Monthly Archives: July 2012

Half Marathon in San Francisco this Weekend!

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This weekend I’m heading to San Francisco to run my half marathon!  I’m really excited, but also kind of nervous.  I would really love to PR, but considering all the logistics I’ll have to deal with surrounding the big event, I won’t be too upset if I don’t run my best time.  I leave on an Amtrak train tomorrow morning and arrive in the city in the early afternoon.  Once I get there, I will have to find somewhere to eat lunch and then take a shuttle bus to the Race Expo to get my race bib and everything (there is no race day check-in) and then I will most likely take the shuttle back, walk to my hotel, check in there (or at least check my bag behind the counter) and then hopefully find some cool little shops and/or a museum to explore.  Following this (hopefully) relaxing/low-key day, I want to get pasta somewhere and then settle in for the night.  I have to get up early (before 6) and take a cab to the location of the 2nd half marathon shuttle bus which will drop me off at the start of the 2nd half marathon.  Once I get there, I have to check my bag, and then it’s RACE TIME (it starts at 8:30 a.m. and I’m in the 2nd wave)!!  After the race, I have to somehow find my checked bag amid the thousands of others, and then catch the Amtrak back to Davis that evening.  Needless to say the logistics of this whole enterprise are a bit complicated, and if I finish around 1 hour and 40 minutes (my time from last summer) I will be pretty satisfied.  However, if I broke 1:40 I would be ecstatic (especially with those famous San Francisco hills)!!!  I’m thinking of wearing buns for the race, but I haven’t decided for sure yet.  If I were to wear them, I think it would definitely help me channel some of my inner Ole strength and attack those massive hills!  I also think I’ll wear my New Balance racing flats that I wore for the 10k during track; they’re virtually weightless while still being supportive for my feet.  I’ll probably wait until race day to decide though, especially considering the nagging heel pain I’ve been having the past couple weeks.

Here are a few of the images that come to mind when I think of San Francisco:

Full House!

The Golden Gate Bridge!

The famous Painted Ladies Victorian houses in Alamo Square

Capitola Beach <3

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This past weekend Mahallia and I headed down to Capitola Beach for a shopping and sightseeing trip.  Even though the skies were overcast and the temperature was a cool 50 something degrees, we had fun nonetheless.  I got to see the Pacific Ocean for the first time ever, tried some yucky oysters, and went for  a beautiful drive along the gorgeous, tree-lined California State Highway 17. After spending most of the day in Capitola, we headed to Los Gatos for a little more shopping and a classy Greek-style dinner at Dio Deka.  Overall it was an awesome weekend, and I’m so thankful to Mahallia for taking me on this trip!

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Starting the day off right with a tall cup of coffee in Pleasanton, CA.

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After many issues with closed exits and blocked off roads, we finally arrived in Capitola!

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The beautiful colored houses along the beach in Capitola.

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Checking out the pretty houses.

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Lunch on the water!

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Keeping it classy.

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My beautiful roommate.

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Oysters…no chewing allowed.

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On the beach!

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The boyfriend jeans that I’m currently regretting not buying…

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Mahallia’s yummy Greek salad at Dio Deka!

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My yummy bell pepper soup!

To Treadmill or Not to Treadmill?

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Ask any distance runner how they feel about  treadmill running and you’re guaranteed a strong response.  Whether you love them to the moon or despise the very thought of them, nearly every runner I’ve encountered has a marked opinion on the matter.  I for one am on the pro side of the debate, but I thought the topic was an interesting one and warranted further investigation.  So what are the pros and cons of training on a treadmill?  Most of us base our feelings about the machines mainly on the mental and emotional aspects associated with them, but in terms of physical exertion and workout quality, how does running on a treadmill help or hurt a distance runner’s training?

When asked in a recent Running Times interview about how she incorporates treadmill running into her training regimen, elite distance runner Kara Goucher stated that she “would absolutely prefer to be outside” but admits that “sometimes workouts go by quicker because the treadmill does the thinking for you.”  Goucher, who will be running on the USA Olympic Marathon Team this August, recognizes the treadmill’s practicality and ability to regulate pace for tempo workouts and solo runs.  She notes that “there are times where you might push too hard outside [but] on the treadmill you can control that.”

I find that my feelings about treadmills are quite similar to those of Goucher.  While I much prefer to run outside and enjoy the scenery and fresh air, every once in a while I take advantage of the mindless type of running a treadmill allows for.  This past week I ended up running on a treadmill a total of three times: once for a long run, once for an easy 5-miler, and once for a tempo workout.   Though this week was by no means representative of the usual proportion of my miles are run on the treadmill (and I know that if I always did it this often I would go insane), it was a refreshing change of pace- literally and figuratively- and helped remind me that sometimes running inside is actually a better option than braving the outdoors.

First, a short explanation of my reasons for embracing the treadmill these past few days.  For my long run on Monday, I really wanted to lock into a consistent  pace for the duration of my workout.  Because I’ve been running on my own the past few weeks and don’t yet have a working GPS watch, I have no way of knowing what pace I’ve been doing my runs at.  I ended up completing the run comfortably, and it was a reassuring feeling to finish the run feeling strong.  My second treadmill run of the week- an easy 5-miler- was done on Wednesday afternoon.  Considering the 106 degree temperature outside and the citywide air advisory in effect, I knew that any attempt to endure the heat would only cause me to run at slower than my desired pace and become unnecessarily dehydrated and worn out.  Using the treadmill helped me avoid the scorching temperatures and take full advantage of my recovery day.  My third treadmill run of the week- a 20 minute tempo run on Friday morning- allowed me to lock into the proper pace and get a better gauge of my fitness than running outside would have allowed.  Since I’m new to the area and don’t have any mile markers to go by, this was the only way I could ensure I did my workout at the proper pace.

All that said, treadmills also have their negative aspects.  Besides being incredibly unexciting, running on a treadmill deprives your body of the strength it gains by running outside.  Even on relatively flat surfaces, outdoor running engages more muscles because you are constantly correcting for uneven terrain, turning corners, and going up and down small inclines and declines.  When training for cross country in particular, running outside should comprise a majority of one’s miles logged for these very reasons.  But when trying to avoid bad weather on an extremely hot or cold day, hoping to bypass massive hills during a recovery run, or looking for  a way to mange your pace when running alone or doing an important workout, treadmill running can be an essential part of  any training program.