7.14.2014

Boston Marathon 2014

I am procrastinating studying, and so am finally attempting to write a quick recap of Boston. For most it is a little too late, but for me it is good to get it down while I still have memories about it.

My training was going well up until the end of March. One day I was running on the trails, doing a 20 mile run, and my Achilles tendon on the left side started to ache. I figured it would go away, but as I kept running, it kept getting worse. Of course, I was about 10 miles into my run and practically as far from my house (and/or a road) as I could have been. So I walked the last 10 miles home. For the next three weeks up until Boston, I ran about 20 miles total. Let me tell you, this is not a lead up to a big race. I could not decide whether it would be better to rest and hope that it was better by the time I had to race, or to "work through the pain". However, I actually listened to my own advice (or the advice that I would have given others) and stayed of it for the most part.

Race day came and luckily it was not too hot. It started off cool, but by race time it was probably about 50, which was perfect. I wore an old button up shirt with a cardigan and tights as my throw away outfit and was laughing at all of the other strange outfits in the athlete's village. For those of you not familiar with the marathon, you first get on the bus around 6 and get bussed to Hopkinton where you wait until it is time for your wave. My wave started at 10:20 so I had plenty of time to stand around in the portapotty line and people watch.

Portapotty people watching

The race started and, as always, the crowd participation was fantastic. I don't even wear headphones, as there really is no need. The sound of other runners' feet, the screams of the crowd, the music and laughter...all of this was my "music" for the day. Of course, with all of the positive vibes and sounds of running feet, I started out too fast. In addition to starting out too fast, I realized that I had not trained for speed very well. In addition to that, around mile 7 or so, my Achilles started to ache slightly.

Beer? Cigarettes? Donuts?

As you may or may not know, Boston is a mostly downhill course. For the first 10 miles, it is a slight downhill, so it's easy to prance along, feeling good. However, around 10 it starts to level out and then your legs (mostly hip flexors and quads) start to scream at you for starting out too fast. That is what happened to me. Miles 1 - 6 were all around 7:50 min/mile. Things were looking up! The Achilles was not bothering me; it was a beautiful day!

Miles 7 - 10 were around 8:00/mile. Things were starting to ache; the fact that I had not trained was starting to show; I was starting to get tired and I still had 16 miles left.

Miles 11 - 18 were around 8:30/mile. Things were falling apart. I wanted to stop. My quads were burning and my Achilles was aching and I wanted my Mommy.

Miles 19 - 26 were torture. I went from 9:10 to 9:15 to 9:30...and completed my last couple of miles at around a 9:40. It was not fun. I was so happy to round the corner on Boylston and see the finish line in the distance. The silver lining is that I carried my camera and I got some pretty good photos of myself crossing the finish line, even though I heard someone shout at me as I was finishing, "put the camera down and finish!"

I'm trying to finish Mr.!

I crossed the line at 3:47:40, or an 8:42 pace. This is 24 minutes slower than my time last year, almost a minute slower per mile. It was not a great feeling.

The silver lining? I ran into a friend of mine from Oakland in the finish shoot. Also, afterward I met up with my parents in the Boston Common and we went and had a celebratory Sam Adams 26.2 (or two), which was priceless.

The verdict? I think I am done with Boston. There are other fish to fry. However, I was glad to come back and show those bullies that we are not afraid of them. We will keep doing what we love and not let fear hold us back. Take that, bullies!

Have you ever run a race or done something just on principle? What would be your advice if someone who was injured wanted to keep running through the pain?

7.09.2014

Currently: July

I took my series 7 exam on Monday and it was not the most fun thing I have ever done. You know how, no matter how much you are prepared, you feel inadequate when the time comes to perform sometimes? Well, the exam was a two part exam and I took the first half and felt pretty good. I did not feel good about the second half and after I finished, you have to push a button that says, "if you push this, you cannot go back. Do you want to continue?" and I really did NOT want to continue. But I pushed it and 15 seconds later (which felt like hours, my heart was beating SO hard), it gave me my score. I passed! Phew. One down; one to go. 

Current Book - The End of Your Life Book Club by Will Schwalbe. This book got good reviews from all my friends on Goodreads. I have to admit, maybe it's because I am studying at the same time, but I am finding it only so-so. It's about books, so of course that's a plus, but it's just not riveting. 

