Tuesday, March 29, 2011

The Winds

Last week saw the herd scattered to the winds due to variously timed spring breaks this year. Some had spring break for the last two weeks and returned to work on Monday. Others started spring break on Monday and have the whole month off. Some of us (me) don't have spring break until the end of the month...in any event, we've been all over the place...and by all over the place, I mean that other people have been vacationing while I've been working...

This does NOT make Alice happy...Ah well. My time will come.

In the meantime, I did a stellar job of resting my knee last week, and for the most part, it feels about 90% better. I tried to run a bit on the 'mill on Thursday and eked out about two whole miles! The 'mill seemed especially tough on the knee. It's more difficult for me to do the lean-forward-mid-foot strike I am for because I tend to bounce up and down a lot more on the 'mill.

I was VERY proud of myself for stopping when I did. Old Alice would have gutted out another mile (because is a two mile mill run really worth anything at all?). New Alice stopped.

Writing about yourself in the third person is so very annoying.

I also decided to rest on Saturday instead of running with the SDTC. They were doing one of my favorite runs...which is from Hospitality Point to Wind and Sea Beach and back, about 12 miles. The best part of the run is the second 1/2, which winds through some of the fabulous homes in La Jolla's Bird Rock and when you get to Wind and Sea, you are rewarded with a pretty spectacular view.

Wouldn't you run further than you should to see this? (from 2009)
And while I could have turned around early and run a shorter distance, but let's face it, we all know I wouldn't have. 

I'm an all or nothing girl...so, for all of you who wondered after my last post if my last run had to be between 0 and 8 miles...uh, yes that is usually how I think of these things. Not good. I know.

When Sunday morning rolled around, I was really ready for some type of serious activity. Since Mik, Alberta and I signed up for the Gran Fondo Colnago bike ride on April 10, we thought a good ride would be in order.

Gran Fondo (Italian for "big ride." Oh stop the giggling...I know what you all are thinking), anyway it purports itself to be a bike ride and not a race. I'm not really sure what the difference is since in my case, it will still be a pretty big effort. An easy ride to me is getting on a beach cruiser and riding up and down the boardwalk on a bike that has a basket in front and probably a little bell.
Not my bike...but I like it! Thank you internets for providing pix to punctuate my lack of a point.
Anything that includes a 60 mile ride AND hills AND rest stops AND several thousand other riders is a race to me.

Yeah...60 miles. When the race was first announced, there were two options, 105 miles and 53 miles (The Gran Fondo and the Gran Medio). I noticed on Friday that the routes for both races were posted...somehow the Gran Medio grew to 60 miles. Now on a bike 7 miles isn't THAT big of an increase, but 60 miles is still pretty darn far in my book. Farther than I've ever ridden before...In fact, it's about twice as far as my previous long ride (30 miles in last year's Gran Fondo).
GRRRR...this year we are NOT going over the Coronado Bridge...I am more than a little bummed about that
Last year Mik and I did this ride in the pouring rain.
Mik and I and the non-view from the Coronado Bridge. Did I mention that I JUST DISCOVERED that this ride race ride whatever does NOT go over the bridge this year? GAH!
WET! 2010 Gran Fondo...another photo of the bridge I will NOT be riding over this year.
Anyway, on Sunday we decided that it was about time we started seriously getting ready for the ride this year, so we decided to ride 30 miles, from Rose Canyon (my bush) to Solana Beach and back.

These are the elevations from Sunday's Ride - going up and down and up and down again
Here are the elevations for the Gran Fondo. I guess this weekend's hills were good training for the Gran Medio, no?
The ride started off decently enough. It took awhile to get my legs under me as I hadn't been on my bike for a couple of weeks. This was Alberta's first ride with us. We'd gone about two miles, and I was about to show Alberta one of the MANY PLACES where I'd either fallen or had a flat tire (or both) and I heard a "clunk clunk." I wondered who brought an aluminum water bottle with them and then Mik exclaimed "My pedal fell off!"



Sure enough, the clip in part of her pedal had slid off whatever the prong-thingy its attached to is called. We tried to screw it back on and ride a little further, but I think Mik knew it was futile. We were going to be riding up (and down) some pretty good hills, and doing that with one pedal? Not. So. Much.

