January 31, 2016

Beautiful Steps Forward

View from the SF Park Run. So Gorgeous! (Apparently, a good sailing day?)
This week was gorgeous.

Rain, filling reservoirs in California.  A company party for one of my clients. A return to track day and good strong speedy intervals.  An 11 minute jump-rope and calisthenics workout.  Really, what's not to like?

On my way back to the car after coffee at the kiosk at the St. Francis Yacht  Club after Park Run SF...

I'd signed up to drive the whole bay loop this weekend, apparently.  Saturday AM, after a lazy night at home with E streaming In Bruges on netflix and an early night, I drove from Silicon Valley to Chrissy Field for a 9 AM Park Run.  From there, I avoided Super Bowl city to get to the Bladium on Alameda to meet a friend for a celebratory lunch.  And, finally, I drove the 880 back home, before a client dinner at the 49er Stadium, all lit up for the super bowl.

Just another reminder that I need a real camera.  These lights and signs were so much cooler than this looks.

But, the party was fun.
We had a wonderful time at the January annual pseudo holiday party.  Our crew got a kick out of learning that apparently George and Amal and their crew had reserved the same in-stadium venue for a party next week during the actual festivities.  So, we were at least there first... (and parking and traffic were not too insane.)

Saturday AM, as I mentioned, before the drive around the bay, I ran my first Park Run (thanks to Cat and her commitment to running and being British).

That's some joy right there.  Who's happy to be done?  ME!
 I ran the last 1.5M of the race with a woman from England who informed me, "Our local Park Run is 5 repeated loops of 1K around our local park... This is, well, much nicer..."
Me, Cat and JL (plus A) -- A great morning, for sure.
Other than that, I have not much to report.  Weekly mileage total is 25.46.  Track happened again and the paces were faster than required.  Other workouts were good as well.  Today, I woke late and headed out for a super slow 12+/mile 6 mile run (only realizing at 3 miles that I'd forgotten my keys since I thought I was running to pick up the car we'd left at the party).

And all of a sudden, it's time to prepare for next week.  (How is it time to do timesheets again?)

January 25, 2016

A Very Solid Week

On the running front, my foot seems to have recovered.

Monday -- easy jogging 1.09 miles + 0.43 walk.  Stopped as soon as the foot even started twinging.

Tuesday -- complete rest due to work and managing transportation and support for some minor surgery for E.

Wednesday -- TRACK DAY!  Back at the track for the first time in 9 weeks.  2X400; 600; 2X400; 600; 400.  All right on pace or faster than the targets per McMillan Running calculator for my sub 2:39 half.  I also parked 1 mile away and jogged there and jogged back, so with the warm-up and recovery the day's total was a very respectable 5.85 miles.  I'm hopeful I can park and run in this week as well.

Thursday -- 2 X (1 min jump rope intervals between 30 seconds pushups; situps; dips) (9 minutes hard calisthentics); 3 miles easy @ 11:24; 0.18 walk

Friday -- (HOLY SORE ARMS/SHOULDERS, BATMAN!) Rest, attend conference and give a presentation.

Saturday -- (ARMS STILL ANGRY!) 3.21 miles in Altadena.  Anytime you see Alta in the name, you should assume there will be hills.  There were.  The loop was 1 mile with 200 ft of elevation gain, followed by 2 miles with some small rollers to recover it.  Overall, it was a great run.  If I lived on those hills, I think I'd be more fit.

Sunday -- (ARMS, finally starting to recover) 9.3 miles total, including 4 with the local running club, and some run/walk intervals after I picked up a lemonade.  Average pace including walk breaks was approximately 12 minutes/mile.

Total mileage = 23.14.  But more importantly, I got in 2 actual workouts (track and a long run) and a solid hill run to boot.  Overall, this felt like my best running week in a long time.  Next week's goal is to keep up the good work, and try to get in another calisthenics day, possibly a yoga day as well.

Professionally, last week was wonderful.  I prepared for and spoke at a conference and received great feedback.  It's odd to be experienced and senior enough in my career that I'm now one of the people speaking at a conference I want to attend who has ability to answer questions from the top of my head.  I used to be amazed to see my professional idols do it, and now, I'm doing it, sometimes in response to questions posed by those same professional idols.  That evolution is a wondrous thing. 

January 17, 2016

Great Food Week, Meh Running Week

So, E's brother in law sent him a gigantic Wagyu steak for his Christmas present (delicious guilt flown from Japan to New York to California).

So Marbled!
Saturday night pre-race fancy seafood dinner (with caviar!), followed by dim sum post-race brunch, followed by wagyu post-race dinner -- net zero I'm sure.

