Monday, November 30, 2009

Seattle Half - Goals, Revised Goals, New Goals, Met and Unmet

My original goals for yesterday's Seattle Half Marathon:

  • No PR.

  • Run at a comfortable pace and finish in about two hours.

  • Feel good enough to do it again at the end.
So how did I do on those goals?

  • I did not PR. (SUCCESS!)

  • I finished under two hours (SUCCESS) and although my splits were all over the place (more on that below), I felt pretty comfortable with my pace most of the time (SUCCESS, I think).

  • I felt pretty good at the end, certainly not at death's door, but it is hard to know whether I would want to do it again because I couldn't resist a last minute burst of speed in the final couple miles. At least I didn't feel like I couldn't keep running, if I needed to! (Partial SUCCESS.)
I had a few other technique-type goals which I didn't do quite as well at. I planned to eat one Gu during the race around eight miles, not for the nutrition so much as for practice eating on the run. That was a FAIL. As mile 8 approached I had no interest in eating; I still felt satisfied from my breakfast (pumpkin cake and coffee at 5:30 a.m.). I postponed to mile 9, but then I was in a part of the course (a hilly part) where I felt like I needed to concentrate my efforts on running rather than fumbling for a Gu. And after mile 10 I was so close to the finish that I just wanted to go for it.

I also planned on drinking from my fuel belt (two bottles of Nuun) rather than getting water at the water stops. Well, I didn't stop at any of the water stations (SUCCESS) but I only drank from my bottle once (PARTIAL FAIL). However, I did do it while continuing to run (PARTIAL SUCCESS).

Before I go on to my other goals (which were more objectives than goals, really), let me go back and describe race day and all the things that should have made it a disaster, but in the end didn't!

As I mentioned on Friday, I decided to take Saturday as a true rest day to keep my legs fresh for the run and to (hopefully) allow my bruised tailbone to heal. So early Saturday afternoon I headed to Seattle to pick up my packet at the race expo at the Westin Hotel. I was lucky enough to find a street parking spot only a couple of blocks from the hotel, and put enough money in the meter to give me an hour of browsing at the expo. As I walked over to the hotel, I ended up jogging across the street to catch a couple of changing lights, and I found (to my dismay), that while my tailbone didn't hurt me standing and walking, I could definitely feel it when jogging and running. Oh dear.

I got my bib and chip (they were using the old-style velco ankle bracelets, not my favorite), and took a loop around the expo to look at the displays. Yes, I bought a couple of things...some socks (black ones to go with a black pair of shoes I got, going all Kara Goucher), and a shirt and fleece, just because they were cute.

As I was leaving I saw the pacer table and realized that I knew one of the pacers from work! I went over to say hi, and found out she was pacing the two-hour half marathon. What a coincidence! I wasn't sure how I felt about running with a pace group on a hilly course, though, since she said they were directed to maintain even splits, which seemed like unnecessary effort to me.

That was pretty much it for my day-before-the-race activities. I headed home, and spent the evening eating pizza for dinner, watching/not watching football on TV, and packing up my stuff for the run in the morning.

So, day of the run dawned early with the alarm clock going off at 5 a.m. My mom was meeting me to leave from my house at 6 a.m. The run started at 7:30, and since I didn't have to check in or anything, I thought that would be plenty of time to drive to Seattle and park, as well as do a warm-up jog before the race.

Well, I thought wrong. The traffic jam started on the freeway just before we exited at Mercer to Seattle Center (race start location). We crept along and finally broke free of the other cars by Seattle Center, just needing to find parking at that point. Also easier said than done... but after we drove around to the north side of the Center we found plenty of unoccupied lots.

However, by that time it was already 7:15! I left my mom in the car, where she was planning on staying anyway because she is having knee problems. I decided to combine my warm-up with getting to the starting area...didn't have time for more! Luckily I had jogged several blocks away from the car when I tripped on the sidewalk and fell to my hands and knees. I felt stinging, but didn't bother to inspect my scraped knee. I just got up and kept running. (Later I would discover that I had skinned my left knee pretty well, but my snug fitting running pants kept it from bleeding.)

To top things off, I had to go to the bathroom, but didn't know whether I would have time to get through a porta-potty line. I wondered if I would have to take my first mid-race potty stop. The outlook seemed grim...until I ran into a bank of porta-potties with a pretty short line! It only took a few minutes to get to the front. Things were looking up.

I felt especially lucky when I saw the next bank of potties with a much longer line...clearly I got the better deal.

What I didn't get a better deal on, by being so late, was getting into the starting corral. The crowd was huge. I saw, not too far from where I was, a pacer sign but it was turned away from me. Eventually I managed to work my way to a position where I could see it was the sign for...2:45 half marathon.

Really? A pacer for a 2:45 finish? I have to say, I agree with a much more obnoxious blogger that I sometimes read,* that having a pacer for running a 12:30-ish mile pace seems a little...odd. (I wonder how that gets paced? All running or with walk breaks?**) I was able to work my way through the crowd enough to spot the 2:20 pacer sign. This one I can understand a little better, that would be a 10:40 pace and I could see how pacing might be helpful for some.

Far, far in the distance I saw the sign that I knew said two hours. But as I got further enmeshed in the wall of other runners, I realized (actually was told by someone else) that we weren't actually in the starting corral, we were outside it, there was a barrier separating us, and the entry into the starting corral was way, way back where I had started.

Even if I wanted to go back at this point, I couldn't. We were all stuck where we were. There were also a few non-runners amongst us, spectators who had arrived early to get a good viewing spot alongside the starting corral.

As the gun went off, everyone around me came to a consensus that our only logical way into the race was to climb over the barrier. Luckily it was only waist high! So, after a few minutes, I made it into the starting corral and was able to walk toward the actual starting line (mat) along with everyone else.

I hit the Garmin as I crossed the mats and was able to start running, or jogging, right away. Based on past experiences, I was very concerned about losing too much time with a couple of unnecessarily slow miles in the beginning, so I really pushed hard to weave around people and run fast whenever I got the chance. This paid off with an 8:54 first mile (which wouldn't usually be spectacular but was under the conditions). I was so worked up with my efforts that I finished mile 2 in 8:15! But I slowed after that. I think it was probably the weaving in the beginning, and inability to run tangents until midway through the race, that added a quarter mile to my overall distance by the end.

In mile 3 we ran onto the freeway express lanes and in mile 4 we went into a tunnel. Not surprisingly, my Garmin lost the satellite in the tunnel. Although the overall distance and time came out right in the end, my times for miles 4 and 5 were all screwy because of the lack of satellite. Mile 4 was ostensibly 7:36 (no) and mile 5, when I was back out of the tunnel, was 9:46 (also no). However, the average pace for miles 4 and 5 comes out to 8:40, which is more like it.

In the second half of the race we got to the hills. Yes, it was hilly. "Interlaken" (name of the boulevard) is apparently a synonym for hill. During these miles my pace fluctuated wildly from the 8:40's to almost 9:30-ish.*** However, I felt okay about that, as I was able to run up and down the hills pretty easily by varying my pace, which seemed better than trying too hard on the uphills or holding back too much on the downhills.

Here is probably a good place to mention two new "Goals" or "Objectives" which I developed during the run. I did not succeed on either, by the way. That's okay, though, because they still gave me something to shoot for.

One was to catch up to the 2-hour pace group. I don't know whether I would have run with them, if I had caught them, because it was clear that running even splits wasn't working for me. I wasn't sure if mathematically that was even possible, if they were running a 9:09 pace and I (as it turned out) was averaging 8:50. But I kept hoping to see that green sign ahead of me (but never did).

The other new goal/objective, which practically speaking would have been the same result as above, was to cross the finish line at or below two hours on the clock. I finally figured out (after passing a couple of timers) that I was a little more than five minutes behind the clock. So finishing at two hours was not impossible...but it was not to be.****

In the last 5K or so the hilly terrain changed to a gradual downhill, which was pretty great. My times slipped back under nine minutes again, and decreased progressively. In the last mile, we ran down a couple of steep hills coming back into downtown Seattle, and they helped give me an 8:03 for mile 12. Those hills were a little too steep for comfort though (I'm sure some people's quads—though not mine*****—are suffering today), and I think if they had been a little less steep I could have been even faster in that mile.

