Thursday, January 28, 2010

Spring Training 2010

It all begins on Monday, February 1. That is, my spring training plan leading up to the Newport Marathon on June 5. Plus, a couple other self-improvement schemes that didn't quite go into effect at the beginning of the year.

I spent quite a bit of time working up the details of the 18-week training plan. (Wow, that's a lot of weeks!) I used Hal Higdon's Advanced Marathon II as my template. If you think "advanced" sounds a bit over-reaching, let me assure you that I have modified the plan extensively to meet my needs. Also, the advanced plan is actually pretty much the same as the Intermediate II, except adding speed work and hill work.

I tweaked the plan (a lot).* Higdon's plan has running six days a week, and there is no way I am going to do that! I changed it to running four days a week and cross training on the other three. To do that I combined two of his short run days (Monday and Wednesday) into one longer easy run (Monday), combined his Tuesday and Thursday speed/hill/tempo runs into one speedwork day (Wednesday for me), kept the Saturday pace run pretty much intact except moved it to Friday, and left the Sunday long run essentially as is. With these modifications, my total weekly mileage in four days will typically be the same as his plan over six days. (Sometimes more, I don't do short runs except for 5K's!) I also juggled the placement of the pace runs and long runs just enough to fit in a number of races I have on the schedule.

When I trained for CIM I pretty much used the same schedule but I started halfway through with my long runs already long. On this schedule I don't go over fourteen miles until Week 7. Which is fine with me!

Since this week is the last week before starting the plan, I have been all topsy-turvy with my running. On the one hand, my two runs so far this week have been longer than typical weekday runs (nine miles on Monday and eleven yesterday); on the other hand, I am going to take both Saturday and Sunday off running this weekend (last opportunity for a while to do that!).

Yesterday, I guess in the spirit of being off-schedule, I let myself linger in bed a little too long and then decided it was too late to get up and run before work. It would have been a decent morning for running, though it was a bit cold and foggy, but the weather forecasters promised a sunny afternoon so I decided to put off my run until then.

By the time I left work and got ready to run at 3:00 (I was determined to be done before sunset, which was 5:00), it wasn't really sunny anymore but it was still quite pleasant out. I took a chance and went out without a jacket on. I decided to run from my house down to Marine View Drive and around the waterfront perimeter, including out to the Hat Island ferry dock, where I had never been before.

At first my legs were not happy to run, and kept threatening me with aches (ankle), pains (shin), and heaviness (both legs). After about three miles, though, they loosened up and my soreness dissipated a lot. I reminded myself of my mantra, "first five miles are warm-up, second five are easy," and in fact, by the time I was in mile six I did feel like I was running much more easily.

Despite my lack of a morning run, I had eaten a big breakfast (oatmeal with stuff in it) and lunch (barbecue pork sandwich), plus some other goodies in the office kitchen**, and I felt all that food heavy in my stomach for a good portion of the run. Honestly, that alone is a good reason to run in the morning instead of afternoon/evening, to run on a relatively empty stomach and avoid side stitches and heartburn! That too eventually abated, however.

At 6.5 miles I stopped to use the bathroom and called my secretary. She asked if I was coming back to the office--I was going to write her paycheck early as she was going to be off for a couple days. Even though I could easily do the check in the morning, I decided that a goal would be to get back to the office by 5:00. It's about a mile from my house, so I needed to modify my planned route a little bit to accommodate the extra mile or so.

So instead of continuing to follow the Port of Everett trail (that I was attempting to find for the third time), I stayed on Marine View Drive until I got to Pacific Avenue, then headed east to Colby and then north toward the office. (This involved several blocks of hills, as well!) On Colby I decided to pick up the pace, and my last two miles were about 9:15 and then 8:30. My average pace for eleven miles total was about 9:30 per mile.

The only downside was that after sitting at the office for a while, I was cooled off and walking home in the cold (and now dark) wearing a sweaty top with no jacket was a little chilly! But I got a short mocha at Safeway along the way and that helped fend off hypothermia a bit.

Tomorrow morning is my usual Friday medium long run, and I'm hoping to at least match the eleven miles (maybe further) before taking off for the weekend.

So, other things that I plan to do starting February 1....

  • Resume yoga and/or Pilates. This is probably the one thing that I am least confident that I will follow through with. I don't know why I have such a barrier to getting back into it. I did yoga for years. Mainly it's just the commitment to evening classes, after working all day. (This is why running in the morning works so much better for me.)
  • Give up sweets for the month of February! Yes, I need to cut the cord again. Since Christmas my sweet tooth has been raging. I have pretty much managed to keep my sugar consumption within my calorie guidelines, but it's not a good way to live, cutting my "real food" calories to a minimum to accommodate treats. Also, I suspect I routinely underestimate portions and calories, and while that makes little difference with things like salad greens and salsa, it makes a huge difference with cookies and candy. February is a good month to do this (despite Valentine's Day in the middle), because it is only 28 days long!
For some reason this week I have been having qualms about my ability to run. You know, wondering what makes me think I can run 13 or 16 or 26 miles, especially at any kind of a pace. (Even though I've done it many times.) I am assuming that this is just the winter blues, and although February may not be the best time to get over that, I will be working toward the longer days and warmer weather of spring and summer. Fortuitously, my long runs (16 or more miles) don't begin until March 21--the first day of spring!

*I considered scanning my plan and posting it as picture, but I wasn't able to do that. Technical limitations....

**Including peanut brittle, which I'm not even especially crazy over, so I don't know why I can't stop eating that stuff! Even now, as I am writing this, I have the taste of it in my mouth from my last trip to the office kitchen.

Monday, January 25, 2010

Kale chips

I finally checked out another internet sensation, oven-baked kale chips! Simply, piece of kale baked till they're browned and crispy ("chips"!).

My review is a solid thumbs up. I plowed through an entire plate just like that. (They're also light as air, not unlike potato and other chips.)

For each cookie sheet of chips, you can use about one bunch of kale. It doesn't have to be a single layer but I don't think it should be piled too deeply either.

Wash and dry the kale (mine was organic and not sandy or anything, so I just patted off the water from the store. I was able to get the kind of kale that is crinkly but not too curly (sometimes called dinosaur kale) but I'm sure other kinds work too.

Tear the leaves into pieces, discarding the thick stems. Spread onto a parchment lined cookie sheet. Drizzle lightly with olive oil or (as I did) spray well with olive oil spray and sprinkle with kosher salt and pepper (if you like pepper).

Bake at 350 to 375 degrees until dried and browned, probably about 15 minutes. I tossed them around a couple of times with my fingers to make sure the limper pieces got a chance to crisp up.

I probably put a little too much salt on mine; the taste of salt really comes out when the kale dehydrates. (I'll probably puff up like a balloon tomorrow!) Next time I'll be more careful. (And there will be a next time, I still have another bunch of kale!)
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Ups and Downs

It was a week of ups and downs. Literally and figuratively, both. Skiing (which included both ups and downs). Lots of hill running (intentional and not so intentionally). Good runs and not-so-hot runs. Good moods and not-so-good moods.

