Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Today is Fat Tuesday

And really, is that an opportunity that can be missed?

Clearly that is why I was not able to get myself out of bed to go running today.

I am at this very moment contemplating what kind of goody I should allow myself to ensure that I remain fat on Fat Tuesday. Should it be a delicious cinnamon scone from Starbucks? Should it be a far cheaper but also delicious doughnut—such as a maple bar—from the grocery store? Should I help everyone else be fat as well by bringing a box of doughnuts or other goodies to the office? (My only hesitation there is that everyone else in the office may be less tempted than I and I will end up eating far too many treats even for Fat Tuesday.)

Ah, the dilemma. All I know is that I had better enjoy it now, since tomorrow is Ash Wednesday and let the Lenten fasting begin!*

*Not really fasting. Just another effort to keep myself from growing out of my jeans. Goodies begone!

Monday, February 23, 2009

Three weeks and counting

In less than three weeks—three weeks from yesterday—I'll be in Bath running the half marathon.

Three weeks, people! Three weeks!

In fact, two weeks from today I'll be going to the airport to catch my flight to London. That's scarier than the run itself.

I think all the pieces are in place. Passport (replaced after purse was stolen in December)—check. Plane tickets reserved and paid for—check. All hotel reservations (London, Bath, Penzance) made and confirmed—check.

Training for the run—um—check?

Okay, it's undoubtedly true that my training for this race has been far more lackluster than past half marathons. Like Whidbey '07 and '08, which were, not coincidentally, among my very best finishes.

On the downside (and it's a big downside), I haven't been doing any speedwork to speak of, not even my own half-assed style of speedwork. I just run. And "run" is a pretty extreme term to describe my slogging shuffle.

On the upside, I have consistently kept my mileage pretty well up. (Note the equivocal term here.) Granted my weekly totals are not up to the aspirational 32-mile-per-week average goal that I set myself for 2009. (Next up: revising my goals for 2009.) Although this last week was 32.5 miles, I have been more regularly doing 25-30 miles, even less on a couple of occasions when I had 5K's on the weekend.

Or like this week, when I am doing a 10K on Saturday and chose not to run this morning because my legs were still tired from the 12.5 miles I didn't finish until 4 p.m. yesterday. I made the judgment call (this morning at 6 a.m.) that 14 hours was not enough recovery time between runs.* So I'll be lucky to get 20 miles in over the week.

But I have been regularly doing at least 10 miles almost every Sunday,** and frequently 11 or 12, as I have been for almost the entire last year. So in theory, I am always ready to run a half marathon.

I fear this turning into a gloomy "I am so slow" post, but I am not going there. The run will be what it will be.

On the upside—and it's a big upside—it's in England! And I'll be in London for three days before going to Bath! And in Penzance, Cornwall, for three days after!

I'm especially looking forward to Penzance, not just because the run will be done by then. We are staying at what looks to be a really great hotel, the Abbey Hotel, and Penzance is an extremely quaint and charming seaside town, easily accessible by a long, scenic train ride. Not to mention that Cornwall is the home of Cornish pasties and the most delicious clotted cream. And you can walk for miles along the paths that line the coastal perimeter.***

So, two weeks to go! There are still a few things to accomplish before I go. Even with the passport already in hand. Bills to pay, and such nonsense. Packing to be done (without buying new clothes). Camera to be found! (Yes, I have misplaced my new camera. The one I bought on the day before leaving for Vegas, after my former camera was stolen out of my car along with my purse, passport and Tiffany heart earring. Oh yeah, I never did finish a Las Vegas race report, so that story has not yet been told.)

Gosh, with all that stuff to do, why am I just sitting around here?

*So I stayed in bed instead. I did watch a yoga show on the Oxygen channel while I was lying there. I didn't participate because that would have required getting out of bed. I did join in on some of the seated and floor poses which I could do in the bed. Then I fell asleep during shavasana.

