Workout Recap: Half Marathon Training Week 4, 1/13 – 1/19

It turned out to be great timing to have an extra stepback week for this week. Work picked up after the holidays, and it was nice to be able to come home and indulge in a nap instead of pushing for the mileage.

Monday: Rest

Tuesday: 3 miles, 11:10 min/mile.

Wednesday: Walk with Pita, rest

Thursday: Walk with Pita, Rest

Friday: Rest (notice a trend here?)

Saturday: 3.49 miles, 14:29 min/mile, trail run. I’m loving my new “backyard”. It’s so awesome being able to walk out the door and hit dirt in just a few.

trail run bay area

After I got my run in, the rest of the day was spent with good company and good food. That was the first plate of many, and we even shared with the coots. True story: Safeway makes delicious fried chicken.

Picnic lake merritt

{top pic courtesy of Sho}

Sunday: Guys, I’m struggling. I finally subscribe to a newspaper, and love it, and what happens? Unreliable delivery. I walked out my door this morning hoping to see a big fat paper to indulge in over breakfast, and nada.

Le Sigh.

The only solution was to console myself with pancakes. Denny’s has a new “monthly specials” menu and I went with the Baja Skillet. Pretty tasty and not too horrible nutrition wise. I had to sub the egg whites for real eggs tho – the yolk is the best part!


Pita and I headed out for a hike in the afternoon.

sunday hike

A slight breeze kept it from getting too toasty, and the only thing I regretted was forgetting my binos on the way out the door. I’m loving the gorgeous weather, but all that brown grass means trouble come summer.

sunday hike2

We covered 3.64 miles, 23:53 min/mile.

Running miles: 6.49

Total miles: 10.13

Hope you’re having a great weekend!

Always, Sierra

What’s your favorite picnic food?

Workout Recap: Week 1 Half-Marathon Training, 12/23 – 12/29

It’s official y’all. Come March 2014, I’ll be making my half-marathon debut!


I had a lot of back and forth with the Oakland Half. I’m vaguely worried of getting bored on the course since it won’t be all that new to me and parts of it are definitely not scenic. I’m also a little dubious after reading about long courses and looking at the course map with its ridiculous twists and turns. But! The Oakland Half has one big thing going for it…it’s close to enough friends and family that I’m sure I can bribe at least a couple to come out and spectate. I’m gonna need it :).

Today was Week 1 of training, also known as get back on the horse week. I’m loosely following Hal Higdon’s plan. I added an extra step back week early on to give myself some time to build up any lost fitness, for 13 total weeks of training. I’ve also added in two days of strength work and 400m repeats on alternating weeks to work a bit on speed. I’ve got it all posted on our refrigerator like a good runner in training, and I’m taking some delight in putting a big fat X through the days when I finish a workout.

Half Marathon Training Plan

Monday: 2.3 miles, 13:15 min/mile. Holy crap there are hills in my new neighborhood! It had been so long since I ran that my poor Garmin was neglected and dead, not that I really needed it. The plan was to run 3 miles, but I made it to about 2.3 miles before I called shenanigans. I finished out the three miles walking with Pita, and took it as a lesson learned about what to expect on future runs.

Tuesday: Stretch & Strength Rest. Mom came up early Tuesday and we promptly kicked Christmas Eve off with a little bit of moonshine, some shopping and failed sugar cookie making. (True Story: whole wheat flour does make a difference when the recipe calls for all-purpose).

Wednesday: 3.07 miles, 15:45 min/mile. After a morning of presents and breakfasting, I snuck out for a run. Lots of new trail to explore, and a little bit of coyote.

Trail Running, coyote

Thursday: Rest. Two to three mile walk with Mom to enjoy the pretty weather and good company.

me & mom

Friday: 3.07 miles, 12:07 min/mile. First run of the week on flat ground, and the goal was to take it easy with all of the hill running to date. Mission accomplished.

Saturday: 4.02 miles, 11:35 min/mile. Did y’all catch the UFC fights? I’ve been getting hooked this year watching TUF, the athleticism they all have is amazing. My heart broke for Anderson Silva and his leg breakage, too shocking.


And even though she didn’t win, Miesha Tate fought with her heart and looked good in the octagon.

Sunday: Walking around the flea market for a couple hours counts as cross-training right? Right! Found some cute earrings for a dollar, holla! (I couldn’t resist.)

Flea Market Finds

Running Total Miles: 12.16 miles

Overall: Off to a good and excited start. This is the first time I’ve followed a training plan of any kind, and it feels good to go out and run with purpose. Skipped strength because 1) I’m in holiday mode and 2)…yeah, that’s all I got. Making it a priority for Week 2!

