Monday, May 31, 2010

Kona sunset

My BlackBerry camera couldn't fully capture the blazing pink ball at dusk last night that had people all around scrambling for their cameras. But it did memorialize the tiki torch beside our table. I do like a tiki torch. :)

Today is day 4 of 5 in our Hawaiian odyssey. Yes, tomorrow we fly home to the still cold and rainy mainland (from what I have heard). The weather here hasn't been COMPLETELY idyllic, but can you really complain about 80 and slightly cloudy? (Or perhaps voggy.*)

We got here on Friday, after a long day of flying (I inadvertantly booked us on a flight with a change in Honolulu). We were beat enough that all we had energy for was a delicious dinner at Huggo's. Thanks to getting up at 4:30 a.m. and a three hour time difference, we crashed early. I valiantly tried to stay awake for awhile but gave up at 7:58.

One thing about the time difference, it makes getting up at 5 a.m. to go running a breeze! I've been out at 5:30 the last three days. Sunrise is at 5:45 but it's plenty light earlier. Tomorrow I'm not going to run, because I need to rest my legs (I'm tapering, really). I might go for a walk though. I feel the need for some movement before spending 8 hours in air travel (with layover).

Saturday - 7-ish miles out and back on Ali'i Drive. This was our most humid day and walking out into it and running was like running in a bowl of warm soup! I seriously reconsidered any desire I've had to run the Kona Half Marathon (or marathon) which is at the end of June. It was actually quite a relief when it rained and drizzled off and on. Average pace for this run was, I believe, almost exactly 10 minutes.

Sunday - This was my (medium) long run day (11.5 running miles). I didn't want to overdo so close to the marathon, but I also wanted to log some miles. I also wanted to run the route of the Kona Half, which I did, short about a mile. I ran from our hotel along Ali'i to the starting line by the Outrigger Resort (about 4 miles one way way), then back, then north through Kona to what I estimate was about half a mile or so short of the turnaround, then back toward our hotel. I stopped running at 11.5 miles to buy mangos at the Farmer's Market, then walked the remaining half mile to the hotel. (Laden with half a dozen mangos, a loaf of banana bread, diet coke from the ABC Store, and finally two coffees from Java on the Rocks, I BARELY made it to the room!) Not sure of my average pace but I expect it was around 10 minutes. (That is for running, not including grocery lugging.)

Monday - 9.15 miles (further than I really intended). What I wanted to do today is finish the portion of the half that I left out yesterday. I calculated that to be five miles out and back from the front of the hotel. Then I could add a mile or few along Ali'i as I wished. The nice thing about this route was that the 2.5 miles "out" were all slightly uphill, which meant I could cruise back down. It worked like a dream. The portion along Ali'i was more hilly, but still I kept going as far as the Living Stones Church (almost two miles from the hotel). Hence my 9.15 mile total, average pace 9:40.

Other than early morning running, we've been rather dedicated sightseers in our rental car. On Saturday we drove all around the island, to Hilo where we had loco moco at Blane's Drive-In for lunch and exchanged our car because we had a tire with a slow leak. On the way back we drove through the lava fields but didn't take the time to actually go into Volcano National Park.

We had another lovely dinner at Huggo's (fresh catch was ono!) and they were so kind, giving us free dessert because we'd come there two nights in a row. Warm chocolate tarts with vanilla ice cream, oh my.

On Sunday we drove down to Captain Cook (an actual town) and had the famous pork chop for lunch at the Manago Hotel. This is a very unfancy hotel with good plain food and a pork chop that has gained some fame.

Then we went to the Painted Church, a wood-frame old Catholic church that was painted inside to replicate a Spanish gothic cathedral. I loved it; this short stop was one of my favorites.

Finally, we visited the City of Refuge, another fascinating historical spot. In their shop I bought a copy of Mark Twain's Letters from Hawaii, which is compiled from his reports when he visited the Sandwich Islands as a writer for the San Francisco Examiner. Rod's been reading it--starting with the 100 or so pages about the Big Island--and from the excerpts I read it is both witty and informative. (And I could say the same for one of the books I read while we've been here, My Fair Lazy by Jen Lancaster. Hysterical!)

Today we drove around the north end of the island and ended up in Kawaihae (where, incidentally, Mark Twain sailed from to return to Honlulu--I have just been told). Our main goal in Kawaihae was lunch at the Harbor Inn. This is the home of the best loco moco** Rod has enjoyed. In the interest of exercising my better judgment, I ordered a delicious grilled ono (fish) sandwich. This is one of my favorite things but I have to admit to gazing hungrily at Rod's plate after I finished my sandwich and he was still working through his pile of food!

We abandoned further sightseeing after that to return to the hotel for some beach time and a little swimming (well, bobbing in the water). It's been pretty cloudy but now, at 5:00 as we're thinking about packing it up, the sun has finally made a showing.

Dinner tonight will be at Quinn's, near the King Kamehameha Hotel at the other end of town. This place was recommended to us by the manager at Huggo's who so kindly treated us to dessert. So either it must be a good restaurant or he has a business on the side. :)

*Vog = volcano fog, which is what sometimes occurs on an island with an active volcano.
**Loco moco = rice topped with a ground beef patty, gravy, and fried eggs. A light lunch.

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Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Taper is progressing nicely

I have a few thoughts about tapering before a marathon. (My first thought is that anything less than a marathon needs no more than two, maybe three days of taper.) I am a little bit skeptical about a full-blown taper for someone like me. That is, someone whose peak week was just over 50 miles and more commonly does 40-45 miles per week. There's not that much to taper from, really, is there?

That said, I still agree that some kind of backing off is in order to give my legs a chance to be refreshed and not overstressed by the time the marathon arrives. I began my tapering process last week by cutting out extra workouts, restraining myself to one (run or elliptical) per day. I think that was very helpful in resting my legs a little prior to my big running weekend that just occurred (20-mile run including half marathon on Saturday, 5K race on Sunday, and a good run on Monday).

Saturday was my last long run prior to the marathon. I ran on Sunday and Monday, took Tuesday off (elliptical), and was back out for my last major speedwork session today. Yasso 800's, baby!* The article recommends working up to ten 800-meter intervals (finishing at least ten days before the marathon), and even though I flunked out on my nine Yasso attempt two weeks ago, I gamely headed out this morning for a stab at the final ten.

One of my problems last time was I ran out of time (yeah, that's the ticket!**). I got started too late, spent too much time on warm-up, then took advantage of my need to get to work in a timely fashion to call it quits after six repeats. So today I thought I'd make a stronger effort to allow sufficient time for seven-plus miles on the track (five miles in the 800's, plus a quarter-mile recovery jog between each).

I did my warm-up in my neighborhood, a mile and a half before stopping to use the bathroom at my house, then another half mile to the track (two miles total). At the track I reset my watch and geared up for my first round. (The first few are the worst, aren't they?) It was raining lightly so I was wearing old shoes that could get muddy. Luckily it wasn't raining hard and there were no major puddles to dodge. (By the time I got home to the shower, though, I had to wash dirt off the backs of my legs!)

