Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Marathon substitute

As planned (or un-planned?) I didn't run the Bellingham Bay Marathon on Sunday. Last week when I made the decision to cancel, I had high-falutin' plans of doing a 23-mile long run on the weekend anyway. Didn't happen...not exactly, anyway.

On Thursday morning I squeezed out 5.5 miles in between my nursing duties and work. Even though it was a short, easy run, by Thursday night my touchy ankle and achilles had flared up, leading to an achy, Advil-fueled night. That made it easy to allow Friday as a rest day (from running), in hopes that I would have fresher legs for running on the weekend.

I was checking the weekend weather forecast on my BlackBerry pretty much constantly, trying to predict whether Saturday or Sunday would be a better day for my long run. Originally I had intended to do it on Sunday, in lieu of the marathon...but the forecast for Saturday showed sun, and Sunday showed rain. So Saturday kind of seemed like the best day, especially with the rest day on Friday.

Had I been able to hit the road by 8:00 or so on Saturday, I might have been able to get through a 20+ mile run. But there's a lot of stuff to do when you're helping out a post-surgical patient. And it's not like you can tell him to get a move on so I can go out and run. By the time I had an opportunity to go, it was almost 11 a.m. and already 70 degrees outside. The idea of spending the next four hours running (as it continued to warm up) was just not feasible.

So I modified my plan to 10-11 miles instead, which was basically half of my original intent. I headed out and, yes, it was warm (considering that I have been used to running with temps in the 50s in the mornings!). I had eaten a light breakfast of a sandwich thin with almond butter and jam, but that was around 9:00. I was carrying some Gu's, but I had also tucked a mini-Larabar into my fuel belt for a "real food" alternative to gels. I decided to eat the Larabar after five miles, giving me something to look forward to as well as (hopefully) some energy for the second half of the run.

I hit five miles at the top of a short, steep hill and found a shady spot to stop while I ate the Larabar. Because it was so dense and chewy, I really didn't feel like trying to choke it down while running. so I took advantage of the opportunity for a short break. Even though it was fairly hot, I didn't feel it too much while I was running, since there was quite a breeze as well. But I realized how much I was sweating when I stopped at a bathroom and felt sweat flying off me like rain!

I hit downtown at about nine miles and figured I had at least a mile to go to Safeway (my final destination). I sort of wanted to make it eleven miles (while still wanting to be done as soon as possible), so I rather reluctantly tweaked my route to expand the distance. Finally, after a little bit of running around the Safeway parking lot, I called it done at 11.12 miles! My average pace for this run was around 10:27 per mile.

I got a few things from the grocery store and an Americano plus an iced tea from Starbucks, then walked the remaining distance back to Rod's (less than a mile). My ankle was feeling it a little bit, so I gave it a little bit of an ice soak by sitting on the shower chair in the tub and soaking it in cold bathwater with a few ice cubes thrown in (I didn't want to use too much of the ice as Rod needed it for his ice packs). Since I hadn't done a really long run, I didn't think a full ice bath was necessary, and that way I wouldn't have to deal with wet running clothes (well, they were wet from sweat, but that's a little different from being immersed in bathwater).

I was pretty hungry so I made myself a late lunch of leftover chicken casserole on a big bed of lettuce. No fear about the late lunch, though, I would not have any trouble eating dinner later on!
The rest of the day was pretty much laying around and watching football and feeling sorry for myself reading my book. The patient was in a kind of crappy mood not feeling that great so it was a rather rough day for me.

Weatherwise, though, it was a beautiful afternoon, especially once I was done running in it! It stayed balmy even into the evening. That changed to warm and humid on Sunday (and more so on Monday!).

To get out of the house make up for my short distance on Saturday, I decided to run again on Sunday. I got it into my head that if I ran 15.1 miles on Sunday, that would add up to 26.2 for the weekend...the full marathon distance. I left about an hour earlier than on Saturday (but I was running further, so not a huge difference in the end), and it was cloudy and a little cooler, though noticeably muggy.

This time I decided just to repeat a four-mile loop until I was done. I figured 3.5 times around wouldn't be too horrible, and it gave me an out if I wanted it. I was moving a little faster this time, and ended up with a 10:06 average pace...though that was really averaging because I know most of my miles were slower. I had a couple of "fast" miles that boosted the average.

I had a larabar and gu for fuel again, and I decided to eat the Larabar after six miles. But I found that the chewy, nutty texture was a little hard to get down, so I ended up eating two little bites at six miles, two more at seven, and finishing it up at eight (and this was a teeny tiny little bar!). I pulled out a gu at twelve miles, ate half and put it away, then finished it when I passed thirteen. There was a lot of rationing happening!

Throughout both Saturday and Sunday's runs I listened to multiple podcasts of Phedippidations. Lately I've been using podcasts to pass the time on longer runs, though I am not certain that I run as quickly as with music. I'm pretty sure I'd want to stick to music for any kind of race, even a long one.

I finished at Starbucks again and this time I bought a seven-pound bag of ice from the grocery store and hauled it back (along with a few groceries, a mocha, and an Americano--it was a hard walk!). Later I used the ice for an almost-full-fledged ice bath. The only deficiency was that I didn't close the drain tightly enough, so the bath didn't fill well, and I never fully immersed my legs. Since the achy parts are all on the backsides, it wasn't that big of a deal.

Since the weekend I've been alternating between wildly planning make-up runs and races over the next two months, and wondering gloomily whether, if I had run the marathon, if I would have even beat a 10-minute pace, and whether I've just lost all my speed. A lot of this is due to the recurring ankle ache. I refuse to call it an injury, because it is not debilitating! But I think it does slow me down.

Another example--this morning (Tuesday), 8.40 miles, 10:15 pace. Mo.lass.es. (Or should that be, Mo.las.ses....) But I am still plugging along....

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

A different kind of taper

If I thought that after cancelling my marathon this weekend I would be jumping right back to high intensity training (and I sort of did think that), well, I was wrong.

This morning I intended to do today's scheduled run, but adding back in a few miles. I got up and headed out as planned, but after a little more than a mile my intestines started freaking out. To make a very long, unpleasant story short, I ended up turning around and walking home, and that was the end of my morning run.

