Sunday, November 25, 2012

Race Report: Seattle half marathon

This morning was the Seattle half - my third year in a row running it.  The weather was perfect for the race at just under 40 degrees.  All in the race was pretty good - I wound up running 1:36:36 (last year I ran 1:39 something and the year before was low 1:36).  Although it's not my PR (1:33:40) I'm happy - also, I wound up getting 7th in my division out of 651. 

The first 3mi I was in front of the 1:30 pace group meaning I was going 6:30s - way too fast.  At just about mile 3 when we were running on the freeway I saw the 1:30 pace group go blazing by.  Then at mile 9 I saw the 1:35 pace group trotting by - I so wanted to latch on to the group, but by then I was throbbing a little.

The course was nice except for a brutal hill towards the end starting at roughly mile 10 and going to mile 12.  Youch. 

 My mind definitely played tricks on the hills and the everlasting flats in between (I'm more a fan of rolling trails so flat is just as tough as hill for me).  Quotes like:
"The mind tires before the body"
and "Pain is just weakness leaving the body"
got me through a lot of the pain, but towards the end of the hill when I kept repeating "the mind tires before ..." I started thinking to myself "Yeah, and my mind is TIRED!"

Lessons learned:
Smells - Gah!  Smells were amplified while running - think being pregnant squared.  A woman who opted to wear wool (mistake) wafted by with her BO lofting right after for about 10 feet.  I didn't want to pass her because I didn't want to risk getting passed again and getting stuck in the waft zone.  At mile 11 (I know because the sign and smell were burned in) a man who opted for cologne on race day ran by smelling like a night club in London.  Not cool.

Neon - in.  Enough said, the starting line was filled with neon and the race certainly lit up the city with glowing greens, pinks, and yellows.  I dawned neon, too - love.

Peanut butter / chocolate power bar - not a good race food.  I ate ~90 minutes before the race because the last couple races I've been not-enjoying-breakfast-at-mile-5.  This bar sat like a brick, though, and even after the race I found myself burping it up.  Bleh.

Mind power - key.  This is the one I've got to work out more.  I ran into a couple runners from Green Lake run club and am going to try to join them on Saturdays again.  I think mind power is part training, part just being prepped to run any distance, and part ... well, I don't know - that's why I'm going to flex that one.

Running clothes - help!  I'm queen of dawning my old t-shirts and whatever spandex are clean.  Today I wore my arm warmers, running jacket, CW-X tights along with my (hands down favorite) Newton trail / road shoes.  I remember after a race during the summer, a woman stopped me at the finish line and said "if you'd been wearing real running clothes you could have won!" Weird comment, and I disagree, but the clothes do help.

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

National Hug a Runner Day!

Today is National Hug a Runner Day.  This is one of the best holidays hands out, arms wrapped, sweat induced.  Period.  There's nothing better than finishing a long, or short, run / race / jaunt and coming home to high fives, knuckles, and hugs. 

Here are my favorite runner huggers:

Sunday, November 18, 2012

Run Report: Queen Anne stairs loop

I've been a little off my training game since NY but with the Seattle half marathon just a week away I need to kick if up a little.  Yesterday I logged the elliptical with "stair repeats" - an attempt at a workout while the boys faux napped and hollered every 10min (for water, new socks, a fort, you get the idea).  Today I made it out the door and logged a little over 4.5mi for my favorite loop around Queen Anne.  Here's a snapshot:
Here's the abbreviated version - up hill, down hill, up stairs, up hill, down down flat, home.

Now I just need to double the distance.

Monday, November 12, 2012

Q&A with Simon Southgate & 4 Desert's Challenge

Recently I got to do a Q&A interview with an ultramarathoner named Simon Southgate.  I have to say, I'm very impressed and in awe of what he has accomplished.

Here are highlights of our conversation:
How did you get into ultra-marathon running?
I have always been very active. As a boy I was much more interested in sports and outdoor activities than academics, and I have always been interested in running. I completed my first marathon when I was 18, when I was lucky enough to secure entry into the London Marathon.