The final little gift before the finish was one more steepish uphill approaching the finish area. I was using my finish-line extra gear, and managed to keep my pace at 8:32, anyway.

Final results: 13.36 miles in 1:58:07 (8:50 pace for the distance, 9:00 pace for the official distance). Gun time five or so minutes slower.******

The two-hour pacer, I found out, finished just under two hours chip time and just over for gun time.

My overall splits: 8:54, 8:14, 9:15, 7:36 & 9:46 (average 8:40 for two miles), 8:42, 9:02, 9:27, 9:02, 9:21, 8:55, 8:41, 8:03, 3:04 for .36 miles (8:32 pace).

In the end, I was happy with my result. And I might even do this one again! (Next time I think I would want to spend the night before in Seattle, though, to avoid the traffic issues.)

And, by the way, my tailbone is still tender, though hopefully improving every day, and I could feel it at the beginning of the run but I guess the endorphins took over eventually. My scraped knee also still stinging, but that I expect to go away in a few days.

Running plan for the rest of the week: Today (Monday) cross-train (elliptical) at the Y. Tuesday easy run (~7 miles or so). Go to Walmart for some cheap warm-ups to wear to the start in CIM. Do laundry as needed and start packing. Wednesday cross-train (elliptical). FINISH PACKING. Thursday short run (~5 miles total, with 4 x 400 at track just to tweak the fast-twitch muscles). Thursday night THE CIVIL WAR and fight for the Rose Bowl (Go Ducks!). Friday fly to Sacramento!

*I couldn't find his post about this very subject, but I realize I have "borrowed" the question from someone else. And although I find some of his posts rather offensive and/or irritating, it's also kind of of entertaining.

**Keeping in mind that there is a separate start for half-marathon walkers.

***Meaning my average pace. I'm sure (I know) those slower miles actually included some 10-minute plus paces, but the downhill portions kept the average pace relatively reasonable.

****If I had not run an extra .26 miles total, I would have been very close to that, however.

*****I wonder if skiing helps with the downhills? I also do run down hills regularly, but not this steep.

******I know that gun time is the "official" time, but I disdain that. It is absolutely unfair to penalize the runners for the unavoidable delay caused by a big, crowded race. And I'm kind of irritated that the printable race certificate shows "pace in minutes" based on gun time, which puts me at 9:25 per mile... those extra 25 to 40 seconds (depending on whether you are comparing my pace for the actual distance or race distance) were all added while waiting for the starting line. How does that reflect an accurate pace? (I wouldn't be quite so offended except that the certificate is supposed to be something I would keep as a memento... do I really want a memento that tells me I was running a 9:25 pace? I don't think so.)

Friday, November 27, 2009

Happy Day After Thanksgiving!

Hope everyone had a good holiday and, if you were up at 4 a.m. for shopping today, well, better you than me!

We were up early (not at 4 a.m. though) to head up to Stevens for a morning of skiing. Hit the slopes before the stroke of 9 (official opening time)!

The weather was grey and drizzly most of the way up, which was a bit discouraging. But happily the drizzle turned to light snow by the top, although fog and rather poor visibility persisted.

I felt a lot better about my skiing on this second trip up. I think I'm starting to get my ski legs back. It was nice that it wasn't too crowded today either. I guess everyone was either shopping or sleeping off their Thanksgiving dinners! We did a dozen runs, stopped for lunch, then went back out for eight more before calling it a day.

The only real negative was a small mishap, I guess you'd call it a skiing-related injury, that I suffered. There is something about the Tye-Mill chair that causes it to smack you in the backside as you get off. It's happened to me a few times and I've just laughed it off. But today it caught me hard, right in the tailbone, and it hurt so bad I was almost in tears. The most severe pain went away after a few minutes but I'm still sore even now. I have to sit JUST SO, and even lying down I am a little uncomfortable.

Luckily the one time it doesn't hurt is when I'm standing or walking, so I am praying that running will not be a problem, even with the jarring involved. (I am also hoping I will be all better by Sunday anyway!) I think this has solved my dilemma of whether to go work out at the Y tomorrow or take a real rest day before the Seattle Half on wins.

Yesterday, before the food festivities began, I ran about 15K in the morning. I started with about 4.6 miles on my own (average pace around 9:20), then joined a group for an informal turkey trot around Jennings Park. Since I was nicely warmed up, I ran with Tory at the front of the pack and did another 4.76, this time averaging 9:03. The fourth mile came in at 8:30-something! I couldn't stop then, though, I had to round up to finish.

I was happy I did the run to help offset the day's eating. I tried to be moderate but that sort of flew out the window when it was time for pie! Marionberry made by my secretary and a delicious hazelnut made by me and Rod (like pecan pie but with Oregon hazelnuts). I also brought an apple pie from Hagen's to be used for leftovers so I could keep the rest of the marionberry (it did have a K on it!). Tee hee.

So rest and repair tomorrow, semi-big run on Sunday!
Sent via BlackBerry by AT&T

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Today I am thankful for...

  • Four day weekends!
  • Finishing my last 20-mile run last Friday!
  • Lots of new snow in the mountains (for skiing)!
  • A good weather forecast for the Seattle (Half) Marathon on Sunday!
  • Orange vegetables! (Squashes and sweet potatoes.)
  • Really good plea bargains (for clients)!
  • (And in the same vein) no trials next week!
  • University of Oregon beating Arizona in double overtime last Saturday and getting a little closer to the Rose Bowl!
  • Not exactly tapering but cutting back a little to help keep my legs fresh for December 6!

There's a Facebook thing that people have been doing, posting a status update each day with what they are thankful for. Everyone seems to be thankful for their families, good health, their jobs and so forth. I have resisted participating because although I am indeed thankful for all those things, my thankful thoughts always seem so self-centered. Like, "I am so thankful it didn't rain during my run this morning!"

I did my final 20-mile run last Friday. I took the morning off from work to enjoy this delightful experience. My plan was actually to do 18 miles, but I kept the idea of 20 in the back of my mind, just because I would feel a little more accomplished if I added on the extra two miles. I used a 10-mile loop from my house, doubling it to end up at 20. I actually needed to stop by the house halfway through, so that worked out well for me.

Total running time 3:14:14 (not including potty stops and such), average pace 9:42. Splits were all over the place—although clustering around 9:45, not surprisingly—10:24, 9:53, 9:41, 9:42, 9:51, 9:44, 9:25, .58 for .10 (9:22 pace), 9:19, 9:48, 8:47 for .90 (9:50 pace), 9:46, 9:35, 9:42, 9:43, 10:07 (ouch), 9:40, 9:35, 9:36, 9:48, 8:49 (I like to finish strong!).

Saturday I took off from running and spent a couple hours at the Y, mostly on the elliptical but throwing in 10 pushups and a 15-second plank—my half-hearted stab at a little core/strength work, which I've been sadly neglecting in my running blitz.

Then Sunday we went skiing! It was my first trip up for the season. I have to say that I was a clumsy clod for most of the time. It actually didn't help that we had piles of wonderful fresh new snow, because plowing through too much soft snow makes me more nervous (I'm afraid of getting stuck). I didn't feel like I was getting my ski legs back until the last run (we only skiied for half a day). On the good side, my legs did not feel tired at all, even after the more challenging bits. I suspect that running has my quads up to any skiing challenge I might dare to take on.

Monday was not really a recovery run this week, since I had two days off already after Friday's long run, but I ran slowly enough that it might as well have been. 8.10 miles, 1:18:40, average pace 9:42. Splits: 10:54, 10:10, 9:58, 9:46, 3.33 for .36 miles (9:53 pace), 9:28, 9:33, 9:14, 6:01 for .74 miles (8:07 pace for that 3/4 mile stretch!).

Today is Speedwork Wednesday, but in the spirit of Not Tapering I ran longish and did minimal speedwork, just four quarter-mile intervals near the end of my run. I don't have the Garmin data downloaded, but when I looked at it after the run I had run 8.56 miles total, average pace about 9:26. My four quarter-miles ranged from about 7:35 pace to 7:50 pace, and I did finish with a recovery mile in about 8:50.