Sadly, Mik turned around and headed back to her car.

I don't have much to report for the rest of the ride other than:
  • 30 miles is far
  • Riding down Torrey Pines through the park may not have been the wisest choice. My hands still hurt from all the braking.
  • We did see Elsie and the BF walking into the park. I made a joke about looking for them in the bushes earlier. I'm pretty sure the BF was surprised by my willingness to go there (but I feel like I know him so well Elsie!)
  • Did I mention that 30 miles is far?
  • Both Alberta and I did ride UP Torrey Pines having already gone almost 20 miles, which I consider quite the accomplishment.
  • My knee feels pretty good.
So...the plan is to try to ride 40 - 45 miles this weekend. Get in a good long run. I think/hope the knee is ready for it.

Saturday, March 19, 2011

Six Things Saturday (night)

Another busy week. I was going to originally name this post "Five things Friday" (in the tradition of Three Things Thursday" and other blog traditions of the past... But, of course, I got really busy and so I didn't get this written until now.

So here are the SIX highlights of the week.
If it were a production of Fiddler on the Roof...
It's a deal!***
  1. In a moment of complete maturity, I did not run all week in order to "rehab" my knee. I did a reasonable job of stretching, icing, and strengthening, and by "reasonable job," I mean I did each of these things at least once.
  2. Turbo is in this years Peter Pan Junior Theater production of The Music Man. He plays an old Jew. I'll bet you didn't know that there were old Hasidic Jewish men living in River City, Iowa in the early 1900's, but you'd be wrong.  
  3. In late summer Mik, Elsie and I registered for the Napa to Sonoma 1/2 Marathon in July. Betty, for several reasons, did not, but then tried to register during a late lottery drawing. We found out this week she did NOT get in.
  4. Betty is willing to purchase a bib from someone who needs to sell. She says will pay double if the name on it is "Tiger."
  5. In other super exciting news this week, Betty purchased Elsie's old Lexus. I was there for the paper signing and pink-slip transferring. I'm pretty sure my attendance at the event was much appreciated.
  6. After resting my knee (oh yeah, and the pretend-to-rehab-it bit), I DID run 8 miles this morning with the track club.* Some parts of the run felt OK; sometimes, I could feel my knee, but it never really hurt.** Now, the knee feels OK. It's not as sore as last week, but this afternoon, I'm definitely feeling it. I'll have to get back to my intensive stretching, icing, strengthening program...and by "intensive," I mean that I'll try to do each of these things at least twice this week.
*Although running two miles up the San Diego Riverbed/Flood channel, and two miles back may sound dreadful to some, this is actually one of my favorite runs. I've writting about the joys of running on the riverbed several times in the past couple of years. This year there were no Elvis sightings... Also, after the run, there was a SDTC picnic, which we couldn't stay for because we had kid-delivery errands to get to. Too bad. It was nice seeing Irene, who looked incredibly happy!

** Despite the almost reasonable pace (10:49) this morning, I felt incredibly slow and sluggish. This was definitely due to a lack of training runs this week. What do I do? I fear that if I push it and run during the week, I'll injure my knee for sure. I also know a sure-fire way to get hurt is to ONLY run on the weekends....GAH!

*** I decided to NOT post the photo of Betty flipping me off. She's been making a concerted effort to not say "The Eff Word" this month. She says it's on her "bucket list"

Saturday, March 12, 2011

Six Mile Fail...

(Note: The world is focused on the tragedies this week in Japan this week and in New Zealand last month. Being someone who lives near the Pacific Coast, and in an area in which earthquakes are a semi-regular occurrence, I am probably among those who ran along the California coast this morning and looked at my surroundings just a little bit differently...Yes, not only is the Pacific Coast a thing of great beauty, but as we certainly are seeing, hour by hour, day by day, and certainly in the weeks to come, it also has immense power and certainly the ability to change the course of  lives in one fell swoop. Most definitely, our earth is a thing to be respected... I spent a fair part of the run today thinking about how incredibly lucky I am to be able to just get up with my husband, go run, and not worry about whether or not the roof over my head is stable, whether there is power, or food to eat. My heart and prayers and thoughts go out to all the earthquake victims who are struggling with all of these things right now).

