Thursday, December 30, 2010

Last run of the year

This morning was my last run of 2010, 7.27 miles slow and easy. I had to take one final Christmas light picture...this is the top half of a decked-out tree. I found it quite appealing.

It would have been nice to go eight miles but I simply could not get up early enough to make that feasible. As it was, I went about a mile further than was really advisable...luckily it was a light morning in court!

The outdoor temperature was quite cold (freezing or below), but it was clear and dry. I wore a fleece hat to combat the chill, but probably didn't need it (I ended up with a sweaty head).

Later in the day (let's say during lunch, shall we?) I pulled the trigger and signed up for several races, mostly because of fees going up on 1/1. So it will be the Portland Marathon in October, the Whidbey Half on April 10 (a tune-up race before Boston), and the Shamrock 15K in mid-March. I also made hotel reservations and bought plane tickets for Bloomsday in Spokane, the first weekend in May (although I haven't registered yet). There are more to come (including a decision on Seattle R 'n' R) but that was enough for one day.

Tomorrow should be rather busy, with skiing in the morning and a trip to Eastern WA after (where there is limited wireless signal). In case I am not back before the New Year, have a good one, everyone!
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Wednesday, December 29, 2010

December yoga goal, completed!

I am happy to say that as of tonight I have met my goal of attending at least two yoga classes per week in December. One week I went to three! I definitely plan to continue in January (except for the week I am in Hawaii) and beyond. It's not really practical to commit to more than two, but there's definitely the possibility of a third class on occasion. Of the two I have been attending most, one is a rather challenging flow yoga, and the other a more relaxing Hatha yoga. Definitely a good combination!
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Jumping right into it

Last night I sketched out a draft of my Boston training plan, based on Hal Higdon's advanced plans and my Newport training plan (which I discovered to my surprise was 18 weeks long!). I probably still have some tweaking to do, but I have the bones of a plan.

Despite my intent not to "start" until next week, I ended up starting the schedule with Christmas week (last week), since my "long" runs from last week (eight miles on Christmas Eve) and planned for this week (Half Marathon on New Year's Day) fit right into the beginning weeks of the schedule. So that actually gives me a 17-week plan to work with.

I think the most important reason to have a written plan is to schedule the long runs. That way I can make sure I get enough of them in, and space them adequately so I am not doing a bunch of 20-milers on consecutive weekends. I can also fit in the races I want to do (and make sure I'm not doing a 20-miler the day before a 15K). In addition to the long runs and races, I (generally) have easy runs on Mondays, speedwork (or hills or tempo runs) on Wednesdays, and a medium-long run (generally with some marathon-pace miles) on Fridays (sometimes Thursdays, if Saturday is a race day).

My speedwork will consist of 800s every other week (starting on January 12), beginning with four and increasing to ten by the end of the cycle (about ten days prior to the race). On the alternate weeks I will do primarily tempo type runs, although I do have one hill repeat run scheduled in early March. I am going to be pushing additional hills in my medium and long runs, as well as one or two hilly races (the Portland Shamrock Run 15K, if I do it, and the Whidbey Half Marathon, if I do that).

My non-running days will be cross-training (probably the elliptical, mostly), and I am going to continue with two yoga classes a week. I do want to start lifting weights, but I'm not putting it on the schedule since I haven't committed to a plan yet.

So this morning (Wednesday of Week 2), I wrote in 6-8 miles with hills. This was a bit of a gimme because it basically meant doing my typical weekday run, which has hills in it, but trying to enhance the hills. An ideal hill workout would involve sprinting up a hill several times in a row, but I took a compromise route. There is a quarter-mile hill near the beginning of my usual route...I ran up it, then back down and up again (hill x 2). Then I proceeded as usual (some ups and downs, which I'm not counting specifically) for a few miles. In the last couple of miles I turned off route to add a few more one-block hills, to wit... down, up, down, up; then down, up a quite steep hill; then down, up the first hill again. (That's four blocks of downhill plus four blocks uphill.) I think these hilly side streets off Colby might be a gold mine for squeezing in extra hills on a random basis!

Total distance 6.75 miles. Don't even ask the pace. But I felt good about the accomplishment! I need to get my plan in printed format (as oppose to my current penciled-in version) so I can cross out days as I accomplish them!

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Training plan and making plans

Boston is just under 16 weeks away, and many people started their Boston training plans this week. I did not. My training plan is still under construction (well, pre-construction). I had already determined that I would not do a full 16 week plan; probably the official plan will be 14 or 15 weeks (depending on whether I have it on paper by next week or not). I don't think it matters that much; I don't think the first week or two will be much different than what I would do without a written plan. (Except for that speedwork thing, maybe.) I do enjoy working up training plans, I just haven't gotten around to it yet. I may just adopt my Newport Marathon plan, which I believe is on my computer either at home or at the office. It worked pretty well....

