Friday, July 30, 2010

Carb loading

Sometimes on the night before a race I'll go out to an Italian restaurant and have pasta that is delicious and professionally made by someone other than myself. I have had some scrumptious pasta dinners in places like Bellingham, Portland, Sacramento, Olympia, and even Tukwila.

But one of my complaints about restaurant pasta is that there is so much PASTA. And usually so little other stuff, namely vegetables. I like my pasta dishes chunky, so much so that the veggies and other ingredients equal or outweigh the pasta.

Hence my "Empty the Fridge" veggie pasta. I make it with leftover roasted, sauteed, or steamed vegetables. Plus, I admit, I may cook up other stuff to add to what I've got (as I did tonight).

Here's the melange from tonight.

Chopped onion
Sliced mushrooms
Minced garlic
Ground turkey (I got about 5 oz out of the freezer)
28 oz can Cento organic chunky-style crushed tomatoes in puree
Can of white beans (cannellini)
2 red bell peppers, cut into wedges and roasted in the oven
2 zucchini, cut into strips and roasted in oven (it did get a little soft cooking this way)
Leftover roasted eggplant
Italian seasoning
Salt & pepper
Red pepper flakes
Fresh parsley and basil from the garden
Olive oil
Chunky pasta (penne or rotini) (I used about 3 servings worth) (cook pasta while you're preparing the sauce)

Sautee onion in cooking spray until it starts to soften, add mushrooms. After the onions and mushrooms are partly cooked, add ground turkey (breaking up into chunks) and garlic. Cook until turkey is no longer pink. Add the can of tomatoes. Put some water into the empty tomato can and add as needed if too much liquid evaporates while cooking. Once the tomatoes are heated, season with Italian seasoning to taste and salt and pepper. Drain the beans and stir them in as well. Add any cold leftover vegetables so they can heat up as well. Once everything is heated and has simmered together a little bit, stir in any hot vegetables plus the pasta. Check seasonings and add some red pepper flakes if you like a little heat. I stirred in about a tablespoon of olive oil to add a little richness. Add fresh herbs (I snip with scissors) and serve, possibly on a bed of spinach, if you like that (I do). Top with a mountain of micro-plane grated Parmesan!

Number of servings depends on how much pasta and vegetables you use. I had a large serving (actually two small) and there's probably 2-3 servings of leftovers remaining.

Note: I also had broccoli in the fridge but opted not to use it, as I ate broccoli for lunch and didn't want to ask for GI problems. But I'll probably put the broccoli in the leftovers.

Other vegetables I might use: broccoli, cauliflower, green beans, asparagus, roasted brussels sprouts, parsnips or carrots, corn (sodium-free canned work great), sweet potatoes or new potatoes, kale, spinach or other greens (either already cooked or cooked down in the sauce), yellow squash or winter squash. Other kinds of canned beans would work too: kidney beans, garbanzo beans, black beans, pinto beans. I would always try to include either eggplant or mushrooms in the mix, though, because they add a meaty texture whether or not you use actual meat!

Finally, of course you can eliminate pasta for a very low carb dish, or use spaghetti squash, which is great!

Anacortes eve

Tomorrow is the Anacortes Half Marathon, which I have been considering my "goal" half marathon for the summer. I've run several this year, but all of them have been training runs, practice for marathon pace, or just for fun (or too hard to try for a good time).

Even though Anacortes is a minor race in the big picture (the world of half marathons), it is the one where I have decided to put my effort into a PR-type finish, before dialing back to "training pace" in anticipation of the next marathon.

Caveat here--I make no promises that I will actually do better than any of the other half marathons I've run this year! I just have that desire. Goal, if you will.

So, with great trepidation, comforted only by the thought that relatively few people actually read this blog, here are my Anacortes objectives, in descending order desirability, and ascending order of likelihood.

Super Platinum goal - sub-1:50. Probability - low.*
Platinum goal - 1:50:xx. Probability - still pretty low.
Gold goal - PR, meaning sub-1:53. (Sub-1:52 would be extra shiny gold, while not quite platinum). Probability - moderate.
Silver goal - sub-1:55. Probability - reasonable.
Bronze goal - sub-1:58. This would be a little faster than my last two half marathons, each of which had factors that slowed me down. Probability - darn well better be able to do this.
Shiny non-precious metal goal (stainless steel? zinc?) - sub 2:00. Probability - high, as long as the earth doesn't open up and swallow me during the race!

If I don't accomplish at least one of these goals, I may just come back and delete this post afterward!

Have a great weekend, everyone! Best wishes to the runners in the Chicago Rock 'n' Roll Half Marathon and any other races!

*I am protecting myself by minimizing my expectations.

More giveaways!

This one is the best, and I am only spreading the word because it gets me another entry! Sleeper Baker is giving away a Nathan Speed4R fuel belt. Yes! Click on the blog name for more info and entry. Contest expires August 8.

She is also giving away product from iRun Like a Girl. This one expires August 1, so click here if you want to check it out!

Thursday, July 29, 2010

Sweet rewards

This weeks SOWL challenge is a fun one, rewarding yourself for weight loss goals met. Kerrie (SOWL founding mother) set up a schedule of rewards for every five pounds lost (you can see hers here). If I'm going to do this reward thing, though, I need to do it more often, like every two pounds. It takes so long to make any progress that I would get nothing if I waited for five pounds.

But I am a very hard person to reward. I am also a very hard person to buy birthday and Christmas gifts for. That is because I have no ability of delayed gratification. Whatever I need or want (within reason), I get for myself. Waiting for someone to give it to me? Pish posh.

Here are some examples of potentially good rewards that I don't need.

New clothes. Um, yeah, already got too many of those (old and new). Picked up a few cute new things at Renee's Sidewalk Sale yesterday, anyway. Wearing a new dress today!

New shoes. Same as above!

New running shoes. I get those whenever I feel my shoes are getting old, ASICs comes out with a new Kayano color, or the spirit moves me. (I just ordered a pair of Newton Running Shoes, which I had to exchange because they are too small, but I am anxiously awaiting the replacement pair!)

New running clothes. Also have too much of those already, including new stuff, plus lots of tech shirts from races.

Techy (and non-techy) running gear. Got my Garmin, got my iPod, got my fuel belts and so forth, plus more Gu than I can eat in a year (considering that I don't use it much). And socks? I practically own stock in FitSok.

Massage. The massage therapist already sees me once a month or more....

New music for my iPod. Something else that I already download whenever the spirit moves me!

Books. If you saw my house, you would know that I don't need any new books! Yet I will undoubtedly get something from Amazon or a bookstore sometime soon, anyway.

Pedicure. Well, that is definitely something my poor toes need! I probably should do it immediately, without delay!

Sign up for a new race. Well...there's already quite a few on the books. But I do have something as yet unscheduled in the works....

Destination race(s). Boston is already planned, just need to register and book our non-Boston post-race destination. But there is another that I am working on with my parents for next year...details may be forthcoming...but I am not going to make it contingent on weight loss (which may or may not happen, after all).

The other thing I don't want to do (as mentioned above) is make something contingent on weight loss that I really, really want or need. Just in case my set point is set in stone rather than clay. That means no iPhone or iPad on the list.

So, here's what I have come up with. We'll assume that I have been adequately rewarding myself for hitting 154 pounds last week. (I haven't necessarily stayed there, due to the horrors of fluctuation, but I don't get another reward every time I see the same number!)

152 - Pedicure. This is really more of a duty to society than a reward for me, as it will help hide my horrible toes from public view!

150 - Day off work by myself. Sleep in, run later in the morning, go to a movie. This is huge! Really, I should make it my reward for every level.

148 - Shop for bicycle shorts, capris, or pants. This is the one clothing item I do not have and I have been reluctant to shop for. It's not like I bike that much, after all. But by this point I'll be so skinny (haha) that I'll need a little padding, right?

145 - GOAL WEIGHT! Reward: Marathon PR. What do you mean, I can't guarantee that for myself? How about a 5K PR, that's not much, is it? Well, I'll be thinking about my alternative reward. I am thinking something to do with my trip to Portland for the Half on 10/10/10. Or if I must buy myself something, buying it in Portland sans sales tax.

Maintaining 145 (at, around, or below) for at least a month (and every month thereafter) - Go to a movie by myself. Don't need to take the whole day off work to do it, I guess. How else am I going to see any chick flicks? I might substitute in something else if I think of anything. And yes, I will continue to go to movies even if I never get to 145.

So there you go. Rewards for the most self-indulged person in the world. (But let me point out, I do drive a 1996 vehicle and don't have a lot of expensive hobbies other than travel!)

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

A dilemma + a decision

Not earthshaking. But I've been dwelling on this little dilemma off and on all day.

Here's the dilemma. Last week I took two days off to heal my ankle (and it helped a lot), leaving me with three days of running for the week (about 27 miles). No biggie. It was the right decision.

This week I have Thursday and Friday again designated as non-running days, this time to mini-taper and rest my legs for the Anacortes half marathon. Today I have been second-thinking myself, wondering if I should run a little tomorrow, maybe just a half run of three to five miles.

The pros--calorie burn, plus relieves the boredom of spending a long time on the elliptical at the Y.

The cons--less pre-race recovery for my legs, don't like short runs and probably would not even get warmed up over three miles. Plus it's not like a last-minute run two days before the race is going to have any training benefit.

The decision--don't run. The benefits of having rested, fresh legs far outweighs any dubious training value of a slow, pointless run. Plus running just because it burns calories borders on disordered thinking, I fear.

So the Y it is. I can't bring myself to rest completely, but low impact is the next best thing.

I don't know for certain whether I'll run on Sunday or not, but even if this is another 3-day week I'll still hit at least 30 miles with the half marathon (plus warm-up) distance.
Today after a 6-mile easy (slow) run, I went to the track for six quarter-miles. They started out weak and finished great! The first one was an 8-minute pace--ugh. I kept gradually speeding up toward 5K pace. I originally thought that my last one was 7:25 pace, which is OKAY, but when I downloaded my data I realized that had been lap #5. My final pace was actually 6:50! Woo hoo! One of these days (maybe after I get my Newtons) I'm going to run a sub-7 full mile. Yeah!
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Double trouble

I've always been interested in running two consecutive races, but never really had the nerve or much opportunity. That opportunity arose this last weekend at the Lake Stevens Aquarun 10K and 5K. I noticed, when checking out this event a few weeks ago, that the 5K started an hour after the 10K, making consecutive runs theoretically possible. But I wasn't going to do it, for various scheduling reasons, until my secretary talked me into it. She did so by printing out the entry form and handing it to me. I filled it out, wrote a check for the entry fee plus $5 for the extra race, and dropped it in the mail. The deed was done.