The week started with a ski day on Martin Luther King Jr. Monday. That was actually a really good day for skiing—the snow was soft and a little heavy, which made for a little more work but it wasn't bad (and not icy!). The weather alternated between foggy (which is pretty hard to ski in, it messes with your orientation), and clear, sunny "bluebird" skies. The bluest blue you'll ever see. My legs were just a little bit tired, though, from the long runs on Friday and Saturday and about 100 minutes on the elliptical machines on Sunday afternoon.

Because of the skiing, I didn't run on Monday, so I headed out Tuesday morning to do my Monday run with legs that had two days of rest from running.* Plus, the weather had turned exceptionally balmy, 54 degrees at 6 a.m.! I ditched my jacket and went out in just a half-zip top and capris (rather than my usual winter long running pants), and my legs were light and happy. I flew through 8-plus miles at 9:38 average pace, from 10:18 in my first mile to 8:50 in my final.

Wednesday, though, was a different matter. Legs were fresh-no-more. It took me all of 8.5 miles to finish with an average pace of 10 minutes per mile exactly. Slowest pace 10:31 (first mile), fastest 9:39 (for the final .91 mile segment). A lot of miles hovering just around the 10 minute mark.

Friday I broke up my run into three consecutive portions. I was meeting my business partner Ann and my secretary's son Arjin at the office to run with them, so I started out with five miles on my own to up the total mileage. This was a huge sacrifice** as it required me to get up before 6 a.m. and get out there so I could meet them at 7:00. Of course I didn't get out the door quite as promptly as I planned, and after a couple of miles (10:49, 10:01) I started stressing about whether I had enough time to get back to the office by 7:00. So I picked up the pace. Mile 3 - 9:18. Mile 4 - 8:37. Mile 5 - 8:35. Then I was there.*** I was a couple minutes late but that was because I had to wait at a light for a long time in order to cross Broadway!

I had no idea what to expect of pacing from Ann and Arjin so I just let Ann set the pace. Several years ago I vowed never to run with Ann because she said (off the cuff) that she didn't like to run with other people because they run slower than her. I am sure she wouldn't remember this but it is burned in my memory! Yet last week when this whole "group running" scheme was being dreamed up she told Lorraine (my secretary) that she ran for distance rather than speed. Of course she is several years older now.... :)

So we took off at a moderate pace. I felt like it was around a 10-minute pace and occasional glances at my Garmin confirmed that. I have to give kudos to Ann and Arjin though, my first mile out the door is usually much slower! I had the benefit of being quite warmed up with five miles under my belt already.

We got to QFC at about 2.5 miles and if we'd headed directly back it would have added a mile or so more. Instead we decided to keep going up Everett Avenue and run down Colby by the hospital, then back to the office. That ended up adding exactly two miles, for a nice 4.5 mile run, with pretty respectable splits—9:55, 9:56, 9:42, 9:29, and 9:24 for the final half mile.

That put me at 9.5 miles. I went into the office, and since it was about 8 a.m., Lorraine and others were already at work (8 a.m. is not a time when I have ever been seen in the office!). I ate a scone that I had baked and brought over the night before (Oatmeal and Dried Cherry) (I baked a whole batch for the office, not just the one for me), then headed out for my trip back to Starbucks. Another 1.6 miles, and I had 11.1 miles in the books for Friday. And I had plenty of time to get dressed and off to my massage and hair appointments... I mean, to work!

I decided to do my long run for the week on Saturday, as we had plans to go skiing on Sunday. I could have (and should have) been out by 9:00 or so, but while letting my breakfast digest (I made another half batch of Oatmeal Cherry Scones for Rod and me) I got caught up in several episodes of You Are What You Eat on BBC America. It's an English show about this very mean woman named Gillian who storms into peoples lives and makes them overhaul their diets and lifestyles. She is also obsessed with, er, the digestive system! And, by the way, she is much less attractive than the glamour shot on the website. She is English, after all!****

Anyhow, with this, that and the other (including mapping out my route, an ultimately failed endeavor), I didn't leave the house until almost noon. I planned to make another effort to run along the Port of Everett waterfront trail. I studied the map, and coordinated with Mapmyrun, and pretty much believed I had figured it out. It all began with getting to Pigeon Creek Road (in Forest Park) off of Mukilteo Boulevard.

I ran up Mukilteo Boulevard, and when I hit View Ridge I knew I had gone too far (at least one extra uphill involved), so I ran back down to the only road that could possibly be Pigeon Creek Road, although it was not marked. It was, however, near a sign indicating "Pigeon Creek." I took a chance and headed down the road.

And "down" was definitely the word. I expected to meet up with the Port of Everett trail at the bottom, so I felt very thankful as I trotted downhill that I wouldn't have to go back up. It was a scenic trip through the woods, though, and it was alongside Pigeon Creek. Three quarters of a mile later I was at the bottom, to be met by chain link fences, railroad tracks (on the other side of the fences) and No Trespassing signs. Oops. Apparently no trail access from here! (I surmised.)

I did spot a foot trail through the woods nearby, and thinking this might be an alternate route, I stopped the Garmin and started hiking up, hoping to at least return to the main road. After a lot of climbing, scrambling, slipping, and muddying up my previously clean running shoes, I came to some logs across the trail that really blocked my path. I decided not to attempt either going under or over, and reluctantly made my way back down to the bottom of Pigeon Creek Road. And then commenced to "run" back up. (This portion of the run gave me an 11:47 mile.)

I really don't like running when I don't know where I am going, and so my trip through the Rucker Hill area (up and down lots more hills) was not my favorite. I like looking at the big fancy houses and the view of the water, but this ambling type of run kept my pace pretty slow (like in the 10-minute-plus range).

I did make my way back down to the waterfront and Port of Everett area, including spotting "Depot Park," which is where the old train depot used to be. I ran back north along the sidewalks that bordered the waterfront and who knows, maybe this is what the Port of Everett trail consists of? I don't know, further exploration may be needed. I may have to start at the north end and work my way south, since access from the south has been such a failure so far.

By the time I got to the Everett Marina and Anthony's restaurant, my mileage was already approaching nine miles. If I had completed the run as originally planned I would have topped 15 miles, and I just wasn't feeling it that day. Plus the afternoon was ticking away (my little hike burned up 20 minutes, for one thing) and we had plans to go to my parents' for dinner later on.

So after my marina loop I turned back and headed for the pedestrian overpass that would take me from Marine View Drive to north Everett. I backtracked as far as 19th Street and then turned to head for Starbucks (my semi-final destination, before home). I figured that would get me at least twelve miles and that was all I wanted to do. No more.

However, I was a little over twelve when I hit Broadway and I reluctantly decided to loop around the block enough to get me to 12.6 miles. My idea was that my half mile walk home would then put me at 13.1 miles total. There was no way that I was going to just keep running long enough to hit 13.1 that way. I really, really needed to be done running. Not because I was particularly tired or anything. I was more mentally fatigued.

Coincidentally, just after I got my mocha from Starbucks my sister walked in, on the way to my parents' house! Forgetting my intent to walk the extra half mile home, I immediately asked for a ride. To heck with 13.1!