Speaking of plans, December 31 is approaching fast and with it, the rise in prices for some marathons and half marathons. So I really need to think a little about what I want to do next year that might need to be registered for promptly. The price thing isn't that big a deal to me...I would rather pay $10 or $20 more for a race that I know I am going to do, than sign up too quickly and end up either unable to attend, or regretting my decision to sign up. However, there are a number of races that may start filling up fast, and if I am going to do them I might as well sign up and get the "lower" price as well as ensure my spot.

One of those is the Portland Marathon. I am almost certain that I want to do this next year (the full) and it fits in with some other ideas that are knocking around in my head. So I will probably be forking over the bucks for that soon. A less certain possibility is the Seattle Rock 'n' Roll Half Marathon. I had fully intended not to do this. In fact, there was something else I wanted to do that weekend. But the "other thing" is not going to be practical this year, which leaves me wondering, should I do Seattle R 'n' R just because it's there? Will I feel left out if I pass on it (without something better to take its place)? This is a decision that has to be made because this is one that really does fill up early. It's not like I have to do some kind of event on that particular weekend (June 25)...I'm just not sure what I want to do.

Monday, December 27, 2010

December 22 Christmas Light Run

On December 22 (last Wednesday) I just couldn't drag myself out of bed for an early morning run. The weather forecast for the afternoon was somewhat optimistic, though, so I compromised with an after work evening run. This also allowed me to enjoy some pretty Christmas lights! I think Christmas lights always look nicer on older houses, like these.

This is so sweet and symmetrical. Very classic.
I was quite taken by the bright blue lights on this white house!
A sparkly outdoor Christmas tree.
My favorite! This house is always charmingly decked out for all the seasons and holidays. The owners must be truly artistic.
This is one of my favorite houses in the area; unfortunately you can't see the upper story here. I wish they had turned on some interior lights so you could see the shape of the house better!
Total run was about 7.5 miles. I unfortunately forgot to restart my Garmin after the stop to take this last photo, but I am pretty sure that I went about half a mile (six blocks) by the time I noticed and started it up again.

I met my mother at Starbucks afterward for peppermint mochas, then we went Christmas shopping (yes, in running clothes).

Saturday, December 25, 2010

Christmas HBBC update

I haven't had much time to get on the computer over the last few days, so this is really for me to check back when I am able to update my totals. Pardon the boring. :)

Thursday - 105 + 3 min elliptical = 7.2 points. Yoga = 3 points. F&V 1 point.

Friday - 8 mile run + F&V = 9 points.

Saturday - 0 exercise + F&V < 7 (does white chocolate raspberry cheesecake count as a fruit?) = 0 points.

Happy Christmas!
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Friday, December 24, 2010

Merry Christmas Eve

Today I passed the 2010 mile mark! (Actually went over by 4 miles, in an 8-mile run.) I probably should have done more than 8 miles, to account for all the Christmas goodies, but there was a little matter of time. (Exacerbated by sleeping in...hey, it's Christmas Eve! Give me a break!)

Now we are headed to my parents' for our Christmas Eve festivities and church. Tomorrow will be a complete rest day (from running and/or working out) and more Christmas stuff, including dinner at Rod's parents' house.

Hope everyone has a wonderful Christmas!
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Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Skagit Jingle Bell Run 12/4/10

Six days after the Seattle Marathon, after five days of running rest, I decided to jump back into running with a little Jingle Bell Run up in Mount Vernon. I've done the Seattle Jingle Bell Run a few times in the past, but I've always hated it in a way because it is so crowded and the streets are narrow, and it takes 5-10 minutes to cross the start line and you don't even have a chip! Then once you are finally running, there are inevitably walkers and strollers blocking your way. It's pretty much a cluster. Two years ago I wasn't able to go due to a snowstorm, and I haven't been back since.

But Skagit is much more low key (so low key that they don't even record the finish times, I learned), and a lot easier to get to. Plus the race distance was four miles rather than 5K, and that seemed like a nice distance.

So on December 4th, my mother and I headed up to Mount Vernon. The weather was quite cold (below 30 degrees), but clear. The cold weather was good because it made it easier to dress in festive red and green layers!

I didn't allow quite as much travel cushion time as I usually do, and we arrived and parked less than half an hour before race time. There was just enough time to check in and get my bib, drop extra stuff back at the car, use the bathroom in the Moose Lodge (no lines at all), and jog up and down the block a couple of times to warm my legs up.

