Monday, August 31, 2009

The end of August

August 31, and I still haven't finished my race report from the Anacortes Half Marathon on August 1! I really thought it would be nice to post it by the end of the month, but... I didn't. Sigh. Work, and life, interfered with my blogging time, I guess. And tonight, a nice dinner with my mother at Palomino in Seattle! Also, I might add, some technical difficulties in which I deleted all the pictures I'd uploaded and all my clever footnotes. I have put the pictures back in and hopefully will progress to completion very, very soon.

September has a lot of things in store for me (in addition to the official end of summer...sigh again). I have three races on the docket, the Fairhaven Waterfront 15K on September 12, the YMCA 5-mile Fun Run on September 19, and the Bellingham Half Marathon on September 27.

This week I am dabbling in daily (or almost daily) running. This is because the Everett YMCA is closed for its annual cleaning and the only substitute I can think of for my Y mornings is running. Walking takes too long to accumulate mileage (at least in the mornings), and I don't have time to make the trek to other Y's (at least not in the morning). I really prefer to work out first thing in the morning because it starts the day off right. (And sometimes leads to the desire for a nap in the middle of the afternoon, but I usually get past that.)

I'm not sure if I will run every single day without a break, but today and tomorrow are especially important as I have restaurant dinner plans both nights. Friday I have running plans also, so we shall see if Wednesday or Thursday needs to be a rest day, or whether I can keep on plugging away.

I have a few good topics that I am planning on writing about in the days to come. (In addition to finishing the Anacortes post, of course.) Tomorrow I'll touch on my speed work from last week, and my training plan leading up to the first race of September on the 12th. Before the 12th, I have some thoughts to share on 15K's. And sometime soon (when I get around to it), I'll be writing about the lazy runner (me being a prime example).

August finished well, with an 8.3 mile run this morning, 9:33 average pace. Not too shabby considering that I ran 15 miles yesterday and traveled* for many hours in a car!

*"Traveled" is something of an exaggeration since hours of that time were spent either stopped or crawling thanks to an accident that blocked the roadway for a really long time.

Thursday, August 27, 2009

TIART - Fueling before a long run

Is it still Thursday? I guess it is. So, still time to weigh in on this week's topic for Runner's Lounge Take It and Run Thursday, which is "What do you eat before your long run?" submitted by Jill Will Run.

I'll say my piece because I love to talk about food, but I don't think I'll be very helpful to anyone but myself!

I generally don't like to eat much, if anything, before I run. During the work week I like to run early in the morning (before work), and I definitely don't want to get up early enough to eat and allow for a little digestion (as is generally recommended). When I do eat before those weekday runs, it's more to motivate myself than fuel myself. I'll frequently have a few chocolate-covered coffee beans, both for the caffeine and the treat factor. If I do feel a little hungry, or just want to eat a little something, I'll have half a Quaker Chewy Granola bar or half a mini-breakfast cookie. Sometimes followed by the second half. (Because I want it, not because I need it.) Either way, it's no more than about 100 calories (not including the espresso beans).

On the weekends, when my long runs occur, it's a little different. Generally speaking my weekend runs happen a little later in the morning, so I do have time to eat and then wait at least half an hour before running. Sometimes I wait longer. The more I eat, the longer I'll wait before running. Sometimes, though, I'll head out pretty quickly. It usually doesn't bother my stomach, although depending on what I've eaten, I sometimes find myself re-tasting it during the early part of the run.

A lot of people worry that what they eat will lead to urgent bathroom needs. I definitely have that issue, but I always plan a bathroom stop early in the run, with other options along the way, so I usually eat fiber freely. So many foods I eat are high in fiber. I probably wouldn't eat a bowl of Fiber One cereal, though.

My typical weekend pre-run breakfast is an Orowheat Double Fiber English Muffin (see what I mean?), spread with almond butter or peanut butter, sometimes topped with sliced banana or sugar-free preserves. If for some reason I'm out of nut butter (which I won't be forever now because I stocked up on closeout Justin's AB and PB), then I'll use a bit of butter instead. If coffee's available, I'll have a cup (on Sunday I had instant espresso with Almond Milk, and believe me, I was enjoying that almond milk for hours...well, halves of hours, anyway).

I'm not opposed to oatmeal before a run, but most of the time that's too much work. If I am driving somewhere to run (at least if I'm being driven by someone), I'll often get a latte from Starbucks (either a short one or a tall where I drink part of it) and their oatmeal, maybe with part of a banana. Or I'll bring packets of instant oatmeal to a hotel. At home, though, I just don't want the trouble. Sometimes I've intended to eat some oatmeal after running, but usually by the time I finish a not-so-early long run the time for breakfast has passed!

This last Sunday morning, before heading out on an eleven-mile run, I tempted the running gods by eating a bowl of leftover peach-blueberry cobbler with biscuit topping. (And the afore-mentioned coffee with almond milk.) The cinnamony dessert gave me no problems with the run. Maybe it even helped (9:15 average pace in the end)!

I vascillate about whether I think eating before a long run is really important. I have read different theories. I mostly eat because I enjoy it and it gives me motivation to go out and run, not because I think it will improve my performance. I've had pretty much the same result (with pace and energy) on days where I run on an empty stomach as when I carefully eat an hour before running. Now, I've never run more than 16 miles at one time, so it probably is different for longer distances. If I was running 20 miles, I'd be eating before, during, and after!