Always, Sierra

Are you a UFC fan? Do you think Anderson Silva will be able to recover and come back?

Have you ever followed a Hal Higdon training plan?

Twilight Trail Run [Remembering How to Play]

Growing up, summer nights were one of the most alive times of the year. Our family house is on a court, and there were plenty of cohorts in adventure around my age. The big streetlights would turn on around dusk, not signaling time to go home but time to get started.

We’d be out until at least 10pm, playing tag, capture the flag or hide and seek. Venturing into the shadowy nooks and crannies was equal parts intimidating and crucial for staying alive in the game. A little scary being “preyed” on, but exhilarating! When we finally got the call from our parents to come in for the night, we ran into the safe comfort of home lights with an imagined air of danger trailing behind us, already thinking ahead to the next night’s shenanigans.

Last week, I knew I’d be getting out of work an hour earlier than normal, so I planned on swooping my four-legged creature up and taking her for a sunset trail run along one of our go-to trails. Leave it to Bay Area traffic to derail my plans, getting us to the trail head about 45 minutes later than planned. When we got there the sun was already pretty close to the horizon, and I had a moment’s hesitation. If I pushed forward, there’s no way we would be finishing by sunset, and I hadn’t brought a flashlight or headlamp with me. To go or not to go?

A roughly 2.25 mile loop planned, I knew I could finish it up in under 40 minutes. It would be well into dusk, but not quite pitch black, so we forged on.

Twilight Trail Run

We weren’t too far along the trail before I started imagining all the things society tells us we have to fear in the dark. Attackers lurking around the corner, broken bones with no one around to help, coyotes prowling Pita and waiting to snap her up. Was I running in exhilaration or fear? Or both?

Twilight Trail Run

And then those summer nights came back to me. Those nights when the dark was a safe haven to protect me from the “seeker”, when shadowy corners were to be embraced, when playing in the dark was a privilege, a sign of independence, and not a cause for panic. As I remembered those nights, my steps lightened, my awareness sharpened, and my running became pure exhilaration. Laughter came bubbling out. With every step, I remembered what it felt like to play. How often do we get to play anymore? Not shooting for a heavier weight or a faster pace, but merely getting lost in the pure fun of what we’re doing? Just doing for the sake of doing?

I’ve been reading The Essential Sheehan lately, and the following has stuck with me.

“Some of the good things in play are physical grace, psychological ease, and personal integrity. The best are the peak experiences, when you have a sense of oneness with yourself and nature. These are truly times of peace the world cannot give…play  is the place to find them – the place where we are constantly being and becoming ourselves.”

Pg. 30

Out there running the trails in twilight, I felt like I connected with a part of myself that I hadn’t had a conversation with in some time. Schedules were forgotten, society’s rules and agendas faded away, and all that remained was me and my dog, racing the light, peace and exhilaration in every step.

Wishing you many moments of play this week.

Always, Sierra

I’m all about running safely, even when I am trying to capture that feeling of play. Be sure to let someone know what trails you’re running and when you expect to be back. Take a cell phone with you, even if you’re not sure you’ll have service. And be prepared! I didn’t have a flashlight or headlamp with me because I didn’t think I’d be out past dark, but in the future I’ll be keeping one in my car.

It’s a bird eat bird world + Dynamic Warm-ups

I drove to one of my normal routes for yesterday’s run and had to fight the urge to throw the towel in. I had plenty of energy, but everything felt stale.

And then I saw this.

turkey vulture

That would be a turkey vulture taking a break from its afternoon meal. How crazy/awesome is it that I happened to be in the right place at the right time?!

I get that this might be disturbing to some, and sorry if I’ve offended you, but I am a biology geek to the extreme! Anytime I see nature in action I find it fascinating. Turkey vultures and I go way back. In college, I conducted a research project that involved positioning decaying meat in the wild to see how turkey vultures located their food and how accurate they were. Turns out turkey vultures are one of the few types of vultures that can use smell to find their next meal (Note: my research was in no way affiliated with National Geographic…only in my dreams!).