My average pace per mile for this run was 10:09, which I consider a gift, considering how many slow uphill miles I endured!

On Sunday Rod and I drove to Waterville in Eastern Washington (a 3-hour drive) to go skiing at a little local ski area called Badger Ski Hill. This was their first (and hopefully not last) day open of the season. To support their efforts, we got season's passes. (We won't be there enough to make it cost-effective, it's more of a charitable gift.)

Badger operates with rope tows (which we didn't use) and a T-bar. I have never used, or even seen, a T-bar before! This lovely Youtube clip tells the whole tale (apparently others have had the same experience as me!) Yes, I tried to sit down and fell off (the first time) that way. I also tried to hold on too tightly with my arms and when they wore out halfway up I fell off that way. This may seem funny (and it is) but it was pretty traumatic. Yes, I cried.

Finally Rod rode up with me and, seriously, it is much easier with two people because it is more balanced with one on each side of the T. We did most of our skiing like that, and I actually began to like it (well, endure it). Eventually he talked me into trying it on my own again, and this time I did manage the trip without falling off or ripping my arms from their sockets. After a few trips I actually felt quite comfortable doing it. (But I still think it is better with two people!)

The T-bar, however, is not the beginning of our Badger story. No, it really began when we left the car, parked alongside the field that is the Badger Ski Hill area, and began the hike to the lodge carrying our skis. In the fog. With no sign of our destination ahead (because of the fog). I finally got an idea of how my mother felt when I made her walk through fields in England and she kept asking where we were going, and I answered, "Through the field." (And then what? She would ask. And I said "Another field.")

The lodge was rustic but very warm, with tables and benches and roaring fires.

The skiing was okay; only the one hill was really skiable (not enough snow on the other two slopes) and it was quite foggy, which is a bit disorienting. I skiied pretty cautiously, but that wasn't enough to prevent one big fall (total face plant) where I slid halfway down the mountain (so it seemed) before I was able to stop myself and get it together. A bypasser (skier) kindly brought me my pole from where I had inadvertantly dropped it. (I have to say that I was meanly pleased to see Rod take a spill later on too!)

After we got our pictures taken for our passes and had enough skiing in the ever-deepening fog, we headed back to the car (luckily able to ski down where we had hiked up earlier). I amazed Rod with my clothes-changing skills as I changed (by the side of the car) from ski pants to jeans in the time he spent calling his dad to report on the Badger experience! Then he decided to change too. Much more pleasant for the drive home.

Whew! This is getting long. But finally I have made it to today. The last thing I have to write about is this morning's run. Once again I had agreed to run with Arjin (not Ann today), so we had arranged to meet at the office at 6:30. I didn't need to do 11 miles today, but I did want more than four or five, so I left home around 6:00 (a little after, really should have been before), and squeezed in 2.9 miles on the way to the office. I was a few minutes late, which is why I didn't take the time to bump it up to three.

We took off on the same route as Friday. This time, however, the pace was faster. I truly did not intend to set more than a moderate pace, but it felt like Arjin kept speeding up. So I sped up to keep up with him. Then he sped up more. This was a little strange. I'm sure he has the ability to run fast (he has long legs and ran track in high school) but he's not trained up for the speed. So I think he had to work at it. I myself do not like to put too much effort into a Monday run. :)

I told him when we had to stop for the light at Broadway that we were going pretty fast. Then we crossed Broadway and went faster. :)

Check out the splits from this morning. First, my 2.9 miles: 10:09, 9:33, .9 mile at 9:22 pace. Then 4.6 miles with Arjin: 9:23, 9:09, 9:06, 8:49, and .6 mile at 8:23 pace (I forgot to hit the split button for half a block after I left him so it changed to .67 at 8:37). Finally, my trip to QFC: 9:40 and the remaining half mile or so at 9:37 pace. Total 9.02 miles, 9:21 average pace.

There is no way I could (or should) do this kind of a fast run on a Monday morning after a Sunday long run, but since I had yesterday "off" from running it worked! If Arjin can keep up this pace, maybe he can go with me on Friday tempo runs, though (when I start the new training schedule on February 1).

One more week until "spring training"!

*Hence my rule for races in which I care about my time—two days off beforehand!

**Normally I start a little later on Friday mornings.

***Of course, my speedy miles only knocked 2-3 minutes off the total running time, anyway.

****To quote my mother, "The English are not a pretty people."

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Results dilemma

The final results from the Nookachamps Half were posted online (really quickly!) and there was only a two second difference between me and the girl who stepped in front of me before we handed in our bib tags. She is listed as 1:56:15 and I am listed as 1:56:17, although it should have been the reverse. Obviously I am not going to be bothered about a two-second discrepancy (no, really, I'm not).

But it does give me pause over what time to post as my finish time. My real time? My official time? My watch time (1:56:16)?

Well, I'm going with the official time and sucking it up. I'm not sitting here pouting over two seconds (no, really, I'm not).

In other news, Judge Dave finished way ahead of me in a time I could only dream of—1:44:16. Whew! That's like an 8-minute mile pace!**

I'm not going to be beating that in this lifetime. Good for him, though! (Yeah, really, I mean it!)

*Or 7:58 if you use a calculator and count every second. And I certainly would if it were my time, just to claim the sub-8 pace!

Sunday, January 17, 2010

Half Marathon on a whim

Well, that's not entirely accurate...I didn't JUST decide to go out yesterday morning and run a half marathon. I actually saw an ad for the Nookachamps Half Marathon (in Mt. Vernon) in Northwest Runner back in November. I checked out the website and thought it might be a good opportunity for a race on January, if it worked out.

But since it was on the Saturday of MLK Jr. weekend, I didn't know at all whether there might be other plans to interfere with a little half marathon that I might run just for fun. Skiing, weekend trip to Eastern Washington, or some other activity that would interfere. And I was okay with that possibility.

So I didn't pre-register, just kept the idea on the back burner. And by last Thursday there were no other conditions were not great, and the little ski area we wanted to go to wasn't opening for another week. So, it seemed, I was free to do a half marathon on Saturday!

This would be the first race of any kind I'd done since CIM. I have been fully recovered for weeks, I know, but I am in constant trepidation of getting into a winter slump. I really have no perspective. Is a 9:45 pace long run reasonable, or is it the first step in a downward spiral of slowness? (I said, NO perspective.)

So this would be a small opportunity to test my legs again. It would also be a good tempo run of sorts, to counteract those 9:45 runs (I hoped). I didn't want or plan to try for a PR, or put out more than a reasonably strong effort. I would be happy, more than happy, with a two hour time (and realized that might not even happen).

To increase the stakes, or maybe decrease them, I didn't even take Friday off from running to rest my legs, as I would for a "serious" race. Instead I ran 10.2 miles (9:41 average pace), ate cake at work, and probably ended up underfueled anyway.

On Saturday morning I got up at the very reasonable time of 7 a.m. and was given the gift of clear skies and a hint of sun! It had been raining STEADILY all week. Decent weather made running much more appealing, even though it was quite cold (I had to scrape ice off my car for the first time in weeks).

