Saturday, May 31, 2014

May Recap


I haven't done one of these month recaps in ages - mostly because I feel my months have been less than mediocre and not worth writing home (or online) about.

Total run mileage: 52 - and that was with a whole week off. HOLLA! 
Highest weekly run mileage: 
# Runs: 19
# Rest days: 13
# Cross-training workouts: Ermm... a couple walks with the pup? And one hike with mom!
# Races: 2
     - Renegade Racing 3 Mile Trail Challenge | Recap
     - Girls on the Run LA 5K | Recap (kinda!)
plus 1 from Saturday! Strongest month in a loooong time.
Favorite run: Running with one of my girls at the GOTR 5K - definitely made the end of the season worth it, seeing her do all that work and push herself to the end. Sappy, but true. I can't wait for the next season, too!
One of our other coaches, Nan!
Most hardcore run:  That first-ever trail run! Holy freaking moly - I can't believe I signed up for that, can't believe I did it, and even more so can't believe that I actually placed in my age group! Trail running is no joke, but I'm definitely excited about the next few trail races over the summer series I'm doing!

Current obsession: Allllll the races. I thought Georgia was bad with the sheer amount of races that exist, try Southern California where the weather is always good! It sure makes it hard to budget all that I want to do! But I am super excited for all that's coming up... more to come soon!

Current song: I am obsessed with Neon Trees. Doug and I saw them a few years ago, and we'll be seeing them again at the end of June. Their new album is fantastic, and I am also very obsessed with this song currently:

It'll be in your head for awhile. Sorry.

Current need: Working on finding a place to live! I've been hangin' out in student housing very graciously for this past spring semester but it's time to move on and find a new place to call mine. So, a very exhausting few weeks ahead, but some excitement as well. Looking forward to settling in and finish unpacking all the boxes in my parents garage! 

Current triumph: While the school year ended a few weeks ago, that was still May and I'm still riding the high from finishing out my first academic year here at Marymount! I cannot believe I've been back in California for 10 months and have completed one full school year. Insanity. A lot learned, a lot more TO learn, but I'm excited to take charge and jump full force into getting into next year! 

Current goal: Race day is Saturday! Sub-2 goal is upon me again. Even missing that full week of training last week, I feel solid and ready to go. I know the downhill will be tough on the legs, but will also give me that boost for a little extra speed when I don't have it enough. I am excited and ready to rock! Funny enough, I don't feel as ready as I did last year for that sub-2 goal race, but I feel like it's my time. Maybe I'll finally get that extra little oomph! More on that soon! 

What are your biggest accomplishments from this month? Goals for June?

Friday, May 30, 2014

Girls on the Run: My Season 1

You may or may not remember that beginning in February, I started as a coach for a local Girls on the Run team. I first heard of GOTR in Atlanta, as they were out promoting their program and 5K at almost every race I did in the area. When I first moved to LA, I thought of taking up a team in the fall, but decided I'd be better off settling into the job first and would take up a team in the spring. And I did!

If you're not familiar with GOTR, it's an organization based in North Carolina with chapters all over the country. Chapters are local areas with teams underneath - nearly 50 teams in the GOTR LA organization, for example. GOTR "teaches life skills through dynamic, conversation-based lessons and running games. The program culminates with the girls being prepared to complete a celebratory 5K running event. The goal of the program is to unleash confidence through accomplishment while establishing a lifetime appreciation of health and fitness."

I've gotta be honest with you. After I attended training in January, I was excited... but also a little apprehensive. Part of my struggle in working with the current generation's college students is that they so often believe that they are entitled to anything and they all deserve the exact same things (think that age-long discussion about everyone getting participation trophies versus just the champions getting the trophy). At the end of the article is a quote that very much directs how I feel: "members felt like kids were given too many things in this day and age and it is important to teach them not everyone can be a winner." Learning that every girl gets a race bib with the number 1, and that every girl gets a medal regardless... left me struggling. I remember leaving training and telling my boss the next day that I was a little nervous about how to put my feelings aside (given the current age group I work with) and allow the program to run its course.

And then I saw the program happen. I saw our girls pushing themselves, pushing each other, and I saw the confidence come out. There were girls who could certainly be amazing runners, who want to give it all they've got every time around and are determined to get better and better. The quiet ones who don't say a peep in conversation but are total workhorses when it comes down to it. And then there's the crazy, rambunctious, hyperactive ones who just need a fun outlet to get it all out (sometimes those ones made me feel like a not-paid babysitter).

