Sunday, October 31, 2010
Last year when I ran this 5K in Monroe (sponsored by the Y), I had a great time and a great time--only a few seconds off my 5K PR. And I wore a costume!
This year I was not so excited about this race, considering how I was in my slump. I certainly had no intentions of wearing a costume to slow myself further! I did, however, wear a favorite orange running shirt. (Funny thing, the race shirts, which lots of people wore for the run, were also bright orange, so I certainly did not stand out from the crowd.)
I kept it low key, bringing only my mother for support and not inviting any other spectators. I recognized a few people from the Everett Y (pretty much all faster runners than me). I warmed up with about two miles around the lake that comprises much of the race route, then lined up mid-pack. I heard a woman near me tell her friend that she would probably go out fast, but didn't know how long she would last due to a hip injury. I moved out of her way. (She did burst ahead of me, but the hip must have slowed her because I caught up later...though I'm pretty sure she picked it up in the end and finished ahead of me.)
5K's are hard. Whether you are fast or slow, it is really hard to run as fast as you can and feel your lungs being ripped out of you. (What, you don't feel that when you run a 5K?) I think my first mile was around 8:15 (I don't care enough to go back and check my Garmin splits). I slowed (more) in the second mile. The low point had to be near the end of mile 2 when I felt my shoe come untied. Didn't I double tie? I don't know, I thought I had, but there it was flopping around (left shoe). I contemplated running on, but there was still too much race left. I stepped aside and stopped to tie my shoe, undoubtedly losing a lot of time doing it!
There were various people running in my vicinity that I tried to pass or keep up with to motivate myself. My main "competition" was a 10-or-so-year-old girl (dressed as a princess or a fairy) running with her dad...I am pleased to say I passed them in the second mile and never looked back!
I pushed for the finish line and was rather disappointed to see the clock tick out of the 26-range...my time was 27:06. This awful picture from the end of the race pretty much says it all. At least I beat the tiger.
As I crossed the finish line I disturbed my mom somewhat by saying "I'm a loser, I'm a loser." It was not a good thing to say. But I'll tell you what made it come out of my mouth... 1) Last year I won my age group. With this time I wasn't winning anything. 2) I was really pissed that I had to stop to tie my shoe.
Anyhow, it wasn't the best 5K, but it's another one for the books.
Thursday, October 28, 2010
I put an end to all that yesterday afternoon (Wednesday), when I hit the road for my first post-marathon run. I originally planned to go out Wednesday morning but I postponed it to Wednesday afternoon. Not so much because I needed extra recovery time (although that did allow me a full three days rest), and not just because I was lazy and wanted to stay in bed. Mainly it was because Wednesday afternoon was forecasted to be partly sunny and relatively pleasant, while Wednesday morning was dark, damp, and pretty much unappealing. I know that is the weather I will be dealing with for months to come, but this was one last rare opportunity to embrace the fast-waning afternoon daylight hours.
By the time I got home from work and ready to go out at a little past 5:00, it wasn't quite as sunny as it had been mid-afternoon at work, but it was still daylight and it was dry. Good enough.
Even though it is still October for a few days more, I wanted to use yesterday's run as a kick-start out of my October slump. My legs felt so good, none of the heaviness or achiness of the previous week (it's like I didn't even have quads at all!), but I knew that was no guarantee of speed. Or an easy run, for that matter.
My plan was to run about six miles, which I figured was far enough to be a decent run, but short enough not to overdo. I wore my Super Jock & Jill 1/2 Marathon long-sleeved neon green shirt and my Brooks Nightlife cap with the light off (to begin with). My sole intention was to try to push myself beyond the slogging pace that has seemed so easy to fall into these days.
There's not a lot to say about the run. I ran. Whenever I saw the Garmin pace drop close to or over 10:30, I pushed myself to run a little faster. My hope was to finish with an average pace of about 10:00, and my average pace after 6.51 miles was in fact 10:03. I am pretty sure if I had extended the distance to seven miles (which I chose not to do), I might have managed 10:00, since my later miles were a bit speedier than my early ones.
The run was actually two 3.25 mile runs, done successively. I stopped at 3.25 to use the bathroom at the hospital, and I figured that since I was there I should drop in and say hi to someone I knew who was in the hospital for a knee replacement. I am not sure whether he really wanted a visitor at 6 p.m., but I felt like it would be just wrong to come and go from the hospital without a visit.
When I left the hospital it was definitely deep twilight, so I turned on the red flashing light on the back of my cap. It stayed on until I was finally home (even while I was grocery shopping at QFC). My legs felt good throughout the run, but I did notice, especially in the first few miles, that my breathing and heart rate seemed a little more labored than I am accustomed to. I am not sure if that was just because I was pushing myself a bit, or because I was not fully recovered from the marathon. Still, after about five miles I felt a lot more like my old self and really flew (sort of) through the last mile and a half.
I have been a complete FAIL on my plan to take an Epsom salt bath every night (watching TV just seemed like more fun), and I didn't do it last night after the run either, though in retrospect it would have been a good idea. During the night my body started punishing me for making it run again. Various muscles in my legs took turns seizing up and hurting, and I believe there was at least one instance in the night where I woke up screaming from a leg cramp in my right calf. Sometime around 1 a.m. I took some Advil in hopes of dulling the aches enough to sleep.
The soreness has abated today, however, although my ankle is a little stiff and sore (nothing new there, although it had been blessedly pain-free for the last few days). I went to the Y for some elliptical time this morning, and plan to be out on Friday morning for my usual run, hopefully adding a few miles beyond Wednesday's 10K+.
Monday, October 25, 2010
Of course, I haven't run yet, and I am keeping to my plan of waiting at least until Wednesday to run, no matter how "recovered" I may feel. I am sure that my lack of recovery time between hard runs--Portland, Defiance, then the marathon right after--contributed in part to my lethargic pace. There is a reason for some tapering before marathons, or at least before goal marathons!
Right after I finished on Saturday I felt just about as wrecked as I have after any other marathon. Well, right after CIM last December I felt worse, for a few minutes till I got my equilibrium back, but after that the general post-race body soreness has been similar in both Newport and this one. And Defiance, for that matter.
