Friday, July 31, 2009

That's what THEY think...

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Thursday, July 30, 2009

Friday is a rest day—OR ELSE!

Tomorrow (Friday) is the day before the half marathon, and it is a rest day on my schedule. That means no Friday morning semi-long run (obviously), no lengthy stint on the elliptical at the Y (like I did today), no super-long walk around Everett or on the beach (long walks are my sometimes substitute for running). I may (probably) walk to Starbucks to get an iced latte. I might (most likely) increase the distance of the round trip walk from one mile to, maybe two (or at the most three), just to wake up my legs a little. But that's it! I promise.

What I had really hoped to do as an exercise substitute was go get a massage. Unfortunately the massage therapist I see has switched from working out of a downtown hair salon to working out of her home about 15 miles from here (for what reason, I do not know), and that's really too complicated to deal with on a work day.

What I will do, and I think that this has as much benefit as exercise, and is much less likely to tire my legs, (and in fact is almost guaranteed to rest them), is sleep in a little bit. Turn off the alarm and wake up naturally. Let myself fall back to sleep when I wake up at 5 or 6 a.m.

I am sleep deprived in general (although I have been improving my sleep habits a lot), because I stay up (or awake) too late for someone whose alarm goes off at 5:30 a.m. on most mornings. But the quality (and quantity) of my sleep has been deteriorating rapidly as the heat has increased, and as the house has lost its ability to cool off during the nights.

Last night was probably a nadir in my sleeping experience. In order to be comfortable at all, I took a spray bottle that I use to dampen clothes for ironing (it doesn't get used much), and spritzed myself while lying on the bed. That was cooling (and the fan helped) and I would fall asleep for a bit. But I would also wake up about every hour, partly because the dampness had evaporated and I was warm again, and partly because I had to pee, thanks to the great quantities of iced tea I had been drinking all evening. So I would go to the bathroom, spray myself with water again, then fall asleep for another hour or so.

Yesterday was the extreme, but the warm nights have been building and compromising my rest for several days now. It isn't until about 5 in the morning that my bedroom has cooled enough to be quite comfortable. By that point, I am only minutes from the alarm going off. A couple of bangs on the snooze button is a poor substitute for an hour or two of restful dozing!

So tomorrow, for therapeutic reasons, I will not force myself to wake at the crack of dawn. And if I do anyway, I'll make myself lounge in bed for a while. (What a sacrifice!)

Then eventually I'll get up, go for a little walk, go to Starbucks, have breakfast, get together stuff for the race on Saturday, and, oh yeah, eventually get dressed and go to work.

Happy Friday, everyone!

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Just a quick one

Earlier today I started writing about the extremely hot weather, and the doom that portends for the half marathon on Saturday, but really, finishing that post is bound to make me even more cranky and depressed than I already am, so I've abandoned it. Instead I'm just writing a quick post about my run this morning, with a brief nod to the weather.

It is hot. Very very hot. You may have heard about it on the news, actually. The Seattle area hit a record high 100+ degrees today. In Everett it apparently only made the 90's. Even now, after 9 p.m., I've heard that it is still in the upper 80's. At my house, it is about 86 degrees in the living room area, according to the thermostat. I have a couple of fans on, blowing the air around. I don't have a thermometer upstairs in my bedroom. I do have a good window fan (not an air conditioner) which usually cools things down pretty well. However, it blows in the outside air, so if it is still hottish outside, I don't know how well it will do.

I am getting hotter just writing about this. Or maybe it is from holding the laptop....

Okay, I've moved it off my lap and got some more iced tea. Better.

Today was my final run prior to the half marathon on Saturday. I went out at 6:30. Even then it was already warm out, though by no means hot. I ran using a new fuel belt I bought yesterday, when I heard that the extreme weather could extend through the weekend. I know you normally shouldn't do something new in a race, but I think this can be an exception. Extra hydration is probably worth the risk of trying something unfamiliar. And actually, after the first couple mile I didn't even notice I was wearing it. Although I don't know that I will be very good at drinking on the run.

I did about three miles of warm-up (10:15, 9:35, 9:35) then went to the track for quarter-mile intervals (six of them). Between each I jogged about 45 seconds and walked a little and drank some water. My quarter-mile measurements were a little questionable, so I'll emphasize the pace for each segment rather than the actual time.

1 - .24 mile at 7:18 pace (1:45)
2 - .25 mile at 7:08 pace (1:45)
3 - .25 mile at 7:24 pace (1:52)
4 - .25 mile at 7:15 pace (1:50)
5 - .26 mile at 7:18 pace (1:53)
6 - .25 mile at 7:26 pace (1:15)

Then another half mile or so at 9:11 pace.

Total: 5.55 miles. 50:40. Average pace 9:11.

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Patio blogging

One of the good things about hot summer days? Pleasant summer evenings on the patio. (I'll save the "bad things" for a future post.)
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Remember yoga?

I have been a yoga devotee for many years. For more than four years, I religiously went to yoga classes two to five times a week, evening classes and early morning classes, even Saturday mid-morning classes.

Then, a couple of months ago, I sort of stopped going. My attendance trickled out. I chose to sleep in on Saturday mornings. After an instructor change (actually a couple of changes), I stopped going to the 6 a.m. classes and switched that time slot to cardio instead. And my favorite classes, 7:15 p.m. on Tuesday and Thursday nights, seemed awfully late to be at the Y on summer evenings, and a good time slot to do other things instead.

I have not abandoned yoga forever. I consider myself on something of a vacation from yoga. When fall rolls around and the evenings are no longer light and inviting, I will return to my original yoga home (the Tuesday/Thursday night classes) and re-establish myself. I hope the instructor doesn't think I've abandoned her entirely! I doubt that I will go back to the 6 a.m. classes anytime soon. I understand that the new instructor does a very "relaxing" class, and I don't need relaxing at 6 a.m. If I was going to be relaxing I would be in bed! I will, however, try to get to the Saturday morning classes at least a couple of times a month.

In the hiatus, however, I have toyed with the idea of doing a few yoga poses on my own time. On the 4th of July I was reading a copy of Body + Soul magazine and came across a short yoga routine that really appealed to me. They call it the "No Sweat Workout." No sweat because yoga generally, and these poses specifically, usually stretch and possibly strengthen, but do not rev up your heart rate or heat up your body. Fine with me, I get enough of that stuff by running! This article does, by the way, suggest that these yoga poses will also work your heart by stretching and compressing the torso.

I made a couple of trips to bookstores to find a copy of the magazine for myself. Little did I know that I could get the entire article online here!

Once I had the magazine, of course it sat, open, by my chair for several weeks before I actually tried the poses for myself. But last night, before I went up to bed, I slid onto the floor with the magazine by my side. The routine consists of six poses, each of which you should hold for one to three minutes.

Well, okay.... Actually I could only hold the poses for about 30 seconds. I seem to be pretty tight. Partly it's from neglecting the yoga and stretching for a while, partly because of running, and partly because I am not too bendy at the best of times! I figure that gives me something to work toward, holding the poses for longer and longer periods.

The article describes the poses in detail, but here's a quick run-through.

Butterfly. Sit on the floor with bent knees (hopefully flattened to the floor) and soles of the feet touching. (Move your feet away from your body as needed to accomplish this.) Fold forward at the hips, reaching your arms forward with the palms together. Hold this position. Hopefully as I get more flexible (again), my body will get closer to the floor!

Sphinx. This always been a favorite with me. So nice for the back! This is one pose I wouldn't mind holding for one to three minutes. Lie on your belly on the floor and prop yourself up on your forearms. Lift your chest and keep your shoulders back. Hold.

Seal pose. (I know this as cobra.) From sphinx, raise yourself onto your hands and press your torso up away from the floor, arching the back. Come out of the pose by sinking into child's pose and resting a few minutes there.

Quarter dog pose. From hands and knees (or from child's pose), stretch one arm straight in front of you and bend the other perpendicular and rest your forehead on it. Keep your hips above your knees and stretch your back. Hold. Change sides.

Lateral dragonfly. Sit with your legs in a wide straddle and your back straight. Bring your torso to one side with the opposite arm stretched over your head. Bend your other elbow and bring it to the floor in front of your knee, resting your head in your palm as you stretch. (I could not get my elbow to the floor; I had to rest it on my leg.) Hold, then repeat on other side.

Lying spinal twist. Another favorite. Lie on your back with your knees bent and your arms stretched out to the sides. Drop both knees to the floor in one direction. Extend your arms and turn your head to the opposite direction. Hold, then change sides.

Finish with a few minutes in corpse pose (lying flat on your back and resting quietly).

Monday, July 27, 2009


Shortly after writing my earlier post about nutrition, where I implied what an exceptionally clean eater I am, I dove headfirst into a bag of "Hint of Lime" Tostitos in the office kitchen. I couldn't stop myself! I was just lucky that the bag was almost empty, and the chips inside were smallish broken pieces that go a lot further than whole ones. I honestly feel like it was the salt I craved as much as the chips themselves. My rationalization is that my body is begging salt after all my warm weather running and profuse sweating the last few days.

Speaking of salt, I am a little worried how the heat wave may affect the half marathon on Saturday. On the one hand, I fear that I may run slower in the heat than I have been hoping for. On the other hand, I am worried that the heat might make me sick! I am wondering if some salt tablets might be a good idea. I have read other bloggers who take them in hot weather.

