Tag Archives: running

Home Stretch

IMG_1064It’s go time.  And it so is.

I have been following a rigid training plan since MAY, when 70.3 training began.  That’s a lot of gluten-free waffles.  I’ve probably peaked at least three times.  Races are often described as the “victory lap” at the end of a training cycle.  After eight months, some significant emotional challenges, and about a gillion miles, I’m beyond ready to put this training cycle to bed.  If I sound demoralized, I’m not at all.  I’m just a bit overcooked.  Very ready.

Goal-setting and planning for this race has been a bit of a conundrum.  I registered for CIM a few weeks before I dropped out of Augusta, needing a big challenge I knew I could enjoy meeting.  When I transitioned from triathlon to marathon training, I was a bit nervous about my past tibial tendinitis or ITB issues flaring up.  To avoid injury and increase enjoyment, I experimented with walking breaks during my long runs.  It was wonderful.  I felt very strong and unbelievably calm.  No joke, I actually enjoyed my twenty milers!  They were faster than my first marathon pace (even with a break every 9 minutes) and recovery was really quick.  I figured I would transition to continuous long runs once I had ramped up my mileage without injury.  But I just never did.  For runs ten miles and fewer, I ran through but all my significant long runs had regular breaks.

I didn’t have any ego issues with frequent walking breaks initially but now I feel slightly less comfortable with them.  I’ve debated several different race plans:

9 or 10 minutes running / 1 minute walking

Pro: I’ve trained this way.  It’s very psychologically comforting to know that there’s always another break on the horizon, usually before I need it.

Con: It’s awkward to stop, especially early in the race.  I have to run faster to maintain my overall pace.  My walking breaks may not align with the aid stations.

Straight running

Pro: Running pace is slower since it’s continuous. Ego boost.

Con: Much more physically demanding.  Haven’t run anywhere near that far continuously in over a year.  Much more challenging mentally.

Walking at aid stations

Pro: Similar to my training.  Running pace can be a bit slower since walking breaks are less frequent.  Walking breaks are proactive enough to stave off fatigue later in the race. Won’t back people up.

Cons: Walking breaks aren’t quite as often but hey, it is a race….

I’ve settled on the compromise option: walking for 0:45-1:00 through the aid stations beginning at mile 3.    I will PR this race, without question.  By how much, I’m not sure but I’m aiming for >4:30 (10:17 pace) which is totally doable, even with walking breaks.

This race marks the end of my Beginner Chapter.  My intention for CIM is to enjoy (relatively) easy racing one last time.  In the new year, it’s time to get brave and get fast!

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Race Recap – Let’s Go 510!

Things I love:

Racing!

PR-ing!

Oakland!

Soooo…..yesterday morning was pretty awesome!

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Hella, Hella, Hella!

I was so pleased to be an ambassador for the inaugural Let’s Go 510 10k, a co-production of Represent Running and Brazen Racing.  As an Oakland girl, I love all things green and gold.  I’ve run numerous Brazen races and they’re always fantastic.  Great energy, courses, medals, food, and free photos!  This race was no exception!  Represent Running brought awesome local flavor, excellent organization and some super entertaining signs.  I really hope this becomes an annual event!

Going into the race, I only had one remaining 2013 running goal : a new 10k PR.

Before the marathon, I wasn’t sure how quickly I’d recover so I didn’t have high hopes for getting my PR at this race.  I was comfortable running it for fun and just enjoying the Bay-centric festivities.  Then I had some short, zippy runs this week and began to reconsider.  My old PR was 1:01:38 which is a 9:55 average.  That was definitely beatable but I truly wanted a more substantial PR than skin of my teeth.  At the very least, I wanted to break an hour.  I went into the race with a plan to run two mile progressions:  start at 9:40, run 9:30 for the middle miles, 9:20 for 5 and 6, and finish with a kick.  It was a slightly aggressive plan, especially since I’ve rarely run faster than 9:45 for the last several months of marathon training.  Aggressive race plan?  Taking chances?  Who is this girl??

The race started at 10am.  A little unorthodox but allowed folks to enjoy the horse races after and get some extra sleep before.  I arrived at Golden Gate Fields around 9am to TONS of parking.  Delightful!  I upgraded my cotton shirt to a tech tee for $6 because the color was more A’s-like.  That’s how I do.  Also got a picture of the track we’d be finishing on.

Charge!

Soon it was time to line up and head off!  Up a hill!

How to get warmed up QUICK...

How to get warmed up QUICK…

I started in the front third to avoid weaving between run/walkers.  As usual, the crowd surged past me.  I remember how demoralizing that used to be and now I think it’s hilarious.  If people want to blow all their energy out in the first mile, more power to them!