That achiness and impairment of walking skills lasted all afternoon, and I was pretty sore all night as well. I try not to take Advil too much, saving it for the most difficult of pain, but I did take two before I left Lake Sammamish, two more at bedtime, and two in the middle of the night. (All of these doses are 4-6 hours, or more, apart.)
Yesterday I was not achy, and even though I laid around and rested all day, that was more a function of the weather and lack of other plans than pure need to rest. Maybe I was a little more tired by evening than you would expect on a lazy day, but I think that lack of activity breeds drowsiness as well.
Last night I took a warm Epsom salt bath, and I hope I make myself do it again tonight and tomorrow. I can be really lazy about making the effort to take a bath. Especially when I feel okay and don't really need it.
I also don't feel tired this evening the way I did for several evenings last week. I mean I am usually tired in some way after a day of work, but Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday of last week I was a limp rag by the evening (and the work days had not been particularly hectic or stressful). (Of course I still don't feel like doing anything after work, hence me sitting at the computer rather than accomplishing something useful!)
While I have absolutely no desire ever to become a Marathon Maniac, I can understand how a person could run marathons in close succession if he or she really wanted to. I think I still prefer quality over quantity, however. My challenge now is to find my quality running again.
Sunday, October 24, 2010
October has been a strange running month for me. Ever since I didn't do the Bellingham Marathon on September 26, my running has been at loose ends. I've been running, 40+ miles a week most weeks (the exception was the week of the Portland Half Marathon, when my weekend mileage was 13 miles instead of the 26 per weekend for the three previous weeks). But I've done virtually no speedwork or tempo work (at least not successfully), and the only nine-minute range miles I've seen were in Portland.
This is meant to be about yesterday's marathon, not about October's slump, but I suppose they go hand in hand. I don't know whether to account it to burn-out after a summer of racing, mental stress weighing my legs down, or lack of recovery from all my long runs. (All of which seem silly as there are so many who run many more races than me, have REAL stress and difficulties as opposed to my mild levels, and run much higher volume on an easy week than I do on a hard week.) I do believe that external factors come into play a little bit...the increasingly dark mornings do drag me down (not only is it difficult to get up, I run more cautiously in the dark)...and my ankle and achilles tendon have been nagging me, not enough to stop me running, but enough to keep me aware that they were there.
Up to September 26 I was training for a nine-minute marathon pace (and doing okay with my pace runs and such), but it was difficult enough that I felt a 9:15-9:30 pace would be more realistic (and perfectly satisfying).
Yesterday, approaching the marathon as a training run rather than a race, and aware of my limitations, I thought that a ten-minute pace would be great and 10:30 would be satisfactory (and in line with my other long runs). (Not so much.)
I got into this when I was doing some internet searching for half marathons I could do as training runs this fall. (Same way I found the Defiance 30K from last weekend, race report in progress.) Lake Sammamish offered both a half and a full, but the half was already sold out (there were limited spaces in each). I got on the wait list for the half, and a few days later, when there were only a few marathon spots left, I signed up for that. I could always transfer to the half if a spot opened, and in some ways the full would be "easier" to do, as it began and ended in the same place, while the half was point to point.
So there I was, registered for a full marathon. No biggie, if I can do 20 and 22, what's wrong with a 26 mile training run? Of course, at that time I thought the Defiance 30K would be 18.6 miles (rather than 22.5) and didn't realize how much a hilly trail run (Defiance) would take out of my legs.
This is beginning to sound like a lot of excuses for a mediocre marathon. Yeah, mediocre. I'm not going to say crappy, even though it was SO much slower than any prior marathon, and even slower than I'd anticipated.
Most of the race was on packed gravel trails, and although lots of people like this surface, it confirms to me that my pace slows on any surface other than pavement or sidewalk (even if those are hard on the body).
Even though I don't have my splits in front of me, I have a pretty good sense of how things progressed. The race started in Marymoor Park, and mostly followed the Sammamish Trail to Issaquah and back. We started with a short out and back (just under two miles) that would repeat at the end to make up the distance. This section was was on paved trail, which I like a lot, even though the little out and back was kind of irratating (and much more so at the end).
Going out at a comfortable-feeling pace, I saw my pace fluctuating around 10 and 9:45, which I liked. (Ah, if I could have sustained that!) But before long I was seeing more 10:15 and 10:30. Eventually, when we were on the trail, I dropped into the 11-minute range, which was where I pretty much stayed.
There were probably 100 marathoners, so once we got going everyone spread out and I was running pretty much alone. There were a few Marathon Maniacs (all men) that I essentially ran with all the way, sometimes behind them, sometimes ahead (they eventually lost more steam than I did, so I did finish ahead of them), but since they were running around the 11-minute pace too, they contributed to my status quo.
The trail is pleasant and scenic, with views of Lake Sammamish and passing some very nice, expensive lakeside homes. I am sure it is a very popular running and walking (and biking) trail (although it's gotten some bad press lately as a couple of women joggers have been attacked on the trail). It's a pretty flat, straight stretch, which lends itself to plodding.
I was wearing a long-sleeved shirt and no jacket. The weather forecast threatened rain, and we did get light rain for the first few miles (enough to get me wet beyond my sweating), but it wasn't torrential and later on it was just overcast, with sunbreaks by the end of the race. I started out wearing gloves but took them off after a couple miles and just carried them the rest of the way. (They came in handy for wiping my face.)
The first aid station was at 4.5 miles, and I think I ran through without stopping (I was carrying a fuel belt with nuun). This was the first time I passed my Maniac buddies, but they would later pull ahead when I stopped at a porta potty.
There were porta potties and bathrooms on the route, but they were most heavily concentrated in the first five miles or so. After that they became sporadic. When I started needing a bathroom around seven or eight miles, I decided I should stop if I had a chance. I had one false alarm when I thought I spotted a porta potty but it turned out to be a storage container! I finally found one aroing mile ten, and do not regret the stop at all.
I took a Gu (espresso love) at around mile 8, so I could discard the wrapper and drink some water at the mile 9 aid station. The aid stations were really generously stocked with water and nuun and all kinds of food (more stuff than I would want to put in my stomach during a "race.")