I had in mind making it up in some fashion this afternoon, after spending some time with Rod at the hospital, but that changed too when he called to say he would be discharged today. So today's plans did a quick change to getting him home and settled.

It's 3 pm now and we are home, and I guess there could be an afternoon run (except that my running clothes are still at my house and we just ate pizza for lunch). But frankly, I just don't feel like it.

Tentative new plan is to run tomorrow before work (in between assisting Rod as needed). Friday could be a Y day, or maybe a run, and I WILL get my long run done this weekend. Saturday seems like the best for weather, but I guess we'll see how things develop.

Of course my lack of running and lack of marathon hasn't prevented me from fueling up and carb loading. Example: the pizza we ate for lunch. Example: the chicken and cornbread casserole my mother is making us for dinner. Example: the lasagne my secretary is sending us tomorrow. All this is meant to feed the invalid but I still have a marathon-sized appetite too.

I am trying not to suffer too much guilt over the decreased running. My priority is helping Rod right now, and he'll be more mobile and self-sufficient soon. A running cutback this week isn't going to make much difference in the long run, especially with another eight weeks to play with in my training. There's plenty more running to come.
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Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Dropping out of taper

And, accordingly, the Bellingham Bay Marathon on Sunday. After much deliberation and mental processing, I finally reached the obvious conclusion that it is just not practical or even possible to spend eight or more hours on Sunday driving to and from Bellingham and running, just days after Rod will be discharged from the hospital from yesterday's hip surgery. Yes, I know, a smarter person would have figured this out a lot sooner!

But, in small defense of myself, I have been planning to run this marathon for almost a year and training for it all summer. Separating myself from it, especially since they don't even allow deferrals, required a little bit of effort.

So here I am, all trained up and nowhere to go. My new plan, reluctantly determined, is to run the Seattle Marathon on the Sunday after Thanksgiving instead. That means two more months of marathon training when I thought I was going to be done (and back to half marathon distance) in five days! I just can't find any other marathon accessible to me before then that would not require too much travel and expense. Weeks ago I checked into whether I could trade up to the full (from the half) in Portland on 10/10/10, but they are sold out and are not allowing any changes.*

The idea of continuing in full-on long distance training for another two months took almost as much processing as the concept of dropping out of Bellingham. But now I am just a tiny bit excited about coming up with a training plan for the next few weeks. I am figuring on three more 20+ mile runs, one this weekend, ** and the others probably on October 16-17 and November 13-14, or thereabouts anyway. There is planning to be done!

And just think of all the possibilities. More Yasso 800s! Reintroduce hill work! Ice baths galore as winter rolls in! I can hardly wait!

*I could buy a charity entry for $500, but I think not.
**By doing this locally, I can check on Rod every hour or two.

Saturday, September 18, 2010

National Run @ Work Day

Friday, September 17 was National Run @ Work Day. You could participate by running during, before or after work. I signed up for it (which consisted of "liking" it on Facebook), because I knew I'd be running before work. Or during the time I should be working, some might say. I would say I did run during work, as I made several work phone calls while I was running. Did YOU run at work (or before or after) on Friday?
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Friday, September 17, 2010

1500 miles

The 15K put me over 1500 miles for the year so far. I'd been keeping weekly mileage totals but hadn't added up the cumulative amount for a few months. Tonight I decided to check it out.

Last year I ran 1700 miles. I decided not to set a mileage goal this year, and I'm sticking to that. I did some messing with numbers, though. If I keep up the same weekly mileage all year (which seems unlikely), I'll go over 2200. If I average just 33 miles a week for the rest of the year, I'll hit 2000+.

Last year I hit 1500 in about mid-November...so I'm two months ahead.

It's also possible that I could do a lot less running in December. We'll see what happens, I guess.
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Great run today!

On Wednesday I complained about my failed progression run on Facebook: "Legs. Like. Lead." What I didn't say was that I had planned it as a progression run, with each mile a little faster than the one before, regardless of how slow I started. (That was supposed to make it "easy.") Pretty much an epic fail...my splits wandered between 10 and 10:30 (mostly), not once making it below a 10-minute mile. I'm not sure at what point I finally gave up on any progressive goals and just turned it into an easy run (which really wasn't easy at all).

I counted on Thursday to rest my legs (just a morning trip to the Y, no evening exercise at all) and optimistically planned a final "long run" of 16 miles. What's more, I set myself some ambitious (for me) goals...first five miles at 10-minute pace, next five at 9:30 pace, final five at 9:00 (quickly amended to 9-9:15, in the interest of courting success rather than failure). The final mile, I hoped, would be a token sub-9.

I didn't have to go out too early, but for various reasons ended up going out about an hour later than I had intended, around 8:30. The good thing was, I find that I can get up to speed faster and better on mornings when I am not staggering out the door having barely woke up.

I geared up with my fuel belt, as I don't like to carry a handheld for such a long distance and, also, the strap on my handheld has stretched too much and fits too loosely, which makes it kind of a pain to carry. I might have to look into replacing it.

I decided to put on a Phedippidations podcast for the first hour, even though I think I run faster with music. I hoped this might help pass the time, which it did. I was also able to run faster than I thought I would, so after I finished the first podcast (Beyond the Swoosh, about Nike exploitation of foreign workers) at about 6.25 miles, I put on another (Can Marathons Kill You). For the final four miles of my run I switched to music.

My legs were much better today than on Wednesday, and I didn't have to try too hard to hit a 10-minute pace. My splits for the first five miles averaged 10:01, perfect! (10:10, 9:58, 9:54, 10:01, 10:01.) Conveniently, the turnaround point on Colby was right at the 5-mile mark too. That meant I could take advantage of some slight downhills when I started picking up the pace for the next five.

About half a mile along I stopped to use the bathroom at Starbucks, and also received a call from work about a missing file. I gave some ideas about where to find it, but concern over the missing file gave me some adrenaline that actually spurred me to run faster than goal pace, without even trying. Mile 6 - 9:20. Then... Mile 7 - 9:14, Mile 8 - 9:10, Mile 9 - about 9:12. During this time I diverted my route a little because I thought I was going to have to stop at court to look for the file. When I got a text that the file was found, I reverted to my original route and headed on my way! The last mile of that segment had a lot of uphill, but was still on pace at 9:31.

