Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Speedwork Wednesday, Pace Run Friday, Long Distance Sunday,and the longest, slowest, drive over the mountains you can imagine

Not to mention the longest post title, ever!

I had some great runs last week. Great in the sense that I accomplished the goals I set out, didn't suffer while I was running, and was happy with my results when I was done. I think that qualifies as great, don't you?

Wednesday - A little speedwork. On the schedule for today (as directed by me), four half-mile intervals on the track with a quarter mile jog in between each. Pace—well, I'm not too picky about that, at least not too specifically picky—I was pretty much looking for a solid 5K pace, which means less than 8-minute pace (under two minutes per interval). Which I always do that, anyway. I probably should set more precise goals.

Still, I accomplished what I wanted. After a five-mile warm-up, where I averaged around 9:30 or so, I arrived at the track at five miles on the dot. My splits for the four half-miles:

  1. 3:50.24 (7:38 pace) (yes, I know it should be 7:40 pace, don't ask me why Garmin says what it does).

  2. 3:52.96 (7:39 pace for .51 mile).

  3. 3:49.45 (7:30 pace for .51 mile).

  4. 3:43.74 (7:15 pace for .51 mile) (clearly I had the "almost done" fever on this one!).
With my warm-up run, plus the quarter miles between laps, and another mile and a quarter afterwards, I totaled 9 miles at an average speed of 9:06.

Friday - Progressive pace. As you may have gathered by now, on Fridays I like to do some kind of medium long-distance tempo or pace run, and I try to come up with different combinations of pace and distance to mix it up and, dare I say, challenge myself.

This week I had time for a ten-mile run so I decided to break it up into two mile segments at progressively faster speeds. Originally I thought I would start at 10:30 and move up in 30-second increments, but that would give me four miles at 10-minute or slower pace and I thought that was a little too slow. So after I managed the first mile at 10:02, I decided to use that as my baseline and take it from there.

1-2 (10-minute pace)—10:02, 9:47
3-4 (9:30 pace)—9:25, 9:24 (I like this "slightly faster than goal pace" trend I am setting)
5-6 (9:00 pace)—8:55, 8:53

I'll pause here to comment that these first six miles were, obviously, the "easy" miles. Although running is always some work, I can usually manage anything up to around a 9-minute pace without excessive strain, at least after I've warmed up. Getting significantly below 9 minutes is more of a challenge.

If I followed my plan exactly I would try for two miles at 8:30 and the final two miles at 8:00. The 8:30 miles should be no trouble, considering that miles 7-8 on my route included a significant downhill portion. However. Miles 9-10 included several uphill stretches, and I doubted that I could sustain an 8-minute pace over that distance.

So I decided to reverse the two final segments of my run, doing miles 7-8 at 8 minutes (or faster?), and then backing off to 8:30 for the final two miles.

Good plan. Because I nailed it.

7-8 (8:00 pace)—7:43, 7:54
9-10 (8:30 pace)—8:35, 8:16 (I might add that the last tenth mile of mile 9 was a short, steep, hill, so I am not bothered by those five extra seconds at all!)

I finished about a quarter of a mile from Starbucks, so I jogged in at 9:27 pace (oh, it is so easy for me to drop back to a slower pace). Final total 10.26 miles, 8:54 average pace (and 1203 calories).

Sunday - Long, slow distance in the desert. We were back in Eastern Washington over the weekend, for a visit to the teeny-tiny Waterville fair, some fishing that didn't result in any fish, but did yield some gorgeous views, and a 15-mile run for me on Sunday morning.

Coming into the Waterville Fair—really, not big enough to need signposts. But it's a nice touch.

This fair game is a giant version of a "fishing" game my dad has at the beach. I can't play it there, and I didn't try it here!
The exhibition halls. We viewed baked goods, vegetables (it boggles my mind what standards they use for awarding ribbons, and some animals (pigs were under high security, so we didn't go into that exhibition). The chickens and roosters were my favorite! There were some pretty impressive examples with very exotic plumage. And they all seemed to have a perky attitude, you might even say cocky! (Tah-dum!) There were some cute fluffy bunnies, too, but they were a little more sad, cowering in their pens.
Wheat fields stretching behind the parking lots. This is Waterville.
Some fishing photos. Hope Rod doesn't mind being featured here. Even though we didn't get any fish, I like the casual fisherman pose. This first picture is the first spot he tried. The actual water is several feet below, which made it a little tricky getting a line in the water.
By climbing down some rock walls (no, not as extreme as the ones in the background), we got to this nice sheltered pool. It's fed by a waterfall on one end and another small waterfall flows out the other end. Even if there were no fish on Saturday, it's a beautiful spot. It would also make a great swimming hole on a hot day!

The view in the opposite direction.
The hills around Rimrock, lit by late afternoon sun.
The rosy sky of setting sun.
Sunday morning I set my alarm for 5:45 in hopes of getting out to run by 6:00. I almost made it—6:10. The sun hadn't risen yet but it wasn't quite dark. Which was good.

I hoped to do fifteen miles, and I told Rod to expect three hours, and I'd be back at 9:00. Even though I wanted the fifteen, I recognized that I might have to adjust my plans a little if I ran short on time (especially considering my slightly late start). Even under the best of circumstances, if I'm estimating time for a run, I always allow an hour for every five miles. You'd think that would be more than plenty, even with bathroom stops, and normally it is, but out on the hilly gravel roads of Rimrock things go a lot slower. I knew it would probably be close.