The half marathon started at the other end half an hour after the marathon, so at some point we started encountering the half marathon runners. First we saw front runners, then eventually, thicker crowds of midpack runners. I was probably around mile 8 when I met up with the most runners. That would mean they still had eight miles to finish (yeah and I had 18).
Around ten or eleven miles in we came off the trail and started running in town, on sidewalks. The turnaround (and half-marathon start) was at Lake Sammamish State Park. In the park was the only time I had a little trouble finding the route, but after a moment of concern I spotted orange flags and followed them to the aid station that was the turnaround.
I had planned to take another Gu at this point, but instead ate two Oreo cookies at the aid station. I dawdled a little too much at the aid station, but then got on my way and headed back. Now I had no choice but to run another 13 miles!
Despite some off and on nausea, I never needed to stop at a bathroom again. The nausea was troubling, not because it was very bad at all, but I really didn't feel like taking any more Gu, even though I knew I would need to at some point.
By this time the easiness of the first half had worn off, and running started to feel like more work. I felt aches in every muscle group that had anything to do with running. I started setting objectives to look forward to. Fifteen miles would end my third five-mile segment; seventeen would be the next aid station.
At the aid station I drank a cup of water and took a shot blok (which I ate) and a packet of Gu (which I stored in my fuel belt for later). I am always torn about whether to take Gu at aid stations. Not whehter to eat it, but whether to take the free stuff or just use my own. I usually take the free stuff, because I've paid for it in my entrance fee.
At mile 18, after a LOT of deliberation, I decided to walk a little. This was the first time I've ever walked in a race, except for a couple of steep hills in the past and, of course, the trail run. I decided to do it very deliberately, so as not to get too bogged down walking or make the race any longer than necessary.
My plan, which I followed through mile 24, was to walk for one minute in every mile. The trail had blue markers every half mile. Each time I finished another mile, I ran to the corresponding blue marker, then walked for exactly one minute. Then I started running again, knowing that when I passed two more blue markers I could walk again. I think the real benefit of this plan, more than just resting my legs, was that it really helped the miles tick by.
Somewhere in mile 20 I pulled out my "free" Gu and ate most of it, so I could toss it at the 21.5 aid station. My stomach was still a little queasy but I thought I needed something to fuel me. At the aid station I refilled an empty water bottle with nuun but didn't take any more food.
I also passed the Marathon Maniacs who had pulled ahead of me a little in my walk breaks. I think they started doing more walking here and I ended up finishing ahead of them.
Around 23 miles I caught up with a man who had clearly been running faster (and had been ahead of me the whole race), but now had turned to mostly walking. He looked VERY unhappy. I walked with him for one minute. He asked how far it would be when we got into the park. I didn't know exactly but I told him we were at 23 miles so had 5K to go. He looked depressed. I told him, see you at the finish, and went on. Maybe I should have suggested he run with me...but he could have followed me if he wanted to.
I took my last walk break at mile 24, and decided I wasn't going to walk any more till the finish. The out-and-back turnaround was just after mile 25. In mile 25, two girls came running by me at a decent enough clip that I wondered how they had been behind for so long. They wore shirts that said "Two Marathons in Two Weeks," referring to Royal Victoria on 10/10/10, and this one. They passed me, but I decided to take their cue and push it to the end.
Even though I didn't go TOO fast (maybe 9:30 pace at the fastest) it was surprisingly possible (not necessarily easy) for me to pick up the pace for my final mile. I even passed a guy who had been ahead of me all along. I took the final turn, crossed the finish line, and stopped my watch at 4:51:33.
Um, yeah. That is 41 minutes slower than my last marathon. About 11:12 pace. (Official time: 4:51:29, pace 11:08.)
Because I ran this so much slower than I would consider any "real" marathon pace, it's easy to forget that yes, this was a REAL MARATHON and I just ran 26 miles. And I am entitled to give myself some credit for that.
My legs were pretty achy as I walked back to the finishing area. I ate a couple handfuls of pretzels and LOTS of apple slices. I took a small piece of pizza, two small chocolate chip cookies, and a few m&ms back to the car, when I finally staggered back there.
In the car I changed into yoga pants and recovery socks, then drove over to the restroom where I changed my shirt before driving home. I stopped at QFC for two bags of ice and a mocha, then took a 15+ minute ice bath. After that I let my legs thaw before taking a hot shower.
For dinner: a ginormous bacon cheeseburger and some fries. If I can't have a big burger after a marathon, I guess I never can!
What's on my plate now? Well, I guess I can reveal that I signed up for the Seattle Marathon on the Sunday after Thanksgiving. That will be my "real" fall marathon and my final race of the year. (I've decided to take December off from races.) I would like to do REASONABLY well in Seattle, which means 4:15-4:30.
So if October was my month of slow, November needs to be the month I get some speed back. I've decided to respect the strain I've put on my legs over the last few weeks, and take Sunday-Tuesday off running. Today has been a really lazy rest day (two naps so far), but I'll go the the Y on Monday and Tuesday. Then maybe run on Wednesday.
It's also time to start being careful about what I eat again. It wouldn't hurt me AT ALL to lose a few pounds before Thanksgiving!
Addendum: Analyzing the splits
I pulled up my Garmin splits and my impression of my pace above was pretty much right on. I started out well, dropped to okay, and deteriorated significantly in the second half.
1 - 9:44
2 - 9:45
3 - 10:15
4 - 10:18
5 - 10:33
6 - 10:42
7 - 10:39
8 - 10:50
9 - 10:55 (water at aid station)
10 - 10:48
11 - 13:32 (potty)
12 - 10:46
13 - 11:02
14 - 11:52 (aid station turnaround)
15 - 11:20
16 - 11:24
17 - 11:37
18 - 12:54 (aid station and first walk)
19 - 11:31
20 - 11:54
21 - 11:53
22 - 12:42 (aid station)
23 - 11:35
24 - 11:19
25 - 11:20
26 - 10:05
Interesting notes - after I slowed down significantly in the second half, the miles where I walked for a minute were not much slower than the ones I slogged through (except for aid station stops). Embarrassingly, mile 25 (where I did not walk) was one second slower than mile 24 (where I did)!
