Monday Mandate: September 29 – October 5

In looking back to see where I had done my last Monday Miles update, I realized I was all kinds of out of it and used dates from August!!! Guys, where has the year gone? It’s already October???

That being said, this past week was a little bit crazy:

Monday - Bike commute for 6.9 miles.

Tuesday - Bike commute for 5.9 miles. I was supposed to run but pushed it to Wednesday, instead.

Wednesday - Bike commute for 5.9 miles. I had a track workout on tap for the day (2000, 1400, 1000, and 600) but I was short on time after getting to work and just squeezed in a 20:00 run instead, covering 2.25 miles. I also had 30 min of strength and stretching on the schedule, but those did not happen…I was busy packing instead.

Thursday - Rest day since I was taking a red eye to Orlando after work!

Friday - Another rest day with travel/acclimating to the time zone. I definitely made sure to hit up some of the Food & Wine Festival events, too!

Saturday - Tower of Terror 10 Miler! Without giving too much away from my race recap, I finished in 1:29:01 and set a new 10 miler PR!

Sunday - Recovery day with A LOT of sleep!! After being in Hollywood Studios until 3:30 am, I needed the rest!

A little other fun to throw in for the weekend: I’m excited to announce that I’ll be returning as an ambassador for ZOOMA Napa Valley in June! Stay tuned for discount information! I’m looking forward to trying to set a big 10K PR next summer and I hope many of you can join me in Napa!


Your Turn: If you could do any of the ZOOMA races, which location would you pick?


A Good Vintage

A few weeks ago, I had an opportunity to Skype with my coach and talk about racing for the rest of the year, as well as where I’d like to see my training and racing go over the next couple of years. It was time to think about the big picture and make smart decisions about how to get there.

It’s not secret that the reason I got into cycling and duathlon is that I want to start racing triathlons. I was bit by the idea after hearing from several running friends that triathlon helped strengthen some of their non-running muscles, helping to balance out muscle development and prevent over-use injuries. Additionally, everyone talked about the boost to their speed that they noticed once they started racing triathlons.

Despite being a terrible swimmer, those ideas stuck with me, and I knew I wanted to make the transition. But how?

I started with the amazing road bike my brother bought me as a graduation gift when I finished grad school (am I a lucky sister or what???). In February, I raced my first duathlon. And even in the insane down pour, I loved it. I’ve spent the majority of this year working on improving my bike strength, speed, and confidence, and I’m handling my bike so much better now. I’m really excited to see how well I do at my last duathlon of the year!

So that’s where I am now. But how do I continue to advance towards my triathlon goal?

My off-season starts the second I cross the finish line of the Berkeley Half Marathon on November 9. From then until the holidays are over, I’m out of full on training mode. Instead of running all of the time, I’m going to join the gym at work and start swimming a few times a week. I’m hoping that I’ll be able to find a good place to take a couple of classes in Oakland over the weekends at some point to help with form. But I’m going to work at building up my swim strength over the winter. I’m also going to focus on strength training since it has been seriously neglected lately!

Heading into 2015, I have a few items I’ll be focusing on. I’ll race a handful of half marathons, but having made massive improvement on my time this year, I’m happy with where I am for now. Instead, I want to work on racing shorter distances – like the 10K – really well. Several duathlons and triathlons run about a 10K and I want to improve my familiarity with the distance. Maybe I can even break 50 min next year?

I’m also going to start doing longer bike rides. We’ve been looking into metric century and century rides in the area – we have plenty to choose from! – and I’m excited to start working towards the longer rides. I love getting to spend time on Scarlet and can’t wait to spend more time in the saddle next year!

But the big goal for the end of 2015? My first triathlon!! Starting with a sprint, I’m hoping to get my swim confidence up and take on my first race in the fall. (The benefit of living in Northern California is you can really race year round!) I’m hoping this sets me up well to take on some Olympic distance triathlons in the spring of 2016. Work on transitions/strategy/improving my confidence, and continue to build my swim strength.

And then there’s the big goal. The one race I told Matt I wanted to do the second we moved to the Bay Area is a big one: Vineman 70.3.