Tomorrow, Thanksgiving, I would usually go to the special workout at the YMCA, but I have decided to run instead because we're going skiing on Friday and I need to rest my legs a bit on Saturday in preparation for the half-marathon on Sunday. I'm meeting up with a group of other people (so unusual for me) at 9 a.m., so my plan is to go out at 8:00 and do a few miles in advance before I do four miles with them. Need to burn a few calories in preparation for the eating to come!

In case I don't have a chance to post again this weekend, I'll say a word about my goals for the Half-Marathon on Sunday. My goal is not to try to PR. My goal is not to try to run too fast. My goal is to see what I can do at an "easy race pace." (Hopefully that will translate to approximately two hours for the half, but we shall see.) My goal is, at the finish, to feel like I can do it all over again. Immediately. At the same pace. So we shall see how it goes....

Monday, November 23, 2009

The Recipes

So here are the recipes for the treats that I have been making recently. Both of these are from Carrots 'N' Cake, a food blog that I enjoy reading. These particular goodies may be a little healthier than other comparable versions, although I am not sure that the 75 calories per cookie for the very small Sweet Potato Oatmeal Raisin Cookies is any less than other oatmeal cookies. However, the sweet potatoes have tons of Vitamin A and a fair amount of Vitamin C, so there are extra benefits there.

Sweet Potato Oatmeal Raisin Cookies

1 cup old fashioned oats
1/4 cup all-purpose flour
1/3 cup packed brown sugar
1/2 cup shredded coconut
1/2 cup raisins
1 cup mashed sweet potato (I found that a medium-large sweet potato cooked in the microwave made one cup)
1/4 cup canola oil

Pre-heat oven to 350 degrees F.
Combine all ingredients in large mixing bowl. Blend well.
Spray baking sheet with non-stick cooking spray.
Use a tablespoon to portion cookie onto baking sheet. Flatten cookies with back of spoon.
Bake for 18-20 minutes.
Remove from oven. Cool on wire rack.

Some I said, I made 25 cookies which brings the per cookie calorie count to about 75. The original recipe says it makes 16, which means bigger cookies and more calories. Your choice. Because I did refrain from eating them all right away, after a couple days I put the cookie container in the freezer to help keep them fresh. I find them very easy to eat directly from the freezer, no thawing necessary, but alternatively you could just let the frozen cookies (which do not get hard) sit out at room temperature for a bit before eating. There are no seasonings in the recipe, and they are very sweet and delicious as is, but I suspect you could also add some cinnamon or pumpkin pie spice to make a spicier cookie.

A few days before the sweet potato cookies, I made some delicious Chocolate Pumpkin Loaf. This recipe has no oil, but it does have lots of sugar and two eggs. Because it already lacks one ingredient which is usually crucial in baking, I hesitated to try to reduce the sugar or use egg substitute (although I think that substituting for the eggs may be worth trying if you are baking for someone with cholesterol concerns). I don't think that oil and fat are bad things at all, but they do constitute a lot of calories in baked goods. Typically a recipe like this might contain half a cup of oil, which adds 960 calories total and 60 calories per slice (based on 16 slices in a loaf). I have calculated that this recipe, based on 16 servings, has less than 150 calories per slice.

This bread is very chocolatey and moist, but unlike other quick breads with oil, it doesn't age too well. It will start to dry out in a few days. I made mine on a Tuesday night and by the time I ate the last end piece on Friday morning, it was a little bit dry and starting to get tough. (I ate it anyway.) So make it, just eat up!

The recipe makes one regular-sized loaf or two mini-loaves (I made the mini). Next time I make it I will probably double the recipe so that I can use the entire can of pumpkin. I think I can manage to give away the loaves! :)

By the way, I also went scant on the spice measurements, they seemed rather high for a small recipe!

Chocolate Pumpkin Loaf

1-1/4 cup all purpose flour
1/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1/2 cup sugar
3/4 cup packed brown sugar
2 eggs
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 can (7.5 ounces) pumpkin puree
1 cup chocolate chips (I used Ghirardelli dark chocolate chips)

Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Grease loaf pan(s) or spray with nonstick spray.
Combine all ingredients in large bowl and mix well.
Pour batter into loaf pan(s).
Bake for 40-45 minutes, until top is firm and a toothpick comes out clean. (Smaller loaves may take less time.)
Cool slightly, and remove from pan.


By the way, I did do some running on Friday and today...I will write a bit about it later. I couldn't even download my Garmin today because it was completely discharged. I may have inadvertently left it running all day...wonder how many miles I covered?

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Pre-run fuel?

Tonight I made a batch of these yummy Sweet Potato Oatmeal Cookies from a recipe I got off the Carrots & Cake blog (I'll link to the recipe later). They're made with a cup of mashed sweet potato (a medium-large sweet potato cooked in the microwave does the trick), oatmeal, a little flour, brown sugar, 1/4 cup oil, raisins and shredded coconut. (Don't bother if you don't like raisins and coconut, you need them to make the cookies soft and chewy!) My batch made 25 small cookies, which I calculated have about 75 calories each.

I might be concerned about allowing yet another sweet treat into my diet (just a few days ago I successfully tested Chocolate Pumpkin bread, another moderate calorie goodie from Carrots & Cake), except that I have a long run on the agenda tomorrow morning. I think I can consider my sampling of these healthy treats as legitimate carb loading. In fact, I may have two or three cookies for breakfast tomorrow before I head out.

I hesitate to mention tomorrow's running plans in advance, since there's always a chance that the rainy and stormy weather we've been enjoying might put a damper on my run. It hasn't happened yet (except for affecting the pace and quality of my running), but you never know....

But, barring a hurricane or typhoon or some other calamity, my intent is to do about 18 miles tomorrow morning, hopefully starting by 6:30. I did block out the morning for running, but if I get an early start there's less chance of running short on time and having to change plans. I need enough time to shower and dress for the afternoon work schedule, and, um, my massage appointment at noon!

In anticipation of the mega-calorie burn, I am ordering a Brooklyn Brothers' pizza for dinner tomorrow night. Oh yum, in advance!
Sent via BlackBerry by AT&T

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

TIART (one week later)—What is your favorite race?

Today’s—that is, last Thursday's—topic for Runner's Lounge Take It and Run Thursday is offered by Joanna, aka the Morning Runner. Joanna wants (wanted) to know:

What is your favorite race? Do you live for the marathons or crave a 5k? Would you rather race in the morning, afternoon, or at night? Do you like big races with tons of people and encouraging crowds or do you prefer the smaller hometown races?

My answer to this question came to mind immediately. My favorite type of race is also my very favorite race—that is, the 15K and, specifically, the Fairhaven Waterfront 15K in Bellingham.

The 15K is a pretty difficult race to find, and in fact, I've only done it five times, three times up in Fairhaven and twice in Portland (the Shamrock Run). But I can honestly say, in all those five times, I have never not had a great experience!

A 15K satisfies all my racing preferences. I like longer distances better than shorter, and 15K (9.3 miles) is long enough to be a challenge but short enough to be a little bit easier on the legs and time schedule than a half marathon (or longer).

Both Portland and Fairhaven are (relatively) big races in small cities. You get all the big race amenities—chip timing, good organization, nice pre- and post-race events and amenities—in a fun, homey, interesting town. In fact, I would readily recommend either Portland or Bellingham for a visit, with or without a race!

Here's what I love about the Fairhaven 15K, in particular.
  • The course is, inexplicably, fast. Don't ask me why, because it is twisty and quirky, lots of small hills and a combination of roads, paved trails and, sometimes, a stretch of gravel path. But somehow, I've always been happy with my time there and this last year I managed a huge PR.
  • It's in Bellingham in September. The weather is almost always nice that time of year, not too hot (thanks in part to marine air) but probably not rainy either.
  • The race finishes at Fairhaven Village Green (and starts just around the corner). There is a fabulous post-race spread on the green, including the most delicious breads and baked goods from Avenue Bread and other local venues. Plus free post-race massages!
  • If you make your reservations early enough, you can stay at the Fairhaven Village Inn.
I must admit that I pretty much like all kinds of races, though. I have never been particularly fond of 5K's, but ever since I've found my speed I have become more fond of them. For 5K's and 10K's I really like small, local races, because I am often able to win an age group award! I'm not so crazy about big city 5K's because they are usually a mob scene. For a half marathon (or whatever "long" race you might be considering), the big ones are usually appealing because they have so much going on (and chip timing).