My first two rounds were somewhat disappointing, much slower than I'd like (hoping for sub-4 minutes, not getting it). Then I got a little bit in the swing of things and started posting under 4 minutes. The idea of doing this ten times was still overwhelming though! I kept giving myself little pep talks. After three I'd be more than halfway through the first five...after five I'd be halfway...after six I'd be on the downhill side...I could at least do eight! By the time I got to eight I was out of time, sort of, but decided if I skipped a stop at Starbucks and brought my breakfast to work instead of eating at home, I could take another ten minutes and finish all ten.

There were a number of strange and slightly distracting things that happened while I was on the track. First there was the custodian/groundskeeper guy who drove his truck around the track while emptying the garbage cans. I managed to avoid the truck without issue, but when I approached the bench where I'd left my water bottle and gloves I saw they were gone! Sure enough, the custodian had picked them up and dumped them in the garbage! (I'm talking a Nathan handheld bottle, not some disposable water bottle.) Luckily he hadn't emptied it yet, and he retrieved the water bottle from me and wiped it off. (I retrieved the gloves myself.) Yes, I did drink out of the water bottle again later.

Then, after he and his truck drove away, a big tractor drove into the field and started mowing. It really didn't get in my way at all, except for a slight scare when it was blocking the entire track while turning around. Luckily it was back into the field by the time I got to it and I didn't have to stop.

Finally, in the second half of interval number nine, I was chased around the track by a middle school student wearing jeans (and presumably running shoes, at least). It was not in an aggressive fashion, but it was strange. He was just behind me the whole way but never passed me (until I finished the half mile and went into recovery jog). I like to think he couldn't keep up. :) Anyhow, when I passed him after he stopped, he said something like "good job." I said thanks.

Having done nine at that point, of course I was going to finish up. I dug up my last bit of energy and pushed myself around the track two more times and called it good. Ten Yasso's done. 4:05, 4:07, 3:58, 3:58, 4:00, 3:57, 3:59, 4:02, 3:58, 3:58. (All these are half miles measured on my Garmin, not actually 800 meters.) With the warm-up, my total distance for the day was 9.75 miles.

Tomorrow is probably a rest/elliptical morning...although I am a little tempted by a rogue weather forecast that suggests it might be sunny at 6 a.m., rather than drizzly and rainy as it has been today. I guess there's a small chance that I might decide to go out and run rather than go to the Y, but it would probably not be a great decision. The only reason I am really even considering it is because Friday's schedule will be messed up, due to my leaving for Hawaii!

We're going to Kona on the Big Island for five days, over the long holiday weekend. I really think that a short trip to Hawaii is a great taper tool, don't you? Last year I felt like I had a running breakthrough while we were in Hawaii. For some reason I started running faster and easier despite the warm temperatures (though I did go out early before it got really warm) and humidity. I think there's something therapeutic about swimming in sea water, too.

While we're in Hawaii I will probably run some almost every day, because that's what I do on vacation. Kona and our hotel are right along the route for the Kona Marathon/Half Marathon (as well as the Kona Ironman Marathon), and I am hoping on one day to run a good portion of the Half Marathon route as a medium-long run. I'll probably eliminate part of it as I don't think I really need to run a full 13.1 miles.

Then, when we get back from Hawaii, it's unpack, repack, and off to Newport! My last running day will be a short run next Wednesday. Then it's two days of rest, rest, rest my legs. And eating carbs.

Finally, for some nuts and bolts taper ideas, I really like the tips in this article.

*Channeling George Costanza.

**Apparently I'm all about the 80's & 90's today. What other cliché can I draw upon?

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Now I've heard everything

Okay, I can be silent no more. I am sitting here watching The Biggest Loser (on DVR while I eat dinner, of course), and I hear that Jared the Subway guy (along with Shay, a past TBL contestant) is going to do a marathon at the end of the year.

You know, I've watched the Biggest Loser finalists run their marathon a couple or three times, and I've found it...interesting. But somehow this is over the line for me.

I have nothing against people walking during a marathon, or even walking a whole marathon if they choose. (Though nothing sounds more horrible to me, unless it is happening on the footpaths of England, and includes staying in charming B & B's, in which case, sign me up.)

What I've always had trouble accepting (though I know it's sort of common) is people deciding to train for and run a marathon with very little running experience. To me a marathon is something you build to after you've been running for a while and gradually increase your distances and challenges. Actually I don't know how someone with little or no running experience could even face biting off something as overwhelming as marathon training.

Maybe I'm being silly and petty. Probably what I'm feeling is that this "everyone run a marathon" approach is devaluing the time and commitment required to train well for a marathon. Also I suspect that jumping into a marathon too hastily may end the participant's running career after the marathon is done. How many people have you heard of whose recovery period never ends?

Also, finally (and this is my last gripe), I do think it's misguided to think that marathon training is a good weight loss tool. I believe that running is a great weight loss tool, but long distance running and serious dieting don't always co-exist comfortably. I mean, come on, you're hungry all the time when you're training for a marathon.

Okay, rant over. I wish all the best to Jared and Shay and anyone else who wants to run a marathon. Just do it because you want to, not because it's some mandatory rite of weight loss passage.
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Monday, May 24, 2010

A great weekend!

This was the weekend of my final 20-miler before the marathon. I decided not to post my plans in advance in case things didn't go as planned. I was sort of nervous and I didn't want to jinx myself. The Plan: 7 miles on the Burke-Gilman Trail, followed by the Heroes Half Marathon at Gasworks Park, for a total of 20 miles. Doing the last 13 miles in an organized race would encourage me to push my pace a little bit, certainly more than I would if I was just slogging out 20 miles on my own!

But before the weekend's running commenced, there was Friday. Actually, there was Thursday too, but I don't remember anything too spectacular about Thursday. I ran about 9.5 miles Thursday morning, leaving Friday as a running rest day. I did my Thursday run as a gentle fartlek run...after I warmed up for a couple of miles I alternated blocks of running harder (though not hard) with running easy, which made for an average pace of 9:29 by the end.

Friday morning I went to the Y and spent some time on the elliptical, then indulged in a massage. I had originally considered biking to work on Friday (which is only a mile each way, so it would be just a token, really), but the weather was so dodgy that I bagged those plans and booked a massage instead.

Then it was time for Ann's birthday lunch at Alligator Soul! Alligator Soul is a wonderful New Orleans-style restaurant in Everett. Unfortunately it's not the most diet-friendly place (as you can imagine), but I steeled myself to endure it. :) I ordered a barbecued pulled pork sandwich (ate half and took half home, which I ended up sending to my dad because I had too much food in my fridge), with a salad trio of potato salad, coleslaw, and corn salad (about 1/4 cup of each). I also ordered sweet potato fries to share (I love sweet potato fries, and these were rolled in cinnamon sugar!), and had a few hush puppies off another plate. Ummmm...carb loading, I guess.
After work on Friday my mom and I drove to Gasworks Park to pick up my race packet. I wanted to save time (for my extra running) on Saturday morning, and also make sure we had a good route to get to there without getting lost on Saturday! Traffic was pretty bad on the freeway and under those conditions the drive took exactly one hour. So I was pretty sure it would be quicker on Saturday.

