musings on running, life, and everything in between


When your long run sucks

This weekend was the first 20 miler of this training cycle. Because this cycle has been so off, I’ve been dreading this run. Patty and Jen also had not been looking forward to it, and the run took quite a bit of finagling since one of us had childcare issues. All of Patty’s talk about hill training and my final examination of Boston’s elevation map convinced us to head out to Waterfall Glen.

We got a little crew going for our Saturday morning. Ayesha (first from left) only did one loop with us. She’s training with Every Mother Counts for the Big Sur Marathon Relay, so she needed some hills as well. Kelly, second from left, did an earlier loop and ran her second loop with us on our first. She’s also doing the Ice Age 50k.

Here’s a less posed shot, where we look much more excited than we actually felt. Poor Jen got cut off.

The big joke starting out was that nobody had their watch on them (well, none of us that ran the two loops together. Ironically, Kelly and Ayesha did.). I had my Garmin, but for some reason the battery was almost dead. It didn’t really matter as we had a rough sense of the distance, just over 9.5 miles for a loop, but we all know it doesn’t count if it’s not on the Garmin.

The first loop was ok. I was grateful for Kelly’s Garmin as I could tell we were above pace for most of it. I love Jenny, but she can’t pace herself at all and she’s inclined towards speed. She led the group, so I was constantly hollering to pull it back. The Garmin helped validate my sense of pace. We decided to head out on the trail clockwise first, which meant we headed into Big Berth (a 125 foot climb over a half mile, between mile markers 4 and 5) uphill. I’ve found it helps to reverse the route for a second loop to keep things fresh. Knowing that Big Bertha is more uphill clockwise, I opted to have us head into it on our first loop when our legs were fresher. I can not say it helped us tremendously. Sigh. It never felt easy. I never hit a groove with the run. It was just straight plodding. The funniest quote from the run, though, “What the heck is that? It sounds like a fire alarm.” “Frogs.” City kids. The frogs were definitely in a dither heralding in spring for us. It broke up the monotony of the brown woods a bit.

We took a short break at the end of the first loop to send off Kelly and Ayesha, refuel, and take a bathroom break. It took a lot of self-talk, cajoling, and mutual harassment to get going again. For me, it kind of went downhill from there. The whole second loop was a struggle. I felt like I was constantly out of breath, the hills felt like mountains, and I went to a bad place mentally. I also almost had an emergency bathroom break in the woods, but a fellow runner told me we weren’t far from a port-a-potty when she saw me break into the woods. There is a port-a-potty midway along the loop, which we were still at least a mile from (and I couldn’t wait for), but this was one at one of the parking lots less than a half mile from where I stopped. I had high hopes for that bathroom break to renew my spirits. Alas, t’was not to be. After initial sense of relief, it was back to plodding.

I lagged behind the group for a good chunk of the run, and Patty held back with me. I have no idea what pace we were going, but Emily, Jen, and Jenny were pushing faster than I felt I wanted or could go. We were all having a rough time of it, evidenced by the minimal talking on the run (5-7 women on a run and silence? Unheard of!). That trio, though, believes more in the “end the misery faster” school of thought. Whereas, I tend to believe it will be worse if you try to push yourself faster through a tough run. Patty was with me, and we coached each other through walk breaks, hills, and the run overall. She even stopped to take a couple photos of me to break it up 🙂

THIS is where I started really wishing Boston was over. I wanted to walk so much more than I did, but marathoners (at least most of the ones I know) are firm believers in running the distance. Any walking is seen as a cop-out or not “really” counting. Ultra/trail runners seem to follow more of the “time on your feet” thinking, so whether you’re walking or running, you’re moving and covering the ground. I hated that whole battle of “I can do it” and “I want to lay down right now.” Really, without Patty, I think I would have walked the last 2 miles in. Which would have only prolonged the agony. And made me even more insecure and self-doubting, so thanks Patty!

In all honesty, I was having some trouble with the ankles/Achilles on the hills, particularly downhill, so I will be headed to see Craig this week.

I had to laugh, though, when we finally hauled it back in to the trailhead and this is what we saw.

Yup, 21st century folks. 3 individuals tired from a hard 20 milers documenting their tiredness for social media. Gotta love it. I was jealous they got to lay down. And for convoluted reasons, I had to drive Patty’s car home while everyone moaned about feeling nauseous and sharing photos. I drove in sullen depression. Quite a great run.

Most of us, I found out later, lay around the house for several hours in a general nauseated malaise. There were rumors that someone may have thrown up in their mouth during the run as well. God, running is so sexy. Despite all this trauma/drama, most of us were out at a mutual friend’s 40th birthday party. And just to show, I can clean myself up once in a blue moon (literally), here’s a nice shot of me and Jen not running or in sweaty workout clothes.