If you've never run a 15K, though, hopefully you can find one to try. I think you'll find it the perfect compromise between a 10K and a half-marathon (and you can still burn off a thousand calories doing it).

Monday, November 16, 2009

Letter from my legs

Dear Kristin,

This is your legs here. You know, the ones that carry you around every day, all day, without a complaint? Well, we're a little unhappy with you right now.

We think you're taking us for granted. We had no problem with the 8-mile run at 6 a.m. Friday morning, despite being barely covered up as the wind and rain lashed us (while the rest of you was bundled up in a hooded windbreaker). Then on Saturday we rallied to an unheard of level to bring you a 10K PR of 49:20 (and never even heard a word of thanks). Despite that, we staggered outside again yesterday into moderately inclement weather and trotted up and down the hills of Mukilteo for fourteen miles. FOURTEEN MILES! All that an an average pace of 9:19 per mile. In mile 14 we even kicked it up to 8:28!

We gave you our entire weekend. Three days of running hard. Perhaps you didn't notice Saturday night when we were aching and making your heel throb and waking you up every couple of hours? (And you thought it was because you had to pee!)

We know you give us little respect. When we're not paying attention you whine about spider veins and you blame US when you can't buy tall boots because they don't fit over your calves. (You think that running is going to make that BETTER?)

But really. After everything we did for you this weekend, what do you do today? Get us up AGAIN and back out into the wind and rain for another run. Can you blame us that we can't muster up better than a 10-minute pace? And do you think that MAYBE the rest of your body mass battling the wind might be somewhat to blame for "our" slowness today?

Kristin, we need some respect. We need some loving care. We need some REST! That twinging heel pain? Just a little warning. We can cause you PAIN if you don't take some care. We don't want to, but keep up these long stretches of consecutive hard runs and we might have no choice.

And one more thing. Last night, as a reward for the long miles run? You got ice cream. (Yeah, we saw it!) We got EPSOM SALTS! REALLY????


Your legs


Dear Legs:

Got the message...please forgive me. We'll take tomorrow off from running, okay? And tonight, YOU get the ice cream!



Sunday, November 15, 2009

Fowl (not foul!) Fun Run

I'm going to try to do this quickly, as I would like to hop into a bath before it gets so late that I just bag it. I think my much used legs will really appreciate a nice soak. I'm a little behind on "Take It and Run Thursday" post remains half written. But will be finished soon, during work hours, I am sure.

It's been a high volume, medium-mileage weekend. Friday morning I ran 8.1 miles at an easy pace. I didn't bother with the usual Friday pace/tempo efforts because I had a 10K on the schedule Saturday. That would satisfy my tempo needs for the week, and I didn't really want to overstress my legs in advance!

Another reason Friday's run was so intentionally mediocre was because the weather allowed for little else. Darkness at 6 a.m. goes without saying, of course. But I also got wind and rain thrown in for good measure. I wore my hood on my rain jacket for about the first five miles. That kept my neck dry but made me feel even more constrained and slow. After a potty break around mile 5 I noticed that the rain had slowed to a spatter, so I went happily hoodless for the remainder of the run.

After the fairly ugly weather on Friday I had no great hopes for Saturday. But Saturday morning dawned dry (if a bit foggy to begin) and cool. Cold actually--I had to scrape ice off my car. I drove over to my parents' house to pick up my dad, who was going with me. None of my other support crew was available this Saturday.

By the time we got up to Mt. Vernon to the race starting area it wasn't even all that cold. There was a bit of a light wind, but really much less than I've often experienced up there. I decided to keep my jacket on, as I'd already pinned the race number on it and didn't want to redo it, but I think I could have easily done the race with just my half-zip shirt and no jacket. I ended up taking my gloves off a couple miles in, which actually does wonders to cool me when I'm getting just a little too warm.

I jogged around for about 1.8 miles to warm up for the race. (Plus adding the 1.8 to the 10K would give me a nice day's total of 8 miles.) I managed two potty stops before we started, and even though I was one short of the traditional three, that seemed to cover it for the race. :)

I took off, as usual, a little too fast (because everyone else was going fast!). Actually the first few seconds were not fast at all, as I walked and jogged through the initial congestion. After I was able to pick up the pace, I think I was going close to a 7:30 pace! The first mile was 7:44 (allowing for the initial delays).

After that I settled into about an 8-minute pace, which seemed comfortable and not too hard at all. The next three miles were very consistent at 8:01, 8:01, and 8:00!

Somewhere after mile 3, I caught up to a man and a woman running together who turned out to be running my pace. I kept even with them for several miles, using them as pacers but not "drafting off them" or anything like that.

At about 3.5 miles we finished an out-and-back section, which felt like the halfway point, even though we were more than halfway along. In past races, I've used that as the point where I try to pick up the pace a little. I did the same this time, although my actual pace didn't increase until the last couple miles. Luckily after the mile 4 sign, my "pacers" seemed to pick it up a little too, and mile 5 was a little faster at 7:52!

Once we passed mile 5 I decided it was time to kick it up a gear. I left my companions behind (though not far behind), and tried to maintain a strong pace. During the last 1.2 miles I was literally running from mailbox to mailbox (we were in a residential area, and there were a lot of mailboxes, pretty close together!). Mile 6 - 7:49.

Then I was almost there. I turned the corner and the end was almost in sight (around another corner). I figured my former "companions" were probably not far behind, and I was not surprised when I saw the red shirt of the female runner out of the corner of my eye. Even though she was a lot younger than me, I gave her a good race for the finish, and we crossed the finish line at almost exactly the same time. I think she was literally a hair ahead of me, and I told them to take her tag first (no chips, old school race tags here). The time on the clock when we finished? 49:20!

Un-freaking-believable! Not just a PR (a huge PR), but under 50 minutes! I was so happy that I forgot to turn off my Garmin right away. It read 49:37 when I stopped it, but luckily I had already noted the time on the clock. That put my average pace under eight minutes, about 7:55-7:57 (my total distance was, as usual, a bit more than 6.2 miles exactly).

But even though I've won lots of age group prizes in small races with less stellar times (like first in AG in this race last year), I didn't even place this time (I was fourth). My, those 40-something females are fast! (I am not being facetious. It is a very competitive age group!)

I stuck around anyway, in hopes of winning a turkey or pumpkin pie in the door prize raffle (actually I only wanted a turkey, I don't like pumpkin pie despite my love of all things squash). But no luck there either. I walked away empty-handed. :) But happy!

Today I went for a medium long run. My plan was twelve miles, though I ended up doing fourteen. The weather conditions were not nearly as favorable as yesterday (though not awful). It didn't really rain, although at some point a drizzle definitely developed.

I was not particularly thrilled to get out there, and dilly-dallied until late morning. My legs had been horribly achy last night (despite doses of Advil), and I expect the same tonight (hence the bath plan). It took a few miles for the stiffness to work off.

Then, though, I was surprisingly speedy for a Sunday following two prior consecutive running days! Also surprising because I ran the road to Mukilteo, which is hilly. Big hilly. I guess the benefit of the downhills overcomes the disability of the uphills. My splits: 10:22, 9:48, 9:44, 9:16, 8:55, 9:14, 9:13, 9:15, 9:08, 9:31, then .51 at 9:57 (the second half of a one-mile uphill), 9:30, 8:50, 8:29, and .52 at 8:49 pace. TOTAL - 14.03 miles, 2:10:56, 9:20 average pace.

I got a mocha at Starbucks and sat there to drink it, then got a grande Guatamala Mayan drip (this is probably the last day for it, sadly, I love it!) and walked home. HOT shower. That was a few hours ago, and now I'm ready for my hot bath!

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Veterans' Day

I know that I do not spend enough time reflecting and respecting the significance of our national non-religious holidays...President's Day, Memorial Day, Labor Day, Veterans' Day, even Martin Luther King Jr. Day. (Independence Day, the Fourth of July, is an exception, though!) I, like so many others I am sure, greedily gobble up these days off from work (for those of us who work in the public sector and get to observe them), giving only a passing thought to the reason the day has been named a national holiday.