Monday, August 24, 2009

A weekend of running and eating (not necessarily in that order)

Actually, the running happened on Sunday (and most of the eating too), but Saturday was a pretty good day too, full of all kinds of "me" things.

I headed to the Y early to burn some calories on the elliptical. I was so early that I had to wait outside in my car for ten minutes before they opened! I pounded away for 90-plus minutes on the machine.

Then it was time for a massage. I had made an appointment with one of the YMCA massage therapists, because the person I had been going to stopped working at my hair salon, and it was too out-of-the-way to go to her new location. The YMCA is super-convenient for me, both because it's near my house and because I go there lots anyway!

The massage therapist was kind of hippy-dippy new agey, but she was nice and did a really good job. She asked if it was okay to go over my allotted hour (no charge), and I said sure. The massage was supposed to be 10-11, and I had another appointment at 12:30, but I thought a few minutes extra would still allow me enough time to zip home, take a quick shower, and get to Mill Creek Town Center for my pedicure appointment.

After the massage was done I was still lying quietly on the table, and I waited for the therapist to say, "you're done." All was silent. After a few minutes I peeked in her direction and she was sitting quietly in sort of a meditative pose. I thought okay, there's a meditation period so I lay there quietly. And lay there. I started wondering when this was going to end. I was a little worried now about being late to my next appointment. Finally I started moving around restlessly and she spoke, telling me how I must have really needed rest, to lay there for so long. Um, yeah... but not that much rest!

Other than the overlong post-massage period, it was a great massage and a great price as well, only $55! I'll definitely go back but perhaps make my time perameters a little clearer.

Because it was already after 12. No time to go home, not even to get sandals for the pedicure, let alone shower and change. Luckily I had brought along another shirt, at least, so I didn't have to wear a damp shirt to the pedicure. I flew out of there and by pushing the boundaries of the speed limit, managed to arrive at the spa just by 12:30.

After the pedicure, I took my newly painted toes (wearing spa slippers as I didn't have sandals) to Coldstone Creamery for a free birthday treat (a "like it" scoop with one mix-in—I had cake batter with oreo cookies).

Then home to go grocery shopping, fix dinner, and eat (the previously-written-about stuffed squash and blueberry-peach cobbler). We had planned to go see Julie & Julia afterwards, but the only showings were 6:30 and 9:30. The first was too early and the second, it turned out, was too late when you are stuffed full of dinner and dessert!

However, while I was cooking dinner Rod did install my new TV which I had bought a couple months ago but hadn't managed to unpack yet. 32" LCD flat screen, baby! (I know that doesn't sound like that big a deal but for me it is like a movie theatre!)
Sunday was the day of my family birthday dinner, also known as Taste of Maine Day (to reflect my chosen theme of the day). My brief itinerary (as I posted on Facebook) was Run, Market, Run, Eat, Rest, Eat. Here's how it played out....

Run - 11 miles in town, ending at the Farmer's Market. The plan was to meet my parents there to buy a few things for dinner. I had actually intended to do ten miles in this portion of running, but my parents hadn't arrived yet when I got there, so I did a mile lap around the marina.

I had also left home a little later than I intended, so although this was supposed to be a no-pressure long run, I did feel like I had to push a little bit just so I wouldn't be late. This led to an average pace for the run of about 9:15! My last couple of miles were especially speedy, before I finished with the extra mile. My splits - 9:45, .56 @ 9:44, 9:27, 9:40, 9:24, 9:11, .44 @ 9:17, 9:11, 9:20, 8:48, 8:13, 9:03.

I had a little bit of a break with my running route because, although I went all over town to accumulate 10+ miles, which included a few uphills, I was basically making my way downhill toward the waterfront, without ever having to climb back up again. I am sure my elevation loss ultimately exceeded my elevation gain substantially!

After my parents arrived at the marina, we proceeded to...

Market - The Everett Farmer's Market. Here I am with my market bag ready to head in and get me some fresh produce.
We met up at 10:45 and the market doesn't open till 11, so my mother and I had to stand outside the perimeter of the stalls and wait (along with a bunch of other people) to be let in. My dad, however, managed to work his way in and wander through before any of the rest of us.

I didn't have a lot to get, and we didn't have a lot of spare time. I quickly filled a bag with tiny fingerling potatoes, then moved on to Samish Bay Cheese to get some of their fresh mozzarella. (Also a small carton of greek yoghurt, just because.) That was all we needed for dinner, but I added some plums from Tiny's Produce (half of which ended up getting bruised and smashed in transit) and some beets for roasting in the oven at home.

Then we met up at the car, and my parents drove me home (with a stop at Starbucks on the way; I had them divide a Strawberry Banana Vivanno into two cups for my mother and I to share). My parents headed to Hagens to pick up some last minute groceries for the meal(s) to come, and I headed out to the beach for part 2 of my....

Run - Five miles on the beach. Thanks to some lag time along the way, I had left myself with exactly an hour to run the five miles before I should be back at the house to get ready for lunch. Five miles in an hour sounds easy-peasy, but... running on the beach is hard! And slow. Since I had a time deadline, I forced myself to turn around at exactly 2.5 miles, even though at least another quarter mile of beach stretched ahead of me, beckoning. I turned myself back and did manage to make the hour deadline, in 56:49 to be exact, with an average pace of 11:20. No need to post individual fastest mile was 10:45, and my slowest need not be mentioned! Honestly, I am happy just that not one mile was over twelve minutes. Beach running is way slower than road running. As I have said numerous times.

