Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Fourth of July weekend recap

It was a LONG holiday weekend. (Not that there's anything wrong with that!) My long weekend actually began on Thursday, or even earlier really, mid-afternoon Wednesday after my last court hearing. Thursday was a day off due to county furloughs.

So at around 3 p.m. Wednesday afternoon Rod picked me up to head to his cabin in Eastern Washington for a couple days. I was a little bit concerned about how hot it was going to be, in the 90's most likely, although, of course, it is a "dry heat." And, in fact, I do think the very hot weather was a little less unbearable than if it had been both hot and humid!

Still, it seemed quite hot when we arrived, even though it was around 7 p.m. by then. To make things worse, I had these strange squeezing stomach cramps which which were quite uncomfortable. I don't know if they were caused by hunger, too many carbonated beverages (diet coke and fizzy water), the heat, or a combination of all. So while Rod opened up the cabin, opened the window (someday there will be a second window) and put on the fan to start cooling things down, I stood around in the shade and looked unhappy.

Luckily, by the time we ate our dinners (salads picked up at a Safeway in Leavenworth en route), the temperature had dropped significantly outside (to below 80, which felt cool), and the food seemed to help my stomach a lot. By the time we were eating cherries (also bought at Safeway, despite many fruit stands along the way)—the biggest, sweetest Rainiers you've ever seen—I felt fine, although I was careful not to eat too many of the cherries, just in case.

Rod had brought along a chart of the stars from the newspaper to try to identify some of them. We waited for it to turn dark, but even after it was officially dark and many stars were out (far more than you can see in civilization), the bright moon dimmed them a lot. It was still warm inside the cabin, even late, but somehow I was able to fall asleep on top of my sleeping bag without too much difficulty. It did cool off during the night enough that I was tucked inside the sleeping bag by morning and reluctant to get out when my alarm went off at 6 a.m.

The reason I had set the alarm for so early was to get out and run before the day got hot. Although I was wide awake at 5:45, even before the alarm, I struggled to force myself to get up. In the end, I managed to drag myself out of the sleeping bag, throw on my running clothes, and walk out the door by 6:30.

Which was fine. It was still bearably cool and even though I ran for about 90 minutes (or more), I never felt too overheated. My plan was to run at least six miles, more if I felt good, hopefully not less. I had run eight miles on Wednesday morning (speedwork), and I was running again on Thursday so I could take Friday off as a rest day prior to the 10K on Saturday. Still, I didn't want to overexert myself on Thursday, either. I really wanted to run a good race on Saturday.

And I certainly did not overexert myself, as far as speed went. I was running on gravel roads, with a lot of hills (starting uphill right at the beginning), which meant my first mile came in at a rather shocking 11:44. After that my pace varied from 10 to 11 minutes per mile, with my final average pace 10:38.

I wasn't too perturbed by this, though I did find myself vowing never to run a race on hilly gravel roads in hot Eastern Washington!

As far as distance, I ended up going much further than my six mile goal. I'm not sure what exactly I had in mind, but I keep adding little out and back stretches to pump up the distance till I finally stopped at nine miles. That seemed like far enough!

Actually, I do know what I had in mind. I had pizza in mind. I wanted to eat pizza for dinner that night, and I figured three extra miles was good for at least one extra piece of pizza (on top of at least one I should be able to eat in the ordinary course).

When I got back to the cabin it was about 8:30 (because I made two bathroom stops along the way) (both at the clubhouse, not behind a sagebrush or anything). The temperature was still mild, and it seemed like a good idea to go for a bike ride before the heat built up. We ended up riding our bikes on a 5.25 mile loop, more challenging than it sounds thanks to the gravel and more hills, and I figure that ride was good for another piece of pizza. (That gave me half of the pizza we eventually ordered!)