In my designation of 5-mile segments, I consider the first five warm-up, and the second five "easy." That certainly played out today. The next five I call "quality." That is where you really have to start working to maintain a pace. While I had originally thought I would go for 9-minute miles here, I realized early on that this was unrealistic, and instead of drawing the line at 9:09, I shot for a reasonable sub-9:15. Although I had a couple over that, with averaging I came out to about 9:10 for the third five miles. 9:08, 9:11, 9:17, 9:19, 8:55! I must say that mile 14 had some significant uphill portions, so I am fine with the 9:19.

Mile 15 was all flat and I pushed hard for that 8:55. All of this was on the Pigeon Creek Public Access Trail off Terminal Avenue. The Pigeon Creek portion is about .75 mile long, but I turned around at .5 so I finished Mile 15 right at the point I returned to Terminal Avenue.

My original hope had been to rock the final mile with a sub-nine pace, but that was not going to happen, no-how. Down there on Terminal Avenue I was at my lowest elevation point, and pretty much the next .75 mile was uphill as I climbed from water level to Colby Avenue. The remaining quarter mile was downhill (and then another quarter mile down to QFC). I really put on the speed for that final half mile, which is why Mile 16 was 9:20 (could have been slower). I relaxed a little after that and my final quarter was 8:54 pace.

This really was a confidence building run. I was able to accomplish what I set out to do, which is always great the week (nine days) before a marathon!* This might have been a little long in distance for this point in training, but I'm okay with it. I have been tapering (my 22-miler was two weeks ago and my longest since then was the half marathon on Labor Day, then the 15K on Sunday) and I will really taper this week. I'm thinking 8 on Sunday, 6 on Monday (subject to the surgery schedule, I guess Tuesday is also an option), then maybe 5 on Wednesday. After that I'm playing it by ear. I don't expect to run on Friday, and Saturday is a complete rest day, no matter what.

Happy weekend running (or whatever) to all!

*I am still not certain I will be able to get to the marathon. Rod is having surgery on Monday and my ability to leave him for 8 hours to travel to and from and run is still really unclear. I am taking it day by day, assuming I will do it but keeping an open mind.

Fairhaven - The rest of the story

I ran a great 10K last Saturday! Unfortunately, the race was a 15K....

I just had to use that line. More on the race itself in a bit.

I took Thursday and Friday off from running to freshen my legs for the race. Thursday I went to the Y but Friday was a complete rest day. I do think that was helpful, especially as I have been pretty hard on my legs lately, with the 22-mile run last Friday (now two weeks ago) and the half marathon on Labor Day.

On Wednesday I decided to do 4 x 1-mile repeats as the week's speed work. I had hill repeats on my schedule but I have opted not to do the hill repeats this time around, as not to aggravate my right ankle and achilles. I hoped to do them at 8:15 pace, which I hoped would be goal 15K pace. As such, they were pretty much a big FAIL. They weren't an EPIC FAIL, which would only occur if I didn't finish or something, but I was far from achieving an 8:15 pace. At all.

I started with a couple miles of warm-up at a horrifically slow pace. I actually didn't look at my Garmin during those two miles, except to monitor when they were coming to an end so I could start the first "speed" mile.

My plan for the speed work was to run the four miles at pace, with a half mile recovery jog between miles 1 and 2, and miles 2 and 3. Between 3 and 4 I jogged for a few seconds but pretty much went directly into mile 4. The result of this "speed work" was that I ran each mile about 30 seconds slower than I would have considered optimal.

Mile 1 - 8:47. Ugh.

Mile 2 - 8:47. Ugh again. Especially as I felt I had really picked up the pace here; it was especially disappointing to get the exact same time as the first mile!

Mile 3 - 8:57. Ugh still...though I don't begrudge the extra 10 seconds, as a lot of this mile was uphill.

Mile 4 - 8:34. A little better (and there was downhill). Ideally I should have been closer to 8-minute pace at this point, though.

Bonus - .58 mile at 8:38 pace. (See Mile 4.)

Total distance 8.19 miles, 9:34 average pace.

So, I went into Fairhaven without having any validation of any ability to run much faster than a half-marathon-type pace!

This Fairhaven weekend, though was more than just a race. It was also my birthday gift to my dad for his X0th birthday. That is code because I am not supposed to say how old he is! But don't think the X stands for 10--he is not 100 years old! (Or 90. And that's all I am going to say.) For the birthday gift, I booked rooms for my parents and for Rod and me at the Fairhaven Village Inn, which is a very lovely little hotel and also the site for the 15K finish.

My parents went up a little earlier than Rod and me on Friday, as we had to work in the afternoon, but we met them at the hotel in plenty of time for our dinner reservation at 7:30 p.m. at Mambo Italiano Cafe. The restaurant is only a few blocks' walk from the hotel and it is the Italian restaurant I have eaten dinner at every time I've stayed in Bellingham for a race. I went with a pretty simple but yummy Rigatoni Primavera. Rod and my dad courted heart attacks with, respectively, Spaghetti Carbonara and Fettucine Alfredo. I can condone the Carbonara because, let's face it, Carbonara is the food of the gods, but I sort of frowned on my dad's choice (and nicknamed it, not originally, heart attack on a plate). He didn't eat it all, though, and although he took the leftovers in a box, ended up throwing them away, which is just as well. I encouraged my mother to get a pizza, and she shared pieces with the rest of us. I gave her some of my pasta in exchange for 1.5 pieces of pizza. It was delicious too.

The race started at 8:30 the next morning, and since our hotel was literally across the street from the staging area and finish line, I just ran over at 7 a.m. to pick up my number and chip before picking up some coffee and food (for me) from the breakfast room. I probably got a little more than I needed...two pieces of raisin toast, with some peanut butter and jam, and a hardboiled egg. Rod and my parents could eat while I was running.

For some reason when I travel to races with Rod, I have a hard time getting out for my warm-up early enough...I think I feel like I have to wait for him to get ready and somehow he is always puttering around till the last minute (hopefully he won't read this). So I didn't head down to the lobby until 8:15, which didn't really leave much time. I decided to bag the warm-up and made a final potty stop in the lobby bathroom.

I did go outside and run up and down the block once or twice until someone announce that we needed to gather for final instructions. Then the whole mob of runners (600+) started walking to the start line a few blocks away.