Set in Sonoma County, the Half Ironman course covers some of my favorite routes and areas in California, and I KNEW this was a must-do race for me. I have always wanted to do an Ironman, and I know that part of the process for me getting there includes racing some 70.3’s.

For a long time, I’d always say, I want to do an Ironman some day. But I’m tired of talking about it as a some day in the future; I want to make it happen. And soon. I believe that I can be ready by the summer of 2016, and I’m looking forward to making it happen. I feel like I’m in a place with my training that I’m ready to start taking these steps, and a Half Ironman is definitely within my grasp.

So here’s to making it real…putting in the work and making my dreams come true. Here’s to really testing my mettle and finding out what I have to give. Here’s to making 2016 a good vintage.


Your Turn: What big goals do you have that you’d like to start chasing down?

Racing with Strategy

It may come as no surprise to anyone that despite thinking red eyes are a good idea when booking flights, I inevitably regret them the second the flight starts. No matter what, I can never seem to get any sleep on the plane. In fact, I typed out this blog post at 2 am California time after spending an hour and a half working on the formatting of my NIH biosketch for the grant application I’m working on. And that was after a beer at the postdoc appreciation BBQ before leaving work and another large beer at the bar while watching the end of the Royals game at the airport.

With that rant over, I wanted to do a quick update on where things are training/racing-wise and where they’re headed.

If you’ve taken a look at my race calendar lately, you may have noticed that between September 19 and October 18, I have 4 races scheduled. Oops!

Following all of the Ragnar fun, I spent a lot of time thinking through what made the most sense with the races I had on my schedule already, and where I wanted my effort level to be for each of them. I obviously want to avoid injury, since I now have another 4 races left to round out my 2014 season, but I also wanted to make sure I’m not throwing away opportunities to push myself, as well.

My Coach warned me that coming off of Ragnar, I’d be exhausted. My legs would feel ok shortly after getting home from the adventure, but a combination of the miles and lack of sleep would make it difficult to find any kind of speed in them for a few weeks. So with that in mind, we crafted a plan to carry me through November 9 (aka the day I FINALLY get a pedicure and fix the disgustingness that my feet have become after 9 months of racing).

Tower of Terror Ten Miler – This race was one I was actually supposed to do last year. But between starting my postdoc and being a Matron of Honor in my best friend’s wedding around the same time, I opted to defer to this year. I hadn’t decided if I was actually going to run the race or walk it with my mom until Matt was able to find a bib a few months ago. Given Ragnar 2 weeks ago, we’ve decided that this race is going to be an easy long run with a few hundred friends J. We’re actually dressing as Ariel and Prince Eric – nothing elaborate but carefully chosen running clothes match their outfits – and plan to stop for photos along the way as long as it isn’t raining. I refuse to go beyond a 9 min/mile pace, so if you are following along Saturday night, feel free to yell at me if you see faster splits!


Healdsburg Half Marathon – The final race in the Run Wine Country Series, I signed up for this race after finishing Water to Wine in August. Run all 3 races (the first was Windsor Green in May) in the same calendar year, and you snag yourself a special label bottle of wine. That’s the kind of prize that has my name written all over it! After flying back home from Florida next week, Matt and I will head up to Healdsburg for the weekend for another easy race. I’m not going into the half with any time expectations; and in fact, I’d rather not push it. The following weekend is my big goal race for the fall and I view this race as my final big training push.

Healdsburg half marathon

Du the Bears Duathlon – My final duathlon of the season will take me back to my first duathlon course. This time I’m hoping there won’t be sideways rain and my increased experience on the bike should mean more confident handling. Racing my solo duathlon after Matt’s bike accident was a major confidence boost, and I’m looking to dominate this race and set a HUGE PR compared to where I started in February. I have yet to come in lower than 1st place in my AG this year, and with some real competition this time around, I’m hoping I can maintain my positioning! This is the race I’m really focused on nailing right now.

du the beards duathlon

Berkeley Half Marathon – On November 9, I’ll be taking to the streets of Berkeley to run my old neighborhood and some of my favorite training routes. The course is brand new this year, and if you aren’t familiar with the route, I promise you this: it’ll be a challenge. There are several hills that I often struggle to conquer, but I think that’s the excitement of this race for me. During a meeting with my Coach, we talked about using this half marathon as an opportunity to test myself on racing strategy. I have some really big goals that I’m working towards (fodder for a future post), and it’s becoming increasingly important that I learn to use sound strategy while racing instead of just giving it what I can. I’m excited to test myself on my ability to make a plan and stick to it despite the race excitement. I have a feeling that’s going to require some work!

berkeley half discount code

And that is where I leave you for now, my friends. I think it’s finally time I caught a few Z’s on this flight and tried to rest up for my next race. Catch you on the opposite coast!