Why yes, the grease fire did continue after the steak was removed.

It was delicious.  We served 4. 
2 friends came over to enjoy the spoils, and when it looked like the guys might actually challenge each other to finish (which surely would have made them ill from how rich it was), I offered to take the leftovers and make a bolognese we could take to their house and have for dinner on Tuesday.  Turns out, refrigerated wagyu leftovers are roughly as easy to chop as refrigerated bacon.  Probably because the fat/protein ratio is the same.
Wagyu Bolognese.

Unfortunately, I woke on Monday to pain on the left side of my foot.  Right below where I'd rolled my ankle both times.   I took a full day of rest and used my new spiralizer to make zucchini noodle "ramen". (Don't even get me started on how obsessed I am with the spiralizer -- fully half of the meals I've made since we've been home in 2016 have required this gadget.)

This spiral slicer has taken over my 2016 cooking.

The "ramen" was a big hit, and nice and healthy and light.
Veggie "ramen"

Unfortunately, the outside of my left foot was still sore on Tuesday.  I was excited to keep up the running momentum, but didn't want to do anything stupid, so I opted to walk 3 miles instead of run.

Wednesday, I hiked the Stanford dish with a friend, foot sore and grumpy but not noticeably getting worse.

Finally, Thursday, it seemed to have recovered.  So, I did some treadmill intervals while finishing my book club book during the walking recovery.  I finished 3 miles total, and although 2/3 was walking, the 4 short speed intervals were at 7:30/mile pace and 1% incline.  It's been a long time since I asked my body to move that quickly.  No post-workout foot pain, although the next day my glutes and hamstrings were very confused and sore.

Friday, I headed out for a short easy run but the foot flared up at 0.61 miles, so, resigning myself to the wiser option, I walked back home.  Discouraging.

Saturday, I pulled off 1.75 miles in the mid 11s without pain and decided to end on a good note, feeling that 6+ miles on Sunday with a friend should be doable in my current state.  I walked another 0.75 home.

And, today, I joined a friend who's on 4:00 jog/ 1:00 walk intervals and we chatted our way through a 6.7ish mile loop around Grand Lake in Oakland.  Success!  Only minor foot soreness now, but nothing compared to last week's tenderness.

Bonus!  It's restaurant week in Oakland, and we enjoyed a delicious (and authentically slow) 3-course post run Italian brunch at Bellanico for $20.  Best value meal I've enjoyed in a *long* time.

Total mileage for the week?  22.28.  Only 50% running.  I very much hope that my foot is healing and won't continue to be an issue. 

January 10, 2016


Gorgeous Day on Ocean Beach!
Today, E2 and I ran our first race together in 6+ years.  She was my original running buddy back in the day (she's the friend I've had in my life the longest, and she's essentially family).  I lost her running companionship to injuries a while back, so imagine how thrilled I was when she mentioned late last year that she'd been increasing her mileage without negative side effects and wondered if I would be interested in running the San Francisco Hot Chocolate 15K with her.  It was a magical day (and a great way to celebrate a big day in her life).

Random super-tall photobomber at the start.

It was a new (to me) distance, although I was slightly familiar with the race from having ran to the finish last year (I knew to expect that it would be huge).

Do you know what a new distance means?  Immediate PR!
Look!  Bison!
And I needed that level of affirmation.  I've been struggling for the last year to find motivation to push myself.  Running is just not something where I'm interested in things being difficult.  I have plenty of areas of life that are difficult.  With running, lately, I like to get out for *time* on my feet.  But pacing is so uninteresting when I'm stressed from life, that I often find myself jogging, or run-walking, or not even worrying about the time at all -- escaping and lazy.

Look, here we are, all the way out at the ocean.

Thankfully, E2 was having none of this.  She lied and told me she would need to take lots of walk breaks.  In truth, we only walked for water, to take photos, and to take a porta-john stop around mile 6.

After we hit the 8 mile marker, it was clear to me that I'd hit the wall, so I told E2 to take off.  It was very obvious that despite her 6+ years of not much running, she was much more fit than I was, *and* the last mile+ of this race is uphill.  And E2 is a billy goat.  When she's able to run, she has this annoying quality where she actually gets *faster* going uphill.  So, she agreed to ditch me and left.  I took solace in the fact that while I alternated with 50X8 count running, and 100 steps walking for 3 intervals before I felt that I could finally slowly jog/run to the end, I still passed people consistently (open corral for the win!).

Finally!  Done.
When all was said and done, I finished 4 minutes after E2, so I definitely made the right call in encouraging her to book it up the final hills.