Veterans' Day evolved from Armistice Day, created by President Wilson in 1919 to commemorate the cessation of fighting in World War I on the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month in 1918. November 11th, Armistice Day, officially became a legal holiday in 1938.

Because World War I did not actually turn out to be the war to end all wars, American soldiers were sent into combat again in World War II, and then to Korea in the 1950's, and in 1954 Armistice Day was rechristened "Veterans' Day," a day to honor American veterans of all wars. Sadly, Americans have been sent to fight on foreign grounds many times since then, and the United States is populated with veterans both old and young, as well as many active military still.

In 1968 Veterans' Day was included, for a short time, with other Federal holidays in the Uniform Holiday Bill, which provided that Washington's Birthday, Memorial Day, Veterans Day, and Columbus Day be observed on a Monday, to provide three-day weekends for Federal employees. While the other three Monday holidays have stuck, there was a lot of unhappiness over the changing of Veterans' Day from its traditional date, and in 1975 President Ford signed a law returning the annual observation of Veterans' Day to November 11, regardless of the day of the week on which it falls.

I hope this little bit of research I did about Veterans' Day atones for my completely self-centered enjoyment of my day off work. I slept in, ate breakfast and watched a lot of the Today Show in bed, and finally got myself ready and rolled out the door for a run somewhere approaching 11 a.m. Maybe 10:30. Not sure.

After yesterday's rain and gloom, I did not have very high hopes for the weather today, but I was blessedly wrong! There were some clouds, but the sun was out between them, and I even wore sunglasses for the whole run.

I felt rather obligated to take advantage of my free time to do a nice long run, plus Wednesday speedwork. I noticed on my training schedule (which I am loosely following) that 800's would be on next week, but I sort of thought today would be better since I would actually be running in daylight rather than early morning darkness. And three days should be long enough to "recover" from Sunday's long run, right?

I decided to start with a medium length easy run, five or six miles or so, to warm up. I just took my usual morning route without adding the extra bits that I use to make a six-mile run into an eight-mile run. It was hard to tell if I was still under the effects of Sunday. My legs felt fine, but it took quite a while to work up to an easy 9:30-ish pace. That's not unusual on a work morning (at 6 a.m. or so), but usually I start out faster when it's later in the day.

Warm-up splits:
1 - 10:14
2 - 9:45
3 - 9:42
4 - 9:28
5 - 9:45
6 - .76 mile at 9:24 pace
7 - .74 mile at 9:23 pace

I got to the track at 6.5 miles. (I planned it that way—the .5 part, that is.) As I've mentioned before, the track is not a real track, and it's something like .3 miles around, but I've measured out a quarter mile and a half mile so I know where to stop for each planned interval. Today, since it was light out, I double checked the distance on my Garmin, so it was helpful to start each repeat on a round number. Between each half mile I jogged between .10 and .15 mile (depending on what it took to get to an even number), walked a little and took a swig of Nuun occasionally.

Here are my interval splits (excluding the recovery jogs) (this info is all from undownloaded Garmin, sometimes the numbers adjust slightly after downloading):

1 - .49 mile - 3:53.26 (7:53 pace)
2 - .49 mile - 3:53,75 (7:53 pace)
3 - .50 mile - 3:55.38 (7:48 pace)
4 - .50 mile - 3:55.20 (7:53 pace)
5 - .50 mile - 3:55.15 (7:52 pace)
6 - .50 mile - 3:53.59 (7:51 pace)
7 - .50 mile - 3:47.08 (7:33 pace)
8 - .50 mile - 3:40.58 (7:23 pace)

Can you believe how much I managed to pick it up in the last half mile? I must have been really excited to be done! Because I really wasn't excited to start. When I got to six miles this morning I was well into effortless running and I would have happily gone on for another four miles or more rather than heading to the track.

Once at the track, I grimly counted off each lap. After four I don't know if I was happy that I was halfway done or distressed that I was only halfway done! Oh, it wasn't that bad, really. I am sure it is just boredom that makes me dislike the track repeats. It's not the distance, obviously.

After five (finally into the second half) I told myself, "if I can do five, I can do six." Then, "if I can do six, I can do seven." And after seven? Only one more to go! Hurrah!

After I finished my eight, I rewarded myself by jogging twice around the track at recovery pace (started around nine-minute pace and deteriorated quickly—9:38 for the mile). My final distance, once I stopped at QFC/Starbucks, was 12.5 miles. If I'd been thinking, I might have run 11.11 miles instead (I'm dorky that way), but I'm glad for the extra 1.4 miles anyway.

FINAL STATS: 12.5 miles, 1:53:39, 9:05/mile average pace.

I've been a lazy lounger for the rest of the day, but for lunch I made a yummy turkey sandwich on an Orowheat sandwich thin and the most deee-licious Delicata Squash Oven Fries.

Easy to make—

Scoop the seeds and gunk out of a Delicata squash (or more than one). Cut into sticks, leaving skin on. Spray a foil-covered baking sheet with olive oil spray. Arrange fries on baking sheet and spray with more olive oil spray. Add salt and pepper to taste. Bake at 425 degrees until tender and browned (about 30-40 minutes, depending on the thickness of your fries). Turn over about halfway through, when the bottoms get browned.

So good! I ate a whole squash! Wish I'd made two!

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Happy 40th Birthday

to Sesame Street! Yes, I am older than Sesame Street. Sigh....

I was four years old when Sesame Street premiered on November 10, 1969. Prime viewing demographic! I don't know if I watched it or not. I asked my mother whether I watched Sesame Street when I was little, and she didn't really know. Of course I am familiar with Sesame Street, but I don't know for sure if that's from personal memory, or from institutional memory, from the ubiquitous existence of Sesame Street over the years.

My sister was one year old in 1969, and I'm sure, if I didn't watch on my own back then, I watched with her in later years. The characters I remember are the classics, Big Bird, Bert and Ernie, Oscar the Grouch, Cookie Monster (of course!), and the Count.* There are also a few skits and songs embedded in my memory... "One of these things is not like the other"... the (counting) antics of the Count ... the "sponsorship" of shows by various letters. I was trying desperately to locate another character that I thought was from Sesame Street, but I have finally figured out that I was looking for Letterman from the Electric Company (able to leap Capital T in a single bound!).

Sesame Street has had many other characters come and go over the years, and has changed and evolved with the culture, but just like Julia Roberts, Jennifer Anniston, and Halle Berry, is going strong and better than ever at 40!

*Kermit and Elmo came into the picture after my peak viewing years!

Sunday, November 8, 2009

It's World Run Day!

Who knew? Seems like it was just the World Wide Festival of Races! I heard (read) about it this afternoon when I was scanning my Google Reader. Both Erica of I Run Because I Can and Lindsay of Chasing the Kenyans mentioned it. Erica ran her own 3.3 mile race in her neighborhood with her daughter—they set up a water station and lap counter, so cute!

Luckily by the time I found out about this "event" I had already planned, and completed, a long Sunday run, so I got in on the festivities from the back end. Yeah, I actually "signed up" after the fact. It's amazing how close my "estimated" distance and pace ended up to my actual results! :)

So, yeah, the long run was today. Cutting to the chase, it went well, not a disaster at all. Twenty-two freakin' miles (to quote my Facebook update after I finished).

Because it was Sunday, and because I had essentially committed the whole day to this outing (no other plans made), I wanted to run somewhere different than my usual Everett and Marysville routes. I thought this up quite some time ago; I wasn't sure which long run to do it on but the longest planned run seemed best!

So the plan was to drive to Third Place Books in Lake Forest Park (about half an hour south of Everett) and get on the Burke-Gilman trail. I could run 11 miles south, then turn around and come back, finishing up at Third Place Books again. I've run on Burke-Gilman before once or twice, but only one-way, from Fremont or Gasworks Park back to Lake Forest Park. I managed to squeeze twelve and thirteen miles out of those runs, but obviously I was looking for more today.

Doing the round-trip route also allowed me to provide my own transportation. The previous times my mother drove me to one end and picked me up at the other (with a couple of meeting points along the way). I did make some plans with my mom to meet me along the way this time just for fun, but that ended up falling apart because she has a painful hand (arthritis? carpal tunnel? not yet known) that makes driving difficult. At least she knew where I was in case of emergency, but I didn't really need her along the way (as I assured her on the phone around mile 8).