I also spent part of Sunday shoving my face full of these delicious dumplings. They’re called wahng mahndoo (that is my phonetic spelling), which translates into something like king dumplings and are sold from a little shack outside of Joong Boo Foods (Korean supermarket) in Chicago. $2 each and they were huge. Of course, I ate 2. The one on the left is black rice with sweet bean, and the one on the right is kimchi. They also had a pork one that was already eaten by one of the kids. So good. I texted my friend when I was at the store to see if she needed anything. She requested 4 dumplings and nothing else when she heard I was there. Ha.

Anyhow, so what do you do when you have a crap run?

a. Ignore it and pretend it never happened (my family’s go-to reaction to anything difficult)

b. Look in the mirror, practice a winner’s smile, and say out loud to yourself, “Gosh darn it, you work hard, you look strong, and people like you.”

c. Give up running altogether as you’ve realized it’s not right for you after all.

d. Moan, groan, and bellyache about it to anyone who will listen, and then move the f* on. It’s a run, not world hunger, or nuclear disarmament. You could even try some Vonnegut on it, “Everything was beautiful and nothing hurt.”

You can try and guess what I should do. What would YOU do?

P.S. Can we talk for a minute about how daylight savings it the curse of all parents? Got up at 7:30 this morning with one kid missing the bus, so a frenzy of lunch-packing, clothes-changing, and general chaos. Sigh.

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California Dreaming

I’ve been sitting on this post for months. Literally. But, with the cold and grey, I thought it was time to get California dreaming. This is a lot of photos because it was actually two visits!

California: Part 1

I went to visit my family in August. Somehow, even though we’re from Illinois, my entire nuclear family–both parents and both siblings ended up in California. I am now the lone, landlocked, Midwesterner Kim family member. While I was looking forward to seeing my family and seeing the gorgeous LA area, I was also nervous because I had to do a 20 mile run. On vacation. Oy vey. But let’s start with the beauty.

Those are my naked children (including my daughter who is only wearing shorts and underwear–keeping it classy, folks). My dad is the man dressed like he’s about to head out to the desert. I don’t love the beach, but there is such a primordial connection to the ocean I have to say. And my son LOVED it.

Blue skies for days!

And we got to have a little sunset happy hour (my bro on the left and Mr. Sometimes Runner on the right).

And because we’re fancy like that, we took in some culture with the kids at the Getty Museum. FREE! In the mountains! Gorgeous.


The gardens were amazing and I couldn’t take enough pictures.


My daughter found all the nudity in the art museum very humorous. She kept shouting, “They’re naked” at all the art showing nudity and laughing. It was funny, but also embarrassing. Here she learns about the female form.

Who doesn’t love a painting of a giant rhinoceros beetle impaled by an equally large pin?

There’s been some scandal in celebrity gossip lately about Alyssa Milano being shamed for breastfeeding. Look, even baby Jesus breastfed openly.

Here’s the 20 miler I did along the ocean. I had originally hoped to run with a Long Beach area running club, A Running Experience Club. They were also going to do their 20 miler in preparation for the Long Beach Marathon. However, timing and such didn’t work out. They were very kind and shared their route, though, and I used some of it to guide my run down to Newport Beach and back.

One thing that was fun was my decision to do my “ice bath” in the Pacific Ocean. It was COLD! And I was sweaty, but it was pretty awesome to wade in and be in the water.

My family made fun of me for taking pictures of these squirrels along my run, but they’re squirrels. That live in the sand. The sand, people! And the markings on the squirrels look different from the fat suburban grey squirrels that are so prevalent back home.

Yum, Korean food in the LA area does not get better anywhere else in the US. Sigh. My sister, brother-in-law, and niece.

We also attempted to force our children to enjoy nature and go on a long hike in Griffith Park. There were alot of tears, gritted teeth, and threats of abandonment. But we got to the observatory and back. The hills! I was jealous of all the runners I saw out there.


One of my shorter runs I did in Long Beach and stumbled upon some fancy Venice canal-like areas. The houses were gorgeous and there were even little canals with bridges over. I can’t imagine being surrounded by such beauty all the time. I know people must get used to it, but it was glorious coming from the Midwest.


They even had Italian-like plaza centers with fountains.

It’s hard to find Korean buns like these. They are called “wahng mandoo,” or “king buns.” So amazing in the heart of Korea Town in LA.

Wyeth was very sad to go home.


I got a chance to go back to California just a week go. My sister had her second kid, a boy, and I went to go meet him and help. I went solo since it was so expensive. Yay, alone adult time! This time, instead of the LA area, I went to the Bay area.


My adorable niece.

I wasn’t allowed to hold my nephew the first day because my niece has been so attention-starved, we were pretending I came just to see her. Ha. I finally got some snuggle time the second day. Swoon. New baby cuddles and new baby smell.

