photos :)

I wonder if any of my old teammates are still running races.

Running with a big goofy smile since the beginning.

I think "quitting" running for a while helped me physically. I'm sure my best days of running are still ahead of me if I stay injury free.

Did you run cross country or track in high school?

-I wish I had stuck with track in middle school. But all I did was 2 seasons of XC in HS.

- xaar

Tuesday, April 16, 2013


A rainy run on Monday night with friends.

Those eyes.

Knowing all my friends and family in Boston are safe & Showing support by wearing a race shirt today for the people affected.

A run with my furry BFF tonight.

The smile on his face.

- xaar

Thursday, April 11, 2013

Synchronized Running

As I took a look at my photos from Sunday's Shamrock Shuffle, I noticed this gem. The lady in red, guy in white and I are all in sync with our stride, arms and facial expression. (The guy in orange might also be in sync with us too!) Kim suggested that we create a new sport of "synchronized running." I think it could be fun while running a race with friends to have pre determined poses to do for the camera- which would make for some great photos which I think I would want to buy (as opposed to the lackluster photos of just running, weird facial expression, eyes closed whatever).

Do you think you could have ran a race faster if you paced yourself better?

While I feel I gave a great effort Sunday, I think I felt too "good." This race should have been a lung burner, but it felt comfortably hard for me. Yes, I negative splitted the race.

But maybe I could have been a little more aggressive in the earlier miles? It is difficult to figure out a good pace without a proper warmup- especially for a short race like Shamrock, but I almost feel I could have pushed just a little more into the uncomfortable zone throughout the whole thing. I'm going to conclude that running outside more for speed work, and recognizing paces without the aid of a GPS watch would help significantly. Back in HS cross country we used to run 400's without a watch (before GPS watches existed) to get a feel for our race pace. This could be a useful tool for other fast short races. I am also scared of going out too quickly & fizzling out after mile 1. I need to find balance. Consistent racing of shorter distances would probably hone these skills also.

I was thinking about the pacing issue because last night I did a speed workout and almost ran the same time I got in Shamrock and felt fantastic.

Workout: 800 @ 7:24 (pace), 800 @ 7:18, 1200 @ 7:18, 1200 @ 6:58, 800 @ 6:45 with active 400's between each interval for a total of 5 miles in 38:30. (About 1:30 slower than Shamrock) the paces felt easier than expected so I kept making each interval faster. I also wore my Pure Cadence 2's for the first time in a few weeks and they made me feel springy and fast!

Post workout I was showered with puppy kisses :)

I wonder if I don't HTFU enough for races?

How do you pace yourself for shorter distances?

What features do you look for in running shoes? Weight, Color, fit, etx

- xaar

Monday, April 8, 2013

Shamrock Shuffle 8k

36:59 avg 7:26/ mile

A 3 minute PR whoo hoo!

I went into this race with one goal in mind- to have fun. A smaller secondary goal was to break 37 minutes. Mission accomplished on all accounts!

I've gotten a little too doughy for my Lulu shorts.

L and I walked over to Grant Park and met up with my friend and fello Fleet Feet Cheer ambassador Vicky- since we were planning on starting together. Getting into the corral was a bit of a cluster because it was the entrance for 3 corrals and there were people checking bibs to ensure people started in the correct herd.

I soon spotted Maggie and we took a quick photo together. (Photo stolen from her)

looking back at 40,000 runners.

While in the back of corral A, I ran in place for 10 minutes to "warmup" as best I could. The plan once I crossed the start was to begin conservatively and then gain momentum and negative split the race.

Looking forward to the start.

Soon we were off on our journey through the streets of Chicago. I purposely started at the back of the A corral so I wouldn't get trampled by the faster people or get caught up and go out too fast. Since the garmin is practically useless due to the tunnel at the start, I had to run by effort- which is difficult since I'm so freaking addicted to my garmin's stats.

Obligatory pre race shoe shot.

Around mile 2 I saw Jenny and Hillary cheering complete with cowbells an vuvuzelas! Somewhere before mile 4 I saw Pete who took some awesome videos of the runners flying by.

As I turned onto Michigan ave around mile 4, the crowds were going crazy with excitement. They gave me even more motivation to keep pushing the pace harder. I flew up the "hill" on Roosevelt ave and passed more runners, and just locked onto the finish. After doing some quick math, I decided to try to run hard to break 37:00.

At the finish I met back up with Vicky who also had wonderful day of Shamrocking through Chicago. PR city baby!

