I decided to run myself a virtual Valentine's Day half marathon on Sunday, because (luckily) I could not find a real one. I say luckily because I really don't need the time pressure to get up early for yet another race; much easier to do my long run in my own time.*
It's kind of unfortunate in general that no one thought to organize a formal race that's actually on Valentine's Day, since the day happened to fall on a traditional race day (Sunday) this year. I think people would attend, don't you? It's not like Valentine's Day morning is sacrosanct (like Christmas, for example) or anything.** And people show up for races on Thanksgiving Day!
Of course, there may well be Valentine's Day (on the day) races in other places. February races are few and far between here in the damp and chilly Northwest. My lackluster googling located some Valentine's races on Saturday the 13th (like our own 5K in Seattle), and oddly (well, I think it's odd), a handful on February 27 and 28.
Anyhow, despite my 5K on Saturday (or perhaps because the 6.48 mile total on that day did not qualify for a weekend "long run"), I decided to devote a couple hours (or so) of Valentine's Day time to running. Since Sunday was the only day of the weekend when I didn't have to get up early (skiing on Friday and Monday, the 5K on Saturday), I turned off the alarm and didn't wake up till 8:00. Which is still early, in my estimation.
I made myself a hearty bowl of oatmeal and ate it in bed (because that's what I do, yes there are blueberry stains on my sheets) while reading my Book Club book and watching the Food Channel. (To digress for a moment...The Time Traveler's Wife—loved it! I read the whole thing over the weekend...most of it on Sunday, as you'll see below.)
Then I had to digest the breakfast so I spent the next couple of hours reading. Finally around 10:00 or so I jumped up, threw on my running clothes, and gathered up my gear (ipod, Garmin and such). I put a chocolate mint Gu in my pocket in case I needed or wanted it. The weather seemed pretty dry, though cloudy, so I didn't bother with my contacts, just wore my glasses, which somehow always seems like a faster way to get ready than fiddling around with the contacts (especially as when I put the contacts in, my vision is blurry for at least 10-15 minutes until they adjust!).
Today's route was another stab at the Port of Everett Waterfront trail and Pigeon Creek Beach. I had made previous failed attempts to follow (or even fully find) it, and on another occasion had to shorten my run due to time considerations, but I was pretty sure I knew what to do now. The secret was to access it from the north (heading south) rather than coming from the the south end.
So I started by going east to Marine View Drive, and following it north, and around, and south again until I was running along the waterfront. In order to follow the "trail" and also maximize my distance, I didn't just stay on the road but instead followed the edge of the water into the marinas, and the 10th Street boat launch, and wandered through there. It really is a pretty little park area, and I can understand why some of the folks from my office like to bring their lunches down there in the summertime! Then I took a loop around Marina Village, which I know from past experience is about a mile around (convenient), so I added another loop just in case my mileage might fall short.
The rest of the route followed the sidewalk south on Marine View Drive and into Terminal Avenue, until I reached the beginning of the Pigeon Creek public access route just south of Pacific Avenue. The Pigeon Creek public access trail is a paved walking/running/biking path that runs between the Port of Everett terminals on one side and the railroad tracks on the other. It is enclosed with secure chain link fencing on either side, which prevents trespassing on port property and dangerous wanderings onto the railroad tracks, but also means that walkers (and runners) are essentially enclosed in an open-air tunnel for the .78 mile distance. It wasn't too disturbing to me (because I am not especially paranoid), but it did cross my mind that there was very little option for escape if accosted by a bad person. The only choice would be to run one way or the other, and hope that the bad person was slower.*** (And incidentally, the only way to run would be north, because if you ran south you would end up at Pigeon Creek Beach, which is a dead end surrounded by water. And I am not a swimmer!)
Yes, clearly for a non-paranoid person I did spend a lot of time thinking about bad things that could happen.**** What can I say, I am still my mother's daughter!
When I arrived at the endpoint, Pigeon Creek Beach, there was a sinister-looking bald man sitting at a picnic table. Probably he was eating lunch, but I didn't look at him. Since my mileage was at 10.25 by then, I pulled out my packet of Gu and ripped it open, eating it on my way back out. I had loosely decided, earlier on, that I would eat the Gu after ten miles.