As a good Korean and older sister, I made a traditional Korean New Year’s dish, ddeok guk, a noodle soup dish. Eating it is supposed to bring you long life and prosperity. I have to say that I did pretty good 🙂

My sister’s family lives in the East Bay, within short distance from the Ohlone Greenway, a pathway that runs along part of the BART line. I ran part of that, which was nice.

Gotta love public art! Roosters no less.

I also did a 14 miler along the Bay going north. The first mile was long the highway, so not so pretty. However, it soon opened up and even ran through part of a nature preserve. Always fun seeing the sun rise, right?

There were some tiny sections of trial that ran alongside the paved path, so I took the opportunity to get some different terrain underfoot. There was also a massive dog park that was acres and acres of happy, unleashed dogs, with lots of trees and open area. Almost made me want a dog (except that whole picking up poop part).

I ended at the Richmond Marina and scooted back. Overall, it was a great run, but I did realize that I hate my Saucony Guide’s. I had packed only those shoes and I generally don’t run in them for my long runs. I save them for my recovery runs. I realize they are just too much shoe for me, and I blame them and my long run in them for attributing to my pre-plantars issues. Like I said in the previous posts, Bill scolded me about switching between stability (the Guides) and neutral for longer runs. We’ll see…I just got the Saucony Triumph for more cushioning but still neutral form.

Anyhow, happy Friday, people. I’m going to try a short run today after taking the week off. Wish me luck. I will leave this little bit of California beauty for you.

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Long run short

Oy, just mixed up kids’ gymnastic times for the second time this summer. Both kids are in gymnastics at two different days/times. I keep getting the times mixed. I had someone say I was probably clinically ADD once. Clinical or absent-minded professor? I have a number of friends who have been diagnosed as ADD, but prefer to try to do workarounds rather than medicate. I have a couple of books recommended to me, but I haven’t taken the time to read them…One might say those two are related. Ha. But I digress…

This week’s long run was 16 miles. I decided to forego Friday’s 5 miles and just rest since I’ve been feeling so gnarly lately. I’m glad I did. With the humidity, it was slogging along. I also woke up way too early to certain evil minions that live in my home. Sigh. We were a little under the easy long run pace, because we were all so irritated about running we just wanted to get it done. Ha. It felt okay actually. A huge sigh of relief from me! Still, we had run most of it on the Salt Creek trail so it cooler and SHADED. Running in the open concrete for the last 4.5 miles was no fun (my friend Mary and I got a ride to the start where most folks were doing 12-14 miles and then running home to finish the rest).

Still, I enjoyed getting a chance to run with Mary. We somehow only manage to run together a handful of times a year as our schedules are complicated. However, she’s the one who opened my eyes to the world of running blogs a couple years back and we trained for Chicago together two years ago. She’s also one of my fellow Korean runners 🙂  She’s amazing. She just did her third tri ever (she’s done one once a year for the last 3 years) in June and qualified for nationals because was in the top 10% of her age group! It’s in Milwaukee in two weeks, and she’s a little nervous about it. She’s only ever done the sprint distance and Nationals are Olympic distance. Tri’s are also an interesting beast as they require so much equipment and the more you spend, the better it helps. It’s great, though, as she’s looking to just get a finisher jacket and see what she can learn from it. I’m jealous. I wish I could do triathalons but that whole swimming thing. BLECH. I did sign up for once years ago–a supersprint. But the lake got too high in bacteria levels so they made it a duathalon.

I’ve decided that my signature “thing” will be bad selfies. The less-than-flattering hat helps to continue that goal. 16 miles done before 9 am. Not bad 🙂
And while I’ve read that it’s bad to treat food as a goal or celebration for a hard workout, I figure coffee is relatively harmless. I did resist the donut calling my name. Or the almond milk mocha I was debating. The cheap part of myself refused to pay that much, though, so I went with iced coffee doctored with cream and sugar.   

Ugh, one thing that happened on the run that WAS new was some chafing! I’m not sure what happened as I’ve done long runs in these shorts before, but a seam or something was rubbing me wrong the whole run. I kept poking at parts of myself that probably didn’t look so ladylike or attractive. I was trying to get that stupid seam out of the way, though. I chafe under my arms when I wear tanks and sweat, but I’ve never had inner thigh chafing before–and trust me, it’s not because there’s a huge gap in between them or anything. It’s not horrible, but it doesn’t look pretty either. I use Body Glide on the backs of my arms before long runs in the summer, but obviously didn’t anticipate this either.

Finally, I had a 5 mile recovery run on the plan today. I was tired so decided to forego the early run. I’ve been sleeping HARD lately, but still tired–like full on drool, not moving, arm asleep hard sleeping. Not sure what’s up. Anyhow, because of the heat/humidity, I decided to take it to the Y. I’m not actually sure I sweat less than I would have outside, but I didn’t have to use nanny hours to get my run in and the kids had fun in the kids’ room today. For whatever reason, I chose the treadmill with a frozen screen of CNN. I swear I’m a maschoist sometimes.