**Again, except for the ones with 5K's and while we were snowed in over Christmas.

***Walk, I say! Not run.

Monday, February 16, 2009

President's Day

Our President's Day holiday started out with bright, though rather cold, sunshine, but I opted to lie in bed rather than head out for an early morning (or even not-so-early morning) run. I figured I had the whole day; I could run later on or just go to the Y if running did not seem like a good option. Happily, my legs weren't really bothering me from yesterday's long run, although I did take Advil around 4 a.m., which probably made the lie-in much more enjoyable.

I decided to capitalize on the day off from work by sneaking off to a midday movie. I say "sneaking off," because although I have no one telling me what to do with my time, I know there are a lot of things I should be doing. Cleaning house. Cleaning up the garden. Running or working out. Even going into work to make a phone call I didn't have time for last week and really didn't want to make anyway because it is to a very unpleasant parent who spent a good half hour screaming at me on Wednesday. So I really did not have a lot of motivation to call this person back really promptly. Tuesday is soon enough.

Anyhow, I also call it sneaking off because it seems very selfish to go to a movie alone. But I have also determined that if there are movies I want to see I might as well go see them, because waiting for somebody to go with me is equivalent to waiting for the movie to come out on DVD. At which point I probably won't see it either because I am not good at watching DVD movies. And I tend to fall asleep. I don't expect Rod to go see chick flicks (and why would I want him to?); my friend that I do like to watch movies with has daycare issues that pretty much eliminates any kind of non-work hour childless activities; and although I will occasionally invite my mom to a movie, I have to screen it first to make sure it is "appropriate" for her to see.

And you know, although I might gripe a lot about the price of movie tickets, $10 or so is a pretty good deal for two hours of entertainment. Two hours of shopping would cost me a lot more!

So I went to see He's Just Not that Into You. Totally a chick flick. Because you (I) really would not want to see it with a guy. Like the non-fiction book it was based on, it is somewhat disturbing in the way it can strike home with dating "truths" that seem so obvious but yet can so easily be overlooked. But this isn't a movie review or advice column so I won't analyze it further. In the end, I enjoyed the movie.

But the day wasn't over yet! It was getting on toward 3:00 by the time I got out of the movie theatre. The day had started out bright and sunny and it was still pretty nice out. Nice enough that going for a run was an attractive alternative to going to the Y, and since I had conveniently determined that there was a pretty low tide at 3:22, I decided to head over to my parents' house to run at the beach. First time this year!

I didn't actually hit the beach until around 3:40, but the tide was still well out on the flats and there was plenty of beach left. Here is the view I had starting down the beach. It looks pretty rocky in the picture (as it is), but it does turn to more sand after some distance. My route would take me down the beach and around the point (Mission Head) that can be seen in the far distance.

This picture is looking back where I started. My parents' cabin can be seen slightly. I was able to go about 2.75 miles before I reached the "end" of the beach at Tulalip Bay. When the tide is very far out I can go almost another quarter of a mile onto a spit, but today I stopped rather than risking soggy feet.
When I had rounded Mission Head I was joined by a gingery dog who decided to run along with me. She was friendly and not agressive, so I didn't mind the bouncy company. She stuck with me to the end, as I turned around and headed back toward Mission Head. But as we approached then passed Mission Head the dog seemed to have no inclination to leave me and find her way home. I began to get concerned, as I was still almost two miles from home and I didn't want her to follow me the whole way.

As I was thinking this, I suddenly tripped over a rock or log and fell sprawling to the ground. Luckily, other than the object that tripped me up, I was in a sandy patch and the fall was soft. As I sat on the ground, my new friend came over to check on me. She cuddled up to me and I put my arms around her and hugged her. I also took that opportunity to look at the tag on her collar. Her name was "Nalla" and there was a phone number.