I got up early this morning, around 6:30, but of course there was much to be done before I left. And I really had no intention of going out in the dark anyway. That's just a little too much to ask on a non-work day!

I started out by getting a coffee at Starbucks. Oh my gosh, I am loving their special origins coffee this week, Guatamala Mayan is the variety. I am so sad that they only have it for a week, and you can't buy the beans. I absolutely loved the Kona a couple weeks ago too. I've been getting drip coffee instead of lattes for a while; somehow I lost my taste for lattes a little. So I'm on a break. I do put half and half in...I figure two coffees with half and half have about the same number of calories as a nonfat latte, though only a tiny fraction of the calcium, of course. Sometimes, when I'm going home, I use nonfat half and half instead, but I kind of hate to defile the special origins with anything other than the good stuff! :) (I am also saving money with the drip—the first cup is about a dollar cheaper than a latte, and the second is only 50 cents!)

But I digress. I took the coffee home and fixed myself a pretty hearty pre-run breakfast. I made deluxe oatmeal with 1½ packets of instant oatmeal (figured it was more digestible than regular), about half a cup of mixed berries, half a banana, and leftover Starbucks oatmeal add-ins (half a packet of dried fruit and half a packet of nuts), plus the Starbucks brown sugar, my own cinnamon, and about a tablespoon-plus of PB2 mixed thin and drizzed over the bowl. I was just like one of those oatmeal-eating food bloggers!

I packed up my stuff for the run. I decided to try out a Nathan two-bottle fuel belt, so I filled the bottles with Nuun (half a tablet each bottle) and put a couple extra tablets in a ziplock bag. I did have a couple of difficulties with the fuel belt, though they didn't interfere with the run. First, I'm pretty sure the medium is too big. I had to pull it to the very end of the velcro to get it tight enough, and I could have had it a little tighter, probably, if there had been more velcro. Second, the pocket to put your stuff in is a little too small for me. I was barely able to get my BlackBerry in, plus cash, credit card and driver's license, my iPod, and three Gu's. It all fit so snugly that there was no way to get stuff out and in again without completely stopping and fiddling around. Worked okay for today, though. One thing I did like was the thingy to clip your key onto (what's that called, anyway?). I took my car key off its chain and I felt much better with it secured to the fuel belt.

I also packed a couple of bags. One was alternate running clothes for my mom to pick up and bring me in case it poured rain and I got soaked early on (luckily that didn't happen, as we canceled our meet-up). The other was a change of clothes for me after I finished running. I just brought that in my car, although I didn't end up using that either. I just stayed in my (very) sweaty clothes until I got home.

After all that I left home around 8:30. Or so. When I got to Third Place Books I was happy to see that the store was already open (I guess it had to be as they have a built-in bakery that serves breakfast), so I went in to use the bathroom before I left. There would also be potential potty stops along the route, though only every few miles. (Luckily, I'll say right now, there were absolutely no emergencies!)

I hit the trail around 9:15. My running plan was simple but, I think, good. I would divide the first 20 miles into 5-mile segments, so really I would only think about five miles at a time. The first five miles were warm-up. Those first few miles always seem slow (regardless of pace) and long! It takes a good five miles to get into the groove. Then, the second five miles are the "easy" miles. This is where my legs feel good and running feels (pretty much) effortless. I love those miles. The third five (10-15) are quality miles. They require a little more effort, but I should still be able to maintain a steady pace and stay strong through and past the half-marathon point! Finally, the last five (prior to 20) are endurance miles. This is where my legs practice continuing to run even as they start to feel tired.

So that would get me to 20 miles. What about the last two? The most I've done before was 20, so this would be new ground. Possibly they could be the miles of suffering (hopefully not). My optimistic plan was to put on a final kick in those last two miles and, possibly, do them at a 9-minute or faster pace! Only time would tell how it would go.

The first, and second, five-mile segments went pretty much as planned. I took a bathroom stop at Matthews Park, around 4.5 miles. At 8.25 I called my mom and we agreed to cancel her participation, due to her injured hand. By that time I was just getting into the U-District and apparently (looking at my splits) picked up the pace quite a bit for a few miles!

A word about pace. Another plan I had for this run was to slow it down to more like a 10-minute pace, mainly to get more leg time in. I ended up going faster. A lot of my miles were around 9:45, but there were a number that were significantly faster and brought my average down. It was just too hard to slow myself down from what seemed like a comfortable pace! Not just because of ego (though I have that), but also because I have this continual pressure to get done. More so in the beginning when I was trying to arrange things with my mom. It is so hard to be running when you have an external deadline (other than in a race), such as someone waiting for you.* Creates a lot of stress. That was eased when my mom canceled, but still, I wanted to be done too!

So here are the splits for the first ten miles, "warm-up" and "easy."

1 - 9:50
2 - 9:40
3 - 9:36
4 - 9:42
5 - 9:47

6 - 9:50
7 - 9:41
8 - 9:20
9 - 9:26
10 - 9:28

I turned around at 11.11 miles and started my return trip. It was also time to start my experiment in nutrition (my first Gu!). I took out a chocolate Gu and carried it in my hand for a while. I ate it at 12.12 miles and it was yummy! Like warm chocolate pudding. Didn't know at that point how it would work for energy, though I can report that it didn't upset my stomach or anything, so that's good.

I got to Metropolitan Market at 14.5 miles. This was where my mother and I had planned to meet. I completely missed it on my way south—it's really hard to see from that direction, even though it's right off the trail.

I headed in for a bathroom break. I also kind of wanted to buy something to eat, a cookie or something, but they didn't really sell many individual cookies (and the ones I like best were in boxes of 12, not an option really). I would have just given up, my perusal of the bakery cabinets I saw cupcakes. And I saw pumpkin cupcakes with maple cream cheese frosting. Ummm, yum!

Yep, I bought one and ate it up. So good. This did mean that I wouldn't be eating any more Gu, so my experiment in fueling did go a bit sideways.

So my stop at Metropolitan Market was a little too long. By the time I got back up I was all cooled down and had to go through another mini-warm-up! Hence my 10:03 split for mile 15. The first half, pre-Metropolitan Market, was a 9:41 pace and the remainder, back on the trail, was a 10:30 pace! I continued to feel a little sluggish for the remaining five miles, though they were all in the 9:45 range, which was not inconsistent with my earlier pace, really.

These were definitely the endurance miles, though. I could feel it a little bit in my glutes and quads, and it certainly took more effort (though not a huge amount) to maintain the 9:45 pace. I glanced at my watch a bit and it seemed to flip-flop a lot between 9:30 and 10:00 or so. I don't know if that was me or just flaky satellites!

About halfway through the "endurance 5" I passed Matthews Beach again and knew I only had a few miles to go. (I knew that anyway, but this was substantive proof!) I started playing games with my iPod. For a while I made myself listen to three songs in a row before checking the distance on my watch, then I let it go to approximately every song. I replayed a few, because I thought they were good to run to. FYI, "Waterloo" by ABBA takes about a quarter mile to run (at my pace) and the Theme from Superman goes for almost half a mile!

Here are my splits from miles 5-10 and 11-15.

11 - 9:16
12 - 9:39
13 - 9:29**
14 - 9:31
15 - 10:03

16 - 9:46
17 - 9:41
18 - 9:42
19 - 9:47
20 - 9:51

So there I was, 20 miles down and only two to go. Now it was time for the final kick. I gathered myself up and sprang forward. This was a lot harder than running a 9-minute pace usually is! Surprised about that? :) I pushed myself onward by running to various signposts, markers, and other landmarks.

21 - 8:52

Not bad, better than I expected really. Now the final countdown! I really threw myself into this one....

22 - 8:38

Yes! 8:38. I'm shocked too. I'm quite lucky, because I arrived at the stoplight for the shopping center where Third Place Books is located right before the end of mile 22, and it was on "walk." So I sprinted across the street and was able to hit the stop button right on the other side. I walked the rest of the way through the parking lot. :)

It hadn't rained at all, but I was so dripping with sweat that my shirt was dripping from the wrists (again). I grabbed another jacket from the car (in case I got chilled) and went inside the store for lunch.