Flash forward to Saturday. Our summer has finally arrived, and this was probably the warmest running day I've had yet (certainly the warmest race, anyway). My mom came along as company and photographer (though she had a hard time getting any great photos).

I checked in, got my bib (marked 10K & 5K), and located the bathrooms (about a quarter mile away, "downtown"). (I was pretty irritated about the lack of porta-potties in the starting area, but got over it once I found the public restrooms. I guess no one else really had to go, because there was never any kind of crowd.) I probably did about 1.7 miles of warm-up while I was looking for potties and waiting for the start.

I knew, getting into this, that this race scheme was really a recipe for sucking in both races. Especially if I held back in the 10K in hopes of doing well in the 5K. So what I decided to do was give my best effort at the 10K, then see what I had left for the 5K.

I am not in this picture of the start. There is a female near the back with a blue shirt and black pants and blond hair...that is not me, even though my mother may have thought it was when she took the picture!

For most of the first mile or so the course was downhill, and I was running about a 7:15 to 7:30 pace easily for almost three quarters of a mile. I didn't feel like I was running too fast or working too hard at all. Then we hit the first hill, short and steep, and that slowed me drastically enough that my time for that mile dropped to 8:24 overall. (You can only imagine how slow that hill made me!)

Mile 2 went back downhill and then evened out and I picked up the pace some, almost to 10K goal pace (but not quite). Mile 2 - 8:16. Then we were back to small rolling hills, which are great for maintaining a decent average pace in a half marathon, but difficult to tackle fast enough for a good 10K time! The next few miles told the tale. Mile 3 - 8:29. Mile 4 - 8:32. Mile 5 - 8:36.

Shortly before the three-mile point, the course looped past the starting area, where our first water station was located. Although I don't often drink water during short races, this was a hot day, so I grabbed a cup and took a swig, not minding at all when I splashed some water on me. Another woman that I ran beside for a moment commented that they should have had more water stops on such a hot day! There was one other on the course, somewhere in mile 5, I believe. I drank at that one too. (I also drank when I passed it again in the 5K. They remembered me.)

Since I was hovering around 8:30 pace, I figured my time would be around 52 minutes. Clearly no PR was in the cards. I was able to pull out a small final kick in the last mile plus, though, with 8:20 for mile 6 and a 7:59 pace in the last bit. As I turned the corner which brought me into the final stretch, I was soon able to see the finish clock and it said 51:xx (in the low numbers). I knew that I had a good shot at beating 52 minutes, and poured on the steam. Final time - 51:41.

The course was a little short (which, in this case, I didn't mind at all), so my Garmin pace was 8:26 per mile. My official pace (for 6.2 miles) would be about 8:20.

My mom didn't manage to get a picture before the finish line, but here I am after! Stopping my watch, of course.

By the time I walked through the finish chute and grabbed a cup of Gatorade and a couple cups of water, I only had a few minutes before the start of the 5K. The 5K started at the other end of the block, so I started walking in that direction. That is me in the picture below, wearing a blue shirt and white hat.
I was pretty hot and sweaty from the first race, and I was childishly pleased when a few people noticed that I was running both races and commented on it. The 5K seemed a lot more crowded at the start than the 10K. I don't know if there were that many more people running or whether the starting area was just narrower.* I situated myself in the middle of the crowd. I wiggled a little bit toward the front but I figured there was no point in getting too close.

So, when the race started, I started at a jog with the group around me. Plus we started on an uphill, which further decreased the chance of a speedy pace. I quickly accepted my fate that this would be a slower 5K than I've run in a long time.

The 5K was pretty much the second half of the 10K, but my times for those miles were about 30 seconds slower this time around. Mile 1 - 8:54. Mile 2 - 9:06 (ouch). Mile 3 - 8:42. Final bit - 8:34 pace. I just didn't have the gas in me to go any faster.

This time when I approached the finish area I saw 26 on the clock, but it was in the higher seconds and I doubted that I could get across under 27. A couple of men running near me gave it a good effort, sprinting ahead of me. I could hear cries of disgust when the clock clicked past 27. My final time (official result) - 27:05. Again the distance was a hair short, so my official pace was about 8:50 and my Garmin pace was 8:54.

When I spotted my mom after I finished she told me that they had just announced my name as first place in my age group for the 10K! I missed it because I was still running the 5K. Maybe if I'd been a little faster in the 5K I would have heard it. Oh well. I went up and collected my medal anyway.

Just today I have found the online results, and my age group triumph has dimmed a little because I see that there were only two women in my age group! (But I was first!) That is really uncommon, the 40+ women is usually a strong, and large, age group.

Here's a picture of me after the race. The weird bulge on my arm is the remains of a big fall I took back in December. My bicep has been a little mutated ever since.

I spent a couple of hours after I went home icing my ankle on the patio, and it really hasn't given me much trouble this week at all. Then, later, Rod and I went out to his parents for the Tulare Beach picnic and dance. Fun times!

*Turns out there were 102 runners in the 10K and 252 in the 5K. Quite a difference!

Monday, July 26, 2010

SOWL Challenge—What motivates you?

Monday morning seems like a good time to answer last week's Summer of Weight Loss question: What motivates you? Here's the question in its entirety:

What are your motivators? What gets you out the door or to the gym? What makes you think twice about buying that suitcase full of Peanut M&Ms at Costco?

As Kerrie says, motivators are tricky. I know I should be motivated by my health and well-being. Right?

Not so much.

Oh, I know that maintaining a healthy weight and being physically active does make me more likely to avoid future conditions such as heart disease, high blood pressure, diabetes, even cancer. But the thing is, even when I was heavy I was very healthy, so losing weight did not "cure" any particular condition I might have suffered from. And while I know a healthy lifestyle can help fend off cancer (probably), I also know that cancer can strike anyone, so I don't feel immune from the risk (though I don't dwell on it or anything).

You know what finally motivated me to lose weight six years ago? Pure practicality. I had a bunch of nice clothes (large-sized, but nice), and I had gained some weight so most of them were too small. I found myself thinking, "I need to go buy some new stuff until I lose weight and can get back into those clothes." Then I thought, this is just stupid. I can't just keep buying new clothes! And I can't just keep "waiting" to lose weight! Plus, I was 39 years old and I really wanted to get in shape by the time I was 40. So I just did it. It was like I had flipped a light switch.*

(FYI - of course it took more than a momentary decision to actually accomplish anything. It took about a year and a half to lose most of the weight.)

That's the big picture. But what keeps me going? And what keeps me running?

I have to say that the only thing that keeps me from eating all the m&m's and cake and cookies and ice cream that I would so dearly love is, in fact, fear of gaining weight. As far as other foods go, hamburgers and onion rings and pizza and potato chips, I really don't want that stuff and I truly prefer salmon and vegetables of all kinds and healthy food in general. Fortunately, I can eat as much spinach as my heart desires without too much fear of it going to my hips (or belly). But sweets take a little bit more disassociation.

As for running... I run because I love it. Usually. I love the way it makes me feel. (When I am done.) I won't lie, I also love the way it burns calories and lets me eat a little more than I would otherwise be able to.

So ultimately, my motivation for running is physical. But in the mornings when I am getting up at 6 a.m. to go run, I have to resort to mental motivation. I know it's good for me. I fear if I don't run when I intend to I may quit and never run again. I tell myself if I don't run today, I'll have to do it tomorrow, so why not just get out of bed and go? (And then I won't have to run tomorrow, usually, since I only run four days a week.) And 99% of the time, that's exactly what I do. (And because I do go 99% of the time, I am okay with the very rare occasion that I decide not to get up because I am too tired, or too achey, or the weather is too, too bad.)

This morning only took a little bit of self-persuasion to get up and go. Because I did a race (two!) on Saturday, I didn't run on Sunday so I felt pretty good, physically. My ankle and achilles tendon are feeling much better. I was a little tired (hence didn't get up until 6:00). But I knew it was a pleasant, sunny morning (upper 50's at 6 a.m.), so I threw on my shorts and a tank top and hit the road.

I was a little sluggish when I started but after the first couple miles I managed to pull myself under 10 minute pace (9:59 for mile 3!) and stay there. Because I was feeling pretty good, I decided to do a sort of fartlek style run, pushing the pace for a block or two or three, then jogging for a block. I followed this pattern for several miles, which gave me some decent splits with a "best pace" that was much faster.

Here are my splits, with (for kicks) my "best pace" per Garmin in parenthesis.

1 - 10:42 (9:15)
2 - 10:05 (8:37)
3 - 9:59 (8:13)
4 - 9:19 (7:59)
5 - 9:50 (6:16) (This is a weird one, there was no reason for my average pace to be that slow. Or really, my best pace to be that fast. Sometimes I think that my Garmin is on hallucinogenic drugs.)
6 - 9:18 (6:50)
7 - 9:18 (7:03)
8 - 9:12 (6:16)

Total distance 8.03 miles, average pace 9:43.

*Ironically, of course once I started losing weight I still had to buy new clothes. Lots of new clothes.

More fun

I took the quiz on Frayed Laces' blog to find out what kind of celebrity runner I am... here's what I got....

Kristin's Result: Oprah Winfrey
on quiz: What type of celebrity runner are you?

We all have to credit Oprah for making the marathon mainstream. In 1994, she said she would finish a marathon before she turned 40. She finished the Marine Corps marathon in 4:29:20.
Quiz SchoolTake this quiz & get your result

Cool Ryders giveaway!

I really need to win these for myself, but if you want a shot at winning a pair of Ryders sunglasses, check out Misszippy's blog and enter! The contest ends by July 29, so better act fast!

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Ice, ice baby

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Resting my ankle

I had a pretty rough run this morning, to the point where I am finally conceding that I need to give my ankle a couple days of rest from running to fend off real injury and make sure I am okay for my 10K/5K extravaganza on Saturday.

My dodgy achilles tendon is old news to me. It gives me trouble off and on, but typically although it may twinge when I start running, it backs off after I warm up and go a few miles. In the last week or so it has been a little more persistent. In fact, one night this week (I think Monday) I woke up in the night and it was hurting quite a lot. (I had also been in the middle of a dream that something went terribly wrong in the Bellingham Marathon, so waking up with a painful ankle was not pleasant!) I took some advil and went back to sleep.

