Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Race recap: Los Gatos Jungle Run 2013

I've spent the better part of the past week waylaid by headaches and nausea that I got after attempting to go back to CrossFit after almost 2 months off. (The headaches and nausea still haven't gone away, btw. I hope it's not serious.) This definitely complicated things for me on Sunday when I went to the Jungle Run.

By all accounts, I probably shouldn't have even gone, but I'm stubborn, and plus, with two full marathons to train for, it's gotten really hard for me to find other races that fit my schedule. So off I went with my friend Sonia in search of half marathon #11 on the year.

The weather was fine, the course was familiar (I ran this one last year), and it would have been smooth sailing, if it weren't for my health. The huge, HUGE hill at the beginning of the course was much MORE huge than I remembered, and for the first couple of miles, the constant up-down of hills large and small made my calves and shins tighten up. I sent Sonia on ahead without me as I took some extra time to walk through the tightness and the headache that was building.

The headache subsided a bit and my legs felt better eventually. I managed to squeeze out a few good run intervals before I felt a familiar and UNWELCOME cramp in my abdomen after mile 3. And, as I was already familiar with the course, I was pretty sure that there would be no bathroom until we entered the park. Which was not for a couple of miles :( At first I tried the "If I run, I'll get there faster" approach, but that only works for so long before running makes things worse. I seriously considered darting into one of the commercial buildings along the street we were running on, but it was Sunday, and none of them looked open. And I REALLY did not want to squat in the bushes. Thu is NOT a squat-in-the-bushes kind of girl. Plus, we were in a commercial district, not the wild. Someone was going to come here to work the next morning... I just can't DO that.

When I finally entered the park area, I wanted to CRY, I was so happy to see the bathroom. After that, feeling totally fine and ready to run, I blasted through miles 6-9 before my head started hurting again. This part of the course was on my home trail that I always do my Sunday runs on (that's why I signed up for this race), so it felt comfortable and familiar, like a favorite sweatshirt.

The last three miles go onto a dirt portion of the trail that I never run on. It's an out-and-back, and I remember it feeling interminable - like, where the HELL is the turnaround?? It was much the same this year. Only, I realized why that was on the way back. I could barely get myself to run on the way out, but I found I was able to blitz my way back because it was downhill. The incline on the way out, for me anyway, was gentle enough for me not to realize it was an incline, but difficult enough to destroy my spirit entirely :) The decline coming back (coupled with a gentle, refreshing breeze) was the second wind I needed to finish the race.

This year, the end of the course looped around the track at LGHS (which it did NOT do last year), so my promise to myself to run to the finish line came back to bite me in the ass, as I had to run a little more than I thought (and with spectators/other runners milling about, I felt like I couldn't stop), but it was done and over. 3:07:56. Considering how I was feeling for most of the race, finishing at ALL was great. I'll take it.

Next up: THE SANTA ROSA MARATHON at the end of August. All systems go.

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Recap: Dirty Dozen 2013

Saturday was Brazen's annual endurance run, the Dirty Dozen. I did this one last year as my first Brazen race ever, and since then, my love for this company has only grown.

I have been pretty non-active lately since the end of the school year, so I didn't have particularly lofty goals - my training schedule (oh yeah! I've got a marathon coming up!) specified 16 miles, so that was my plan, and 6 hours is well more than enough time for me to cover that, even walking.

The loop went a lot faster than I remembered, and definitely not because I was moving faster :) (Because I wasn't.) The hills also weren't as bad as I remembered them being, but considering how I've done three SUPER hilly half marathons with Brazen in the past year, that's not surprising. They really weren't so bad.

I completed my 5 loop goal in 5 hours, and I suppose I could've gone back out for another one (and made it a 20-mile day), but instead, I sat down and helped myself to this:

Yeahhhhhh. BARBECUE.

And then I decided to head back out and check out the mini-loop (.67 miles) that they open for the remaining hour, and it was pretty nice - flat, scenic, and totally manageable. Well, if I didn't have a belly full of pizza and spicy sausage. (Needless to say, I just walked the mini-loop.) They had a separate timing pad set up for the mini-loop that you had to cross every time you started another one.

In total: 17.52 miles in the 6 hours (though it was really more like 5:15:-- of actual running/walking and 0:45:00 of nomming).

I'm thinking about signing up for the 12-hour next year and attempting an ultra distance... Hmm...

This makes 10 half-marathons done for the year.* Number 11 comes this Sunday... the Jungle Run in Los Gatos!

The logo on the hoodies we got!

Guy in a silly clock costume! Of course I took a picture!

The adorable medal. No bottle opener this time though, but it still works as a coaster.

I know this is loop 1, because I still had my jacket on. It was REALLY windy and freezing.