I seeded myself pretty near the front, leaving room for the really fast runners ahead of me but not wanting to get too bogged down by others. As such, I was standing quite near the race director when he made the final announcement that I had managed not to hear before... "If I see anyone with headphones I will pull their number."

I guess he meant it. Yes, I knew that headphones were not allowed but in the past it's always been a "don't ask, don't tell" policy. The headphone ban was buried in some pre-race email and never referred to again, or enforced. I assume the reason for it is safety, as the course was all on open streets and included crossing a railroad track (where the Amtrack train might come through during the race). I have always used my iPod with no problems. But this time, regretfully, I pulled off my earphones and tucked them into my bra strap. There wasn't time to take off the iPod entirely, as it was tucked into the back pocket of my capris.

I would like to blame the lack of iPod for my performance issues, but I really missed it most at the beginning and those miles were my fastest. Similarly, although I regretted my lack of warm-up, it didn't seem to prevent me from a strong start.

There is just a hint of my green shirt in the middle of the picture above.
In this one you can see me, green shirt right in the middle!

I headed out at a strong pace and was pleased when the first mile clicked off at 8:13. This was a pace I would love to maintain. I lost a few seconds in the next mile, then held steady. Mile 2 - 8:19. Mile 3 - 8:21. I was quite pleased when I passed the 5K clock and my 5K time was under 26 minutes!

The first few miles of the race included slight uphills and downhills (I don't agree that the course is "flat"). This is my favorite type of elevation though, and my paces were good throughout. Mile 4 - 8:21 (again). I lost a few seconds on miles 5 and 6, but still felt I was within reach of matching last year's time (which had an 8:18 average pace overall). Mile 5 - 8:26. Mile 6 - 8:30. There were two time clocks around the 10K mark. I suspect the first one was at 6 miles, and the second at 6.2. While I was excited to see 51 or 50 on the first clock, I was still pleased to be under 52 at the actual 10K mark. This meant that I was running pretty consistently during the first two thirds of the race.

Then, for no apparent reason, in mile 7 I just slowed down. I felt like I was still making a strong effort, but my legs just weren't doing it. In looking at the course elevation later, I did see that the course climbs in miles 7 and 8 (and I certainly recall one uphill, anyway), so I guess that partially explains why theoretically "even effort" produced a slower pace. It doesn't explain why last year (when the course was substantially the same), I was able to continue on at an 8:20 or faster pace throughout those final three miles! Mile 7 - 8:51. Mile 8 - 8:42.

I had a little iPod crisis in mile 8 or 9, when my unused iPod started falling out of its pocket in the back of my pants. The first time I just shoved it back, but moments later it was dangling around my legs again! I unplugged the earbuds and ran the rest of the race carrying my iPod in my hand. I'm sure I lost a few seconds in that little debacle! I should have left it with Rod when he offered to take it before the start.

Mile 9, the last whole mile, included a stretch over Taylor Dock, which is great fun, although I always feel a little slower on any surface other than pavement! The race photographer was set up for a photo op along the running path just before Taylor Dock. This was much better than previous years when the photographer was midway up the final hill in the race! That photo usually featured more of a grimace than a smile. Here, I was smiling! Actually I think I was smiling through most of the race (despite my pace frustrations), up until the finish line sprint.

The final full mile included Taylor Dock, plus a short but steep hill from water level (literally) to street level. I plugged up and the mile 9 marker was at the top. Mile 9 - 8:54. I really tried to pour it on in the final stretch and the finish line, and managed to return to something near goal pace - .35 mile at 8:22 pace. With the slightly longer distance Garmin gave me an average pace of 8:30 per mile, but for 15K my technical pace was just under 8:33 per mile average.*

This finish line photo (which is fine) compared to the one below that my mom took, illustrates that a full-on photograph is never as flattering as an angled pose! (You might notice that in most of my posed pictures I am standing at an angle. I also have a "better" side, so if possible I always turn to the right rather than left.)

Here I am with Rod and my dad after the race is done!
Here are some pictures of strangers at the post-race celebration.
This little boy was a runner and he had a great time, far faster than me!
The food was provided by local businesses, the Colophon Cafe, Great Harvest Breads, and a local supermarket provided lots of fruit! I love watermelon after a race! My post-race snacks were several pieces of watermelon, a nice chunk of cranberry bread, and a chocolate chip cookie.
View from above.
After I strolled through the food expo, I went back to the hotel to take a shower and dress. Then Rod and I walked around Fairhaven a bit and visited a few shops. I was not shopping so we avoided some of the stores that might interest me too much and went into ones that had appeal for both me and Rod.

After some confusion phone communications, we met my parents at the hotel and walked over to the Harris Avenue Cafe for lunch. This is a "new favorite"--I first went there for breakfast/lunch after the Birch Bay 30K, having read about it in the Amateur Gourmet blog. They have great breakfasts (and in fact my dad ordered eggs, although it was after 1:00), but I had a sandwich and soup (curried yam soup, had to try it!).

This was also a big college football day, and I was happy to retire to the hotel to rest and read while Rod checked out the games. The big event, of course, was the University of Oregon vs. Tennessee game at 4 p.m. I just thank heaven that the hotel had ESPN 2! Oh yeah, there was also that University of Washington vs. Syracuse game.

I am not going to spend a lot of time writing about football, that's for sure. I left to get fish and chips around 5:30 or so. At the time Oregon was in an hour-plus weather delay due to lightning in Tennessee! They were also slightly behind at that time. The game finally resumed, and by the time I got back with dinner Oregon was beginning their big comeback. We ate fish and chips in my parents' room while Rod tried to endure my dad's penchant for channel flipping. He's a bit of a flipper himself, but not when the Ducks are playing. Obviously Oregon came back big, and won 48-13. The Huskies also did themselves proud with a 41-20 win! And that ends my football coverage.

Sunday morning I opted to skip running as Saturday's glorious weather had turned to dreary, heavy rain. We all met in the dining room, then carried our breakfast plates to the library. Here's a picture of my dad in the library...kind of a goofy expression, I'm afraid!
Then, after breakfast, we checked out and headed home. It was a great weekend!