Turkey, carmelized onions, and basil aoli in potato-buttermilk bread. So good. With potato chips. Also very good. And a mocha. Pretty good (I've had better). Finally, I resisted all the luscious cakes and pastries (as I already had my pumpkin cupcake), but did treat myself to a cup of soft-serve frozen yoghurt or ice cream (not clear which it was), amaretto and maple (of course) flavors. Yum again!

I was a little chilly by the time I got into the car and I cranked up the heat. After making a quick stop at QFC for a steak to cook for dinner, and my coffee refill at Starbucks, I headed home.

Then, the longest, hottest, shower ever! (Well, maybe not ever. But surely at my house!)

FINAL STATS: 22.01 miles, 3:30:38, 9:34 average pace.

*People who are not running just don't seem to fathom how long it really takes. Plus there's the bathroom break and such which add additional time. Also, I didn't reveal to my mom how far I was actually going, although she probably had some idea if she thought about the geography of my route. When she asked me I said I'd tell her when I was done. And I did. I think she now has an idea what is happening in Sacramento on December 6. :)

**My half-marathon split, at 13.1, was 2:05:37.

Saturday, November 7, 2009

Not what I expected

The Friday morning weather yesterday, that is. You might think I would have looked outside to see whether or not it was raining... You would be wrong.

I bundled myself against the wind and (potential) rain in long tights and my windbreaker/rain jacket with the hood zipped on. I even put the hood up over my cap for maximum weather resistance (albeit severely impaired side vision).

I ran into a little impediment before I ever left the house when I fired up the iPod, and it went quickly from a partial green power bar to a red bar, threatening imminent power loss. Pshaw.

I didn't want to waste any more time trying to recharge it before I left (on top of that already whiled away lying in bed), so I just plugged it in and headed out without it. I thought I might detour by my house after an hour and pick it up for the second half of my run.

So, the weather. Not. Raining. (That's a good thing, actually). It was really windy, though, and cloudy enough that rain was still a possibility. I kept the hood on anyway, thinking it might keep my cap from blowing off. It is possible that I might have looked like a dork. But there were other people out wearing hoods, if not the stylish hood/hat combo.

After about a mile I got a little warm around the head, though, so I flipped back the hood. I never did need to put it on, as the only rain I got was a few sputtery drops at one point.

So, the plan. (The one I didn't know if I could accomplish in the "storm.") Twelve miles, with ten at about a nine-minute pace, give or take. (9:09 or below was my bottom-line goal.). It didn't seem like a deluge of rain was going to deter me, although wind could still be a factor. And there was the lack of iPod factor, which totally throw me off my pace. Oh yes, I had a multitude of factors to fall back to to excuse potential failure!

My two warm-up miles were, I think, boosted by wind at my back, and came in pretty fast at 9:50 and 9:41.

Then it was time to kick it up a gear. (Just one gear, we're only talking 9-minute here!) I liked that my mile 3 (first pace mile) started on a downhill. That's always a nice boost, even though I turn the corner and head back uphill in the second half!

Despite the uphill and running into the wind, the next few miles were right on track (and better) at 9:03, 9:03 (again), 8:47, and 8:56. I stuck around Grand Avenue Park for a few laps--I wanted to hit six miles before I moved on.

Then I had to make another decision--whether to veer home and get the iPod, or just keep going without it.

On the pro side, I had the iPod itself, which would surely ease those remaining miles. Also, the trip home would add another mile to my distance (helping get to the final total, not making it longer than intended).

On the con side--and it was a big con--I didn't know whether stopping at home would psychologically throw me off my pace. I knew I wouldn't be tempted to stay (much), but I wasn't sure whether I could resume my goal pace after a visit home.

Since I was doing quite well achieving a nine-minute pace sans iPod, I decided to go the distance without it.

My next few miles took me to and through downtown Everett. Those miles came in respectably at 9:01, 9:09, and 9:05. I think that 9:09 mile included the block where I was passing Everett High. I usually go by before school starts, and it is a bit of a pain with milling students, school buses, and crazy parent cars zooming up to drop off kids then rush to work.

Sometimes I'm a little later, when everyone (mostly) has gone to class and it's fairly quiet.

But today I must have hit it between classes, because I have never seen such surging hordes of teenagers moving en masse! I tried to navigate around them but I was definitely delayed and slowed by several seconds. At one point I was even forced to stop! I'm sure that's the 9:09 mile.

Once I got into the double digit miles, 10 and above, I had hit my stride and kept it below nine minutes the rest of the way. Yes, part of that was downhill. :) 8:48, 8:42, 8:57, and the final .15 mile that took me to the door of Starbucks was a restful 8:58 pace.

I got myself a nonfat mocha (recovery beverage) and walked home to get ready for work. Er, the rest of the day, anyway. I'm sure work will be involved at some point.

Highlights of the rest of the morning included a delicious maple bar at work (goodbye party for an attorney leaving juvie) (and yes, that maple bar ate up--so to speak--about four miles of my run). Then I headed back downtown for a massage. The massage therapist was new at my hair salon, but she did a great job. I definitely felt stretched and refreshed afterwards!

Tomorrow (Sunday) I'm tackling a long run. Fingers crossed for decent (non-horrible) weather!
Sent via BlackBerry by AT&T

Friday, November 6, 2009

Don't know what to expect this morning

I'm lying in bed still at 6:25 a.m. contemplating my running plans this morning. It's been stormy all night and still may be. I think at least a little daylight, which should be creeping in soon, might make things a little safer, possibly even more pleasant.

I think I need to keep my distance and pace plans flexible this morning. It may be all I can do to get through a mid-distance jog. On the other hand, maybe I'll rock a longish pace run. I guess we'll see soon....
Sent via BlackBerry by AT&T

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Is today Wednesday?

The first half of this week has seemed so much longer than three days. But I made it through my big trial* at work and now it's just coasting...I mean working very hard...for the rest of the week till the weekend and my long run, currently planned for Saturday.** (Ed. note on Thursday: I am thinking of moving the long run to Sunday, since the weather forecast is much more favorable...just playing it by ear for now, which is hard because I like to have my plans set in stone!)

My trial has wreaked havoc with my eating habits. Yesterday, when I was in the throes of final trial prep, I couldn't face my packed lunch of salad with tuna (although I am sure it will be delicious when I do eat it), and went to Taco Time for two Fresco Tacos. Which I enjoyed immensely. Much worse was the anxiety I was experiencing while trying to resist eating candy at the same time I was plowing through my trial materials. I finally relieved the pressure by throwing out my restrictions and allowing myself to dip into the bowls of Halloween candy as I wished. All the Reese's cups were gone already so that meant Starbursts, Sweet Tarts, and some real junk like Nerds and Laffy Taffy. (I actually found the strawberry Laffy Taffy quite enjoyable!)

Then I had to dip into my secretary's bags of pretzels and Dorritos to settle my stomach from the sugary stuff. Finally, I made myself a wonderful dinner/snack of open-faced peanut butter and jam sandwiches on sprouted wheat bread. Both comforting and satisfying! I liked the PB & J so much that I had the same thing for lunch today during the lunch recess in my trial. My tastes are simple. The salad and tuna will definitely be lunch tomorrow. Trial is over. No need for comfort food any more!

Despite the prospect of trial starting this morning, I still got up early for a run. That was definitely what I needed to clear my head and start the day energized. (That doesn't mean that I didn't hate getting out of bed before 6 a.m.! But I'm always glad that I've done it.)

I realized when I got up that I had forgotten to plug the Garmin in to charge overnight. Although there might still have been enough charge left on it, I ran downstairs to plug it in for a 10-minute charge while I got dressed and ready to go. It actually went from 59% charge to almost 80% during that short time!

Instead of doing speed work at the track, I decided to do some quarter-mile intervals mid-route. Grand Avenue Park, which I through regularly, is three blocks long and about a quarter mile from top to bottom. So for each interval I ran through the park in one direction, crossed the street for a very short recovery jog, then ran down the other side. I did this a total of six times, three up and three down.

