Sunday, February 17, 2008

A Fine Discovery

Oh, I so love a pun.

It's not that I just discovered Discovery Park. It's not like I've never run there before. But it makes a catchy title, and it's true—Discovery Park is a fine discovery for running.

It's also fine for walking, hiking, and exploring, of course. But for me, its most appealing feature is the 2.8 mile loop trail that winds around the park, uphill and down, mostly on a packed dirt surface. Like Green Lake, a short measured path is great for running short or long distances (repeating as desired). But while Green Lake is pretty much flat and tame, Discovery Park is hilly and (comparatively) wild.

I ran there a couple of times last spring and, when the weather forecast was somewhat optimistic for yesterday (Saturday), I decided to make the trip south for a long run/hill run combo.

A change of scenery is always nice for running. The downside of going to a destination to run is that the trip there (and getting ready to go) can be as time consuming as the run itself. There is a lot to be said for walking out the door and running!

So thanks to the getting ready to go, and the going (which included driving to my mother's house to pick her up for the trip), I didn't actually get to Discovery Park or start running until after noon. (Literally. About 12:30, I think.)

Each loop is 2.8 miles, and my plan was to make four loops; the first three "easy" and the last one at the fastest pace I could manage (a 3/1 run).

Loop one: slow and easy. I'm a little stiff and creaky, and this is my warm-up. I didn't keep close track of the time, but it was about half an hour.

Loop two: less stiff, still slow, another half an hour, plus a few minutes extra for a stop partway through to use the bathroom. Two words: Cold. Toilet. Nuff said. (Except for a couple more descriptive terms: Metal seat.)

Loop three: I met my mother near the parking lot to turn in my water bottle for a new one. I also turned around to run in the opposite direction, partly to even things out and partly to shake up my routine. One side effect of this was that I was so disoriented that I had to check the signposts several times, even though this was my third time around this loop! By all theories this should have been my easiest time around—5.2 miles in, I was at the point where I should be firmly in the zone without yet hitting any kind of wall. It was pretty good, I guess. I didn't feel terrible, but I don't think I really had that "I can run forever" feeling, either. About 30 minutes around again.

Loop four: Time to put on the speed. And I did! I ran my heart out (and my legs off), pushing up the hills, hurtling down the hills, pounding along the relatively flat stretches. Time: better have been less than 30 minutes. I'm pretty sure it was.

After stopping at the car to check with my mother and going into the visitors center to use the bathroom (a real indoor bathroom with the usual kind of toilet seats), I walked for another 20 minutes or so to cool off and try to keep my leg muscles from seizing up. Then I changed my clothes in the bathroom so I wouldn't be damp and chilly and grouchy the rest of the afternoon (what there was left of it).

We picked up some brown rice sushi at Whole Foods for a late lunch, then headed over to U Village for a little shopping before going home. By the time we got to Whole Foods the achiness was already setting in, so I took a couple of Advil to try to alleviate it. I also had a callous on my big toe that had progressed to tender, bordering on painful. Later that night I soaked in an Epsom salt bath to treat both conditions. And I actually feel pretty good today (Sunday).

Total distance run Saturday: 11.2 miles. With my 8.2 mile morning run on Friday, and two somewhat shorter runs on Monday and Wednesday, that put me over 30 miles for the week. Not too bad!
A postscript: Pizza for dinner.

While sitting in the U-Village Starbucks (drinking a quad latte which enormously helped perk me up, as I was flagging), I started leafing through a book we had bought at Barnes and Noble, Eat This Not That, by David Zinczecko. The book purports to offer "Thousands of Simple Food Swaps That Can Save You 10, 20, 30 Pounds-or More!" to quote the sub-title. I had recently been thinking about pizza (which I haven't eaten for years, except one time on vacation in Canada last summer, a memorable exception). When I was buying frozen pizza to feed to a friend's child I was shocked at the calories (plus fat and sodium) in a very small serving. I'm pretty savvy about food calories, but this was beyond my expectations. I realized (and vowed) that if I wanted to have pizza (which normally isn't at the top of my wish list), it would have to be some kind of special diet pizza, like Weight Watchers or South Beach.
So, as I leafed through this book, I thought I'd look for pizza. I found a page for Pizza Hut. This entry suggested two pieces of a thin crust ham & pineapple pizza, at about 350 calories, or better yet, two pieces of a special "fit and trim" (or something like that) pizza for only 300 calories. (I figured at that rate I could actually have three pieces for a dinner.)
I became mildly obsessed with getting pizza for dinner, and the quest was on. Driving northward toward home I called directory information and found a Pizza Hut in Marysville. When I got there, I saw it really was a hut, of sorts, just a to-go shack without any restaurant accommodations. You can see how out of touch I am. I thought I remembered Pizza Hut as one of the regular pizza restaurants from my childhood! But I could be mistaken.
Anyhow, there was no sign of any "fit and trim" or any kind of diet pizza on the menu. But I thought I could accomplish the same result (with more veggies) by ordering the 12-inch veggie lovers pizza (thin and crispy crust), without cheese just to be on the safe side (I couldn't remember from the book whether the recommended pizza was shown with or without cheese). Then I just stopped at Albertsons and bought some 2% mozzarella, which I sprinkled lightly on the pizza before reheating it in the oven at my mom's house. I tossed up a big salad which I ate alongside my slivers of pizza (three pieces cut into half to make them last longer). Yum!

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