Your Turn: How are you rounding out your 2014 racing schedule? Are you running any of these same races?

Monday Miles: August 8 – 28

Hello friends! It’s been a while, eh? Life has gotten super crazy since coming home from Ragnar and despite my half written posts (yes, I have several that I’m still attempting to finish!), I wanted to do a quick catch up on everything before heading to Florida later this week!

9/8 – Rest day with 6.9 miles of bike commuting.

9/9 – Bike commute for 6.9 miles plus a track workout. Did 1 mile warm up, 3200 & 1600 building from race pace to threshold, 2 x 800 at threshold, 1 mile cool down. This was a TOUGH one. Total of 6.03 miles in 51:23. I was also supposed to do 45 min of core work, but didn’t have the time or energy to get it in.

9/10 – Another day of bike commuting for 6.9 miles plus an additional bike workout. I did a 10 min warm up, 2 x 10 min at 90 cadence, 10 min build to race pace effort, 10 min easy (twice), with a 10 min spin out at 95 cadence. Altogether it was 1:20.

9/11 - Last day of bike commuting for the week for another 6.9 miles. And then one of the toughest workouts as one of my last major workouts for the year. I started with 10 min easy running followed by 20 min at tempo. Then I did 3 (out of 5) hill repeats for 3 min of climbing, running back down, and resting for 30 seconds. It. was. brutal! And I was dripping sweat! I ran a cool down back to work. Overall I did 5.68 miles in 50:47.

9/12 - Recovery day!

9/13 - Last big training run before Ragnar! I covered 10 miles around Lake Merritt in 1:39:53. It was slow and steady (my legs were totally dead from the week) but I got it done.

9/14 - Two hour brick for my last brick of the season. I started with the bike, 1:35:48, which included a spill at a stop light. So embarrassing! I think I biked about 19.66 miles. And then I headed out for 30 min run and ended up covering a total of 22.75 miles.

9/15 - Rest day!

9/16 – Bike commute for 6.9 miles. I then did 30 min of stretching at night (opting out of the strength portion).

9/17 - Another day of bike commuting for 6.9 miles. I had a 40 min easy run on the calendar but didn’t have the time to get it all in so I ended up doing 2.11 miles in 20 min.

9/18 - I was supposed to do 30 min of strength and stretching, but I ended up spending the night packing for Ragnar instead.

9/19 - Ragnar!!! I’m working on writing a recap from the weekend…I promise it’s coming! But quickly, my first two combined legs were 8.4 miles in 1:22:22. It was one hell of a leg! My third leg was 4.7 miles in 41:08. As you soon read (I hope), I had “9 f’ing kills.”

9/20 - After perhaps maybe 3 hours of very off and on sleep, my fourth leg was 8.3 miles in 1:14:49. This was quite rough, but it was beautiful!

9/21 - Recovery day…with lots of sleep!

9/22 - I was supposed to bike commute, but I was too tired to pull that one off. And quite ill (I’d spent the night puking and my stomach was still pretty upset).

9/23 - I did actually bike commute, covering 6.9 miles. I then skipped the core/stretching for the night since I was busy getting work done for some meetings last week.

9/24 - Bike commute for 6.9 miles. And then my first run since Ragnar. I did 3/4 mile warm up, 15 min fartlek with 3 min steady and 2 min easy, and then 3/4 mile cool down. I just let my legs dictate the pace on this one. It was tough but I covered 3.16 miles in 29:35.

9/25 - I was supposed to bike commute and do 30 min of stretching/core work but neither one happened.

9/26 - Rest day.

9/27 - Last long run before my next race! I headed out for 6 miles around Lake Merritt to discover that my legs are still quite tired from Ragnar! I ended up finishing in 59:28. And it was not easy. I did 4 miles easy with 2 miles building to a faster pace. Ouch!