After we got back Rod spent a couple of hours putting shingles on the back of the cabin, and I read and napped. He came inside just in time to ward off heat stroke, and after he rested for a while we headed down to the clubhouse to go swimming and take showers. Then we headed into Ephrata for pizza and a movie. We saw The Proposal, and I thought it was really fun and entertaining. Rod liked it too, even though it was a "chick flick." (Maybe he identified me with the bitch on wheels boss played by Sandra Bullock, and himself with the docile assistant? Nah. I'm not demanding at all! And I might add I am certainly making no comparison of myself to the very svelte and sexy Sandra Bullock, who I could only hope to look as good as when I'm her age...in a year.*) It was, I must say, kind of a blend of The Devil Wears Prada and Green Card, but I liked both those movies so that was okay with me!

We left Rimrock on Friday morning, not horribly early (still hard to crawl out of the sleeping bag once it's finally cool). In Wenatchee we stopped to visit Ohme Gardens, which is a nine-acre hillside and alpine garden overlooking Wenatchee. The website describes it as an "evergreen oasis," which is probably why Rod found it not quite as garden-y as one might hope. Well, as I might hope, being a fan of English gardens and flowers and such. It was very impressively landscaped, though, with a lot of pools and some waterfalls and really some very pretty spots.

By the time we got back to Everett it was already mid-afternoon and I had to get ready for the 4th (mainly washing my running clothes for the 10K on Saturday), so I hustled around getting that stuff together. The event of the evening was the Spee-bi-dah Dance, an annual July 3 tradition out at Spee-bi-dah, a beach community where a lot of Rod's friends live, either year-round or summertime. (Rod's family is at Tulare, the next beach out.) A lot of these are people I knew from high school and/or church as well.

Since I was pre-race, we went to Cristiano's Restaurant in Marysville for dinner so I could carb-load. This is a pretty popular local restaurant, specializing in pizza and giant salads, but they have a few pasta dishes as well. We both had a dinner salad and the baked spaghetti, six massive meatballs atop spaghetti and marinara sauce, and covered with mozzarella cheese. Yum-yum. I ate all of my salad (a nice pile of romaine lettuce with some other vegetables and an Italian dressing), all of the spaghetti noodles and three meatballs, and one piece of cheese bread (oops). I was pretty full but not sick-full, luckily. We brought the leftover meatballs and cheese bread home so Rod could eat it for breakfast the next day (while I was off racing).

Then out to Spee-bi-dah! It's a really funky community where, like all beach communities, real estate is now more precious than gold, and the houses are a mix of old beach houses (from shack on up), and fancier-looking new or remodeled homes. It's a gated community (not typical around here), and guests have to be let in by residents. Lots of the residents have golf carts to drive around in, since there are some steep hills to travel up and down and transport stuff on. Throughout the evening, especially earlier before the music started and people were still getting situated, golf carts were coming and going to and from the beachside park area where the dance was to be held.

Music for the dance was provided by a band called Crab Louie and the Sand Shrimp (I think that's right), all made up of Rod's old buddies from back in the day. Actually Rod used to play with them years ago. They were supposed to start playing at 9:00, I think, but I'm pretty sure it was closer to 10 by the time it got going.

This whole party/dance thing was a bit of an anxiety trip for me. First of all, I'm not a good socializer in big groups. Second, I Do. Not. Dance. I remember a little group dancing at a friend's wedding in the early 90's, and at my friend Sandy's wedding in 1989, and other than that I haven't danced since the dorm dances in college!

But Rod likes to dance, at least at things like this (he's not a clubber or anything!). So I steeled myself to get out there and, like my Nike friends say, Just Do It.

And, shockingly, it wasn't bad! Okay, at first I had disturbing flashbacks to Stuen dorm dances in college. That's because Rod and I lived in the same dorm and probably did some occasional dancing together but we were just friendly, nothing more than that, so somehow dancing with him now seemed very muddled and confusing. But then I got past that and just let myself go and had fun with it. Actually, it was way better than just standing around. Especially since it had gotten quite cool after the sun went down and I had been feeling chilled. Dancing warmed me up. And I got to count it as 80 minutes of exercise in my Livestrong calorie tracker, which was good since the only other exercise I got that day was hiking around Ohme Gardens for 30 minutes or so, and that baked spaghetti packed quite a punch in the calorie department.