Tuesday was a non-running day, but today (Wednesday) was speedwork. I had six 800/half miles on the schedule. I figured I'd do about four miles warm-up and then go to the track.

From the beginning of the run my ankle was talking to me (not in a nice way), and it didn't fade away after a couple miles as is typical. What's more, I felt terribly sluggish and awkward (and, needless to say, slow), and that too did not really wear off. Finally (the piece de resistance), I was also feeling some twinges in my right knee (same leg), and I never have knee problems!

I suspect the knee discomfort was caused by the ankle pain; I was probably stressing the knee by trying to favor the ankle. I also attribute some of my sluggishness to the achy ankle. I also suspect that I may be a bit glycogen depleted, as I have been consuming fewer carbs over the last few days than I had become used to.

So with all that, I had very low expectations for the track. If I was having trouble running painfully slowly, how could I ever get through speedwork? I seriously contemplated skipping the track stuff and cutting my run short. I decided, though, to try an 800 and if I couldn't do it under four minutes (or reasonably close), or if it was too painful, then I would bag the speedwork.

So. Interval #1. Not easy running, but not painful (as far as ankle pain) either. Time: 3:59. (This turned out to be an 8:04 pace because the distance was just a little short, .49 instead of .50.)

Interval #2. 3:57 (7:56 pace). Still no pain. The interesting thing here is what started happening as I tried to push my pace. I found myself landing more toward the front of my foot, which seemed easier and, it developed, was faster as well.

Interval #3. 3:52 (7:41 pace). It was getting a little later in the morning than I would like, so, while I had been doing .2 mile recovery after the first two 800's, I just did about a tenth of a mile, back to the start, between #3 & #4.

Interval #4. 3:45 (7:22 pace). (This one was actually long, .51 mile.) At this point I decided to call it good and head home. I didn't want to be late for work, and I thought I might have time for a few minutes of icing my ankle while I ate breakfast.

I did end up doing another slow mile, between my recovery jog around the track and the trip home, so I ended up with 8 miles total. Once I was running slowly again, the ankle ache returned. I also went almost immediately back to slow and sluggish. I found that it is really not very possible to run with a forward strike when I am running slowly.

So in the interest of my well-being, I am forcing myself to rest a bit over the next two days instead of straining myself to get "X" number of miles done. In the long run, it won't matter whether I run 25 or 35 miles this week, but an aggravated ankle injury could affect me for a lot longer.

I am a little curious about this forward striking thing, though. I am actually considering buying a pair of Newton Running shoes (minimalist shoes that encourage mid-foot striking). The only thing that's really prevented me from ordering a pair right now is that I have a discount coupon from Roadrunner Sports at home, so I would want to use that. These shoes are expensive!

By the way, as for the glycogen depletion, I am going to be eating more carbs at the end of the week to prepare for the race. I'm keeping low carb to the early part of the week, so that I will not be underfueled for weekend races. (Anacortes Half Marathon coming up on July 31!)

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Bill Clinton's Bucket List - Run a Marathon!

I heard on the radio that Bill Clinton commented on his "bucket list" during a speech today. On his "B" list (less serious things) he said he wanted to climb Mt. Kilimanjaro before all the snow melted (purportedly within 20 years), and to run a marathon while he was still able.

As for the mountain climbing, he can have it, thank you. I already had my fill of mountain climbing in the snow about a month ago when Rod and I tried to hike up Mount Pilchuck before the snow was gone. We didn't make it to the top because we turned back when I had a freak-out/melt-down in some deep snow. And that's just a little mountain!

But a marathon? I'm there for you, Bill. I'd happily give up a sub-4 to run with you. Or maybe a run-walk plan would be better? Just say the word (and a few weeks notice for training on my part) and I'll happily join your team.

Which marathon would you like to do? Go classic with the Marine Corps Marathon in October 2011? (I'm actually available on October 31, 2010, but I think Bill would need more time to train.)

Or there's the New York City Marathon in your new hometown...again 2011 would be your best bet to allow training time. I might need a little help bypassing the lottery to get in, but I'm sure you could pull a few strings!

Want to do Boston 2011? I'll be there anyway. I've already qualified, and I'm sure they'd let you in as a VIP!

Maybe you want to go back to your old hometown and do the Little Rock Marathon on March 6, 2011. Of course, Mike Huckabee already did it (twice), but he's also done MCM and NYC, so you're not catching up to him anyway.

I wouldn't recommend Humpy's Marathon in Anchorage, Alaska (on August 15 this year, presumably mid-August next year as well), unless you think you could beat Sarah Palin's time of 3:59:36. (Even though I would like a shot at beating it—considering that it is just four seconds faster than my CIM time!)

The Chicago Marathon (in October, 2011 for you) is a classic, and flat, but I don't think it's a good bet because of the variability of the weather conditions. Also it's on the same day as the Portland Marathon, which I was considering doing in 2011 (doing the Half in 2010).

If you want to go international (and after all, you are beloved around the world), I would suggest London 2012. I am itching to do London, and 2012 is the soonest I could manage it. There's that whole lottery thing again, of course, but I'm sure your buddy Tony Blair could get us in. He's still got to have some pull, right? Or maybe you know Richard Branson?

If none of those appeal, there are dozens of other big and small marathons around the U.S. and world. I'm sure we could find one that would suit you. Just let me know when and where. I'll be there.

Yes, two blog posts in one day...I was feeling inspired!

Weight-loss Mind-f***

Perhaps I should choose a more polite title, such as "Weight-loss Myths," but I think that Mind-f*** is more of an accurate description of the web of myths, rumours, deception (including self-deception), and outright lies—as well as truths—that we all fall into at some point over the years in dealing with the weight issue. And I doubt that there is a person alive, fat, thin or somewhere in between, that has not wanted to lose a few pounds at one time or another.

For myself, the weight-loss mind-f*** goes back almost 45 years, pretty much to when I started eating solid food. It's a slippery slope for babies. On the one hand they are supposed to be chubby and healthy, and being at the high end of the height-weight charts is a good thing. But sometime in there those chubby arms and legs are supposed to thin out and the fat baby become a wiry child. If not? It's the Sears' Pretty Plus and Husky departments for you!

Back in the seventies when I was young my whole family was on and off the diet bandwagon. Scarsdale, Cabbage Soup, Weight Watchers (my grandmother did this one), and various self-designed or magazine-article low calorie diets. I owned my own little calorie count book so I could look up the calories of anything I ate (I only did this sometimes).

Of course, we alternated "dieting" with eating the good food that my grandmother cooked, so while everyone lost weight sporadically, we soon gained it back as well.

The crazy-headedness of this all was our (or at least my) inability to distinguish between "fat" and "not thin." It is a hard thing being a size 11 (in 1970's sizes) among a classfull of size 7's. (Does anyone remember the 5.7.9 store? I was never able to shop there. Apparently they still exist—check out their website! Those are some skinny girls! Maybe they have other sizes—in fact, their models look more like 0's.)

As an adult, I know about healthy eating. Even when I was heavy, I knew how to eat healthy, and mostly did (I just ate too much of some stuff and enjoyed my sweets way too much). I know so much about healthy eating and exercise that I was able to lose lots (some call it "tons") of weight and keep it off for years.

But still, I am continually sucked into the weight-loss mind-f***. Starting with (still) the difference between "fat" and "not thin." Or really, the difference between "thin enough" and "skinny." I laugh, but ruefully, when I see ads or hear about people (women) bemoaning how fat they were at 150 or 140 pounds (but successfully took, or did, such and such and now are happy at 115).

I cheered Valerie Bertinelli in her 40-pound weight loss (even though her starting weight was by no means huge). But I felt a little betrayed when she felt compelled to do the bikini thing, thereby validating that idea that a bikini body is the ultimate goal, and being "thin" is not really "enough." (But I do love Valerie, and had to laugh, or smile sympathetically that is, in reading in her blog that she gained a few pounds leading up the the Boston Marathon. Doesn't everyone?)

Of course, the person who has most screwed with our minds in the weight-loss arena is dear, beloved Oprah. Yes, we have watched her weight loss woes and ups and downs with sympathy and admiration, and she is a fine example that you don't have to be model-thin to be hugely successful! But she has taken us along on her train wreck of a weight-loss-and-gain journey, and sometimes, she was probably just wrong. (I mean, look what happened!)

Memorably, there was her huge crash and burn with a liquid diet back in 1988. I'm pretty sure everyone was doing Optifast and such after that (though I never did). It worked great! Until she started gaining weight back immediately.

A few years later Oprah started working out with Bob Greene and she ran a marathon! Oprah's marathon is legendary. It is the benchmark time (4:29:20) that every middle-of-the-pack marathoner wants to beat. But she never did run another one. Although she continued to promote running in some of her future weight-loss endeavors, she didn't seem devoted to distance running.

Oprah gained weight again during the beef trial, and lost weight working with Bob Greene in 2003. Then she gained weight during some other tribulations in her life, lost when she created Oprah's Boot Camp in 2005, started gaining again, and has never since really got back to where she was in 2005 or so. There have been a few other ventures with Bob Greene, a vegan detox, and currently she is promoting intuitive eating and spirituality.

But along the way Oprah has promoted a number of "truths" which I personally suspect to be false, but I am not really really sure (all part of the mind-f***).

For example...

  • Don't eat after 7:00 p.m. This is one of Oprah's biggies. In fact, back in 2005 she said if she missed the dinner deadline, she just didn't eat.
  • Hunger is your body burning off fat.
  • Exercise must be intense, constantly increasing in difficulty or duration, to be any continuing benefit. (This one really plagues me. Oprah is not the only authority to state this premise, and I totally get the idea that your body becomes accustomed to certain levels of stress, and needs to be challenged. But really, if I tried to exercise at maximum intensity all the time I would completely burn out and probably give up! )

After Oprah backed off the weight-loss bandwagon, in stepped the next cavalry of weight-loss gurus, in the shape of The Biggest Loser and its high priest and priestess, Bob and Jillian. These folks promote the concept that weight loss can, and must, be fast and huge, that exercise should be excessive and brutal, and that chewing gum is a solution to hunger. (Okay, I threw that in to mock the constant product promotion, including the ubiquitous Extra sugar-free gum.)

