Monday, August 14, 2017

15 Weeks to JFK: A California RUNcation

15 weeks to go, and my first accountability update takes us to the west coast, the best coast! The objectives here were to visit family, get my running going again, eat a TON OF DELICIOUS FOOD, and pack up Miss Apple Green road bike (AKA my first love!).

My self-coached JFK training plan starts out vague and eventually I will be hammering the big miles on my 3-day weekends (I work 4x10hr days Monday through Thursday). I would first like to get back to running 5 days a week.

This week was neat because I go to run all over the state of CA to get my 5 runs in!

Run #1: Mori Point in Pacifica, CA. 6.0 miles. P-Town is my hometown, named after the Pacific Ocean, obviously. Although I've been running since my middle school track days, I didn't discover the awesomeness of running by the beach and all the trails in this area until after I got home from college.

You can park by the Pacifica Pier, and run all the way down to Linda Mar Beach (claim to fame: home of the legendary beach-based Taco Bell location). For real delicious food though, you will pass by Nick's Restaurant at Rockaway Beach (between the Pacifica Pier and Linda Mar), which has amazing crab sandwiches!

Run #2: Garin Regional Park in Hayward, CA. 5.4 miles. My brother, sister-in-law and their adorable munchkin sprouts live in Hayward now, and just 4 miles from a really epic cross country course. 

Back in high school, there was a cross country invitational that was hosted at Garin Park.

I remember the ginormous hills and also huge cow pies we had to avoid. Apparently it's already been two decades since I ran here as a wee little high schooler! The climbs were high and harder than I remembered. πŸ˜‰

I reminisced about growing up as a high school runner in the very hilly Bay Area, which helped shape my resilience as a person and athlete later in life. On some of the really steep climbs, I would yell at myself "RESILIENCE!"

Run #3: Koreatown to the "Buddah" Mural, Los Angeles, CA. 5.0 miles. My sister has lived in LA since she graduated high school and went to UCLA. She now has her own place in Koreatown (no we are not Korean) so I made sure to tour her neighborhood. (We definitely toured a bunch of places to eat in her neighborhood all week too! 😝🐷) She is the one responsible for getting me into running and athletic endeavors in the first place, as I wanted to be just like my big sister. 😊

This general vicinity is known for some awesome street art, and I remember passing this Buddha mural on my way up to Griffith Observatory and the Hollywood sign when I visited last summer. This time I slowed down enough to appreciate the two murals located at a 76 gas station/car wash (shoutout to the 76ers πŸ‘trustπŸ‘theπŸ‘processπŸ˜‰). 

I've been trying to find my zen, as the aftermath of last month's bike vs. car accident has left me with dark, twisty feelings. The Buddah Murals happen to be located at the intersection of Western Ave. and Marathon Street. Nice!

Run #4: "The Strand" on Manhattan Beach to the Bluffs at Palos Verdes Estates. 15.1 miles. There's no trip to California complete without a long run by the beach! By then, my legs were feeling some soreness from the epic hills at Garin Park two days before and the 16+ accumulated miles for the week. Which made it perfect JFK training, because after the first 15 miles on the fairly technical Appalachian Trail section, you get to pound out 26.3 miles on the very flat and boring canal towpath.

I ran from the Manhattan Beach Pier on "The Strand", which has a dedicated bike path and pedestrian path sandwiched between all these ridiculously gorgeous bajillion dollar properties (squished up next to each other) and the beach. I ran south through Hermosa Beach and Redondo Beach, staying easily entertained by beautiful beachfront properties on the left, and the amazing ocean on the right. And of course, the many beach volleyball players, surfers, and lifeguards amongst other beachgoers.

My turnaround point took me climbing up the Bluffs of Palos Verdes Estates, hometown to the Smashfest Queen herself (who was kind enough to give me some tips on where to run in PVE). 

Run #5: The La Brea Tar Pits, Los Angeles, CA. 7.0 miles. My last day took me from K-Town along Wilshire Blvd. to the La Brea Tar Pits.

Made famous by the movie My Girl 2 (sarcasm! 😜), you can actually see the gross tar bubbles popping up out of the tar pits. They have found wooly mammoths and 73 saber-toothed tigers here!

Total mileage for the week: 38.7 miles. 5 days of running, check! ✅✅✅✅✅ The most I've run in a great while. I'll throw in some easy recovery days (Sunday was travel day) and this is an auspicious start to my JFK training.