Here I am after my run on the beach, wearing my Maine Coast Half Marathon cap!

Eat - I started back up to the house for lunch (there's a 120 step flight of stairs between the main house and the beach) and met Rod on his way down. My dad had sent him down to "find me"—or else to get him out of the way while he vacuumed. As it turns out I had been slightly "missing" as I had inadvertantly dialed my mom's cell phone with my phone, and ended up leaving a lengthy empty message.

After allowing my parents a few minutes of prep time, we headed back up the stairs. It was about a quarter of two, and "lunch time" was designated at 2:00. So I flew into the shower for a quick rinse and change of clothes.

Lunch was lobster rolls and potato chips on the "Maine Deck"! The Maine Deck is one of the numerous decks around my parents' house, which they have adorned with buoys, lobster pots, and a couple of rocking chairs they bought at the Cracker Barrel (in New Hampshire, but close).

I had ordered "real" top split buns from New England for the lobster rolls (at great shipping expense, though the rolls themselves were cheap) and the lobster came from eight lobster tails that my mom had happened to buy on sale and conveniently had in the freezer. The eight tails made eight rolls, not as big or stuffed full of lobster as the ones from Red's, but still nice.
We (meaning my mom, at my direction) lightly buttered the inside of the buns and toasted the outsides under the broiler, and mixed the lobster meat with a little mayonnaise, then spooned it into the warm buns. Here is the finished product!

Rod and I sat in the New England rockers to eat our lobster rolls. I had, ahem, two. Actually I had one, then half of another, then another half. It was my birthday lunch, after all! (And with sixteen miles under my belt, I had a hearty appetite.) After we ate, though, we had to move into shadier spots, as it was pretty warm there in the sun! (The lobster pots can't be seen in the picture; one is behind Rod and the other is in front of the porch swing in the background.) (The shirt I am wearing, though you can't see it well in this picture, is a map of Deer Isle, in northern Maine.)

Rest - After lunch we had time on our hands before dinner. Everyone disappeared to different lounging spots to relax, except for my sister's husband and my dad, who went down to the beach with Nissa (sister's dog). (Although I'm sure they returned in time for a nap too.)

Rod and I moved back to the upper deck where the chairs were a little more cushioned. I read my book (still reading Born to Run by Christopher McDougall—I am loving it but it is taking a while to get through) and Rod dozed. The only flaw was my wildly running nose (punctuated with explosive sneezing). (I finally determined that I had a cold!) The runny nose was so bad that I finally got a Benadryl from my mom to help dry it up. Then I dozed in my chair a little too.

Eat - Eventually it was time to think about dinner. Although it was my birthday dinner I had to have a hand in the preparation (just to make sure it was to my liking). I shucked and boiled corn on the cob, boiled baby potatoes, and made an herb butter to go with the potatoes (butter, grated lemon rind, lemon juice, chives, parsley, and a tiny bit of lemon thyme). I also made a giant salad with my special balsamic vinaigrette, tomatoes from my garden, fresh mozzarella from the market, and basil. It was gorgeous! And delicious.

Here's the rest of the menu... Country ribs in sauce, corn, boiled potatoes (and oven roasted potatoes as well, and shrimp boiled with Old Bay seasoning.
The boys with their plates (and my plate in the the foreground). Is my dad wearing socks with sandals???
Eva Marie, at the dinner table but not quite ready for ribs and corn on the cob.

Dessert was my very favorite birthday dessert, apple cake with cream cheese frosting (and a side of vanilla ice cream). Here are Rod and I ready to partake! That was my first piece....

All in all, a great day! Sixteen miles run and lots of favorite foods consumed (without any guilt). I was also happily surprised that I didn't have any achiness in my legs that night. I don't know if it was because I took a break after the first eleven miles, then had an easy five to loosen them up? Or just that my legs are stronger? Whatever, it's a good thing anyway!

Sunday, August 23, 2009

Saturday night supper

When I picked the two yellow summer squash from the garden a few days ago, I knew they were meant to be stuffed. They were about the size of softballs and almost as round, perfect for splitting and filling with...something.

I did an internet search for recipes, and found some, but most of the stuffing involved breadcrumbs, and I had a yen for something more substantial. So here's what I did.

I cooked up some brown rice in broth, enough to yield at least half a cup (or more) per half squash. Meanwhile, I simmered the whole squashes in boiling water till tender--setting them aside when they were done.

I simmered and browned some lowfat chicken sausage (according to package instructions). After setting aside the finished sausage, I sauteed some onion, garlic and mushrooms in the same pan. (I had some cooking liquid I'd saved from the sausages which I used to keep them from getting too dry in the pan.) After all that was done I cut up the sausage and mixed everything with the brown rice, seasoning to taste with italian seasoning herb mix, salt and pepper.

Then I cut the squash in halves and scooped out the seedy centers, leaving the rest of the flesh intact (they were like cups).

I put some jarred marinara in the bottom of a baking dish and arranged the squash in it. Then I scooped rice into each half, mounding it up and pressing kind of firmly so I could put in plenty.

I spooned more marinara onto each squash and topped each with about a quarter cup (a small handful) of grated mozzarella.