The problem with the Biggest Loser mindset is that it continues to promote excess, just switching out eating cheeseburgers and chocolate cake for diet, exercise and weight loss. Although I like the challenges because they're more entertaining that people just getting on a scale, I hate the challenges where the contestants basically have to choose between binging and complete deprivation to win the contest. There is no reward for moderation.

I heard Bob in a radio interview on a local show where the host asked if it was okay to have a Dick's Drive-in burger if he goes on a long hike beforehand. Now, I know as well or better than anyone that it is way too easy to more than eat back your calories by treating yourself after some kind of athletic feat. But come on...occasionally (after a marathon or something) it's okay to have a burger. Or fish and chips (only after a marathon though!). What Bob said was that it was "okay" (and his "okay" had all kinds of tones of doubt) if you just wanted to stay where you were at (weight-wise). But he (Bob) preferred to keep moving forward.

Really, Bob? As far as I can tell, he is quite thin and fit, and if you are, isn't it okay to "just" maintain? Which, I hope, can include the occasional treat in among the long runs and vegetable plate dinners.

So, here's my last little mind-f*** moment (and perhaps the point of this whole dissertation—because really, it's all about me). I am one month along in my 145 by 45 quest and it is quite obvious that it is not going to happen by August 19th. I am going to have to be happy with "145 while 45" at some point, and perhaps if I am lucky I can make it by the SOWL completion date of September 22. Maybe.

For the last month I have been totally "good." I have balanced my consumption with exercise at a level which should have given me 1-2 pounds a week weight loss. I have cut the treats to a minimum, almost non-existent. I have given up Diet Coke. And yet, my weight has not changed except by a couple of pounds, and even that's questionable depending on what day I step on the scale. I still have hope that my body will do one of those crazy things (as it's done before) like hold on to the weight through a plateau (can you have a plateau if you haven't lost any weight?) and then drop several pounds all at once. We shall see.

For month two I am trying the somewhat drastic step of being even more restrictive for a few days, then returning to moderation for a few days, and trying to repeat this pattern and see if I can bump my body into some reaction. Of course, this raises another element of the weight-loss mind game, which is whether eating too few calories can slow down your metabolism and retard weight loss in itself. (Really, you just can't win!)

Oh wait, one last mind-f***, brought to you by the world of running (which apparently goes hand in hand with the people who sell you Dexatrim and such). Even when I do get to my prospective racing weight of 145 pounds, I could still qualify to be an Athena—a large-sized runner. Nice. Very nice.

Sunday, July 18, 2010

Ramping up

Even though July is still half-marathon training, on August 1st I switch over to marathon training. Since my next marathon is at the end of September, clearly I need to keep myself at a level where six weeks or so of high mileage will enough to be marathon-ready. Please stop shaking your heads doubtfully.

I had originally put 15 miles on this weekend and 16 next, but since I signed up for a couple of races next Saturday (more about that foolhardiness to come in the next few days), I don't think another long run over that weekend is a likely proposition. So I changed today's plan to 16 miles. Or so.

I had mapped out two or three potential routes, but ended up using none of those. I kept changing my mind in order to avoid routes I found unappealing. (How come there are so many of those, hmm?)

I started out 20-25 minutes later than I intended, but that didn't matter TOO much. It did make me later than I planned meeting my mother at the end, but I kept her updated by text, so it worked out okay. Pretty much.

The weather was pretty much perfect, in the 50's and lightly overcast. Probably a disappointment for people planning a summer weekend, but the sun came out by noon, and it's really nice this afternoon. Something for everyone.

I seriously don't know how you people manage who live in hot and humid climates. I am sure I would not be a runner if I lived in one of those places. I have so much respect for runners who manage (and run faster than me!) under such hellish conditions. (Some people may think hell has a dry heat, but I bet it's not the heat, it's the humidity.)

So anyhow, I took off around 8:20, passing by the church just as my parents were arriving (so I heard) and starting off with a 3/4 loop around Jennings Park before heading towards Everett. That way I got four miles under my belt before tackling the highway. It's the "old highway," not the freeway, but I don't really like running on the shoulder with the cars zooming by. It's a big shoulder, though, and the bridges (there are several) do have pedestrian walkways.

About three miles later I was in Everett (I hit the seven mile mark about the time I passed the Riverside sign--Riverside is also the area I live in, though at the opposite end, a few miles away.)

I followed Marine View Drive south around Riverside, an area I've run many times. Sometime in there I managed to bring my pace under 10 minute miles (without exerting excessive effort) and soon my average overall pace was at 10 or below. I haven't looked at Garmin data, but I have the sense that a lot of my second half miles were at 9:30-9:45.

I passed QFC at ten miles, which led to the question of what to do with my last six miles. I had originally planned to run along the public footpath to Pigeon Creek, but that's another one of those routes that I have a slight distaste for. Maybe because I had a few negative experiences trying to find it in the first place.

Instead I decided to run south on Colby to 41st (a lot of gentle uphill), then cruise back down and keep going north till I ran into Marine View Drive on the other side. Then a nice downhill and along the waterfront to the Everett Public Market.

At my turnaround on 41st I was at 11.75 miles, so I began to wonder if I would have to go over 16 to get to the market. No way to shorten it now, though, at least without making it too short and causing the opposite problem.

Travelling north on Colby I passed several packs walkers, women (and an occasional man) training for the 3-Day Walk in September. I felt a little bad stopping for the bathroom at Starbucks, as that meant I'd have to pass them AGAIN, but fortunately they turned on Everett Avenues so our paths did not actually meet again.

13.1 split - 2:10. Only three miles to go. Or so.

The last three miles felt like more work. When I got past 16 and wasn't done yet I started running to landmarks. Finally my destination was in sight (17 miles and not quite done yet). I picked a finish line--a banner advertising Lombardi's brunch or happy hour or something. But wait! It's one of those false finish lines! The real finish is that banner at the other end of the block! I "sprinted" to the new finish and I was done at 2 hours 50 minutes. (I think that was the time.) Average pace 9:50. (I think that was the pace.)

I was half an hour later than planned meeting my mom, which was actually right on track considering I started 20-25 minutes later than planned and ran 1.36 miles extra.

I met up with my mom and dad in the parking lot and zipped in to the Farmer's Market for a few minutes! So much great stuff! I limited myself to some little beets for roasting, multi-colored carrots (may also roast), and some tiny fingerling potatoes. All of this is a bit ironic considering as I was thinking of doing a few days low carb this week! I ended up giving the potatoes to my parents. I do love them (baby fingerlings), but they can use them right away and I should maybe back away from the potatoes.

I also bought a few cookies from an artisan bakery. One I ate as recovery fuel, and I gave a few to my parents. The rest I saved for Rod and his folks. Well, there is one--chocolate with cocoa nibs--that has my name on it for a late night treat. After all, I ran 17.36 miles today!
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Saturday, July 17, 2010

The Whaler has been launched!

Less than two weeks ago Rod bought a run-down 1965 13' Boston Whaler. I thought it would take months, even years, to get it fixed up and useable...but after many evening hours of stripping, sanding, and painting, plus other stuff I don't completely understand, the boat was spiffed up enough to take a maiden voyage today.

We put it in the water at his parents' house at the beach, and were soon zooming westward. I'll admit I'm something of a wimp, and was a little nervous about anything approaching speed (Rod assures me we were not going fast, ha!), and quite nervous when the bow would raise up when we slowed down. Despite my edginess, the boat really rode like a dream.

We went as far as Warm Beach, but turned back then because the water was quite choppy, due to the tides and some wind. Back by his folks' it was like glass.

While the boat was great, unfortunately the Mercury motor was being a bit cranky, though not till after we stopped at Tulare, thankfully. His dad got it going long enough to tie up to the buoy (and row back in a skiff). Now, later in the afternoon, they are down tinkering--er, working--with the motor and hopefully all will be solved.

Lesson learned by me: put on a sweatshirt before the life vest. It will be cold and windy but it is impossible to maneuver once we are going! And similar to driving, once he gets going Rod rarely stops till the journey's done. (Which was for the best today, because it would have been awful to lose power very far from our destination.)

Today is a semi-rest day between my successful but wearing pace run yesterday and a planned long run tomorrow. I wouldn't have run at all today, but wanted a medium workout, the Y didn't open till 8, and our boating plans began at 10. (Turned out to be 10-ish.)

So I went out around 7 for an easy recovery run, 5K or so (I did 3.5 miles). I rarely run such a short distance. I can see the appeal, in one way--it finishes fast! Less than 40 minutes for my sluggish jog, quicker for others, of course. The downside is that you only get to experience the bad parts of a run! The warm-up (slowER). The achy legs which just start to lighten up near the end. Probably no endorphins, not enough time to cook any up! Of course, I also didn't get very sweaty, so there's that.

After I finished I drove to the Y (to save time on my return) and got there when they opened at 8. I had enough time for 55 minutes on the elliptical (but not an hour), then zipped home. Rod had loosened the time schedule a bit (he still had last-minute stuff with the boat) so I took time to stop at Starbucks on the way.

I showered and had my second mini-breakfast (a 200 calorie PR Bar I got at Seattle R 'n' R, I like them a lot!). My first mini-breakfast, around 6:15, was a sandwich thin with scrapings of PB and AB, some superfruit spread, and a bit of sliced banana. I had already got stuff together pretty much (lunch, weekend clothes, running gear) and by 10:20 I was out the door. Go me!

Yesterday morning I had a surprisingly successful pace run. I always doubt myself and often surprise myself with success! The plan was three miles at goal marathon pace (~9:00) and three miles at goal half pace (~8:30) sandwiched between some warm-up and cool down.

First, two miles warm-up. I did those a little slower than 10- minute miles, so I was a little nervous about jumping right up to 9-minute pace! In order to do that, I had to put out more effort than one would hope for that pace, but I got it done in about 9:03. The next two were a little faster, I don't have my splits handy but I think about 8:57 then 8:50-ish.

Then it was time to pick up the pace, presumably. I wasn't sure that this was going to work, though, because the way I'd configured my route I was going to do this next mile over quite a bit of moderate uphill. Speeding up and going uphill? It was also through downtown where, for whatever reason, my pace often turns out slower than I expect.

If it didn't work, my back-up plan was to change to four miles at MP, since I was pretty sure I could keep up the 9-minute miles. In the meantime, I would charge forward and see what happened.