Taking part in Ultra-events was just a natural progression. I don’t really enjoy running on the roads or round a track. I prefer off-road and trail running. In 2006 I joined some friends, formed a team completed my first 100km event, Oxfam Trailwalker. Over the years I have now completed 4 Trailwalkers. It was one of my ‘Trailwalker’ team-mates that introduced me to the RacingThePlanet 4Desert Series. The more I heard him talk about it, the more interested I become. In April  2008 I eventually checked out the race website, and almost immediately signed up for the 2008 Sahara race, which took place in November. As soon as I crossed the finish line I knew I wanted to do more and made a commitment to try and finish all four races in the series.  

How do you feel about all of the growing attention on ultra-racing now with "stars" like Dean Karnazes and books like Born to Run?
In November 2008 I was lucky enough to meet Dean Karnazes, he was taking part in the Sahara Race. I didn’t get the chance to talk to him much as he was always about 20kms ahead of me!

Whilst the majority of people I talk to think its crazy to run a marathon, let alone take part in an ultra-marathon, there are an increasing number who will always be interested in pushing themselves and taking on new challenges. One of the great misunderstandings is the fact so many people think ultra-marathon events are for elite or professional athletes. The majority of people I have met during the events I have taken part in are average people. ‘Weekend Warriors’ or ‘Mid-pack rats’ who like to escape their busy or day-to-day life-styles and experience new challenges.   

What does your family think of your "hobby"?
My parents have always known I was mad. I’ve never been able to sit still for long.  I didn’t tell them I was taking part in the 2008 Sahara Race. The first they knew about it was when I called them on my mobile from the finish line. Since then they have been very interested and supportive. They still think I am crazy.

My wife has been fantastic. We first met whilst I was training for the 2010 Gobi March, and she has been there at the finish line of both the Gobi March and the 2011 Atacama Crossing. She also agreed to re-schedule our wedding day so that I could take part in the 2012 Antarctica event. I know she’ll be glad when this event is over as I have promised to take a break. I still owe her a honeymoon so that will be my priority next year!   

Why do you use running as a mode of fundraising?
I have always tried to be a supporter of charities, particularly those whose aim is to support the needs of disadvantaged or sick children. There can be times when you are training for, or taking part in an ultra-event that you start to feel sorry for yourself. Your body aches, you are tired etc. When you support a charity you are reminded that there are always people in a far worse situation than you. A good example of this would be a meeting I had recently with a child cancer patient. She has gone through repeated sessions of chemotherapy, and radiation therapy. The pain and discomfort she has endured far exceeds anything I have experienced during my desert races. I have found fund-raising has provided me with extra motivation when times have been tough.

You donate a lot to children's causes with St. Baldrick's foundation for cancer, and Operation Breakthrough.  Being a mom and former teacher, I agree, taking care of our children and providing a better future (health-wise and education-wise) is of utmost importance.  What drives you to donate to these causes?
I have always regarded myself as lucky. I had a happy and healthy childhood with a kind and supportive family background.

As a police officer I have seen many other children and young people are less fortunate. For a variety of different social and economic reasons, some kids find themselves on the wrong side of the law. In many cases a small mistake made during their youth can have dramatic consequences in later life. I like to think the support I have given to Operation Breakthrough has helped to provide second chances, and inspire some children to live healthier and more productive lives. 

I am often amazed at how very sick children can remain so positive. I am inspired by their energy and brightness. I honestly think children cope with serious illness and disease in a more optimistic way than many adults. Rarely do children feel morbid or sorry for themselves. They seem to be able to accept their illness, and still continue to strive to make the most of what they have. I have even seen children beyond cure behave in a bright and cheerful manner. I find that incredible, and I enjoy being part of their support network. It keeps me grounded, and reminds me not to get frustrated by the little things, and to relish what I have.