I keep telling myself, "other people run in weather much hotter and more humid than this!"
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Running nutrition

This is not one of those blog posts where I pretend to know something about a topic and I pretentiously share tips and advice with you, complete with links to other resources.

No, this is where I admit that I am sorely lacking in knowledge and practice of running-related nutrition. Now, I don't mean that I know nothing about general nutrition, be it for runners or the population in general. My diet in general would make most nutritionists kneel at my feet in admiration (I say in all modesty).

But, except for an occasional foray into carb-loading before a race (which is more for my own enjoyment than any practical benefit), I have never eaten specifically to try to enhance my running performance. I have never fueled during a race, and only occasionally on a long run. I have never, ever used gels, sports drinks, or other nutrition enhancements, except for the occasional package of Sports Beans (and I have never actually eaten them during a race). I usually don't eat before a run (except for a few chocolate-covered coffee beans to get going), although on weekends when I have more time on my hands I may eat a light breakfast then wait an hour or so before I go out.

With a half marathon only a few days away, I have no intention of running out and buying packages of Gu or anything like that. I'll probably carry a packet of Sports Beans (which I won't eat because I don't want to stop to mess with the package), and maybe a couple of packets of honey, which I think I can rip open with my teeth and suck down adequately. If I can be bothered.

I'll tell you one reason I've never bothered to experiment with fueling on the run. It's the calorie consumption. I always want to "save" the calories burned by running in order to eat (more) "real" food afterwards. It's a fairly legitimate concern, I think. Why would I be sucking down gels at 100 calories a pop, when I could eat a cinnamon roll after I'm done? I've recently conceded, though, that on a long run or race (more than ten miles), I could probably spare a couple hundred calories along the way to refuel. How I accomplish that, I'm still not quite sure.

I do, after all, have a couple of links to some interesting other sources. I enjoyed this article, by a guy who thinks sort of like I do, and goes out for his runs without extra fuel and drinks only water. He does, however, consume fuel (carbs) during the actual race. He says that low blood sugar leads to hitting the wall, and by eating some during the run you can avoid that situation.

And it seems like everyone still stresses the importance of high quality carbs in the runner's diet, as well as protein. I have always been somewhat leery of carbs, but in the last few months of training have been a little more welcoming to whole grains and some other carbs, like my beloved sweet potatoes, in addition to the vegetables and fruits which I always eat in bulk (particularly vegetables).

So, for the next few days I don't plan any major changes in diet or fueling habits. I'll keep eating well, be a little more welcoming of carbs, and try not to diet excessively even though my calorie burn will a little bit reduced due to tapering. Maybe after this race is done I will start investigating and trying out various gels and look into whether any sports drinks make sense for me. Because of the hot weather and all the sweating I've been doing, I've been a lot more lenient about sodium, even putting salt on my food on occasion. And I do plan to work on hydrating well all week long, so I won't start out dehydrated when race day arrives on Saturday!

This morning - easy run, 6.3 miles, 1 hour 45 seconds, 9:38 average pace.
Splits 10:30, .54 mile at 9:31 pace, 9:51, 9:42, 9:27, 8:54, .76 mile at 9:27 pace.

Sunday, July 26, 2009

Baseball is like a 15K

Rod didn't seem impressed by my analogy,* but I find it pretty amusing! (You know, a baseball game is 9 innings, a 15K is 9-ish miles.) I came up with that as I was inadvertently thinking that the faster each team struck out, the faster the game would move forward. Just like in a race, the faster you can run each mile, the sooner the whole thing will be done!

That makes it sound like I don't LIKE baseball. That's not true. Sure, I'm not a FAN or anything, but I have an interest in the Mariners doing well** and it's fun to go to a game now and then. It's just that I have a hard time just sitting still watching. I like to multi-task (that is, entertainment-wise). I regretfully decided against bringing along magazines (let alone a book), but I do have my little pocket-sized toy, the BlackBerry! So far I've texted my mom, read one blog post on the google reader (I'm rationing myself), updated Facebook, and started writing this.

And just like in a run where you start thinking about something else and the miles fly by, the game is moving along. We're almost done with the first 5K! Er, three innings....

*Or would it be a simile? I think it can be either.

*Unfortunately, they lost BIG today. I added this later, obviously. We left after the 8th inning and at that time the score was 12 to 2 (oh dear). We had to walk back to the train ("the Sounder"), anyway, and it's quite a trip going from high in the stadium then over to the terminal (that part has to be at least half a mile). The train ride from Everett to Seattle is about an hour this way and the whole route, except for the first bit in Everett and the last bit in Seattle, is along the water. It's a fun, scenic ride. This is a picture of us on the train waiting to leave Everett Station. My head really isn't that big!

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Front garden

The owners of this cute house--also very charming and well-kept up--have created a lush botanical symphony in their streetside front yard. Way beyond geraniums!
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I love this house

Out for an early morning walk. I selected my route so I could walk past this delightful piece of perfection. The picture doesn't really do it justice!
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Saturday, July 25, 2009

Just like living...somewhere else

Like one of those places where they have thunderstorms in the afternoons/evenings after hot, sunny days. Like what, the South? The Midwest? Not the Northwest, for sure.

Once again today we had a pretty hot, sunny (though somewhat muggy) day, and late this afternoon the thunder started rumbling and the rain came in big, splashy drops. I was in the midst of walking to Starbucks at the time, but I didn't even mind the rain because it was still so warm out and the rain had an almost tropical feel to it.

I was walking to Starbucks to clear my head after waking up from a little nap. A little nap which I needed to recover from this morning's twelve mile run, followed by a drive with my mother to buy fresh-picked blueberries at Anderson's Blueberry Farm up in Bow. (I don't know what was more tiring, the run or the trip!)

This morning's run was my final long run before the half marathon next Saturday. I decided to go for the twelve miles, even though I had originally planned on ten, because... well, just because. My only objective was to keep it easy and not too fast (but not too slow).

I left the house at 9 a.m., coincidentally the same time that the half marathon starts next Saturday. I could say that I did that to practice running under similar conditions as I might expect next week--but really that is just the time I managed to get out.

It was pleasantly warm with a few clouds, which was really quite nice. I especially liked when the sun went behind a cloud! I realized after about a mile that I had forgotten to wear my hat (though luckily remembered to put on sunscreen), but I didn't want to go home to get it. I resigned myself to spending a couple hours tucking my hair behind my ears, but eventually, once my hair was drenched with sweat, it stayed in place without tucking.

So, as usual, I wanted to run a route that would get me the twelve miles but not take me over. Since I was running in the same areas as I frequently do, I had a general idea of distances, and hoped that I could get pretty close. My first primary measurement landmark was the Everett Marina by Anthony's restaurant. I figured if I could hit six miles before I left there I would come out even.

I added a few extra blocks along the way as the miles didn't seem to be adding up quite enough. Then, by adding two laps around the marina, I was on my way with the Garmin reading six miles and a bit.

I was feeling pretty good so far, running about a 9:30 or 9:40 average pace. Still, I figured that the remaining six miles were going to seem long, so I decided to divide them into three two-mile segments and concentrate on finishing each of those. Two miles is nothing, right? I also directed myself to only look at the Garmin between songs on the ipod. Each song, depending on the length, could get me through a quarter to half a mile, which is more than often enough to look at my watch, considering that I was not even going for any time goals!

That worked prettty well, although by the time I got to ten miles I was ready to be done. I switched my time passing method to the fartlek method (though eliminating the sprinting element). I simply picked a landmark in the distance--a stoplight, a specific street, etc.--and concentrated on running to that point. Then I picked another one.

At eleven miles I was close enough to being done that my adrenaline kicked in again, and I was able to pick up the pace even though much of the last mile was uphill. I finished with a short downhill stretch, and triumphantly stopped my watch at 12.15 miles. I was as pleased with my distance planning as I was with the running itself!

I ended at Starbucks and decided to refuel myself with a strawberry banana Vivanno smoothie. It seemed like the perfect opportunity to treat myself and get in on the refueling window. Plus, after all those miles I could afford to indulge in a late-morning second breakfast!

Final stats: 12.15 miles, 1:56:10, 9:34 per mile average.
Splits: 10:12, 9:42, 9:25, 9:30, 9:30, 9:35, 9:31, 9:40, 9:38, 9:30, 9:32, 9:08, and .15 mile at 8:28 pace.

So... half marathon in a week, and I. Am. Ready.

Really, I think I am. I am doing a mini-taper this next week, which is really mostly an opportunity to rest up my legs. Tomorrow, Sunday, I am going to a baseball game, so it may be a pretty sedentary day. If I wake up really early I could go for a walk, but on the other hand I could just sleep in a little and that would be nice too!

Monday, easy run. Tuesday, cross-train (elliptical) at the Y. Wednesday, short run with a few 400's (quarter miles). Thursday, some elliptical at the Y. Friday, rest. Rest, you hear me? REST!

The only wild card I see is the weather. I can control my training, I can control what I wear for the race, I can control what I eat next week and the night before and the morning of the race. But I cannot control the one thing which could have as much effect on my performance as my training, clothing, and nutrition--which is the summer heat.

