Oakland Running Festival Run the Town Challenge

This weekend, I did the We Run the Town Challenge at the Oakland Running Festival. It allows you to do both the 5k and Half-Marathon race the same morning, if you are so inclined. I had never done anything like this before, but I always felt like I had a little energy after the 5k. I had done the half-marathon in the past so why not? I had been training for the 5k, so my plan was to go ahead and go all out on that, and then do the half-marathon as an LSD training run. Well, it turned out to be the hardest half-marathon ever! It felt almost as hard as trying to do the whole marathon. I guess that is why they call it a Challenge, and we like challenges.

The 5k was fast, I did in 21:08, which is a PR, and 9 seconds faster than last year. Last PR was on the DSE St. Patrick's Day 5k in 2012. I made sure to do a 15 minute warmup with a few strides 30 minutes before. I was running comfortably hard and it felt a lot more on the comfortable side. I was holding myself back in the beginning, but maybe a little too much. I was flying down the rollers in the beginning and thought I was going too fast. Technically, it is wise not to go out to fast, but it is also possible to use some downhill to your advantage. I should not have looked at my Garmin. Next time I would go ahead and use these little downhills to gain a few seconds because that is only time you are going to find these free seconds. It took me several attempts at this course to finally learn this. There were lots of kids Running for a Better Oakland out there, which was inspiring. I was running through the finish line with them.

I had an hour between races so I got my bag out of bag check and put my jacket back on so I wouldn't get too cold. Then I drank some electrolytes (S.O.S.) and liquid carbs (Hammer Perpetuem) and mingled at the finish line. I did not see my 5k results, which freaked me out, but now I realize it's probably because I was entered in a different race and they didn't want to confuse the results. After looking at the results, I feel like I could have aced the masters 5k. It would be cool if they displayed ranking of times for both races, like they do in triathlon. That would make the results of the We Run the Town Challenge more interesting. Pretty soon it was time to start Part II. The half-marathon was pretty packed. I lined up with the 10 minute milers and got mentally prepared to keep running and finish. Felt pretty good in the beginning. Those 9:30 minute miles feel alot better than 7 minute miles. I stopped at every aid station and took everything that was offered. Kept downing electrolytes and energy gels, whatever I could to feed my legs. My favorite aid station was the Brown Sugar Kitchen! They had the most delicious energy bars! Had to really focus on the second half to keep going, since I felt like I was running on fumes, but I'm glad I got to enjoy the longer course. My favorite part is the home stretch as you enter Lake Merritt. There was a blind runner that was nearing the finish, and that was another inspiring moment. I had definitely slowed down at the end, but took time to enjoy the scenery and soak up the vibe. The feeling of crossing the finish line for the second time, that was awesome! Did the half in about 2:13:38, Total WRTTC Finish time: 2:34:46! They have a great cheering squad turnout and lots of music to keep you going, and groovin' live music at the end. I had no interest in the alcohol tent or the non-alcohol tent so I skipped all that and went straight for my Recoverite.

Training-wise I put in a little more mileage in the weeks leading up to the race with a few more longer runs and I think that helped. Also, a weekly run up and down my favorite hill, Divisadero. I bus/biked to the race as always. The BART on the way back was so packed though, I'm considering a bike ride to Jack London Square ferry next time, grabbing lunch there on the way out. Would I do the We Run the Town Challenge again? I would, it is hard to do though. I could have been satisfied with the hard and fast 5k that I had been training for, but I embraced a larger challenge with the satisfaction of running more miles and enjoying the longer course, and a little more strength in my legs to carry me to the next run.

My ORF History:
2012: 21:47 5k
2013: (Did the Half-Marathon in 2:04)
2014: 21:17 5k
2015: 21:08 5k, We Run The Town 2:34:46


Training Notes

Running on the SF Bay Trail
This year the ORF has a new event called We Run the Town Challenge where you run the half-marathon after the 5k and get 3 medals. They have a 5k medal now, the half-marathon medal, and the We Run the Town Medal. Of course I had to do that so I've been adding a few extra long runs to my training to get ready for the additional half-marathon. Normally, I wouldn't add such long runs to my 5k training, but that's how I should be training for a 5k. The long slow runs (10 minute miles) improve endurance, capillary and mitochondrial development, and increase myoglobin and glycogen storage. Plus, running after a swim at Aquatic Park to Fort Point or through Golden Gate Park is so nice.