I baked it at about 350 (I also had a cobbler in the oven) until I thought it was hot through. Everything was already cooked so I wasn't worried about that. The mozzarella started getting really brown so I wondered if I should have waited to add it till later on...but since I hadn't, I just put foil over it.

And it was deeelicious. Rod ate both his halves (and got really full), but I saved my second one. (Another dinner already made!)

Luckily, since I'd only eaten one, I had NO PROBLEM with peach and blueberry cobbler and ice cream later on. :)

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Saturday, August 22, 2009

Friday morning pace run

This is going to be a quick, 10-minute post. I so do not have time to sit around playing on the computer. Certainly no time to come up with a more interesting title!

Anyhow, yesterday morning I decided to do a pace run with two miles warm-up, 5-6 miles at nine-minute pace (or faster*), and then a couple miles cool down, if I had time. Eight miles minimum, ten if I could.

The two warm-up miles went well, of course; why wouldn't they? Then I pushed it up into my first pace mile. It actually came out well, at 8:48. But I could tell as I moved into the next mile(s) that maintaining an easy sub-nine wasn't going to be effortless.

My legs weren't exactly feeling heavy, but they definitely weren't feeling light. I was in that place where I would feel like I was running 8:45 - 9:00, as far as effort went, but was registering 9:00 - 9:15. Not so great.

As I finished miles 2 and 3 at 9:01 and 9:02 I decided I needed an alternative method of meeting my pace goal. I came up with a scheme which I think was not only ingenious, it was actually a good training technique in itself. For each mile I would run the first 3/4 at my almost-nine-minute pace, then for the last quarter mile I would kick up the effort and run pretty hard. That would make up for any speed deficit in the first portion.

This plan worked amazingly well. The next three miles were solidly under nine minutes, and that completed my designated six pace miles. But I was on a tear now, not to mention going slightly downhill! So after that last "fast" quarter mile I kept the pace up and did another mile in 8:29. That left me with about a third of a mile really downhill to go before I hit Broadway. I kicked it up another notch and did those blocks at 7:42 pace (I might have been a little faster except that I had to avoid cars and pedestrians).

That left me almost at Starbucks at 9.3 miles (15K). I couldn't stop now, so close to ten miles, so I diverted my route a bit and did one more mile (9:23) before stopping, picking up a latte, and walking home (half a mile).**

I didn't have to be at work until 10:30 but when I got home I managed to dilly dally around enough (laundry, kitty litter, half an English muffin with PB) so that I still had to rush in the end. I managed to save a few minutes though to blend up a smoothy to take with me to work.

I blended up:
1/2 cup frozen blueberries (approx.)
1/2 cup frozen but slightly thawed strawberries (approx.)
Half a frozen banana
One cup unsweetened vanilla almond milk
A couple packets of Splenda
Ice (I brought a cup of ice home from Starbucks because I wasn't sure if my blender could handle larger ice cubes).

My concoction almost filled a venti-sized Starbucks cup but was only about 150 calories (luckily, as it was about my third breakfast of the morning). Yummy! I love almond milk, it tastes so creamy but has half the calories of skim milk.

Now, at 4:30 p.m. on Saturday afternoon, I'm finally off to take a shower and then start getting stuff together for dinner. Happy weekend!

*The minute I set nine minutes as my pace time I decided I should be faster, more like 8:45.
**My splits: 10:06, 9:30, 8:48, 9:01, 9:02, 8:52, 8:58, 8:47, 8:29, .31 at 7:42, 9:23. Total 10.3 miles, 9:03 average pace.

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

440's on my 44th

To celebrate my birthday this morning, I did a little speedwork.

First I warmed up and logged some miles by doing 5.5 miles at about 9:40 average pace.

Then I ran 8 x quarter-mile intervals at 5K pace with 30-60 seconds recovery jog in between. My quarter-mile splits:

1) 1:50.95 (.25 at 7:25 pace)
2) 1:52.80 (.24 at 7:42 pace)
3) 1:51.30 (.24 at 7:45 pace)
4) 1:50.30 (.25 at 7:25 pace)
5) 1:50.90 (.25 at 7:30 pace)
6) 1:52.03 (.25 at 7:35 pace)
7) 1:49.40 (.25 at 7:20 pace)
8) 1:48.14 (.25 at 7:10 pace)

Finally, I finished up with a mile recovery at 9:02 pace, stopped at Starbucks for a latte, then walked the half mile home to get ready for work.

Total 8.54 miles, 1:18:41, 9:13 average pace (plus .53 walk).

The pie in the picture is a very delicious marionberry pie made by Lorraine for my birthday. Thanks Lorraine! :)
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Monday, August 17, 2009

A different kind of PR

This is a little bit off-topic (not really, though), but it is a milestone to me. This morning I weighed two pounds less than my previous lowest weight as an adult!* This was truly exciting to me. Over the last few months I have successfully lost some weight that I gained over the winter (and, as it turned out, over the last year or two), but there has always been a barrier that I could not break under.

That barrier included a BMI of 25, which is the dividing point between "normal" and "overweight." Let me say I have little confidence in the significance of BMI, because obviously people with more muscle weight (like me, dare I say?) are going to have a higher BMI—but still, it's symbolic.**

The other caveat, I guess, is that this was my weight after running, which includes a bit of sweating and, um, two bathroom stops along the way. However, my hydration level was still over 60%, which means I wasn't squeezed out like a sponge or anything. I fully expect to be a couple pounds more tomorrow, because that is always the case on non-running versus running days. Still, I am thrilled!