Because of the run on Saturday, we left around 11:30 so I could still get a decent night's sleep. We'd had about enough by then anyway. We were happy to leave the dance floor (um, dance field?) to other partiers better fueled by beer and other beverages.

So that was pretty much it for July 3, except to mention that during the afternoon Rod bought a small portable air conditioner to take out to Rimrock for faster cooling on hot afternoons.** Hurrah!

The morning of July 4th was another bright and sunny day, perfect for traditional Fourth of July festivities, but hopefully not so warm as to make running difficult! The race itself didn't start until 9 a.m. and I had picked up my number (and other race packet stuff) in advance at the Y. So I left my house on foot at a little past 8:00 to run up to the race and do my warm-up along the way.

I live less than a mile from the Y, which isn't far enough for a warm-up—two miles is ideal, I think, though I ended up going further—so instead of heading directly to the Y I turned north on Colby and ran a few blocks in that direction. I can't actually remember what streets I ran on, but I turned back toward the Y after I hit one mile, figuring the return trip would take me to around two miles. But by the time I hit downtown Everett I couldn't resist extending my warm-up run enough that I actually did at least three miles before I met up my parents at the corner by the Y. Once again, I couldn't resist the lure of burning some extra calories in advance of the Fourth of July feasting! I did my warm-up at a slow pace, probably around 9:45 per mile average. I also used the bathroom at Starbucks, promising that I would be back after the race!***

After I found my parents I hung out with them—posing for a pre-race photo—before heading down to the starting area a few minutes before 9:00. One of the nice things about a small race like this is that you are not mobbed by crowds, and can even stand near the starting line**** without offending some kind of race etiquette.

We started promptly, only a couple of minutes past 9:00, and I took off with a big push. My mom got some good pictures of the start, and I can actually be seen in both of them!

I always feel like I am struggling so much at the start of a race, as others surge past me easily, but I actually was running pretty fast here! Later I would learn that my first mile had been my fastest, at 8:03, which I know is not recommended as a race strategy! Perhaps I paid the price with my slower miles in the second half, but perhaps I also benefited from all the time saved in this mile and miles two and three—who really knows!
I am very familiar with the roads in this 10K, as I have not only run the race three times before, I run on the same roads (pretty much the same) several times a week. So there would be no surprises as to terrain or anything like that.

I was surprised, though, to learn that the precise route had been changed! I hadn't bothered to look at the course map in advance. It didn't matter much, in fact, I think the change was a good one.

The first change was eliminating a side jog onto Wetmore Avenue for a few blocks. We stayed on Colby all the way to where it merges with Alverson. Then (another change) we went further north on Alverson than ever before, all the way to Legion Park before turning back. We followed Alverson south to where it turns into Grand, then stayed on Grand up to 19th Street, where we headed back to Colby.

This is where the best change came in. In the past, once we got up to Colby, instead of going south toward the finish we had to go north again for an out and back. This was always such a disappointment. But because of the extra distance on Alverson, the out and back was eliminated and we headed south on Colby. We had to go a couple of extra blocks southward before turning left back to Wetmore, which we followed back to California and the sprint to the finish line.

As I said, my first mile was blisteringly fast (for a 10K) at 8:03. The next two were a little slower but still quick, at 8:18 and 8:14. After mile three I encountered the hills on the run, so that might explain partly why I slowed down so much. Alternatively, I might have been tired, hot, or overly worn out from my long warm-up. The next three miles clocked in at 8:38, 8:43 and 8:45. Not slow by any means, but definitely slower!

During the first half of the race there was a tall woman in fuschia just ahead of me. Keeping up with her was a challenge, and I figured eventually she'd leave me in the dust. But after about half-way, I passed her and didn't see her again!

There was at least one other woman (dressed in black, I believe) who I remember hovering on my shoulder for several miles and us trading places a number of times. I don't know whether she eventually passed me and went on ahead, or I left her behind, but I wouldn't be surprised if she left me in the dust as my pace did slow considerably in the last three miles compared to the first three.