(2nd Note: That being said, yes, I'm going to focus in this blog on what I was thinking about when I wasn't considering how lucky I am to be here...what else would you expect?)

Well...it had to happen. A whole winter of running wellness with no injury was really too much to ask. I knew that something was amiss on Tuesday night, after the weekly track club track workout and I couldn't sleep that night because my knee ached, so much so that I decided to not run Wednesday - Friday because of it.

In truth, it's a simplification to say that my knee aches. It's really my while left leg that aches from about mid thigh to my ankle and includes my IT band, hamstring, calf, shin, and upper achilles. Yep, that pretty much covers it.
Don't be too alarmed by the size of my knee...I had a bag of frozen spinach on it in this photo... 
That I suffered some kind of knee injury is really too bad because I really, really, REALLY enjoy running the loop of Coronado, the stately houses, the beach, The Hotel Del...it's super-scenic and this morning was perfect running weather overcast and cool, but not cold.
The run started off well enough, with Walter and I starting off together on the Tideland's park walking path*. As we made our way to 2nd Avenue, there was a really short ramp with about a 35ยบ decline that leds to an alley, which led to the street. Like I said, it was short and should have been no big deal, but as soon as I ran down it, I could feel an ever-so-slight "click" in my left knee. It was one of those clicks that we all get (well, those of us over 40 get) all the time. Usually, I just ease up and all my joints settle into place.

But that never really happened this morning. I would have moments when I wasn't thinking about my knee, but mostly I noticed that it was sorta achy. I wondered if I should stop and stretch (I didn't because it didn't feel like THAT kind of ache), but I did know by the time I headed back to the park, that I definitely wouldn't be running any farther (we were on schedule to run 2 hours this morning. I had planned on running at LEAST 1:30... I managed 1 hour).

To my credit, I did stop running after the first loop. In past years, it would have been quite like me to press on and run until I literally couldn't run any farther. So I guess I've learned SOMETHING!

Also, despite having a bum knee, my overall time wasn't too terrible. 6:34/1:08/10:43. I've done WAY worse...

I've been icing all day and have taken a fair amount of ibuprofen. I've also consumed two lemon drop martinis, some Ghiradelli chocolate, AND I still have to say that my whole leg hurts like a mutha...


Of course, the second major tragedy of the morning was when my iPod shuffle died about 1 mile into my run...

On a positive note, I did feel like I both saved a life AND earned my Ye-Ha* (yellow hat) this morning when I shouted out to some newbie track club runners to not just run out across 6th Avenue because the cross traffic going into the Naval Base doesn't have a stop sign (even though, you'd think they would) and they really WON'T be stopping.

One guy told me, "Thanks! I wouldn't have stopped there!"

Oh yeah...I'll also try to be smart enough to take a few days off and regroup and recoup the knee. It's my own fault really...I haven't done nearly enough squats or lunges recently. My bad.
* I'm not sure where Elsie and Betty were. They told me they started off early, then got lost somewhere on the island.

** I'm a "ye-ha" for the track club (it stands for "yellow hat"), which basically means that I volunteered to help out, give directions, yell at people when they do something on a run that is potentially dangerous, yell out when we are being passed by a bike and such. When an email went out early in the track club season for a few more ye-has, I figured that after four years in the club, I already knew the routes and workouts. I've gotten lost on almost every conceivable run where getting lost is a possibility, and I don't really have a problem barking orders out....after all, I'm both a mom and a teacher, so I volunteered.

Friday, March 11, 2011


On Wednesday night I went to dinner with Betty and her husband and a couple other friends including herd-member Alberta, who showed up about an hour late due to running out of gas in Coronado, ...BTW...have I mentioned that Alberta has a new car and now knows EXACTLY how far she can drive with the yellow fuel tank light on (answer: not far), our friend T also joined us, as did Walter (who showed up even later than Alberta, but he had a meeting, so is forgiven).

Anyway, I don't write much about Betty's husband. He's pretty soft-spoken (around a group of mostly loud women), and reserved, but he is the person that should be credited with dubbing us "The Herd."

I'm sure he meant it in a nice way.