*Addendum on Saturday--Looking back at last year's race report, I notice that my splits and time in the first 10K were very similar again this year, just a few seconds slower overall. (I list too many miles from last year, though, must have stuck in an extra 8:19.) The difference is, of course, that last year I held steady in the final 5K and also did the final third of a mile a little bit faster. Still don't know how that happened. However, I should also note that this year's time is still my second fastest 15K (albeit only about seconds faster than the Shamrock Run from March).

Saturday, September 11, 2010

Fairhaven Waterfront 15K

It's about 6 pm and I am sitting outside Fairhaven Fish & Chips (in an old London-style red bus), waiting to pick up four orders to take back to the hotel. Why is this our plan for dinner in a town with a dozen good restaurants? Well, my family LOVES fish & chips, but more importantly, at least half my travel party is busy watching college football, one room tuned to the Oregon-Tennessee game and the other to the Washington-Syracuse game (with channel switching as well). When I left, the Oregon game was in a weather hiatus but resumed shortly thereafter.

But I'm not here to write about football! We're up here because I ran the Fairhaven Waterfront 15K this morning, one of my favorite races and my fourth consecutive year doing it.

Last year was a FABULOUS PR but sadly, I didn't match it today. My time was about two minutes slower, 1:19:33 this morning (8:33 pace). I was running really strong in the first 10K, and somehow flagged in the final 5K. I didn't feel like I was falling apart or anything, but I was just pushing hard and going slower. Still, I am quite happy with my performance and felt GOOD at the end (though quite red in the face!).

We were also lucky to have beautiful weather today, sandwiched between yesterday's yucky rain and probably more rain tomorrow (though who knows what will happen).

I may write a longer race report this week but in case I don't, that's what happened in Fairhaven! Hope everyone's having a great weekend!
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Thursday, September 9, 2010

Beet chips!

My latest sensation, oven baked beet chips. I thought I invented this idea, but a quick google search demonstrated that in fact others have done the same thing. The recipes/methods are pretty much the same as mine, although I probably baked mine longer.

The ones in the picture are mostly stripey candy cane beets, but you can see at least one dark red piece in the middle of the plate. That was my first batch, on Tuesday. Tonight I made another batch with the dark beets, but in the picture I took (not posted) they look black and more burned than they really were. The dark red beets do work really well, even if they don't photograph so well.


You will probably use 3-4 medium small beets for one baking sheet. Line baking sheet with foil and spray with olive oil or canola spray. Heat oven to 400 degrees.

Slice beets very thinly with a knife or mandoline. The thinner they are, the crispier and more chip-like they will get, but they will also be more likely to burn, so watch carefully!

Arrange slices on baking sheet, as close to single layered as you can. You will probably have to overlap a little. As they bake and dehydrate, the chips will shrink and you can rearrange them into a single layer. Spray everything with oil spray and sprinkle with kosher salt (or any kind of salt) and pepper if desired.

Bake on the first side until the chips start to brown a little and curl around the edges. Start out with 15 minutes and add 5 minute segments until they seem almost done. Then turn them with a fork or spatula, spray again, and maybe add another dash of salt.

Bake, checking every five minutes, until they are chip like. They will crisp up after they cool for a minute. You will probably want to remove the smaller, more cooked pieces first and let the bigger ones cook longer. A little burning on the edges is not a bad thing!

Enjoy them while they are crisp! Leftovers can be stored in the fridge, but they will be soft and chewy, not crispy, the next day. Still good though!
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Pics from Super Jock 'n Jill Half

I kind of look like I'm walking here, but I promise, I ran the whole way!
See? Running. (No, I am not about to puke!)
Don't I look like I am really about to pass that guy? Well, I didn't. He finished about 15 seconds ahead of me.
But no one else is going to pass me, darn it! (Don't know why my pants look like they're falling down....)

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Super Jock 'n Jill Half Marathon

On Monday, Labor Day, I ran the Super Jock 'n Jill Half Marathon as a marathon-pace training run. In that sense, it was a success. Actually, I would consider it a success overall, except in delivering any great surprises, such as a PR. It was also my ninth half marathon this year, including at least one every month since April (with two in May and July).*

On Sunday afternoon I invited my mother to come with me for the drive, so she picked me up at 7 a.m. and we headed southeast to Woodinville, coffee and power scone with almond butter in hand for breakfast on the road. The race started at 9:00, but I always like to be early! Since it was Labor Day morning, there was little traffic and we arrived pretty speedily by 7:45 (maybe earlier, even). As we approached Red Hook Brewery (where the race started and ended), I noticed that a lot of wineries have sprung up in Woodinville since I was last there, about ten years ago or more. Back then it was just Chateau Ste. Michelle and Columbia. I was about to say that there are at least a dozen now, but I just found this website which claims more than 60 wineries in "Woodinville Wine Country"!

The parking area was at least a quarter mile from the site, and at first this felt like a difficulty, because it was a cool and damp morning, and I guess I was feeling lazy. But it turns out that the five-minute walk to and from the car wasn't a problem at all. I headed over right after we parked, to pick up my bib and stuff and make a first visit to the porta potties (only a few people in line at that time.

I picked up a bag from the gear check station because my plan at that time was to leave my jacket there while I ran. But on the walk back to the car it seemed so cold and windy that I changed my mind and decided to wear the jacket...plus gloves.

I sat in the car for a while, but when 8:30 neared I braved the weather (still not raining, and not really that cold), and headed back to take my place in the much longer potty line. The situation was such that I was not going to leave that line until I went (if you know what I mean). Luckily that was not a problem, and I had my turn in the potty in 20 minutes or less.

By that time I realized it really wasn't too cold (mid-50s, I think), and got another bag and left both my jacket and gloves with the bag check. I only had a few minutes before I really needed to be in the starting area, so I jogged around the parking lot in one of my shortest ever warm-ups--about .35 mile.

Then I lined up in the area where the eight-minute and nine-minute-mile pace signs joined. Basically back of the eights, front of the nines. If I had been pushing for a faster time, I would have gone near the front of the eights, in hopes that the faster runners up there would push me to keep up.

I had no idea as the race began that there were no chip mats at the beginning, only the end. I had my Garmin set to go, but was waiting till I crossed the mat to start it. Well, I ran, and I ran, and eventually I decided there was no mat and pushed the start button! I was a little pissed about not only the lack of mats (I figure there was at least 15 seconds delay from that, maybe more, and much more for people starting behind me!), but with myself because now my splits would be off.