When we arrived at the park it was raining lightly...then moderately...then pretty hard. I was glad that I had brought an umbrella to use while I picked up my stuff, and I dreaded the thought of rain like that during the race. Or during my pre-race run. I kept hoping that my forecast which showed clearing and only sporadic rain on Saturday was correct! I was pleased that my bib number was 333, because that seemed like a lucky number. And all I wanted from my luck was a decent run, not too much too ask, I think!

After I returned to the car we headed to University Village to eat pasta at Piatti's Italian restaurant. Unfortunately there was a half hour wait, but going anywhere else (or home) would take even longer, so we passed the time at Barnes & Noble. Not a huge sacrifice, really.

Piatti's has really good bread, which I enjoyed in the cause of carb-loading, and I ordered penne with chicken and broccoli, plus an arugula salad. All very yummy! I took about 1/3 of the pasta home but I sent that with my mom for my dad as well.

By the time I got home, took care of the cats, and laid out my running clothes and packed all my gear (including a change of clothes for after the run), it was close to 10:00. I set my alarm for 3:45 (planning to leave at 4:15) and hoped for a few quality hours of sleep.

Then (all too soon) it was morning. I didn't actually get up until almost 4:00, but I dressed quickly and fortunately everything else was ready. I quickly made two almond butter and jam sandwiches, one for me to eat on the way down and one for my mom's breakfast while she waited many hours for me to finish. Eating at 4:30 was not exactly ideal for me—it seemed like yesterday's meals had barely digested—but I wanted to have at least an hour's wait before I started my first run. I also had some coffee that I had refrigerated overnight. Need coffee!

The drive to Seattle was much quicker early Saturday morning than it had been late Friday afternoon (not surprisingly). We left my house at 4:30 and arrived at Gasworks Park just a few minutes past 5:00.

My plan for today's 20-miler was to run seven miles pre-race at a 10-minute pace, then shoot for marathon pace in the first ten miles of the half-marathon. Finally, I would try to kick it up a little for the final 5K. It remained to be seen how that would work out....

I thought it was a little too early to start running—I didn't want too long a gap between my pre-run and the half marathon—so I sat in the car for a while then made a trip to the porta potty. After that I loaded on my gear to start out. It was pretty light out by then, more so than it appears in this picture.

I ran north on the Burke-Gilman trail toward the University of Washington. I'd had a couple of ideas of how to do this pre-run. My very first thought had been to start at Matthews Beach, which is 7.3 miles north of Gasworks Park. I quickly abandoned that plan when I realized how early I'd have to start and I didn't feel really comfortable running along the trail in that area when it was still almost dark out. That's why I decided to start at Gasworks Park and run to and from there. I thought I might run two miles out, then back, then do another short out and back to keep myself close to the park. But as I was running past Husky stadium, then University Village, I decided to just go north for three miles, then back, and only have to pick up another mile to finish.

I hit 25th street at just under three miles, so I turned up 25th and ran another block or so to McDonalds, where I used the bathroom. My return trip to Gasworks Park, plus a short stretch past the parking lot, took me to 6.23 miles. At that point I stopped and got in the porta-potty line! If there was time, I would finish up after.

I actually got through the line pretty quickly, so I trotted around the parking lot and along the trail a bit more until my watch read exactly 69 minutes and exactly 6.9 miles. Goal 1, successful.

I coaxed my mom out of the car and we headed to the starting area. It was very crowded. I directed my mom away to where she'd have a good viewing and photography spot on the sidelines, and made my way up through the crowds to the informal designated 9-minute mile area. Because of the narrowness of the running area, they also decided to start us in waves to allow some extra space. (We had chips, so delay at the start didn't matter.) I ended up in wave 2.
My yellow top makes me easy to spot, although there was another group of people in yellow shirts as well, not too far from me.

Finally we started out....

Then came to a stop as they held us for a minute while wave 1 got going.
And then we were really off!
The course is really hard to describe. If you look closely at the course map, you can see a number of out-and-backs, hairpin turns, and so forth. What the map doesn't show are the funky surfaces we sometimes were running on—gravel, broken asphalt, and on one occasion, old railroad ties—or the short steep hills we had to plug up and down on several occasions. My Garmin elevation map makes the course look pretty flat, with some teeny tiny little bumps, but I can assure you that those bumps were hills!
I think that the section of railroad ties was the most slowing for me. I just had to slow down as I hopped over and between the ties, to avoid tripping or slipping. I know I also lost some time when my phone alarm went off, and I had to pull aside for a moment to turn it off, and when I dropped a Gu and paused to pick it up. I also slowed for water at two water stations, even though I was carrying my fuel belt with Nuun. I just wanted the water!
I've never been great about fueling and I am never really sure whether taking Gu (or some other fuel) during a race makes any difference. This time was no different, really. Although I did decide to have a Gu before the start (Jet Blackberry, yum), because I had already run almost seven miles. Then I took another (Espresso Love, which I had to pick up when I dropped it) about seven miles into the course.
Although I had wanted to maintain about a nine-minute pace, I found that harder than I had hoped. And, at times, impossible! The first four miles were in reasonable range of marathon goal pace.... 9:05, 8:57, 9:11, 9:13. Miles 5-8 were harder. I am sure that they included the railroad ties and the hilly bits.... 9:28, 9:14, 9:28, 9:34.
I think that I determined during that section that there was no way I was going to make it under two hours. Too much time to make up! But somehow after that I managed to gear up and bring myself back to goal pace.... the next five miles (plus) were all under 9:09. Starting at mile 9... 9:06, 9:07, 9:08, 9:02, 8:36. I was trying to avoid looking at my Garmin by this point, so I didn't realize I'd picked up the pace until I saw my splits later on.
I did know, however, that I was really pushing it in the last mile.
The final stretch of the course, before we turned to the finish line section, ran alongside the parking lot. I didn't know that my mother was there taking pictures! Obviously, I wasn't paying attention to anything but the ground ahead of me.
When I could finally spot the finish line I tried to give it a final kick, but apparently I was out of juice. The last .13 mile was almost the same pace as my final full mile (8:39 pace). The timing clock was a minute or so ahead of me, but I was back to looking at my watch, and I saw when it clicked over two hours. I crossed the finish line 24 seconds later.
There was a time when finishing so close to two hours (but over) would have crushed me, but I felt okay. Actually I felt pretty darn happy that I was still in the two hour neighborhood at all! I had been sure I was going to be more over than I was.
The finisher's medal is a cool star shape. It's yellow, so you can't see it well against my yellow top!
I was wearing my Half Fanatics shirt under the half-zip. It was cool enough that I never felt the need to shed the half-zip (luckily, as that would have caused more delay, not to mention confused my mother when she was watching for me in yellow!) The star shows up much better against the blue.

There were several runners in Half Fanatics garb during the race. There was one guy, probably older than me, who stayed stubbornly just ahead of me for most of the run. I think, however, I did pass him in the final miles.

I passed a few people in the final miles. :)

I qualified for Half Fanatics by doing two half marathons within 16 days back in 2008 (Whidbey and Robie Creek within a week). That puts me at their lowest level. With this I just did two halfs in a week again, but I don't really see myself doing anything that would raise me to a higher level! (I don't really know that I'm a "Fanatic," anyway. I'm more of an enthusiast. And I like doing races of other lengths, which does interfere with the volume of any one type of race.)