I got to my feet and thought for a moment, then decided I'd better call and see if her owner was around anywhere. A woman answered, and I told her that her dog had started running with me and I was afraid she'd follow me all the way home. She probably would, was the answer; she's just a puppy and tends to follow people.* We had some discussion about where I was located, and I said I'd wait with Nalla until she was retrieved. We waited for a few minutes, then my phone rang back. Apparently we had some miscommunication about locations--she thought I was in the opposite direction! I told her I'd come back in her direction.

So Nalla and I began running (slowly) back toward Mission Head. About a quarter of a mile back I spotted the woman and handed off the friendly dog. I wish I'd taken a picture of her but dogs are so hard to photograph. Either they're moving around, or if you bend down, they run to you!

So by that time, I was ready to be done, but I was still (again!) almost two miles from home. It was pretty dusky out, and the brisk, cold wind was making my nose run (much faster than I was!). On the good side, my extra jaunt brought my total distance to six miles, once I was finally done.

The sun was setting, but instead of setting over Mission in the west (as is typical), it seemed to be setting between Mukilteo and Whidbey Island, as shown in the picture below.

I finished my day of fun and bad eating (did I mention a doughnut in the morning and a small popcorn at the movie?) by eating "sliders" (miniature hamburgers) with my parents. Oh, correction, I finished the day by polishing off the remains of a carton of light peppermint ice cream (leftover from the holiday season) when I got home. (And I wonder why I am running slowly....)

*So why, I wondered, is she allowed to roam freely so she can escape to the beach and follow strangers home?

Sunday, February 15, 2009

Nap needed

Okay, I've run 12 miles (approximately, I inadvertantly paused the Garmin for a while in the middle but I'm counting that period as about a mile), showered, eaten, looked at Facebook, and now all I want to do is lie down for a while before doing anything else. Isn't the post-run rest period a mandatory element of a long run?

Yesterday I thought about doing an unscheduled 3.1 mile run in honor of the Freakishly Flexible 5K, but I decided it was flexible enough that I could count part of my run from Thursday, or today (Sunday), or just not do it all. Instead I went to yoga,* then spent 40 minutes on the cross-trainer, before getting ready to go skiing with Rod. We went night skiing, which is great because it is 1) cheaper than day skiing; 2) much less crowded—no lines and good parking; and 3) just a lot of fun skiing under the lights. It was a great evening, and a great way to celebrate Valentine's Day.**

Even better than Valentine's Day, though, is President's Day! Because it is a court, and therefore work, holiday! Thank you Abe Lincoln and George Washington for giving me the day off tomorrow!

*At least I did the "flexible" part.
**I did my Valentine's thing on Friday, by making a delicious Valentine's Eve dinner of crabcakes, steak, roasted fingerling potatoes, asparagus, salad, and a scrumptious flourless cake (from Safeway of all places) with raspberry sauce and raspberries.

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Sunset on the run

A little pale, but hopefully enough pink to signify a nice day tomorrow!
Sent via BlackBerry by AT&T

A couple of Valentine's Run pictures

Here are the official race pictures. At least I look like I'm working hard!

I remember seeing the photographer when this was taken. I should have put on some lipstick to match my outfit....

This must be in the final stretch, considering the look of agony on my face!

Sunday, February 8, 2009

Not feeling the love

The motto for today's "Love 'em or Leave 'em 5K" was "Bringing love to Seattle." Well, running-wise, my theme song would have to be this....

Okay, it wasn't actually as bad as I feared.* Time—28:33. Yes, that's the chip time. Almost a minute slower than January 1. Almost three minutes slower than this race last year. Three and a half minutes slower than my 5K PR! Oh, dear.

I do have a few rather legitimate excuses. I have had a cold all week. Last night I woke up again around 4 a.m. with a coughing spell, which only subsided after I took a swig of my emergency cough syrup. Bought for the sole purpose of combating middle-of-the-night coughing spasms. This morning was quite cold and foggy, and my mom suggested that might have increased to pollution, all of which, along with the cold, probably impaired my breathing. That doesn't really affect my legs but it is true that cardiovascular capability does impact ability to run harder. And in the leg department, my right calf and achilles tendon have been tender for a couple of weeks. I could just feel it today. After the race, however, I was practically crippled and limping noticeably.