But I'm not sweating it. (Oh, haha!) It will be what it will be. And luckily, in our climate chances are pretty fair that even a warm (hot) day will not be extreme enough to be a huge problem. (I hope. I'm making myself a little nervous here!)

I've thought about some of the good and bad points that might come into play regarding the weather.

The race doesn't start till 9 a.m.
BAD: It would be nice to start earlier on a potentially hot day!
GOOD: Around here, even on hot days it is often mild for most of the morning.

The race is in Anacortes.
BAD: I'm not sure there's anything bad about that!
GOOD: It's on the water, hopefully the marine climate will help keep things cooler.

I've done several training runs in super-hot Eastern Washington weather.
BAD: I ran very slowly there!
GOOD: At least I survived!

Hopefully I'll manage to do a little more than survive next Saturday!

Got me some new shoes!

I forgot to mention yesterday, in my rhapsody over my great run, how I was floating along in my brand new Asics Gel Kayano 15's. They just came in the mail a few days ago; I ordered them from Road Runner, using one of their email promotions, and avoided the time and trouble of a trip down to the Seattle store. (Also saved money, in that I always buy more than just shoes when I go in the store!) I have been loving the Gel Kayanos for several years now, and this is my second pair of 15's. (And my third pair, with a PINK stripe, is on order.) I always seem to get my new shoes in July, before the Anacortes Half Marathon, and again in late winter before the spring races begin.
Yesterday afternoon I flew out of work as soon as I could and headed north (slowed by glacial traffic) to meet Rod and head out to my parents' at the beach.

The sun had finally made it out, and it was really pleasant, around 80 perhaps, although it's always a little breezy at the beach. We were planning to go swimming (well, go in the water) but the tide came in faster than I had expected and was rather high already when we arrived.

Puget Sound bay beaches are very unlike other beaches, especially the warm ones. Our water is always cold-ish, by any measure, but can seem warmer on hot days with a low tide. The sun warms up the bare mudflats, then the mud warms the water as it comes in. But that effect diminishes the higher the tide gets.

Nonetheless, we were there to swim, so we made our way down to the beach and waded in. Then commenced a long period of standing in the water, about waist deep, trying to gather courage to take the plunge! I was the first to go. I sunk into the water and then quickly emerged. I managed one more dip before Rod even went in. But then he did manage to stay in enough to do a little paddling and backstroking. I tried a little swimming but couldn't hack it for long. So instead I jogged back and forth in the water, pretending I was doing something legit like water running.

Then the best part--getting out of the water and lying on deck chairs in the sun to dry off!

At about 7:15 we headed back up to the house to get dinner together. Hamburgers, coleslaw (made by me with a potpourri of added veggies) and watermelon chunks. Oh, and sweet potato tortilla chips.

While we were fixing dinner we started to see flashes of lightning! Then, suddenly, a deluge of rain! Luckily, we weren't eating outside. The storminess continued for a while, despite an absolutely blazing sunset (wish I'd taken a picture).

When Rod and I left around 9:30 the rain had stopped but we stepped out into a stunning pocket of warm, wet humidity. Not something we are accustomed to here! It felt like Hawaii.

This morning it is nice again and I am already to head out for a run in a few minutes. I had intended 10 miles for today, but I did 10 yesterday... hmmm. I might go 12 (but no more). And I guess I could go less, if I wanted! We shall see.
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Friday, July 24, 2009

Finding my extra gear

Eight days to Anacortes, and only a few more runs left to get myself up to speed. I'm joking, a bit, of course—if I'm not pretty much ready now, I doubt that there's much I can do to change things in a week.

I think I am ready, really, but still I would like to use my last few runs to polish things up, make what is hopefully already pretty good even better. (I'm still on the dregs of an endorphin high from this morning's run, so I'm feeling very self-congratulatory rather than self-critical right now. That could change at any time.)

Today was my last tempo/pace run on the training schedule, so I decided to amp it up by trying a variation on the Brian Sell workout, described on page 34 of the August Runner's World. The idea of this run is to help train yourself to finish strong, put on an extra kick in the last few miles of your long-distance race. The article is about marathons, of course, so the plan is geared to marathon training. The pre-marathon run is simply two six-mile runs at five seconds per mile faster than goal race pace, with a 10-minute jog in between the segments.

Since I am training for a half marathon rather than a marathon, I simply cut everything (except the recovery jog) in half. Brian Sell does this workout two weeks before the marathon; I did mine one week before. Instead of the six mile speed segments, I did three mile segments (actually I modified them to 5K on the fly). This shortening also worked well with my time availability this morning and my route—although thanks to my careless math, I ended up with a total of ten miles this morning (when I added in the warm-up and cool-down jogs), rather than the eight I had planned.

So I started out with my usual slow warm-up, 1.5 to 2 miles at the easy pace-of-the-day, whatever that might turn out to be. My first mile was a little strange, thanks to some weirdness with the satellites which somehow lopped off the first tenth of a mile (or added it?), so that the Garmin registered one mile when I know I had only run .9 mile. (And the pace for that first "mile" was 8:46, which was just not true! My second mile was 9:21, which is much more on track with what I was doing.)

So the warm-up was two miles, or, really, 1.9 miles. Then it was time to pick up the pace to "5 seconds faster than goal race pace." Okay, but what is my goal race pace? I have so many potential goal paces for the half marathon. To finish under two hours, I have to average 9:09 per mile. So maybe that is my goal pace.

On the other hand, I think I can do a little better than that. For the last few weeks I have pretty much been designating 9 minutes as my goal pace; that would bring me solidly under two hours and allow for a little leeway. It would be nice to beat my half marathon PR, of course (1:54:30); that would require a pace of faster than 8:45. Or, if we're talking pie-in-the-sky goals, I could look at the half-marathon time that McMillan predicts based on my most recent 5K race, which would be a total time of 1:52:33 with an average pace of 8:35.

And I go for the pie in the sky. For today's run, I secretly set my goal race pace at 8:35, which meant that my splits for the 3-mile (5K) segments would have to be 8:30.

So how'd I do? GREAT! I actually beat 8:30 soundly. Since I was looking at my watch far too often, I could tell that I was running much faster than I needed to, sometimes even faster than 8:00 pace. But as long as it felt okay, I didn't want to slow down much. There would be a few hills along the way which I knew would slow me down, so I didn't want to give up the advantage of my faster pace on the easier sections. I think I was in mile 3 of the first segment when I decided to add on the extra tenth of a mile to make it a 5K.

Here's how the first 5K came out:
1 - 8:13
2 - 8:15
3 - 8:14
.11 - 49 seconds (7:33 pace - I did pretend I was running for the finish line here)

Then I got to take my recovery jog. While the "plan" calls for a 10-minute jog, I decided to make it an even mile to keep things easy with the Garmin. I wasn't sure, actually, whether that would be more or less than ten minutes, but it would be in the ballpark, anyway. That mile was 9:33.

So soon I was approaching the start of my second 5K. This was going to be more challenging. I had already run six miles, half of it fast, and plus I had that psychological "done" feeling that comes after finishing a "race" of any distance. I felt like I had done my 5K, and amping it up again would be hard! Plus, my legs were feeling tired.

I did have a little bit of a built in benefit with my route, however. By the time I started the second 5K, I only had had a short amount of uphill left, and then I would turn around and make my way back, which was a combination of flat, downhill incline, and out-and-out downhill. I had no qualms about taking advantage of that! At least my legs would get the experience of moving fast, even if it was "easy."

Somehow, I did manage to pull myself out of the recovery jog and launch back into race pace. With some thanks to the elevation profile, my splits for the second 5K were as good or better than the first!

4 - 8:16
5 - 8:11
6 - 8:03 (this was the real downhill, can you tell?)
.1 - 48 seconds (8:11 pace)

Since it took a little more mileage than I had originally anticipated to accomplish this run, I knew in the middle of the second 5K that I was going to run out of route before I finished unless I made a change in the route. Obviously, I would not run out of roads regardless of what I did. But if I stuck to my usual path I would end up at the intersection of Broadway and Everett Avenue with a mile or so left to go. That would be problematic for a couple of reasons. First, there's the psychological thing about reaching the "end" of the run and still having more to go. Second, there's major road and sidewalk work going on there and it is somewhat difficult to maneuver, which could slow me down.

So I decided to stay on Colby until I hit two miles, then turn back, which would hopefully allow me to finish the whole 3.1 without having to add much extra at the end. That worked pretty well, although I still had a quarter of a mile or so left when I hit Broadway, and I had to sprint along Broadway after all to finish my stint.

Coincidentally, that brought me to within a quarter mile of my house! But instead of going home, I did a recovery jog over to Starbucks. I ended up running around the perimeter of the parking lot because I didn't want to stop before I hit 10 miles.* My final lap was .79 miles at 9:21 pace. What I noticed as I was chugging along was how slow and easy it felt; yet my Garmin was showing between 9:15 and 9:30 all the way. For 9:15 to feel slow is a wondrous thing!

I didn't feel like a wreck at all when I stopped at Starbucks. Oh, I looked like a wreck, I'm sure—red face and dripping hair. But I have felt much, much worse after other runs. It helped that it was still cool and cloudy at that point in the morning.** I got my latte and walked home. The walk home is half a mile but I was still in that "add mileage" state of mind and I did an extra lap around the block, for a total of .77 mile.