After our photo op, my mother and I went to the Sunflour Cafe for breakfast. We shared a gooey and delicious cinnamon roll. (I definitely had more than half.)

I had warned Rod that I wanted pizza for dinner, so later that evening we tore into a BIG Taco Grande pizza from Papa Murphy's. A fitting finish to the day!

But the weekend was not done yet.

Sunday morning I headed out to Snohomish for the Monkey Run 5K. I was entirely uncertain how this would go after the long run on Saturday! I had been a little bit proactive Saturday night by icing my ankle for half an hour and taking Advil (which I don't like to take too often, I reserve it for really achy or potentially achy situations). I had signed up for the 5K long before I decided to do a "real" half marathon on Saturday, although I knew I had a long run on the schedule.

I felt good, though. At least I wasn't hurting! I was disturbed by the cold weather, though. Saturday had been perfect for running, cloudy and cool at the beginning (not too cold), and breaking into sun in the last few miles (not long enough to get hot). Sunday was much colder. And to top things off, I had gone off without gloves, thinking I couldn't possibly need them at the end of May! Hmmph.

I originally planned to do three miles of warm-up, but by the time I got into Snohomish, parked, picked up my number and chip, and got everything together, I didn't really have time for that. So I jogged a little over a mile out on the Centennial Trail (where the race would be), and back (in time for a last-minute porta-potty visit, of course). I thought I might make up the extra mile after the race....

I still felt good during my warm-up. In fact, I ran the warm-up at a 9:28 pace, which is unheard of for me in warm-up! It did occur to me, though, to wonder if perhaps 9:28 (while good for warm-up) might be the fastest I could go... which would not be good for a 5K pace!

Just before 10 a.m. we lined up at the start line. I intentionally put myself very near the front. I knew I would not be among the fastest, but if I wanted any chance at a good time, I needed to avoid being caught behind slower people.

Then we were off. I knew from my warm-up run that the trail, although generally speaking very flat, went just slightly downhill in the first half. That meant we'd be returning on the incline. I needed to take advantage of the decline, so I gave it my all. Mile 1 - 7:32.

About halfway along we turned around and headed back. Now we were on the incline, so giving it my all was a little more work! It was also a little slower, despite my efforts. Mile 2 - 7:55. Mile 3 - 7:59. In the last bit, my final push to the finish line, I was able to bring my pace down to 7:41. The time on the clock when I crossed the finish line was 24:02.

My Garmin time, however, was 23:59. The question was, would my chip time be a second or two slower or faster? Would I be under or over 24 minutes? And regardless, would this be good enough for an age group award?

I had intended to do one more mile after I finished, but as usual after a race, I had no desire at all to run any more. I also didn't know where I would do that mile, as the trail was still crowded with slower finishers. I decided, instead, to be kind to myself and give myself permission to not run that final mile, leaving me with 5.26 miles for the day (my lowest running mileage day in a long time). Instead I walked around and filled a bag with Luna bars and Pop Chips samples.

When the chip times were finally posted, my time was 23:56.5 (rounded to 23:57 by me). Hurrah! I was happy.

As far as awards? I got third in my age group. Technically I was fourth to finish, but the first-place finisher was also the women's overall winner, so she was dropped out of the age group prizes. My gain! The prize was a really nice mug that says Monkey Run on it. Here I am with my prize bag! (By the way, there were more than 90 women in my age group! Out of 455 participants, 20% were Female 40-49. About half of those were under 12-minute mile pace, the other half were over, essentially walkers.)
This morning I went out for my third consecutive day of running and, miraculously, my legs still felt good! I don't know what's going on here, but I like it! 7.78 miles at an average pace of 9:40/mile.

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Door to door 5K

No, not a run...I'm in pre-taper, remember? So yesterday afternoon, in keeping with my promise to myself, I did not go to the Y to punish my legs with more elliptical. But the afternoon was unexpectedly pleasant and sunny and warm, so I decided to take a little walk after work to shake out my legs and get some air and avoid the pre-dinner kitchen snackies.

At first I was going to just go a couple of miles. Then I thought that three miles sounded like a good round number. I quickly revised that to 5K...which would also allow me to recreate the 5K loop around my neighborhood which I had inadvertently run a couple of months before. I was pretty sure I knew which route to take, but this would be an opportunity to firm it up. It never hurts to be able to walk out the door and run (or walk) an instant 5K!

I put on my Garmin to make sure I got a good measurement. Then I flipped on the iPod and off I went!

I do love walking. It's easy to forget that when I am so used to running. And it does take some mental adjustment, because it takes so much longer to cover mileage. I am a pretty quick walker naturally, and I can power walk when I want to, but I stuck to an easy pace this time.

I noted landmarks in my 5K path. Half a mile to my first turn. Another half mile to the next turn. Just under a mile back to another right turn. I turned again at QFC and headed for home. Voila! Garmin hit 3.1 just at the end of the block past my house. Not quite door to door, but close enough. 5K time 55:23.

I had already decided to round up to 60 minutes, so I walked on for a couple of minutes then turned back home. Sixty minutes and 3.5 miles were looking awfully close, but alas I had been too poky to finish 3.5 in an hour (usually I am much faster than that), so I kept going for a couple minutes more until Garmin read 3.5 miles exactly. Then I stopped.

I was back to running this morning, 8.11 miles at an average pace of 10:05 per mile. Let's call it a recovery run, shall we?

Later this week I shall share my ambitious plans for my 20-miler on Saturday!

Sunday, May 16, 2010


Okay, first things first: Capital City Half Marathon this morning in Olympia, 1:54:44. Yet another pretty good, not spectacular, half marathon finish time. But I'm not unhappy with it. It was (yet again) a very hilly course! I think Rod got a good "action" photo of me, so I'll write a little more when I get the picture.

Moving on...I still have one "long run" left to go (20 miles next Saturday), but I have been thinking a lot about my schedule over the remaining weeks to the marathon and I have decided that this next week is going to be a pre-taper.

What that means: I'll still be running on my usual schedule (pretty much, anyway), but I am cutting my cross-training so that I am only doing one leg workout per day. Either running in the morning, or elliptical in the Y in the morning. Unless there's some reason I miss a morning workout, I won't be doing my supplemental evening workouts except for yoga (which is only one night a week these days anyway).

I am hoping that this will allow my legs to rest a little more and not feel Tired. All. The. Time. Lately I've scaled back the resistance on the elliptical a tiny bit to reduce the stress on my legs, but I think, for now, I have to be a little kinder to them so they won't betray me on marathon day!

In that vein, I am also rearranging my running schedule a little this week. Normally I would run Monday, Wednesday, Friday (or Thursday) and a long run on Saturday or Sunday. This week I'll run on Tuesday and Thursday (I expect my legs will be sore tomorrow from the up and downhills), with the long run on Saturday and a shorter run on Sunday. I'll still end up with four days, just different days.

That does not preclude a spontaneous walk or bike ride on a nice afternoon! Although we are supposed to get rain all this week so that's probably unlikely anyway.

That also means I am going to have to be extra careful about what I eat. I'm always pretty careful but when I know I'm going to be working out a second time in the evening I'm way more likely to indulge in cookies or trail mix at the office, knowing I will be burning up extra calories. I weigh a bit more (maybe 2-4 pounds) than I did this time before CIM, which isn't a big deal but it wouldn't be good to pick up any more.