Thursday, October 21, 2010
One of the events I ran across in my research was the Defiance 15/30/50K. The race was really a 50K, but the shorter distances were incorporated into the total. Because I had had such a good training run in the Birch Bay 30K back in the spring, I thought that this run might be a good one for me as well.
I didn't spend a lot of time thinking about how very different a trail race would be from a road race. Nor did I reflect much on how bad I am at trail running. These things didn't really come to mind until late last week, as the run on Saturday approached, and I started reading the course information again on the website. I started thinking about this: "Course is mostly single track and typically dry mid October. train for some hills but the course is 95% runable." But somehow I still didn't notice this: "The (50K) course is approximately three 16 kilometer loops through old growth forest." And then there was this: "Elevation Gain and Loss per loop is 1,306 feet."
The race started at 8 a.m. and I live about an hour and a half north of the location. So I planned to leave home by 6 a.m. at the latest. The trip south was smooth until I was just at the freeway exit. That spot coincided with I-5 southbound being closed entirely, so even through traffic had to exit. That caused a log jam of delay. However, I got through it fairly smoothly and followed my printed directions toward the destination. But since I was reading the directions in semi-darkness while driving, I didn't see the part about driving three miles to Point Defiance part, and started to get frustrated and worried when I couldn't find the park more quickly.
After I stopped for directions and they pointed me in the direction I was already going (and I read the directions more carefully), I headed onward toward Point Defiance. Once in the park, though, I still couldn't find Owens Beach, until I asked a man in a parking lot and he pointed me in the right direction.
So by the time I got to Owens Beach and parked, it was about 7:45 and time was very short. I thought I still had enough time, though, so I left my gear in the car and just trotted down to the check-in to get my bib. Unfortunately I wasn't the only one arriving at near the last minute, so I had to get in line. After I got my bib, chip, and shirt, I headed for the potty line. This was not optional. I had been driving for two hours and drank a grande coffee along the way! I fastened my chip to my shoe while I waited.
After I emerged from the porta-potty, it was almost 8:00 but I had no choice but to go back to my car and get my gear. As I was putting on my fuel belt, pinning my bib to the fuel belt, and firing up Garmin and my iPod, I heard the race begin. I wasn't too disturbed about that; I had my chip (if I cared about time at all), and I wasn't racing anyway. My only concern (which was well founded) was whether I would have any problems following the route if I was behind the rest of the pack. I turned on my iPod but, in my haste, was not able to open my preferred playlist. I ended up with (I believe) a random mix of everything in my music library. That was actually kind of interesting, because I heard songs I never listen to, as they are not on a playlist.
I jogged down to the start and headed on my lonely way. A few moments later I heard some calls from behind. I turned around and someone was chasing after me, shouting, that's the wrong way! Oops. I had gone in the opposite direction I was supposed to.
I turned around and returned to the starting line. (That extra bit added about a quarter mile, which is not included in my totals.) I restarted Garmin as I recrossed the starting line, and someone assured me that my time would be calculated from there. I had mentioned when I started (the first time), that I hoped the trail was well marked, and someone on the sidelines said that it was supposed to be.
So I jogged along the sidewalk that bordered the water, looking for a sign or a marker that would indicate a turn. When I got to the Vashon Ferry dock I was getting a little worried. Going a little further on, still without any course markings, I reluctantly decided that I had to return to the start once again for further directions.
I turned around and headed back, but then saw a male and a female runner coming my way. They told me they had started late too, and said that we were going the right way. So I turned around (again) and followed them. They were faster than me but I kept them in sight. A bit later they came back my way. Apparently we had missed a turn somewhere. But where?
About half a mile back there was a turn with some stairs up into the woods. There were no markings to indicate that this was the right direction. But after we climbed the stairs the pink flags appeared, and from there on I have to say that the course was very thoroughly marked (with a couple of confusing exceptions along the way). In addition to the pink flags, there were chalk arrows on the ground in some places, and lines drawn across paths that we were not supposed to turn onto. This was very helpful and important, because, as the map below somewhat illustrates, the route was very convoluted throughout the park.
My new friends were running about a 9:30 pace, and I never saw a 10 after the first two miles, so fairly soon I was on my own again, and remained that way for more than half of my first loop. My next confusing situation occurred about three miles in (or so), when I came to a Y in the trail and, oddly, no pink flags or chalk marks for guidance. (Other than the very beginning, this was the only place this happened.) After some mental debate, I went left, because the trail in that direction looked more well-traveled than to the right.
Soon thereafter, I saw my friends from earlier coming from the direction I had not gone! And, in fact, there were pink flags up that way. I debated turning around and retracing my steps to go the "right" way (which was, coincidentally, to the right), but decided not to. I felt that since I had already covered a lot of extra territory, and since I wasn't racing this competitively (and had no chance of getting any awards), that it was okay just to follow my own path, even if it was somewhat off course for a short period of time. Even so, my total distance in the end was two miles more than the "official" distance (which was, actually, two miles more than 30K).
This first part of the run was on moderately wide (about 2-person width) dirt and gravel trails, occasional veering onto or across sidewalks, roadways, and parking areas. A lot of it seemed to be climbing, although mostly not steeply. In the first few miles I had no reason or desire to walk at all, although my pace was quite slow, even by trail running standards.
I passed through the Gig Harbor Picnic Area somewhere in mile 5 (this was mile 5 by my measurements, not the actual course distance--officially it was about mile 4) and as far as I know, this was the only restroom on the course except for the ones at the start/finish area. So I made a moderately quick stop, then went on my way.
Here is the map of one loop. (I did this twice.) (Fun stuff: you can click on the satellite button and the map will switch to satellite view!)
Shortly after the bathroom stop I encountered a youngish male who was running in my direction (opposite direction of me) and looking rather distressed. He asked me if I was on my second loop (ha!) and then said he must have taken a wrong turn because he'd been by here before. I told him that the course definitely went the direction I was going (I had seen arrows!), but he said he'd been running an hour and 20 minutes and was only supposed to do 15K. What he didn't know was (1) the 15K distance was actually about a mile further than that and (2) 80 minutes would be super-fast for 15K on trails (even if the race were a true 15K distance). Although undoubtedly he had made some kind of mistake and was going to end up running extra (like all the rest of us!), he would still have several miles to go even if he just tracked back to the beginning in reverse. Poor guy. I wished him well and went on my way.
