Wednesday, December 30, 2009

The last run of 2009

This morning I did my last run in 2009. Yes, I know there's one more day left in the year, but Thursdays are generally non-running days, plus we have other things planned, plus I've already run more consecutive days this week than I ever do, and my legs deserve a little break. I'll pick things up again on Friday (e.g., 10 miles on the first day of 2010?).

As of this morning I have run every day for five days in a row, which is unheard of for me. I didn't plan to run that many consecutive days, it sort of just happened.

It all began when I didn't run on Christmas Day (Friday, which is a running day), and substituted an 8.25 mile run on Saturday morning instead. Saturday afternoon we drove over to Wenatchee to go night skiing at Mission Ridge ($15 lift ticket, woo hoo!). Wenatchee and Mission Ridge are east of the mountains, and are much colder than Western Washington, even than Steven's Pass, which is in the mountains! The temperature when we were up at Mission was about 16 degrees. Brrr! That is cold, even wearing ski clothes and handwarmers in your gloves.

But it was fun, and good skiing (there was only one lift open, but there were several ways to ski down, and the length of the runs was about double what I would call a "typical" ski run. Night skiing began at 4 p.m., and it was still light enough to enjoy some great view and a beautiful sunset. I was wearing the fabulous new ski parka that Rod gave me for Christmas!

We ate dinner in the lodge and had the special, huge, decadent plates of ribs with a really yummy side of baked beans. I ate a lot of ribs but wisely didn't finish them all...but Rod polished off my leftovers.

We were staying at the Chieftain in Wenatchee, a motel that has been around forever (since we were kids), but is now a Best Western. It was nice in a Best Western kind of way. I have stayed in so many tiny, shabby, single-bedded rooms in Europe and England that I am very non-picky when it comes to hotels. As long as it's clean, has adequate heating/cooling/blankets/pillows and a nice big bed (comfortable is a bonus!), I'm happy.

On Sunday morning my alarm went off at 7 a.m. so I could get up and go out into the bitter cold for a run. I so did not want to go. The only reason I finally forced myself to get up was because I had packed all my cold weather running clothes and other running gear. I didn't want my packing efforts to go to waste!

I wore my new Nike thermal running pants (good for running in extra cold weather or walking in somewhat cold weather), a Hind mock turtleneck top and a heavier running jacket, plus a fleece hat, my usual gloves and, added at the last minute, a fleece neck warmer that I use for skiing. How cold was it? I don't know for sure, but I'm sure it was below 20 degrees. I wasn't cold in my warm layers, but I never got overheated either, and I don't think I even really started to sweat until near the end of the run!

Since it was still semi-dark and I'm not familiar with Wenatchee, I decided to stick with running on Wenatchee Avenue, which is a major street (that the motel was on), and impossible to get lost on. I started out running west (I think), in the direction of the Wenatchee River.

This run reminded me why I don't particularly like running on long, straight streets. (This may be why the Las Vegas Half was not one of my favorite runs!) It seems to take so long to cover any mileage! And it is so dull. After about 1.25 miles I passed Starbucks. Of course I couldn't stop because I can't carry a coffee while running. I crossed the Wenatchee River (very cold, dark, and forbidding) just before two miles, and turned around at the two-mile point.
My plan was to go two miles out, two back, then about a mile in the other direction then back, totalling six miles.

Luckily the return trip seemed to go faster (it always does), and the second part of my run, into downtown Wenatchee was more interesting (though still very straight). Wenatchee has a cute little downtown, and I enjoyed looking in the windows of the antiques malls and shops as I passed. I went almost a mile and a half before I turned back. I would have gone further but I knew I needed to get back quickly enough to get ready before breakfast shut down (free breakfast, can't pass that up!). As I neared the Chieftain I was approaching seven miles, and, of course, couldn't resist running around the parking lot to round up to a full seven.

I showered and dressed quickly (I can be very speedy!), and we were down for breakfast by 9:30 or so. They had a big breakfast buffet, with hot food (omelets, sausage, biscuits and gravy, make-your-own-waffles) and the usual cold stuff (English muffins, bagels, cereal, etc.). I had a big waffle (yum!) and an omelet. Then I split a biscuit with Rod so he could try the biscuit with gravy. I put butter and jam on my half.

Although it was a cold day, it was clear and sunny, so we decided to head further east to check out whether there was snow on the ground at Rimrock, where Rod's cabin is. And there was! We got a few pictures of the property in the snow....

The views of snow on the wheatfields as we drove through were amazing. The camera could not really capture the subtle gold and sparking white!

On the drive back we were so lucky to get west of the pass just before a truck went off the road and blocked traffic for hours! My parents and sister's family happened to be in Leavenworth that afternoon, and we passed on stopping to eat with them there. Even though they didn't start back until a couple hours later, they were still delayed for hours by the backed up traffic!

Since I digressed a lot from my original topic here, let me just refresh that Sunday was run number two in my five-day progression.

Monday morning was a usual running day. On Sunday night I had re-tallied my mileage for the year, just to see where I was at. You might recall that I went over my "goal mileage" of 1600 miles by doing CIM. On Sunday night I discovered that I was about 17 miles short of 1700 miles! That was never a plan, of course, but I felt like I was too close to let it go without a shot! My only scheduled running days for the rest of the year were Monday and Wednesday. If I did at least eight miles on Monday, I would need to do about nine on Wednesday to make it happen.

Doing eight miles on a weekday is not a big deal to me, but apparently getting up early enough for that on a Monday morning after a long, busy Christmas holiday is a big deal. By the time I crawled out of bed and got dressed, running eight miles was a practical impossibility, though I did squeeze out 7.5 (at least a mile further than I should have allowed myself, really).

Still, now I was looking at almost ten miles for Wednesday, and I doubted that I could be disciplined enough to guarantee getting up early enough to go almost ten miles and still get to work on time.

The only alternative was to squeeze in some miles somewhere else. New Year's Eve was out (other plans already made). So, I rather reluctantly decided to go for an evening run on Tuesday after work (day four).

Before I go on, I have to comment on the difference between running in the extreme cold in Wenatchee and the moderate cold (mid-30's) here on Monday. My average pace wasn't all that different, 9:52 on Sunday and 9:46 on Monday. But running in the bitter cold was so much more work. It was like the air was heavier and required more effort to even move through it. I marveled on Monday at how much easier my body moved, even though I was on my third day of running.

On day four I at least had the benefit of a 36 hour break between runs. I ran on my side of town, up and down the blocks parallel to my house, until I ended up at QFC after five miles. The first two miles were difficult, but by mile three I had picked up the pace to a sub-10 pace (9:35, 9:45, and 9:27 for the last three miles). This run also meant I only had five miles to go to 1700!

This morning, day five, came early, only twelve hours after last night's run. And my body felt it. Oh, did I feel it. This was definitely a run on tired legs and a tired body. Despite my slowness and non-early start, I squeezed in seven miles exactly (10:05 average pace, thanks to an extremely sluggish start).

Total mileage for the year: 1702.93 miles.

Next year, no mileage goals. I really don't want to commit myself to trying to top this year's mileage, though I probably will if I train as I have been. I think I just want to see what happens!

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