It may have helped that the last quarter mile in this segment was starting back down the hill I came up...but I managed 8:34 for the mile and I figured that was close enough to count. (As long as there's a 30 in in, right?)

The next two miles were both easily under 8:30 (one may have been around 8:15), and as I finished mile 3 of the set I had the opposite dilemma as before. The next mile in my route had a lot of downhill slope in it. It would be a shame to waste! So I decided to do a fourth HMP mile.

That one also squeaked under 8:30 and finished just in time, right before I got to a short but hellish one-block hill on 23rd. As I was now in recovery/cool-down, I staggered up it at barely more than a shuffle, then picked up the pace to a jog for the remainder of 1.5 miles to Starbucks.

Total distance: 10.5 miles. Average overall pace: 9:09. (Funny!)
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Thursday, July 15, 2010

Food Confessions and Running Confessions

This weeks Summer of Weight Loss challenge is "food confessions": What was your worst eating moment?

That's a difficult question...back in my heavy days I probably had many things to be ashamed of. I was never a binger, but without question I ate too much of stuff because it just tasted so good...I wouldn't have gained weight if I didn't!

Probably my most embarrassing food behavior was creating fattening food when there was none around. Specifically, sweets...even more specifically, stirring up small bowls of buttercream frosting and eating it with a spoon. I lurrrrve frosting. Oh yes I do.

So much for that. I also thought it would be amusing to post some "running confessions"...things I do running that I don't bother to mention in my blog posts. (These are things I do when running on my own, not in races! Somehow I am able to keep my act together better in a race.) So let's see, shall we...

In almost every run (and definitely the early morning runs), I have to stop at a bathroom 1-2 miles after I start. That's just the way things work, okay?

I always stop my Garmin when I pause at lights, or stop for any reason (tie my shoe, bathroom, water, etc.). If I kept it running my pace times would be way off!

Sometimes my starting pace in the mornings is close to 11 minutes per mile. It doesn't feel that slow...but it is.

I don't walk when I run. Sometimes I stop, but I don't walk. (Except between track intervals.) However, if I go for a walk and try to break into a run (like jog across the street), my legs feel like they've never run a step before. Apparently, while I don't walk when I run, I also don't run when I walk!

My regular running route finishes with the last 1-2 miles downhill. That helps a lot with a strong finish!

Some of the music on my iPod is really cheesy. In fact, when other runners post their playlists, I don't recognize a lot of the songs! Apparently I am old.

I really look forward to non-running days. In fact, I have been known to say to myself (for example, yesterday), "now I don't have to run again till Friday!"

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Summer of Weight Loss?

Turns out I'm not the only one trying to shed a few pounds this summer. I read over on Chasing the Kenyans that Mom vs. Marathon was hosting a "Summer of Weight Loss," beginning July 1 and ending in September (at the end of summer). I've never joined one of these bloggy programs, but what the heck? It can't hurt.

I don't know that this will really make me lose weight, but I guess it is fun to go along with the herd. I am suspecting that my "145 by 45" campaign will have to be modified to "145 while 45," because I certainly have not been losing weight at a rate to get me there by August 19. Or losing at all, recently!

Here are the rules:

  • Weigh in once a week.
  • Use whatever weight loss plan you want.

  • Email Kerrie with your participation.

  • Participate in weekly challenges.

So I'm in. My starting statistics and so-called "before" pictures are here. My weight is on the ticker in the sidebar. My intent is to change it only when I go down. I'm not going to adjust for upward bumps because clearly those are just fluctuations!

The first challenge was to try one new fruit and vegetable. This was a hard one for me, not because I am adverse to fruits and veg, quite the contrary in fact! In going through the produce section at QFC, I have eaten almost every single vegetable and fruit at least once, some frequently. Well, I probably have not eaten every single variety of apple, but I thought that was not too exciting. In the fruit department, the one item I am pretty sure I have never had is plantain...but I didn't want that one. I finally settled on Juan Canary melon (more on that in a moment). In the veggies, I did find one that I have never, ever had, or even heard of! It is called Chayote squash.

Here are pictures of both in their virgin state. (I don't have any post-defilation photos, though.)

I was a little nervous about the melon. I wasn't sure how to tell whether it was ripe (I've later read that there should be a little give on the stem end). I cut into it yesterday, though, and it was perfect! The flesh is whitish/pale green (like a honeydew) but with a teeny bit of canteloupe blush. It was juicy and perfectly sweet, like the best honeydew. I am a fan! I don't know why it is called Juan Canary, by the way. Canary makes sense, considering the bright yellow outer skin, but Juan? Don't know who he is.

I tried the Chayote squash tonight. I cut it into sliced that looked like apple slices, and sauteed it like zucchini, with onions and some garlic and seasoned with salt and pepper. I discovered that unlike zucchini, it still retains its shape and some crispness even after sauteeing for quite a long time. The salt and pepper are important, as it is rather bland. I liked it, in a low key way (like zucchini), but it doesn't make my heart go pitter pat like other vegetables, for example brussels sprouts and winter squash.

I ran this morning again, trying to get back on schedule. I did the easiest progressive tempo run ever. The reason it was easy was not because it was easy (running never is), but because it was well within my comfort level. Not a bad thing, considering that my legs are still working on their recovery.

The plan: 8 miles, increasing the pace every two miles (10:30, 10:00, 9:30, 9:00).

The result: Miles 1 & 2 - 10:37, 10:09. Miles 3 & 4 - 9:57, 9:51. Miles 5 & 6 - 9:32, 9:44. Miles 7 & 8 - 8:47, 8:22 (intentionally). Total distance 8.30 miles.

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Oh, my quads!

Yesterday I had to skip my Monday run because I was too tired (from long day on Sunday), too sore (from hilly half marathon), and it was too rainy (only a light rain, not really a problem, but it was the third strike, y'know?).

This morning I was less tired (as much as you can be at 5:30 a.m.), less sore (probably, that remained to be seen), and it wasn't raining. No excuses remaining!

I dragged myself out at 6:24 (according to my Garmin stats), and commenced an easy recovery run. My quads quickly let me know that they had not forgiven me for the Langley hills! I wouldn't say that my legs were like lead; boards would be more like it. As in, stiff as.

I could feel the achiness in my quads up through at least seven miles. (Total distance 8.28 miles.) It may have temporarily worn off by the last mile or so, but after I finished running my legs tightened up again. I suspect it could be as much as a week before I stop feeling traces of the Langley Half Marathon. I am trying to walk like a normal person; the fact that I am wearing cork platform heels today is not helping with the Frankenstein walk!

I finally found the Langley results link online and they seem to have cleared up the chip time problem by eliminating gun times altogether. I still don't know if that is completely accurate but it seems okay to me. My Garmin showed 1:58:10 and my "chip time" was 1:58:05. I know there was little delay in crossing the mat so I am happy with this result. Unfortunately, in correcting the times they also dropped me from 4th in age group to 5th. I guess it doesn't really matter because I didn't win an award either way!

There were some interesting things about the results, though. The two people who finished just behind me (35-45 seconds), were also in my AG (6th and 7th). Number 8 in AG was the Half Fanatics woman that I had run with and eventually passed, and spoken with after the race. The woman who passed me in the finish (overall time four seconds faster than me) was 51 and won second in her age group! Finally, in the category of trivia, had this race been after my 45th birthday (in August), I still would have been 5th in AG based on the times of the other finishers!

Oh yeah, I also ran a negative split. :)

Total Time: 1:58:05 (pace 9:01/mile)
First half: 59:29 (pace 9:05/mile)
Second half: 58:35 (pace 8:57/mile)
Overall Place: 69/188
AG 40-44: 5/19

Monday, July 12, 2010

Langley Half Marathon - 7/11/10

Yesterday I finished my sixth race in six weekends, beginning in June with the Newport Marathon on June 5.* I know I am a little behind on race recaps...Newport and the Yankee Doodle Dash are in the works, awaiting completion. Actually I think I have done most of the writing** and mainly need to add photos. I seem to squeeze in the writing during down moments during the day, but my pictures are generally on the computer at home and I just don't seem to have the time or energy in the evenings to mess around with the computer. So anyhow, last night I uploaded a few pictures from the Langley Half Marathon and now I am going to write my blog post around them!

One thing that always makes my race reports extra long (besides my extreme verbosity) is my tendency to go back and cover the days leading up to the race. (Why wouldn't I? My life is fascinating!) It's all relevant, really, as it involves pre-race training and prep. I'll (try to) be brief though.

Monday, July 5, was the official holiday, and as it was a court and county holiday as well, both Rod and I had the day off. I saw no reason not to do my regular Monday run; in fact it was even better because I could do it at 8 a.m. instead of 6 a.m.! I ran two-plus times around the Jennings Park Loop and finished at Safeway to get coffee (at Starbucks) and a few groceries. I am often a little faster even on easy days in Marysville (don't know why that is), and my average pace for 9.05 miles was 9:38, with my slowest (first) mile at 10:07 and my fastest at 9:21.

Later in the day I went with Rod to see a guy about a boat. He ended up buying an unrestored 1965 Boston Whaler 13', which he is now working on daily to make it useable (soon) and nice (eventually). (Some lovely pictures of a restored model in the link.)

On Wednesday I went out before work for my first real "summer" run. After the Fourth of July chillfest our weather finally started to get warm and sunny last week. Unlike in other parts of the country, 6 a.m. in the Northwest is never going to be "hot," but it was "nice." I wore short sleeves and possibly sunglasses (I can't really remember specifics).

This was a speedwork day and I started with five pretty slow miles. Slow wasn't my choice, really; it was what my legs wanted to do. I did manage to adjust my route so that I ended up at the track with exactly five miles under my belt!

My schedule called for five 800 (half mile) repeats. I had thought it was six and I was so glad when I checked and found out it was "only" five! I had no compulsion to do extra. For 800's I like to do slightly faster than 10K pace...assuming that 10K pace is 8-minute miles or faster. I varied the duration of my recovery jog...longest was .30, shortest was .10 (between the last two intervals), and the others were about .20.

Despite my sluggish warm-up run, I hit my pace just about right-on for the 800's! For five half-miles laps my times were:

1 - 3:58 (7:54 pace)
2 - 3:53 (7:42 pace)
3 - 3:55 (7:46 pace)
4 - 3:54 (7:52 pace)
5 - 3:52 (7:42 pace)

None were blisteringly fast and none were disappointly slow. I was satisfied. Total distance for Wednesday was 8.76 miles (9:29 average pace overall).

