Month in Review: May Highlights

Note: Thanks to everyone for your suggestions on my marathon training ‘burnout’ on my last post. I decided that this week I’m taking a rest week and hopefully I’ll bounce back more eager than ever next week!

Wow, it’s June already?? May was a pretty exciting month running-wise. Some highlights from this month:

1. Highest mileage month ever!
As I get closer and closer to the SF Marathon in July, my mileage continued to climb. This month I ran a total of 137.78 miles – wow! I realize for some folks out there that isn’t that impressive, but for me it certainly is.

2. Ran >40 miles in one week.
I also hit my highest mileage week ever in May, coming in at 40.18 miles.

3. Gave trail running a try.
I finally tried out trail running – and I’m hooked! My first adventure was out to St. Joseph’s Open Space Preserve, and then two weeks later I was running up even taller hills at Joseph D. Grant County Park.

4. Hit a massive half marathon PR!
I broke my old half marathon PR by nearly 14 minutes at the Capitola Half Marathon! I didn’t have a time goal for this race, I was simply running it to get a sense for pacing the SF Marathon in July. I never thought in a million years that I would break the 2 hour mark, but I did! I finished in 1:58:55.

Here’s to an even better June!

What was your May like? Any PR’s? Races? Milestones?


When Bad Runs Happen to Good People

Last week I had a great week running-wise. I was coming off of a great performance (to me) at the Capitola Half. Last week I ran 40.18 miles, which is my highest mileage week ever. The week culminated with a terrific trail run with beautiful views of the Santa Clara valley.

But this week things haven’t been going so great. For the last three days I’ve just felt “off.” I’ve had zero motivation to exercise at all, running or otherwise.This morning I set out for an 8 mile run. After 3 miles I was hot, nauseous, and tired. Rather than push through, I called it a day.

I’m reaching the point in my marathon training plan where I am becoming physically and mentally drained. I still have 7.5 weeks until the marathon and I really think I need the rest of this week to give myself a mental/physical rest.

Since this is my first marathon, I am in new territory here. I’d love to hear from others! Do you ever get ‘drained’ during your training? How do you  cope?

An Overdue Weekly Recap

Yikes, I fell behind in posting this. Nothing too exciting to report. Pretty great week running-wise. My one complaint is that I’m not doing enough strength training. As my weekly mileage ramps up in my marathon plan, I’m finding it more and more difficult to fit in other activities.

Ended up taking a rest day.

Ran 6 miles in 55:13. The first mile felt awful and I wasn’t sure I’d make it the whole 6, but things eventually fell into place. Afterward I kicked it oldschool with ZWOW #1 and killed my old time by more than two minutes.

Ran 5K with the husband (30:41) then ran by myself until I hit 6 miles (57:11 total)

Long run! This week was 16 miles in 2:31:34. I kept the pace pretty easy and things went great. I felt fine the entire time and I wasn’t even that sore afterward. Awesome.

Cross-training: 60 min. elliptical

A hot 10 miler with the husband. The heat hit him pretty bad, but he finished. It was his longest run to date! 2:08:51.

Cross-training: 40 min. elliptical. I was going to do a strength workout but I just didn’t have the energy. This was a high mileage week for me and my body was tired and sore.

Total Miles Ran: 37

This week I’m keeping mileage low and tapering for the Capitola Half Marathon on Sunday!

Weekly Wrap-up

I was a bit short on mileage this week (I had planned 36 miles, but only ran 31.5), and I didn’t get in as many strength training sessions as I would have liked. But I did my first ever ‘real’ trail run, with an elevation gain of over 1200 feet!

Four mile hill workout (39:07) on the treadmill, followed by strength training.

Cross-training: 60 min. on elliptical followed by ZWOW #5.

5K with husband, than ran by myself until I hit 5 miles (48:01).

Long run – 14 miles (2:16:02).

Cross-training: 60 minutes elliptical.

Trail run! In total we ran 8.5 miles, with an elevation gain of 1,258 feet. Pretty sure this is the most fun I have ever had on a run.

I had planned to run 4.5 miles, but my legs were telling me I needed a REST. It was a pretty intense week for me cardio-wise, and my body just wanted to chill out and recover.

Total Miles: 31.5

How did your week go??

St. Joseph’s Hill: Lessons from my first trail run

I’ll preface this post by saying I’m sorry I ever complained about not having enough hills to train on for the San Francisco Marathon.