Garmin Splits vs Official Shamrock Splits

I manually lapped each mile because I knew the garmin would not be too accurate due to the tunnel and buildings. At each mile and also the 5k mark, there were timing mats to record our splits. I'm not sure why the 2 are so different. But either way, I negative splitted the race! I was happy to cross the 5k mark in 23:21, which would be one of the fastest 5ks I've clocked in a while.

After I finished I went to mile 4 to cheer for L. He was having a banner day also and got 5 minute PR! On our way to brunch I stopped to spectate and hopefully catch my coworker running by (for her longest race yet) but didnt see her.

Post Shamrock Shuffle Brunch

Final Thoughts

While PR's are a fantastic ego boost and a nice way to chart progress, I was more jazzed to be around friends and enjoy the race atmosphere. Hanging with Vicky and Maggie in the corral, then seeing Jenny, Hillary and Pete spectating, and then cheering for L at mile 4 definitely added to the joy i felt taking 3 minutes off last years Shamrock time.

Now don't get me wrong, I'm happy to achieve a new milestone but I'm even more excited that for once I am healthy and have no injuries to speak of. And instead of solely celebrating a PR, I am basking in the fact I can run pain free and enjoy every step, and that I'm much stronger this year than a year ago.

Next up for me is The Soldier Field 10 miler!

- xaar

Friday, April 5, 2013

4 years

4 years ago L and I walked and ran 12 miles from Campbell, CA to Los gatos to get a coffee and back. Little did we know that day was the beginning of what would turn into a grand adventure spanning many cities and countries, many ups (with a few downs) and so many freaking fantastic memories (hot air ballooning, a drive across route 66, Mexican pyramids, Napa Wine tastings, many running events, and an amazing trip to Brasil just to name a few) along the way. We are 2 peas in a pod- well 3 with the CB dog.

Last night he surprised me with dinner at Takashi. You might remember Chef Takashi from Top Chef Masters fame. we've also been to his "Noodles by Takashi" which has some of the best ramen I've ever had (located in Macy's on State St.) we had the tasting menu + wine/sake pairings which was absolutely divine. I can't stop thinking about the incredible food and the red wine blend from Valencia which was one of the best wines I've ever tasted.

Today L is celebrating with CB, because 4 years ago today was their first meeting. For CB, it was love at first sight which was awesome because he usually doesn't like new people, especially men. Seeing CB jump up on L like he was an old friend and interact like they were lifelong buddies that day made me realize almost instantly that L was going to be in our life for a long long time.

After our walk to the Campbell dog park on the Los gatos trail for CBs first date with L, we hit up the Campbell farmers market for some food, and CB went with us. The signs said no animals, but no one said anything to us. CB had on his backpack and people thought he was a service dog!

Modeling our pretzel necklaces at the Chicago beer festival last weekend. We are truly craft beer connoisseurs.

We thrive on experiences instead of things. Because things get broken, used up, or out of style and forgotten. Experiences last forever in our memories. (And in the awesome Blurb photo books we create)

Last Saturday we sampled 43+ unique beers at the Chicago Beer festival.

For Easter we had brunch at Aria in the Fairmont hotel.

Crab cake Benedict at Aria.

This weekend we are both running the Shamrock Shuffle 8k.

This will be my 3rd go at this race and barring catastrophe, should be a huge PR day for me yet again. I'm decently trained and finally in a healthy state. I love this race because it goes through downtown Chicago (a block from our apartment!) which only the Rock n Roll Chicago half and Chicago marathons can boast. All other Chicago races are held on the beautiful lakefront.

Late winter run on the lakefront with CB.

The funny thing is, I don't really care about the PR I'm going to get at Shamrock. Don't get me wrong, I love seeing improvement just like anyone else- but I really love the experience of it all more.

Waking up and walking with L to grant park a few blocks from our place, the electricity in the air when 40,000 people are all congregated in Grant Park on Columbus Ave waiting for their turn to own the streets of Chicago, the sound of the gun going off as our corral slowly moves to the start, that moment when you know it's "go time" as you start your watch and begin to run. That feeling you get, the goosebumps on your arms while running through the city you call home while you struggle to catch your breath from the shot of adrenaline turning onto Michigan ave where the huge crowds are cheering so loud just before the finish. And that final straight shot towards the finish on Columbus Ave, where you're giving it everything you've got to finish strong while the crowds are deafening with cheering and cowbells and excitement for the runners. And then you finish, with a huge smile on your face, knowing you couldn't have given anymore.

Yeah, I really could care less about the PR & number on the clock as I stop my watch- to me, it's about a lot more than that.

- xaar