I did some hills on the treadmill, though, in anticipation of Ragnar Great Rivers (it’s official, I’m on it!). Like the weirdo I am, I did request that if any of the higher mileage positions didn’t want their position anymore, I’d take it. Right now, I’m slotted to be runner 7 (funny since I was runner 7 last year for Chicago), which is 16 miles. I have 17 for that Saturday, so I’d like to at least hit that since it’ll be chopped up anyway. But I don’t think my training will really be impacted that much either way, and obviously I’m starting to be a little looser with following the plan.

All this heat and rain has been good for some of my veggies at least. Behold the magnificence! I’m actually not sure what to do with a zucchini that big…Maybe give it a name and make it our pet?

11703119_10153263198747949_7696192938921812671_nHopefully all of you had a good weekend/long run.

What’s your favorite post-run treat/motivation?

Any ideas for the zucch?

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3 bouts of coffee, some speed, and and an unexpected surprise

Hm, the title of this post sounds amazing already, doesn’t it? Like it’s going to be about some amazing, crazy night out on the town? Alas, t’is just a regular day in the maddening crowd.

I woke up at 4 a.m. this morning. Before the alarm. An hour before the alarm, and I couldn’t go back to sleep. The best sleep is sleep you think you’ve stolen by waking up and realizing you have another sweet hour before you actually have to wake up. Following that logic, the WORST is when you wake up long before your alarm and can’t go back to sleep. That was me. Writhing in denial for almost an hour before reconciling with the fact that sleep was for other people. Better people. Not me.

First bout of coffee. I always drink coffee before runs. Really, it’s the first thing I do, period. Before speaking to me, before eating, before looking at kids. Coffee. I swear if I could get coffee in an IV drip, I would. I get the feeling that might be a different kind of–illegal–drug. Anyhow, I drink the coffee, do the business, eat a little smackerel of something, and head out the door. Today I was in such a stupor, I missed the memo that I was supposed to be meeting my friends part of the way into the run, and they landed outside my front door texting me. Oops.

On the docket, 9 miles, which included 5x1000s at a blistering (for me) pace at the local high school, which is the wonkiest thing ever. I mean, who builds a track with turns that are more akin to right angles than any sort of curve?! Obviously, someone did. It was really dark, and I’m not just talking about my soul. And I may have dropped my giant GPS watch flailing around my first interval. And I may have had to run around the track one more time before I could find it.

2015-03-18 06.24.13

It was dark but pretty!

It’s no secret. I hate speed workouts. I suck at them. I started running distances because I reconciled I couldn’t run fast. But then I started thinking I should have time goals for running and that running marathons wasn’t punishment enough, but that I should start running them FASTER. So here I am. And I thought about my previous post as I ran. And I drew on my own communal knowledge of getting through the mile/lap that I was in and not over-anticipating what was to come. And I’ll be honest, there was alot of, “Just finish this straightaway…Now do the curve/angle…Ok, another straightaway.” I couldn’t go to the place of, “You have miles of this. MILES!” That would crush me. I got through one piece at a time. I didn’t make all my time goals, buuuuut I’m not even sure cuz–like I said–I might have dropped my laptop-on-a-wristband-that-poses-as-my-running-watch…and I might have not have enough oxygen for my brain to remember to hit my lap button after each interval. It is what it is. But I ran and pushed through each interval, so I definitely gave myself a little mental high-five. One of the reasons I love the track over the treadmill for speedwork is that you can see how much you have left. You can coax yourself to do the last lap or half lap. The treadmill is an endless quest of waiting for numbers to change as you go nowhere, waiting for an external force to tell you you’re done. *Shudder* Reminds me of the dissertation process.


Anyhow, the rest of the day was the usual carnival of craziness. One sick-faking kid who stayed home from school (which required a second early bout of coffee), then in-laws that came through town on their way home from a road trip, meetings and planning, and another night class (third bout of caffeinated sugar). I actually shared my blog with my students (the class is about teaching writing). Yikes, it’s always weird when you share parts of yourself that are not your “professional” parts (hm, that last bit sounds quite indiscrete) in those spaces. But this past year, I’ve been making more efforts to break down some of those barriers. So often we are categorized into certain boxes and allowed to be only fractions of ourselves. It’s stifling.

Which brings me to the unexpected surprise. When I wrote that previous post, I didn’t expect it to be picked up beyond my immediate circle, but it did. And even cross international time zones! Hooray for the interwebs! I need someone in Korea to read it, though, cuz, you know, I’m Korean and I need validation. But Koreans don’t run. Cuz it makes our legs big…well, that’s another post for another day.

Anyhow, friends, keep movin’ and groovin.

Do you tend to compartmentalize yourself?

Would you buy a coffee IV kit?