I fixed the splits problem as best I could by hitting the lap button when I passed the first mile marker. My first "mile" was .89 long, so I was off by about .11. At least the laps would be correct from then on. My pace for the .89 mile was 8:55 average, but I figure that it was a little slower for the actual first mile, because there was a little walking in the approach to the start, and I noticed that my pace was a little slow in the beginning so I tried to pick it up.

"Everyone" describes this race as flat, but that is not completely true. The first six miles are pretty flat, with a few bumps in elevation. But there is a significant hill in mile seven, and in fact miles seven through nine were full of modest ups and downs! Not enough to be a problem or anything, but it did put a damper on my "race plan."

So, about that "race plan." My only plan was to run it at goal marathon pace and hopefully do it fairly easily. I suppose there's always an underlying hope that one's legs will want to go faster than expected, but that certainly didn't happen to me. While I don't think I was struggling to run a 9-minute(ish) pace, I certainly had no inclination to go faster. Nor, I fear, much ability. I am assuming--hoping--that this was because my legs were still tired from the 22 miles on Friday, plus the run-elliptical-walk on Saturday morning, plus the walking and standing at Bumbershoot Saturday night, despite the rest day on Sunday.

As I found myself chugging along in the nine-minute neighborhood, I developed my race plan. It was based on my general running scheme of, "the first five miles are warm-up" and "the second five miles are easy." So my plan was to run the first five at about nine-minute pace (or at least sub-9:09), then pick it up a little to 8:45 pace for the next five, then really put a push on for the final 5K, maybe even 8:30-ish pace if possible.

First five went as planned. 8:55, 9:03, 8:58, 9:00, 9:08.

Then let me tell you about the next five. Not only was this the "hilly" section, it also included numerous hairpin turns and back and forths and a run through the Cascadia College Campus and past the UW Bothell campus; in short, lots of things to slow me down. I feel like I did increase my effort during those five miles, but my times don't reflect it. They look like someone who is getting tired...but really, that was not the case. 9:12, 9:23 (the hill), 8:57 (the other side of the hill, down), 9:19, 9:10.

Even though my pace was all over the place in that section, I think it still reflects a fairly even effort. There were at least two other runners that I kept pace with throughout most of the run, so if I was slowing and speeding up, so were they! They were a very tall man and short woman, running together, with the male probably pacing the female as he ran slightly ahead of her throughout. At least one of them was also hearing impaired (I believe), as the male ran with his hands in a position that seemed strange until I saw him occasionally signing...he probably kept his hands out so they were visible.

The final part of my race plan was to kick it in the last 5K. Well, I did do that, even though the paces that resulted were not the 8:30s I had hoped for. But I did increase my pace for every single split! 8:50, 8:44, 8:38, and the final .20 at 8:26 pace.

I also manage to pass a few people in the last three miles. First the man and woman who had been my unintentional companions for so many miles. Left them in my dust...well, sort of. Then there was a man in a blue shirt, who managed to hold his lead on me for quite awhile. Eventually, however, I pulled ahead and left him behind too. I'm actually not sure who else I might have passed. Those three were my targets. I do know that there was a guy (not one of them) who passed me fast at the very end...there's always some guy who apparently was running at a nine-minute pace for about thirteen miles and somehow finds his seven-minute-mile in the final tenth!

I should also concede that those last three-plus miles were on a pancake flat running trail. It also helped that there were lots of good markers on the way, so I could run from marker to marker quite easily.

At the very end of the race there is a sharp turn and slight uphill before the semi-finishing stretch, then another turn into the finish area. So by the time I was able to see the clock I was quite close to it...but not close enough to beat the clock turning from 1:58 to 1:59, unfortunately! My finish time, which is not improved by the use of the chips as they did not provide a net time, was 1:59:11. That makes a 9:06 average pace overall.

My only regrets are that I could have gone under 1:59 if I had tried a little harder on the course not to waste time. I had forgotten my handheld water bottle, so I got water at three of the water stops (not stopping of course). That was good for a few seconds. My worst dilly-dally was at the mile 6 water station, where they were giving out Gu. I took a vanilla Gu when it was handed to me, but I've never used vanilla. I shouted at the next person, "whadda you got?" and when she said coffee, I paused, turned back, and traded mine in to her. Without that little exchange, I would have been several seconds faster, I am sure.

And, of course, if there had been chip mats at the start, those 12 seconds would have been gone just like that.

Oh well, hindsight and all that.

I picked up my bag and put on my jacket, then walked around the vendors a bit. I used my bag to collect a couple(ish) Top Pot doughnuts (individually wrapped), some mini-Larabars (yea!), some fiber gummies (they forced them on me, really), and a couple bags of Maui potato chips which I sent home to my dad. Along with a doughnut for each of my parents. My mother and I split one of the doughnuts, and after reading the 450 calorie count for one old-fashioned doughnut, I couldn't bare to keep any more.**

On the drive home it really started pouring, and I was so relieved that the rain had held off for the run!

There were photographers on the course (I saw them and tried to smile), so I will be curious to if any pictures of me came out. I decided not to delay this post waiting for pictures...sometimes that kind of delay turns into forever! (No, I really am going to finish my Newport Marathon post!)

*I have one more scheduled in October and plan to do one (maybe two) in November, after which I will update my Half Fanatics streak info!

**By the way, I consider samples given out at race expos or after races to be marketing ploys, not post-race food, so I have no qualms about sharing what I take.

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Happy with a cherry on top

I am quite excited that P from Adventures of an Average Athlete has bestowed the Cherry on Top and Happy 101 awards on me, so that I, too, can spend a few minutes talking about myself. (Wait, don't I do that all the time anyway?)

For the Cherry on Top award you are supposed to write about one thing you would go back and change in your life. Then you thank the person who awarded you and pass it on to six others.

I've actually thought about this question a lot as I've read the various answers by other bloggers. Almost everyone ultimately says that they wouldn't change anything, because everything they've done has made them the person they are today. You know, the butterfly effect, and all that.

Bah! Cowards! Change the world, I say!

Well, maybe not.

I have a couple of answers to this question of what I might change in my past. The first is that I would not have let myself gain a lot of weight after law school. This is truly an area where I have two minds. Obviously, it was not a good thing to gain weight, and it put certain dampers on my life for more than ten years. (Not as much as you'd think; I had a good life during that time!) But certainly, it would have been better for me not to gain weight.