Don't they look thrilled?!
Overall, my experience was a good one. We had some difficult members on our team who often made the experience difficult for coaches and myself, but enough girls to offset their rowdiness and rudeness, at times. GOTR did work some magic for some girls, and you saw their true attitudes come out at the 5K. Our 5K was just two weeks ago, and sadly only half our team was able to make it - I was a little disappointed, especially since all the huge groups getting together - but whatcha gonna do?

I got to run the 5K with one of our quiet workhorses. She was always one of the leaders of our pack on our 'track' around the park and you could truly see her determination come out through each and every practice. Running the race with her, and allowing her to determine when we stopped to walk, how fast she wanted to go, and let her run her course, was probably a highlight of mine from the entire 18 weeks. Seeing her finish it and the biggest smile (with the cutest dimples ever, mind you) across her face was truly priceless.

I am so glad I got to join this program - it's not necessarily about getting that participation medal or the #1 bib... but truly about building that confidence. Running can do that for everyone, but certainly these girls are at a critical point when they need it most. That perhaps, there are difficult days and days where not everything will be handed to them and that as a coach, it's my job to push you just a little bit. Thanks, Hesse Park, for a great season 1 with GOTR LA! I'll see you in the fall!

Have you every coached with GOTR? What was your experience like?

Wednesday, May 28, 2014

New Years Race Ambassador Kick Off

Have I mentioned how excited I am about this whole experience? I could not be more thrilled and anxious about working with the awesome folks at New Years Race LA for the next six-ish months as part of their Brand Ambassador team. Lots of exciting things coming this blog's way in the next few months - hooray!
The noms.

Last week, we had our kick off dinner and welcome for the 15 of us that were chosen as BAs for the year at The Standard in downtown LA. Jive Live owns NYR (and the Dodgers 5K and the Hollywood Hard Rock 5K and works on the Hollywood Half too!), and their team is small, but seriously determined to put on amazing events (they do more than just running events too!). With us 15 ambassadors, there were still maybe only 25 people at dinner.

Hypnotizing ping pong!
While I've connected with just about everyone via Facebook or Instagram or Twitter, or all of the above, it was awesome to put faces to names and make real connections! One of the ambassadors, Karolynh, actually lives not far from me so she turned into my carpool buddy for the night, so we made quick friends! She's one of 4 that also served as an ambassador last year, so thankfully there are several newbies on board with me... I think I'm the only newbie that hasn't run the actual race though!

The night started with some introductions from the Jive Live crew, talking about their history and what each of the office team does (again, small, but mighty crew!) and what our role as ambassadors is and does for the race and the company.

Dwayne... the only guy to beat me... twice.
Naturally, because we all like a little competition, it continued with a ping pong tournament to get us in a little friendly competition mode. You know me.. I like a little competition. You might even call me competitive. Double elimination, and I finished the overall female champ - holla!

I'm really excited to be getting to work these folks. What better than an awesome race that starts at Dodgers Stadium, and runs through downtown under the lights and stars? I'm pretty freaking excited about it, as I've eye-balled this race since it started in 2012. So I guess it's about time to get out and do it myself!

Registration price goes up on Sunday, June 1, but if you register NOW you can get in for only $70! Use my code, NYRMegan15, and save yourself $15 off the code (code good until 12/31, but why wait?).

Will I see you run LA at night?

Wednesday, May 21, 2014

Race Report: Renegade 3 Mile Trail Challenge

Renegade 3 Mile Trail Run Challenge
Bonelli Park, San Dimas | May 17

Renegade Racing does a lot of local runs around here - a TON of which I'm super excited about over the next year. I've wanted to try a trail run/race for a long time, just for a little change of pace and to see what it's really all about.

I thought I had 7-8 miles on the agenda for Saturday (come to find out it was only 5), so my goal was to get up, do a warm up lap around the block (~2 miles), go do the race, and then do another block lap after I got home.

It was cool enough during the morning run that it was enjoyable, but I knew heat was coming on soon and I was a little nervous for what that meant for the race. Bonelli Park isn't too far from my parents' house, so I finished up the run, grabbed all my things and extra water and headed up to the park. I haven't been to this park since I was a kid, and I had no idea how hilly it was - minus seeing the course map, I knew I was in for an interesting time... 

Getting in and settled was a total and complete cluster. The racing company hadn't sent any pre-race communication (maybe I'm used to that too much?) and so I had no idea that parking was $10 - naturally, I only had $5 on me. Awesome. Once I got into the park finally, there were no volunteers to help me find my way. I finally saw a number of runners coming from a parking lot (evidently the wrong one), and ended up parking over half a mile from the start line/packet pick up. 
Ready for whatever was to come... 
Finally, had my bib, and all of 3 minutes to get over to the race start. Super. Nothing like rushing to get settled for a first trail race! I made a few friends at the start, one of whom had done this race before (and the full series), and told me a little bit about what to expect. The race director finally made his way over, talked a little bit about the start (runners-only and duathlon folks all start together). It was a mostly single-track trail (I'm really glad I read blogs of folks who run trails so I knew what this meant), and some (re: about 50 yards) of asphalt along the course. Finish line is the same for all races (trail run, du, and tri). 