Since this is a fairly small race, I was used to running on my own for large chunks of the race. Here I am coming down Colby in the last couple of miles, unhindered by other runners in my path! (This does not mean there isn't anyone left in the race—there are plenty of people behind me!)
Finally we turned onto California for the final sprint to the finish line. Note that there are two GUYS behind me!
Unfortunately the guy in the black did manage to overtake me, and although he shouted encouragement as he passed me, finished a few seconds ahead of me.
There's the finish line in the distance! I finished the last bit of the race, after mile 6, at a 7:50 pace. As I was pounding down California toward the finish line, I felt my insides heaving and thought I might be near the puke threshhold (I would do a link for that phrase, but I think it's self-explanatory). I could see the clock in the distance (coming up fast), and with a 52 on it I was sure that I would beat my previous PR of 52:51. I crossed the finish line with a time of 52:44. My Garmin also gave that time, and said I had run 6.25 miles. That made my PR even more solid, since that is further than 10K and I believe that the Mukilteo run where I PR'd last year was a little shy of 10K. My average pace on Garmin was 8:25 per mile, although divided over just 6.2 miles it was exactly 8:30.*****

I met up with my mother and posed for a very sweaty post-race photo. Then I walked around for a few minutes and talked to three of my race friends—women who I see only at various races in the area. I had already checked the finishers' board and learned that, despite the PR, I had not placed in my age group—I was 4th. I was just a bit disappointed because this was the first time I had not won an age group medal in the Yankee Doodle Dash. And this was the year with the fastest time yet!

I had already run more than nine miles, with the warm-up and the race, but I had the hankering to do one more mile to put it over ten. I promised myself that if I did that extra mile I could have a cinnamon scone (or similar goody) at Starbucks. I arranged with my parents to meet at the downtown Starbucks in about ten minutes, and jogged off.

And I mean jogged. I was literally running slower than an 11-minute pace. In downtown Everett (where I am always faster). Now, I think if I had kept going for a while I would have picked it up to a reasonable pace, but for that first mile my legs were quite stiff from the aftermath of the race!

When I found my mom outside Starbucks I saw that the line was extending into the street. Hmmm... not worth the wait when there was a perfectly good Starbucks only half a mile from my house! So we grabbed my dad and started walking. Ironically, my parents had parked so far from downtown that it would be equal or farther distance for me to walk with them to the car and then drive to Starbucks, as to just walk directly to Starbucks! So at Everett Avenue we parted ways and arranged for them to pick me up in a bit.

My only disappointment at Starbucks was that they didn't have the cinnamon scones (and I had seen them downtown). So I took a cinnamon roll instead. Now, I love cinnamon rolls, and often they are my go-to post-race treat—the gooier the better—but I had been looking forward to the cinnamon scone and the Starbucks cinnamon roll really was not as wonderful as other cinnamon rolls I have had. Actually, I would have skipped the cinnamon roll altogether if I had realized how quickly the eating would commence—and the great quantity of food offered—at Rod's parents' house that afternoon. At home I also had a very small turkey sandwich with spinach, cream cheese, and chutney, and that I do not regret at all. It was good post-race nourishment.

I wanted to hurry getting ready to leave, especially as my parents were waiting to give me a ride to the beach, but I'll admit I dawdled a bit in the shower and answering some Facebook posts. A little before 1:00 I was ready to go though, and we headed out. In my large bag I carried a couple changes of clothing, including jeans and a sweatshirt for later in the evening (having experienced how cool it could get the night before), and I also had my kayaking life vest and a bunch of cans of diet coke and fizzy water (I always drink voluminously after running and sweating). So I was pretty loaded down.

We dropped my dad at my parents' house and headed further westward to Tulare Beach. My mother hadn't been out this way for many years, though years back my sister's best friend in school lived there, so she made a lot of trips up and down the steep, winding road. Bringing me out there was a little funny, kind of like a flashback to high school, except not. As a joke she asked me if she should come pick me up later!

Ater all the greetings, my mother left, and before you know it, the food started coming out. Now I am used to gatherings at my parents' house, where there may be snacks in the afternoon but the serious eating doesn't take place until dinnertime. (We've never been able to get it together for an afternoon meal!)