However, had I not gone through that I am pretty sure that I would not be where I am today. If I'd managed to avoid weight gain, I might have just stayed where I was, about 30 pounds more than I weigh now (as I recall), dieting sporadically (as you do), and certainly not rediscovering running at the age of almost 40. (Or maybe I would have...who know?)

Answer number two is something I would change, and I can't see any downside to that...which is, I would never have spent so much money at Macy's. Damn their one-day sales anyway! I have given away and discarded so much stuff from those years of shopping sprees and I truly regret the money gone with the wind.

Okay, on to a more cheery subject! The Happy 101 award has you list 10 things that make you happy, again thank the giver, then pass it on to ten people.

I love to list things that make me happy. That in itself makes me happy! I am going to omit the mandatory friends, family, and loved ones, you can just assume that they are at the top of the list. (Most of the time.)

  1. Running. Yes, it probably just have been in the "assumed" category as well, because don't you expect that from a running blogger? But running does make me happy, sometimes while I'm doing it, sometimes when I'm done. :)
  2. Food and eating. Should I be embarrassed by this? Probably. But a good meal really rocks my world. Not just the naughty stuff (like cake)...things like oven roasted broccoli, sauteed spinach, Kabocha squash soup, and (oven) sweet potato fries thrill me to no end. (I could do a whole post on my love affair with vegetables!) Tonight I am planning on experimenting with making oven roasted beet "chips." I'm trembling with anticipation! (Okay, that's a small exaggeration.)
  3. Great clothes, especially if they are on sale! Yes, despite my regrets over the Macy's debacle, I still love to shop.
  4. Books and reading. Another topic I could write an entire post about, or many. I love reading magazines as well, but books are my life. Current "can't put down" read: Orange is the New Black by Piper Kerman. (Prior to that, Fly Away Home: A Novel by Jennifer Weiner, and Mennonite in a Little Black Dress by Rhoda Janzen.)
  5. My cats, sweet Sammy, Sophie and Libby. (They also make me very unhappy at times, due to certain behaviors which are damaging my house and driving me slightly crazy, but let's not go there.)
  6. Coastal Maine and New England in general. I guess it's a little weird to live on the Pacific Coast (and love it here), but yet be so drawn to the other side of the country. There is something about the history and ambience of New England that just speaks to my soul. Harbors, big white houses, little white churches, lobster, and the home of so many great American writers.
  7. England, my other spiritual home. Again, I could never choose to live there (even for a sabbatical period, because of my cats), but traveling in England is like going home to me.
  8. Gardens. In my own life obsessive running has displaced obsessive gardening, but I still love to visit and tour the gardens of others, or even just admire them as I run by.
  9. Good movies. And by "good movies," I mean movies that I enjoy watching. I don't go to the movies often enough, because somehow it seems like such a big time commitment if I am going to go on my own, and if I am going with someone else (e.g. Rod), there is the whole ordeal of finding a movie we both want to see...etc. Here are some movies that, after I saw them, I walked out of the movie theatre feeling happy for seeing the movie (even if it wasn't a "happy" movie). Bridget Jones's Diary, About a Boy, Sense and Sensibility, Hannah and Her Sisters, Love Actually, Four Weddings and a Funeral, When Harry Met Sally, Sleepless in Seattle, You've Got Mail, It's Complicated (saw this on PPV, would have loved it even more in a theatre), Julie and Julia (same), The Informant!, The Proposal, Valentine's Day, Sex and the City, Sex and the City 2, Out of Africa, Little Shop of Horrors, The Devil Wears Prada, The Sure Thing (in college, along with Out of Africa and Little Shop of Horrors), Miss Potter, Spirit of the Marathon, Run Fat Boy Run. Very random list, and there are more, these are just the ones that came immediately to mind! Sorry I didn't take the time to do all the links, but I'm sure almost all can be found on Amazon if you are interested.
  10. Blogging. It makes me feel like a writer, and that makes me happy.

So, after all that, Thank You, P, for passing this on to me!

I don't think I could find as many as ten bloggers to list that haven't already done this, but if you haven't, and you are interested, I pass this to these people and anyone else who reads this! (And don't feel obligated to do it if you don't want to. Also, don't feel obligated to pass it on either, I know it's kind of like a chain letter in that fashion.)

Marie, Every Day is a Miracle
Lisa, Discovering the Meaning of Stonehenge
Lifestudent, A Marathon Leap
Alice, Hefferblog
Sassy Molassey
Terri, Middle of the Pack Girl

Sunday, September 5, 2010

I didn't think I could do it, but I did

This post is about my speedwork* run on Wednesday. It seems a bit odd to be doing it now, after I've already moved on to my long run on Friday, and beyond, but I actually wrote most of it on Thursday and just didn't have time to finish. So a little editing later, I'll just finish it now.

On Wednesday morning I decided to do my run in the afternoon. It was a pretty silly decision because I was wide awake and my legs felt okay, but I decided that it would be better for my body and mental health to loll in bed instead getting dressed and hitting the still-dark streets. (This dark morning thing? Gonna be hard to get used to.) One of the primary rationales I used (and it wasn't bad) was that the track for my planned 800's would be wet and muddy after a night of rainfall (true) and it would be in better shape by the forecasted sunny afternoon (also true).

Let me not say that it was a completely bad decision, because I certainly did enjoy the extra bed time, reading and eventually watching the Today Show. It was a little unfortunate that I'd already had a pre-run snack at 5:30 (half a PR bar). But I still had my full breakfast at 8, of course.

Then I went about the day setting myself up for run failure in the afternoon. Not intentionally of course. But I knew I was making things harder for myself...but yet went forward with my reckless behavior.

The main problem I created was overeating at lunch and not stopping eating during the afternoon. Okay, I wasn't quite as bad as that sounds. My office was hosting a lunch party so the menu was a little more lavish than I am used to at lunch. I wasn't too excessive. I ate lightly dressed Caesar salad and a serving of chicken salad, fruit and just a dab of potato salad and pasta salad. And, er, two rolls...legit carb loading, I would say. A little more troublesome but still acceptable (dietwise) was a sliver of red velvet cake and an even smaller sliver of carrot cake.