I enjoyed this as a variation on a tempo run. I had some qualms whether 5K was a long enough distance to really "push" myself (but anything more would have wreaked havoc with my schedule). On the other hand, these 5K's were faster than I had planned on; in fact, they were pretty close to a good pace for a 5K race! Each one was about 25:30, give or take a second or two.

My final overall stats: 10 miles in 1:25:58, 8:35 average pace.***

*I forgot about the tenth of a mile "problem" in the first mile. So technically I guess I ran 9.9 miles total. Bah.
**But now that the running is over, it needs to warm up; I'm going to the beach after work and was supposed to go swimming!
***If it was actually 9.9 miles, the average pace would be about 8:40.

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Treat receipt

Stopped at Starbucks on the way home from an afternoon bike ride!
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Speedwork Wednesday, again!

It seems to come around so often... like every week! But it's speedwork Wednesday again, and on the docket for this morning was 6 x 800m at 10K pace, which I have tweaked to six half-mile* intervals at 10K—or 5K—pace.

The last time I did half-mile track intervals was two weeks ago, and I had to cut the scheduled number from five to three (and a half) because I did too long a warm-up and ran out of time (bad Kristin!).

Today I was determined not to have that problem, and I did the math and knew that six half-miles would make three miles of running, plus the recovery time between laps and after I was done, so I directed myself not to run more than three miles (or so) before starting the laps at the track.

So for my warm-up I ran my usual route up to the hospital (1.5 miles), where I used the bathroom (as usual) and then turned around right away to make my way back to the middle school track, which is about a quarter mile from my house. I resisted the urge to run downtown before heading back. I knew that would make my total distance too long, plus the sprint down the hill on Everett Avenue to Broadway is usually my final hurrah before finishing, so I didn't especially want to do that and then go on to do another 3+ miles of speedwork.

I arrived at the track with exactly 3.5 miles on my watch, which was just fine, in fact it was perfect.

And then I faced the fearsome track. It's funny, I have no problem running three miles; obviously it's just a fraction of what I do regularly, but still, the idea of running twelve times around the track kind of filled me with dread. Low level dread, more like going to the dentist for a cleaning than going for a root canal, but certainly not glee and anticipation.

But it must be done. (Just like my dentist appointment on August 7.) So I reset the Garmin, lined myself up at the "starting" line, counted "ready set go"—and I was off.

I do not look at my watch when I am running intervals of less than one mile. I do not study the pace that Garmin claims I am running. I establish my pace only by feel. And although these repeats were supposed to be at a 10K pace, which I guess would be somewhere between 8 minutes and 8:30, I was secretly determined to keep them at 8 minutes, or preferably below. Which is, basically, 5K pace. (I'd be joyous if it were a 10K pace!)

As I've mentioned before, the track at the middle school is not a regulation track. It's about .3 miles around, and I've previously measured out the stopping points for both a quarter mile and a half mile. The field inside the track is used for baseball and I suppose other field activities, so it has a sprinkler system to keep the grass nice and green and soft for kids to roll around on. A sprinkler system which comes on early in the morning. Like around 7:00 or 7:15.

Yes, for my first two or three intervals I got to run through the sprinklers. Luckily it was not cold enough that it was too bothersome, but it wasn't warm enough yet that I welcomed it either. I cringed a little each time I had to run through the mist and spray. (I'm sure that slowed me down by a second or two!) But after a while the jets moved from the end of the field along the track toward the middle of the field, so all I had to do was avoid the big puddles caused by the water falling onto the track.

Each half mile required one full revolution of the track and about 2/3 of a second time around. Each and every time I thought the second lap was faster and easier. Perhaps it was the knowledge that I would get to stop soon, once I was on the second time around.

I can see now why doing multiple intervals (within reason) is a good thing too. It is one thing to put it all out there one time, but you have to call on the reserves to keep up the pace as you do it again, and again, and again (etc.). When I was on the downhill side of my workout (that is, intervals 4-6), I could feel my legs were a little tired and I wondered if I was slowing down. On the other hand, running felt a little bit easier and more natural in the later laps. Again, I wondered if I was slowing down or just getting more into the groove!

After each interval I jogged for about a minute to finish going around the track and return to the starting line (a little less than a tenth of a mile—I was slow), then paused for a sip of water and to regroup myself at the starting line.

In the end, I was very pleased with my results. I did each half mile at substantially quicker than 8-minute pace. Here are the overall stats.

3.5 miles. 10:11, 9:24, 9:16, and .5 mile at 9:08 pace.

.50 mile - 3:48.85 (7:40 pace)
.50 mile - 3:51.20 (7:42 pace)
.49 mile - 3:48.48 (7:48 pace)
.49 mile - 3:46.40 (7:44 pace)
.49 mile - 3:46.34 (7:41 pace)
.49 mile - 3:44.26 (7:37 pace)
(Plus recovery jog, 10-10:30 pace, between each interval.)

.43 mile at 9:27 pace.

7.36 miles in 1:07:07, 8:51 average pace.

That last .43 mile included running back around the track in the opposite direction, then over to Starbucks to meet my mother. Who was waiting for me because I realized shortly after I left home this morning that I had forgotten my house key, so I called her to arrange a meet-up so she could let me into the house. Funny thing, after we met and I got us lattes at Starbucks and she drove me home, she came this close to dropping me off and driving away again, because we both had forgotten the whole reason she was there!

*A half mile is 804.672 meters. In case you were wondering.

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

The view from my deck chair

It's a rough life, I know. I skipped out of work as quickly as I could this afternoon to fly over to my parents' house and spend a little time at the beach. I thought I might even take a dip in the water, but by the time I got here the tide was already really far in, which meant deeper and colder than I felt like braving. So instead I just settled down on a deck chair with a book* and a magazine and "resigned" myself to some late afternoon lounging. Even though it's a hot day it's always breezy at the beach. I started in the shade but just moved back in the sun for a while. I am getting warm now though... maybe I should go test the water after all!

*I just got The Host by Stephenie Meyer in the mail from Amazon. I brought it along, even though it's a rather heavy hardback, because it seems suited to beach reading!
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I ate a scone

I woke up bright and early at 5:00 this morning and was out of bed by 5:10, dressed by 5:20, and at the door of Starbucks by 5:30. It is amazing—shocking, really—how much easier it was to get up for pastry than it is to get up to go to work, go running, or go to the Y!

I ordered a triple grande skinny hazelnut latte instead of my usual double tall or short, because I didn't want to darken the door of Starbucks again today until the pastry rush was over. There was no rush, by the way, at 5:30. I was the only customer and the pastry case was stuffed full of every goody I could imagine or desire.

I had already pretty much decided to go with a scone because I thought that would give me the most satisfaction and enjoyability for a one-time treat. I perused the options for a few moments. Blueberry scone—no. Fresh fruit scones (which I assume this was, though I didn't look too closely) tend not to have the same crumbly texture as dried fruit scones. Cinnamon scone—my proclaimed favorite*—reluctantly no, for a number of reasons. I couldn't quite hack the 490 calorie count, for one thing. Also, I hadn't had one since the "cinnamon scone" changed to the "cinnamon chip" scone, and I was afraid I wouldn't like the new version as well as the old. Plus, the old kind had a full coating of icing and this only had drizzles—sure to be a disappointment to a sugar lover like me. The pumpkin scone was a strong possibility. It still had full icing coverage, and I've liked pumpkin scones I've had in the past, but really, pumpkin is not my favorite flavor and I wanted the best.

The winner? The cranberry orange scone, a long-time favorite standby. 420 calories (according to my Livestrong calculator; the Starbucks website says 410), delicious hints of orange flavor and dried cranberries, drizzles (well, you can't have everything) of orange icing, a real party in your mouth. And there is a slight possibility I can even claim some antioxidant benefits to the dried cranberries. (But I'm not hanging my hat on that.)

So I stashed the scone and latte in my car (I could reheat the latte later), and headed into the Y, at least half an hour earlier than typical, maybe even more. That was good, it would allow me extra time on the elliptical. Although it's boring, the elliptical is an easy way to get a low-impact workout, and I can watch TV and read blogs on my BlackBerry, so I manage to pass the time.

My Y has two kinds of ellipticals (I don't know why), one with moving arms and the other with stationary arms, but adjustable incline, as well as resistance. What I like to do, subject to available machines, is spend 35-40 minutes on each one. Today I had enough time for an extra 35 minute session, which should give me about 350 more calories burned! (I routinely average 10 calories per minute, sometimes slightly more by the end, when I have warmed up thoroughly.)

I did two 35-minute sessions on the stationary arm machine, then hopped off to go do a set of pushups. I've slacked off on pushups for the last couple weeks (and currently, that's the only strength training I've been doing, so it's quite pathetic, really), and though I managed to get through a set of 20, when I started to do ten more (as I had done last time), I quit after six. Wimp. I did a short bent arm plank (like ten seconds), then returned to the elliptical for another round. Unfortunately the other machines were occupied, so it was back to the same one again. After about ten minutes, though, another elliptical opened up, so I moved over to do 37 minutes on that one and then called it good. Total 117 minutes, more than nine miles, 1200 calories—enough extra to pretty much compensate for the scone. I could eat with impunity!

