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How to Accidentally Run 22 Miles

Sunday’s run schedule was 7 miles with “intro to hills”, so we met at the corner of Gretna Green and Montana in Brentwood. My initial plan was to do 17 miles (my last long run before the Austin Marathon), because the previous day, I ran 3, to total out a 20 mile weekend. Now, about that title of this blog post – how did I accidentally run 22 miles? I didn’t plan a run route beforehand. I wasn’t really paying attention to my Garmin watch either – OOPS! Learn from me – don’t do that!

The practice spot was pretty close to my house, so I just ran there. Then the next 7 miles were a Brentwood Golf Course Loop (3 something miles), followed my hill intervals. What does that mean? Franklin St, just a little past the start of the run loop, was a pretty decent hill. We had to do hill repeats, 0:90 first time at easy pace, 0:60 second time at a moderate pace, then 0:30 at full speed. After each climb was a recovery downhill, then after the set of 3, a mile loop around the neighborhood. Repeat the set of 3 for 3 times. Whew! I was SPENT! At that point, I wasn’t sure if I should continue my long run.

I knew I had to complete a long run before Austin or else I’d be struggling during that marathon (even though I don’t plan on PRing it), so I just said F it, let’s do it. Fortunately, one of my coaches is training for the American River 50 Ultramarathon, so he had to knock out a 3 hour run. I agreed to run the first few miles with him. From Brentwood, we took a nice scenic route through the tree-lined neighborhood of Santa Monica, heading west to Ocean. Felt really great the whole time, averaging a 8:45-9:00 min pace, slightly downhill. We had good conversation about running, triathlons, travel and all that good stuff. I was supposed to split and turn at the Santa Monica Pier, but I felt so good, I decided to keep running towards Venice. Time flies when you’re having fun and the pace was just right that I guess I was at my cruising speed. I was only paying attention to major markers along the Boardwalk, not really paying attention to my watch. That was a big mistake, because once we hit the Venice Pier, I decided to head back north, while my coach continued south. Uh oh… I was at 16 at that point, and I was maybe 5+ miles away from home. I had no other choice but to run back.

By the end of it all, I was exactly at 22 miles. I was dehydrated because the last few miles before home didn’t have any stores or water fountains. I did my stretches infront of my place real quick, then rushed to my kitchen to chow down on my Hollybar recovery nutrition, and drank to refuel my electrolytes! I think I scarfed down my food/drinks in less than 30 seconds! I cooked some food immediately after, and I was done with that in no time either! Done and done! I guess I’m ready for the Austin Marathon in 2 weeks!

I only had time to get a little powernap before I had to go to my teammate Travis’ Superbowl fundraiser in Eagle Rock. Nonstop action! It was a Korean BBQ buffet, so you know I was all over that! 3 rounds of food to be exact. It was really fun, but I was struggling to stay awake. I pretty much stayed in the same spot, mainly because I was so tired. I didn’t want to move to a couch because of fears of possibly falling asleep! It was an awesome way to end a full weekend of training, after a full week of no training because of work.

LEVEL Run Club @ Monterey

Last weekend, our company, LEVEL Studios flew the company to Monterey, CA for our annual Kickoff Party. We usually don’t do a holiday party in December because it gets pretty busy for everyone with the holidays, so January gives us a fresh start on a high note. Because of this weekend trip, it threw my training somewhat out of the window. I missed a Build 2 phase brick Saturday, which would have been a 40 mile ride, with run after. I think I danced 4 hours at the company party at night, so that counts towards my workout, right?
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Boot & Rally

So Saturday was a huge day, woke up early then a 2.5 hour practice, took down the course IronTEAM signs, then immediately rush home to get ready for my bar crawl fundraiser MAN v BAR 7. The fundraiser lasted from 2pm-9pm officially, but stayed a few more hours until midnight. That’s 10 hours of drinking! Ok ok, my nutrition plan is waaaaay off here, but it was considered a miracle if I even showed up to the early Sunday run practice!