I had no expectations going into this, but just wanted to see what I could pull off. The race pretty much starts on the straight uphill. Woof. I struggled, but kept moving forward. That's the trick, right? At least the views were pretty fantastic:

You can't beat running around this place! I'm glad I did this, even if only for the view. Though at some parts, all I wanted to do was run back down the hills and straight into the lake with the triathletes - it looked SO heavenly. Mile 2 was pretty tough, with an even longer uphill climb. I run plenty of downhills, not uphills! Brutal. 

Thankfully, mile 3 moved into the downhill portion of the course - basically the entire last half. Thank god. And thus a really stellar (in comparison) mile 3. And an awesome sprint to the finish! Apparently some earlier trail runners had accidentally gotten some of the Xterra medals that the du/tri athletees were supposed to get - they asked folks to return them if they had gotten one on accident, but looks like a few folks walked away with them. 

I really wanted to go home and get that last block loop in before it got too hot. They made the announcement that trail race awards would be at 10 am, and to go check out the board to see if you had placed. Amazingly enough... boom! I had! 

Pint glasses for 3rd. I couldn't have gotten a cold beer, at least?
Overall, I'm happy. Having no expectations makes it easy, but I'm excited to see what I can do on the race series. The next 3 runs are all at a park in Orange County, and all run the exact same course (5 mile loop, run #2 is in reverse). Here goes more trails! Woo hoo!

Overall: 61/125
Age Group: 3/9

My pre-race experience with Renegade was less than stellar, but the race itself was great. The finish line had plenty of vendors and things to check out, but the wait was super long for the awards. I think I hung around an extra 45 minutes. Under the sun, that was tough. BUT I made it home and ran a last 2.05 miles, for a full 7.63 miles on the day - a total win! And then I wanted to melt and die. 

But regardless... I did it! I didn't eat  dirt, didn't kil myself or break an ankle, and totally survived my first trail race. I'm excited for the next 3, but I tell ya... it takes a special kinda runner to do trails. Oi vey! 

Any tips for conquering the next three trail races?

Tuesday, May 20, 2014

Fontana Days Half: Week 3

Training: Week 3

Overall, this week was pretty fantastic - tough, but I felt good. After an extended rest day last weekend thanks to graduation at the University and Mother's Day fun at my parent's house, I was ready to tackle the week. And for the most part, I did!

Monday: 3 mi easy (10:24)
3.01 miles (10:01)
Much like last week, I tend to wimp out at the end of a work day. For whatever reason, this day felt difference and I just wanted to get out and go. Who knew?! I tried keeping it slow and relaxed, but as normal (to this day, I can't pace myself) I went out real hard in the first mile and then had no other way but to slow down for the last two. But I killed the four beastly hills on my 3-mile loop, so I was super pumped and pleased with my effort.

Tuesday: 3 mi easy (10:24)
2.0 miles (10:33)
Morning miles with the puppy - legs felt unbelievably tired after Monday evening's run, so I took Molly along to keep it slow(er). Shorter than planned, but enough to get moving with the pup to start the day!

Wednesday: 6 miles, 4 @ tempo (8:54)
3.23miles (9:34)
Despite two earlier awesome runs, this morning was really hard to get up for. Like really hard. So I finally made it out of bed at 7 am and on the day when it was supposed to be 105 degrees inland, that was a bad choice even for me on the coast. Set out for a loop and would call it a victory, whatever it was. Partial fail.

But my Wednesday night ended with a soccer game date with my daddio to see the Galaxy's reserve team in the first round of the Open Cup. Not a bad way to end my day! :)

Thursday: 3 mi easy (10:24)
2.00 miles speedwork (4x400)
After a late night out at the game, I was already planning on NOT making it up for a morning run, but figured since I had GOTR practice anyway, I'd run with them. Figures that the lesson plan for the day involved hardly any running! Bummer.

It was crazy hot on Thursday, but I wanted to stick around and at least do something. I knew there was no way I was going to last 12 loops on our sidewalk track, so I thought I'd experiment with some speedwork. First true speed workout in almost a year - and I felt it. The heat didn't help, but I managed to squeak out a 1 mile warm up (10:00) and 4x400 (1:34, 1:44, 1:43, 1:43). This time last year, I'd laugh and be angry about such a workout because I knew I was capable of better, but frankly after a year off the track... I'm quite pleased. Work to be done, but it's a start!