Current Running Path - The other day I took a run out to the Bay Bridge trail, where they built us a new bridge and are taking down the old one. It was pretty cool to see, and is kind of an end of an era. This bridge was damaged in the 1989 earthquake and it's been a long road replacing it, but it's finally done. Now they just have to get rid of the old one.



Current Drink - Sparkling water. It's my new treat to myself. I even got some mint the other day and have been drinking it with mint and lemon. It's so refreshing!

Current Excitement - See above regarding passing the Series 7. Phew! 

Current fashion trend - These are everywhere. In all different forms.


source

Current Favorite Blog/Website - I have to admit, I have not really been reading blogs/websites lately. The only one I have really visited lately has been the Oakland Library website, and maybe Goodreads.  

Current Garden Item - So far we have tomatoes, cucumbers, zucchini, radishes and peppers! Summer is here!




Current Love - Running with people. I still mostly run by myself, but have been doing maybe one run a week or every two weeks with friends, and it really makes the time of a long run go by faster!

Current Food - See above regarding garden items. I made the best salad yesterday with radish, cucumber, tomato, toasted pecans, feta, lemon and mint. It was so good and fresh!

Current Indulgence - Trail mix. I have been going to town on it. It's my study snack. Unfortunately, I find it hard to stop eating it! 

Currently Pondering - How long my current computer is going to last. Right now it only has a little bit of space left, and I've gotten the black (not blue) screen a couple of times. To be fair, it's about 5 years old, but I am really hoping it hangs on for a little while longer! Also, I am not sure if I want another laptop, or a tablet. I want it to be more portable, but I really like the big keyboard and operating system on my laptop!  

Current Mood - Great!  

Current New Find - I am probably way behind the times here, but I found these great noodles that are made from yam and I love them!! I don't eat a lot of pasta, but these are a good substitute when you are feeling like a pasta-like dish! I really like them sauteed up with mushrooms, a bit of ginger, some miso and any other veggie that I have in the fridge.  

Current Peeve - People who borrow something and don't put it back. Use what you want, but replace it! 

Current Song - This song has come up on my Pandora a few times recently and I find it very haunting.

 

Current Triumph - Getting through studying. It's been a lot of years since I have had to do that.  

Current TV Show - Greys Anatomy reruns. They are my "reward" for a long study session.

Current Wish-List - New running shoes.  

Currently Delaying - Starting study for the next exam. I don't want to. I want to take a break. However, the train is still moving, so I cannot get off now!

What is your current indulgence? Have you ever tried yam (or tofu) noodles? Have you jumped on the leopard pants band wagon?

7.03.2014

Looking Back: June

June started with my Dad's birthday and ended with Western States, and the in between was like a suitcase that you pack so full that you have to sit on it to make it all fit. I wish that I was current with this space, because there have been so many things that I want to report on (and remember). However, it's just not meant to be right now, so the stories will have to wait. Unfortunately, if we don't get things right down on paper, we tend to forget the small details, which are often the ones that make the event/day/story special.

North Matthieu Lake, OR

Study: (50 - 60 hours) Once again, studying ruled the roost this month, which is not surprising, as my exam is scheduled for July 7th. I am not that great at studying, however, after talking to some of the other new people in the office who are also studying, I feel pretty good about my progress. I got through all of the material and then took an overall practice test, which allowed me to go back and focus on some of the areas where I need more work. Since then, I have taken a few more practice finals and have been passing them. So...fingers crossed that I do as well on the exam as I have been doing on the practice exams. Having said that, I will be SO GLAD to not have to get up early every day to study and to come home every night and study.

Reading: (2 books) I actually read this month! Once I started to take more practice exams, I found that I really needed a break from the computer, so I would fit in a half an hour of reading here and there. Also, I did take one flight and had a few days of rest, so I crammed in a bit of reading here and there. I read The Sense of an Ending, which was only so-so, and A Game of Thrones (A Song of Ice and Fire, #1) which was actually quite entertaining. Actually, it was just what I needed for study break material, which was something not too deep or meaningful.