The route? Met at Ocean and San Vicente, run up San Vicente, Brentwood Golf Course loop and back, then an out and back towards the Santa Monica Pier if time permits. Yes, so many surprised faces when I showed up… but also surprised at other people that were at MAN v BAR too. So we did a warmup to 4th St up San Vicente, then back to stretch. The goal was to do a 7 mile minimum in 80 minutes for Intermediate, or 90 minutes for advanced. Started off thinking I’ll do the intermediate set, because in no way I consider myself advanced, but a funny thing happened to me halfway through the run – I actually felt great! Runner’s high? Maybe. It was also downhill for the second half. Not going to complain! I ended up continuing the run towards the Pier, and once it hit my turnaround for the 80, I figured, what’s 10 minutes more? I ran to the Pier, and by the time I came back, it was around 90 minutes for 10 miles! Much faster and further than I originally planned! Maybe I should do a 10 hour drinking binge before a timed run like this more! (Just kidding, coaches!)

Southbay Sunset Run

Ain’t gonna lie, what brought me out to do the run last Sunday in the South Bay (17 miles away) instead of Santa Monica (3 miles away) was because of the post-run food – tacos! A later start time was a treat too because I could sleep in plus I had some family stuff in the morning carrying over to lunch anyway. I was running a little late, so I thought I’ll be running this alone until taco time, but luckily, they were still waiting for the whole gang to arrive.

The course was south on The Strand until “The Wall” in Redondo Beach. From there, we headed east on that main road, slightly uphill, until the start of the Wood Chip Trail. The Wood Chips are nice and flat with a soft ground. We took it all the way to Manhattan Beach Blvd and headed back to the beach.

It was a lovely recovery downhill to The Stand, and from there we headed back to Hermosa Beach. The timing near the end of the run and the sunset was nearly perfect. It might of been the plan the whole time from our El Capitan Scott, but it was a nice surprise to all of us! We ran to the end of the Pier to catch the sunset. Check it out… so beautiful!

Then, when you turn around, there it was a full moon rising along the same horizon. What timing! We we all in awe. We took several photos, Twitter & Facebook updates as usual. We took in this beautiful sight, so amazed that it’s only January too!

This… is… life. Also, check out the view with the fisherman below. I hope to one day grow old and just chill like that, looking back and how beautiful life is and the memories we had.

Unfortunately, the run wasn’t over, so we finished it with another out and back to the Redondo Beach Wall. Oh yeah, almost forgot about some sexy sax (not Careless Whisper, but close) soundtrack for a bit of the run. The whole time we were still amazed at what we had witnessed, a true runner’s high, completely unrelated to the actual “run” itself. The fun didn’t stop when we got back to Hermosa Pier. We continued at Hot’s Kitchen a few blocks away to try some of their delicious tacos, over 50 varieties to choose from! Oh you know we devoured those tacos with a quickness!

Week 1 – Ocean & San Vicente Run

What luck, the very first practice of the season, and it was raining. Not hard though, but some drizzle. At the beginning though, it was just overcast and cold, but gave us plenty of time to do some meet & greet with the new teammates! It was tough to remember some names from Kickoff, but name tags definitely helped. Coaches went over the gist of the first few weeks/months of practice along with a quick icebreaker, where we stood in a circle, alphabetically.

After a quick warm up run to 4th st and San Vicente in Santa Monica, Coach Jason went through some run drills and dynamic stretches. Oh and I learned something new today, relating to run form, an acronym called “S.H.E.L.F.”. S = Shoulders (relax them), H = Head (head straight), E = Elbows (position & move straight back, no side to side), L = Lean (let gravity move you forward, lean at the ankles), and F = Foot (placement at the ball of the foot, not the heel). Definitely something to save and remember on all my runs because one of my goals this season is to improve my running form into a more efficient one.

After a quick 30 minute run, we had a team potluck where we got to know each other a little more, even with some rain in drizzle in between. Since I was already out there, I rested a few hours then continued to do a 20 mile run all by myself by doing loops on San Vicente. Yeah, VERY boring running alone, but that’s what was on my Rock N Roll Vegas Marathon schedule. It was a few weeks of non-running since the Portland Marathon so I was really surprised I was able to finish it without any complications!

Final Taper Weekend

This final weekend of training before Vineman was a perfect mix of workouts & social events with the team.

It was so great to see the whole team together again after a week apart because of Carmageddon and Vineman 70.3. The scheduled workout was a 45 min swim, 3 hour minimum bike, then a 30 minute run, so we pretty much did a triathlon. We did our usual jog down the sand and swam north. Bike & run intensity was subdued, a more “conversational” pace, which we really did. By the end it didn’t feel like we did a workout, but that’s the purpose of the taper.