Okay, I know that sounds like I am an obsessive freak. Shouldn't I be able to have a treat without accounting for every bite with five minutes of cardio? I suppose, but I have found to my chagrin that a treat here leads to a treat there, which leads to a pound there and there and there, and pretty soon your pants are feeling tighter and (perhaps coincidentally, perhaps not) your running starts to slow down too.

By tracking my food and exercise with Livestrong/Daily Plate (just one of many good programs out there), I can make sure that my treats—and for that matter, my healthy eating—are not overwhelming the calories I am burning by running and so forth. This is great for me, because not only does it make calorie counting fun (I do it on my Blackberry, and it's a hoot), I really have a better perspective on how much I am eating each day. Because I am no good at intuitive eating. I do think the principles of intuitive eating are good ideas to live by, but I don't think I can rely on them solely. I have no intuition when it comes to food, I just like it! I also have a love/hate relationship with sweets—I love them, they hate me. Or maybe it's just that I love them too much. My greatest success has come from largely cutting sweets and sugar out of my diet altogether. When I don't eat them, I don't crave them. When I do eat them, I usually want more!

Anyhow, today I reduced the weight setting on the elliptical trainer by a couple of pounds. I had never bothered to adjust upward when I gained some weight, and over the last few months I have returned to par, but now I weigh a little less than the original setting, so I had to move it downward so as not to give myself too much credit. The difference in calorie burning is negligible, though. Lucky for me. A couple more pounds and I guess I'll have to adjust the settings on my Garmin too.

So, finally I was done with my sojourn at the Y and was able to head home for breakfast. I added an egg/egg white with salsa combo and an apricot to the menu, along with the scone, and had a delightful breakfast. I'll be curious to hear how things went at Starbucks the rest of the morning!

*I have always loved the maple nut scone, too, but they are not selling that right now and I believe my original favorite favorite, with a thick coating of maple icing, was long ago downgraded to a version with drizzles. Drizzles, I tell you! (Head shaking in disbelief.)

Monday, July 20, 2009

Recovery run

By the way, I ran today. Day 4 of consecutive running (tomorrow is a non-running day, for sure). (Even more impressive--not to mention shocking--I went through this entire weekend, Friday, Saturday, Sunday, and got up before 6 a.m. every single day!)

I wasn't sure how my legs would react today, but after an intentionally slow and easy start, I let myself pick up the pace a little bit. I managed to squeeze in 10K (6.21 miles, 58:26) before stopping at Starbucks for a short latte and walking the final half mile home. (The walk home was part of the recovery plan!)

My splits were a bit faster than I had expected, or intended.

1 - 10:23
2 - .53 at 9:35 pace
3 - 9:45
4 - 9:15
5 - 9:05
6 - 9:09
7 - .69 at 8:22

After work I arranged to meet my mother at Starbucks so we could use my drink receipts (one from my early morning short latte, one from a later tall) to get $2 iced drinks. I wanted to walk a bit before hand so I took off around the neighborhood. After about two miles I noticed my pace was dropping below 15 minutes frequently, so I started wondering whether I could finish four miles in an hour. I hit Starbucks at three miles (after doing an extra loop around the parking lot), so I sent the drinks off with my mother and told her I'd meeet her at my house in 15 minutes.

I really sped through that last mile, but it wasn't fast enough to make up for the first mile or two (when I didn't have the speed goal developed yet), and my time for the four miles was about one hour and one minute. Pretty darn close!

Finally, I ended up adding another unplanned 2.25 mile walk when I rode to my sister's house along with my mother, and we agreed to go for a walk with everyone, including the baby and the dog. I pushed the stroller! Extra Livestong credit for that. Lucky for me, not only does that cover everything I've eaten today, it leaves me a deficit to help make up (in advance) for the Starbucks pastry I'm planning on tomorrow morning.

Well, it's late now, and I need to get to bed. Another early morning tomorrow! (Extra early to make my stop at Starbucks!)

Summer Tomato Cocktail Sauce

Check out the beautiful salad I had for lunch a few days ago. I would have posted this right after lunch, like the food bloggers whose frequent posting tends to fill up my Google reader, but I was waiting to get the recipe for the fresh tomato cocktail sauce that I used as my dressing and garnish.

The picture doesn't reveal the true size of my vat of salad, but here's a hint—the Rubbermaid container than I made it in is sold as a produce keeper to store your heads of lettuce. I mixed spring greens with some spinach, tossed it with a little olive oil and some apple cider vinegar (which, I will admit, makes for a tart salad when the cocktail sauce is added), threw in a potpourri of chopped vegetables (sweet onion, celery, bell pepper, cucumber), and added some of the cocktail sauce.

Then I added the star of the show (well, the co-star, along with the cocktail sauce), six boiled super-jumbo shrimp. Each one weighed at least an ounce and was about two inches long! I cut up five of them into smaller pieces so they would go further (otherwise I'd probably eat them in about two bites, though I think they are billed as "three-bite shrimp" in the store), but left the last one whole for the picture.

Finally I drizzled it all with more of the homemade fresh cocktail sauce. Here is the recipe. It is perfect for summer, especially as all those cherry tomatoes you planted start to ripen!

Summer Tomato Cocktail Sauce

¼ cup finely chopped red onion
2 tbsp. prepared horseradish
½ cup catsup
1 cup halved cherry tomatoes
1 tbsp. fresh lemon juice
½ tsp. kosher salt
¼ tsp. freshly ground pepper
in a blender or a small food processor and pulse until well incorporated, scraping down inside of container if needed. Chill before serving, and serve with cooked and chilled shrimp. Makes 2 cups.

Per 1/4 cup serving: 23 calories, 264 mg sodium

Pssst! Free pastry at Starbucks on July 21!

If you haven't heard, Starbucks wants you to have a free pastry tomorrow!*

I hesitate to spread this around, lest (more) hordes of people beat me to my neighborhood Starbucks tomorrow morning (I am planning on going before 6 a.m., on the way to the Y), but I kind of doubt that a post on my little blog is going to affect the coffee traffic in Everett. And I want to reward anyone who happens to read my blog with some free sugar to go along with his or her purchased caffeine.

In anticipation of my treat, I have been scouring the nutrition information on the Starbucks website to analyze which pastry I would most prefer. I can tell you that my favorite, the various scones, are amongst the highest in calories (my beloved cinnamon scone is almost 500 calories! and the others are in the 400's). The muffins and such are pretty much in the 300-350 ranges. And anything lowfat has maybe 20 calories less than its "regular" counterpart.

I know all this already, which is why I am not a pastry regular. I am planning on having my treat for breakfast, along with cooked egg whites (for protein) and salsa (on the eggs, not the pastry). It's still going to be a very high calorie breakfast, but I'm okay with that, on this "special"** occasion.

I still haven't decided what to get; I realize my selection is going to be limited by what they have in stock, so there's no point in getting my heart set on something. I am hoping, if I do get there within an hour of their opening time, to have at least some selection, and not be stuck with a doughnut*** or a bagel.****

Other than that, I'm just going to play it by ear. At least, hopefully, my early morning will allow me enough time for an extra 10 or 15 minutes on the elliptical, to help counteract the extra calories I'm planning to ingest!

*With the purchase of a beverage, from opening to 10:30 a.m., or while supplies last, which I am quite sure will be well before 10:30.

**Special because it's free.

***Although I love doughnuts, it burns me that Starbucks charges like $1.50 for one (even though it would be free tomorrow), when you can get the most delicious doughnuts at a doughnut shop (or grocery store) for about 50 cents!

****In which case, I probably wouldn't even bother. I want to spend my empty carb calories on something delicious!

Sunday, July 19, 2009

15 miles. In Eastern Washington. (But early.)

I did it! My 15 mile long run that I foolishly mentioned I had on the agenda. Once I made a statement that I was planning 15 miles for this weekend, I felt like I would be a wuss if I didn't do it, but as the weekend approached there were so many reasons why 15 miles couldn't, shouldn't, or wouldn't happen.

Of course I know that it wouldn't be a disgrace if I decided not to do that long of a run today. I am absolutely able to do 15 miles, and it's not even something I need to do to prepare for the half marathon. In fact, my (self-designed) training plan actually says 14 miles this weekend, but I have consistently been a mile ahead of myself each week, so since I did 14 (+ .25) last weekend, 15 seemed like the next step. It was also, regardless of the length, going to be my last very long run before the half (I'm dropping back mileage next weekend, then mini-tapering in the week before the race). Fifteen did sound like a nice round number to top out at!

Of course at the time I proclaimed my 15 mile goal I didn't realize we would be going to Eastern Washington this weekend. I should have known, I was aware that we were going to this music thing, but I somehow thought it was a different weekend. Like next weekend. Oops.

Then we decided to leave on Saturday morning instead of Friday afternoon, which was so helpful in many ways, but not so much for my plan of doing the long run early Saturday morning. I didn't want to give up on running Saturday altogether, though. After riding in a car for more than three hours, and with no other decent exercise on the agenda, and with pizza in the offing, I really wanted to do at least a short run run on Saturday. And, of course, I did.

After doing a very difficult 6.75 miles on Saturday, another 15 on Sunday seemed even more improbable. Plus there was the time it would consume--close to three hours, maybe even more if things didn't go well! I felt bad about making Rod wait around for me all that time. (Not too bad, obviously he could sleep in or work on the cabin; but still, three hours is a long time.)