Friday: Rest

Saturday: 5 miles LSD (10:24)
2.25 (9:37) + 3.33 (13:47) + 2.05 (10:06) = 7.63 mi
Woo! I thought I had more than 5 miles on the agenda (and left my calendar at home, so that's what was in my head). Going to bed on Friday night, my goal was to do the 2-mile block as a warm up, do my first-ever trail race (!), and then run another block when I got home.

Warm up block was an awesome way to get moving for the morning - it was still cool then, and felt good to get the legs shaken out. The trail run was HARD - oi vey! But more on that tomorrow! And then, despite it being stupidly hot at 10:30 am, dropped my stuff off in the house and set out for that last block. Holla. 7.63 miles on the day. More than thrilled!

Week 4, here we come! Week 4 culminates in my longest long run for this #sub2orbust attempt. Nervous, but allowing myself to go with the flow and make what I will of it. Feeling good heading into this week, so let's hope that sticks around!

3 weeks until race day!

Friday, May 16, 2014

Trail Running n00b

Tomorrow, I'm tackling something I've actually wanted to try for a little while. Being in Southern California, we are not short on road races. Or races of any kind, for that matter. But I've wanted to try a trail race for quite some time, as there's a whole series near my parents' house in the spring.

But TOMORROW! I get to run my first-ever trail race -- and, frankly, my first trail run ever. Ha. This kicks off a summer-long series:
  • Saturday, May 17: 3 Mile Challenge
  • Thursday, June 19: Renegade Trail Series Run 1 (5 miles)
  • Thursday, July 10: Renegade Trail Series Run 2 (5 miles) <-- same loop, just in reverse
  • Thursday, August 7: Renegade Trail Series Run 3 (5 miles) <-- same loop as #1
I'm really excited. Each race gets you a t-shirt OR BBQ dinner afterward (or for $5 more, get both!). Upon completion of all 4 races, a sweet medal shall be mine. I'm nervous, as I'm far from graceful as it is...

From half-marathon #2. Seriously.
so watching my bearings even more might be a fun little challenge, but it'll be a nice change up from running these San Pedro sidewalks so much!

So this is what I have in store tomorrow morning:

I mean, I've been running enough hills lately, so hopefully that works in my favor. Bonelli Park is close to my parents' house, so it'll be quick and easy to get to and should be an actually really pretty run around the reservoir. Looking forward to it!

Tips for my first trail race?

Wednesday, May 14, 2014

You Might Be a Runner If...

I'm finding these to be insanely true (like 95% of them) and thought I'd share! What resonates with you most? :)

You might be a runner if...

• you're always hungry.
• you know how to take a cup of water from a water stop without choking on it or spilling it all over yourself.
• at least one of your web site usernames or email addresses has the word "run" or "runner" in it.
• you get an invitation to a wedding and you automatically think about what race the date will conflict with.
• you have dreams about showing up to a race late or not wearing any clothes.
• you're not embarrassed to wear spandex.
• you have a drawer full of medals and other race souvenirs that you're not sure what to do with.
• you go into Starbucks more often to use the bathroom than to actually buy coffee.
• you no longer make fun of fanny packs because yourrunning belt looks very similar (although cooler) to one.
• you have a line in your budget for "race entry fees/race travel".
• you've used an old race T-shirt to wash your car, dust furniture, or clean something else.
• your first thought when you look at the weekly weather forecast is, "When can I fit in my runs?"
• you have more running clothes than regular clothes in your laundry pile.
• you've lost a toenail. And you tell people, "It's not that bad."
• you wear your running watch even when you're not running. ("It matches, right?")
• you've had your running shoes for three months and you know it's already time to replace them.
• you spend more time researching running routes than local restaurants when traveling to a new city.
• you know where exactly one mile from your front door is (in any direction).
• you know how to correctly spell and pronounce plantar fasciitis.
• you own more pairs of running socks than dress socks.
• you have more fun shopping for running clothes than you do non-running clothes.
• when you hear PR, you automatically think "personal record", not "public relations".
• you have running clothes and an extra pair of running shoes in your car, "just in case."
• your holiday wish list can be fulfilled at any running or sporting goods store.
• one of the first things people ask you when they haven't seen you in a while is, "What race are you training for now?"
• your Facebook or Twitter updates frequently involve running.
• your only recent photos of you alone are race photos.
• you always have your next race on the calendar.
• you get jealous when you're driving in your car and pass runners.
• you spent more timing researching a running watch than you did your car.
• you want to either cry or punch your doctor in the face when he tells you that you can't run for two weeks.
• your first question to your doctor is, "When can I run again?"
• you get excited when the race swag is a technical fabric (not cotton) T-shirt.
• when someone passes you during a training run, you assume they're running a shorter distance than you are.
• you have a mental list of comments you hate hearing from non-runners.
• when you hear the word "bib", you think about a race number, not a baby.
• you spend more money on running clothes than work or casual clothes.