Looking at my Garmin results, the distance was almost spot on—each interval was .26 mile (except for the first, which was .25). The time and pace on the first lap was a little messed up, because I wasn't sure if I pressed the start button properly, and stood around for several seconds peering at my watch till I realized it was ticking away! That quarter mile registered as an embarrassing 9:01 pace...oops!

After that I managed to get my act together and do the remaining laps at a respectable 5K-ish pace. There was still a bit of variation in the pace from one lap to the next, as the park was not flat like the track, and it seemed that the southbound laps were uphill in the first two thirds and slightly downhill in the last third, whereas going north I didn't even notice the uphill in the first part but definitely enjoyed the downhill in the remaining two thirds!

My paces for the six quarter miles were: 9:01, 7:59, 8:11, 7:40, 7:52, and 7:38.

At that point I was about five miles along. I continued running for another three miles, which brought me to QFC and Starbucks, where I bought a coffee and walked home to get ready for the day.

FINAL STATS: 8:05 miles, 1:16:50, 9:32 average pace.
VERDICT: Guilty. (I never said I thought we would win!)

*This being juvie court, the actual trial was just one day in length, that being today. "Big" trial refers to the seriousness of the case and the effort required to prepare for it.
**Also a medium length run and a massage on the schedule for Friday!

Monday, November 2, 2009

Easy Monday

Kind of a misnomer, as this is the beginning of what promises to be a hard week for me. My run this morning was an "easy" recovery run, though, and also my fourth consecutive day of running (not typical for me). Tomorrow's a non-running day, for sure.

Eight miles this morning, beginning with a 10:35 mile, progressing downward to 9:03 at mile 8 (with a lot of hovering in the 9:50's in between). Despite the mileage on my legs over the last three days, they didn't feel bad at all. It was a little bit colder this morning than it has been lately--my TV weather widget said 39 degrees in Everett)--so I did put on the full-length running tights instead of capris. I do like the way snug fitting capris and running pants hug and energize your legs (kind of like the L'eggs pantyhose ads in the 70's and 80's promised). I'll take anything that makes my sluggish morning legs feel better! (Except wearing pantyhose.)

Anyhow, I can use 80 minutes of running as an escape mechanism in the morning, but I'd better not waste too much more time blogging about it. See you on the other side!

Sunday, November 1, 2009

Beautiful day!

I am lying (or is it laying?) on my bed watching the NYC marathon on DVR and blogging on my blackberry. Yes, I am JUST THAT LAZY that I don't want to sit at the computer (even though I can watch the DVR there too). I may regret this when I tire of tapping!

Yes, I already know the results, thanks to Facebook and some spoilers in other blogs. But I still enjoy the watching. The women are in mile 22 and Paula is just now starting to drop back. :(

Despite the extra hour this morning, I did not get an early start on my run this morning. First there was a certain amount of lounging abed. Then, when I was finally ready to get myself going, I discovered that my Garmin was COMPLETELY discharged (like 0%), despite charging it yesterday. WTF???

So I plugged it in to charge for about an hour then went to figure out my route on Mapmyrun, just in case I ended up Garminless. (Plus it never hurts to have a route. :)

I got about 60% of a charge by the time I left. That turned out to be enough (for a 15-mile run and half mile walk), though it beeped "low battery" just before I got home. Don't know how long it would have lasted beyond that. I'm recharging again now and hoping for no surprises tomorrow morning.

At least by waiting till midday to go out I gave the weather time to turn BEAUTIFUL. The sky was blue and the sun was shining. For the first time in weeks I eschewed a jacket and went out in just a half-zip top and capris (I think I will avoid long pants unless it's below 40--yesterday I was a bit warm in my leggings.)

It was cool, though, and when I stepped out the front door to an apparent blast of cold I quickly went back in for gloves. Of course I will never learn, it invariably feels colder on my porch than it does when I get going down the block. As it did today. However, although I was certainly warm enough I never really got overheated and I ended up wearing the gloves the whole way.

My plan today was to go 14 miles. It's always kind of surprising how many back-and-forths it takes to rack up that kind of mileage. My first stab at a route on Mapmyrun was only 10-11 miles so I had to go back and tweak it. I came up with a plan that I was pretty sure would add up to 14 (there were some bits I couldn't sketch on Mapmyrun so I had to guesstimate a little).

I went out feeling good. Why wouldn't I on such a gorgeous day? Of course, as always on a long run my goal was to run easy without concern for pace. And of course, as always I watched obsessively and got concerned whenever I dropped below (or is it above) my comfortable pace of the day (around 9:30). And, as always, averaging made it come out fine in the end.

(Okay I will now take a blogging break to watch the finish of the men's marathon then go to the store for ice cream then get dinner. Back later.)

Okay I'm back. Pleasantly full of Kabocha pumpkin, brown rice and chicken stew! But there will be room for ice cream, oh yes there will. (Dreyer's Slow-Churned Peppermint! Let the winter holidays begin!)

Anyhow, I set out at a decent pace, just under 10 minutes for the first mile, and around 9:30 (give or take) for the rest. About three miles along I came to the Arboretum, and decided to run through for the scenery, even though it's impossible to go faster than about an 11-minute pace, thanks to twisty paths and obstacles like a photographer taking formal pictures of a family (I ran through the picture, couldn't help it, they were on the path!). It's less than a quarter mile through, though, so it didn't drag my overall pace down too much. And it shouldn't matter if it did.

Out of the park I headed back southward and along Grand Avenue, then downtown. I decided I wouldn't turn around and go north again till I passed six miles. Fortuitously I hit six miles right at Pacific Avenue, so I turned around without having to cross Pacific.

At 26th (or 25th?) I came to the pedestrian footbridge across Marine View Drive, and headed down to the waterfront. My next distance objective was to be at 8 or 8.5 miles before I left the marina.

I arrived at the marina around 7.5 miles (I think) and turned onto the one-mile walking path that circles the marina, passing Anthony's and of course running along the water. This was probably the most glorious stretch of run, with the sun sparkling on the water and boats! My legs were so light and ache-free, I felt like I was flying.

On the northern side of the marina, across from the rows of docked boats, I saw two ladies sitting at a beautifully laid out table eating a nice lunch. I waved at them and they called me over, asking me how far I was running. They had seen me earlier in some other part of town. I told them I was at around eight and a quarter and expected to finish 14 or 15.

As I left them I decided to do another loop around, not because I needed the distance, but because I was enjoying the area so much. Of course it was a matter of pride to keep my speed up for my audience! When I passed them the second time they stopped me again to ask more about my running plans and background. Then I waved goodbye and was on my way, 9.35 miles down as I headed back to Marine View Drive.

My biggest hill was coming up, about a quarter mile long and rather steep. On occasion I have done repeats on this hill, but today I didn't need extra miles, so I just plowed up it then enjoyed the gradual downhill on the other side.

I hit 13.1 miles just after crossing 16th Street. My half marathon split time today was 2:05:37, which I think is pretty consistent with other recent long runs.

I was supposed to be almost done by now, but I knew for a fact that I was more than a mile from QFC (planned end point). So it looked like 15 miles was likely.

On I went. In this part of town I had easy landmarks to break up my route. 19th Street, 23rd, then Everett Avenue. Once on Everett Avenue it was about a mile's shot to QFC. A couple more uphills but I kept my eye on a traffic light in the distance which I knew was the top. Then I cruised down into the QFC parking lot and punched the Garmin at 15.15 (though apparently actually 15.16).

I bought myself a mocha at Starbucks (recovery beverage) and walked home. Happily, my multitude of miles allowed me to refuel with a few dark chocolate Reeses PB cup miniatures and a handful of Three Musketeers mint minis! (I was really quite good about the candy yesterday, since I only ran seven miles, but today I could indulge a bit.) And for lunch I ate the leftovers from my post-race breakfast--veggie scramble, a very thick piece of bacon, and a small scone with butter and jam. I think I enjoyed it even more today than yesterday!

FINAL STATS: 15.16 miles, 2:24:55, 9:34 average pace.

Splits--9:58, .52 at 9:38 pace, 9:25, 9:41, 9:33, 9:38, 9:56 (?), 9:32, 9:26, 9:24, 9:37, 9:44 (this may have been the big hill), 9:29, 9:16, 9:25, .63 at 9:15 pace.

Now, ICE CREAM! :)

Sent via BlackBerry by AT&T