At night, we ceelbrated our teammate, Holly’s birthday at the Hollywood Forever Cemetery in Hollywood, watching “It Happened One Night” starring Clark Gable and Claudette Colbert. I was pretty excited to go because it was my first time at a Hollywood Cemetery Cinespia event. There were about 10 of us from the team, set up a little picnic area in the large grassy field of the cemetery. Let me tell you though, cemeteries freak the hell out of me more than anything, and it seriously gave me the creeps and chills walking from my car to the movie site.

Sunday morning’s run was a nice easy 60 minute run Amalfi Loop which is our default route in Santa Monica. It’s pretty crazy how I can call this “easy” because this route was super challenging for me prior to joining the IronTEAM. We kept the pace light in the beginning, then on the way down San Vicente, I picked up the pace to a 7:30-8:00/min mile (I wish I could always run like this, but there was a slight downhill).

That night was another first for me as some of us went to The Hollywood Bowl to watch Stevie Wonder and Friends. It was a fun night picnicking at the benches, lounging and socializing to some really good soul music. The vibe was so energetic as people were dancing in their seats, talking to others around them, and all the way to the bus ride home everyone was still dancing and chatting it up. Some good times for sure!

Carmageddon Training Weekend

For months and months, L.A. was warned about the big 405 freeway closure, aka Carmageddon, and because of this our team was split into its respective regions (East side, westside, valley, and southbay) all weekend. Although it turned out to be an absolute win for the freeways as it was all green and open according to Google Maps, it was really weird to not have the whole team practice as a whole. A big chunk of our team was also at Santa Rosa for the Vineman 70.3 to race and spectate. I really missed everyone, and I give it up to people who train for these Iron distances alone because it was really tough without the support that our team normally gives week by week.

Saturday, we had a scheduled 4 hour bike ride, so my region, Westside, met at our usual Ocean Blvd and San Vicente meetup spot. It was led by our coach Arkady, but it was only him & his girlfriend, Elyse, Tony and I. We started heading north on PCH for 1:15, then back (I made it to Encinal Canyon). Since we rode in a small pack, we were able to push up the speeds a bit and I was able to practice my race pace, which I figured out to be around 18ish mph without my legs feeling too crazy tired. Once back at basecamp, we headed up San Vicente and up Madeville Canyon, about a 1400 ft climb. That new 11/28 cassette worked wonders at the very end, where it became super steep. By the end of the 4 hours, I clocked in 67.37 miles, an average of 16.8 mph, probably one of my best rides to date considering there was a pretty big climb. A 30 minute transition run after the bike was rough as usual, but manageable.

Sunday, we met at the same spot where the same people met along with some of Coach Arkady’s Meetup Group. Training Peaks schedule was to do 2 hours, with a minimum of 10 miles. I ended up running the whole time with my teammates Elyse, who is usually a little faster than I am, but it was an opportunity to push myself a little bit, plus we helped each other’s pace in check because it is sometimes better to be running with someone rather than alone. Just like yesterday, this run became one of my best ones this season, running 13.1 miles in 2:02. Just a minute more than my half marathon PR, and this was actually a pretty comfortable pace for me.

After the super humbling 5/3 the other week, this weekend’s workout boosted my confidence back up again, and I definitely feel ready for the big race. We have one more recovery week to go before we enter the final taper week until Vineman! Can’t wait!

The 5/3 Monster Brick

This morning’s workout was the infamous “5/3 Monster Brick” that our coaches have been telling us about (meaning 5 hours bike, 3 hours run). I chose the picture above because you know what? The monster was probably more afraid of the IronTEAM than we were afraid of it. We were a bunch of fearless teammates who will take on whatever the coaches give us!

The coaches intentionally chose Westlake Village because of the expected heat this weekend, which will simulate what it will be like on raceday for us Vineman racers. For the Louisville team, they had to even wear cotton shirts under their normal gear because it will be even more humid & hot over there. Yikes! I was really looking forward to this workout because it was the last major build of the season, plus I installed my new 11/28 cassette last night so I wanted to see what difference it would make (it made a HUGE difference in climbing). The majority of the bike course was all that we’ve seen before, so the biggest variant was the heat, so our hydration strategy had to be dialed in. I actually felt really great on the bike – I even got up to 42mph at one point, a new season high! In the 5 hours, I managed to ride in about 78 miles, which wasn’t too bad considering all the hills 7 heat.