Weatherwise, Wednesday and Thursday were expected to be (and were) our warmest days of the week, possibly hitting 90 in the late afternoons (depending on where you were). On Thursday morning I decided to go out extra early, not just to beat any early morning heat, but also to squeeze in a couple extra miles. I was doing my Friday morning longer run a day early, to allow an extra day of recovery prior to Langley.

I wasn't up quite as early as I planned on Thursday, but I was still out the door around 5:45 a.m. I wanted to allow plenty of time to complete the ten miles at a comfortable pace, and still allow for bathroom stops, lights, and a stop at Starbucks on the way home. I had all that, but it was a difficult run, and I barely managed to beat an overall 10-minute pace. And that was by busting out an 8:36 mile at the end! Which, in itself, was a miracle of sorts, as my legs were pretty much done after eight miles.

Thursday afternoon, the hottest day of our week, I cut out of work at 3:00 and headed to my parents' house to "swim" (which meant dip myself in the cold water a few times then lay on the deck and read). It was like a very mini summer vacation! After the tide went out a little I walked on the beach with my sister and her dog, then fixed hot dogs, coleslaw, and faux baked beans for dinner up at the house.

Thursday's tired run, plus tired legs on the elliptical Friday morning, convinced me that Saturday should be a true rest day from exercise, to give my legs some opportunity to freshen up for the half marathon on Sunday. So on Saturday, instead of going to the Y or cooking up some alternative form of exercise, I went to Molbak's with my mom. I bought some of these fantastic colored tomato cages for my tomato plants! (Yes, I am a little behind, why do you ask?) (Picture is from a different store, borrowed from another blog.) Of course I bought the cheaper, shorter ones, so who knows what will happen when my tomato plants actually get big and tall!

So, finally, I have arrived at Sunday, the date of the Langley Half Marathon. Let me begin by saying that this was a hard race on all counts, beginning with getting to the race!

Langley is a town on Whidbey Island, and technically it is not very far away. It is less than eight miles from my house to the Mukilteo Ferry Terminal, and the distance by water is just under three miles*** (about a 20-minute ferry ride), and finally Langley is about five or six miles from Clinton, where the ferry lands on Whidbey Island. Not far at all, right?

However, when you're dealing with ferry travel nothing is that simple. First of all there are schedules to follow. In order to get to an 8:30 race we had to take either the 6 a.m. or 7 a.m. ferry, and of course we planned on the 6 a.m. because what if we didn't get onto the 7:00? There would be no other ferry options, and not enough time left over to drive around the long way, through Oak Harbor at the north end of the island (accessible by road). We were leaving from Marysville rather than Everett (but that only made a few minutes difference) and had to get up at 4 a.m. to leave at 5:00 and be in the ferry line at 5:30 or so. Which we accomplished nicely. This was, I must say, the shortest ferry line I have ever been in for Whidbey Island. (The same would not be said for the return later.)

Of course once we got through all the pre-ferry stuff and the ride across the water, the trip to Langley was very quick and we were there by 6:45. For the 8:30 race. Although the race directions said to park at a school that was far away from the start, we easily found parking right by the starting area. Had we wanted to, we were early enough to park closer to the finish instead, but it was fine where we were. They had just started setting up the check-in area, so I sat in the car and ate the breakfast I had brought (sandwich thin with almond butter, superfruit spread, and a few banana slices).

Then I quickly collected my bib and chip and goody bag (as well as a pretty blue race shirt which I am happy to have paid a few extra dollars for) and put this stuff in the car. Then Rod and I walked down into Langley to pass some time and look around before things got going. This weekend was also the Choochokam Arts Festival (the half marathon is part of the festival) and later in the day the streets would be filled with stalls and vendors and visitors. Right now everything was very quiet, though; we were alone except for a few other runners wandering about. We did take the opportunity to scope out some restaurants and plan where to go for breakfast (or lunch) after the race!

As we returned to the starting area I was surprised to see Renee across the street! She owns my favorite clothing boutique in Everett and I spend a lot of time visiting there. She was doing the early start at 7:30. It was especially for people who wanted to walk or expected to take more than three hours (as the course closed at 11:30), but there were a number of people running it who just wanted or needed to get done a little earlier in the day. It would have been really hard for me to do that, as I really need to have some competition around me to maintain a respectable race pace!

I made my second potty visit, then sat in the car and read my book for a while. I planned to do my warm-up around 8:00 and then make one final potty stop. I was a little slow getting out of the car again, though, and only had time for about a .8 mile jog to warm up, then I stood in the potty line for ten minutes. It was perfect though, as I got out with several minutes to spare and gathered in the pre-starting area. This is where we would "start" from, but the start line and timing map was actually a ways down the road. The race director called this a "Tour de France-style rolling start."

The weather had cooled down a lot from the heat at the end of the week. That was really a blessing for running! It was in the sixties but overcast and a little foggy for the duration of the race. It didn't really get warm until much later in the day.

As I stood waiting I looked around the crowd and saw one of my high school Facebook friends, Annie, a little bit away from me. I had known she was going to be running. I thought she might be running with a friend and had some hopes that (under those circumstances) I could keep up with her (as she is quite a bit faster than me). She had a bright green shirt on and would be easy to keep an eye on (for a while).

Then we were off...sort of. We jogged up to the real starting area and paused. I was fiddling with my Garmin when the siren sounded and barely got it started as the crowd took off and I followed along. Just moments later I saw Annie fly by me, leaping over a cone I believe, and she was gone. I saw her ahead of me in the distance for a while, till she disappeared on the winding road.

The course is described as "gently rolling hills." I am pretty sure that is meant ironically. The hills are rolling all right...but there is nothing gentle about them! The entire out and back course was a series of up and downhills, some quite steep, others less so. The course elevation profile is so dreadful distinctive that there is a stylized depiction of it on the back of the race shirts. I tried to get a printout of the elevation from my Garmin, but for some reason it came out postage stamp sized, too tiny to scan!

I decided to try for reasonably even effort, at least in the first half of the course. I knew I would be slower on the uphills, so I let myself go on the downhills, hoping to average out the paces in a reasonable fashion. Of course the uphills were still hard, and the downhills provided a bit of a rest, even taking them at accelerated pace. This worked quite well in the first five miles. I was pleased to see splits that were on track for a reasonable sub-two hour finish, if everything continued to go well. Miles 1-5 - 8:43, 8:53, 8:46, 8:58, 8:57.

The course was designed so that the turnaround was before the halfway point (because we continued on into town past the starting area to finish the race). The most hellish portion of the course came right before the turnaround point, a long, steep gravel hill, probably a half mile long. I saw Annie again as she was passing the halfway point and I was starting the gravel climb...we waved hello and she shouted back that the hill was really hard! Good to know....

Running, or trying to run, up this hill reminded me of running the hilly gravel roads at Rimrock in Eastern Washington (though it wasn't as hot out). Of course there I am not running for time and it doesn't matter how slow I take them. Trying to run up this hill with any speed was just impossible. Most people were walking at some point. Near the top, in the steepest part, I finally conceded, power walking for a short bit, still passing a woman who was walking slower and had been ahead of me thus far in the race.

As it leveled out a little I broke into a jog again and then, when I turned around, threw all I had into barreling down the gravelly hill, hoping to make up a little for the time lost on the ascent. I was aiming for the clock at the halfway point. I felt that if I could cross the half under an hour, then I would be most likely to finish under two, as I had already done the very hardest part of the race (the gravel hill). I'm not sure of the exact seconds, but the clock said 59:something as I passed!

Of course, not only did I have to retrace my steps on the way back (up the downhills and down the uphills), I was doing it on tired legs now. So two hours would only happen if I could keep up the same effort as before. I was glad to have so many sub-nine miles under my belt, because I definitely lost time in miles 6 (9:20) and 7 (9:38--includes gravel hill). I reminded myself also that now I was past the five-mile "warm-up" stage and into the "easy" five mile portion of the race!

Somewhere in here, probably around Mile 8, I ate one of my Gu's. I had brought along two, but really only had the stomach for one. I am never sure if they even make a difference...although I will say that the remainder of the race went pretty well.

Miles 8-10 went pretty smoothly (9:00, 9:01, 8:46) and my time for ten miles was just shy of 90 minutes. So I had almost 30 minutes for the final 3.1-ish miles...easy peasy, right? I wasn't able to figure out exactly how much time I had for each mile, but I knew that I could do every one over 9 minutes, even over 9:15, and still be okay. It's not that I wanted to coast in the final 5K, it was just nice to know that I had some leeway.

Except, um, mile 11? 9:43. My slowest mile of the whole race. There went a lot of my cushion! (Although I didn't even know I had been so slow until afterwards.) The only explanation I can think of is that this mile was almost entirely uphill. In fact, I remember coming down it at the beginning of the race and thinking this was going to be a bitch on the return trip! I thought I was powering up it but...not so much.

For the last 2.1 miles, though, I was determined to make a strong finish. There were two or three women that I had been running in proximity with for several miles, and one by one I pulled ahead of them. Two I left behind, but the third was right with me, especially after a male runner came back and started running with her (us) to pace her to the finish. I know it pushed me as well to hear the footsteps of two people on my heels (and it was loud!). Even though there was some uphill in this final section, I was able to draw on my fast finish training and do those two miles at true half marathon goal pace! Mile 12 - 8:36. Mile 13 -8:32.

The final tenth of a mile (which was actually .18), was blessedly downhill and somewhere I found some fast twitch muscles as I hurtled toward the finish line. Despite my best efforts, the woman I had been playing tag with did pull ahead of me in the final stretch, but still, I was thrilled to find out that my pace for the final .18 mile was 6:36!

My clock time as I crossed the finish line was 1:58 and some seconds. My Garmin said 1:58:10 when I stopped it. The chip time, when I looked at the post-race printouts, was something like 1:56:57, but I don't believe that is correct. (I heard that there was a problem of some sort with the chip times.) I can't believe that there was more than a minute delay before I crossed the mat at the start...if the chip time were 1:57:57, that would be more likely! I'm waiting to see what the results are when they are posted.

Here I am in the final stretch, photo by Rod. The shirt is from Lucy's clearance sale, by the way. Love how it matches the hat that I've had for years!