Anyway, during dinner we were talking about the Las Vegas Rock and Roll Marathon...(OK Full disclosure, I was talking it; everyone else was humoring me). I would LOVE to do this race. I think it'd be too much fun to run the strip at night. The problem for me would be that I'd need to be back in SoCal on Monday morning because I TEACH DAMMIT, but still, a girl can dream, right?

Anyway, we were laughing about The Herd running down the strip and Betty's husband mentioned this...
I'm pretty sure he said something like "The Herd Running the Strip? Is that like the running of the bulls in Pamplona?"
I'm sure he meant it in a really nice way though...

Sunday, March 6, 2011

Sue Kren 15K Race Report...and then some

Thanks to everyone who responded to my political "rant." I really appreciate all the comments. It heartens me to know that there are bunches of people who either agree with me, or at least are willing to listen to (what I hope was) a reasonable rant.

Mostly, in that rant, I just wanted to say that the whole economic situation is very complicated, and mostly it needs something more than the typical "unions = the worst thing EVER vs. taxes = no EFFING WAY will we pay more taxes no matter what gets cut" or "unions = God's gift to the world vs. taxes = OMG YES, tax the wealthy into oblivion because the bastards deserve it!" type rhetoric that is so common right now.  I just think that these are complex problems. Unions are neither all bad, nor are they all good, but they do serve a useful purpose in our society and yes, I believe public employees have the right to form them. I also think that taxes are neither all bad, nor are they all good. They too serve a useful purpose in paying for services that most of us want and enjoy, and the vast majority of those services are provided by people.

Most of all...conversations about how to fix our complex problems require and deserve respectful talk. It's that lack of respectful talk that really gets to me.

But I know this is (mostly) a running and mimosa blog and I plan to keep it that way, so that's all I have to say (on this blog) about that!

Anyway let's move onto the really important topic of running and mimosas because I do have this to report...

Sue Kren 15K = WIN - Both a PR AND Mimosas!!!! WOOT!

But Saturday's run didn't start off so well. It started off with me oversleeping. I was supposed to be at Betty's house at 5:45...so when I woke up at 5:33, the first words out of my mouth were?

F. F. F.

Betty, who'd had a really, ridiculous week at work, emerged from what I assume was a dead-to-the-world-sleep to let us know that she was going to pass on the run. So Mik and I drove to East Mission Bay Park, found some parking, made our way to the start, picked up bibs, met up with Elsie who met us there...and I have no idea what else we did because before we knew it, it was 5 minutes to the start and I still had to...

1. pee
2. warmup

WTF did we do with 40 minutes? I have no idea.

Mik and I waited in some PP lines...did our business and then proceded to our warmup, which was a run to the start line...cuz then the race started...and we were OFF!
H,ere's a course map. You know how I usually embed a link to GarminConnect (ok...maybe you don't, but usually I do...); However, today you get a .jpg screen shot. Here's why: see that really sharp turn that looks like I took an immediate left and flew east? Yeah..I didn't fly, but I did accidentally hit the "start timer" button on my Garmin for a nano-second when I got home...And despite my best efforts, I cannot edit my run on Garmin Connect to delete that nanosecond, so here's a close up screen shot of just the loop around Fiesta Island and along East Mission Bay Drive... Please ignore the flight home.
The Sue Kren 15K starts on East Mission Bay Drive and then a loop around San Diego's Fiesta Island...which is such a happy name for what is really a pretty boring place to run. However, it is relatively flat (some rolling hills, but nothing too difficult), and does offer some nice views of the rest of the bay. Sometimes the back side if the island can be pretty windy, which is much bigger deal when you're riding a bike, but was relatively calm on Saturday and oh, by the way, there are typically LOTS of cyclists, although there weren't too many on Saturday, but there were a few. Of special note were a couple of cyclists, who must not have noticed or chose to ignore all the "there's a race going on today" signs and who therefore probably ended up having a pretty frustrating ride because they had to share the island with about 500 runners.  I saw one of them get really angry with a runner who was clearly running the inside tangent, but who didn't really hear (or didn't care to hear) him yelling at her to move so that he could pass on her left.

I know this woman because she is in the track club. I think she's in her 70's, maybe 80's, and she is a MONSTER runner in our track workouts. I'm pretty sure she regularly wins her age group in 5Ks and shorter races. I know she just kicks my ass when we start doing 800 repeats. I don't know if she heard the cyclist or not, but I prefer to think she was just thinking "Sonny, I'm 80 years old and I have the inside lane here...you're just going to have to go around me."...because if I'm still running when I'm 80, that's what I'll be thinking!