The outbound trip actually seemed quicker (that's always the way, isn't it), and soon I was tracing my way back to Terminal Avenue and then Marine View Drive.
This is where the hilly part of my run began! Oh, I had a few hills in the first ten miles, but they were nothingness compared to the uphill I was now going to encounter getting out of the waterfront valley back into the center of town.
Everett Avenue to Pacific Avenue—four blocks uphill (that's about .4 miles). Then instead of turning left on Pacific I kept going south till I got to 35th (another four blocks), still uphill. Steeply. Finally at 35th I got to run back downhill a couple of blocks to Rucker, then slightly downhill back to Pacific Avenue...where I was confronted with two more uphill blocks to get back to Colby.
After that, though, the rest of my trip was flat or downhill, until I got to QFC on Broadway. That was my intended destination, and in fact I had passed the 13.1 mile point a few blocks earlier. So there I was, done at 13.5 miles, such an awkward number. Do I stop as planned, or add on the extra half mile to make 14? I decided to go for the 14, even though it took two big loops around the block to get there.
It wasn't till later that I realized the significance of 14 miles, on February 14! And my time for that distance was... 2:15:37. Sheesh! Less than a minute faster and I could have had 2:14 on my watch. If I'd figured out what I was doing in the last couple miles I could easily have sped up enough to shave off the extra time. I know my time at 13.1 miles was around 2:07 and change, so it would have been a stretch to finish the .9 in less than eight minutes (since I had the extra block circling to cope with), but I'm sure I could have shaved off 38 seconds or more over the two mile stretch. Oh well.
After my Starbucks visit and walk home I took a shower and spent the next several hours lying bed reading (and finishing) The Time Traveler's Wife. All set for Book Club on Friday!
Just so you don't think I am a total loser, I then went over to Rod's house for a lovely Valentine's dinner, rib steak and wild rice pilaf. Love me some red meat on long run days!
We ended the long holiday weekend with skiing on Monday. It was one of my best skiing days ever. The weather was very good, cold but not too cold, sunny at times, and when it was a little foggy it was never enough to affect visibility. The snow was nice, a teeny bit of new and not icy at all, but not enough new snow to be deep or heavy (I don't like skiing in very deep snow). And I was skiing very, very well, which made me feel good about my skiing, which made me ski better! We did 20 runs (on different chairs) in a row, then I did two more on Chief (Rod stopped because he had aggravated his hip in a fall on Friday, and didn't want to push it), then we headed home.
Later that afternoon I just happened to peruse the movie listings in the newspaper, and noticed that there was a showing of Valentine's Day at 3:30 (it was shortly before 3 at the time). Knowing that I would never ever get Rod to go to such a chick flick (and it is a very chicky flick), I took myself to it, thinking that I might even be done in time to get to Pilates at 6:00.
I thought it was a really fun movie, kind of like an American version of Love Actually (except for Valentine's Day instead of Christmas, and no Hugh Grant, of course, and therefore not nearly as wonderful, but I digress). It was full of every charming and beautiful movie star you could imagine, with lots of different story lines going at the same time, all separate but loosely connected. And yes, as the critics say, it is almost all completely predictable (I should take my mother, she only likes movies that she can easily follow!), but still fun to watch. And there is one thing (well, actually two) that is a surprise, at least it was to me. And the lady next to me!*****
Unfortunately (or was it really unfortunate?) the movie didn't finish until almost 6:00, so I had to miss Pilates. So sad. Haha.
And Tuesday—back to work, long weekend is over and a short week has begun!
*Which means mid-morning on a Sunday.
**Or perhaps everyone else is lolling about enjoying Valentine's Day breakfast in bed? (Actually that's what I did, but it was oatmeal and I was by myself....)
***And I am not a sprinter. I do okay in 5K races, but doubt if I could outrun anyone in a 100-yard dash! Or even a 1,372.8 yard dash (the equivalent of .78 miles).
****And seriously, even though the trail and beach are open from dawn to dusk, I would not dream of going there during any but the most daylight of hours.
*****The theatre was so full that I had to sit in the second row and next to a stranger! That's what I get for not arriving early for a matinee of a crowd-pleasing movie on a federal holiday.