Wednesday, February 20, 2008


That pretty much describes the first few hours of my President's Day Monday a couple of days back. I had a very structured plan for the day, which quickly fell to pieces (although in the end the day turned out fine).

Monday February 18 was the day of registration for the Robie Creek Half Marathon in Boise on April 19. According to the website, online registration would begin at 8 a.m. Mountain Time (which by all calculations would be 7 a.m. here). So my schedule for the day began with 7-8 a.m. on the computer registering (I allowed an hour because I thought it might be a little difficult), followed by running 8-9 a.m.

A few minutes before 7 I was sitting in front of the computer waiting for the promised registration link to come up. There had been dire warnings about not refreshing the screen or doing other things to overwork the servers, but I must admit I periodically clicked over to another screen, then back, just to make sure I was getting the most current data.

Because nothing was happening. 8 a.m. came and went—so much for going running before my plan to meet a friend for breakfast at 9:45. 9 a.m.—still nothing. Now I was getting worried about the other plans as well. I was at least relieved that I had planned for possible delays by stationing myself by a TV where I could at least watch the Today show while I waited. At 9:30 I sent off an email of frustration to the contact person for the race (I'm sure he was getting any number of emails), and also talked to my friend about our plans. We decided to meet at 10:00 and I resigned myself to giving up if I didn't get in soon.

About when I was ready to throw in the towel, I decided to click the refresh button, just in case (even though I was not supposed to do that), and voila! There it was. The registration link. Now mind you, the registration process did not proceed all that smoothly from then on. There were still a number of "the website is not responding" messages, and I had to resend my information several times before I made it through all the levels. But finally, around 10:00, I was in!

Luckily the night before I had reconnected my old printer to the computer (in anticipation of this situation) and I was able to print out a confirmation of my registration as well. You're darn tootin' that I wanted proof that I was signed up for this thing!

So, what's the big attraction of this Robie Creek race? Apparently it has achieved semi-legendary status, undoubtedly due in part to the limited race field and difficulty getting in. I happened across it in an article in Runner's World about a few great half-marathons. It appealed to me for a number of reasons. First, I have good friends in Boise who always welcome my visits, so a run in Boise seemed like a good way to accomplish two objectives at once (or in other words, kill two birds with one stone). Second, the run was described as "challenging" (perhaps an understatement), so that sounded like... well, a challenge. Third, it happens six days after the Whidbey Island Half Marathon. Running two halfs in one week sounded like twisted fun, and probably the closest I'll ever get to running a whole marathon.

The thing that I didn't pay that much attention to, and didn't really seek out, was Robie Creek's reputation as a big party. That scares me a little (more than the uphill run), since I'm really not a beer-drinking, party-loving gal. I'll probably be waiting in line to get on the first bus back to the base! (To a hot shower and a good book... I'm so boring.)

They describe the run as "running over the hill." Hopefully my hill training for Whidbey and Portland will help me out with this one too. I'm not worried about my time or anything like that, and I know I have the stamina to finish, so it's all good. Whidbey is still my main focus (and the one where I really want to do well, timewise), and Robie Creek will just be for fun, endurance, and sense of accomplishment.

After I got my spot, I felt safe making my travel arrangements to Boise—a plane ticket, accommodations with my friend, and a rental car to get around Boise. Usually I don't have a car there, but since I'll be there for five days (from Wednesday packet pickup, to Sunday, the day after the race), I didn't want to rely on or burden my friends too much. I took care of all that later in the week, when I was supposed to be working.

But back to my day off, Monday, after I finally got my registration I hustled off to meet my friend at Mitzel's, half an hour or more later than planned. I really didn't even have time to eat breakfast at the restaurant, so I packed up some cereal, fruit and yoghurt to eat in the movie and asked my friend to order me two poached eggs to slurp down before heading off to the theatre. Actually that made a healthier breakfast than if I'd had time to order a "real" breakfast off the menu!

We went to see Definitely, Maybe, which I was pretty excited about since it's made by Working Title Films (the company behind Bridget Jones's Diary (my favorite), Love Actually, and other English chick flicks I've loved). This was not an English film, though one of the stars, Rachel Weisz, is English. I was not disappointed. The movie was sweet, fun, and very nicely done (in my opinion).

The movie ended around 1:30 p.m., which was good because I had still not been running. With a whole day off, there was no excuse to blow it off entirely, even if my reason for missing out in the morning had been totally legit.

So I ditched Jennifer and Sammy and headed back to Marysville to pick up my mother for a trip to Green Lake. I figured two laps around the outside would give me 6.4 miles, a fair distance for a Monday.

What with one thing and another, we didn't get down to Seattle until mid-afternoon, which made it unlikely that I could get back to Everett in time for Pilates class. I was pretty torn over this. On the one hand, you have to celebrate a legitimate reason to miss out on roll-ups and leg lifts—but on the other hand, I did feel guilty. Ultimately, I would resolve my dilemma by taking a third lap around the lake, which would make it truly impossible to get to Pilates but also add more than three miles more to my distance.

On this particular day I seemed extra aware of my reliance on my iPod. (There is something about no iPods being allowed on Robie Creek, which I'm sure I will be complaining about soon enough.) I took my first lap slowly (nothing surprising there). On the second lap I started playing games with the iPod. For the first mile, I began repeating the same song again and again until I finished that mile. Then I figured the next three songs would last about the distance of another mile. That seemed to work about right, so I backed up four songs to bring me in for the final 1.2.

So, two laps done, and I headed out for the third and final one. This time I came up with a scheme to both pass the distance and amp up my workout. I would run slowly for the length of one song, then fast for the length of the next, over and over around the lake. As I approached the end of the final lap, I sprinted into a "fast" song. I had already decided that I would run a little further on the inside track so that I could call my total mileage 10 rather than 9.6 miles, so I zipped past the car, keeping my speed up until the song changed again. I jogged for another five minutes then turned around and walked back to the car.

By then it was late enough to go have an early dinner, so we zipped over to Dukes for a tasty meal. A good day altogether!

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