So why is this important, other than bragging on myself and basking in the glow of (relative) thin-ness? Well, I believe, and others do as well, that you can improve your running performance by shedding excess weight. It's a no-brainer, really. You wouldn't expect to run as fast carrying a couple of hand weights or wearing a weighted vest, as you would without them, right? Excess pounds undoubtedly create some of the same hindrance.

This article in Runner's World (periodically cited in various other blog entries), explains some of the science between weight and speed. Even more intriguingly, the author (Amby Burfoot) asserts that every pound lost can shave about two seconds off each mile. A handy little chart illustrates the theory for 5K, 10K, half marathon, and marathon distances.

So it's pretty obvious to me that gaining a few pounds contributed (in part) to my slowing speeds over the winter, and losing the weight contributed (in part) to my renaissance this spring. I say "in part" in both situations, because I think there are other factors that slowed me down over the winter, and I am sure that other things also helped me speed up. Not the least being concentrated efforts at speed work!

Although I didn't weigh myself until I got home from running this morning, I did feel exceptionally light on my feet, especially for a Monday morning. I started out with my warmup mile at 9:55, then sped up to 9:21 pace in the next half mile. I was in that state where you can't even feel your legs as you glide along effortlessly.

Unfortunately, though, although my legs were feeling no pain things weren't so copacetic northward. While my legs told me to fly, my intestines threatened severe bodily harm. Even after a timely bathroom stop, my gut continued to pester me with achy cramps. I even briefly wondered if I would have to abandon the run and go home, if things continued to get worse.

Luckily they did not get worse, and the cramps subsided and yielded to my legs, which still felt fine.*** Fine enough that I kept running south for a bit when I would have normally turned around toward home, and ended up finishing eight miles instead of the usual weekday six or so.

My splits were quite acceptable: 9:55, half a mile at 9:21, 9:29, 9:20, 9:14, 9:06, 8:49, 8:22, and the last half mile at 9:23.

*Since my other low at the age of 18, graduating from high school. I was at that weight for about five minutes, then went off to college, and... well, you can imagine.

**I only went to 24.6, and if I round down on the half inch in my height I'm back over 25, but I'll stick with rounding up and be happy!

***Although a second stop was necessary later on.

Saturday, August 15, 2009

No Harry Potter :(

Not that anyone cares, but I feel guilty of false advertising over all the fun planned for tonight. I was really disappointed when we got into Ephrata and saw that HP was no longer playing. We didn't like the other options.

So now we're down to pizza (still the highlight) and Walmarts. With the addition of a quick stop at Ace Hardware (woo hoo!).

Instead of a movie maybe we'll play another cutthroat game of Uno, or buy another game at Walmart (if we can agree on a game, which may be unlikely--I have kind of a yen for Scrabble, but Rod was talking up something called concentration). And I have a book to read--I just started Born to Run, by John McDougall (I think that's the author's name).

Okay, bring on the pizza, I'm ravenous!

***8/16 Update:

  1. The pizza was delicious. We ordered a large, since we hadn't eaten much all day (and I did run 13.13 miles), and I ate 5 of the 12 pieces (plus a green salad). (Keep in mind, though, that since it was cut into 12 instead of 8, the pieces were quite small. Really. And it was thin crust, which I love for many reasons (including, obviously, more pizza for fewer calories)!
  2. The author is actually Christopher McDougall. My bad. (I think perhaps I read that his father was John McDougall? Or maybe I'm just speculating wildly again. Shut up, Kristin.)
  3. We bought and played Scrabble. It was great fun! A very close game. Although sadly, the English major did not win. :( Although I was in the lead for 90% of the game! And I did win at Uno the night before. I'm not competitive or anything, I'm just reporting the facts.

Best wishes AFC runners!

Meaning, everyone doing the half marathon in San Diego tomorrow. (Hopefully I got the name right, I'm still in a place where I can't look stuff up.) Good luck Lisa (from Discovering the Meaning of Stonehenge; again, no links right now.)

I did a half-marathon length run this morning on the gravel roads around Rod's cabin in Eastern Washington. My pace was certainly not competitive but I had no intention of that. My time for the running part was probably around 2:20, give or take (don't have Garmin on hand to check), but I had three generous bathrrom rest breaks, so my total time was more like 2:35-40.

Even though the heat today was far less extreme than the last time we were here (in the 70's while I was running, at least 20 degrees cooler than before), I did work on my hydration/fueling strategy for long runs, especially in the heat (more hydration than fueling, really).

I ate a Quaker Chewy Granola with protein bar before I went out. I wore my new fuel belt, with four 10 ounce bottles. I fille two with water (I could refill when I stopped at the bathroom) and two with Gatorade (the low calorie blue flavor).

Every mile I took a swig of water. My goal was to do it without stopping, mainly to work on my drinking and running skills. I did okay at that (I may have paused once or twice), but I know I still slowed down, even at my slow pace. I know I couldn't do it at race pace, at least not without a lot more practice.

At the five and ten mile points I drank some Gatorade. I didn't use both bottles. I drank four or five ounces the first time, then later topped it up with water and drank some of the diluted mix the next time. I did stop (for rest purposes) when I drank the Gatorade.