I would have liked to lose a few pounds (hoping for an improvement of 2 seconds per pound per mile), but I just hope it doesn't happen the other way. Honestly, I don't see how a couple pounds is going to make a significant difference; there are so many other factors to affect my pace, including the course, the weather, my training, how I'm feeling on the day, and the weight of my fuel belt, for goodness sake! But I do know that I am running faster than I was last spring, when I weighed (at the high point, on a bad day) almost 20 pounds more than I do now.* (I don't think that I am running faster than I was last fall, I am hoping to be at the same level though.)

But enough of that. Things coming up this week (to write about): My Capital City race report, finishing my Bloomsday race report, and my plans for the long run on Saturday (may wait to actually write about that until I do it, though!).

Finally, here is my sweet cat Sophie keeping me company while I write. I would have dusted the arm of the chair before taking a picture but I didn't want to disturb her!

*Compare my Bloomsday times last year and this—I was about seven minutes faster this year. That's more than two seconds per pound per mile (that would be equal to about five minutes). But obviously, my training level is much higher this year than it was last year as well.

Saturday, May 15, 2010

Weekend wishes!

Good luck to all the runners doing marathons and half marathon and runs of any kind this weekend! (I know I'm a little late for races on Saturday....)

I am doing the Capital City Half Marathon tomorrow in Olympia. I am pretty sure that I am planning on doing it as another marathon pace practice run...but who knows what can happen! (Good or bad!)

I am working on a little scheme for my final 20-mile run next Saturday. I'm waiting till after I do the race tomorrow to put it into play.

Last night I made the bacon and egg salad for dinner that I was dreaming of during my run last Monday. It was yummy, though I almost lost control of my poached eggs and they were not quite as runny as I would have liked. As previously predicted, I had my toast with jam and Rod had his plain.

Okay, time to get my stuff together for the trip to Olympia. It doesn't take much packing for an overnight trip, but I don't want to forget any crucial running gear.

Have a great weekend!
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Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Sorta sucky speedwork

Well, it had to happen sometime—a bad run. Ha! If you think that today is the first time I've ever had a less than stellar run, well, your opinion of me is a lot better than it should be.

Actually today wasn't a completely bad run, I've undoubtedly had worse. It was, however, an example of a speedwork FAIL in a way that really hasn't happened before. (It hasn't happened because I set my speedwork standards low.) It was bad enough, also, to make my delirious planning last night of future runs looked like the ravings of a masochist. "Yes, I want to cause myself pain, more pain!"

The first sign that today might not turn out for the best was when I had to make two (yes, two) relatively emergent bathroom stops in the first three miles. One around the halfway point and another when I passed my house at just under the three mile point. That done (and surely there could be nothing left in my body to cause me any woe), I headed for the track about a quarter of a mile from my house.

My ambitious plan was nine 800's (half-mile) with a quarter mile recovery between them. This was part of my Yasso 800 scheme, working up to ten repeats before the marathon. Under this theory, the time it took me in minutes and seconds to do these 800's would be the time in hours and minutes I could do a marathon.

Now, I'll admit I'm only doing a rough approximation of this plan. First, my splits are half miles, not 800's. And you are supposed to jog for the same number of minutes between repeats as it took you to do each 800 (my quarter mile jogs are about 2:30, less than the half mile time). Also, Greg McMillan points out in one of his articles that if this does work, the marathon time is more likely to be about five minutes slower than the 800 times. (Which works for me, as my 800 times on a good day tend to be about 3:55.)

It is probably pretty obvious from all the parentheticals and italics that I am about to admit (and perhaps explain) how (and why) I blew it big time today.

First. I didn't do nine. I only did six. I don't know for sure if I could have done all nine but I ran out of time about when I was ready to give up the ghost and go home. On the positive side, number six was my fastest. I do think there would have been a problem had I tried to go on, though, because shortly into my final recovery run I had to turn around and head quickly to the nearest bathroom.

Second. These were the slowest 800's I. Have. Ever. Done. Only four of the six were at a sub-8 minute pace. My last one was the fastest, though, at 3:54 and a 7:52 pace.

Third. I think there was something goofy with the Garmin satellites. Not to lay blame or anything, but even though my watch said that I stopped at .5 mile each time, it took further around the track than it ever has before to get to the point of half a mile. Obviously, if I was going extra distance, that is why it took me longer than usual. Right? Right???

So, based on my performance today, not only would I not run a sub-4 hour marathon, but I would most likely quit about 2/3 of the way through. (Or run for the nearest porta potty....)

Now that I've beat myself down, here is where I pull myself up again with some wise conclusions.

Still waiting.

Well, I suppose a taste of failure doesn't hurt anyone. It's not exactly failure. I was out there running at 6 a.m. and my 800's were at a good clip, if not as fast as I would like. And I did run 8.14 miles altogether, which is no walk in the park.

And it is a good lesson to remind me that maybe I won't run a sub-4 marathon this time around. (Though I'm not saying I won't, just maybe.) Like with my run this morning, there's all sorts of wild cards that can screw up the best laid plans. For example, stomach issues (duh). Or an unexpectedly tough course. Or it just might not be my day. Or it could be too hot, or too cold, or too windy, or too rainy to do my very best. And even if I don't run sub-4, I will still finish and probably do a pretty good job of it.

I would still like to do the ten final Yasso's, though I'll admit I'm nervous about it. I really have to make sure I start out extra early and allow more time than I think I'll need. Running out of time just gave me license to quit today. I don't know if I can make enough time to do a full 3:50-ish minute recovery in between laps, though.

I might also mention that over Saturday-Sunday-Monday I ran a total of 41 miles. That might have played a small part in my leg speed.

Anyhow, my slightly revised plan for the rest of this week is to rest tomorrow (go to the Y), run on Friday morning, rest completely on Saturday, and run the Capital City Half in Olympia on Sunday.

Hope everyone's having a good week! Already halfway through!

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

More Lucy news!

Obviously, I am a pretty big Lucy fan. I buy their clothes for running, yoga, and everyday wear. Preferably I like things off the sale and clearance racks, but for new stuff you can't beat a discount coupon! (Once you buy something there, they'll mail and email you discount codes all the time.)

This promotion is a twist on the usual discount, though! You can bring in your race bib to one of their stores for a 20% discount on any one full-priced item (through August 29). (If you don't have a Lucy store in your area, you can frequently find discount codes online, anyway.)

Even better, if you win, place, or show in any race (overall or age group) through August 29, and you are wearing Lucy gear (top and bottom), you can email a picture and some other info and get a free top and bottom! (Check the website for details.)

I am pretty much kicking myself that I wasn't wearing Lucy gear in my 10K last Saturday. But I do have at least one 5K and one 10K on the agenda over the summer where I think I have a fair chance of an age group place. (Meaning they are small local races!) I will definitely be wearing my Lucy for those!

My Review of Quickest Tank

Originally submitted at lucy

All the technology a runner needs, and more: the lightweight, moisture-wicking Quickest Tank has flat locked seams, mesh ventilation panels and a drop tail hem for coverage. Plus, the corsetry design lines and center-back ruffle are super-feminine.