Not sure which loop this was, but I'm running here, so it was probably 2 or 3 :)

*Even though I completed way more than 13.1, I'm still counting this towards my 13 in '13. The reason why I can count this one instead of, say, my full marathon as a HM is because I could've stopped at 13-ish miles and it would still count as an official race result. I cannot stop in the middle of a full marathon, because it would count as a DNF. You see?

Wednesday, July 3, 2013

When is a compliment not a compliment?

By rubyetc on Tumblr. Click for the full comic (it's worth it!)
As part of my marathon training program, I have long runs I'm supposed to do on the weekends. The main part of the trail that I'm usually on is 6 miles long, and since most of the time (whether I'm training or not) I don't usually have to run more than 12 miles, I rarely have to venture past the 6-mile marker. But this weekend I did - I had a 14-miler on Sunday (and it will only go up from here).

This other part of the trail covers an additional two miles and has a different feel from the first 6 miles (to me, anyway) - it runs not through a pretty park but under the freeway overpasses, and while it does get its fair share of athlete traffic (runners and cyclists), it's also kind of scary to me. Maybe because I'm rarely there and am less familiar? And maybe also because it's fairly common to encounter... um... unsavory types on that part of the trail.

This weekend, while desperately in search of the 7-mile marker (alone, I might add), I walked by a man who was lounging in the shade on the grass on the opposite side of the trail, intently watching people pass by. I was instantly wary, because I don't like being stared at and also because (showing my prejudice here, and I admit it) he looked homeless. But he just seemed to be people-watching, so I thought nothing of it.

Until he hollered out to me, "Hey, how are you doing today?"

I tensed up. It is here that I should point out that I already kind of have anti-social tendencies in general - I'm wary of strangers talking to me for no reason, like, "Why are you being nice to me? Why are you talking to me?", and I freeze up rather awkwardly - and especially when I'm out for a run (or a walk), I'm not a talker. Maybe I end up coming across as a jerk, but I don't say "Hello!" or "Good morning!" to other runners and walkers when I'm out and about, even if they say hi first. I'm usually trying to focus my energy on getting myself from Point A to Point B, and most of the time, I don't even have the breath to say something. Even with my own best friend, after a certain point, I just get too tired to talk.

So take all that ^ plus the fact that I was extra tired on Sunday (I really had no business trying to cover 14 miles, but I made myself do it anyway), and it was really hot, and this was some stranger hollering at me as I walked by... I really wasn't in the mood to socialize. Also, why was he talking to ME? I hadn't heard him say a single word to anyone else ahead of me, so why ME?

I gave a perfunctory nod, without making eye contact, to acknowledge that I'd heard him, hoping that would be enough (I mean, what kind of response was he expecting I would give?). But apparently it wasn't.

"You're a cutie!" he yelled.

Oh, god. Why did my legs have to be so tired? I would've liked to run away RIGHT NOW.

"Have a good rest of your day!" he yelled again, as I passed out of range.

I didn't hear him say anything else to anyone else behind me. I guess I'm just the lucky one who caught his eye.

Reader, I didn't feel so great about this. I wasn't shaken up, but I was really tense, especially knowing that I had to pass him again on my way back. (He didn't say anything to me that time, but also, I was sprinting.)

It could've been worse, right? He didn't say anything lewd or obscene, and he didn't call me a b***h when I didn't respond to him. Was I overreacting? Am I a jerk for feeling profoundly uncomfortable that some random stranger had singled me out for a compliment? He was just trying to be nice, after all. Maybe I looked so exhausted and demoralized that he thought he was cheering me up.

But here's the thing, right: I did not feel that it was a compliment. I was not in the right frame of mind to receive compliments at that precise moment. I was already physically uncomfortable from the heat and exhaustion, and emotionally uncomfortable from being all alone on a path that I'm not super familiar with. The man's appearance was not such that would reassure me that he didn't have ill intentions towards me. I was not, at that moment, receptive to receiving compliments. And I thought I had made that clear with my response to his initial greeting.

In the right situation - the right place, the right time, with the right people around me - being called a cutie would make me smile and blush. In the right situation, I would have no doubt that the person who says that to me is trying to be nice.

It's not being nice if you insist on talking to me even if I don't want to talk to you. It's not being nice if you are prioritizing your supposed gesture of niceness over my personal comfort and security. It's as if you're saying, "To hell with how YOU feel. I am GOING to talk to you, no matter what YOU want." It's not nice at all. In most cases it is annoying, and in certain circumstances, it is downright threatening. It doesn't matter whether I am being called cute or whether I am being catcalled and whistled at like a dog (which has also happened to me while out running) - IT IS NOT A COMPLIMENT.

To truly be nice involves an understanding of what the other person needs from you in that moment. And sometimes, what they need is to be left alone.