I fueled on the northward drive with coffee from Starbucks and a cranberry scone that Luke and Mary brought me from Sisters on Friday. (It was yummy, but what I REALLY love is their oatmeal maple scone. Oh. My. God.)

I got to the starting point (Skagit Valley College) before 9:00 (the race started at 10). The visitor parking lot was full already, so nervously I parked in student parking (many others followed suit after me) and found my way to registration in the gym. I did have a small crisis when I lost my phone for a bit after leaving it on a registration table, but luckily soon spotted in the hand of a guy with a microphone (about to make an announcement).

I had originally planned to try out a new one-bottle fuel belt (with a large extra pocket), but when I had difficulty actually drinking from the bottle, I decided to just drink water on the course. (I didn't want to carry my handheld.) I'll have to work on figuring out the bottle before I try it again. I just wore my regular waist pack for my phone and car key. I also brought a Gu, although I didn't use it.

I used the bathroom without waiting in line, then jogged around for a mile to warm up my legs. After that I did stand in line for another bathroom visit, but got in and out with plenty of time to spare. While I was waiting I spotted a former prosecutor/now judge and hailed him as "Dave"--which I haven't really called him since he became a judge. (That is what he would expect though--we are still peers on the race course!) I of course have a lingering curiousity about his time. There was a rather long out and back section of the course where I should have spotted him regardless of whether he was ahead of me or behind, but I didn't. I'll have to wait and stalk--I mean check, of course--the online results.
After the potty I still had time to get in another half mile of warm-up before gathering in the starting area. There was also a 5K and 10K starting at the same time as the half.

Thanks to the usual crowd chatter, I could barely hear the announcements, but I did pick up a few helpful points. He promised that all turns would be marked with arrows, so there was no chance of getting lost. (True, also they had plenty of volunteers pointing the way.) He also said that the race started with an uphill (followed by a downhill, happily), and there was also a hill at the end (again, followed by a downhill to the finish).

Then we were off! This was a non-chip race, so I guess I lost a few seconds in the shuffle to the starting line (it also put my Garmin off by a tenth of a mile), but it was a minimal delay.

I started off pretty fast when I got out of the crowd, although the promised hill slowed me a bit. Mile 1 - 8:37. I was rewarded with the subsequent downhill and 8:20 for Mile 2.

Then we were running through farmland flats and miles 3-6 were pretty consistent--8:39, 8:48, 8:44, 8:52. Running on long, flat, straight roads can make you feel a little plodding, and I was happy to be staying under 9-minute miles with reasonable effort. I reminded myself, as I approached and passed the five mile mark, that after the first five miles, the next five would be "easy" (based on my previously determined formula).

I have spent a lot of time driving through farm country, and am quite familiar with the scents that waft into your car. But let me assure you, you appreciate (if that's the proper word) these fragrances MUCH more when you are running through them at 6.8 mph or so then when you are in a closed vehicle at 50 mph. I learned, for example, that the various types of manure have distinctly different smells. We passed by a farm that has, I suspect, both cows and chickens.

About halfway along we came to the town of Clear Lake. Just running through a little town was a nice change from the endless miles of roads. As we turned a corner in town, we were suddenly confronted by a short, steep hill. I didn't even mind it as I jogged up with short steps (my newly established steep hill stride). I know my pace there was slow, but it was over quickly! I more enjoyed the series of rolling hills that followed, as this is a favorite running terrain for me. Mile 7 - 8:52; Mile 8 - 8:44.

As we approached the end of mile 8 (on the flats again), we turned onto a road that was to be an out and back--one mile to the turnaround, we were informed.

Now, I would have thought that this would break up the distance nicely--"only" a mile, then "only" a mile back, then we'd be almost through ten miles!

But I must say that the "out" mile seemed interminable. And the back was not much better. Even though the road was pancake flat, these were my slowest miles yet. Mile 9 - 8:58, Mile 10 - 8:55. Even though I wasn't overly tired, I guess I was a bit tired of running.

As we were approaching the end of mile 10, a man who was running near me told me that we were approaching a big hill. I replied, flippantly, that it would be a nice change from all this flat! Actually, I kind of meant it.

Mile 11 was, in fact, pretty much all uphill--as was mile 12! Even though it wasn't horribly steep, I couldn't maintain my sub-9 pace and felt glad for the cushion of fast miles in the beginning. I was still under 90 minutes after mile 10, which meant I could almost do 10-minute miles the rest of the way and still finish in two hours. Mile 11 - 9:23, Mile 12 - 9:05.

Did I mention that I had planned to pick up the pace in the last 5K? Well, the hills put a stop to that. But in the final mile, the grade changed to downhill, and I finally managed to find my next gear and finish mile 13 in 8:36, by pacing myself from mailbox to mailbox. Then, a final burst of speed as I turned into the college grounds and toward the finish line on the track. The clock ticked past 1:56 and I crossed the line at 1:56:16 (my last .2 miles at 8:26 pace).

Unfortunately there was a bit of a cluster past the finish line and the girl BEHIND me walked in front of me and handed in her tag first. WTF??? Perhaps unfortunately, I didn't say anything. We'll see what the computer results say. If it's too bad, maybe I'll send an e-mail.

I hung around for a bit, ate some orange wedges and animal crackers, then headed out. I made a stop at the Calico Cupboard and bought a giant cinnamon roll...then stopped at my parents' on the way home to give them half. (I ate the other half with a sandwich at home.)

Then we "celebrated" my half marathon by going to dinner at Applebee's (Christmas gift card) and to see Up in the Air. The movie was my pick, the "non-violent movie of my choice" after voluntarily watching Inglourious Bastards Friday night. This movie had no scalpings, anyway (well, at least not literal ones!).

All in all, a good race, and I'm more than satisfied with my time. I'm sure I could have pushed it more, and saved a little time by carrying my own fluids (I made two water stops, one in which I actually walked for a few seconds while I drank). And of course, chip timing would shave a few seconds. But it's all good.

Before I end, let me say that I know that my little races, and my whining about weather and such, are of no moment in a world of tragic events, most recently the horrible earthquake in Haiti. I feel truly fortunate that my troubles, for the most part, are trivial and non-earth shattering. I hope we can all (as I plan to) take a little bit of that money we spend so freely on race entries and running gear, and donate to an organization that aids those so much less fortunate than we are.
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Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Feeling like a plodder...

I am not having a great running week. I am including Sunday in that assessment, although on my running calendar Sunday is the last day of the previous week. I am still having a running week, it's just not great, so far at least.

Prior to the weekend, I spent a lot of time last week cleaning and fixing up my house to host an afternoon tea party on Saturday (a Mother's Day gift from a friend to her mother). Happily, most of the chore work was done by midweek and Friday evening was available for planning and food prep.

I must say the event was a great success. I used my Rose Chintz china and silver from England and served traditional tea sandwiches (four kinds--cucumber, salmon/lox, chicken and almond salad, and ham with cheese), homemade scones with jam plus clotted cream that I had in the freezer from my last trip to England, and an assortment of cakes and pastries (that I purchased). Also pink champagne (to match the china) and two kinds of tea, Brown's afternoon blend and Twinings Earl Grey.