9/28 – I had an hour of stretching and core work on the schedule but I spent the day getting work done instead. Oops!

I’ll try to check back in later this week with an update on where things are with training/racing, and where I’m headed. But first, I need to get some sleep to help get over some crazy illness that of course flared up right before vacation!

Your Turn: How has your training been going? What races do you have coming up? Will you be in Florida for the Tower of Terror 10 Miler this weekend???

It’s Relay Time!

This weekend is Ragnar Napa Valley. Excuse me while I go freak out a bit because I am NOT ready!

My bags are not packed, the vans are not picked up, I have yet to decide on what I’ll wear when, and I’m still busy making recipes from Feed Zone Portables to fuel the trek from SF to Calistoga…IN A FEW HOURS!!!

My legs mostly feel ready, but a few last minute drops from our team have meant additional miles for most of us and that’s a bit scary with my upcoming race schedule. We’ll now be running 4 legs instead of 3, so not quite the ultra team rules but a little nerve racking nonetheless. My extra leg is the start, and since I’m runner #2, that just means I’m basically extending my first leg a bit. We’re going to have 10 2/3 runners (yeah, it’s a bit of a story). Who knew how complex this could all be???

That being said, I can’t wait to toe the start line and run across the Golden Gate Bridge! As one of the newest arrivals to the Bay Area on the team, I was lucky to draw this leg!! I’ve driven across the bridge but have yet to run it…so this leg has me most excited!!

I’ll start with the 2.7 miles of leg 1 plus 5.5 miles from leg 2 at 9:30 am on Friday morning, and will wind my way out of Golden Gate Park and across the Bay to Marin. Once in Marin, I’ll hand off to runner 3. Despite my excitement for the Bridge, I’ve been warned that it’s basically a hill…and I’ve read that there will be stairs prior to that. If you know me, you know I hate stairs. I’d rather run 1 mile than walk up 1 flight of stairs…so that’s a bummer. But I bet the views from the Bridge will 100% be worth it!!Ragnar Napa leg 1

Ragnar Napa leg 1

Leg 1

ragnar napa leg 2

ragnar napa leg 2

Leg 2

Leg 14 will come up Friday evening (we’re anticipating hitting this point around 8:30 pm) and will have me running 4.7 miles through Petaluma. This will be the least entertaining of my miles, but also my shortest mileage. I’m hoping the distance is enough to help me fall asleep so I can get some good rest before my last leg. This area is definitely the least scenic of my legs, so I’m not disappointed about running through here at night at all. I’m hoping to ride the downhill after the one climb into transition at a solid pace – maybe some of the fastest miles I’ll be putting up throughout the relay.

ragnar napa leg 14

ragnar napa leg 14

Leg 14

 My final leg, leg 26, is going to be GORGEOUS. I’m running from the edge of Sonoma to the edge of Napa. You can all go ahead and be jealous now. Because I’m freaking excited for this one. I’ll be starting my run around 8:30 am, which will be great weather-wise because it won’t be too hot yet. The leg is 8.3 miles (woof) and will include the hill separating the two counties. So that could be more awesome, but it’s crossing through at a lower point, which means it could also be so much worse. I’m looking forward to enjoying the views in the morning sunlight once I crest the hill…that’s what I’ll keep thinking about on the way up :).

ragnar napa leg 26

rangar napa leg 26

Leg 26

I’ll be joining a cast of familiar faces for those of you following Bay Area bloggers. Van 1 will include Cat and Texas blogger Bean (100% appropriate since the star on the California flag is an homage to Texas). Van 2 will include Jen and Tennille. We’ve drug along some other friends and our husbands for the trip up to Calistoga (they may be regretting that decision now!) and we’re itching to get started! We’re Team You’re the wine that I want…a name that earned us recognition in the best 25 team names! If you’re keeping an eye out for us, watch for our sweet Pink Ladies and Thunderbird t-shirts!

you're the wine that i want

If you want to follow along with all of the fun this weekend, check has tags #ytwtiw and #greaselightning on social media…we’ll be sure to have some good fun as we race down Thunder Road!

Your Turn: Have you ever run a Ragnar Relay? Are you going to be out on the course this weekend??