Speaking of gear, I am wearing a Spi-belt, and I don't think I love them as much as everyone else seems to. It drives me a little crazy the way it bounces around. I did learn to tolerate it during the run, but I am more comfortable with the waist packs and fuel belts that fit like a cummerbund around my waist. I had my BlackBerry, ipod, and two gels in it. I know that the BlackBerry was what made it bounce, but that's why I wear something, to carry stuff with me! After finishing I talked to a few of the women I had been running "with," and then Rod and I went to have breakfast at the Braeburn Restaurant. It is really more of a cafe than a restaurant, in my opinion, as it only serves breakfast and lunch, but oh, what a breakfast it is! Check out the menu.... I had the Huckleberry Pancakes with huckleberry honey butter and bacon. Yum!

After eating we strolled through the Art Festival stalls and looked in the windows of some shops. I had a tight rein on my spending impulses. I know if I had bought one thing, all the demons would have been unleashed! There were some really cute, and nice, things though. I almost regret passing them by...not to mention all the shops we didn't go in! Oh well. Less is more.

We returned to the race finish area just as they were finishing with the awards and door prizes. When I looked myself up on the finish lists I saw that I was fourth in my age group--not good enough for an award, but still kind of cool. Annie was third, and did get an award, although in reflection we may have been in different age groups, if they did 5-year divisions (as she is 45 and I am still 44).

As we drove back toward the ferry we were horrified to discover that the estimated wait to get on a ferry was 90 minutes. Rod decided (as the driver) that it would be preferable to drive back up the island and get on the freeway. We would probably save a little bit of travel time overall, if not too much, and at least we would be moving instead of sitting in a parked line of cars. Scenic tour of Whidbey Island! Unfortunately, this is why I don't go over to Langley, cute as it is, more often.

We got back to Marysville around 2:30 and I went to take a shower and change while Rod did a little work on the boat. The cloudy morning had turned into quite a pleasant, sunny afternoon. (In fact, at my parents' house later it seemed quite hot out!) Around 4:00 we left to go to my sister's birthday dinner at my parents'. Salmon with oyster stuffing and cupcakes for dessert! Yummy!

Because the next day (today) was an early work day, we left before 8:30 but still, by the time I got home, put stuff away, etc., I didn't get to bed until almost 11. That was a long day...and I am still tired today. I wasn't even up to running at 6:00 this morning; I went to the Y instead. (So tomorrow will be a running day.) I have been tired all day and oh, are my quads sore!

I must say that Langley was probably one of the hardest half marathon courses I have run. Robie Creek in Boise was harder (nine miles up a mountain and four miles down), and there have been many where I have been slower (due to my performance rather than the course). But even Whidbey, the three times I have done its ever-changing course, has not had the same relentless constant hills. So I feel quite pleased with myself finishing under two hours!

*June 12 Berry Run 5K; June 18 Run with the Cops "5K"; June 26 Seattle Rock 'n' Roll Half Marathon; July 4 Yankee Doodle Dash 10K.

**Actually, maybe not. YDD is almost done, but apparently I haven't even started the race portion of Newport....

***I measured the water distance with Mapmyrun. The other distances I estimated based on past personal experience.

Thursday, July 8, 2010


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Sunday, July 4, 2010

Happy Fourth!

It would be really cool and stuff to actually post a race report from the Yankee Doodle Dash 10K ON the 4th...but that's not gonna happen. In brief: 50:25, exactly the same as my last 10K, still 1:05 off my PR (though on a harder course), and I fell in the first block. Also, came in second in my age group! Now, I'm on the way to the beach for ribs and baked beans (yum-oh-yum) and a very cool, cloudy 4th of July in the great Northwest. Hope everyone has a great one! Longer post with some good pics tomorrow!
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Saturday, July 3, 2010

Seattle Rock 'n' Roll 2010

First things first. I've been writing "Rock & Roll" all along and apparently the proper denomination is Rock 'n' Roll. So sorry.

Moving the race report!

One of the factors that seemed to define this weekend (the race part of it) was lack of time. I always seemed to be just a little bit short on time (except for the race, which took a little too much time, haha).

My mother was my race travel companion, as usual, and she met me at my house after work on Friday to head to the expo and our hotel in Tukwila. I got home a little bit later than I would have liked (about 4:00), and after throwing together a few last minute details we hit the road to Seattle. With traffic and such (especially around Qwest field) I didn't get into the expo until 5:30. I pretty much raced through it and at 6:30 we were on the way to Tukwila.

We actually got to the hotel without much problem, checked in to our room, and unloaded what seemed like vast amounts of bags for less than a 24 hour stay. Almost all running clothes and gear (including food)—seriously, the only non-running clothing I brought was a nightgown, a pair of shorts, and a tee shirt (which happened to be a souvenir shirt from the Newport marathon).

I had made a dinner restaurant for 7:30 at Grazie Italian restaurant near Southcenter, so we hustled onward quickly. It should have been pretty easy to find, but I had gotten some weird directions from mapquest, and we ended up driving around in the industrial wastelands for a while before I tried again and found some directions that made sense. Still, even though we made it to Southcenter Parkway, we couldn't find the restaurant amongst all the mini-stripmalls filled with mattress and furniture stores! I finally called the restaurant and they directed us back, where we found the restaurant tucked between Car Toys and the Men's Wearhouse. We were at least fifteen minutes after our reservation, but even though they were busy we got a table quite promptly.

I immediately tucked into the bread basket (carb loading, okay?) and ordered a house salad and Penne al Pollo (chicken, mushrooms, green onions, tomatoes and marsala wine). I ate about half the pasta and took the leftovers back to the hotel (where it was left behind in the room fridge). I didn't want to get overstuffed, for obvious reasons and also because I had eyeballed the dessert tray when we came in! We shared a Chocolate Decadence Torte, which had a layer of white chocolate mousse, a layer of chocolate mousse, and a base which I swear was solid dark chocolate. In a puddle of raspberry sauce. (Yes, this was one of the exceptions to my "no sweets" edict!)

By the time we finished it was after 9:00, late already when you think of the early hour awaiting tomorrow. This was one example of the lack of time I bemoaned...really only enough time to lay out my clothes and gear for tomorrow and try to get some sleep. Not nearly enough time to lounge around on the comfortable hotel beds (I had tested the mattress when we got the room, and I approved) and read the books and magazines I had brought along. (Way too much reading material for an overnight trip!)

With the original forecast of partial sun for Saturday, I had planned to wear my running dress and capris, and also threw in another sleeveless top as an alternative. But by the time I got home from work on Friday the weather had clouded over (in Everett) and seemed sort of cool and breezy, so I hedged my bets by throwing in my Half Fanatics (short-sleeved) shirt and matching hat, in case I wanted a little more coverage.

I had also, on Friday morning, stopped at Goodwill while I was downtown and bought a few (five) zip-front jackets that I could use for throwaways in races. I bought extra because I didn't want to go through the "what can I get rid of" routine again soon. This is so much better because I don't have to torture myself with trying to get rid of my "good" stuff (although I really should thin out my workout wear wardrobe someday). I raced home with my purchases, put them through a short wash cycle, and threw them in the dryer to dry while I was in court.

So after dinner I put the D-tag on my shoe, laid out all my clothes and bib, loaded up my waist pack with money and stuff, and pinned two Gu packets to the waist pack. I decided to try pinning them instead of stuffing them inside so that I wouldn't have to fumble with the zipper to get my Gu. (In retrospect, the flapping bugged my a teeny bit but generally speaking it worked well.) Instead of my gear belt I was going to carry my handheld with Nuun. I had been using the gear belt in half marathons just as practice for the marathons, but decided to go light for this one.
We also came up with a plan for my mother to meet me after the race. After the difficulty getting to Qwest Field on Friday, she did not want to tackle it on Saturday, especially considering that the marathon would still be in full fling when I was ready to leave! We decided that I would take a bus to Northgate, and my mother could pick me up there. I would just call her after the race to figure out the times. That way she could also hang out at the hotel throughout the run, rather than rushing out of there early.

I set the alarm for 4:40 a.m. It is amazing to me that I was staying in a hotel only a couple of miles from the race and I was still getting up at 4:40 for a 7 a.m. race. That meant if I went to sleep at 10:30 I might get six hours of sleep.

I didn't even get to sleep at 10:30 though, and I didn't sleep well even when I did turn out the light. My mother wasn't feeling too great, so she was sleeping noisily, and that kept me awake. Of course when I did doze off, any time I woke I had to go to the bathroom, so I was up and down several times. I finally fell sleep decently by some time in the early morning hours, although I remember dreaming just before the alarm went off that I was running a marathon by running laps around the hotel room!

Part of my reason for getting up so early was that the hotel was opening the breakfast room at 5 a.m. I went down there promptly at 5 and got myself a hard-boiled egg, wheat toast with peanut butter and jam, coffee and a small blueberry muffin (an indulgence). I carried it back to the room and ate while putting the finishing touches to my preparation.

Around 5:30 I headed back to the lobby to catch the hotel shuttle to the race start. Luckily (as it turned out) I decided to take one final visit to the restroom off the lobby, then I got in the line that had formed. There were about fifteen people ahead of me, and eventually, and least as many behind.

The word was that the hotel had a bus that held about fifteen people plus a van that would carry another eight. They had started shuttling at 5 (at least that was the plan), and the idea was that they would just keep going back and forth. Since the distance was only a couple miles, I am sure everyone thought they would easily make several trips. I (like the people around me) thought that leaving before 6 a.m. was plenty early!

But the front desk clerk kept getting calls about how bad the traffic was, and promises that they would be there soon, and we stood and waited. And waited.

I don't know what time the bus finally arrived, but it was well after 6. We piled on, squeezing in as many as could be seated and stand (illegally, I'm sure) in the aisles. It still seemed like we should have plenty of time to go two miles....

I had originally contemplated walking or jogging to the start, but I was unsure of the route and figured I might as well take advantage of the shuttle. As we crawled along and saw the sidewalks filled with walkers, it seemed that there wouldn't have been that much difficulty finding the way! I am sure that I was not the only one in our bus thinking that maybe I should have walked instead.

Most of the people on the bus had pretty high corral numbers. There was one guy in corral 1, and me in 6, and another guy who might have had a low number but had a jacket on; almost everyone else I could see had numbers in the 20's and 30's. So being late wasn't such a problem for them, as they wouldn't be starting until quite some time after 7. But for those of us in the front corrals, the time crunch was more severe!