Tahoe Rim Trail, NV

Running: (206 miles) Okay, so this month was not ALL about study. What can I say; running is my release. I am also training for the Tahoe Rim Trail 50 mile run, which is on July 19th. The race is done at an elevation of 6500 - 9000 ft, so I went up to the area one weekend and did two long runs in order to get some kind of preparation for the altitude. Also, I spent some time in Oregon and I love running and exploring the trails up in the Cascades. However, since they are also pretty high up (6000 ft), I ran into snow a few times and could not get past it. Finally, I went up to Auburn and watched a bunch of my friends run the Western States Endurance Run (more on this later) and of course ran around a bit that weekend as well.

Rob Krar, #1 overall at WSER

Travel: Although I have not gone out of the country, this year has been a great one for local travels. In June, I went to South Lake Tahoe, Auburn and central Oregon. Each trip was a great time with friends and I got in a lot of hiking, walking, running and outdoors activities, which to me is the perfect vacation! The trip to Oregon was especially fun because it was with my good friend and her two girls, one of them who is 4, the other is 2 months old. It was great to spend time with them all and it always amazes me how fast they are growing!


Metoulious River, OR

Other than that, I have been tending the garden, running a bit with the dog (Emi -- her mileage is probably about 12 for the month of June) and working!

How was your June? What outdoor activities have you been doing? When was the last time you had to study for something?

**Also, last but not least, I want to wish a very Happy Birthday to my mom and her twin sister!**

6.09.2014

Looking Back: May

May, my favorite month, came and left like a whirlwind. It started and ended with a run in the Marin Headlands just the way I like a month to start and end! I have to admit, I was a little worried, as April was not a prime running month for me. April consisted of 45 miles, including the 26.2 of the Boston Marathon. Needless to say, I was NOT ready for the race schedule I had lined up for May. Also, with the new job and the studying, my schedule in general was a bit off. May was a little weird  really.

Study:  Approximately 60 - 80 hours of May were spent studying. I have to be honest; I was never a big fan of studying. In High School, I never really had to study and in college I definitely did not study enough. This time though, I am trying to make up for it. However, it is not easy. But my job is on the line, so I am trying to buckle down.

Reading: Ha! Can we say....zilch, zip, nil, nul, zero? I read about a quarter of the book Quiet (which is good so far), I read half of an America's Test Kitchen magazine and I read a few news articles on Flipboard. Other than that, it's been all business.

Running: 181 miles, including one 100k race (62 miles) and one 50 mile race, bringing non race miles to a grand total of  69. A lot better than April, that's for sure! However, most of them have not been quality miles. However, the majority of them have been with friends, which is not a normal occurrence for me, so that is a nice change!

Final stretch of Miwok 100k: Stinson Beach at Sunset

Travel: Add two race weekends to a holiday weekend and May is just about done! But wait, the fourth and final weekend of May was my cousin's graduation party/Mother's Day/my birthday, which was spent in Sacramento with family and friends, and my mother! Memorial Day weekend was spent at Off The Grid with my friend and her family, including new baby, eating fun food truck foods like chicken and waffle bites, falafel, and creme brulee. The next day I spent at the beach near Bodega Bay with broski and the in-laws, running with the dogs, eating clam chowder and enjoying the beautiful sunshine.

Birthday dinner with the girls

Doran beach run with broski's dog.

Other that that, I rode about 20 miles on the ol' bike, went to a Giants game, weeded and planted a garden, and even took the dog for a walk (everyone needs fresh air sometimes)!

What did you do for Memorial Day?  Has the food truck craze made it to your area? What is your favorite time of year/month?

6.02.2014

A Day In The Life

It annoys me when people who have not posted in a while start of a post by saying, "I know I haven't posted in a while, but..." or "it's been so long since my last post". It should be obvious if people are paying attention, but most likely, not as many people noticed as you hoped/thought. So I am not going to do that.

Having said that, I feel like every time I think about writing a post, the enormity of what has happened since my last post makes me hesitant. What do I even talk about? A lot has happened. Do I recap it? Do I just skip it and jump to the present? Where do I even start? I feel like in the past few months, a lot of other things have taken over my life, and now posting does not seem as important. Don't get me wrong; I WANT to post. I want to have things to post about. To be honest though, although I am busy, I am not very interesting lately, and my brain is pretty much useless. Therefore, that is why I am going to do a quick "day in the life" post, so years later when I look back, I can remember what a busy/trying/exciting/crazy time this was.

4:21 am: The alarm goes off. Sometimes I hit snooze and am reminded again in 5 minutes how tired I am and how much I do not want to get out of bed.  Usually I just get up. Why prolong the inevitable?