In the second half of the loop the trail really went into the woods and became truly single track. Here we also began to encounter obstacles like trees across the trail (and in one place, a metal cable!), and hills steep enough to suggest walking up (or sometimes down). This was actually the most fun section of the route for me, since it was very pleasant-looking and the enforced run-walk made it pretty "easy" to do. In this part I actually caught up to, and passed, some of the back of the pack runners who had started on time.
After that I came to the mid-course aid station at Fort Nisqually. They had water and pretzels and gummy candy and mini-candy bars and PB&J sandwiches, all of the usual "ultra" fuel. They probably had some gels and sports drinks as well. In my first time through, I just took some water and pretzels. When I returned later, I had a piece of candy as well.
The remaining miles were back in the woods (for the most part), although the paths were less obstructed. When I was running through on my first loop, I had yet to learn that the course was long (in addition to my own extra mileage). When I passed a crossing guard around nine (or more) miles on my watch and asked how far to the finish, he said we were at 8.something miles. I said, "so about another mile?" and he said yes. I don't know if he knew that he was lying to me.
The remaining couple of miles were the most frustrating, perhaps, because they were the most convoluted with hairpin turns and the runners passing each other going in both directions. There was one place where a bunch of people took a wrong turn and ended up repeating a section or running extra to back-track. I did it right the first time through and then made a mistake on my second loop....grrrr.
Just about when I thought the 15K must be done soon, the route merged onto the road and I found out from another volunteer that there was still about a mile to go. We ran along the road for a bit then back into the woods for another round of limb-strewn trails and the denoument: a downhill climb so steep that you had to hang onto a rope to descend it. I really wish I had taken a picture of this when I came back through a second time (I intended to), but by that time I just wanted to be done, and had no interest in fiddling with a camera. Just past the bottom of that hill the route turned back onto a park roadway, and there was a short stretch to the finish line. Or the restart line, as it may be.
My first half took about two and a half hours. The finish line pictures are from that point; there were no pictures of me the second time around.
My watch showed 11.5 miles for my first 15K loop. I stopped to chat with another runner (who was only doing the 15K but probably did at least 13 due to wrong turns), and go to the bathroom, and headed out a second time. This time at least I knew the way and got on the trail right away!
I was still running pretty much on my own except (embarrassingly) I began to be passed occasionally by the faster 50K runners on their third loop. This happened more near the end than the beginning. And, near the end of my second loop, I also passed a couple of 30K people who had started doing a lot of walking. (Keep in mind I was running nine minutes behind everyone who had started on time.)
During the first half I hadn't felt tired at all. This time, around 15-16 miles, I started to feel sort of tired of running. This feeling increased as I neared, and passed, the 18.6 mile mark (which would be 30K if the course were actually 30K and if I hadn't added extra miles by my own actions.
I probably reached my lowest lows as I approached 20 miles and beyond. I started to feel depressed and teary. I tried to figure out how I could cut the course short and head to the end...but my one attempt ended up adding another mile or so as I went the wrong way and then had to double back. From then on I just had to gut it out. Finally I was back on the road and headed toward the finish. I slid down the rope-guided hill and, at the bottom, had a few moments of confusion as I couldn't remember whether we still had to go along in the woods...then I remembered that it was time to go to the road.
I did my best to put on a good "finish line" sprint and powered through with a smile on my face. (Although there are no pictures to prove it.) The clock said about 5:30 but of course, my actual time was nine minutes less. Thank goodness I didn't care about time.
They were serving hot food at the finish but I couldn't handle the thought of that. I took a few pieces of watermelon, then went back for more. I also put some pretzels and mini-candy bars in a paper cup, to nibble on the drive home.
My legs were pretty sore (and would be more so in the days to come). After a bathroom stop, I hobbled back to my car. I didn't want to make the walk back to the bathroom again to change my clothes, but I did take off my shirt in the car and put on a dry tee shirt. I kind of draped a jacket around me but really, I had no care for modesty.
Then I had a ninety minute (or more) drive ahead of me. I was a little concerned that leg cramps would hinder my driving, but I massaged my quads and knees as I drove and I never got a real cramp. I did stop along the way for coffee at a Starbucks, hobbling into the store rather than going through the drivethrough. I thought it wouldn't hurt to shake out my legs a little! When I got back to town I stopped at QFC for a bag of ice (using a shopping cart to help me walk through the store) and then took a 10-15 minute ice bath at home. It's a lot harder to adjust to the cold water two hours after a run, when your body is no longer warm from running!
That night I had the usual long-run achy legs, and by Sunday my quads let me know that I had run up and down a lot of hills (even if they weren't especially long or steep). It actually took until Thursday before I was able to walk down the stairs in my house without hanging onto the wall or railing!
So this was my first real trail race/run. I wouldn't mind doing it again (this one or another), although I don't believe I could ever be very fast. Maybe that's part of the attraction--license to run slowly and walk as needed. As for this particular race, I'm inclined to think that I would rather do the "15K" option if I did it again. Although it is hard to justify driving all the way to Tacoma for "just" a 15K when there is a longer option! What I think might be fun, alternatively, is to do the 15K as an easy hike (maybe with trekking poles), if I could find someone who wanted to walk ten miles with me...perhaps Rod after he is recovered from his hip surgery? (By next year he will definitely be hiking-ready, and as hikes go, this one wouldn't be as hard as, say, climbing Mt. Pilchuck!)
Wednesday, October 20, 2010
I've been reading the various Portland Marathon race reports, and it's a bit of a consolation to know that I'm not the only person who ran a bit slower than their hopes and expectations. Of course, everyone else (that I've read about), ran the full marathon rather than the half, so their suffering* was at least double mine! And probably exponentially increased for every mile over thirteen.
To go back to the beginning, which is the week before Portland....I finally slipped into a bit of a taper after my third 26-mile weekend (over two days). On Monday I ran 8.4 miles, on Wednesday 7.5, and on Thursday just over five miles, which was a last-minute cutback from the six or 6.2 that I had in mind. (That turned out to be a good decision, because the five miles got me to the door of Safeway just in time for a much-needed bathroom stop.) On Monday and Wednesday I was averaging around a ten-minute pace, but on Thursday I was significantly slower. Friday and Saturday were rest days in hopes of freshening up my legs for Sunday!