About halfway along, the bus came to a stop and the driver said the engine had died, and we should get out and walk. I interpreted this as it broke down, but in retrospect I wonder if this was just the driver giving us the opportunity to actually get to the race instead of crawling along in traffic....Didn't matter, I hopped out and started jogging in the direction that everyone else was going.

In addition to all the walkers (and a few joggers) around me, I saw cars stopping in the street and runners jumping out. I think I am the only person from our bus who chose to run...including the guy in corral 1. I don't see how he could possible have made it there by the start if he didn't!

I didn't have a chance to put on the Garmin during this, um, warm-up, but I feel like I did about a mile on the road and close to another mile just getting to the race starting location in the Gateway Corporate Center. As I weaved around a few people in some of the narrower spots, I heard somebody saying something about "running to get to the start" to their companion. I suspect they were saying that it is a waste of energy. Well, I disagree with that. Even though needing to run to the start was not my preference, I always try to do a warm-up run before a race...even in a marathon (a short warm-up for that). I like to give my legs a chance to get through a 10+ minute mile before expecting them to go fast(er).

I try not to over-analyze how my legs feel in the warm-up. Sometimes they do feel light, which is encouraging. But even if they feel heavy, or achy, that doesn't mean I won't shake that once the race starts. I can't say that my legs felt especially light or fast on Saturday morning. My quads felt a little tight (and continued to for quite a while) and I felt some twingles in my ankle which luckily backed off once the race got going.

At the Expo on Friday I had ended up spending $150* and "earned" a VIP porta-potty pass. I didn't plan to do that, but once I made the decision to buy some stuff it seemed like I might as well. So, at least I have my stuff. I certainly didn't have time to find the VIP potties, or stand in any of the HUGE lines for the other porta-potties.

In fact, I didn't even have time to get to my corral. Even though I disrespected the Star Spangled Banner by continuing to move forward during it, the first race gun went off before I was near corral 6. When I did get to the entrance, corral 8 was already moving through. I did push forward a little more, and step over a rope, and ended up crossing the start line with the folks from corral 7.

Obviously that was perfectly fine. My only regret at losing my designated corral-companions was that I lost the opportunity to hook up with the 1:52 pacers (who would be in corral 6) and perhaps be pushed to a faster pace than my natural inclination. (For the same reason I didn't want to be too far back, behind 7 or 8 anyway, where not only would I have to pass people to go the pace I wanted, but also could be dragged into running the pace of those around me. Which has happened before.)

I really didn't have my heart set on any particular time goal (except under two hours, as usual), but I had got it into my head that if I felt really good I might try to manage sub-1:53 (which would be a PR). That would require about an 8:30 pace. Pushing it, for sure.

Mile 1 went well enough, coming in at 8:33. However, by mile 2 I had slipped into my default pace, 8:45. And I was already feeling the urge to go to the bathroom. Since I had missed a pre-race stop, it had been more than an hour and a half since I'd gone! Although I'd run through the urge to pee in other races, this seemed more difficult. By the time I was into mile 3 I knew I had to stop. I felt like I was running slower because of the need to go!

Luckily, since it was early in the race, there wasn't a line at the portapotty I soon approached, and I hopped in and out as fast as I could. My time for mile 3, with the stop, was 10:16, so I suspect the stop was about 90 seconds (which would give me a net time of 8:45 or so). Garmin shows "moving time" for that mile as 8:59. But in mile 4 I was back in a reasonable track with 8:45 again.

After the race was done I looked at the elevation chart and it is almost funny how my slowest running miles correspond exactly to the hills in the course. The first major hill was in mile 5, pretty much from start to finish, and my time for that mile was 9:21. Afterwards we got to go downhill in mile 6 and my pace reflected that, a very nice 8:28!

If I was disappointed in myself for anything, it was my performance in miles 7-9, the most perfectly flat part of the course and yet my times were exceedingly lackluster. 8:51, 8:58, 9:05, to be precise. This part of the course was also the most scenic, past Seward Park and along Lake Washington, so there is no real reason for me to have been so slow. Maybe it was just sort of that middle mile slump. This stretch was thickly strewn with Team in Training coaches (all of whom appeared to be good-looking men) shouting encouragement to their team members and pretty much everyone in general. They were saying something about taking advantage of this easy section before we got to the hill.... Somewhere during this stretch I ate one of the Gu's that I had pinned to my belt. (I never ate the second one.)

Around mile 8 I started feeling like I needed to go to the bathroom again, and even briefly considering making another stop (the same thing happened during the Newport Marathon; I resisted then as well). Luckily for me, the porta-potty I saw had a line, and I wasn't going to wait for that, so I pressed on, and by mile 10 the urge had receded.

Mile 10 was my slowest mile (except for the one with the potty stop). This mile included the other big hill in the race, as well as the I-90 tunnel. I am not quite sure if the hill was actually in the tunnel or not. Whatever, it took me 9:27 to get through that mile. While I was in the tunnel I lost the Garmin satellite signal, and I think I used that as an excuse to not pay attention to my pace. I really did not enjoy running in the tunnel at all, and was glad to escape! I wasn't sure if the loss of satellites would mess up my time for the rest of the race, but somehow it all got sorted out once I was back under open sky.

Once we were out of the tunnel there was another uphill, then a pretty steep downhill; the two combined for a pace of 8:55 in mile 11.

In a half marathon I mentally divide the mileage up into warm-up (miles 1-5), "easy" (miles 6-10) and the last 5K. My intent is always to put on a big push for the final 5K, but I think I only managed to fully do that in the Whidbey Island Half this spring. What usually happens is I start mile 11 and think, okay, one more mile easy and then I'll push for the last two miles. That is how it went this time. By mile 11 we were pretty much at Qwest Field (the finish), but we had to continue north to downtown Seattle and then turn back. Somehow I did manage to find that second (third, fourth) wind and push myself to 8:35 in Mile 12, then 8:32 in mile 13!

Mile 13 contained some of the same stretch as the Race for the Cure, which I've run a few times (but not in 2010), so I tried to pull up some of the 5K sprint to the finish energy that I've had for that. As you near the end, you turn sharply into the finish line area...although I must say (as have others) that the sprint to the finish is a lot longer than you expect it to be! That last .22 mile (I ran .12 over, which isn't bad) was at 8:02 pace.

I forked over the big bucks to order the digital picture package from the race, as there were more (and more decent) photos of me than usual. They are all from the finish area, though, so there is not a lot of variety in the surroundings. Unfortunately you will see that they also depict two women passing me in the final stretch! (Interestingly, they both had corral 7 bibs, which meant we probably ran approximately the same times in the race. In fact, I looked them up, and one finished in 1:59:44 and the other was 1:58:13. So we really ran the entire race together, even though I don't know them at all.)

Earlier in the race, as I passed by various time clocks, I had determined that I crossed the start line about seven minutes after the official clock. So I had told myself that as long as the finish clock read under 2:07 when I passed, I would be okay. I saw it said 2:05:22, and sure enough my watch said 1:58:23 (in the finish line video you can see me look at my watch—classic!)

After I crossed the finish lines a volunteer immediately handed me my medal and someone else gave me a bottle of water. As I got into a post-race photo line (the lines weren't very long at this point), I tried to get my phone out to call my mom and let her know I was done. Fumble-fingered me, I dropped the phone and the battery popped out. Luckily, even though I'd removed the protective case, it was fine once it finally rebooted (BlackBerries take so long to restart!).

I got my picture taken then wandered into the finishers area, picking up a couple of bags of chips and a granola bar as I went, as well as a space blanket (which I didn't think I needed, as I was so warm still, but would soon be glad to have!). Then I called my mom to let her know I was done. I had forgotten that I signed her up for text message updates—she knew my times** before I did! Then I finally made my bathroom stop. I stayed in the porta-potty a long was my first opportunity to sit down!

Since it didn't seem like a good plan for my mother to drive downtown to meet me, we had decided that I would take a bus to Northgate and she would meet me there. I told her I would call her when I got to the bus stop, or on the bus. Then I wandered into the shopping area, thinking that I might buy something just to get a bag for all the odds and ends I was juggling. I didn't want to buy more expensive clothing, so I bought a guitar shaped fridge magnet for Rod.

A little bit later I wished I had bought clothing, after I cooled off and started to feel chilly in my sweaty clothes. But instead of going back and dropping another $50, I wrapped the space blanket around me and that was good enough to keep out the wind. I kind of wish I'd had a picture of me walking through Seattle wearing a medal and wrapped in a foil cape!

Unfortunately, the first bus stop I went to was closed because of the marathon. So I did another route search on my BlackBerry and saw that I should go to the bus tunnel station at Union Street. So I hobbled northward to Union Street. Just as I got to the intersection of 1st and Union a taxicab pulled up to the curb to let someone off. I seriously contemplated just taking the cab! But as I was considering that, I spotted the entrance to the bus tunnel so I walked away from the taxi. In the tunnel I located Bay A and, after only a few minutes wait, boarded route 41.

The bus ride to Northgate was pretty quick, so I ended up sitting on a bench for a while waiting for my mother to get through traffic and meet me. I was almost about to give up and go to Macy's to pass the time when she called me that she had arrived.

While I was waiting, I talked to another runner who had also caught this bus, a woman from Wisconsin who was working on running a race (of any length) in every state. She had a daughter living in Seattle who she was staying with. We chatted about various races in different states and countries, before she got the call that her daughter had arrived. She told me that she was 59 and looking forward to getting into the 60+ age group (where she would have a better chance of placing). What I would like to know is, why are all these women in their 50's asking me about my age group? Do they think I am in their AG? This is at least the third time I have had that conversation. Hmmph!

Anyhow, after my mother met me we went to Duke's for lunch then headed back to Everett. That was the end of my participation in the Rock 'n' Roll half!

Unlike many others, I did not take advantage of the bargain price to sign up for next year's race. Although I enjoyed it, I don't feel compelled to necessarily do this one again, at least not soon. Besides, I have other ideas for the date of next year's Rock 'n' Roll....

*I bought a Rock 'n' Roll hoodie sweatshirt, a hat, a gear pack, a Rock 'n' Roll onesie (for my niece) and three shirts that were not commemorative. And a refrigerator magnet.

**The text messages gave the actual time (e.g. 7:36 a.m.) and the split time (e.g. 28:57 for 5K). Splits were 5K - 28:57, 10K - 57:00, 9 mi - 1:22:11, and finish 1:58:23.