The real downfall was the cookies I kept nibbling at, breaking off pieces until I finished the entire cookie...at least a couple of times.

After lunch I was comfortably full and I knew the best thing to do was not eat for the rest of the afternoon so my stomach could empty before I ran.

BUT after I went to a long meeting then returned to the office, there were those cookies, just waiting. More breaking and nibbling commenced (though I resisted the other leftovers and cake!). End result was that my stomach never felt empty, even when I left the office after 5:00.

On the positive side, my legs still felt good (the extra rest helped, I'm sure), and I felt less beat up and emotionally drained than I usually do at the end of a work day.

I hustled home and changed my clothes with only a little bit of second thinking. I made it out the door around 6:00. It was still sunny and pretty warm (though not hot). I didn't bother with sunglasses because I knew the sun would drop before the end of my run, but I experienced quite a bit of squinting during the first few miles, especially on stretches when I was running west!

It was speedwork Wednesday, which meant 800's** this week (eight???). I decided to start out with three miles of warm-up around my neighborhood. And oh, did my legs feel sluggish and heavy. I chugged along, pushing to get near a 10-minute pace. By the end of the 5K warm-up I was doing about 9:30 (still only averaged 10:05 per mile for that chunk of mileage) and despaired at the idea of doing any kind of fast track work.

I considered so many alternatives. Well, primarily one alternative, which was skipping the 800's and just doing a regular medium-length run. Where I got stuck was how to make up the 800's. It would be pointless to plan for Thursday morning, because that would just put me into too many consecutive running days, especially with a loooong run planned for Friday. I didn't want to do them next week because it will be too close to the Fairhaven 15K on Saturday to stress my legs in that fashion.

So I settled on giving it a try and seeing what happened. I hit the track, reset my Garmin, and pushed off my first lap around the track. And what happened? To my great shock, 3:55 (.51 mile at 7:38 pace). (From now on I'll just refer to the pace for each split, as the distance varies slightly, which affects the actual time.) I never start out that fast! Usually I start slower and then pick up the pace. This time my pace actually slowed a little bit throughout the duration of my 800's, but I did stay under 8-minute pace for each, and finally picked it up again at the end.

I tried to concentrate my form and foot strike, instead of just trying to "run fast," but it's always a challenge. For most of my laps there were two women walking the track with their dogs, and though they always let me pass I am convinced I slowed a tiny bit while going around them.

As usual, through at least the first five I was completely uncertain that I could make it to eight. Thoughts of cutting short ran rampant! But after five, there is nothing to do but stick it out. For the final one, I turned off my iPod and, as usual, finished faster. My splits overall were half miles at paces of: 7:38, 7:42, 7:50, 7:51, 7:51, 7:58, 7:54, 7:38.

Between each 800 I jogged about a quarter of a mile back around the track in the opposite direction. I eventually figured that my total distance, with the 800's and approximately 400 meter recovery jogs, would be six miles. So, what if I added a fast 400 at the end and make it 10K total? So I did.

Final quarter mile sprint 1:53, which was .26 mile at 7:10 pace. Total distance (for the speedwork and recovery)--10K (6.22 miles) in 52:14, average pace 8:23. That's doesn't include the time I spent standing at the beginning of each 800, gazing around the circumference of the track. Procrastination or mental preparation? You be the judge.

Afterwards I jogged about .75 mile home (to make 10 miles total) and then walked about a quarter mile around the block. Just 'cause. That 1.02 mile, with .75 jogging and .27 walking, took 13:02.

So, to go back to the title of this post, I was sure this speedwork would be a complete FAIL, and instead, it was a complete success! Hurrah!

After the long run on Friday I was going to take Saturday off, but decided instead to just take today off. On Saturday I ran 3.1 miles to the Y (30:01), did an hour on the elliptical, then walked home and to Starbucks (2.75 miles). Then spent the evening at Bumbershoot, culminating in the Bob Dylan performance that night. Several hours standing during the concert must be good training for the legs, right? They were certainly tired enough after!

Tomorrow (which at the time of this writing is Monday, Labor Day), I am doing the Super Jock & Jill Half Marathon. My plan (hope?) is to do it as a marathon-pace training run. Just to remind myself that I can run a long distance at 9:00 pace. I CAN!

Have great Labor Day!

*Is it speedwork or speed work? I'm never quite sure, but at least I will try to be consistent within a post, if not from one to the next.

**A friend of mine wrote a mildly ranting :) blog post about the misuse of apostrophes. I give my credit for knowing all the rules of apostrophe use and think I always do it right; however, there is one situation where I am perennially confused, and that is the plural for numbers. Is it 800s or 800's? Well, the rule is clear, but it doesn't answer my debate:

Rule 11.
The plurals for capital letters and numbers used as nouns are not formed with apostrophes.

She consulted with three M.D.s. BUT She went to three M.D.s' offices. The apostrophe is needed here to show plural possessive.
She learned her ABCs.
the 1990s not the 1990's
the '90s or the mid-'70s not the '90's or the mid-'70's
She learned her times tables for 6s and 7s.

Use apostrophes with capital letters and numbers when the meaning would be unclear otherwise.

Please dot your i's.

You don't mean is.

Ted couldn't distinguish between his 6's and 0's.

You need to use the apostrophe to indicate the plural of zero or it will look like the word Os. To be consistent within a sentence, you would also use the apostrophe to indicate the plural of 6's.

Got it? So, 800's or 800s????

Friday, September 3, 2010

22 miles

Blogging from the bath! I finally took the ice bath plunge. Granted, I'm a little skimpy on ice, since I didn't feel like hauling a whole bag from the store after my run. I just used what I had stashed in big ziplocs in the freezer. Enough to help keep a good chill on the water, without actually inducing hypothermia. I like! I have a long sleeved fleece on my top half, which is keeping me cozy (along with the hot drink and the body heat still lingering from my run). Just need to avoid dipping my elbows in the water!

About the run, in brief. 22 miles. (That's brief!) It felt much less difficult that my 20-miler two weeks ago. My average pace was about the same, something under 10:30. I was a little faster overall today.

I could actually linger in the cold bath a lot longer than I have time for today. I'm enjoying it! (Next time, more ice.) Unfortunately, the 22 miles sucked up the whole morning and I actually have to go to work this afternoon!
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