This wasn't just a run for me, though, it was a fabulous getaway weekend to Portland with my mom! Plus two days off work (Friday and Monday). We headed southward at around 1:00 on Friday. I had to pack and just couldn't get it together earlier. Around 6:00 or so we checked into the Benson Hotel (my go-to hotel for Portland events). We didn't feel motivated to find a restaurant for dinner so we ordered from the room service menu. The "dinner" menu was so expensive but the "all-day dining" menu had great stuff and very reasonable prices!
I had started checking the 10-day weather forecast beginning on October 1, and in the beginning the forecast was for cloudy and mild, which sounded great. But the closer we drew to October 10, the higher the likelihood of rain became, up to a 70% chance by Friday.
On Saturday morning we headed out around 10 or so with a list of "tasks" to accomplish. I tackled them in the order that I reached their location.
First, schedule a post race massage and pedicure. This got on my list when I got an email offering 20% off any services at Spa Sasse. That was actually the first place we passed walking south** on Broadway. I popped in and quickly booked a massage for 11:30 a.m. on race day and a pedicure at 10 a.m. on Monday. (Sadly, the pedicure ended up getting cancelled because the nail tech couldn't come in that early on Monday, and I couldn't stick around till afternoon. So I still have eight nails with traces of old polish and two that are naked regrowth after my polished nails fell off (much-delayed fallout from the Newport Marathon).
It was raining lightly, by the way, which continued throughout the day.
Next we got to the race expo at the Hilton Hotel, about a third of a mile south*** of the Benson. Traffic was pretty well directed through the hallways and down escalators to packet pickup on the lower level. I left my mom to wait while I headed down to get my number and chip. I didn't realize that part of the expo was downstairs as well, and that there was no cell signal so that I couldn't call her to explain the delay....
I had signed up for Portland so long ago (back in December) that I couldn't recall giving an estimated finish time in my application. But I must have, because we were assigned to corrals and I got B (the second group to start). The "goody bag" pick-up was up a level, but before heading up there I tarried in the Sports Authority display, and ended up buying a couple of shirts there. I also walked through the rest of the aisles, including the Portland Marathon merchandise, but manage to resist further tempation. On that floor.
Back upstairs I met my mom again, who was frustrated at the long wait without communication. This could have all fallen apart right there, except that in the next exhibition hall she found a row of chairs, so she was able to sit and wait while I picked up my goody bag and shopped a little more.
The goody bags (and later, finishers' shirts) were different colors for each race. The half marathon color was bright blue. The marathon was green, and the 10K was red. The bag that we got pre-race included a short-sleeved tech shirt (same design for everyone), a commemorative coin, and a rose charm necklace on a cord.
I should say right now that I have lots of running clothes (and clothes in general), and certainly had no need for anything more. But the vendors here had a great variety of pieces that said "Run" or similar, and I am just a sucker for a "Run" shirt!
So what did I buy? I can hardly remember, which is not a good thing. But let's see. A short-sleeved shirt that said "13.1" in an Oregon map, plus a hoody that said "Run" in an Oregon map. Both of these were from a local running store. A Brooks "Run" shirt in grey, which is the same style as the orange shirt I ended up wearing for the race, plus a half-priced men's Run shirt, also from Brooks. Plus a casual-wear long-sleeved shirt that I believe says "Run your own life." I liked that. And some body glide. Now, that doesn't sound too bad, does it?
Leaving the Hilton and the expo (back into the rain), we turned north**** again, and walked several blocks to Nordstrom. My mother needed a new watch, and we thought tax free Oregon might be a good place to get one! We were excited to find one she really liked that was marked down half-priced since it was a style from summer. Yes, it has a white band but it is very snazzy!
From Nordstrom we veered off course briefly to pick up some lunch, sandwiches and salads from a nearby deli. Walking the remaining blocks back to the hotel, I sent my mother on her way while I made a few more stops--a computer store to get a charger for my phone, Rite Aid to get some Tylenol for my mom, and Pazzo Ristorante at the Vintage Plaza Hotel for dinner reservations. That last stop should have been my first, as they were almost entirely booked for dinner with marathon runners, but they squeezed us in at 8:30, which wasn't too bad. This hotel is just across the street from the Benson, so it was very convenient for us.
The rest of the afternoon I just rested and read my book and magazine, until about 6 p.m. when I decided to go out and get a coffee from Starbucks to have in the morning. The first thing I noticed when I left the hotel were the shiny, wet, rained-on streets. The second was the temperature. It was warm. Surely in the 60s. The combination of rain and warm air made for a moist, almost steamy atmosphere. (Not to exaggerate or anything, it's not like it was tropical, but it was a lot milder than one would expect for the conditions!)
I took my Americano back to the hotel and stashed it away for morning. After a bit we headed out again for dinner...and at 8 p.m. it was still balmy.
The Pazzo menu was a little more exotic than I remembered from last year, but I "made do" with a starter bowl of salmon cioppino, a salad with "Northwest berries, aged goat cheese, and local greens in white balsamic vinaigrette," and a small serving of linguine and crab. Then berry gelato for dessert...three big scoops! (I'd forgotten how big the servings of gelato are, clearly we could have shared. Oh well.)
Back in the hotel room I laid out my gear and clothes, decided to wear my orange Brooks "Run" shirt (short sleeves), and tried to get a decent night's sleep before the early wake up call.
Sunday morning I woke up a little before 5:00, grabbed my English muffin with almond butter and banana (and my coffee), and went back to bed to eat and digest. The actual "getting ready" would not take too long, and transportation to the start would be easy (half mile walk or jog). I figured I should leave around 6 or a little after and plan to get to the corral between 6:30 and 6:45 (7 a.m. race start).
I hadn't really anticipated rain (or at least, this much rain), and one thing I didn't think about at all (until we were in Portland) was wearing my contacts during the race. I hadn't actually worn them since ski season ended in March! I can't see close-up very well at all with the contacts, so I don't like to wear them for work and really mostly save them for skiing and running in the rain. Luckily, I had them with me and I tried them out for dinner on Saturday night. Since I was able to get through a few hours without difficulty, I decided to use them for the race also. (That was a great decision. The only thing that could have made this race messier was coping with wet and steamy glasses!)