On the other hand, much to my surprise, I'm totally pleased with the outcome.  It's a nice strong positive split, but it includes several walk breaks, photo breaks, and a long porta-john stop.  I may actually be (*gasp*) in slightly better shape than I realized (thanks for the heat, humidity and hills, Hawaii!).  I couldn't find my Garmin this AM in the hotel room (thinking I'd left it at home), so all I have to rely upon is the official data:

Interval Chip Time Chip Pace
5K 0:33:20 10:44 min/mi
10K 1:12:55 11:45 min/mi
Finish 1:52:06 12:02 min/mi

5 weeks 'til Kaiser half.  I feel very confident that I will be able to finish.  Just how fast is up for grabs at the moment, but I'll take any finish as a success.  Last year, thanks to support from F, I barely pulled through with a 2:39 (11:51 AVG including all breaks).  At this point, I think targeting beating that is reasonable and good.  So that's what I'm taking as my B goal.  A goal to be determined.  

January 8, 2016

Final 2015 Audiobook Roundup

So, this is part 3.  Parts 1 and 2 available as well.  I managed a total of 48 full audiobooks in 2015.  I think it's safe to say I'm addicted.  In my mind, it's not a bad thing.  I get more exposure to art, culture, writing, etc.  But, I'm still an addict.

If you're looking for feedback or options on what's been occupying my time doing chores, driving, and non-super-strenuous workouts, here you go.  Enjoy!

Jeffrey Eugenides
Hilarious.  Poignant.  Exploration of gender and society and history and racism and more.  Every bit a classically impressive work of art as its reputation claims.  22 hours of audiobook. Excellent narration.
Underground: the Tokyo Gas Attack and the Underground Psyche
Haruki Murakami
The last in the audiobooks seeking to educate me on Japan before the trip.  An in-depth set of interviews with survivors and Aum cult members regarding the Sarin gas attacks.  Fascinating.
Drew Barrymore
Drew and I are so close in age that I feel as if we grew up together.  This memoir was so touching -- if you're in my cohort, you knew some of the basics of her background and history, but this filled in many details and humanized her as well as helped explain how she's grown into the successful entrepreneur, producer, and mother that she clearly is today.
Oryx and Crake
Margaret Atwood
I'd read this one in 2004.  Book club wanted to read it, so I listened to the audiobook as a refresher.  It held up surprisingly well.  The themes and concerns she has are all applicable today and the science and reality she describes are equally as possible today as they were a decade ago.
Furiously Happy
Jenny Lawson
Perhaps the best book I've ever read (listened to) about mental illness.  Funny and entertaining, but also so endearing and educational.  I applaud her efforts.
Adventures of the Karoake King
Harold Taw
Perhaps the most random book selection of the year.  Plot points include, karoake, divorce, multinational corporate development, a self-help guru, a retired porn-star dwarf, and a thai child who was sold into the sex-trade and now works as an adult sex-worker, perhaps willingly?  It's complicated.
Self-Inflicted wounds
Aisha Tyler
Light.  Comical.  Breezy.  Fun to learn about the 70s and 80s in Oakland and San Francisco from someone who grew up there.  If you watch Archer, it's odd to have Lana's voice narrate...
My Life In France
Julia Child & Alex Prud'homme
Now I know that Julia Child is my spirit animal.  I do love France for many of the same reason she does.  This book made me realize just how different the pace of life is today versus the 50s, 60s, and 70s.  It's not like she didn't accomplish a ton of things, but she also had so much time for leisure and pleasure.  Everything about this story screamed at me "Choose your life.  Make it what you want it to be."  I don't think the goal of this book was to be inspiring, but I found it to be one of the best stories I've ever read about choosing your own authentic path (and how everyone has obstacles, you just have to find a way through them).
Jonathan Franzen
I started this one on December 16th, and didn't finish it until today, because, in typical Franzen style, it's LONG.  I am part of the camp that believes Jonathan Franzen is one of the greatest living American Authors.  I just love the way he strings words together to describe things perfectly with descriptions I've never heard before, but instantly recognize as true.  I learned at a lawyer's lunch that he's pissed off some women/feminists when I explained I was reading this book and one of my colleagues shook her head and another literally tusk-tsked.  When I asked why they had such a negative reaction, one of the ladies replied with a screwed up face, "He has a woman problem."  A couple other women at the table nodded.  "Huh."  I said.  "I've only read The Corrections, and it seemed to me that all of the characters in that book were equally insufferable.  I didn't find it particularly harsh on women.  And with this book, the main character is a young woman.  And she evolves and is interesting and carries the story well."  I then went to reserach the history of the criticism and personally concluded that he's an awkward dude with a penchant for telling the truth, even if it makes him sound like an asshole (I mean, he pissed off Oprah, which I'm guessing is why he's automatically thrown into the "woman problem" camp).  But, I don't think he's a misogynist.  This book does have some scenes of violence (including violence against women) and horrible emotional manipulation (including by and of women), but really, to me, it's just a great exploration of the dark depths of humanity in a complex tale of interwoven characters and American culture.  I very much enjoyed it.