Tuesday, May 13, 2014

Fontana Days Half: Week 2

I realize I never posted Week 1, as I honestly wasn't sure how far I'd get. Now that I can say Week 2 is down (and then some), I'm pretty excited about where I'm headed with this!

Heeeere we go! 
The Fontana Days Half is my new target race. As you may or may not remember, Nike last year was my goal race. I trained. I worked my butt off. #sub2orbust was everywhere - and after 90 seconds at the first aid tent at mile 7, I finished at a 2:01:33. I had it in me. I know I did. But enough about that - you can rehash it here, if you really desire.

Fontana is coming up on June 7 - so close! I'm working hard, in the six weeks I have between races (Redlands and this one). And so far, feeling good. The course looks like this:

I'm not going to lie, I'm looking forward to that helping me out. However, I've nailed most of my runs so far and am looking forward to tackling this guy. So... with that, Week 2, here we go!

Monday: 4 mi easy (10:30)
4 miles, 9:33 pace
I usually wimp out on post-work day runs, and come up with every excuse in the book. Finally got out and did this, ready to rock. I tried slowing down. I just couldn't! I turned this into a time test and did 2 miles with the pup (19:21) and then 2 on my own (18:53). Monday afternoon success!

Tuesday: 3 mi easy (10:24)
2 miles, 9:40 pace
Nothing remarkable? Legs were a little tired after Monday night's run, but pushed through and got a solid 2 in at least.

Wednesday: 5 miles, 3 @ HMP (9:09)
5 miles, 3 @ tempo (8:59)
This run was aaaaaaah-mazing. I was targeting just getting in a solid 5 miles and was going to try and push for 3 solid HMP miles. After mile 2 clicked by and hit an 8:58, I thought that maybe there was a way to pull this off and make it a solid tempo workout too - boom. Done and done! I love my 5-mile route because it is a rolling downhill, which will mimic Fontana well and get my knees and quads ready for the difficulty. Boom.

Thursday: Rest
1.14 miles, Girls on the Run practice
Moved my long run up to Friday, so was gonna go for zero, but went for a little shake-out before practice started with the girls. Easy peasy.

Friday: 8 miles (10:30)
4.79 miles, 9:08 pace

Saturday: Rest
Graduation day at Marymount! That was plenty effort for the day. :)

Overall, a successful week. Several runs were at the end of the day, and while the last few months have been nothing but excuses, I feel like I'm finally moving past that self-wall and getting out there and just doing it. And it feels amazing. Week 3, I'm ready for ya! Leggo!

Any tips as I head into Week 3? Sub 2 or bust! 

Friday, May 2, 2014

New Year's Race Los Angeles

Y’all… I am so excited! If you saw my Facebook post last week, you know what’s coming, but I get to officially announce it!

So a few weeks back, I saw an announcement that the NewYear’s Race was looking for their ambassador team for the 2015 race. 

Now, this race is only going into its third year (as of the 2015) race, but I’ve wanted to do it since then. Its inaugural 2013 race was when I still lived in Georgia, and I was already going to be back at work by the time the race was happening (typically the weekend after New Years, obviously). This year, I really wanted to do it, but by the time I figured out my schedule with work and other races, it was a little too out of my budget to make it work. 

So now… I finally get to run it!

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I’m excited to be a New Year’s Race 2015 ambassador. I’m part of a team of about 15 folks (out of 50!) that will be working race expos and spreading the NYR (and other Jive Live races, like the inaugural Dodgers 5K in September) love all around LA for the next 8 months! So stoked.

The race is Saturday, January 3, and the half marathon runs from Dodger Stadium to LA Live in downtown Los Angeles. Being that the race is in the evening, you literally get to run LA at night, under all the lights. 

There is also a 5K, and they’re adding a new 10K for the 2015 line up too, so there’s a race for everyone! Registration cost goes up again on May 31, but using the code below, you can save $15! Do it now before it goes up and join me as we #runLAatnight.

The folks at Jive Live are also putting together some really awesome races in the next few months, so stay tuned for more race info too! Get excited!  For more information, you can follow the NYR Facebook page here and on Twitter here too!

Will you come run LA at night with me?