I woke up at 5:30 on Sunday morning as planned, with still more reasons not to run all of 15 miles (or possibly any). We didn't get back from the concert till almost midnight, so although I was quite awake, I hadn't had a whole lot of sleep. Plus I'd had a low grade headache all Saturday evening, and through the night (as I noticed whenever I woke up), and it hadn't gone away completely even by morning. This is very unusual for me; I rarely get headaches and when I do, they don't last long. I had also had a drippy nose throughout the evening, so I wondered whether I had some kind of a sinus thing going on. It wasn't a horribly bad headache, but it was irritating.

It had also been very, very windy all night, and I told myself that if it was still blowing like that, I definitely wasn't going out. Luckily (!), the stormy wind had stopped and all that was left was a normal kind of breeziness.

I lingered on my cot a little bit longer than I'd intended, but I finally did get up and dressed at 6 a.m. I was ready to go, sunscreen on, Garmin and ipod fired up, water bottle in hand, by about 6:20. Because I knew the miles would be long regardless, I fueled a little bit with a handful of chocolate espresso beans and a Quaker chewy granola bar with protein.

Of course, going still didn't mean 15 miles. Even as I started running, I was pretty sure I was not going to do 15.

I sort of thought ten miles might be a good number. It's definitely a long run, it could easily be fit into my likely route, and when added to the 6.75 from Saturday, it would put me well over 15 for the weekend, anyway.

Or maybe 12, that would work too. I knew, of course, that the closer to 15 I got, the more likely I would want to push it to 15.

I must say that going out at 6:30 was far, far preferable to 11 a.m.! It was really the difference between running, and running in hell.

My first lap was just like yesterday (minus the extreme torture factor, of course). I ran down to the clubhouse (two miles), where I stopped for the bathroom and topped off my water bottle. I also stopped at the sundries vending machine and bought some Tylenol (in case I still had a headache later) and a sunscreen wipe (in case I was worried about my sunscreen sweating off), both of which I stashed in my waist pack.

Then I started on the road around the mountain, same as yesterday. The first half of the loop is a gradual but long uphill stretch. I knew, however, that I would be going downhill on the other side, so that would make up for the uphills. Funny thing, I remember the elevation profile more from our bike riding a few weeks ago than from yesterday's run. Apparently my mind has blocked a lot of things!

Today, happily, I avoided the wrong turn which led me down a dead-end detour and caused such distress yesterday. It didn't seem all that long before I was meeting up with the main road and approaching the 5-mile mark. Once again, I chose to walk up the steep winding hill section that completed the first revolution. The difference from yesterday was that I felt completely capable of going forward at that point, as opposed to yesterday, when I was just counting the miles till I was done.

So, another loop. That took me to 10 miles and a big decision. Do I go on or turn back to the cabin (which would leave me with 10.5 miles or so, if I just stopped at the cabin)?

I knew I didn't want to do a complete third loop. So I compromised. I would go on to the clubhouse again, and back to the cabin along the same road. If that's all I did, I would finish with about 13 miles. Or I could tweak it--add extra segments--to bring myself closer to 15 miles. Of course I knew, deep inside, that the further I went the less likely I would be able to let myself not finish the 15 miles! I had a packet of Jelly Belly Sports Beans with me, and at the 11-mile point I ate half of it. Then I finished the other half at my final potty stop.

When I got to the clubhouse I kept going for a stretch so that by the time I actually stopped there (for the bathroom and a water refill, for the third time) I would be over 12.5 miles.

So the end of this tale is in the heading, of course. I kept myself going far enough to log the 15 miles. Well, actually 15.12, which was where the lap counter recorded the final lap (thanks to an overly long delay in my first bathroom stop).

And even after 15+ miles, I was in far better shape than at the end of yesterday's run! Mylegs were tired; that was probably the most noticeable effect. I was sweating, but not leaving pools of water on the floor. I was flushed, I am sure, but probably not the flaming red of the day before. And I guess I was hot, but I didn't really notice it. Unlike yesterday, when my body was a furnace. (Add in the sweating, and I was pretty much a walking steam bath!)

Coincidentally, I was reading the latest Runner's World by the pool yesterday (after my run, though), and I started reading the piece by Amby Burfoot about his experience running in a heat chamber. You can read the article, of course, but basically Amby spent an hour running on a treadmill in a room that was 53 degrees the first day, and 90 the second day, with all other conditions the same (including running pace), and then the testers measured various bodily functions after each run. Not surprisingly, everything was much more extreme on the hot day. Heart rate was higher, lactate was higher (not that I understand this measurement, but it's obviously higher), his sweat loss and dehydration were double on the hotter day, and his core temperature (measured in a way that is completely indescribable) was about a degree and a half higher on the hotter day, which doesn't sound like much, but apparently this brought him dangerously close to the point where heatstroke can occur.

I'm sure that none of this is shocking to anyone, but it is quite interesting to learn about all the dramatic and potentially dangerous effects extreme heat can have on your body. Some of them can be counteracted by techniques that Amby could not use in his controlled experiment, such as running slower, drinking water and perhaps taking salt or electrolyte supplements, and of course running early in the morning when it is not so hot.

While I was not so smart about the time of day I ran yesterday, and I didn't take any supplements (hopefully making up for that by eating inherently salty pizza later on), I did accommodate the heat by seriously slowing down my pace (as though I had any choice in it) and drinking water religiously. I had a sip of water about every half mile, and stopped for a few moments approximately every mile. (Today, although I drank plenty of water, I was a little more casual about it, and I didn't feel I needed to stop every mile.)

Strangely enough, even though the running conditions were much more pleasant today, I am pretty sure that I was running even slower today than yesterday. My average pace was around 11 minutes (which would drive me crazy at home), which is slower than yesterday's average, and encompassed mile paces anywhere from 10 minutes per mile to 12 minutes (or more).

So this was one of those unusual weekend where I ran three consecutive days; 8 miles on Friday, 6.75 on Saturday, and 15.12 today. Just under 30 miles in three days. The question is now, will I do my easy run tomorrow morning as scheduled? Well, I'm making no promises--look at the trouble my last proclamation got me into!

Saturday, July 18, 2009

And now, music

After another delicious pizza (the same as a few weeks ago, but this time I restrained myself to three small pieces) we're at a free music festival in Ephrata called Basin Summer sounds. The main attraction is Smashmouth, I think they're playing at 9. (But they've had other bands playing earlier.) Luckily the trees and the courthouse keep our seats (folding metal chairs) in the shade. It'll probably get cooler later too, hence the jean jacket (I just put it on for the picture, I'm back in bare arms now). We're about to hear from the Patrick Lamb band now.
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My own little Badwater

I thought it might not be a very good idea. By the time I was done, I was QUITE SURE it was not a good idea. But I survived, and am, as far as I can tell, none the worse for the experience.

What I am referring to is my plan to go for a late morning run in the Eastern Washington summer desert heat. With the outdoor temperature approaching 100 degrees. (I don't know exactly how hot it was, but it was definitely over 90.) (But it's a dry heat.)

We left Everett around 6:30 this morning and arrived at Rimrock a little past 10. I was already proactively dressed in running clothes, but by the time we got unpacked, and I put on running shoes, more sunscreen, and all my other gear, it was 11 a.m.

I took off with no small amount of fear about what I could face. I decided to go first to the clubhouse, and if I felt okay, I would do a loop that would give me about 5 or 6 miles. I was also determined to run as SLOW as I needed to. Under no circumstances did I want to cause my body excess stress.

Slow was no problem, as I started out going uphill. I was surprised, though, that once I got going, I wasn't as slow as I'd thought I'd be. I expected 12 minute miles, but mostly I was doing 10:30, even sub 10 on downhills.

I stopped at the clubhouse bathroom after 2 miles, where I refilled my water bottle and doused my shirt with more water. (This led to a later concern, that I would sunburn through my white shirt. Luckily, I didn't.

I really only had one bad moment about 4 miles into the run. That was when I got off on the wrong road and hit a dead end. I was crying a little as I imagined retracing all 4 miles if I didn't find my way! Luckily, I got back on the real road soon.

Around that time I also thought I was sweating less, which made me worry about dehydration. What I think happened was the hot dry wind was making the sweat evaporate quickly. (I certainly had a lot left after I finished, puddles in fact!)

I began telling myself, "at mile 5, something good will happen." That was my mantra. And, in fact, soon after I hit 5 miles, I joined up with the main road. This meant I was close to being almost done! (Yes, I meant to say that.)

Rather unfortunately, I also faced a steep, curving hill. There was no debating what I was going to do. I was walking up that hill.

Happily, it was only about a quarter of a mile long and at the top was the turn that meant I only had a half a mile to go!

I actually ended up going more than half a mile, since I was so close and I wanted to boost my total mileage a little. I thought I would make 7 miles... But at 6.75 I had enough. I was done.
And still alive! With no heat stroke, heat exhaustion or sunburn. And my sweating resumed, as I discovered after finding a puddle underneath the chair I sat in to rest for a while.

But tomorrow I'm running at 6 a.m.
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Friday, July 17, 2009

Pacing myself

We're heading to Eastern Washington at 6 a.m tomorrow morning, so I really need to get finished packing and get to bed pretty soon. But since I'll be computer-deprived for a couple days, and even my Blackberry will be out of signal range a lot of the time, I'm throwing up a quick post before I move on to more pressing tasks.