So smug, right?  Until I looked down at my watch and saw 9:30.  Hmmm… better curb that energy Shauna Beth!  Then I saw 9:21.  I attempted to hold back but was not surprised when the first mile buzzed in at 9:20.  And I wasn’t even warmed up.  For the first time ever, I was going out too fast!

I let my body settle into a rhythm, glancing down at my watch periodically.  I was still seeing 9:30 and then 9:20ish but when the second mile clocked in at 9:12, I knew I needed to seriously pull back.  I wasn’t winded but I was running considerably faster than I planned.  Again, don’t recognize this braver me but I think I like her!

Okay, okay.  A race photo where I actually look like I'm racing.  Ask and you shall receive.

Okay, okay. A race photo where I actually look like I’m racing. Ask and you shall receive.

I slowed down a bit in the 3rd mile due to grabbing water at the aid station.  It was pretty warm out there and from the start, I was thirsty!  For this race, I opted not to bring a handheld water bottle or fuel and just wing it with what was at the aid station.  Yes, I wung it.  No, I have not had a personality-altering stroke.  I figured the worst that could happen was that I bonk!

That's not a bonk face! :D

That’s not a bonk face! 😀

By the halfway point, I was a little tired and very happy.  I focused on my music, being grateful and proud, and my imminent PR.  Knowing that I could slow down and still PR gave me the strength to cruise along at the pace I’d established from the start.  I grabbed water from the mile 5 aid station and decided to push it through the finish.

Wheee!

Wheee!

Remember that hill at the beginning of the race?  It was an up and down so we had to climb it one last time in the last mile.  GAHHHHH.  I chugged up and wasn’t sure if I might lose my pace as a result.  I recovered on the downhill and continued to push it faster.  The last mile was peppered with cute signs,  courtesy of Represent Running.  The one that caught my eye said “Give 100%.  Unless you’re giving blood.”  BAH!  Love it!

They warned us that the surface on the race track would be…..weird.  And squishy.  As I made the final turn onto the track, I felt like I was running on a tempurpedic mattress.  Memory foam at mile 6.1?  Not ideal but with the finish line and a BIG OLE PR in view, I gave every last bit I had.

BOOOOOOOOOM!!!!!

BOOOOOOOOOM!!!!!

Yeah, that would be a 4 minute PR.  

Okay, so there may be something to this whole taking chances thing.  Might be something to look into in 2014…

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Race Recap – Portland Marathon

I can’t tell you how delightful it is to type that title.

When last we met, I was on the bathroom floor.

With the essential pre-race activities complete, I got dressed, took some selfies and headed out into the dark.

BRB.

BRB.

It was chilly but I had so much adrenaline I felt surprisingly comfortable.  I walked down to the corrals with a friendly dude and texted my wonderful internet training buddy (and fellow first-timer) Sara to meet up.  It was so fantastic to see her and share my excitement with someone who TOTALLY understood.  We exchanged hugs, neglected to take pictures (whoops), and wished each other luck before heading to our respective corrals.

Ready.....set.....

Ready…..set…..

Before I knew it, our corral was heading forward and then I was stepping over the mat.

Miles 1-3

I AM RUNNING A MARATHON.

There were definitely some happy tears at the start.  I opted to begin with some chill music to ensure that the cumulative effect of taper and race excitement didn’t set me off too fast.  The first mile was a gentle decline which felt wonderful.  I knew that miles 2 and 3 were uphill which would help me establish a cruising pace that would ideally carry me through the first half of the race.  I barely remember anything I saw in these early miles.  All I remember thinking was that everything felt perfect and easy, exactly as it should.  This was the first of many times that I knew I was running exactly the race I trained for.

No idea what mile this was because they pretty much all felt like this.

No idea what mile this was because they pretty much all felt like this.

Miles 3 – 6.5

Downhill + endorphins + marathon energy = BEST MILES OF MY LIFE.

I turned my music off at mile 3 and enjoyed the energy around me and my own positivity.  Heading back downhill, people were flying.  I truly felt incredible and *really* had to pull back my pace here.  I kept reminding myself that slowing down now was an investment in the twenties.  Every time I looked down and saw a low 10, I thought “invest” and slowed back down.  The course flattened out and I hit my first benchmark: 6.2.  Wooo!  I had celebratory music picked out for this moment but I knew I would see my parents who were waiting at mile 6.5 / 11.  Spectators are absolutely amazing and YOUR SPECTATORS are the best.  My stepmom is the most organized woman on earth and true to her adorable form, she laminated my “GO SHAUNA” race sign.  I LOVE HER SO MUCH.  They were on the opposite side of the street but went absolutely apeshit when I ran by!  It was such a fantastic moment.  I could tell the runners around me were delighted by their energy too.