Since Kezar Stadium was going under renovation, I adopted the beautiful San Francisco Bay Trail at Marina Green for my weekly speedwork sessions. The long side is 547 meters where I can do VO2 max repeats at 6:30ish pace, the full loop around 1190 meters where I can do threshold intervals at 7:30ish pace, and the short side is about 64 meters where I do short anaerobic strides at 5:30ish pace. I think I need to find a slightly longer area about 100 meters to do the strides. I set up some segments in Garmin and Strava to gauge my progress. VO2 max day is really draining, so I do it every other week and alternate it with Threshold, with rest days after them. The strides are new and fun, a little bit easier than the 400 meter lung busters, and I like having more variety in the paces. I'm curious to see how I'll do on race day which is less than 2 weeks away!


Paradise Loop

Paradise Loop The weather was nice this weekend so we put in 43 miles on the bike on the Paradise Loop . We took the new bike detour off the Mill Valley bike path and rode over the entire Camino Alto Hill. They have added a bunch of patches to the crumbling shoulder and will soon repave the Mill Valley side, making it much safer. This is the second time Mike did the ride and his cycling has come a long way since then, so it was great to see the comparison.

Paradise LoopWe enjoyed some really good Mexican food in Tiburon, though there was a long wait, it was worth it. It's hard to ride back after eating that but we were so hungry. We took the easy way back and past all the gridlock of cars trying to get back over the bridge. The traffic was backed up all the way to Sausalito, pretty much at a standstill. Beautiful view from the Golden Gate Bridge on the way back before the sunset.

Paradise Loop 
It is scary warm for February, even the water is warmer than normal. We really do need some rain, but might as well make the best of it and go for a bike ride.


Raw Beet Muffins with Greek Yogurt Honey Coconut Frosting

I save my pulp from juicing and use it in recipes. Here's a great one for the beets from my organic Farm Fresh to You CSA box based on red velvet, however these are not velvety. They are dense little healthy muffins high in fiber. I had a little bit of carrot mixed in too. Mmmm. The beets are RAW, so for a sweeter flavor you may want to steam them.

Raw Beet Muffins
2 cups oat flour (grind oats in coffee grinder)
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt
1 c ground flax seeds
3 T natural cocoa powder
3/4 c brown sugar or date pulp
1/4 c coconut oil
1 1/2 c beet pulp left over from juicing
2 cups of liquid (beet juice, fruit juice, nut milk, milk...)

Mix ingredients, spoon into muffin tin and bake at 350 F for about 30 min.

Greek Yogurt, Honey Coconut Frosting
Yep, all the ingredients are in the title. I used 1 cup Straus Greek Yogurt, 1/2 cup organic unsweetened shredded coconut and honey to taste. Zing in the food processor. I used my Little Green Pouch to apply the frosting. The Greek Yogurt gives it a nice tang.

For the curious, here is a quick calorie and nutrition breakdown on the beet muffin with yogurt frosting from FitDay:

Got Manganese?



 First race of the year at KPSF 5k!

21:45 chip
21:52 gun
2nd place AG medal
(awards are on gun time)

This was a good training run for me since I just really started doing my speedwork this season, an improvement from last year on this course. Average 97% MHR Z4-6! I have a ways to go before ORF. I like to keep it short and work on speed at the beginning of the year. I was worried that my legs would not be fully recovered after last weekend, but was able to pull it off and get a good baseline for training. Just relaxed yesterday and worked on my painting. Left early this morning and biked 5 miles to the race and left bike with the awesome SF Bike Valets at 47th Ave. and Fulton. Did a nice & easy 2 mile warmup to the start line, enjoying the peaceful morning run through the park to the sound of chirping birds. Another warmup/stretch session before #beastmode.

The first mile is always tough. I had my cadence down and just kept hammering it and focusing on breathing and ended up with nice progressive splits. It was fun flying downhill. At the finish line 6:29 pace according to Garmin, which shows slightly different split pace. It wasn't the Grade Adjusted Pace. I wonder why that is. At the awards, was really impressed by all the fast times from runners of all ages and the fast masters runners that don't look their age at all. One guy told me he was 70 and I just couldn't believe it. I hope I can still run by then.