I went on my first “real” trail run today – the husband and I checked out St. Joseph’s Hill Open Space Preserve south of Los Gatos. For anyone local, it’s really easy to get there without a car, which is the primary reason we chose to go there. Both the #48 and #49 bus will drop you off really close to the Los Gatos Creek Trail  entrance on Main St. Just follow the trail for a couple of miles and boom, you’re at the hill. Easy peasy. Word of caution: fill up your water bottles at the fountain in Los Gatos – there is NO water at St. Joseph’s.

After following Los Gatos Creek Trail for 2 miles, you will hit Lexington Resevoir. There’s a parking lot with a few port-a-potties…these are the only bathrooms at St. Joseph’s so plan accordingly. From the parking lot you will see Jones Trail…with a very, very steep grade to welcome you to the Open Space Preserve.

“Let’s do this!”

What followed was probably the most enjoyable run I have ever had. The Open Space Preserve has about 4 miles of trails that go up and down all over St. Joseph’s Hill. There is a 1,285 foot elevation gain on the way to the summit. Some of the trails are quite wide and well maintained, others are little goat trails with rocks and sticks poking out all over the place, but that’s the fun of trail running!

Sure it doesn’t look steep here, but the picture is deceiving!

Here are some take-away lessons I learned during my first trail run yesterday:

1. Stop and appreciate the scenery.

I’m pretty Garmin-obsessed. At first I was constantly looking at my GPS, monitoring my pace, time, etc. But pretty early on I started looking around and noticed beautiful scenes like the one below. All concerns about maintaining a steady pace fell by the wayside. Sure, when running on a boring paved street it makes sense to be looking at all of my Garmin data. But up here on a gorgeous hill? You better believe I’m going to stop and enjoy the sights.

Great view of Silicon Valley

We even took a little ‘lunch’ break at top for refueling and to appreciate the view:

2. Bring more water/liquid than you think you will need.

Just to reiterate, there is NO water at the Open Space Preserve. On a hot sunny day like yesterday, you will absolutely go through a ton of water running up and down the trails. My husband has a spiffy new CamelBak but I just had my FuelBelt. I have the four-bottle FuelBelt which means I only had 32 oz of water with me. Not enough. On long runs in the city I just plan my route around a water fountain so I can refill. Not so easy on the trails. I think it might be time to start looking for CamelBak sales. Added bonus of the CamelBak: pouches and pockets to put snacks and things in! My little FuelBelt pouch was packed to the brim and all  had was a ClifBar and my tiny little camera.

FuelBelt was NOT enough liquid when there are no water fountains to be found

3. Bring a map!

The Open Space Preserve isn’t that big, but there are a lot of loopy trails and the signage isn’tthatgreat. We weren’t sure if we would get cell reception out there, so we took a screen capture of the trails from Google Maps and put it right on a phone so we could look at it even if we didn’t have reception. Of course, this also means that you should be able to read a map. More than once we had an “oops” moment where we got turned around and couldn’t find where we were on the map.

4. Chipotle is an awesome way to re-fuel.

I don’t think this needs further explanation.

Long Run Recap

My low mileage last week seemed to have worked wonders on my tired legs. Today’s 14 miler felt great!

First up, I started the morning with a bowl of oatmeal with flax seeds and coffee. I hung out for an hour or so checking email and reading blogs, then it was time to gather up my stuff and hit the trail.

Lately I’ve been digging the Los Gatos Creek Trail for my long runs. Even though you are still in the middle of a heavily populated area, parts of the trail make you feel like you are in the middle of nowhere.

Now that my long runs are getting longer, I’m playing around with what works for fueling and what doesn’t. Today I had a gel (ClifShot) at 50:00 and then another one at 1:40:00 and just drank water. Seemed to work alright. I’m lucky in that my stomach isn’t very sensitive and isn’t picky (so far) about gels vs. solid food vs. liquid.

My total time for the 14 miles was 2:16:20. I was expecting closer to 2:20:00 so that was a pleasant surprise.

I averaged a 9:45/mile pace and I’m pretty pleased with my splits:

How I found the energy for those last two miles I’m not sure…an 8:48/mile pace for mile 14?? Didn’t see that one coming!

As soon as I walked into my apartment the first thing I did was make a recovery smoothie. These days I’ve been saving leftover coffee in jars in the fridge to make a cold coffee + chocolate protein  + banana smoothie – delicious!

I’ve been trying to get up and move every 60 minutes or so to keep soreness at bay. I’m curious – what are your tricks for managing stiffness/soreness the day of a long run?