It was the run where everything started to break down. I don’t know exactly what I did wrong. Maybe it was the lack of sleep the previous few days? Maybe it was not enough water? Maybe I didn’t set up the nutrition on the bike well enough to power my run? It just wasn’t my running day. I felt tired early on, and was I really bonking at mile 5?! I did quite a bit of walking, as this was probably my most difficult feeling run of the season. I was so hungry that my stomach was growling. I even yawned at one point. Really?!? I talked to my coaches and they said I probably didn’t have enough carbs. That’s something I’ll have to double check, and it really goes to show how important calculating nutrition is, especially on really hot days, where things can go really bad if not planned correctly. Through the aches and pains, I eventually got through the 16.5 miles with life-saving SAG stops by teammates Traci and Elizabeth, then a moving SAG by Kristi who helped with my hunger with some yams that she had in her bento box. If this was a true taste of what’s to come at Vineman, this definitely humbled me a bit, as I can’t take things for granted and really have to pay attention to the details. Oh, the weekend isn’t over yet! Open water swim + run tomorrow. Bring it!

First 100+ Mile Weekend

Last weekend was a monster one because it finished build week 2 of 3, before we do another recovery week.

On Saturday, we met in Long Beach, not too far from where we met last time, but right at the border near Seal Beach. We were scheduled to do a 5 hour ride with a minimum of 75 miles. The route took us from Long Beach heading south on PCH until we hit Viejo St in Laguna. We turned around to Avocado St which was about 6 miles in Newport Beach. We were to continue that 12 mile loop until it was time to head back. For the most part, the ride was pretty flat, with some rollers near the far parts of the loops. What really took up time during our ride were the stop lights inside the loop, and the heavy traffic near the bars/restaurants/shops. The shopping area in Newport didn’t have any bike lanes so things got really narrow at times with really rude drivers. I even had to make some last minute calls and turn to ride on the sidewalks just so I don’t crash into other cars. Even one of my teammates got clipped by a car (she’s ok though). There were some nice ocean views, as seen in the above photo, and weather wasn’t too bad either. I was able to practice my aero position on the flats and pushed with some intervals. My overall time was about 5:34 with a rolling time of 5:14, and surpassed my previous bike milestone of 72 to 84.4! Once I got back to homebase, the day wasn’t over, since we had to do 30 minute run shortly after, which was about 3 miles for a daily total of 87.7.

We were supposed to do an open water swim in Manhattan Beach on Sunday, but our coaches made a late night decision and called it off because of forecasted 5 foot swells and rough waters. Whew! We met at the Manhattan Beach Pier anyway and ran some loops to Redondo Beach. We did a little of the chip trail, then the rest on The Strand, where heading south was pretty fast, but whenever we came back north, we were faced with some pretty nasty headwinds. Twice the effort, same speed… ugh. Some of us ran with Coach Jason, who gave some nice pointers on running technique, especially talking about the technique I’m learning from the book, Chi Running, where there’s a forward lean from the ankles, and a forefoot strike with higher cadence. He got me aware of my technique and I tried to apply it on the run. Overall, I was very happy because the run added to a milestone weekend – it was the furthest I’ve ran without any walk intervals – 17 miles!

So if this 104.7 mile weekend was Build 2, what’s Build 3? Bring it!

Old Stomping Grounds

Christmas weekend, family parties galore, food, food, and more food. Saturday’s practice was an optional bike ride, but since I was out of town (and didn’t have my bike with me), I skipped that session since it was a holiday. Sunday was scheduled a 30 minute run, so I went on GMaps Pedometer and found a 4.25 mile loop around my old hometown of Walnut, CA. It came out to be a 45 minute run, but I kept it at an easy pace, especially since it’s been a while on this route. It started at a nice mile downhill to help warm up my muscles, but as soon as I turned on the next major street, it was pretty much a 2 mile uphill climb. The final mile consisted of rolling hills, but net downwards.

Growing up, I never noticed the beautiful scenery Walnut had. I used to always bike this route with my BMX style bike with friends, going through unexplored (to us) terrain, trying to figure out shortcuts, or places with cool ramps. Nowadays I’m used to running on city sidewalks or the beaches in Santa Monica, but today’s run had some birds chirping, air seemed cleaner, not so many cars. It really felt like I was somewhere remote for the holidays. The weather was crisp and cold, mainly because it was the day after the rain.