4:22 am - 5:10 am: Shower, eat a bowl of cereal, down a cup of coffee, and put on a pair of black pants and some sort of top. Study for about 15 - 25 minutes. **FYI, I got a new job which requires me to be licensed and there is a lot of studying involved. More on that in a bit.

5:11 am - 5:59 am: Walk to the bus, commute, study some more, walk from the bus stop to work.

6:00 am - 3 (or 4) pm: Work. I started this new job about 5 weeks ago and it has been a lot of learning new things, new terms, new processes and procedures, new software and new rules. I am also the "new guy" again, the one who people wonder about when I am roaming the halls. A typical work day involves a lot of spreadsheets and computer work, some phones, some handwriting orders (I know; who does that anymore) and some operations/organization items.

4:00 pm - 5:30 pm: Go to the gym, work out for about an hour, walk to the bus. I injured myself (Achilles) a couple of months ago, so have been doing more elliptical, bike and weights instead of running as much. **However, I do have three races to recap, including Boston, a 100k race and a 50 mile race that kicked my butt in a big way.

5:30 pm - 6:15 pm: Commute, more studying, walk home.

6:15 pm - 7:30 pm: Shower, water the garden (the tomatoes are looking great!), make/eat dinner.

7:30 pm - 8:30 (or 9) pm: Study. Try not to fall asleep.

9 pm: Bedtime. Hopefully.


You can't really get much more boring than that, can you? In fact, as I read over this post, I am falling asleep... So, yeah. The days are pretty packed right now, and not really with very fun stuff. I average about 2 hours of studying a day plus about 6 - 12 hours on the weekends. My exam is on July 7th and then if when I pass the first one, I have to take another one, which is as of yet unscheduled. Basically my summer is shot.

Hopefully soon I will post a couple of race recaps, as well as some opinions on micromanaging, tips on how to achieve having a successful garden and a dirt loving dog at the same time and some funny stories about my roommate's dating life. Until then, happy June!

What have you been up to in the last month? What is your average day like? Do you remember what it was like to be the "new guy"?

4.04.2014

In Like a Lion?

Yup, it's my third post this week! Already I nearly have more posts in April than I did in March! 

March is supposed to go in like a lion and out like a lamb. As you know, I live in a pretty temperate area, so we don't get a lot of temperature fluctuations. However, we had some rain (yay), which was very much needed, and a little bit of snow in the mountains toward the end of the month. So I am not sure if the lion/lamb theory is true.

The stats of March are thus:

Reading: March was a month of Non-Fiction and half read books. I got a bunch (aka too many) of books from the digital library and they expired before I could finish them. When that happens, you have to put them on hold again, and so I will finish them later, but currently, I am half into several books. I did finish two books: Don't Know Much About History (audiobook) and Economics for the Rest of Us: Debunking the Science that Makes Life Dismal. As you can see, they are not the most "exciting" books ever, and were hard to get through at times. I am also trying to read the news every day, which is taking away from book reading time. The number of books I "half-read" was 3.

Running: I ran one race, Way Too Cool 50k, at the beginning of the month. I am currently training for the Boston Marathon on April 21st and the Miwok 100k on May 3rd. I have to admit, I don't think I am doing it right. I feel like I have the legs to run the 100k, but not the speed for Boston. I am not really sure how to train for them both at the same time. Knowing this, I don't expect much at Boston, but I am okay with that. Total miles run in March: 208. An interesting stat: last year in March, I ran 215 miles at an average pace of 8:55. This year, my average pace is 13:06. What a difference!

Travel: I went to Las Vegas, the Grand Canyon, and beautiful Bakersfield by the sea this month! I also had a trip to Cool and another one to Dublin (CA, not Ireland) for brunch and a walk with a very pregnant friend. I had a great time with Amber, on her short but sweet layover in San Francisco. I forced her to eat a burrito (naturally) and we had a great time catching up. I even tried to take her to the transvestite Mexican bar in my favorite neighborhood, the Mission, but it was closed down! Darn it!

Work: One of my coworkers just quit, so we are handling his cases as well as our own, which I am learning is pretty much par for the course. Every time I start to feel like I am catching up on things, they throw something else at us. We also had our performance reviews. Mine was really good; I am very happy with it, however I was not super impressed with my salary increase. I am not complaining too much, because at least I got an increase, however, I expected it to be higher.