I do intend to resume writing more interesting things than just reciting the details of every run I do. I have lots of ideas simmering in my head. But I am just a little obsessed with the running stuff right now, as the Anacortes Half Marathon approaches, so I can't help rehashing every detail again and again and again. And soon I'll squeeze in something a little more creative, I'm sure.

This morning I managed to get up extra early since I was supposed to be up in Mount Vernon (at least a 30 minute drive) by 8:30 or so. Okay, technically it was 8:30 or before, but this was a voluntary training and I felt free to be a little flexible. I meant to be there by 8:30, though.

I did get up about 15 minutes later than I had planned but I still managed to be out on the road running by 5:45. Yes, a.m. Usually on Fridays I go in to work late, so don't have to get out running until 7 a.m. or later, so this was quite a departure! I also try to do (or even more) on Fridays, but because of my time constraints today I felt that six miles (or so) would be acceptable.

Fridays are tempo/pace days. Today I thought I would do a pace run with a two-mile warm-up, a few miles at my hoped-for half-marathon pace (meaning 9-minute miles or faster), and then a cool-down consisting of whatever distance I had left to get home.

And, amazingly, all went according to plan! I started with a couple easy miles (mile two was split in half as I stopped for the bathroom), then picked up the pace.

My goal for the pace miles was to run at a speed where I didn't have to push myself. I decided that I would force myself to do this natural pace by restricting myself from looking at the Garmin as much as possible. I really didn't want to look at it at all (except to check the distance occasionally). I succeeded at that, mostly--well, partly--I only looked at the watch a half dozen times or so over five or six miles.

Somewhere during mile 4, or maybe mile 5, I threw out my plan to only run six miles this morning and kept on running, far enough so that by the time I turned around and made my way home I would finish eight miles. At about that same time I also decided that in mile 7, which would be my last pace mile, I should turn it up a notch, as I would hope to do in an actual race, and pick up the pace for the final mile.

After seven miles I dropped back to a more relaxing pace and finished the last stretch home. When I got to my house I was at about 7.6 miles. I started partway around the block, planning to round up to 7.75 miles, but then thought, why not go for the full eight? I'm so close already.

So I did! Here's my final splits.

1 - 10:05
2a - .43 at 9:15 pace
2b - .57 at 9:18 pace
3 - 8:54
4 - 8:52
5 - 8:59
6 - 8:31
7 - 7:39 !
8 - 9:19
And the last few steps to the front door - 38 feet at 7:59 pace (don't remember a little sprint, but guess I did!).

Of course, that extra mile or two I squeezed in ate up more of my getting-ready time. In the end it was almost 8:30 when I left and about 9:00 when I got to the conference center. Funny how staying in bed an extra 15 minutes and adding a mile and a half to my run resulted in a 30 minute delay!

Tomorrow morning, as I mentioned, we're heading to (very hot) Eastern Washington. We should get there around mid-morning, which I'm pretty sure will still be before the full heat of the day sets in. I'm going to travel dressed in running clothes so that I can head out for a run right away. Not a super long run--I'm thinking five or six miles. Well, maybe seven if I feel good.

Then on Sunday morning I'm going to get up really early, by 6:00 hopefully, and do a long run. I'm not sure if I'll end up doing the 15 miles I had put on my schedule for this weekend. If not, it doesn't matter that much, I'm definitely ready for the half marathon distance and I'm just gilding the lily by squeezing in a couple of longer long runs. We'll see how it goes!

Wednesday, July 15, 2009


Today was Wednesday speed work, featuring four 1-mile intervals (at "race pace"*) sandwiched in among whatever else I decided to run.

I've usually done 1-mile intervals by alternating fast miles with recovery miles, easy to measure using the Garmin. But now that I have mastered the "lap counter" on the Garmin, I decided to try a more creative, and challenging, method of doing the intervals, by reducing my recovery portions to half-miles, interspersed with the (hopefully) speedy miles.

I started out with a two mile warmup (why rush to the hard stuff?), Mile 1 at 9:57 and Mile 2 at 9:24. Then the speed miles...

Speed Mile 1 - 7:54
(Recovery - .5 mile at 9:23 pace)

Speed Mile 2 - 7:58
(Recovery - .5 mile at 9:34 pace)

Speed Mile 3 - 8:15
Speed Mile 4 - 7:45 !!!

Did you notice? No recovery between Speed Miles 3 and 4. It was getting late in the morning (for someone who has to be at work by 9:00), plus I was already at six miles total after finishing Speed Mile 3, so I just took a short pause at a stoplight to swig some water and breathe, and launched into my final speedy mile.

It's unfortunate that I didn't manage to get under 8 minutes for each of the four intervals, but I'm pretty happy with the results all the same. During Speed Mile 3 I had to pause at several unavoidable lights (can't exactly run in front of traffic, can I?), and I think I always lose (or is it gain) a few seconds restarting after pausing. In Mile 4 I hit all the lights green (or close enough), so I was able to power through at full speed all the way.

My cool-down was .6 mile home at 9:49 average pace. I was actually booking along at about 9:15, which felt like a resting pace after going 7:45, but at some point I started to flag and ended up in an easy jog.

I was please to notice that my quads, which have been very tight since last Friday's run, especially the right one, felt back to normal this morning. Although, I suppose my sprint down the hill in the final mile could have them acting up again by tomorrow!

Tomorrow's a non-running day again, and on Friday morning I am going to try for a shortish tempo run extra early. I have to be at a seminar in Mount Vernon by 8:30 or so, which means I have to be ready to leave home at least an hour (preferably more) earlier than I normally am. So I think the Friday morning semi-long run will have to be curtailed somewhat. I am optimistic, though, that our increasingly pleasant weather this week will make it easier for me to wake up early enough to get out there in a timely fashion. Maybe I'll leave the blinds open so that the morning sun (assuming we have any) will wake me up.

Finally, I have a 15-mile long run on the schedule for this weekend. I'm not sure how that's going to fit into other weekend plans right now. I'm trying not to sweat it; I'm certainly ready for the half-marathon even if I don't manage to accomplish a 15-mile run this week. My intent is that this will be my last extra-long run before the race. I'll keep up the normal weekday run schedule next week and halfway into the following week, but cut the length of my long run next weekend and then take the two days prior to Anacortes off from running entirely.

Final stats for today's run: 7.61 miles in 1:06:39, average pace 8:45.

*The question then being, pace for what kind of race? Presumably it would be half-marathon pace, since this is a half-marathon training plan, but I chose to do it slightly differently. Like 5K pace (or close, anyway).

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Lead in my legs

Today is probably the first time after a run that I have not whisked my Garmin to the computer as fast as possible to download my data and have a look at my splits. I had a look at the history when I finished running this morning, noted my calories (734) and average pace (9:55, at least under 10 minute miles!), but didn't even scroll through the individual laps. It was just that mediocre.

Today, Tuesday, is not normally a running day for me. Yesterday, Monday, should have been. But when I woke up at 5:30 I heard rain pounding on the roof. Add to that legs that were still pretty trashed from the weekend's work (8.5 mile progression run on Friday, 14.25 mile distance run on Saturday, 12.25 mile walk on Sunday), and the promise of better weather as the week went on, and it was pretty easy to decide to postpone my Monday run to Tuesday. I went to the Y instead. I don't know if pumping away on an elliptical machine is any easier on the legs, but at least it is low impact and it does not rain inside the Y.

This morning there was no rain, my legs felt no worse than they usually do when I wake up, and although getting out of bed is always a challenge, I had no real objection to getting out and running. I wasn't extra early, but I hit the road at 6:30.

Although I titled this post "Lead in my legs," I didn't really feel that bad. That is why it is so mysterious to me that I kept recording miles in the 10-minute range after my initial warm-up mile (which is always slow). With some effort, I manage to get the Garmin to read 9:30-9:40 for various spells, and at least I managed to get enough miles under ten minutes to keep my average (just) under ten. Most disturbing to me was one of my final miles, the one that includes downtown and a downhill slope most of the way, the one where I always record my fastest paced mile without even trying.... That one was 10:05. Now considering that I am pretty sure I spent at least the last quarter mile at sub-9 or faster, what the hell was I doing in the beginning?*

Since that mile took me to about half a mile from home, I really put a big push on the final stretch to make sure my average pace was under 10 minutes. I do have some pride! I managed, just barely, with that 9:55 average.

So that's the "beat myself up" portion of this post, now comes the "rationalization" portion.

I know that sometimes you're on, sometimes you're not, yada yada yada. Maybe my legs were still tired from the weekend, blah blah blah. Maybe the satellites were screwed up and I was really running a 9:30 pace all along! (Now there's the ticket!)

I'm refusing to consider the theory that maybe I've lost my edge and will never run fast again. That's just ridiculous.

I briefly considered that the prodigious eating that I did this weekend (although certainly matched by extensive exercise) is weighing me down, perhaps even putting back on some of the pounds I have lost. (The scale did not bear this out, fortunately.)

It is highly possible that the touchy stomach I had this morning, necessitating not one but two emergency bathroom stops, played a factor in my overall performance. Although I have to doubt that as my intestinal distress actually spurred me to run faster on a couple of occasions (the ones approaching the bathrooms).