I looked out the window into the darkness, and I could not see any rain falling. However, it turns out I was wrong about that. When I walked out the door of the hotel it was raining, and as far as I can tell it didn't stop until after 11 a.m. Since it was (still) so warm, I didn't worry about wearing any kind of rain gear, and just accepted that I would be getting wet. (And I did.)
I decided to do my warm-up by running/jogging up to the starting area, and then maybe a little more after that, depending on the time and crowding. I had tried to start up Garmin up in the hotel room, but had trouble getting a signal inside the building. Once outside it was still slow...and then when I started out I am sure there was something off. I jogged up several blocks with it only registering a tenth of a mile. That is odd because most blocks are almost a tenth of a mile each! I know that Portland has short blocks, but this seemed ridiculous. By the time I got to the starting area it registered .36 miles, but I know it was further. I hoped that this problem would not continue during the race!
The entrance to corral B seemed pretty clear, and I still had plenty of time to the start, so I decided to forego further warm-up and walk back to the Hilton Hotel (a few blocks away) and use the bathroom one more time. The line was short, possibly since most people do not go into hotels where they are not registered and use the bathrooms. (I am not most people.)
Then, it was back to corral B and into the mob. Actually, it wasn't really mobbed at all, and I joined numerous other people huddling under building overhangs to stay out of the rain while we waited for the start to approach. At about five minutes before 7:00 I abandoned my dry spot and found myself a place in the crowd. I assume that corral A took off around 7:00, and soon our group moved forward toward the starting line! I believe I crossed the starting line a little more than two minutes after the gun start. (I will never know the exact time for sure, due to a problem with my timing tag, which I will explain later on.)
I assume that the corrals were assigned based on projected finishing time (though I don't remember putting one in my registration, that was back in December, so who knows?), and therefore everyone around me expected to race at around a two-hour half pace. That made it pretty easy to start out at a reasonable pace. I might have felt it was a little slow if I'd been able to go as fast as I would like in an ideal marathon, but I felt okay about 9:15 for the first mile.
It was still dark out (the rain didn't help), so I couldn't monitor my pace very closely on the Garmin. That's okay, because with the wild fluctuations into too slow, I might have gone crazy with watching it continuously. Also, my impaired up-close vision made it difficult to read the small numbers, so I forced myself to limit my Garmin-watching to mile split times and occasionally checking distance.
When I did see the Garmin pace or splits, it was impossible not to notice that I was rarely, if ever, under 9 minutes or even 9:15. Unfortunately this prompted some negative thinking, which certainly didn't help me go faster. I did try to nip these thoughts in the bud, and turn my mind in a more positive direction. While I didn't speed up a lot, I think I did (eventually) fend off the downer thoughts.
The half marathon course was pretty much flat, with gentle ups and down, but there was one actual hill that went up in mile three and down in mile 4. This pretty much explains the progression of my mile paces... mile 2 - 9:22; mile 3 - 9:31; mile 4 - 8:43; mile 5 - 8:59.
By this time I had stepped in at least three puddles full-on, and my shoes and feet were soaked. My clothes were pretty much soaked through too. I wasn't cold at all; it was still mild out (though it cooled down just a little as the day went on), and of course my body heat was jacked up from running.
Over the next few miles I grew progressively slower, though not dramatically. Mile 6 - 9:16; mile 7 - 9:24; mile 8 - 9:29. During this section of the course we were on an out-and-back, and I saw the faster racers coming toward me. I guess I saw the front runners first (of course), but what I most noticed were the various marathon pace groups, starting with 3:00 (3 hour), then 3:15, 3:30. I also felt like I was only seeing marathon runners, and that freaked me out a little. Where were all the half marathoners? Had the course split already and I somehow missed it? I know it was irrational (although later, when the course did split, I think it would have been possible to miss it if you were not paying close enough attention).
So somewhere in mile 9, I stopped suddenly and stepped to the side of the course. I found a volunteer and asked (somewhat wildly) if we were still on the half marathon course. She assured me that I was, and it would split later on. So I resumed running, but paid the price of my stop--that mile was 9:47.
In mile 10, though, I finally started to feel a little faster and began to pick up the pace again. I saw the 4-hour marathon pacers behind me (I figure they must have started a little later than me), and I ran with them for a while, although they did pull ahead of me before the course divided. Mile 10 - 9:22; mile 11 - 9:16; mile 12 - 8:54.
It looks like I'm about to pass this guy, doesn't it? Well, I think he actually pulled ahead of me instead.
Both pictures show exactly how wet it was out!
I'm not sure exactly where in there the course split off, but once we lost the marathoners I felt like I was running much more by myself. I pulled ahead of one woman, then ran about even with a guy until near the end (when he left me behind) and there was another female and a friend (so, two females) who passed me at a good clip. There may have been other runners around me but I wasn't aware of them.
This guy was ahead of me at the time of the photo, but I passed him.
However, these young ladies passed me and were never seen again.
There were spectators cheering on the sidelines as I tried to push myself through the last mile. Since our bibs had names on them, some cheered me by name! Mile 13 - 9:04.
I am sure that I put on a sprint to the finish, but I must not have stopped my watch immediately, because the final pace for .16 mile was 10:54 (which is absolutely impossible for a finish-line sprint; it must have included a few seconds of standing still after the finish line). My clock time was 2:04:26 and my watch said 2:02:16.
I made my way through the finish area and collected my medal and finisher's shirt. I grabbed a couple mini-candy bars (which I took back to the hotel), but didn't take any of the other race food. I really just wanted to get out of there and make my way back to the hotel. It was still raining, and now I was feeling a little cool, but luckily someone had handed me a space blanket, which helped a bit.
What didn't help were all the blocked off streets that I had to go around before I could get back to S.W. Broadway. Even though I don't feel like I was running very hard (given my slow time), my legs were sore and shaky. I finally made my way into Starbucks, where I called my mother to report my finish and then bought us mochas, which I carried back to the hotel.
When I changed out of my running clothes, I was shocked at how heavy my wet shoes and clothes were. I am sure they added several pounds to my weight, which undoubtedly affected my pace some! That's my story, anyway, and I'm sticking to it.