What does this have to do with running? Well, I somewhat suspect that the cleaning and prep efforts throughout the week, plus my generous sampling of sandwiches and goodies, may have contributed to the malaise which seems to have afflicted me this week. At least that's a better reason than "I am just a crap runner" which also has occurred to me a few times!

On Sunday (the day after the party) I lolled in bed for quite a long time, then finally got up and dressed to go for a run. Still, I was in and out of the house a couple times before I finally hit the road. First I forgot my water bottle and had to go back in. Then I went to look on the computer for the beginning of a waterfront path I had read about (but I didn't manage to figure out how to access it after all, so the delay was a big waste of time).

I planned to do fourteen miles, so I figured I would just go seven miles toward Mukilteo and then retrace my route back. This is an extremely hilly road that I figure is good training, even if not always a lot of fun! Actually, most of my prior runs on this up and down route have been pretty quick (this Sunday was an exception).

My only concern about this route is that the bathroom opportunities are almost non-existent after the first few miles. I stopped at every location--mile 1 (Starbucks), mile 2 (McDonald's) and mile 3.5 (gas station). Then I went into what I call the barren area. My original intention was to go another 3.5 miles (to the outskirts of Mukilteo) then turn around. That would mean, of course, a seven-mile stretch without an available bathroom. Usually not a problem, but...I wasn't feeling so hot. Maybe it was all the rich food from the tea....

Around mile 5 or 6 I took the unprecedented step of taking a couple of Immodium I carry for emergencies. I have never done this before! But it seemed to hold things off. However, when I reached my turning point, I really did not feel up to another 3.5 miles before a bathroom stop. So I continued on into Mukilteo to the ferry terminal, an extra .75 miles along the way.

That stop was, however, very necessary and very helpful. and I made my 4.25 mile trip back to the gas station without concern. The road was more uphill on the return trip, though, including an interminable one-mile hill from Harborview Park to View Ridge! Not to mention that my detour through town to the ferry terminal was all downhill (thus uphill on the way out). My time splits definitely reflect all this.

This was not an easy run for me. In addition to the gastro distress, I just felt sort of achy and tired throughout. Last fall I was averaging 9:20-9:30 for this route; on Sunday I barely managed to squeak under a ten-minute average, thanks to 9:19, 8:39, and 9:19 average paces in the last 2.5 miles. I even had two sad, slow 10:37 miles, which I am sure included the departure from the ferry-terminal and the one-mile hill! My total distance was 15.15 miles and the total time was exactly 2 hours 30 minutes.

I got a mocha at Starbucks for the walk home, but after that I didn't really feel like eating (though I know I should have had some lunch). By the time I was making a batch of scones and some sandwiches to send to my sister and her husband, I started feeling woozy. I ate a handful of raisins (although I forgot to put the dried fruit in the scones!) and some ham from the sandwiches and felt a little better. Later on my appetite did return with a vengeance, and I had to make myself a toasted ham and cheese sandwich (on a sandwich thin) to eat while my dinner cooked!

Monday morning was supposed to be a running day, but once again it was pouring rain and I just felt achy, presumably from the run on Sunday. For once I decided just to stay in bed! (I went to the Y after work, though.) I wish I had been more successful at getting to sleep early, though. I fell asleep watching TV in that patchy way where you wake up at 12:30 or 1 and the TV is still blaring.

Which brought me to today, Tuesday. Another rainy day, of course, but I was determined not to wimp out again. I was, however, a little slow about getting out of bed. I didn't actually get out the front door until 6:30 (which is at least 15-30 minutes later than I should be). Plus I discovered, just before I left, that my ipod was in the red zone--meaning almost discharged. I decided just to put it on and let it play as long as possible, until it stopped (and it continued working for quite a while, really).

My extra day of rest on Monday didn't seem to have helped much, though. I was still achy, and really never got in the groove. At one point I wondered whether the achiness could be caused by something else, like the flu... but I don't think that's the case. I think I was just having a rough day.

Despite my glacial pace (10:05 average today), I manage to squeeze in 6.5 miles by running home instead of stopping at Starbucks, and I even got to work on time. That's good, anyway.

Tomorrow's another running day. Rain still in the forecast. I would like to get out early enough to do 8+ miles...but we shall see. Let's hope for a better day tomorrow, shall we?

Monday, January 11, 2010

Valerie Bertinelli is running the Boston Marathon!

I picked up this earth-shattering bit of news this morning when I (once again) shunned the pouring rain and (this time) stayed in bed instead of going out running. This allowed me to turn on the Today show promptly at 7 a.m., a luxury of which I have been deprived since I started this morning running thing a few years ago. They started promoting Valerie's piece as "up next" around 7:25 a.m. Still, I was able to take a shower at 7:35, make breakfast at 7:45, be back upstairs at 7:55 just in time for them to promise (again) that Valerie Bertinelli will be "up next"! I think she was finally on at about 8:10.

Valerie was primarily on the show to promote her new book, Finding It. The bit about the Boston Marathon came up almost as an aside, and Valerie explained briefly that "Dana Farber asked me to do it" and she is training now. It turns out that she is participating in the Dana Farber Cancer Institute Marathon Challenge to raise funds for cancer research. So in that aspect, her celebrity status probably will be legitimately beneficial, rather than just a way to run Boston without qualifying (as perhaps an earlier snarky Facebook post might have suggested).

I'm not going to write a whole post about celebrity runners. The February 2010 issue of Runners' World has a really entertaining and thoroughly researched article on this topic (page 56), and I highly recommend checking it out for a chuckle. It's not available on the website yet but may be later on. I especially enjoyed the comments by Tom Cavanaugh ("Ed")* (I've always secretly had a crush on him, and I didn't even know he was a runner!).

Hmmm, I seem to have digressed. Back to Valerie Bertinelli.** Although the "running for charity" thing modifies my opinions, I would have been really impressed if she'd quietly gone out and qualified for Boston on her own. Of course, she would have been screwed a little bit, since Boston 2010 is just four days before her 50th birthday, when she enters into a new qualifying time category! The Today Show web article suggests that running Boston makes her just like "thousands of other everyday folks in the race."

Well. I wonder how the thousands of people who have bust their behinds attempting to qualify for Boston would feel about being called "everyday folks"?

*I loved this show too...what's not to like? Hottie Tom Cavanaugh playing a lawyer who practices law from a bowling alley, Julie Bowen (who I just want to be like, or look like anyway), Justin Long, and many other lovable characters and witty dialogue.
**Who I really do like, but I've never wanted to be her...can't imagine that level of perky. And she lost a few points with me when she put on the bikini. (Why? Because it makes it seem like she bought into the attitude that you have to be super-thin and bikini-ready to be a weight loss success.)

Monday, January 4, 2010

So it's 2010—now what?

What is the proper etiquette these days—make resolutions? Don't make resolutions? I do have a few things I plan to pursue, or accomplish, in 2010, although I don't know that I would call them resolutions, as such. Perhaps surprisingly, they don't have too much to do with running. I feel like my running is in a pretty good place and I don't need to set up special goals to improve it. I do have some plans, but even those are still in development.