On a cheering note, these types of runs are always packed with non-runners and walkers, so my stats are still respectable. Out of 2011 finishers, I was 706 overall. Of 1309 women, I was 326. And in my age group, I was 60 of 229.

This year the race organizers were all excited that the city allowed them to have the route in the streets surrounding Greenlake, rather than on the inner path around the lake. I guess that did allow for more space, but since I've done so much better on the other runs, I can't wholeheartedly embrace this change.

I did a three mile lap around the inner lake to warm up. Even then, I didn't really feel like I was clicking until about the beginning of mile three. My Garmin was mysteriously uncharged, so I don't have any idea of my splits. My mother took this picture somewhere around the three mile point, as we came back onto the lake path and headed for the finish line.

I have to admit I was at a pretty low point after the run ended. I was distressed about the time, and what's more, I couldn't find my mother in the crowd. I felt like a little kid, about to burst into tears because I couldn't find my mommy! But that changed a little bit when I ran into a woman I know from other races, who had finished after me. I know she can run fast, I've seen her do sub-25 minute 5K's. Maybe she was running with a friend this time, maybe she was having a slow day (more likely the former, though). But whatever the reason, she was unperturbed about her time. She had the same sunny smile that I always see on her. (I so admire that smile!) Apparently she was able to have a good time regardless of whether or not she finished with a good time.**

And I need to keep trying to be like her. Not every race is a PR. Maybe my PR days are over... hopefully not, but what if they are? I'm not going to give up running because of it. Because I love it, right?

One more thing. The long-sleeved race shirt is the color of chocolate. No need to wonder about crumbs and spills if I happen to indulge!

*It never is... that is, it can always get worse. I don't know if that's actually a cheering thought!
**That's a little play on words.

Saturday, February 7, 2009

I've fallen into the Facebook trap

I kept hearing about people being hooked on Facebook—adult people, people my age, people who seem fairly rational and normal. So when a friend at work was saying she kind of wished she was on Facebook so she could look people up (not that you can get much information about them), I thought, "well, I could try it." I have no issues with putting my name (pictures, and all kinds of stuff about myself) out there on the internet. After all, I do have a blog.

I signed up a few days ago, and being quite shy and afraid of rejection, I only sent friend requests to a few people in my email mailbox who seemed pretty safe and unlikely to shun me. (And to those of you who haven't confirmed me, my feelings are a little bit hurt!)

Dear sweet Corey confirmed me instantaneously. Either she is a very nice person, or she is constantly on Facebook. Some time later I got a friend request from Corey's friend Cassie, who I know also (we actually share office space, even though we work for different firms). It is amazing how flattering it is to get an unsolicited friend request. Even though I wonder whether Corey asked her to friend me—"poor Kristin, she only has one friend."

Since then I've added a few more friends, and even had the nerve to send out a few more of my own, even one to an old friend who I've been out of touch with for years. (Haven't heard back, it was just a while ago.)

One surprise (and again, rather flattering moment) was a friend request from a guy from school who knew both me and my boyfriend when we were in Sunday School and high school together. (But definitely not together at that time.) I'm sure it was a real shock for him to see the pictures of us together (in fact, he commented on that).

I'm having fun reading the silly minutia of people's lives and writing my own ridiculous status updates. Like Kristina, I find myself thinking in the third person, and mentally composing the most inappropriate "Kristin is" comments. "Kristin is... hoping she makes it to a bathroom really soon." And worse.

But enough of this blog chatter. I've got things to do.

Kristin is going to put the laundry in the dryer now.
Kristin is going to get another diet Coke.
Kristin is running a 5K tomorrow and hoping she doesn't totally humiliate herself with slowness.