How was your March; was it a lamb or a lion? Do you get an annual increase/performance review at work? What is your favorite kind of book to read?

4.01.2014

Way Too Cool 50k

I was picked up from my house at 3:30 am. Yes, that is A.M. This is what happens when you catch a ride with other people; you have no control over the timelines. Ha! The reason for this was that we were driving to Cool, CA to run the Way Too Cool 50k. To get into this race, you have to put your name in a lottery. When I received the notice that I got in, I was so excited, and I went to the entrants list to find out who else had gotten in that I know. There were 1200 entrants on the list! This is not normal for a trail race. Usually it is anywhere from 200 - 600 people. I have to admit, I had to groan at this a bit, because this is a lot of (too many) people. However, I was excited to run in a place where I had only run a couple of times before. Plus, part of this course is on the Western States course, which is kind of fun.

Cool is in the Sierra Nevada foothills about 20 miles from Sacramento, near the American river, in a gold mining area. It was a stagecoach stop during the gold rush.  It's a really pretty area and there are tons of trails to hike, and swimming and fishing in the river to be had.


We arrived in Cool before 6 am. We got a great parking spot, thanks to the early departure, and went to pick up our bibs etc. I was there with two other people, one who was running and another who had not signed up, but was going to wear the bib (without chip) of a friend and run with the other friend for a while. It was pretty cold so we stayed in the car to keep warm until the start. Once the sun came out, we got ready to go. This race has so many people that there is a wave start. I was in wave one, which started at 8 am.


The race started and we were all running in a pack. There were so many people; we could not really run any faster or slower; we just had to scoot along with everyone else. I stopped for a pit stop and then caught back up to my friends. The first mile was on a paved road and then it turned into a single track. The single track was brutal, as there really was no room to pass. I was going at about a 10 minute mile, which was slower than I wanted to go, especially since it was fairly flat.


Around mile 3, we went through our first water crossing for the day. It would not be the last. It had rained the week before and the creeks were running full, and the trail was very, very muddy. Everyone was slipping and sliding around and trying to avoid the really big, slippery sections, but it was difficult. The single track loop lasted for about 8 miles, then we looped back around to the start.

The next loop started out kind of flat, then there was a downhill section leading down to the river, where we ran along the river for a while. My legs were getting tired, as by this time, I had been running for a while. This course was so far the flattest trail race I had ever run. Usually there are some ups and some downs, which give you a chance to regroup a bit and regain your strength, but this was flat our running for a really long time. Until about mile 15, I was running about an 8:30 pace.


At mile 15, we started up a hill and my pace slowed to about 10 minutes, then as the hill got steeper, it became 13 minutes, then 16 minutes. Around mile 15, I also started to have to use the restroom, but I thought that at the next aid station there would be a portapotty. There wasn't, so I waited until the next one. Still nothing. By mile 26 or so, I was bursting. I would have just pulled over and gone in the bushes, but there was poison oak everywhere! Around mile 20, the hill stopped and the course flattened out a bit. It was rolling up and down a little, but was still pretty runnable the whole time. My legs were pretty tired by this point and I started to slow to about a 12 minute pace. The only reason I was even keeping it that fast was because I really had to use the bathroom!



I crossed the finish at 5:12 and ran straight to the portapotties, do not pass go, do not collect $200! Afterward, I went back to the race expo, where there was recovery drink, pizza, and the famous frog cupcake! The day had turned out really nice and it was really great to just sit in the sun and eat pizza. I hung out for a while and chatted with some of the other racers.


The verdict? I don't think I would do this race again. The sheer number of people is a turn off. It feels commercial. I didn't really like the big expo full of people trying to sell things after the race. However, the shirt is great and the food afterward was pretty good. The location is good and if you are brave, you can even go for a dip in the river afterward. Also, I feel that it would be a great race for your first 50k. Its well organized and there is not too much elevation gain and it's almost like a road race feel in a trail-like setting.

Also, unless you are super fast, it is really hard to place in this race! I was number 11 in my age group, 203/1026 overall, and 41/422 in my gender. The number one guy finished in 3:16; the number one girl finished in 3:53.

Have you ever been to gold rush country? Do you like it when a race has a big expo? What is your favorite treat after a workout?