I also had a packet of Sports Beans with me. I ate half--okay 2/3--when I had a bathroom stop at six miles. I ate the rest when I had my final bathroom break at eleven miles. (My first was at two miles, with three stops total. I know I made it sound like more.)

My plan today was for 12 miles, but obviously I couldn't just stop at 12, I had to get back to the cabin. I thought it was likely that I might go over, since I kept adding extra little bits in my concern not to run short.

Sure enough, when Garmin told me 12 I was still at least half a mile from the cabin. The question then became whether I would push it to 13. My desire to hit 13 (okay 13.1) was warring with my desire to just be done.

But when I neared my destination at 12.75 of course I went for it, running up and down the road till Garmin told me 13.1.

Back at the cabin I finished my diluted Gatorade and had breakfast (a late one, it was after 11). What's for breakfast? A yummy Double Fiber English muffin with Justin's maple almond butter (a link would be nice), coffee with creamer, and a Yoplait Original Yoghurt, brought from the Waterville Hotel where we spent Thursday night. (I usually eat much lower calorie yoghurt but after such a long run I didn't mind.)

It's late afternoon now and we're heading into Ephrata for pizza, a movie (Harry Potter), and some shopping at Walmart. Red hot Saturday night! :)

Happy weekend everyone!
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Thursday, August 13, 2009

TIART - Training Plans

I've gathered from the other blogs that the Runners' Lounge Take It and Run Thursday topic is about training plans. I'm in a car traveling east for the weekend, so I can't do any links, but I wanted to comment on this subject because training plans have been very important to me in my running.

I don't always have a training plan going, of course. But whenever I have followed a plan in training for a big race, I have seen results. My first plan was for the 2007 Whidbey Island Half Marathon. I used Hal Higdon's intermediate plan. Even though this was my first half, the time I got in this race was my PR for more than two years, until August 1, in fact.

When I started preparing for the Anacortes Half this summer--which was to be my big comeback after a sluggish and disappointing winter (as far as running goes, anyway)--I used Higdon's advanced plan. I tweaked it to suit my needs--changed five running days a week (in Higdon) to four (my preference), and lengthened the weekday runs (as well as the weekend long runs).

I think the success of a training plan is not so much its content, but the continuity. It helps you be sure to get in a variety of types of runs. It's so easy just to make every run a moderate, even easy, run. If you follow your training plan pretty faithfully, you can stay out of that rut.

My four days a week running plan followed a basic schedule. Monday was easy, Wednesday was speed intervals of various lengths, Friday was a longer tempo or pace run, and the weekend (Sat./Sun.) was a long run. I worked in a few hill workouts, a couple of short races (one 5K and one 10K in this training cycle, both PR's), and a strong effort at negative splits on the long runs. I cross-trained on non-running days, although pushups were the only strength training I did.

I followed the plan faithfully except when I added extra distance or speed.

And it worked! I can honestly say I nailed every speed and tempo workout that I did. (I'll write more in my Anacortes race report--whenever that happens.) I was rewarded with a half marathon PR. And although I know there were other things involved, I do credit the training plan for getting me there.

Now that the big race is over, I'm still following the plan structure, to keep me on track for the races on the schedule in September. I'm not sure if I'll sit down and pre-decide the speed workouts I'll do over the next month (for a 15K on September 12) or just decide week to week.

But I do know that I train better with a plan! (So maybe, could a 15K PR be on the horizon?)
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Monday, August 10, 2009

Great easy run, but now I am

From the way I am sitting here hardly able to hold my head up at the computer, you would never guess that I ran more than 6½ miles this morning in less than an hour.

Or maybe you would. You might think that I am so drowsy because I am worn out from the run.

But I'm pretty sure it's not the running that's threatening to put me into a coma here. It's the massive serving of wild blackberry cobbler (ala mode, of course) that I ate for (with) lunch today, that is sitting in my stomach and no doubt hogging all the blood that is supposed to be going to my brain and making me alert and smart and stuff. All my body wants to do is digest. And nap, of course.

We had an office lunch at Anthony's Homeport to celebrate Lisa's birthday, which is actually coming up next week*, on the same day as a lot of other people. Before I went over there I spent a bit of time thinking about what I would have for lunch... I always have the citrus salmon salad but I was feeling hungry and so many things sounded good!

I studied the menu and my eyes could not turn away from one thing: wild blackberry cobbler. I love wild blackberries (and tame ones too). I think that wild blackberries are exclusive to the Pacific Northwest, though I may be wrong, they may grow in other places. I'm not talking about the big weedy Himalayan blackberry vines that grow with abandon everywhere—they are big and seedy (and not ripe until the end of the summer) and, while I like them just fine, most people consider them a nuisance (and they are) and you would never find a cobbler made with them on a restaurant menu. Of course there are delicious domesticated blackberry cultivars (I am especially fond of marionberries), but true wild blackberries are rare, hard to find, and prized (and priced) like jewels. There are legends about how to find them, in old burned-out stumps or logged out clearings in the backwoods is one theory, but I have never personally picked wild blackberries or paid $30-some a pound to buy them myself. I have only invested in the occasional piece of wild blackberry pie when I can serendipitously find it on a menu.

Anthony's has a famous blackberry cobbler on its menu but I have always been too full by dessert-time to indulge in it! So today I thought, why don't I just get the cobbler instead?