The best think about Saturday's run was unlike last weekend's Rain Run, Saturday morning was BEE-U-TI-FUL. It was a little cool at before the start, so all three of us were all wearing our long sleeve neon-day-glo-green running day shirts, but after about a mile, I had taken off my long sleeve shirt because it was getting warm. Mik, Elsie and I started the race together, then about 3/4 of a mile into the run, Mik took off (our 10:30 pace was just a tad slow for her), and about 3 miles in (at the first aid station), Elsie slowed up and let me go on without her. After Elsie and I parted, I spent the next two miles trying to catch up with Irene's hubby Michael, who was just tearing it up. I finally caught up with him as we exited the island. At that point (about mile 5), I was relaxed and strong. I knew I hadn't been pushing it, yet my time was pretty good.

Mile 1 - 10:31
Mile 2 - 10:14
Mile 3 - 10:29
Mile 4 - 10:41
Mile 5 - 10:20

Once we got off the island, my tune changed a bit because the course changed from the lovely asphalt (and who besides a runner LOVES asphalt?) to a concrete walking path which made the second 1/2 of the race just stressful. All I could think of was how much pain I'd be in the next day because of the concrete (truth is, today, I don't feel so bad).

As I passed the 6 mile marker, I could see the race leaders cross the finish line (always a little bit of a demoralizing moment), but because I didn't feel so bad, this year it wasn't as depressing.

The other great part about the second part of the race is that after mile 6, I got to see all my speedy friends who had already made the turn-around and were headed back. It gave me an opportunity to wave them on, and say "looking good" and stuff like that...It must have also motivated me to run faster because my splits weren't to bad for a couple miles.

Mile 6 - 10:09
Mile 7 - 10:03

But then concrete stress settled in. About mile 7.5, I saw Coach Paul, who took one look at me and shouted "relax your shoulders!" Boy was he right. I spend the rest of the race saying those words to myself...and darn if it doesn't work!

Mile 8 - (10:41)
Mile 9 - (10:14)
Mile 9-9.48 - (9:57) I must have added a little extra milage, probably around Fiesta Island because I was NOT on the inside lane...

Official finish time 1:37:42 (10:29) - PR! (WOOT!)

A 15K is a funny race distance to run...it's not really a "go all out" 5K kind of thing" or even a "try to keep close to your 5K pace in a 10K" sort of effort either. It's closer to a 1/2 marathon really, in that, for me, it was really important to just go out easy and relax. Also, the course, while flat, is deceptively difficult. When running on the concrete walking path, there are lots of tourists to dodge in and out of, people walking dogs, moms and dad with strollers, the occasional run-away frisbee... All those "distractions" are both a godsend and a curse. They make for an entertaining run, but they also add to the stress level.

After the race we went to The High Dive with Irene's Michael (Irene had to work and even though, as her pretend doctor-friend, I told her that I thought she was coming down with a cold, but she went to work like a responsible person anyway) and another guy named Bill. I'm not sure where he came from, but Michael seemed to know him, and we were happy to have him along. He's an engineer for Qualcomm and was VERY ENGINEER-LIKE (anyone who is related to, or has engineer friends knows what I am talking about...engineers are a sorta super-analytical and kinda quirky sometimes, but really fun to have around because you NEVER know where they will take the conversation... For example, we had a conversation about whether or not Lake Las Vegas provided hydro-electric power to Vegas...let's just say this is NOT our typical mimosa infused conversation...)
Completely yummy breakfast burrito-scrambled eggs, cheese, hash browns, guacamole, sour creme all in one wrap...I'd already eaten the other 1/2!
Random condiment and mimosa photo
Another run for the books!
Next weekend, we're back in Coronado for a 2 hour long run. I'm kinda feeling like it's way too early to be running for two hours.

OK...back to getting ready to teach tomorrow... Hope you all have a wonderful week!

Thursday, March 3, 2011

Just a Little Respect

Earlier today, and for most of this week, I've been really fired up about some things, so while this post may go down in the annals as the reason why one doesn't drink wine and blog, I am still compelled to write...as this has been one heckuva week.