Before bringing out the "real" food, Rod's mom whipped the plastic wrap off a plate of the most decadent looking rice-krispy treat kind of bars. The krispy part is rice krispy cereal with karo syrup and peanut butter (and I don't know what else), and it is topped by a thick layer of chocolate melted with butterscotch chips, then cut into squares. In the spirit of "I ran 10 miles today" I accepted one without hesitation and it was lovely. Rod's mom is going to send me the recipe and when I make it someday, I'll post a picture with the recipe.

Then onto the real food. The first round was fresh cracked Dungeness crab, a mountain of it, caught by Rod's dad the day before, and bruschetta. I have to say I am a highly talented crab cracker. A little bit years of practice (many summers at the beach in my use), a little bit heredity (from my Norwegian grandmother, who could shell like it was her job), and a little bit of gluttony (I'm always adept at eating related tasks). I breezed through my pile of legs and bodies (many think the legs are the sweetest meat, but I love the bodies, the meat just falls out!), and soon I had a nice mound of flaky crabmeat on my plate. I ate it plain, with two or three or maybe four pieces of tomato-basil topped bruschetta on the side. Yummo!

I thought that would be it till later on. But almost immediately Rod's dad headed out to the barbecue with the pork ribs for grilling. Since they had been pre-baked, it would take about half an hour to grill them. Then we'd eat.

Rod went out to the backyard with a guitar he'd brought along, to play a little while we waited. I picked up a couple of magazines and settled down in the shade to read and listen.

Before long, the luscious barbecue smell told us the ribs were done. Now you might think that after my "snack" at home, plus the crab and bread, I couldn't eat another meal. You would, however, be wrong!

I did, however, try to be prudent. I took just two of the bone-in ribs (later going back for one more), skipped potato salad (which I'm generally not crazy about it anyway), took some fruit, a small scoop of baked beans (love baked beans!), and a big bowl of cucumber, tomato, and onion salad. This is a great salad, by the way. The cucumber, tomatoes, and sweet onions are cut into good-sized chunks and tossed with a light Italian type dressing. The liquid from the tomatoes and cucumbers waters down the dressing a lot so I don't think you even end up getting much oil at all. The dressing does marinate the vegetables a bit. It is very mild and tasty. We ate out on the porch which was shaded and breezy despite the warm day. Rod actually decided to sit inside at the kitchen table but I was sociable and sat out with his family!

Afterwards he said he was really full and dozed off on the couch for a while. I have to assume he ate way more than me, because I was full but not to excess. I didn't need to nap but I did do more magazine reading!

Before we knew it, it was already late afternoon and the tide had come in. It was time for kayaking, if we were going. I absolutely wanted to go kayaking. I had yet to go out this summer and if not on the 4th of July, then when?

The kayaks that Rod and his family have are smaller and lighter than the ones at my parents' house, and they keep them right down on the beach, so putting them in the water was quick and easy. In the blink of an eye, we were out on the water paddling west!

I have a method of kayaking which works well in the bay. I alway start out paddling in the direction against the current, because that is more work and better to start that way than have to finish that way! When you turn around, the current helps you along and the trip back is quick and easy. You can imagine what a disappointment it would be to do it the other way! On the the 4th there was enough of a wind and the water was choppy enough that our trip back, after turning around, was fast enough that we barely needed to paddle! So we kept going in the opposite direction with the current, and finished by paddling back again.

Rod's parents were out in their boat for a few minutes (before taking it out of the water, not wanting to leave it out among the fireworks in the evening), and Rod's mom took some great pictures. I'm not sure that the water was really this blue, but it sure looks nice!

After kayaking Rod took his guitar across the street to play with some other guys. I went over there eventually to listen, but first I helped pack up leftovers for us to take home. Then, when the guitar playing stopped, it was time for, you guessed it, dessert!

Dessert was strawberry shortcake, made with local berries from Due's berry farm. Rod's mom had made both "regular" Fisher Fair scones and an alternative, biscuits made with lowfat Bisquick. I chose a smallish Bisquick biscuit and piled it high with strawberries and generous squirts of Reddi-whip (which is quite low calorie, even if it is real cream). It was, needless to say, quite delicious, and I didn't notice any kind of deficiency in the biscuit!