January 4, 2016

Hawaii Wrap-Up

We agreed, it had been at least 5 years since we'd been as relaxed as we were as we headed to the airport after our final hike.  (I'd done a nice 6ish run/walk in the AM to lead into the final exit.)

Iao State Park -- The Iao Needle (or "phallic stone" if you want to go with the local signage)

The hike rewarded our relaxation with not much in the way of physical demands at all.  This was kind of funny, because, I'm a freak about getting to the airport with enough time, so I'd built in all sorts of spare hours and assumed the hike would take at least an hour (and we'd packed clothes to change into after the hike before the flights...).  Despite our preparations, the Garmin informed us that it took less than 25 minutes from parking, to hiking all available trails and taking photos, and exiting.  We changed into our long pants and other plane-appropriate attire, but not because of the hike -- I didn't even bother to change socks...

One of the many river views - refreshing spray and cover, a rarity on Maui.
For once, we actually managed a very solid selfie with a view in the background!

It's all about the front lighting!
After the hike, we headed to the Kahului Ale House for lunch.  It was a wait, but I had the best Saimin (and E loved his buffalo boneless chicken wings)!

Dashi-based broth, fish cake, mushrooms, cabbage, hawaiian chashiu, spam, 2 hard-boiled eggs, AMAZING.

I'd done about 2 days worth of research re: saimin and I was committed to getting some authentic saimin before we left. (We'd already returned to last visit's ramen winner for a dinner of Agu Ramen after watching The Big Short thanks to mahalo Tuesday at the Ward Center.)

This option did not disappoint.  Our server informed us that they often run out - because while they are a sports pub, people just come in and order their Saimin 'cause it's that good.  And it was.

Overall, given this singular exposure to the dish, my take is that the noodles are thicker than ramen, and have more fat (possibly egg noodles?), but shockingly, for Hawai'i, the basic broth and soup is actually lighter than what I associate with the Japanese version.  The preparation was a DELICIOUS broth.  I forced E to taste some (despite his focus on his boneless buffalo wings...a man has to have his vices), and he agreed, it was delicious -- light, protein heavy, but flavorful and easy to drink.  In addition to the broth and all the other soup components,  I was surprised to find that in addition to the fish cake (which I know I love), I enjoyed the sliced spam that had obviously been stewed into the dashi more than I expected - it was delicious, which is not something I've ever said about Spam before...

Anyways, that was it for us.  After this visit to the Ale House, we went to the airport and despite airline delays, eventually ended up at home.  So the Saimin was my final Hawaiian meal this visit, and I think I'm totally cool with that outcome.

January 2, 2016

2015: The Year On My Feet

Total Mileage:  1,262.57  (the least since 2012, which was a lazy recovery year following the epic 2011 where I ran most of the 1,660 miles I clocked, including 4:13 and 4:09 marathons -- I'm tired just thinking about that year.)

Portion running (vs. walking or hiking): unclear, but likely > 66%

-kaiser half
-oakland half
-SLO half
-Seattle Rock 'n Roll half
-Dirty Dozen 5K
-49ers rush 4.9K
-Rock 'n Roll San Jose 10K
 (First year without a marathon since 2010)

PRs:  None.  But, I think my PR days have sailed.  Running is not anywhere near the disciplined training plan hobby for me these days that it has been at times in the past.  These days it is something I do to relax, chill out, listen to audiobooks, and get in the miles.  It is rare for me to find the will to really push myself on a run, and I'm okay with that.

-Sliced toe
-rolled ankle a few times in October and November

Best Running Memories:
-Group runs with the bay area running ladies and post-run brunch
-Meeting up with friends and/or cheering them on at races

Goals for 2016:
Well, since my best half last year was Oakland at 2:22:09, (I told you I've really been struggling with pushing myself), I think a good reasonable goal to start with is to shoot for a a sub 2:22 half in Oakland.  I've got the Hot Chocolate 15K next weekend, which should give me a good assessment of my actual fitness right now, and then 5 weeks 'til Kaiser and another 5 'til Oakland.  Other than that, I think I'd like to increase my overall mileage and not worry too much about pacing again this year.  One thing that should help is the new treadmill.  I may try to get out and on it for at least a walking uphill mile or so at the end of every day as a supplement to my running and see how that treats me.  I should probably try to get in some more speed work...