Miles 6.5 – 11

This section was an out and back in an industrial area.  Not the most scenic section of the course but wonderful because I got a fantastic surprise.  I already knew that my fabulous friends Nick and Marissa had named their most recent podcast episode “Marathon” for me but I did not realize that they were going to give me the sweetest intro and ending dedication.  Nick even sang part of a song that I sang for a high school concert.  I straight up laughed out loud like a crazy person.  I was so beyond touched.  At the end of this section, I saw my parents again and got the chance to tell them that I was having the best day of my life.

I LOVE YOU AND RUNNING AND MY LAMINATED SIGN AND MARATHONS AND EVERYTHING EVER!!!!!!!!!

I LOVE YOU AND RUNNING AND MY LAMINATED SIGN AND MARATHONS AND EVERYTHING EVER!!!!!!!!!

Right after blowing kisses to my parents, we split off from the half marathoners.  Several of them wished us luck which I thought was really sweet.

Miles 12 – 17

Bzzzzzzz Mile 12..

Bzzzzzzz Mile 13…

Bzzzzzzz Mile 14…..

This section got a little prettier and the miles just ticked away.  I was actually amazed that I often didn’t know or care what mile I was in.  I had long established a rhythm of drinking water, taking a Bolt Chew every 2 or 3 miles, checking my average pace, and trotting along.  Somewhere around mile 12, I caught up with the 4:40 pace group who had begun in the corral before me (meaning I had a few minutes less than them).  When I settled into their rhythm, I felt like I had found my people and it was a tremendous relief not to have to set my own pace.  Even though I was listening to a combination of podcasts and celebratory halfway point music, I could feel the camaraderie of the group.  Despite a distracting and poorly timed headphone mishap, I stayed with them as we trucked up the notorious hill to the St. Johns bridge.

Happy thumbsing on the bridge.  Don't worry - a post on getting happy race photos is coming.

Happy thumbsing on the bridge. Don’t worry – a post on getting happy race photos is coming.

That hill was really, really worth it.

Once on the bridge, I slowed down to fix my headphone issue.  I dropped a bit behind the 4:40 pace group but I had felt so great throughout the race, I was confident I could catch back up.

Miles 18 – 21

Over the bridge, I began a podcast.  Not the best timing because I was still a bit fatigued from the ascent to the bridge and the lack of musical inspiration lulled me right into the wall.

So, the wall is interesting.  I knew I was fueled and hydrated but I just started to feel really tired.  I wasn’t demoralized by the distance and my thoughts were still quite positive.  Nothing really hurt but I was just TIRED.  I realized quickly that this was the wall and reminded myself that it was temporary and eventually I would scale it and my energy would return.  I even smiled because I was experiencing this runner rite of passage.  And also, it sucked.

My bestie Lauren (WHOSE DAD WON THE MOTHERF*CKING NOBEL PRIZE ON MONDAY. WHAT?!) was stationed somewhere between miles 19 and 20 so looking for her helped manage my waning interest in running.  “Waning interest” would be the understatement of the year but I kept reminding myself that I was running my perfect race.  I had no pain, perfectly even splits, no tummy issues, and a positive mindset.    When I hit mile 21, I put some music on and felt completely recharged!  AHHHH SWEET RELIEF!  I kept looking for Lauren but at this point I figured I had either missed her or she hadn’t been able to come out.  No biggie – I HAD DOWNHILL MILES TO RUN!  WAHOOOO!

Here's me looking exactly the same happy at a completely different point in the race!

Here’s me looking exactly the same happy at a completely different point in the race!

Miles 22-26

Okay, so my quads are still trashed today but it was so worth it.  Those two miles of descent felt f*cking awesome.  I realize some people aren’t that comfortable running downhill but I love it.  When looking at the course, I wondered if it would even feel like a relief at this point in the race.  Um, it totally did times a million.  I caught back up with the 4:40ers and hung out with them until the course leveled out at mile 24.

So, two miles left.  No biggie, right?  What’s twenty minutes when you’ve already been running for more than four hours?

It’s very, very, very, very difficult.

I knew I just had to get to the Broadway bridge to get back.  Just get UP TO THAT BRIDGE (that part was a doozy).  Just get over the bridge.  Just get to mile 25 where Tim and your family are waiting for you.

I had run the entire time.  Even during water bottle refills, I shuffled from volunteer to volunteer.  I had not walked a single step.  At this point it truly took all my mental fortitude not to walk.  I just kept asking myself if it was worth giving up the ultimate baller status of running an entire marathon non-stop.  Every time I decided it wasn’t, I slowed down to a shuffle long enough to feel a bit of relief and then picked the pace back up.  During this mile, the 4:40 (4:36 for me) pace group drifted further ahead until they disappeared completely.

Now, if there is a single thing I could have done differently during the race, it would have been to take a salt pill around mile 17.  I’ve never taken one but I intend to experiment with them in future training.  I was drinking water and fueling well but I started to feel a little bit of tummy instability at mile 24.  This is my tell-tale sign of mild dehydration.  I drank water but my body just wasn’t absorbing it effectively anymore.  Truthfully, I had enough energy to push my pace at this point but my tummy wouldn’t let me and I was unwilling to stop in a portapotty.