I was kind of leery of just ordering a dessert without some kind of protein, so at first I thought I would get a shrimp cocktail. Then I switched to a Caesar salad with shrimp (dressing on the side), which was a big pile of romaine lettuce (right up my alley), with only about two ounces of shrimp on it (plus some grated parmesan and some delicious croutons which I was too weak to set aside).**

The romaine and shrimp certainly fit the bill of a healthy lunch, so then it was on to the cobbler! It was a masterpiece. An individual-sized baking dish lined with flaky pastry, filled with a great pile of sweetened blackberries, topped with pastry crust and a nice slab of vanilla ice cream. If I had a working phone*** I could have taken a picture, but this photo looks remarkably like what I got. Except I didn't have quite that much ice cream. I hope. (No, I'm sure I didn't. Unless, of course, the cobbler was just that much bigger proportionately!)

And I now have about 20 calories left in my allotment from the Daily Plate. That's with the 6.5 mile run this morning. However, I mustn't forget that is at a weight loss level, and even if I go over****, that doesn't mean I will gain five pounds overnight. Really.*****

So, about that run this morning.

Monday is "Easy Run" day, which means I can run at whatever pace I feel like doing and not beat myself up over it. Usually Monday follows Long Run Sunday, and I am tired from double digit miles the day before. This weekend, however, I did my long run (11 miles) on Saturday.

Yesterday I "just" hiked up to the summit of Mount Pilchuck, approximately six miles round trip (though my Garmin said about 2.75 each way). Mount Pilchuck used to have a ski resort but that closed years ago and now it is a very popular local hike. Pilchuck is supposed to be an "easy" hike, and I'm sure it is in the spectrum of hiking up a mountain, but it was a bit of work. The first mile, maybe mile and a half is pretty easy, not too steep, and a well marked trail through the woods. Once you get about halfway, though, and certainly the closer you get to the top, it becomes steeper and much rockier—at times, in fact, you are walking and climbing over all-rock surfaces! In the very last bit, to get to the lookout, you truly have to climb up the rocks.

I didn't take many pictures, because all the way up we were (literally) in a cloud that obscured all views, and on the way down it was foggy and misty (even rainy) most of the way. Here's Rod and me at the lookout. Normally you would be able to see something in our background other than grey! At least the fog prevented an attack of acrophobia.

So anyhow, this morning when I woke up, I thought my legs felt tired from the climbing and descending, and had no expectations of a great run. Just a Monday run (where I am thankful to manage a sub-ten-minute pace).

And when I started out my legs were, in fact, typically achy and heavy, but less than half a mile in they started to lighten up, in time to finish the first mile in just over ten minutes. Soon I found myself flirting with a nine-minute pace! (Not entirely consistently, there was back and forth.)

I decided, pursuant to Easy Run rules, just to run as fast or slow as my legs felt like going, and not feel bad about it either way. Today, for a change, my legs felt like going (sorta) fast!

Here are my splits.

1 - 10:05
2 - .42 mile at 8:59
3 - 9:18
4 - 9:04
5 - 9:21
6 - 9:06
7 - 7:53!
8 - .10 mile at 8:38.

6.52 miles, 59:25 total time, 9:07 average pace. (10K time, about 56:48.)

*Lisa telecommutes from Spokane, but she's in the office for the week to fill in while another paralegal is on vacation.
**And a piece of sourdough bread. Because I was hungry and it was hot and delicious. And some peach lemonade mixed with unsweetened iced tea. Because I was thirsty and it sounded like a good idea. And it was very tasty!
**Ironically, my BlackBerry is still having charging issues.

****Which I will, because I certainly don't intend not to eat dinner tonight.
*****And, come to think of it, I had "extra" unconsumed calories on both Saturday and Sunday, so I can probably "borrow" from that....

Thursday, August 6, 2009


Wow! After reading a couple of blogs commemorating 300 posts or other significant numbers, I randomly decided to see how many posts I had written and found out the number was... 399.

My next post (which is now this one) would be my 400th post!

So much for my idea of scribbling out a whiny little blurb about how stressful work is right now and how I couldn't resist stuffing my face with chocolate chip mint ice cream and tortilla chips at the office this afternoon.

It's really hard to come up with an idea that is significant enough to be a milestone post, but I am determined to do it! It's either that or get back to actual "work." So....

I began this blog on November 20, 2007, less than two years ago. I had been writing a blog about traveling in England during the summer, and when I came back from England I found myself writing about races I had been doing, and posting race reports in the England blog, even though they were not England-related topics, generally (except for this one).

I had also started finding running blogs to read on the internet. I actually had a hard time finding anything at first, but once I came across one or two that I liked, I could find others through their blog rolls or comments, and before you know it I had a whole bunch of running blog bookmarks!

Eventually I got the brilliant idea to start my own blog. And I haven't shut up since.

I have gathered, from my extensive efforts at blog reading, that many runners are also, rather like me, wannabe writers who have grabbed the opportunity to see our words in print even if they are not formally published. Many of us dream of "book deals" (though do absolutely nothing to try to further those dreams, and wouldn't know how if we tried).

I mean, look at all the blogs that have turned into published books. Julie and Julia. The Pasta Queen (that's the blog title, click for the book). Dietgirl. Hungry Girl. Around the World in 80 Dates (actually I'm not sure if there was ever a blog, or if she went straight to book deal, but it's a hoot of a book, I recommend it!). Dating Amy. The Amateur Gourmet. Chez Pim (that's the blog, here is the book).