I digress. After seeing this turkey vulture so close and getting to watch it do its thing, I got all geeked out and excited. Suddenly I was all about exploring, wandering off the beaten path so to speak, and I ended up having a fantastic and scenic run.

off the beaten pathup hillview from the tophappy memarinaback to the bottom

I’ve never been big on warming up before runs, but I’ve been working on it the past couple weeks. This article about dynamic warm-ups showed up in my inbox one morning, followed not too much later by this blog post. If Hungry Runner Girl is doing it, it has to be legit right?! I’m a fan of trying out anything that makes me as fast as Meb:

  • Gets my heart going
  • Opens up my joints
  • Gets my key running muscles firing (glutes especially!)
  • Tells my mind that it’s time to get down to business
  • Helps me be a stronger runner

I did a little research and came up with a routine that takes me about ten to fifteen minutes to complete…not too long that it’s tedious, and not so short that it doesn’t accomplish anything.

dynamic warm-up

A typical run before dynamic warm ups:

pre dynamic warm up

A typical run after dynamic warm-ups:

after dynamic warms

The thing to focus on here is the first mile pace. Granted, my general sense of pace has improved as has my overall fitness. But, knowing that I was using my first mile as a warm-up in past runs gave me an excuse to run them anywhere in the 12-13 pace range, so that’s what I did.

Also, pre-dynamic warm-up, my legs usually felt like lead for the first half mile or more. Lead legs are much rarer these days. Going through the dynamic warm-up really makes my legs feel springier and more responsive. Maybe it’s mental, but whatever it is, I’ll take it.

Here are the resources I used to put together my routine. The first video is from Hungry Runner Girl’s post:

Let me know if you try the warm-up routine!

Always, Sierra

Do you warm-up before runs? What’s your routine?

Do you like seeing nature in action?

What gets your inner geek going?


Weekly Workout Recap and How About Those June Goals?

I was hoping to wake up early this morning (6:30) for a trail run to beat the heat that’s struck California in the past few days but that didn’t happen. Instead, I moseyed out of the house around 9, and the weather was already brutal.


I know, I know, I’m a wimp, but it was in the 80s by the time I finished! I debated about skipping the run, but knowing I had a draft of my first weekly workout recap waiting for me pushed me to stick it out. Accountability? Thank you blog!

I headed to Crockett Hills Regional Park. It seems to be one of the more unpopular regional parks in the East Bay (you mean you don’t like refinery views and the sound of traffic when you run?), but it’s got a lot of gently rolling hills which make for good training.

Crockett Hills Regional ParkCrockett hills trailCrockett Hills trailCrockett hills trailCrockett Hills trailCrockett Hills trail

It also has a special place in my heart because it’s the first place I had a Shut Up + Run moment. TMI?

What I had planned on being a trail run ended up being a hike/trail run combo because of the heat. That’s okay with me though. When things get warmer than what I’m acclimated to, I switch to running on effort instead of running for pace. Mostly because I like to avoid things like chills, dizziness and fainting.

The smartest decision I made was wearing my Brooks D’Light Mesh Tank. I was worried that it was too thin when I first got it but today it really helped to keep me cool. I know your day wasn’t complete until you saw my fancy hair and flared nostrils.

trail run

Even though it wasn’t the run I had planned, any run is good in my book. Here’s what my week looked like.

Monday: 1 mile warm-up on the treadmill (5.5 mph @ 2% incline) and 45 min strength

Tuesday: 3.55 miles street running, 11:21 average pace

Wednesday: Unexpected rest

Thursday: 3.93 miles street running, 12:54 average pace and an exercise in getting comfortable with being uncomfortable. It was so freaking hot!hot

Friday: 35 min strength

Saturday: rest

Sunday: 3.22 mile trail run/hike

Total Mileage: 11.7

Overall: The past 2-3 weeks were scaled back in terms of mileage due to travel and general life busyness. I’m working on building my mileage back up, so I’m good with these numbers. Especially since two of the runs were in weather  hotter than I’m used to running in. It’s the summer, time to suck it up and acclimate!

And what about those June goals? How’d I do?

June Goals

  • Set a PR in See Jane Run 5K – Accomplished!
  • Find a one piece bathing suit so I can start swimming laps again – not accomplished but really I’m fine with that. Rocking a few new two pieces though!
  • Try to get a little ahead of the game with my blogging content – not really accomplished. I was hoping to generate content a little more ahead of the game than the day of, but time crunchiness hasn’t allowed that to happen…yet!
  • Experiment with 2-3 new recipes (probably some type of vegetable/bean/grain salads) in prep of July camping trip – I’m calling this one done! I’ll be making them this week and telling you all about them soon enough.
  • “Break in” my new hiking boots (I’ve taken them out once and they’re so comfy I don’t think they’ll need much breaking in!) – My hiking boots have been lonely and neglected. Moving this one to July.
  • Stay active on my girls trip to Mexico – Accomplished!
  • Volunteer at the Special Olympics – Accomplished, post coming soon!

Always, Sierra

Are you facing the heat where you live too?

What did your weekly workouts look like?

Do you set monthly goals? Yearly? Not a believer in setting goals?