Love this tank!

By Kristin from Washington State on 5/11/2010


5out of 5

Fit: Feels true to size

Pros: Allows Free Movement, Stylish, Comfortable

Best Uses: Warm Weather, Running

Describe Yourself: Avid Athlete

I bought this tank in purple and liked it so much I'm getting the green. I wore it for a long run and look forward to summer running. As far as sizing, although I marked "true to size," I think it fits a little big in typical Lucy sizing. I usually buy a large in tops because I don't want them to be too clinging...I exchanged this for a medium and it fits perfectly (not loosely but skims nicely). (I typically wear size 8-10 in other brands.)


Monday, May 10, 2010

Running after work

I do not love running after work. In fact, I do not love it SO MUCH that the very thought of it makes me wonder if, in fact, I love running at all! Now, sometimes I do like running in the afternoon or evening. If it is a non-work day and I don't get out till later in the day, usually I don't mind at all (especially if I've spent the earlier part of the day lounging around). Or if I decide to cut out of work in the middle of the day to run, that can be fun. Or if the weather is unusually lovely (though not too hot), an early evening run might appeal.

But on your run-of-the-mill workday, especially a Monday, when I am mentally or physically tired (or both), the last thing I want to do at 5 or 6 p.m. is go for a run. The. Last. Thing. That, of course, would be today.

This morning, as I mentioned in my earlier post, I put off running till later in the day to give my legs more rest. I didn't want to skip it entirely because I'd like to keep on schedule early in the week in order to ensure plenty of rest time before Sunday's half marathon. (Oh, didn't I mention that? Capital City Half Marathon in Olympia.)

I got home around 5:00 and changed into running clothes pretty quickly. That actually does help motivate me a little. Because I felt cold coming home from work, I overdressed a little, wearing a light shirt under a half zip, like I would on a 40-degree morning! It was probably in the 50's. Though, I must say, I never did get horribly overheated, though I did take my gloves off eventually.

I was surprised when I started out that my legs didn't feel all that bad, despite the weekend mileage. They weren't even heavy and I even started a bit faster than I usually do.

It wasn't all that hunky-dory though. For a while my legs and body felt awkward, like I was working too hard at running, and I felt sort of clown-like, all gawky arms and legs. The insides of my thighs were unusually achy and I detected a hint of soreness in my shin (which went away). And let's not forget, I really didn't want to be out there at all!

The other thing I don't like about after work running is the involvement of my stomach. In the morning my stomach is empty, except for maybe a small snack. But by the end of the workday I've eaten breakfast, lunch, and probably a snack, all of which are sitting heavily in my stomach (or at least that's how it feels when I decide to run!). I don't know what I can do about that. I'm not going to fast during the day!

I told myself I didn't have to run too far. Even five miles would be plenty. And compared to yesterday, a walk in the park, right?

For a while I distracted myself by thinking about making a bacon and egg salad--not for tonight, just sometime. Salad greens with crumbled bacon and poached eggs on top. I passed a little time wondering what kind of bread to get for toast, and would there be jam with the toast? (The answer to that would be yes, on the side. I would definitely have jam and Rod probably would not.)

I also spent some time composing this post in my head, while also acknowledging that I would probably forget everything by the time I got home. (I probably have forgotten stuff, but I remembered the opening sentence and the bacon and egg salad!)

I passed the 3-mile point, which is always significant in a shorter run (possibly the halfway point). Four miles, even better!

And somewhere along the way, I stopped feeling awkward and started feeling normal. I even found myself picking up the pace (particularly as I reached the top of Colby and 41st and turned back downhill). Mile 6 - 9:27. Mile 7 - 8:46. The last .77 to QFC - 8:12 pace!

I stopped at 7.77 miles because I thought I'd go to Starbucks. But when I found out that Frappucino Happy Hour had ended at 5 (and it was 7:00), I decided I didn't need a frappucino after all. I hit the lap button on the Garmin (so as not to mess up my earlier fast pace) and jogged home at an easy pace.

Final stats: 8.4 miles, 9:33 average pace per mile.

Next run - Yasso 800's on Wednesday.
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10K Saturday + 22 mile run Sunday = tired legs Monday

It was a big running weekend for me! I don't usually run on both Saturday and Sunday, but I had signed up for Saturday's 10K race months ago, and had 22 miles on the schedule for Sunday*, so there was no alternative. I did move Friday's run to Thursday, just to give myself a break in advance.

Saturday was the Inspiring Hope 10K (and 5K Run and Walk), a benefit run for the Susan B. Komen 3-day walk. My friend Donna is on the Kindred Spirits team, and their group leader organized this event to help fund their efforts. Penny did a great job of setting up a really top-notch race, with timing chips even!

I headed to Mukilteo bright and early Saturday morning. It really was bright—our much delayed spring had finally made an appearance! I decided to go sleeveless for the first time this year, and wore my NuuMuu running dress over my favorite black capris. (I put a jacket on but left it at the clothes drop a few minutes before the race started.)

As I approached the weekend earlier in the week I knew I had a running dilemma to resolve. I expected that this would be my peak week in marathon training, and I kind of wanted to top 50 miles (which I know is a low number for marathon training anyway). But with my runs earlier in the week of 8+ on Tuesday, 10+ on Thursday, and 22 planned for Sunday, a 10K plus warm-up would still leave me shy of 50. I had thought about doing another run on Wednesday or Friday to increase overall mileage, but decided (wisely I think) that it wasn't worth trashing my legs just to add a random few extra miles. So that left me either being satisfied with 48-49, or adding more on either Sunday or Saturday.

Adding more on Sunday didn't seem practical (22 is plenty!) so I decided to do a two-mile warm-up for the 10K, then two more afterwards (total 10.2 on Saturday). I always like to do at least 1.8 miles in 10K warm-up anyway. And that went quite smoothly. As warm-ups do, generally. The two miles after—well, I can say right now that I am not a big fan of running more miles after a race, regardless of how short or long the race is. My motivation to run after the strain of running hard is, to say the least, low! (But I got it in.)

As for the race. Even though we had timing chips, I lined up pretty much right at the front to avoid any congestion delays. Obviously this was nothing like Bloomsday...participants numbered in the hundreds (or at least a hundred), not tens of thousands. But the course description said that it would be "single-file" in places, and I wanted to avoid getting stuck behind slower people. Faster people could feel free to pass me!

The race started with a verbal countdown, and at "go" I took off at a good clip. This was really a test in pushing myself, as I hadn't had a great opportunity to do that in Bloomsday. It is possible that I went too fast in the first mile (as my Garmin showed low 7's at some points), but I am thankful for my mile 1 split of 7:43 as it made up for a bit of lagging later on!

In the next couple miles I think I hit my comfortable pace, at 8:08 and 8:09. Still not my goal pace of eight minutes, but I think there has to be real magic to make that happen, and although I felt good on Saturday, it wasn't quite magical. For a while I was following right behind a tall guy with long legs who I thought was a good pacer for close to eight-minute miles, but eventually he seemed to be slowing and I was forced to pass him and go on.

The course was great in many ways. It was almost entirely flat. In fact, it was flat in that way that it seems to be going slightly downhill in both directions! I think it's an optical illusion, but even on the out and back portion, I never felt that we were going back "up" any incline that we had come "down" before.