But as for the things I do want to accomplish in 2010...some are very concrete and simple, others are more ephemeral.

Start taking Vitamin D and, probably, fish oil capsules. (I used to take both but stopped when I ran out of Vitamin D!)

Floss regularly. And start using a Sonicare!

Start going back to yoga and possibly Pilates, if I can find a class. Work on my core. Consider weight training. I stopped going to yoga and Pilates over the summer because the classes are in the evening and I wanted to have my summer evenings free. After summer ended, I had a hard time giving up my free evenings! As for working on my core, I can do that either by taking classes or on my own; I think classes are probably easier to stick to. And I do want to lift weights, but that's another thing that would require spending some of my unoccupied evenings at the Y.

Spend less money, save more. Pay things off and be more financially responsible! Seriously. I have enough clothes, already! Including running clothes. I have enough tech shirts and jackets to keep me dressed for years!

Get my house cleaned up, get rid of clutter (including old paid bills which I really don't need to keep). Make it as nice as it deserves to be and keep it that way, okay?*

Also, fix some things that need fixing. Replace the burned out light bulbs, for goodness sakes! Is that too much to ask of myself?

Work on my yard and garden! I had great tomatoes last year but slacked on everything else (meaning ornamental stuff, not more vegetables).

I don't have any particular expectations for work. I plan to continue to do my job well and balance it with my life, but I don't see any special changes in store.

I don't have any healthy living goals because I do eat amazingly well (especially in the vegetable department) and I don't plan to change that, except, of course to continue my ongoing efforts not to over-indulge in sweets. I don't eat fast food, I don't drink alcohol, really my only major weakness is sugar (cookies, cake, and candy), and most of the time I keep that under (pretty good) control.

I would like to lose a little weight (well, lose a few post-marathon plus holiday pounds, which should come off quickly, I hope, and maybe a few more), but I don't consider it a major New Year's Resolution. I have been reading a book called Racing Weight, and after I finish it and think about it some, I may write a post about the topic.

Now, for the fun stuff! Since I started writing this a couple of days ago, I have firmed up some of my race running plans for 2010. In addition to the specific races below, I am sure there will be a few 5K and 10K runs, either ones I've done before or new ones. I'm not committing to anything specific in that area yet because I feel like I need to be flexible in not booking up every single weekend with some running agenda (other than the usual long run). The ones below are races I am pretty sure I will do--some of which I have either registered for or made hotel reservations for, or both.

Sunday, May 2 - Lilac Bloomsday 12K, Spokane. Haven't actually made any arrangements yet (except for "just-in-case" reservations at the Davenport Hotel) but I feel the need for 12K redemption--my time last year was slower than the year before, and I am in need of a 12K PR! I am hoping that my lackluster pace last year won't bump me back into a slower starting wave.

Saturday, June 5 - Newport Marathon, Newport, Oregon. This will be my next marathon! Newport is on the Oregon Coast, more than 300 miles from here but driveable with an early morning start on Friday. My parents are coming with me and we are spending a few days down there, returning on Monday. I picked this one because the time frame is good (spring), the course looks reasonable, the location is a scenic destination but doesn't require flying or excessive travel, and I'm not quite ready for the Big Sur Marathon!

Fortuitously, Rod and I are going to Kona, Hawaii for Memorial Day weekend, which is the week before Newport. This will be a great opportunity to relax and taper, as well as run on the Big Island. I never really got around to writing a lengthy blog post about our trip to Kona last year, but I have always felt that Kona is where I really started to get my speed back (after my gradual redemption that began in the spring). Plus I should be in top pre-marathon shape by that time (we can hope), which is all the better for wearing shorts and swimwear.

Saturday, July 31 - Anacortes Art Dash Half Marathon. I'm not signed up for this one yet, but I've done it the last few years and plan to do it again unless there is some reason I can't.

Saturday, September 11 - Fairhaven Waterfront 15K. This is my favorite race. This year I am making it an event for my dad's 70th birthday, we will all be staying at the Fairhaven Village Inn for the weekend!

Sunday, September 26 - Bellingham Bay Marathon. This is going to be my "big" marathon for the year, meaning the one where I try to PR (assuming I am in a good position for that by September). I just happen to have 3:55 and 3:50 pace bands that I got at the Las Vegas Marathon last year for use in the half marathon distance...maybe I can recycle them here! The Bellingham Half last year was my PR, and I am tempted by the full....

Sunday, October 10 - Inaugural Portland Half Marathon. I am not too thrilled with the concept of running a half mary two weeks after a full; I would definitely prefer the reverse order. But I was lured into signing up for the first Portland Half (since I didn't try to get into the Virgin London Marathon this year, I guess I wanted to do the first of something), and of course I had already kind of decided to do the full up in we'll see how it goes. Worst case scenario, I'll be slow--not the end of the world! My mom is coming with me and we're staying at the Benson Hotel.

The other long race that I would like to do, but have not included because I really don't know what my plans will be for that weekend right now, is the Shamrock 15K in Portland on Sunday, March 14. I have marked that Friday and Monday off work, though....

By the way, part of my non-spending and decluttering plan does include spending money on experiences and travel (like races), rather than on things which I don't need and take up space! So stop raising your eyebrows over all the hotel stays I have been planning! :)

*If I did better with the not spending money and managed to get things decent, I could even look into my greatest dream, which is paying someone to come in every week (or every other week) to clean.

A soggy new year

This morning I woke up at 5:30, heard the rain pounding on my roof, and decided not to go out running.*

It wasn't quite that simple, of course. First there was a little snooze button action. Then some mental deliberation. Then I flipped on the TV to check the forecast and determine that tomorrow is expected to be less rainy (if not perfectly dry). Then I rationalized that my legs were a little tired and achy from my 13.1 mile run yesterday (they really were). Then I told myself that a little change of plans never hurt anyone, and running on Tuesday instead of Monday was perfectly fine. Plus, I pointed out, many training plans make Monday a rest day, so there are lots of people not running today (this one is a little attenuated, I know).

Okay, decision done. Not going to run this morning.

However, then the next decision was staring me in the face. Do I really make it a rest day and just stay in bed until I have to get up for work, or do I do the responsible, prudent thing and go to the Y for the elliptical instead?

A lot of waffling ensued. Yes, I'm going to the Y. No, I'm staying in bed. Do I want to be able to eat today? Then go. But I'm going to be late already (meaning less time on the elliptical). But it's still better than nothing, duh. (True enough.) But I read all the new stuff in my Google Reader last night (thinking I wouldn't be at the Y till Tuesday)! But there will probably be more new stuff this morning (and there was). Plus there's all the old stuff that you didn't get to before and have since been avoiding because it is old. You could read that. True....

The final incentive: cold coffee in the kitchen that I could heat up and take along in the car. Okay, I'm going.

Good karma was with me for deciding to go, and as a reward I got a nice parking space near the door (less distance to walk in the rain). I had time for 70-some minutes on the elliptical, and I didn't regret getting up at all.

Despite my wimping out** this morning, I do think that I am continuing my strong start in 2010, with a 13.1 mile long(ish) run yesterday at a pretty smart pace (9:22 average per mile).

