Wednesday, May 21, 2014

Bay to Breakers 2014

Narwhal Narwhal Swimming Through the Ocean
This past Sunday was Bay to Breakers. This event combines what have recently become two of my favorite pastimes: running and costume making!

The costume: My friends decided on a "winter" theme this year. In our ranks we had a polar bear, a reindeer, and a couple of snowmen. I decided to be a narwhal, which is not particularly winter-y. It is, however, pretty awesome. I spray-painted a foam hard hat, glued on some googly eyes and a spiral tusk, and made flippers and a fluke out of felt. I was very happy with the results!

Apparently people love narwhals. My fellow narwhal and I got several shout-outs ("NARWHALS!!") and several strangers took photos of/with us. There were a few who mistook us for unicorns, but we promptly corrected them. Besides, what kind of sad unicorn is gray? 

The running: My friends and I unofficially participated (partied) in Bay to Breakers for the last two years, walking only part of the course. This year, with my new-found love for running, I was ready to race. Sadly, my legs did not feel the same way. I strained my calf during the Rock 'n' Roll SF race, and it still hasn't recovered (I finally went to see the doctor after 6 weeks of little improvement). 

It is such a downer to not be able to run. After several years of trying to "get in to running," I finally enjoy the activity. I should have seen it coming, though. I was so excited about running faster and farther. During training runs I would say to myself, "Why can't I run faster than this? Oh wait, I CAN run faster!" And look at me now. Sigh.

And so, I jogged the first 3 miles and walking the rest. I was OK with walking, though. Besides, it was really crowded, and it's difficult to run with a tusk sticking out of your head. Bay to Breakers is all about the experience, anyway.

My official finish time is 2:03:17. That's longer than the last two half-marathons I've run! I find this amusing. Despite not being able to run, I had a blast. I will definitely do this race next year--and hopefully run it. 

Bay to Breakers: May 18, 2014

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

Rock 'n' Roll San Francisco

Rock 'n' Roll San Francisco: April 6, 2014

This past Sunday was the Rock 'n' Roll San Francisco Half Marathon, my second race of the year. The weather was great, the people were happy, and the city was beautiful. I had a lot of fun. Even though I didn't set a new PR, I'm very happy with my results. Here's a recount of my day:

I got up at 3:30am so I could eat a pot of rice (mmm, carbs) and get ready for the race. B gave me a ride to the start line at the ocean end of Golden Gate Park. At 5:30am it was dark and cold, and I started to question why I had put myself in this position. Sunday mornings are meant for sleeping in and going out to brunch! However an hour later, when the sky began to lighten and the race began, I forgot all about my complaints. The weather turned out to be perfect: nice and cool, with Karl the Fog nowhere in sight. The Golden Gate Bridge was looking awful pretty. Three lanes of the bridge were closed to traffic so that we were able to run on the deck and get a spectacular sunrise view of that iconic engineering marvel. I tried to take a selfie while running under a tower, but it turned out to be a very unflattering blur of a picture.

The RNRSF course was a lot more challenging than the ORF course. Where the ORF half marathon was almost completely flat, the RNRSF course looked like this:

In the two weeks between the ORF and RNRSF, I ran up any hills that I could find. I even ran some stairs in hopes of getting my calves ready for some climbing. Come race day, I was still dreading the hills. But they actually weren't too bad! I'm saying this three days after the race now, but as I was huffing and puffing up those inclines, I'm sure I had some less cheerful thoughts on the terrain. I'm just glad that I made it through the entire race without cramps or injury. My final time was 1:52:07, 47 seconds over my ORF time. It would have been nice to set a PR, but considering all the hills and the short time between races, I mark this as a success. As a bonus, I got to snag a picture with the Nesquik bunny in front of City Hall!

That very afternoon, riding on my runner's high, I signed up for more races: Bay to Breakers 12k and The Town's Half Marathon. I think I have an addiction! Now here's how my year of running is looking:
  • March 23  -  Oakland Running Festival Half Marathon  Finished in 1:51:25
  • April 6  -  Rock 'n' Roll San Francisco Half Marathon  Finished in 1:52:07
  • May 18  -  Bay to Breakers 12K
  • June 1  -  Rock 'n' Roll San Diego Half Marathon
  • August 16  -  The Town's Half Marathon, Oakland
  • September 19-20  -  RAGNAR 200-Mile Relay, Napa Valley
  • October 5  -  Rock 'n' Roll San Jose Half Marathon
I feel like I need to find races for July, November, and December so that I have a race every month. I'm pretty sure I'll end up registering for even more races. But for now, time to work on my speed and my B2B costume!