All excuses and explanations aside, my pace in fact was not out of line from what I am supposed to be doing in an easy run, according to the McMillan Running Calculator. I have plugged in both my most recent 5K (24:21) and 10K (52:44), to check out what's recommended (as well as my "predicted" half marathon time). Based on the 10K time I could do easy runs at 9:57 to 10:27, and based on the (faster) 5K time, I can do 9:34 to 10:04. Although today was on the slow end, I generally do the easy runs at an average of 9:30 to 9:40 per mile. Granted, that almost always averages in a first mile anywhere from 10 minutes to 10:45 or so, and at least a couple of faster miles at the end.

So, just for fun, what does McMillan predict for my upcoming half marathon on August 1? Well, using the 10K time as the starting point, I could look at 1:57:20 (which I would accept, that's a little bit faster than Anacortes last year). Using the 5K as my basis, though, I could do 1:52:33! Wow, that would be a PR. It's not out of the question... though I am certainly not counting on it.**

Because of the flipped around schedule this week, I'll be running again tomorrow. Wednesday is speed work—my opportunity to redeem myself from today's performance! I have in mind a little twist on my usual method of doing one-mile repeat/intervals. I won't divulge it right now, so as not to commit myself to anything in case it doesn't work out. If it does work out, I'll share tomorrow.***

*Seriously, it makes no sense to me. I even wondered if I forgot to pause the Garmin when I stopped for a few moments to look at the window displays at Renee's....
**That would require an average pace of 8:35 per mile. Hmmm... that's pretty demanding!
***Don't hold your breath, it's nothing too exciting, there will be no juggling, nudity, or jump roping involved.

Monday, July 13, 2009

Walking for coffee

Yesterday I walked for breast cancer, today I walked to Starbucks for an iced latte.
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Off-topic - Ain't she sweet?

My sister's baby doll, Eva Marie. Just over one month old.

Sunday, July 12, 2009

Twofer weekend

Saturday—14.25 mile long run—sunny, hot, about 2 hours 20 minutes running time.

Sunday—12.25 mile walk with my friend Donna, who is training for the Breast Cancer 3-Day—cool, a few sprinkles of rain (luckily avoided a downpour, though), about 3 hours 30 minutes walking time.

Total—26.5 miles on my feet this weekend!

Friday, July 10, 2009

Fast Friday

My training schedule for today called for a tempo or pace run. What to do, what to do?

I decided to do, as an alternative, a progression run, beginning at a slow pace and gradually increasing up to a fast pace. My plan was to increase the pace of each mile by 15 to 30 seconds until I either finished my distance (probably eight miles) or just couldn't go any faster.

I thought I would start at a 10:30 pace, which is obviously slow and easy, but also allows a lot of room for acceleration over the miles!

So how did it go? Quite well. Quite well, indeed.

Mile 1 - I had a little trouble setting the pace here. Running comfortably at a 10:30 pace right out of the house is not hard, believe me. But maintaining that pace is something else. I found myself speeding up a little too much—at least according to Garmin, which is not always completely accurate—so then I would hold back. Turns out I was a little too successful at holding back, and the first mile came in at 10:47. That's okay, though.

Mile 2 - This one was supposed to be a 10-minute mile. The challenge—run easy, but not too easy. This segment included some downhill and some uphill. Final time 9:57 (just about perfect!).

Mile 3 - Target—9:30. Time—9:29. I am so good! (And modest....)

Mile 4 - Goal pace—9:00. Actual pace—9:00. What can I say?

Mile 5 - I figured that once I got under 9-minute miles I could switch to increasing the pace by about 15 seconds per mile. Anything under nine minutes requires a little more work on my part, so any increase is a good accomplishment. I guess in future I could work on 30-second increases. But today I stayed on track with a time of 8:44!

Mile 6 - Obviously this was supposed to be an 8:30 pace mile. But, ahem, something happened. Frankly I don't know what it was, because when I looked at Garmin (all too frequently) I could swear I often saw an 8:20 or so pace on the watch. But, at the end, the time was 8:47. Hmmm.

Mile 7 - Guess this one would be the 8:30 mile. Final time—8:26! Yeah, baby.

Mile 8 - This was my last speed mile. Either 8:15 or 8:00 would be fine. This also happened to be the portion of my route that was almost entirely downhill. I just let go and ran about as fast as I could. I did have to stop for several lights, where I did pause the Garmin while I waited, but I think the benefit of having mini-breaks was made up for the seconds lost in stopping and restarting (so I'm calling it even). Final time for that mile—7:45. Woo hoo!

At that point I was nearing QFC and Starbucks (my destination and stopping point). I covered another .55 mile at 9:09 pace getting to the store (and one lap around the parking lot), then called it quits. I could have continued to circle the parking lot to make nine miles... but I thought that wasn't necessary. I still had a half mile walk home, anyway.

While waiting for my drink I checked the stats on Garmin. 8.55 miles, 9:07 average pace, 1000 calories burned.* Not bad for a Friday morning!

*I trust the calorie counter on Garmin because it gives me about 115 to 120 calories per mile running, and 80 calories per mile walking, which both seem about right. The calorie counter on seems far too generous, at least for running, so I always use my Garmin numbers and convert them.

Biking and shopping

The sun came out this afternoon—welcome back, summer! To celebrate, I decided to go for a short bike ride after work and end at QFC to pick up some groceries and an iced latte at Starbucks.

I quickly discovered that I am not a big fan of bike riding in the late afternoon when people are going home from work. I much preferred the empty streets from Sunday afternoon! I don't know how people can stand to commute to work by bike, both coming and going during the busiest traffic of the day.

After risking my neck going south on Colby—well, that may be a bit of an exaggeration, but it was a little nervewracking driving by diagonally parked cars that may or may not be wanting to mow me down—I switched over to Hoyt for the return through downtown, which was a little bit quieter.

I had a moment of embarrassment when I felt the back of my pants riding a little low...then realized that I was wearing red underwear, so not only was I kind of flashing the cars behind me, I was waving a big red flag at them! So to speak. I remedied the situation by taking off my jacket (I was a little warm anyway), and tying it around my waist. Both problems solved, and modesty was restored!

About eleven miles or so later I was at QFC and ready to buy my groceries—mostly stuff for tomorrow night's book club dinner—and head home. I had brought both bike bags but still needed to be careful not to buy so much stuff that I couldn't carry it all home!

I ended up getting everything on my list except for water (obviously) and laundry detergent, which I really wanted but was afraid would just not fit in the bags. Even so, my purchases filled five grocery bags, all to be transferred into my two bike bags!

Well, bottom line, I am a packing genius. I managed to get everything into the bike bags, even leaving a small pocket unused. When I was loaded up I looked like quite the pack mule!

No, I didn't leave the latte on the bike, I carried it in my hand!

Here are the groceries unpacked at home. They include...2 bags Romaine hearts, 1 bag spinach, Fiber One cereal, rustic Italian bread, feta cheese, Parmesan, fresh basil, 4 T-bone steaks (for book club), olives and feta in oil, salsa, anchovies (for making Caesar salad), mustard, an onion, garlic, sushi, 2 eggplants, deli turkey, a bag of lemons, and sushi for lunch tomorrow!

Thursday, July 9, 2009

Thursday Thirteen (Runner Girl style)

I adopted the Thursday Thirteen concept from the Athena Diaries blog. It's just a list of thirteen things about you (me). On a Thursday. (Duh.) Sounds like fun, yes? So here goes.

  1. I am not doing the Run of the Mill 5K this Saturday. I never signed up for it or anything. I was thinking about running it, but I just didn't feel like it. It would interfere with my long run and other plans I have for the weekend. Plus I don't feel like challenging my 5K PR (24:21, remember?) right now, but I would feel bad if I didn't, so better just to skip it altogether!
  2. I have three cats. My boyfriend (who is one of those rare male cat persons) has two cats. Together that is five cats. That is a lot of cats!
  3. Since the beginning of May, I have lost at least 10 pounds (hard to know exactly, thanks to fluctuation). I know that is part of the reason I have been running faster lately. At some point, I am going to write a more extensive post on this topic.
  4. Still, my BMI is over 25, which is in the overweight category. I had a BMI of 24.9 on March 9, 2007. For one day. (I do realize that muscle weight skews BMI. But it's irritating!)
  5. I still have not put away all of my Christmas decorations. It's embarrassing, but they are pretty.
  6. I will never, ever do a real triathlon. I like to bicycle, but I am not fast. And I do not swim well, at least not anymore. I was a pretty good swimmer as a child.
  7. Most days I eat a humongous salad for both lunch and dinner. Seriously, it's big enough for a family of four. I love it!
  8. I would rather stay home and read a book than go to a party full of people I don't know well. I am not good at meeting new people.
  9. However, I don't mind going to races that are full of people I don't know. Sometimes I even talk to them!
  10. I don't understand people who scrape the frosting off of cake.
  11. I haven't been to yoga for at least a couple of months. I really want to start up again, but the morning classes are too early and the evening classes go so late! I am sort of on a summer vacation from yoga, I guess.
  12. My first sweet pea bloomed the other day, and I saw another one today. (I planted late....) Sweet peas are my very favorite flower!
  13. Sometimes I do extra exercise in the evening just so I can eat more for dinner.