Slightly before the 3-mile point we turned around and I wondered how we were going to squeeze in the entire 10K if we were already turning back! But although we retraced our steps to some extent, the second "half" changed course enough to make the entire distance exactly 6.2 miles. During that second half a couple of especially speedy people whizzed past me (around the 3-mile point), and I can recall overtaking and passing at least three people, two males and one female. Other than that, everyone ahead of me and just behind me pretty much held their places throughout.

Somewhere during the out and back portion we had to go up a few stairs (about four) and then back down them on the return. I think the "down" was more delaying than the "up", because I was careful not to trip on the way down. So I might have lost a couple seconds in my pace there.

My low points (as far as pace) were miles 4 and 5, 8:20 and 8:21 respectively. I don't know exactly what happened. I think the "down" stairs were in mile 4, so that may have played a part. Or (and/or) maybe I was just getting tired! I thought I was going to pick up the pace in mile 5, but obviously that didn't happen.

In mile 6, though, I dug deep and found another gear, and pulled that one back to 8:11. I was gearing up for the big finish, when, approaching the final intersection, I had to stop because a car ignored the race volunteer's gesture to wait. Yes, I had to come to a stop in the final push of a 10K race! Not only did I lose a few seconds in the stop, I had pick my pace up again to restart. I felt a little frustrated. My last .2 mile was at 7:59 pace, and I think it would have been a little faster if not for the unplanned and unnecessary stop.**

As I pounded toward the finish line, I saw the clock click over to 50 minutes and I knew that I wasn't going to break 50, much less my PR time of 49:20.*** Still, at least I beat my last 10K back in February (just barely). My chip time in Mukilteo turned out to be 50:25 (average pace 8:08) and the Smelt Run was 50:36.****

All the bystanders were cheering me in and I felt like a winner! :)

After getting a drink of water I set out to finish my remaining two miles. I jogged out toward the 5K course, where walkers were coming in, and about a quarter of a mile along ran into my friend Donna. I stopped my watch and walked back in with her and her husband. Some things are a little more important than just logging mileage!

Once we finished (again) though, I resolutely turned my watch back on and jogged out another 3/4 mile, then back to the parking lot, and around the corner until I clicked off two miles. I felt so sluggish, but I averaged about a 10-minute pace for the bonus miles, which is real running, not just padding my stats!

I still had a bit of time to wait for the awards ceremony, though. It was supposed to be at 10:45 (I finished the race before 10), and of course it took longer than that for the results to be fully compiled. I had a chance to check the finishers' lists, though, and confirmed that I had won my age group, officially. In reality I was the third female 40-49, but the first two were first and second women overall, so they got bumped out of the age group award category, leaving room for me! I do feel a bit sorry for the second place female, though, because the female winner got flowers, and I got an age group winner certificate, but the second placer (who beat me by like four minutes and was within seconds of the winner), just got recognition but no tangible award. Doesn't seem fair, really!

Finally, after all the festivities were done, I headed back to Everett, stopping a couple of times for groceries, strawberries (for Mother's Day), and a little treat to celebrate my run.

On Sunday morning it was early up again to tackle my 22-mile run! Like the last 22-mile run, I headed south to the Burke-Gilman Trail for a flat out-and-back route. That last one was November 8, 2009, almost exactly six months ago! It was a little warmer today (though not yet hot, and even when the temperature got into the 60's, it was shady and breezy in many areas on the trail), and I headed out in a sleeveless shirt and sunscreen, plus my Roadrunner/Nathan Speed 2 fuel belt loaded with Nuun, Gu, and all my other odds and ends.

I hope I can justifiably say that I was a little more sluggish than last year's comparable run because of the 10K efforts. I would blame the weather but really, it was pretty perfect. Still, I managed to squeak in with a 9:52 average pace, which is right in the middle (even slightly toward the faster end) of the recommended long run pace for a sub-4 hour marathon. (The recommended long run pace is 9:38-10:38 per mile. I squeezed right in there as none of my miles were slower than 10:38 and none were faster than 9:38, except for my single "fast finish" mile 22.)

I reminded myself that the first five miles are warm-up. Regardless of actual pace, the difficulty of those first few miles is that each mile seems to last an eternity. It's not even worth thinking about the 15+ to come, because in that way lies madness. All I can do is keep telling myself that the first five miles are warm-up. (10:00, 9:47, 9:44, 9:46, 10:09.) In the middle of mile 5 I took a much needed bathroom stop at Matthews Beach Park. I drank a bit of coffee and I desperately needed to pee! Matthews Beach Park is down a steep hill, and to return to the trail I had to go back up. Hence 10:09 in mile 5.

Miles 6-10 are supposed to be the easy miles. Were they easy? Well...they weren't awful. (9:57, 9:50, 9:54, 9:42.) I took another bathroom stop partway through mile 8 at Metropolitan Market. I decided to do that because I was pretty sure it would be a long time before I saw another bathroom!

My plan was to go between 11 and 12 miles before I turned around and headed back. The reason I was going more than 11 was because I had made the extra jaunt off the trail to Matthews Beach, and I didn't want to run short at the end. At mile 11 I decided to go half a mile more then turn around. That was the longest.half.mile.ever. Plus I was running on sunny sidewalks at that point so the conditions were as harsh as they were going to get during this run. I told myself that not only was I going to turn around at 11.5, I was going to eat a Gu after I finished mile 12. I actually went a bit further before I stopped, because I wanted to find a shady spot to hover in while I ate my Gu. I huddled under some tree branches while I savored my Espresso Love Gu.

Miles 11-15 are what I call the quality miles. That is where a mid-length run turns into a long run. The trick is to keep running at a similar level as the first 10. Did I succeed at that? Well, mostly. (9:48, 9:46, 9:44, 9:46, 10:00.)

My Gu break is also where I spotted Betsy of Eat Drink Run Woman run by, with another person who I think I recognized from the YMCA Invest in Youth Run back in March.

From the quality miles I headed directly into the "endurance" miles (16-20), otherwise known as "the miles where things really started to suck." Actually they sucked most in miles 16 and 17, according to my splits. Mile 16 is divided into two halves, because I took my longest bathroom break back at Metropolitan Market halfway through that mile. The first half, pre-break, was at 10:07 pace.

After stopping in the bathroom and then refilling my water/nuun bottles and drinking some plain water, I hovered for a few minutes in the Metropolitan Market bakery section looking for some small treat I could buy. The problem was that most of the cookies that were for sale individually were huge. I just wanted one little cookie. I finally settled on a dark chocolate covered graham cracker with sea salt. I thought the salt was a nice touch during a run! I figure that the treat had no more than 200 calories, similar to two Gu packets.

I wasn't concerned that my long break would interfere with my ability to run without stopping during the marathon (for some reason it doesn't) but I did fear (correctly) that it would be hard to get going when I started up again. In fact, the second half of mile 16 was at 10:52 pace (ouch). The two halves together added up to 10:30 for the entire mile.