I made myself a nice early breakfast at 7 a.m., a single serving of Kodiak cakes pancakes (1/3 cup dry mix=130 calories). I pumped them up with some potassium (chopped banana) and Omega 3 (walnuts) added to the batter, and topped with anthocyanins (mixed berries) plus a little manganese and zinc (maple syrup). Also some lean protein (cooked egg whites) on the side, with lycopene, flavonoids, phenolic, and caroteniods (salsa) on it. YUM!

All this healthy goodness did, however, require a period of digestion (accomplished by lying in bed watching the Food Network). There may or may not have been a little bit of dozing involved.

Followed by some time on the computer researching vacation packages to Kona. (Also mapping my run.)

Finally, though, I was dressed and out the door!

Even though Sunday long runs are supposed to be at a slower, easy pace, I often find myself going a little faster than I intend to. It is so much easier to hit a good pace in mid-morning daylight hours than it is pre-crack of dawn! I really didn't push myself much at all until the last two miles, but I managed to be sub-10 minute pace throughout except for the first mile, and sub-9:30 after the first few mile. (Sub-9 for the last two!)

I ran down to the Everett Marina, although I had to do some tweaking to get the distance over 12 miles. Actually I decided to do 12 but I tweaked enough that it ended up longer.*** My route was a little convoluted but it works as a good 13.1 mile plan for future runs.

Here are the splits:
10:06, 9:41, 9:31, 9:35, 9:15, 9:24, 9:25, 9:24, 9:27, 9:18, 9:11, 8:54, 8:38, .10 mile at 8:16 pace.
TOTAL: 13.1 miles, 2:02:45, 9:22 average pace.

*A fine decision to make on the day I signed up for my next marathon! More on that in a different post.
**And I do consider it wimping out, considering that a little (or lot of) rain is minor compared to the snow and bitter cold in other parts of the country!
***I ran about 2.25 times around the Marina Village, which is a one-mile loop, in order to make sure I was over seven miles by the time I headed toward home. I guess I really only need to be over six miles to make it a 12-mile route (but 13.1 is better anyway!).

Saturday, January 2, 2010

The decades

I have finally succumbed to the navel-gazing urge to reflect back on the decades leading up to this new one. Don't worry, it will be brief!

The 60's—I was born halfway through. Spent most of my time hanging with my Norwegian grandmother, waiting to get into school. Highlight of decade: 1968, my sister was born.

The 70's—The grade school years (K-8). I learned to read and read A LOT. Spent every summer at the beach, swimming and climbing logs.

The 80's—The education years. High school, college, law school. Ran and biked intensely but sporadically. I was thin most of the time and mostly thought I was fat. I didn't touch a computer until college (when I took a BASIC class) and didn't regularly use one until law school (in the computer lab, for papers). Highlights of the decade: the friends I made in college and law school, the great shows on TV (e.g. Cosby Show, Murphy Brown, Designing Women, L.A. Law), my first trip to England (as a student in my junior year of college).

The 90's—Post-law school slump. Spent most of the decade in law clerk-like jobs (until 1998). My first experiences of being employed full-time, year round. Bought my first personal computer (a PC, of course) (but not till the end of the decade!). Gained weight (lowlight). Bought my house (highlight). Got my first cat, Sammy (extra highlight!). Found a new hairdresser who has been doing my highlights ever since. Traveled to England and Scandinavian countries several (many) times with my sister, dad, mother, and friend Jennifer (not all at the same time).

Y2K and the 00's—The juvenile court years (beginning in 1998). The kittens (Sophie and Libby) moved in during the summer of 2001. Many more trips to England, including a 40th birthday trip with friends (a year late due to scheduling issues). Career highlight: Started the law firm with Ann in 2005. Career lowlight: the contract dramas that led to Ann and I leaving our jobs and starting the firm, plus variations of contract drama every year thereafter (all of which turned out okay in the end, so far). Lost a lot of weight in 2004-05. Started running in 2005. First 5K and 10K in 2006. First 15K and half marathon in 2007. A bunch of PR's and my first marathon in 2009! Personal highlight: became reacquainted with Rod at our high school reunion, still together as the new decade dawns!

Friday, January 1, 2010

First run of 2010


We had a quiet but very nice New Year's Eve yesterday. We headed up to Steven's Pass early for some skiing. There was a nice dusting of new snow, very different from the dry, icy conditions at Mission Ridge, or even our last couple trips to Steven's. Still, skiing on ice was good for sharpening skills, and we both felt pretty stellar on our early runs. It was just a little bit foggy, but visibility was okay.

By mid-morning the Christmas break skiiers had started to arrive, and the lifts began to get some lines. Even the longest line (on Hogsback) was not bad compared to what you'd see on a Saturday, but we have been spoiled with our early season skiing, rarely having to wait in line at all. What I do dislike more than standing in line a little bit is when the slopes seem crowded, and you have to weave around slower skiiers, or snowboarders, or worse, snowboarders who have decided just to plop down and sit in the middle of of a run.

So, because of the growing lift lines and increasing crowds on Hogsback and Tye-Mill, we headed over to Big Chief and pretty much stayed there. Chief is pretty much my, and Rod's favorite run overall. It's considered moderately difficulty, and it's fairly steep, so it really forces you to ski well. I was flying yesterday!

We stopped for coffee and a stack around 10:30, then headed back out. It had started to snow a bit, and by midday it was snowing quite heavily. Since we'd had a good morning of skiing (and were starting to get slopping with the increasingly poor visibility), we decided to take off and head home. It's almost a two-hour drive, and this way we'd have some afternoon time too.

We took advantage of the free time (both of us had taken the day off work) to rest a little, then I paid bills and mailed them while Rod went to take his ski stuff home and go to the grocery store. I would like to say I took advantage of the last day of 44-cent postage by doing the bills, but I didn't have any 44-cent stamps anyway and had to use "forever stamps." So, no break by mailing the bills out in 2009. (Except that some were due anyway, and needed to go!)

Rod brought back tenderloin steaks and a couple of lobster tails, so we were set for a very splashy dinner! I made our side dishes—delicata squash oven fries, steamed broccoli, and a large sweet potato which I "baked" in the microwave and split between us. I boiled the lobster with some Old Bay and Rod took care of broiling the steaks (I broil chicken, and oven roast all kinds of things, but I am not comfortable with steak broiling!)

Earlier in a little bit of Google Reader browsing, I saw a tasty sounding recipe for Black-eyed Pea Soup on Oh She Glows. I happened to have a can of black-eyed peas and pretty much all the other ingredients (except for greens), so I made a quick trip to the store to get a bunch of kale (and a couple other things while I was at it), and whipped up a pot of soup for some healthy new year's luck.

Here's the recipe as I made it. The original is a vegan recipe, which I am not, so I used some chicken broth I had in the fridge plus some extra water. The original recipe calls for topping with saffron yoghurt, and I did have greek yoghurt, but I couldn't find my saffron (and didn't want to spend $21 on a new jar), so I just skipped that.