April Totals

Wow, where did April go??

April was a pretty good month running-wise. I continued to increase my mileage as I head toward the San Francisco Marathon in July.

My total mileage in April was 126, a 13% increase from March. If you look at my weekly mileage, you can see that I tend to dial it back every second week and that I’m increasing things slooooowly. 

In total, I went for 20 runs this month.

As you can tell by the charts above, I’m a fan of playing around with my running data in Excel. I also use, but I like to play with data a lot so I export it to Excel. How do you keep track of your running data?

Weekly Wrap-Up

This week went pretty well! It was a lower mileage week to give my legs a chance to recover…they were starting to feel pretty slow and sluggish.

3.4 mile hill workout on the treadmill (35:00), followed by strength training.

Cross-training day: 40 minutes on the elliptical followed by ZWOW #14 (yikes that one is tough!). I messed up my timer and I don’t have a score/time for the ZWOW, boo.

Ran 5K with the husband (30:16) and then ran by myself until I hit 5 miles (48:44). Husband was bummed he didn’t hit below 30 minutes for his 5K…silly guy, the last time he ran 5K (one week prior) it was 33:XX, so he shaved off more than 3 minutes in one week. I told him that’s really something to be proud of.

This week is a lower mileage recovery week for me so my long run was ‘only’ 10 miles. My Garmin was back to its old tricks and I didn’t even bother to take it with me. I knew roughly where my turnaround point was and just ran without a time. The obsessive Type A side of me was starting to freak out about the lack of precision, but I told myself to just go with it.

Took a rest day. I kind of wish I had gotten some light cardio in. I think from now on I’m not going to take complete rest days unless I really need them. I always feel much better if I get an easy workout in.

Slow 9 miles with the husband (1:51:06). I’m taking advantage of these slow runs to really concentrate on my form. I’m definitely seeing some improvements.

A quick 2 miles on the treadmill (17:21) followed by ZWOW #15.

Total Miles: 29.46

How was your week?

Capitola Half Marathon Here I Come!

I wasn’t planning on racing much this year, save for my very first full marathon, the San Francisco Marathon, in July. Imagine my surprise when I woke up this morning to find out I had won an entry into the Capitola Half Marathon in May, courtesy of PhD Strides!

Santa Cruz is such a beautiful place. Even though I live 40 minutes away, I rarely find myself traveling there. I’m definitely glad to have this reason to head down. I think the husband and I are going to snag a hotel room and make a weekend out of it.


This half fits nicely into my marathon training schedule and I’m eager to see what my time will be. The last half I ran was in 2010, where I ran a 2:12:XX. I’m going into this race without a set time goal in mind…instead I’m focusing on racing for the first time in almost two years and seeing how I perform so I can more accurately project a pace for my full in July.

Thanks again, Elise!

Long Run Recap

Wow…my run today was one of those challenging runs where you think to yourself, “why the heck do I do this to myself?”

I knew it wasn’t going to go well when I woke up. I felt tired and the weather was dreary. I was just in an all-around bad mood. ‘No matter,’ I told myself as I proceeded to drink my coffee and eat my banana.

As I set out I felt really slow and stiff. I told myself that this always happens for the first mile and that it would sort itself out. The problem is that the feeling never really went away.

I ran 13.1 miles in 2:12:08, averaging a 10:06/mile pace. I slowed down quite a bit by the end as I was having some GI issues that were giving me discomfort.

It’s not that I started out too fast…for comparison, I ran 12 miles last week at a 9:38/mile pace, and that felt much easier than my run today. It was just one of those days I suppose.

Fueling felt right. I had a banana beforehand, lots of water, and a gel at the half way point. Nothing different from my usual routine.

It wasn’t a total bust. There were a lot of geese and ducks out and about. Some of the larger geese weren’t too keen on getting off of the running trail, as you can see.

The take-away lessons from today:

1. Don’t eat spicy curry for dinner the night before a long run. I knew this one already. But what was I to do…the curry was there, and it was so good. The second helping probably wasn’t a good idea. *burp*

2. Running on gravel is more difficult than running on asphalt. My usual long run trail is all asphalt. I decided to be different and run on a gravel trail today. I feel like I was a bit slower, as the gravel was pretty loose in places. This probably also contributed to my slower time.

3. Not every run can be great. Okay so maybe it was ‘one of those days.’ I still went out there, pushed myself, and finished the run. So that has to count for something.

Have you had a bad run experience lately?