I got across the bridge with a major improvement in mood and pace.  Thank you Demi Lovato.  Heart Attack was my JAM on that bridge and I felt pretty amazing.  Right at the mile 25 mark, there was a left turn.  In an attempt to run the tangent correctly, I almost missed Tim who was standing on the corner!  He yelled out for me and when I saw him, he had the most enormous smile on his face.  I felt so proud and just screamed that I loved him and kept moving forward.

I was running the last mile of my first marathon.  I was tired.  I was going to become a marathoner.  I had run exactly the race I trained for.

I saw the 26 mile marker and turned on my special song.  Then I turned left and saw the finish line.

738754-1058-0024s

And then it was done.

4 hours, 40 minutes and 43 seconds of effort done.

Two thumbs enthusiastically up for marathons.  Marathons rule.

Two thumbs enthusiastically up for marathons. Marathons rule.

I collected my space blanket, MEDAL, and immediately downed several cups of water and OJ.  That OJ was seriously the most delicious thing I had ever tasted.  Then I went through to get my finishers shirt (SWEET), commemorative coin, replica medal pendant, and rose.  If you like SWAG, run the Portland Marathon.  For real.

My parents, stepbrother, cousin and his fiancé were easy to find in the reunion area.  It was so special to have them there to share the experience with.  We took a bunch of family pictures in which I got what is probably my favorite picture ever taken:

Peep my laminated sign with clip art.  I love them so much.

Peep my laminated sign with clip art. I love them so much.

So…you know who else it was special to share this experience with?

YOU.

Every tweet, text, emoji, comment, smile, and encouraging word over the last four months got me to this place.  I am so grateful and moved by the unbelievable support of my family, friends, and the phenomenal internet running/triathlon community.  This was a tremendous endeavor for me and you made it delightful every literal step of the way.  Thank you so much.

I ran a marathon.

Best. Day. Ever.

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Hi. I’m in Seattle…

Please tell me you get that altered quotation….

If not, here’s another quote from the same timeless film.

“It’s like people only do things because they get paid. And that’s just really sad…”

(Name it in the comments. Don’t make me beg.)

Aaaaanyway, I’m in Seattle! Basically all of my awesome family lives here and let me tell you – if I could bring my professional network, my fiancé’s tenured job, and Bay Area weather up here, I would move in half a heartbeat.

It’s such an incredible city in which to be active. (Awk syntax alert!!) Yesterday, I did a short run starting at my parent’s place in Queen Anne and down to the waterfront. The running path and bike path infrastructure down there was awesome. I wished I’d had my bike!

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I was wearing an orange jacket so feel free to pretend that I have a personal running photographer (and instagrammer) and that the orange speck is me!

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I came upon a random rose garden and it was gorgeous! Note the Space Needle and overcastness as proof that I’m not in Berkeley. Okay, the Space Needle then…

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So pretty!

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Upon returning, my Dad and I got breakfast at one of my favorite restaurants in Seattle, Tolouse-Petit. It’s so delicious and adorable. I had their pork cheek hash which was featured on Food Network’s Best Thing I Ever Ate.. Had a (two) biscuit(s) too and it was seriously good.

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After the run, Rog (aka Rojelio, aka Roger, aka Roheezy, aka Dad) had a meeting so I watched the first five episodes of Family Tree on HBO. If you aren’t watching this, get on board. It’s delightful. Directed by Christopher Guest of Waiting for Guffman. More need not be said.

As I mentioned in previous posts, my dad had vascular surgery last week. I’m so proud to report that he’s already resumed his walking routine! After amazing sandwiches at Homegrown, we took a four mile walk through the neighborhood. Being active with my dad is quite a shift for both of us and I’m thrilled. I basically need him to live until infinity so the walking is essential.

20130622-082059.jpgDad at Homegrown. Check out his sweet neck scar. #prison

20130622-082241.jpgHang on. Ham and Beechers. With shallot relish, arugula, and sage aioli. In my top 5 life sandwich experiences. Go there, stat.

Continuing the trend of “do something on my feet, eat carbohydrates, repeat…”, we had dinner at my faaaaavorite restaurant in Seattle, Cuoco. Incredible everything. Fresh pastas, rosemary fucking LARDO with your bread. Come on. My stepsister and I had a great time figuring out the ranking order of her, myself and our brother Patrick in various categories including strength, sophistication, beauty, and education. We’re mature. We tied for first in maturity.

On today’s agenda, Flywheel (!) and a Mariners game (against the Oakland Athletics YEEEEEUH) where I will probably eat a SHISHKABERRY!

*Blogging from my phone this weekend. I’ll post links to all the restaurants when I return on Sunday!

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