What has been the hardest race you've done?
The race I found the toughest was the 2010 Gobi March. I had trouble eating and my feet took a real pounding. It was a very emotional moment for me when I eventually crossed the finish line. However, the toughest race was the 2011 Atacama Crossing. The conditions are brutally hard, but it is an amazing race. It was the hardest, but ironically, it was also the race I have enjoyed the most. I had such a high when I ran across the finish line.

This is the 4th Desert race in your series, and the final one.  How do you feel going into this last race?
I am excited. This project started for me in 2008 and I have worked very hard to train for the events, and raise awareness of the great work being done by the two charities I represent. Since childhood I have been thrilled by the stories of adventure and exploration of Captain Scott, Amundsen and Shackleton. To think that I will be racing on the continent of Antarctica is a great thrill for me. 

Do you participate in other activities outside of ultra-running?
I like to play soccer and rugby, although I do feel I am getting a bit too old for contact sports now. I like to ride my mountain bike every now. I have two Siberian Huskies so taking them for walks ensures I stay active.

How do you train and maintain your level of fitness for ultra-races?
It’s always a fine balance between family, work and training. Normally I try to schedule my training sessions for early in the morning 0400-0600 hrs. This ensures that the training is done, and if I do have to work late, training programs will not be disrupted. I try to cross-train, so I run, hike and mountain bike. I also try to go to the gym every now and again. The secret is variety, and not to be too tough on yourself if you miss or skip a session.

Your profession is listed as: Police Officer, Hong Kong Police (i) Bobby on the beat (ii) Bodyguard (iii) Range / Tactical Training Officer (iv) Airport Security (v) Anti-Illegal Immigration & Smuggling Unit (vi) Crowd Control & Public Order (vii) Desk Jockey - what do you relate most with (if any of these)?
It sounds cliché but I regard myself as a jack of all trades.

If someone wants to donate to your or your causes, where should they go?
They can contact me directly and/or keep up to date with my progress through my Facebook page here.

Tips for runners getting into longer distance races?
Stay relaxed – enjoy being out and away from the everyday routines that stress you out. Don’t listen to music. Take in the whole experience of the sounds and sights of the city, mother nature or whatever environment you chose to train in. Get outside and don’t spend hours on a treadmill watching the TV and drowning in the sound of the music played in most gyms. Enjoy what you do. Start slowly and build gradually. Listen to your body. If you feel tired slow down, but try to avoid walking. If you feel good, run faster or run further. Don’t blindly follow other people’s programs. Find out by trial and error what works best for you. But the most important tip – is to enjoy it. If you don’t sooner or later you will get bored, frustrated and stop. Keep it fresh, and keep it fun! If you have the means, get yourself a husky! They make great training partners!  

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Election 2012

I am a data nerd.  Can't help it.  This chart from WSJ has me completely geeking out from the election:
I'm also now intrigued by the power of social media.  From a "sociology" perspective I'm interested in how social media can change crowd and government behavior.  From a product manager / owner perspective, I'm interested in how social media needs to dictate and/or validate plans, or how new launches / announcements can shift social sentiment. 

Tasty Tuesday: Holiday Grapes

My new favorite snack and dessert of the season is Holiday Grapes - the giant red grapes now decorating market shelves.  I typically enjoy a bowl of them for my 3pm pick-me-up and my 9pm I-want-sweets but I eat them with a side of cheese, cut up turkey, or almonds.  Having had gestational diabetes while I still LOVE sweets, I know I need to balance them out with carb-killers.

Here's a cool info-graphic on the tasty treats from Self:

Monday, November 5, 2012

Happy 7 year anniversary!

It was 7 years ago today that Matt and I got married - the BEST day and moment of my life!  Until the boys came - that's probably a good tie. 

I am thankful to have a best friend, a husband, the love of my life, and the most amazing father in Matt.  Thank you. We met when we were still kids as Freshman in high school.  Since then we've traveled the world, had two incredible boys, bought a house, enjoyed many laughs, endured many tears, and continued to learn from life and each other.  Pretty darn lucky.

I am also thankful that I still fit my dress - BAM:
And yes, as dorky as it is I do still try it on to make sure it fits.