The final order of the evening was, of course, fireworks. I am not a huge fireworks fan but Rod had brought a pretty big box of stuff, and all along the beach other neighbors were setting off their displays too. Some of them truly rivalled any professional fireworks you might see, in my opinion. We could also see other fireworks in the distance, over on Camano Island and all around. It was all quite colorful and not as loud as I had feared!

After the fireworks box was emptied we packed up our stuff to head out. Rod's aunt had to get up really early on Sunday for church, and we were her transportation. All the way home we could see and hear fireworks being set off, including down the road to Potlatch, where my parents live. I knew that would not make them happy, as my sister's dog, Nissa, gets very stressed and upset by fireworks—as do my parents! Even in Marysville, where I believe that fireworks are quite illegal, the explosions and flashes of light continued far into the night!

Sunday was on my training schedule as a self-proclaimed rest and recovery day. Obviously, no running. I didn't have any cross-training designated, either. But being a restless sort (and thinking of the leftovers waiting for later on), I decided to take an hour's walk and go to Starbucks for a latte on the way.

I took a loop through the interior of Jennings Park and before heading onward, stopped at the gardens which are tended by the master gardeners. I was so charmed and delighted! I'm not going to try to describe them now, but another day soon I am going back with my camera to take some good pictures. I took a few pictures with my cell phone but the sun in the east interfered with my lighting.

The delay in the gardens made me a little later than I had planned, so I took off quickly for Starbucks and Safeway. Soon I had my latte in hand and caffeine in my system!

We had planned to go out for a jaunt in Rod's boat in the afternoon. We set out after feasting on leftover ribs, salad, etc. Unfortunately there was a problem with a motor (and believe me, though I've heard lots about this problem, I am not going to relate it here!), so the boat trip was aborted and we pulled the boat out of the water. It seemed like a good time to head home and let Rod tinker with the motor.

It was a nice afternoon, still warm (though breezy, it was a warm wind), and just a bit hazy. I decided to get my bike out and go for a ride around Everett. I rode up to Colby, north along the bike path and past Legion Park, then looped onto Broadway and up 10th to Grand; south again on Colby to 41st, then repeated the trip down Colby but instead of heading up onto Broadway I stayed on Marine View Drive through Riverside. Almost all of this territory (except for the Broadway segment) was roads that I have run on (sometimes often), but believe me, I have never covered the miles so quickly on foot!

While there were a number of hills, only the hill up 10th Street to Colby, and my final turn onto 23rd, seemed exceptionally difficult. On 23rd, especially, I had to go into the lowest gear and I was moving at a glacial pace despite spinning pedals. As I pedalled franticly along, bouncing a little on my seat, I found the bicycle scene music from The Wizard of Oz playing in my head!

After I got up that hill though, it was smooth sailing the rest of the way. Before heading home, I stopped at QFC for some groceries that I packed into the saddle bag on my bike, then at Starbucks for an iced latte (using the Starbucks $2 iced drink promotion, of course). Riding home with a drink in my hand was a tiny bit tricky, but luckily I only had half a mile to go and there weren't a lot of cars on the roads. By the time I got home I had ridden 16 miles total.

That was pretty much the end of my Fourth of July weekend! Except for the leftover crab I had on a salad for dinner Sunday night. Delicious!

*I'm referring to her amazingly unsaggy bod, but on a side note, I couldn't help wonder if she gets Botox? Really, her face is amazingly uncreased.

**Using the generator to run it long enough to cool things down, then let the window, door and fan take over. He has solar power that runs the fan, a lamp, and a radio, but the generator is needed for higher power using items, like the microwave.

***But in the end I went to a different Starbucks afterward, as the downtown one had a long line already. They didn't need my business by then anyway.

****Helpful as we had no chips.

*****Which means, if the course had been exactly 6.2 miles, my overall time might have been 30 seconds faster.

1 comment:

Tina at Gotta Run Now said...

We vacationed in Washington last November - I ran in the Seattle marathon. What a beautiful state you live in!

Congrats on getting a PR in the race!