Thursday, March 27, 2014

Staying Positive!

Today is a good day. I had to remind myself of that throughout a morning wrought with car troubles and phone tag.
Lake Merritt in the mornin'
But before all that began, I set out on my first run since Sunday. Lake Merritt was shimmering, sky was looking fine, legs were feeling nice. Unlike the ORF half marathon, the RnR SF half marathon has quite a bit of climbing. I have the elevation graph taped above my work monitor. Up, down, UP, down, down, up, down. In my attempt to prepare for San Francisco's rolling terrain, I ran up a long flight of stairs and small hill. They left me panting. It still felt good to stretch my legs, though. 

I took my sweet time showering and making breakfast before finally heading out to go to work. My car started up and sounded a bit rattly. Nevertheless, I pressed on, only to have my car die half a mile down the road.
My poor little Golf, stranded on MacArthur Blvd.
Having been hauled around in clunkers all through my childhood, I am no stranger to car malfunctions. Overheating, mysterious smells, running out of gas, flat tires, dead batteries, I've been through it all. This was a case of Sudden Car Death. Hazard lights, on. Stuck in a left-turn lane at a moderately busy intersection, I got out of my car and crossed to the sidewalk, AAA card in hand. But first things first--call home!

My dad is a fixer. The reason why we had so many old cars is because he'd take friends' old "broken" cars and get them running again. He claims to have taught himself how to fix cars out of necessity, but I think he secretly takes a lot of pride and joy in bringing cars back to life. Dad wasn't home, but Mom picked up. She left the house immediately to come meet me.

Next, I called AAA for a tow truck to get me outta there! Long story short, I was standing in front of Oakland High School on the phone for close to two hours before the truck showed up and hauled me back to the house. The friendly AAA representatives with their southern drawls (I wonder where their call center is...) were nothing but helpful; it just took a lot of back and forth to get a tow truck authorized to come get me. Mom complimented me on how calm and cheerful I remained through the whole ordeal. No sense in getting frustrated, I told her. Nevertheless, I needed a drink! It was still the morning, though, so instead the two of us went out for some pizza.

Can you see the resemblance?
Mom and I sat down at Slicer on Piedmont where we reminisced about my grandparents over mushroom pizza and strawberry lemonade. After our tasty meal, we walked over to Mountain View Cemetery to bring some irises to my Yun-Yun and Yeh-Yeh. Relaxing with my mom was a nice way to counter my stressful morning. If only I had the whole day off...! Alas, I had to go in to work. 

Not surprisingly, my abbreviated work day flew by. And now, it is time to go and meet some friends for All You Can Bowl!! By the way, I'm joining a bowling league. It is a dream come true!

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Run Run Run!

This past Sunday, I ran the Oakland Running Festival half marathon. My goal was to complete the 13.1-mile race in under two hours. I succeeded with a finish time of 1:51:25! Average pace of 8:30 min/mi.

Race Day: The morning started out slightly overcast until the haze gave way to sunny skies. There were lots of cheering spectators, live bands, and motivational signs ("Your Asana Looks Great!") to help the miles go by. Some of my favorite parts were running through the flaming arch at the Crucible and high five-ing the DJ at the Raider Nation underpass party. I ran the event with a few friends, but I also bumped into some folks that I hadn't seen since high school or college! Throw in the post-race beers from 21st Amendment and all-you-can-eat Korean BBQ, and it was a perfect Sunday.

Come Monday morning, my legs were a little sore, but I could still walk (unlike when I ran the ORF half marathon in 2012 without enough training). I felt achy and accomplished, but also a little bummed out. I had spent the last three months training for the race, and now it was over. So what's the first thing I do when I get online? Search for another race, of course!

I decided on trying out a Rock 'n' Roll event. There are four RnR half marathons in California: San Francisco, San Diego, San Jose, and Los Angeles. If you complete 3 of 4, you get a special Cali-Combo medal. I spied the glittery gold bling at the ORF Expo, and it is a beaut! Naturally, I bought a 3-event "tour pass" and signed up for the RnR San Francisco half, coming up in 2 weeks!

I must say, this is very unlike me. I think I've caught some sort of bug. But I'm feeling pretty good.