So, do you sense a theme? Cooking, dieting, and dating seem to be the hot topics for blogs-into-books. Not a big run (so to speak) on running related blog/books, are there? Oh sure, there are runners who write books who have blogs, Dean Karnazes and John Bingham come to mind immediately—but I think both of those became known for their running and writing first, and then started their blogs (and actually Bingham just has an online version of his column, although he also has a blog-like question & answer column). There are numerous "former great" runners who have written books, and may or may not have blogs now (through Runner's World, for example).

But where are the books written by bloggers who are "discovered" online, and end up with a book deal to write about their experiences and insights? Nowhere, I tell you! It's an open field! And I'm here, I'm ready, I'm willing. Publishers and agents, send me your proposals, I'm what you've been looking for. I am your running writing blogging babe!* I can even write about dieting and cooking and food too (but not dating, I am too private** and frankly too boring for that).

I'll be waiting for your emails.

*I use the term "babe" only for the alliteration, not because I consider myself a "babe" in any particular sense!
**Although I will happily write about intestinal difficulties while running.

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

No speedwork Wednesday

I thought I would kick myself back into training mode this morning with a modest speed workout. I planned to do some 4-minute intervals using Lance Armstrong's Run Longer mix, as previously mentioned by Lisa. I thought it sounded fun, and I had downloaded it but not used it, or, for that matter, even listened to it yet.*

I wasn't sure how long the warm-up portion would be, and I didn't want to be in the midst of intervals when I reached my traditional potty stop, so I put my own music on for the first half mile or so, before switching to the other playlist.

I got to the (much needed) bathroom stop, and was well on my way again, without ever getting any cues to speed up from Lance.

I was beginning to think—and eventually became quite certain—that I had downloaded a version of the mix with just music, no coaching prompts.** Darnit! No speedwork today. Oh well.

I liked the music, though.

It wasn't long enough to take me through a whole run, however, so I had to restart it to get through an entire six mile run. I'm sure Lance could get through six miles in about 40 minutes of music, but not me!

It's probably just as well that I ended up waiting on the speedwork. I felt fine today, but my pace still wasn't up to par. Although I suspect that the Garmin was having some issues that contributed to inaccurate reporting in, at least, one segment of the run. In between a 9:29 mile and a 9:36 mile was one that claimed to be 10:30. I know for a fact that I wasn't feeling especially slow in that mile. I remember because I had been glancing at the watch a lot during that mile and seeing numbers in the 9:30 pace range, and so was quite shocked when the final time registered as 10:30!

Also in that very suspicious mile, Garmin claimed an elevation gain of 3,936 feet and a loss of 3,941 feet. Apparently I ran up and down a small mountain without realizing it! In comparison, on the big hill in Anacortes on Saturday I climbed and descended about 220 feet at the highest point.

Clearly, something was not quite right.

Glad the Garmin wasn't acting crazy on Saturday.***

*Which would have been a good plan, in retrospect.
**I'm going to try to find the Live Stronger mix with the coaching prompts, because I really would like to try it.
***By the way, I've downloaded my pictures and hope to write my race report soon, before I forget all about it.

Monday, August 3, 2009

Guess my legs are still tired....

This morning was my first run since the half marathon on Saturday. Ouch. Not that it was so painful, really, but took an effort to even get a mile under ten minutes, and it wasn't until I finally sped up a little in the last couple miles that I managed to pull my average pace for the morning under ten minutes.*

Not that it mattered, really. Speed wasn't my objective this morning. (What was my objective? Just getting back out there, I guess! Well, and burning off some calories so that I can eat today.)

Yesterday I went for a five-mile walk in the morning (with a convenient stop at Starbucks along the way). I could tell that my legs weren't quite up to par yet, even for walking, since I barely managed a 3.5 mph pace (17:30 per mile), even though my normal walking pace is about 16:30 per mile. I did manage to get in an energetic hour on the elliptical later on, though.

I'm having a bit of a crisis over problems with my BlackBerry. For quite some time I've been having difficulty getting it charged; none of my chargers seemed to connect except for the one in the car, which left me having to put it in the car whenever I needed a charge. Then, this weekend, it stopped charging, even when the charger shows a connection. I have been on red "low battery" for two days now, without any ability to move on. I think I have to go into the store today and see if they can tell me what is wrong. And fix it. I cannot survive without my BlackBerry!

Plus I have a Harry Potter-like mark on my forehead from bumping my head on the car door this morning. Well, it isn't shaped like a lightning bolt, it's just a half-inch cut, but it's right in the center of my forehead and it is bright red, for now, thanks to all the bleeding it was doing this morning. All the way to work (which is just a few minute's drive) I was pressing a kleenex to my forehead to stop the bleeding. Luckily it did stop by the time I got to work and went into the building! I wonder if it will leave a scar?

*6.25 miles, 1:02:12, 9:57 average pace. (At least it was pretty progressive--10:52, .52 at 9:55 pace, 10:01, 9:53, 9:51, 9:22, 9:38.)

Saturday, August 1, 2009

I did it! (Finally)

Two years and three (and a half) months later, I have finally beat my half marathon PR from the 2007 Whidbey Half. Time: 1:53:32 in the Anacortes Half Marathon this morning. Hurrah!
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