I am the daughter of two public sector employees (a teacher and a nurse), both are retired now, but they did not retire early, nor did they retire to riches. They live a comfortable life after careers of taking care of others, but they are by no means wealthy and living the high life.

It hurts when I hear some say that because of collective bargaining, they were able to retire with excessive benefits and have now become a burden on society. I get angry because my parents, while comfortable, are not living off the fat o'the land. They do not cruise the Bahamas, or go on annual vacations to Europe, or have a home in the mountains and another at the beach. They live moderate lives that they have earned. They worry CONSTANTLY about the cost of health care and in some cases fear that they are just a few steps away from being a financial burden on their children.

I am a public sector employee, a school teacher, as are most of my friends, and I have been for almost all of my adult life. I do not have a "part time job" as a public school teacher, and while I earn enough to make a comfortable and reasonable living, I am by no means wealthy. And let me add, that even though I am a community college instructor, this is, by no means, a part time job.  Most of my teacher friends are sitting at home tonight grading papers and planning lessons for tomorrow, even though their official work day ended several hours ago.

I understand that unions have problems. In fact, I have not always belonged to a teacher's union, and only do right now due to local issues (and by local issues, I mean issues related to the college where I teach and where I teach only). There have been lots of times in my life where I did not agree with the union line, with union politicking, with the policies of unions to protect their membership at all costs which inevitably leads to the union defending some pretty indefensible teaching. I would be among the first to admit that there are people in my profession who shouldn't be. They embarrass me. I wish they would quit.

However, that there are some weak teachers does not mean that all teachers are weak. In fact, the vast majority are quite good, working in deplorable conditions, with meager supplies, who make due in order to teach kids. None of us feel overpaid.

However, it angers me when I hear some sectors of the media say because am a teacher, and because of teacher unions, I am a burden on society due to the "unreasonable salary with health care benefits" that I earn. My salary, some claim, outweighs the value of my work. It hurts when I hear some political pundits decry teachers because we have "part time jobs," and because "those who can, do; and those who can't teach." Teacher unions have their faults, but I would defend an individual's right to join a union 'til the end.

But it's not just about me this week.

I have students who rely on financial aid. Let me tell you about Ricky. Ricky has severe cerebral palsy...think Stephen Hawking type cerebral palsy. He is in a wheel chair. He cannot walk. He can barely talk. He relies on an aide in the classroom who takes notes for him. Then he goes home, has a friend scan his notes into a computer so that he can read them in large print because he also has a vision impairment. He has a paper due next week. I know he started it this weekend because it will take him 10 hours to type a paper that will take my other students 2 hours (at the most) to do. However, what I know now is that Ricky is super smart, but he needs help. He really needs someone to help him to write the essays that he has in in head, but that he cannot physically write himself. My tax dollars help Ricky, and people like him. I trust that someday Ricky (and other students like him) will do great things, but I also know that Ricky may not get the chance to do the things he is capable of because budget cuts will stop paying for his aide, as well as for other assistive devices he needs to use. Ricky is not a burden to society. He is a gift. He works harder to learn than most of us have ever had to. I wish all my students had the motivation that Ricky has.

It pains me that if state budget cuts to disabled students continues, Ricky won't be able to finish his education.

I could go on and on about the vets who are in my class who need services that they aren't getting, about the number of classes being cut at all levels, about the teachers being laid off, about libraries closing. I have friends who are cops, who literally risk their lives, trying to keep mine safe, even though their budgets are being cut. I have friends who are fire-fighters who save our houses and our communities from danger. I have friends who are lifeguards, and trust me, their daily lives are NOT like an episode of Bay Watch. 

I get what the other side is saying...we need budgets, we spend too much on some things. I know how nobody wants to pay more taxes. I get it all...all I'm saying is that in this time of pain for all, it's really important to not minimize the important work that public employees do...for the public. The vast majority of us are the middle class. We are not burdens on society. We are not wealthy. Most of us are just getting by, trying to raise our families, and in fact, most public employees are more than willing to take furlough days, pay cuts, do what we have to do, need to do to sacrifice for the greater good.

We'd all just like a little respect is all.