I’m not always excited about how much travel I do for work, but this last week I could not have been happier to be on the road and out of perpetually snowy Boston. During the week I was in Orlando, Florida, and then I spent the weekend in San Francisco visiting family. This means I was able to do lots of running without ANY snow!
Before you get jealous and/or hate me, there are no more warm weather respites in sight for me before the marathon. From here on out, I’ll be struggling through the snow with the rest of you.
On Monday before I left for Florida, I hit up Flywheel for a spin class. It was a very strange class; I did within my usual point range (258) but really had to work just to get on the leaderboard. Normally I’m able to get about halfway up with my usual performance. I guess all of the really talented spinners come to that class.
Miraculously, my plane made it out of Boston and into Orlando despite the ongoing snowstorms during the week. We were one of the very few flights not cancelled, and were only a little delayed! Landing in Florida was amazing; I could feel the warm air even walking from the plane onto the jetway and immediately rejoiced.
Tuesday morning I woke up bright and early and drove to my company’s Orlando office (the Human Performance Institute) to get a run in before my day of meetings. This was a little weird for me; although, since HPI does physical training for its clients, the people there are used to seeing sweaty exercisers, this was my first time showering at work. Just another marathon training milestone, I guess. I was able to run about 6.5 miles in the neighborhood around the office, which is mostly residential and has many small lakes and ponds. One thing I didn’t think about: While Florida has no snow, it does have its own environmental hazards.
Florida also has some beautiful sunrises, especially for snow-weary visitors:
On Wednesday I went out for another run after my day’s meetings had ended before I was due back to the airport. This time I went in a different direction to try to explore the neighborhood. The first street I chose to go down gave me some great views of a highway underpass, so I turned around and went into the Lake Nona housing development instead. I’m part of the team working on the Lake Nona Life Project research study, so running there and taking a selfie by the signs we use on our website was pretty cool. I was having a good time on my run and really soaking in the great weather, so ended up going 7.66 miles total.
Then, on Friday, I was lucky enough to be able to run in California! We went out to visit my brother’s family and I kicked off the visit with 3 quick miles in his neighborhood as a shakeout run for . . .
Saturday Long Run: Bay Breeze Half Marathon
My Hal Higdon training plan recommends a half marathon race at the halfway mark for that week’s long run. Hal did me a solid training for my first marathon, so I figured I better heed his advice. I registered for the Bay Breeze Half Marathon in San Leandro, CA on Valentine’s Day morning. The race starts and finishes in Marina Park, which, true to its name, is adjacent to at least one marina.
I got there quite early to pick up my race packet and make sure I got parking and so forth. The volunteers who gave me my stuff were very sympathetic about the weather in Boston, and curious about what it is like in a horrified way. I was, yet again, just thrilled to be outdoors without being dressed like the Michelin Man. It was 52 degrees at the start, a perfect temperature for a run.
I have to say that this race had the best bathroom facilities I think I’ve ever seen before a race. The park had an actual little restroom with four stalls and running water. Between that and a bank of porta-potties, pre-race bathrooming was a snap.
Marina Park is beautiful, and the race was one of the loveliest courses I’ve ever run. It was an out-and-back on a path through parkland that never strayed too far from water. At various points there were wooden bridges, blooming flowers, and grazing geese. However, I made one gigantic tactical error:
I did not realize this was a trail half marathon!
I can only blame myself for this, although looking back now at the website it’s still not totally clear to me that this was actually a trail race. The site references “trail” and “gravel,” but also “paved,” and the largest image shows a paved road. I did some research into the race before registering and no one made a big deal about the trail thing so I just assumed this was a road race. I’d never run a trail half before.
Basically the race was on mostly unpaved gravel trail, sometimes turning to dirt. The first mile or so on the out-and-back was paved, but other than that, the only paved patches were just before and after footbridges. At points on the trail, runners had to adjust to run single-file to accommodate runners returning in the opposite direction. Running trail is more difficult than running on road, and most runners won’t run as fast.
I’m actually glad it turned out to be a trail race. Once I realized the pavement wasn’t coming back, the mental pressure to get a personal record was gone from my head and I was able to settle in and appreciate my surroundings more. Since this was my first trail race, I suppose technically I did get a PR even though it was not my fastest half marathon time. And I never would have been able to run through such a beautiful nature preserve if it had been a road race.
I ended up not feeling super-well through the last few miles of the race; I think I was a bit dehydrated. Because this race was substituting for my long run, I just kept telling myself that the important thing was to finish, not necessarily to race. This helped me keep moving even though I was a little crampy and thirsty.
After I crossed the finish line, I heard the announcer call out my name, which was pretty cool. I collected my medal and headed to the refreshment area for some serious hydration. After pounding down several cups of water and “sports drink,” I checked out the food options. Because of it being Valentine’s Day, the food tables were decked out with all sorts of cookies, cups full of fudgy cake, and candy. I opted for just a few (fresh, delicious) orange slices. The other stuff looked great but not for right after a hard 13.1 mile run.
Bonus Sunny Sunday Run!
I like to think I’m not a fool, so despite it being the day after a race, I ran another 5.12 miles on Sunday in sunny, warm California. It was a bit hillier than my tired legs wanted, but I still loved being out in the spring-like weather. Knowing my next run will be done between snow piles higher than my head sure makes me appreciate even the hilliest run in these nicer conditions.
Oddly, I noticed my pace on this run got faster throughout the entire run, very linearly. I wonder if it was just due to my muscles warming up and letting go of some soreness as I kept moving.
Earlier this week I sent both thank you/update notes to supporters and requests for support to others. In both notes, I included the following stats:
- I’ve run 230 miles in training so far (this was upped to 259 by Sunday)
- Longest run to date: 16.19 miles
- Number of times running up and down Heartbreak Hill: 4
- Lowest long run temperature (actual): 9 degrees (real feel -5, on January 17)
- Lowest long run temperature (real feel): -7 degrees (actual 11, on January 31)
- Inches of snow on the ground in Boston: 73.9 inches (over six feet—above my head before shoveling!)
Thanks to many generous people, I am also at 86% of my fundraising goal of $12,750. Thank you all for helping me achieve this goal to support innovative cancer research through Dana-Farber Cancer Institute.
If you haven’t donated yet and you think cancer is the worst like I do, you can always pledge as little or as much as you’re able at my personal Dana-Farber Marathon Challenge page.