Monday, January 25, 2010

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."


Lisa said...

Wow... that is a lot of running (long runs) when you aren't "officially" training. That's impressive. I bet you felt good that the pace with the group was such an easy pace for you (instead of "holding her back")

t-bar, huh? I can't believe there are ski areas that still have those! T-bar, the disk thingy, and rope tows...I don't like any of them.

lifestudent said...

The only thing about skiing that sounds good to me is the lodge ;) Sign me up for that!

Tina @GottaRunNow said...

You're so lucky to be close to skiing, but that T-bar looks hard to sit on. Funny video!