Wednesday, August 9, 2017

Post-mid-year Check-in

Let's be real here.
The "Two Things for 2017" were really about 1) getting ready for JFK 50 again, and 2) making our house a home. We'll talk about Thing #1 for now. Also, this was originally titled "mid-year check-in" but August 9th is obviously past the middle of the year! 

I ended up being overly specific (trying to put the S in SMART goals), and at the last minute (pretty much while I was writing that last blog post) changed Thing #1 to a goal of running 2,500 miles in the year, figuring I would be forced to boost my training miles and have many amazing ultra races, culminating in an awesome JFK 50. My original Thing #1 was actually to make JFK 50 my focus race for the year, but apparently I was too scared of putting all the proverbial eggs into the JFK 50 basket!

This mileage goal backfired, as I should know by now that in my post-professional days, I have trouble focusing on just one athletic discipline year-round. I thought I could train and race for ultras from January to November (HAHAHA!) but realized in the first 3 months of 2017 that I'm better off doing different things throughout the year.

I had a miserable time at the PHUNT 50k in January (despite finishing as 2nd OA female; I'm only smiling at the finish because I was DONE!) and pulled out halfway through the HAT 50k in March from a nagging Achilles injury (sustained from the usual winter inconsistencies and stupidity--going from zero training to 50k races).

I took care of the Achilles in time to declare myself a "10-mile specialist!" and had a fun time at my first Broad Street 10-miler.

I even plotted doing a 10-mile or 15k race once a month...til I got distracted again.

Yep, I got back into some sprint triathlon training in order to get ready to coach my 3rd year of Team RWB's regional triathlon camp in June. Even though I swore I wouldn't do another triathlon again (HAHAHA!), even throwing away the UD Outdoor Pool application when it came in the mail in March, of course I got back into it. I ended up renewing the summer pool membership--the best part is that it is next door to the UDairy Creamery, the ice cream shop and on-campus farm where students raise the cows and make their own ice cream.

Training for sprint triathlons is awesome, because swimming for 15 to 20 minutes can be considered a whole workout and not just a warm-up! πŸ˜‰ Followed by a post-swim ice cream, what could be better?

I souped up my TT bike, Marty McFly, with some slick new accessories and got all pumped up for RWB tri camp. This was the 3rd year of the camp, and the first time we successfully participated in a full-on triathlon on the last day of camp. The 1st year was more like a training weekend, and the 2nd year the swim was cancelled. This year we got to do the Robious Landing Triathlon, a local sprint triathlon, and there's something magnificent about getting a brand new tri newbie through their very first triathlon.

That first time crossing the finish line of something you weren't sure you could even do (or even just surviving the swim, because a lot of us did not grow up swimming!) that's magical!

I was very proud of the husband for participating in tri camp and signing up for the tri. Kevin had a few mishaps that weekend, including a panic attack during the practice swim and then breaking his crank during the training ride (who does that?!)... but still decided to ruck the 5k of the triathlon.

We are both signed up for the Dewey Beach sprint triathlon in September, which will be his first triathlon now. The best part is that it will be during our wedding anniversary month in the little beach town we got married in!

I also realized that doing the Robious Tri made it my 18th season of triathlon. WHAT?! I did my first one at age 18...which means I've been doing triathlons for half my life. Right? WHOA. So of course on the heels of tri camp euphoria, I wanted to sign up for ALL THE SPRINT TRIATHLONS! (Seriously, what is wrong with me?) I renewed my USA Triathlon membership and looked into doing a couple sprint tris a month in July, August, and September. Because the Wongstar doesn't do anything half-assed. 

This brings us to the morning of July 3rd, last month. On the 6th anniversary of getting hit by a car during the bike segment of Ironman Korea  I got hit by a car during my morning bike ride. I was proceeding through a green light when an oncoming car turned left into me. πŸ˜‘πŸ˜–πŸ˜« First off, I am mostly okay. It could've been much worse. I was grateful the driver stopped. Her car insurance is paying for my weekly massages and chiropractic treatments. They are not, however, paying for Marty McFly's cracked frame or my smushed helmet. 😑

I'm taking time off from riding my bikes on the road (other than the very safe Bike & Brunch rides on the car-free Michael Castle Trail with our RWB friends) but still plan to do the Quantico sprint triathlon and Dewey Beach sprint triathlon, both which I already registered for.

I do need to get back into the pool, which I'm told will be good for my neck (which is just a little stiff and sore a month later). I'm currently hitting the reset button, visiting family in California and on a rescue mission to take back my trusty Apple Green road bike from my teenage triathlon days.