In fact, my first mile (which was all uphill) took 12:18, and I thought, if it goes on like this I'm not going to make it in the allotted time. But then I managed to settle into a slightly better pace, drifting between ten and eleven minute miles. That was fine with me, after all this was long slow distance, right?

I did one full loop from the cabin, to the clubhouse, and back around to the clubhouse, which covered six miles. Then I started on the second loop. In order to work out my distance, I turned around at the ten mile point and headed back to the clubhouse in the opposite direction. I passed the clubhouse just before I hit thirteen miles. (My half-marathon distance time was 2:20, exactly the same as the last time I ran out here!) From there, the remaining distance to the cabin was between 1.5 and 1.75 miles, which was pretty perfect. I could either stop there (if I was running short on time) or keep going long enough to make the fifteen miles.

A little less than a mile from the cabin, this pretty view awaits me (I took these pictures on a walk at another time, not while running).

I approached the cabin at just past 9:00, which I figured gave me enough leeway to squeeze in the extra quarter mile and complete my full fifteen (15.05!) miles for the morning. Total time two hours 40 minutes, 10:38 average pace (thanks to a rocking 9:42 mile at the end).

We packed up and left around mid-morning, with plans to stop along the way for breakfast. Because of the Evergreen State Fair in Monroe, where there are traffic issues at the best of times—and the fair is certainly not the best of times, traffic-wise—we opted to take I-90, which is less scenic than Highway 2, but generally faster (a bit of foreshadowing there).

We weren't sure where we would stop to eat. Rod remembered there was a truck stop in George that used to have good breakfasts.

Well, maybe not.

We proceeded onward. Despite our high rate of freeway speed, I did manage to get a picture out the window of the Columbia River as we drove alongside it!
> We crossed the river on this bridge.
Then on to Ellensburg, which is a big enough town that it would offer lots of options. Maybe too many, for decision-making impaired people.

On a whim, I posted an enquiry on Facebook: Does anybody know of a good place for breakfast/lunch in Ellensburg? I didn't really expect anything to come of it. But quick as a wink there was a response from Cassie, who, as I explained to Rod, "knows everything about food, or at least about eating." She said we should go to Yellow Church Cafe, in Pearl Street in Ellensburg.

I passed this on to Rod, who I'm afraid thought I was a bit of a freak with this Facebook thing. I downplayed it, saying, "if we come across it," but secretly had my heart set on this adorable-sounding place called Yellow Church. And Cassie said they had great cinnamon rolls and egg scrambles. My favorite!

Luckily, while I was still messing around trying to work Google maps on my BlackBerry, Rod headed in the direction of the University district (on a hunch), and soon spotted a bright yellow building one street over.

Though I'm usually quick to document everything with my camera (or Blackberry), I forgot to take a picture of the Yellow Church. Luckily I found one online...thanks to the original taker of this photograph!

Yellow Church Cafe really used to be a church. In fact it was a Lutheran church, built by German Lutherans in 1923. Plus the current owners are both P.K.'s (preacher's kids).

We studied the menu and both ordered the Heuvos Rancheros, corn tortillas with eggs, black beans, cheese, salsa, etc. Plus the crispiest grilled potatoes on the side!

I, of course, had my heart set on a cinnamon roll, and told the waitress, "Please bring us a cinnamon roll right away." Sadly, she told me they were out. I was disbelieving, because I was sure I'd seen one in the case while we were waiting—but maybe someone else had ordered it already.

A few moments later, though, while Rod went in search of the rest room, I spotted the suspected cinnamon roll and marched up to the counter. "Isn't that a cinnamon roll?" I asked the waitress, who luckily happened to be right there. Yes, in fact it was! She said something about "they must have put more out," and promised to bring it over to me.

As they did. It was lavished in powdered sugar icing (which I adore), and was big and very tasty. It wasn't quite as doughy and gooey as I prefer, though. The cinnamon rolls from Calico Cupboard, Country Cousin in Centralia, and Madeleine's in Spokane still remain at the top of my list!

I forced Rod to share it with me, although I probably ate about two thirds. And mopped up the leftover icing. I probably should have not had the last bite...that is probably what left my stomach uncomfortably full when we left! (Okay, that and the bites before it, and the Heuvos Rancheros, and the delicious potatoes, which I normally wouldn't even eat, except that they were irresistible!)

On the road again, we drove for about an hour toward Snoqualmie Pass, when the traffic started slowing. We muttered about how this was just as bad as Highway 2, but kept moving.... Until we stopped. As did everyone around us and ahead of us and behind us.

Sometime during the two hours that we sat waiting we determined that there had been an accident of some sort near the summit and traffic was blocked. That was reinforced by the numerous firetrucks and forest service water trucks that made their way through.

If I tried to describe our wait you would be as bored as we were sitting there. So I'll just say that eventually traffic started moving again, though at a crawl (like about 4 mph, 15 minutes per mile—I could have walked alongside the car!).

About five miles from the summit we passed the scene of the delay, a completely, and I mean completely, burned up motor home. Hence the water trucks. I hadn't seen any aid cars though, so I surmised that there hadn't been anyone hurt, and later that night heard the same thing on the news. The cause of the fire wasn't known. But man, that shell of a motor home was shocking!

Once we passed that, traffic was completely clear and we sped up to interstate pace and flew the rest of the way home. Still, by the time I was at my house, we figured that the entire trip (including the lunch stop) had lasted seven hours. Yikes.

And, I must say, sitting in a car for that many hours did a far worse job on my legs than any fifteen mile run!

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