During these miles 16-20 I did a lot of my running on the dirt path that was running parallel to to the paved trail. I know a lot of people prefer that because it seems easier on the body, but usually I don't care. At this point, though, I was taking whatever breaks I could get. I felt like running on dirt (even though it was packed) might make me a little slower, but did I really care about that? I did not. And actually, once I got out of miles 16 and 17, my pace seemed to go back to the same vicinity as before. (10:30, 10:09, 9:49, 9:48, 9:52.)

After I finish the warm-up, easy, quality, and endurance miles, I am left with the remaining miles. The character of those miles can vary widely. Six months ago I finished the last two amazingly fast. This time I didn't think I had that in me. Mile 21 barely squeaked in under 10 minutes (9:57). After I finished mile 21 I paused again at a bench and did some leg stretches. This felt amazingly good! I don't know if it was just the opportunity to rest (again), or the stretching was actually helping. But I started up determined to finish strong. I had already done about .06 of mile 22, but I picked up the pace for the remaining .94 mile and did the mile in a respectable 9:05. It helps a little that there are tons of markers on the trail in this area that I can use as landmarks to run between.

So, 22 miles done...but wait. Where was the finish? I wasn't back to my starting point yet. I considered just walking the rest of the way, but instead I geared myself up (yet again) and jogged in the remaining .41 mile (as it turned out to be) at a respectable 9:42 pace. That took me to the stoplight on Bothell Way and yes, I walked across the street.

I went directly to Starbucks where I got an iced mocha and what may be the best post-run lunch/snack ever, the Power Protein Plate. Okay, maybe I was a little delirious from my run, but this met every need I was having at that moment. A mini whole wheat bagel with Justin's Honey Peanut Butter, a hard-boiled egg, a little bit of cheddar cheese, and a few apple slices and grapes. 370 calories of replenishment.

Then I walked back to my car, which was a lot further away than I had thought! I drove home, showered and dressed, and headed out to the Mother's Day festivities and a lot more eating.

So, 2/3 of my 20+ mile runs down. The final one will be just 20 miles, and I'll probably do it on Friday May 21. Fun fun fun!

Oh yeah, regarding the tired legs. Monday morning is supposed to be a recovery run, but I put it off this morning until, probably, this afternoon. Not the best idea, because I really don't like running after work, but I really thought I needed to put at least 24 hours in between the 22 miles and the next run! So we'll see how things go this afternoon....

*With the marathon approaching in a month, there is no wiggle room left for moving things around!
**Although I guess it was necessary to keep from being hit by a car!
Fowl Fun Run 10K in Mount Vernon last November.
****Under much less favorable conditions than this one, but oh well!

Tuesday, May 4, 2010


I'm back from Spokane, and it was a great weekend all around. The race turned out all right, and I'm happy with the result, even if it wasn't quite the result I had hoped for. My finish time (1:05:17) was a PR by almost two minutes (over 2008) and substantially faster than last year's time, so that was great! I had hoped to be a couple of minutes (or more) faster, but it was not to be...this year.

Last week, before I ever left for Spokane, I had a great "Yasso 800" session at the track on Wednesday. I don't think I managed to get in a post about that run. After about three miles of warm-up, I arrived at the track to tackle eight 800's (on the way to ten before the marathon). My goal for 800's (which are actually half miles by my measurements) is to be under four minutes. My first was 3:59--acceptable! The others fluctuated in the 3:58 to 3:50 range (paces of 7:42 to 7:57, and 7:59 for the first one). I was quite pleased with that result.

Even better, I felt like I did it without killing myself. I don't think my legs could have gone faster, but my lungs felt okay. They were working, for sure, but didn't feel like they were on fire or anything. I felt very encouraged about Bloomsday after that workout! (Nine miles total that day.)

The next day I did my usual Friday medium long run on Thursday instead, so I could have both Friday and Saturday off from running in hopes of having fresh legs for Sunday. Unfortunately, Thursday's run was pretty much the opposite of great. My legs were so heavy and slow and I just couldn't work the lead out. I did about seven miles at significantly slower than ten-minute pace. Then, after a bathroom stop at Starbucks, my legs suddenly lightened up and I did two more miles at about 9:45, just like that. I know that isn't too much faster, but the difference in the way I felt was phenomenal!

On Friday I did an easy stint on the elliptical instead of running, and began the weekend festival of food by going to Duke's for dinner with my mom (she had a coupon for a free side salad, which I ate with a large bowl of seafood stew). I also began enthusiastically carb loading by attacking the bread basket (warm sourdough bread), and asking for a refill to dip in my soup.

We (my mother and I) flew to Spokane on Saturday and arrived at the Davenport Hotel in the early afternoon. Oh, how I love the Davenport. Old-style glamour and the most comfortable beds ever! After eating the lunch I brought along and resting for just a bit, I headed over to the Convention Center to pick up my race packet and check out the expo. The Convention Center is about a half mile or so away from the Davenport.

The Bloomsday Expo is huge, possibly the biggest one I've been to. Which isn't surprising, considering that Bloomsday is one of the ten biggest races in the U.S.! I made my way through the rows of stalls, pretty much impervious to the shopping bug, I think because there was so much stuff that I became anesthetized to the impulse to buy! I did succumb to some free samples...particularly the Franz bakery table where I resisted the donut holes...but took a handful of Mother's iced animal cookies (oh how I love these). (In fact, I came back a few times and took more handfuls which I stashed in a zipper baggy for snacking later.) I also took one beef sample on a toothpick--yes they were grilling up pieces of meat! That was a very popular area. I actually picked a piece that looked small because I was worried about getting too full before we went to dinner later. I also took away a Clif bar and a tube of herb mixture (for cooking purposes).

I did end up buying a couple of things. I was attracted to the Nathan shadow pak because it was purple, and would match my race shirt nicely. I bought it even though I had several other waist packs with me, any one of which would have sufficed. Then I was drawn like a magnet to the Nuu-Muu display—the cutest imaginable running dresses, and on special for Bloomsday! I bought this one. I resisted the temptation to buy two (even though the price was even more special for two), because who knows how much I will end up wearing it.

After that I figured I'd better get out of there before I got too crazy, so I headed back to the hotel. We had a dinner reservation at Europa, a sweet Italian restaurant and bakery only a few blocks from the hotel. We walked over a little before 7:00. Even though it seems little and charming, it's actually quite a large restaurant in terms of space, and we got seated promptly. Amazingly, considering that not only was it the night before a big race, it was also prom night!

We saw a number of teenage couples in their fancy-wear dining at Europa. The star of the restaurant was without doubt "the princess" (as we dubbed her), a beautiful girl wearing a glamorous white dress that looked like a ballerina's costume—strapless, beaded bodice, and a very short tulle skirt. We were fascinated and watched her every move! She ordered pasta with a white sauce, by the way.

My mother and I each had a sampler plate with two kinds of pasta. I chose spaghetti with meat sauce and rigatoni stuffed with cheese. They were very good, but lots of food! I ate all the spaghetti and about half the rigatoni (which we took back to the hotel and my mother ate for breakfast the next day while I was running). I also ate lots of their special bread! And we shared a piece of chocolate cookie pie for dessert. Clearly I was carb loading like I was running a marathon instead of a 12K!

Since this is so long already, I'll save the story of the race and after for a new post, with pictures. Don't worry, it's not a story about all the food I ate making me sick! I managed to digest just fine.