Black Eyed Pea Soup with Greens
1 can black eyed peas
1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil (or less, with olive oil spray)
1 large onion, chopped
Kosher salt, to taste
1 15-ounce can Fire-Roasted tomatoes, chopped in juices
1 15-ounce can Fire-Roasted tomatoes, crushed in puree
2 cups liquid (chicken broth and water)
3 cups (approximately) of a big leafy green (chard, kale, etc., or spinach) (I used kale)
A little bit of lime juice (optional)
Tabasco sauce (optional)

Saute the onions in olive oil spray and a little olive oil for a few minutes, until softened. Add tomatoes with their juices, the can of black-eyed peas (drained and rinsed), and the broth and/or water. Bring up to a light boil then simmer a couple minutes. Chop greens (unless using baby spinach), and stir into hot liquid. Simmer for a few minutes longer until greens are wilted and cooked to your liking. (Spinach will take hardly any time at all, the heartier greens will take longer.) Remove from heat and season with salt, if needed. Stir in the lime juice and a few shakes of Tabasco (to your taste, obviously omit if you don't like spicy stuff).

I gave us each a small bowl of soup to go with our dinner. I think the greens and black eyed peas are really supposed to be eaten on New Year's Day (one thing I read said they should be the first thing you eat in the new year, so I guess that would work if you waited till after midnight), but I went with New Year's Eve instead. (We were also eating green and yellow food, the squash and broccoli, to bring luck to the Ducks in the Rose Bowl, but unfortunately that did not work. Hope the greens and black eyed peas work better for us!)

For the rest of the evening (here is where we really became party animals) we watched multiple episodes of 30-Rock on TV, then Seinfeld. I actually thought I might be awake for midnight, because I did start watching the 11:00 news, but I lost interest halfway through. Zzzzzz.....

Today, New Year's Day, was of course the big day, the Rose Bowl! Oregon Ducks vs. Ohio Buckeyes. Of course, as I write this I already know the outcome, but in the morning hope was still alive! Rod and I were going to watch the game at his friends' house, and we were bringing the Escalloped Oyster dish that we had on Christmas Eve. My mom was nice enough to premake it yesterday (you refrigerate overnight for everything to soak together), and it cooks for two hours in a hot water bath.

I was determined to get in my 10-mile New Year's Day run, and by the time we got going this morning I was already concerned about the time. And having time for everything. Still, I took the time to drink a big cup of coffee and eat a couple small pieces of a delicious almond-flavored Scandinavian pastry called Smorkage. This picture is bigger than the one I had (mine only had seven pieces), but otherwise it looks deliciously identical!

Because of the time issues, I took off almost immediately after breakfast, instead of letting it settle as I usually would. And because of the time issues and the stress that gave me, I took off at a much faster pace than I typically would. My first mile was 9:11, a full minute faster than usual!

However, at about that same one-mile point I realized that I needed to get the oysters out of the fridge to come up to room temperature before baking. I had no choice but to turn around and run home to do that. While I was at it, I turned on the oven to preheat and also turned on the hot water kettle to preheat water for the hot water bath.

I figured I needed to be back home in about 40 minutes to get the casserole in the oven to bake the full two hours. So, obviously, I decided to run out another two miles, then double back again to end up at my house four miles later (plus the original two miles). After than I could do another four miles while the baking period began.

From mile 2 (when I went back home) through the next four miles, I was consistently pulling sub-nine minute miles. It was a little more work than doing it in a half or marathon. Apparently, the adrenaline created by pre-Rose Bowl stress was not the same kind of motivation as race-day excitement. Plus, the Smorkage was heavy in my stomach! I don't think it would have bothered me if I had started out with tennish miles and gradually worked up.

Because of my quicker pace, I was able to finish 10K (actually 6.23 miles) before stopping to do my kitchen stuff. I threw—I mean carefully placed—the casserole into the oven and poured boiling water around it (it was sitting in another baking dish, obviously). I set the kitchen timer for two hours and headed out again, leaving my gloves behind because I was plenty warm enough without them!

I had cooled down enough in my break, though, that I didn't quite pick up the pace right away and did my next mile in 9:19, followed by 9:03. The last two miles, though, were smoking—8:37 and then 8:15 (includes downhill portion, obviously)!

I am calling this run 10.20 miles for 2010, and my time for that distance was 90 minutes (and change). In the last mile my OCD nature was torn between stopping at 10.20 (for the exact number) or going to 10.23 (which would be the point my Garmin registered a final full mile). I compromised by pausing at 10.20 (and posting that distance on Facebook), then finishing off the final .03 (just for me).

My distance ended conveniently at Starbucks, so I treated myself to a double-tall nonfat mocha with one pump of peppermint (my favorite holiday indulgence, at least from Starbucks). Then I walked home, jumped in the shower, and finished getting ready for the Rose Bowl.

Sadly the game did not end favorably for the Ducks, but it was a good game and we ate some truly yummy food! In addition to my oyster casserole, there was lasagne, and a great salad, and assorted chips and snacky stuff. Plus apple pie and a deeeelicious chocolate brownie pie/cake for dessert. I felt like I may have eaten back most of my ten-mile run in oysters and lasagne (I didn't really eat too much, but there's a lot of butter and cream, not to mention cracker crumbs, in the oyster dish), so I only had half a piece of apple pie and a sliver of the brownie pie. Self restraint is my middle name.... (I am being facetious here).

BUT it really was a successful run. Despite my anxiety over the time and having to make stops, I achieved what could be considered a solid tempo run, hopefully creating a positive trend for the year.

FINAL STATS: 10.23 miles, 1:30:50 (8:53 per mile average pace). 10K split 55:34 (8:55 pace).

Splits: 9:11, 8:52, 8:45, 8:54, 8:58, 8:54, .23 mile at 8:41 pace, 9:19, 9:03, 8:37, 8:15.

2009 Races

Here are all the races I ran in 2009!

12/6/09, California International Marathon, Sacramento, 3:59:40, PR
11/29/09, Seattle Half Marathon, 1:58:07
11/14/09, Fowl Fun Run 10K, Mount Vernon, 49:20, PR
10/31/09, Fall Classic Fun Run 5K, Monroe, 23:55
10/10/09, Duck Dash 5K, Eugene, Oregon, 23:50, PR
9/27/09, Bellingham Bay Half Marathon, 1:53:19, PR
9/19/09, Marysville YMCA Family Fun Run 5-Mile, 40:35, PR
9/12/09, Fairhaven Waterfront 15K, Bellingham, 1:17:19, PR
8/1/09, Anacortes Art Dash Half Marathon, 1:53:32
7/4/09, Yankee Doodle Dash 10K, Everett, 52:44
6/13/09, Berry Run 5K, Marysville, 24:21
6/7/09, Race for the Cure 5K, Seattle, 25:45
5/3/09, Bloomsday 12K, Spokane, 1:12:21
3/15/09, Bath Half Marathon, England 2:19:25
2/21/09 LaConner Smelt Run 10K, 59:20
2/8/09 Love 'em or Leave 'em 5K, Seattle 28:33
1/1/09 Resolution Run 5K, Seattle 27:40