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

Sort of in a super slump

I went back and found last year's post for Super Bowl Sunday, so I could get an idea how running was going then as compared to now. Apparently I ran about 11 miles on that Sunday; I went 10 this year. To be precise, 15K (really, 9.33 on the Garmin) "running" (if you can call it that), and the remainder walking home from Starbucks. I'm counting it.

The difference, however, is that last year I was all gushing about how I was getting into the Zone at the end of my long runs, which presumably means that I was running at least somewhat fast and well. Right now? I haven't felt in the Zone for weeks. There was one good Wednesday a while back... and that's it.

Of course, last year I didn't have a Garmin at this time of year to tell me how fast or slow I was going. But I do know, from the summer and fall when I did have the Garmin, that my typical pace for an "easy" run was anywhere from 30 to 90 seconds faster than my current pace.

I sort of date my slump back to the Las Vegas marathon back in early December. Since then I've been putting in the miles (mostly), but without any results to be proud of.

I'm not all about regrets. I so enjoyed the couple of weeks up to Christmas where we had so much snow that actual running was severely curtailed, but I got to spend a lot of time walking (and running) in snowshoes. (I enjoyed that not because of the lack of running, but because the opportunity to get around on snowshoes!) I'm pleased that I'm still dragging myself out in the cold, dark, often foggy early mornings to run, even if I'm doing it slowly. I'm glad that I've kept my Sunday long runs up in double digits, although I was really pushing it last Sunday by rounding up from 9.97.

On Sunday I was out on my long, slow run and I was plugging up a hill when a truck blew by, filled with teenagers, I think. One of them thought it would be hilarious to shout out the window at me "It's not working!" That immediately reminded me of Sarah's post back in September, where (in a remarkably similar circumstance), a guy yelled at her from a passing car, "run all you want, you'll still be fat!" Sarah is obviously not fat, and she posted some pictures (the likes of which you will never see here) which clearly demonstrated that.

But okay. I'm not as lean and mean as Sarah. But the jerk in the truck couldn't see the jiggly roll around my stomach, my arms which can not be shown in public, or really even, from that distance, the layer of padding on my well muscled legs. I'm not skinny. (I noticed that especially in the mirror during yoga this morning, comparing myself to the truly emaciated older woman beside me.) But I'm also not fat. (Not excessively, anyway.)

Obviously the guy intended to insult me. His implication was that I was running to lose weight, and, obviously, that was not working. In some ways he was right about that. I can run, run, run, and that hasn't made me lose the pounds I want to lose.

But his intended offense had so much more of a negative effect on me. What if I'm not running to lose weight? What if I'm running to become stronger and more fit? It's not working. What if I'm running to get faster? It's not working. What if I'm running to get away from a-holes in trucks who have nothing better to do on a Sunday morning than yell insults at other people? It's not working.

This is where I am supposed to turn this around into an inspirational conclusion. My great solution to overcoming negative self-image and re-igniting any fast-twitch muscles that I might possibly have. But what really comes to mind right now is something from Sleepless in Seattle, where Dr. Marcia Fieldstone asks Sam (Tom Hanks) what he is going to do to get over the loss of his wife. He says, "Well, I'm gonna get out of bed every morning... breath in and out all day long. Then, after a while I won't have to remind myself to get out of bed every morning and breath in and out... and, then after a while, I won't have to think about how I had it great and perfect for a while."

Okay, I know that sounds morose. Nobody died here. My running is certainly not dead, not even in a coma. It's just a little bit injured. And what am I going to do about it? I'm going to get out of bed in the morning, and I'm going to put on my running clothes.* Then I'm going to step out the front door,** and put one foot in front of other, and just keep doing that. And after a while, I won't have to think about putting one foot in front of the other, because I'll be in the groove and, with a little bit of luck and an earlier sunrise and more clement weather, I'll be back in the Zone again.

*And pee and brush my hair and teeth.
**After strapping on my Garmin and iPod.