All this bringing me back full circle to JFK 50 training. Earlier in the year (after the 50k burnouts) I didn't even know if I wanted to do any more trail or ultra races. It seems I function best doing different activities throughout the year, because now I'm looking forward to hitting the trails again. I'm still waiting until the end of August to register (before the entry fee jumps up again), but am already assembling my support crew and putting together a training plan.

So this may be a blog revival, as I'd like to boost my training accountability. I hear that hiring a coach does great things for accountability, but I find that having a coach to answer to takes the fun out of things for me. I've got 15 weeks to go, so I'm hoping to post up some weekly recaps as I get myself into sub-8 fitness. Here we go again!

Friday, January 13, 2017

Two Things for 2017!

Apparently I was much more terrified about turning 35 than I admitted to myself. I didn't realize how big of a deal it was until my 35th birthday came and went, and I realized it was not that bad, I'm not that old, and to chill out already.

2016 was all right. I got really into Nicole Antoinette's podcast, Real Talk Radio (and even became a paying Patreon member, because I heart it that much!), and one of my favorite questions she always asks is "what are you totally obsessed with right now?"

In 2016, I was on and off obsessed with:
  • The Olympic marathon trials, the Paralympic trials, and subsequently the 2016 Summer Olympics and Paralympics, of course.
  • daydreaming about running the Olympic marathon standard (it's currently a 2:45 for the women's B standard)
  • developing our local little Team RWB community
  • our new puppy, Aerodynamic Mulan Neill, better known as Aero.

  • trail running and my first trail ultramarathon
  • Spartan race and elite obstacle course racing competitors--only after accidentally doing my first one with the husband for our wedding anniversary weekend (he somehow tricked me, for once)

  • apparently trying to do ALL THE THINGS before my 35th birthday (because that's when life ends? at age 35?)
What I was NOT obsessed with:
  • training through the winter (too cold!)
  • apparently training through the summer, too (HA!)
  • pursuing triathlon competitively
We said good-bye to our old pal Guinness, my first dog, and hello to the new pup Aero, but also welcomed my first little niece into the world--the adorable Cara. 

We spent a week in California over Christmas to visit my family, who are delightful as always, but after sharing a full-size bed with a 6'9" Kevin for almost a week, we were happy to return home to Delaware to ring in the new year.

So what's next in the forecast for 2017?

Well, being a superstitious Chinese person, 2017 is my year! Really! In 2 weeks, we begin the Year of the Rooster. My Chinese zodiac sign is a Rooster, and every 12 years your sign repeats. I've also taken the advice of another former teamTBB athlete, Marilyn Chychota (who coaches now and has many nuggets of wisdom in her Facebook posts):

"A key lesson I learned was to pick TWO things. Pick two things you want to be REALLY good at. Not 10 things you are doing o.k. with or are 'filling your time' with. But two key things you want to focus and achieve a high standard at."

Okay then!

THING #1: RUN 2,500 MILES IN 2017.
Ok, admittedly I am already behind on this goal, but this was a very last minute change from originally wanting to put a single focus race as one of my two Things. I then realized, yet again, that my weakness the past 5+ years has been not training enough, or consistently. If I focus on training rather than the outcome of a single race, you know what? I'll probably kick butt at multiple races!

2016 was my first full year on Strava (link is to my year-end training video) and it appears that I ran 1,355 miles, not bad considering I slacked all winter and summer. I think I only trained for 10-12 weeks for the JFK 50 and averaged 30-40 miles per week. So lots of room to improve in training volume and race performance!

Maybe nearly doubling my mileage is too ambitious, but hey, GO BIG OR GO HOME!

Can you see the poop emoji? It's my first time trying to blog on an iPad so it should say "Konmari the [poop emoji] out of everything!"

I guess I am a little late to the game as it came out in 2014, but I finally discovered the book "The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up" by Marie Kondo, and I totally dig it. I've always been a pretty messy person (ask anyone who has ever lived or worked with me) and had resigned myself to thinking that's just how I am.

But not so, says the magical de-cluttering fairy nicknamed Konmari!

I actually spent a good chunk of our California holiday finally clearing out my childhood bedroom (I come from a line of people who don't like to throw anything away) and have been working on our place in Delaware as well as my office.

The gist of the book is that tidying up your living space translates into nice side effects that spill into the rest of your life. I am hoping for less stress, more peace & harmony, more productivity, and more of all the other magical stuff!

Here's to more training miles and less clutter in 2017!