I ate a muffin and sipped on my mocha, then took a nice warm shower. Around 11:00 I made my way outside again to go to my massage appointment at Spa Sasse. I saw a few marathoners hobbling down the street (who would have been 4-hour and faster, given the time). I also noticed that the rain was finally letting up!
On the way back to the hotel after the lovely massage, I picked up lunch at a Japanese restaurant (combos of yakitori (chicken skewers) and tonkatsu (pork cutlets), with rice and soup, plus a few pieces of sushi that I ordered just because I wanted to). That filled us up thoroughly for the rest of the day. Eventually, in the evening, we ordered dinner from room service.
Monday morning the sun was out! Of course. I slept in till almost 8:00, then headed out for a recovery run. My legs were SO heavy the first couple miles. After that they shook out some, but I was still oh-so-slow. I managed to cover 5.75 difficult miles before I pulled the plug at Starbucks and returned to the hotel to dress and check out.
That was the end of the trip. When I got home I tried to look up my chip time, but was disappointed to see the same time for chip and gun times (which I know is not true). I emailed to inquire, and they ended up giving me a chip time that was two minutes less than my gun time. I think they just randomly took off two minutes, because I believe that my "real" time was faster than 2:02:16 (Garmin), but my chip time is now 2:02:26. Oh well.
The race photos that I have posted were actually purchased by me, and I think they reflect the wetness of the day quite well!
*I didn't really suffer. I just didn't have as good a run as I would have liked.
**I am pretty sure that direction was south. Though not positive.
****See above. But north.
Monday, October 18, 2010
Now it's 9 a.m. and I have the rest of the morning to play with. You'd think I might go for a run, wouldn't you? So would I...but my quads are still so sore from the trail run on Saturday that I think I am going to wait till afternoon, when I hope my legs will have loosened up from walking around during the day. I am thinking of a quick trip to Starbucks before I get in the shower...I already ate my breakfast at 6 a.m.!
Sunday, October 17, 2010
When I read The Gastronomy of Marriage by Michelle Maisto, I was intrigued by a dish she made with Kabocha squash, sage and farfalle. Her sister, who is California-thin, complained that there was too much olive oil (the squash was sauteed in sage-infused oil). I decided to make a version for myself that was much lighter on oil, and also didn't use fresh sage (which I didn't have) or ricotta salata (which I can't get in my grocery store).
I cut up a whole Kabocha (unpeeled), sprayed the pieces in olive oil spray, sprinkled with salt, pepper, and a little maple syrup and roasted at 425 until the pieces were done to my liking. I used about half of the squash pieces in my dish but many people would not want so much. (Also, you can peel the squash if you prefer).
I used one can of drained white beans (cannellini). They dissolved a bit in cooking. White kidney beans or navy beans might hold up more.
I used about two servings (4 oz) Barilla Plus dried farfalle (bow-tie pasta). My recipe overall made about three big servings.
Aside from cooking the squash, prep takes about 15 minutes. Plan cooking time accordingly.
Here's the recipe.
Roasted Kabocha squash pieces
Chopped onion (about half an onion)
Can of white beans, rinsed and drained
Chicken or vegetable broth (or pasta cooking water)
Farfalle (bow-tie pasta)
Feta cheese or fat-free feta
While squash is finishing roasting, start cooking pasta. Sautee the onion in olive oil cooking spray and a little olive oil. When onions start to soften, add some sage. Then add beans, plus broth as needed to allow for a little sauce without making it soupy. Hopefully your pasta and squash are both done now. Drain pasta (saving some liquid if you wish) and stir into onions and beans. Add salt if needed. Add as much squash as you want. Use broth or pasta water to loosen if it seems dry. Top each serving with crumbled feta. I had mine on a mountain of arugula.
I ate this on Friday night as "carb-loading" for my Saturday trail run.
Boston Marathon registration opens tomorrow morning at 9 am Eastern (6 am Pacific)!
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Saturday, October 16, 2010
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Tuesday, October 12, 2010
As an interim measure, let me recommend a book for you to read, Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet by Jamie Ford. I finished it over the weekend and really loved it! It's a novel set in Seattle during the time of the internment of Japanese Americans (and alternating between that time and 1986).
I'll be back soon with my race report, I hope!
Sunday, October 3, 2010
Today was certainly fine for a rest day. I did 17.5 miles on Friday and 10 yesterday, so a day off running was called for. I originally intended 18 or so on Friday, but got a late start and cut it to 16...which ended up as 17.5. You know how it goes. Yesterday I started out by doing 4.24 miles on my own, then joined up with a friend's running group for another 5.76. I was in a rush as I needed to take Rod to an appointment, so I rather rudely took off and left the rest behind in order to finish on time...even so I had to cut off a bit of distance. Ten was an okay total for the day anyway.
Since I've been playing nurse-companion to Rod I have had to stop tracking my food because it's too complicated to figure out the casseroles and such we've been eating (two separate lasagnes provided by co-workers). So I am having a fling with intuitive eating. It's not the best idea in the world for me, because more often than not my intuition tells me to have a cookie or a piece of chocolate! Luckily those urges have diminished as the stress of invalid care decreases (due to the invalid becoming more valid).
Still, my "diet," as such, has been a lot more carb/meat/sugar than I am accustomed to (the carbs and meat are due to feeding Rod, the sugar is almost all me, although he likes to have dessert). Somehow I cannot imagine feeding him my go-to meal of baked sweet potato with beans, plus several vegetables (e.g. beet chips, roasted squash, steamed or roasted broccoli or cauliflower, roasted eggplant, etc) and my ubiquitous sauteed spinach. He would eat any one or two of those items in a meal, but making a whole meal of them...perhaps not.
Amazingly, I haven't really gained any weight yet (at least not according to my one weigh-in a few days ago). Hopefully the fairly large volume of running I've maintained has helped combat the lasagne. And the pancakes with bacon....
The in-home care program will be ending soon with my departure for the Portland Half Marathon. I am starting to think about what I will do in Portland (running, not eating-wise). I can't say I've been feeling fast these days. But I plan to have two full rest days beforehand (Friday and Saturday), and we'll see what these legs can do!