My goal for this run was to push myself fairly hard, but not stress out over my time. I started out pretty fast, probably too fast for the first mile, or at least the first half of the first mile. During those first few blocks I was relatively close to the front of the pack, but after about a half mile a few other people started passing me. I assume we maintained our relative positions throughout the race. The main people I was aware of around me were a woman in a green shirt, who passed me and always remained in my line of sight (but ahead of me), and a man in a New York Yankees sweat shirt. We did a little back and forth but in the last few blocks he did pull ahead. He seemed to be suffering a lot, though!

As in the Fowl Fun Run, I was struck by how hard on the lungs it is to try and run fast! It was even harder gulping in cold air. While my throat and lungs burned from the cold, the rest of me burned with body heat as I quickly warmed up and overheated. My cozy fleece hat and gloves became steam baths. My top jacket soon felt superfluous. But other than stripping off the gloves and unzipping my jacket, I endured, telling myself I only had a couple of miles to go.

The last bit of the run was through downtown Mount Vernon (the shopping street), before we turned the block and returned along the riverfront to the Moose Lodge where it all began. I saw 32 on the clock...but the seconds were high. I kicked it into high gear and stormed across the finish line with the clock showing 33:20. I am not sure if I forgot to stop my watch immediately or the clock started late, but my watch read 33:36. Splits 8:18, 8:33, 8:29, and 8:14 (for .96 mile).

I wasn't going to write a race report because I didn't have any good pictures from the race, but I just got an email with a couple hundred photos from the event...including these four of me in the finishing stretch.

In the first one you can just barely see me at the back. That's New York Yankee guy ahead of me.

Now you can see my red and green...NYY guy is just about done!
Trotting along with a smile.
Being cheered in...can you see how hot (meaning warm) I am?
Afterwards I wanted to get another mile in (which would make five miles for the week!), so I jogged very slowly through downtown again and over to the Calico Cupboard, where I met my mother for breakfast. Later we did a little Christmas shopping in downtown MV (I somehow left with a velvet shirt and a colorful vest...hmmm....) and then headed back to Marysville so I could watch the final Oregon game with Rod (that is until the National Championship!).

Holiday mishmash

Love this Target ad.

If you are shopping for yoga clothes or other active sportswear, here's a sweet 40% discount from I bought these padded knee yoga pants (at full price), then got an email with the discount code. So I bought another pair for a gift...or whatever. Use code 40HOLIDAY (40% off entire order).

On Sunday night I spent some time watching the NBC Kona Ironman special, which I had DVR'd on Saturday. I'm sure anyone who watched the live coverage online would consider this version wildly chopped, but I liked the little stories about various participants, both professional and amateur. I didn't mind at all that the swim coverage was rather truncated...I think I got a good feel for the flailing legs and bodies. I had no idea that in addition to the overall time limits for the event, that there is a swim deadline and people can (and do) get eliminated if they don't finish the swim in time!

I sort of fell asleep while I was watching (as I do with everything), so I don't even know who won,* but that hardly even matters. (Although I might watch again and find out. Or at least watch the end bit that I missed.) I watched for pure entertainment and to enjoy the scenery. You know, the Kona scenery. Although I must say, the athletic scenery was pretty sweet as well! Ironmen are true eye candy, aren't they? More so than "mere" marathon runners.

I have no desire to do a triathlon, and certainly not an ironman or half ironman, but watching it does make for good entertainment.

HBBC and running update:
Monday - 57 minute elliptical (3.8 points) plus a great, hard yoga class (3 points) plus F&V (1 point) = 7.8 point. (If you are wondering why I didn't do the extra three minutes on the elliptical, it is because I really had to use the bathroom before yoga, otherwise it would be very painful to get through! A whole new meaning to "flow.")
Tuesday - 6.3 mile run plus half mile walk home this morning. Anticipate no additional exercise, so with F&V my total will be 7.8. (I'm going to enter both days into the spreadsheet now before I forget. I promise to eat my veggies!)

*Actually I do know now, I saw it on the internet.

Sunday, December 19, 2010

And so this is (almost) Christmas

I can't believe that this is the beginning of Christmas week. I have been a slacker Christmas elf (per usual, who am I kidding?) but lucky for me, several of my gift obligations are joint gifts with Rod, which were obtained by him ordering and me writing a check. I also have a number of other gifts which I have purchased usual way of Christmas shopping. Usually done in the last days before Christmas, at rather excessive expense. Oh, let's face it, that will probably happen again this year. Even with the gifts being "done" already.

Shopping update: I just ordered my parents' gift while sitting here at the computer. I'll say what it is since they don't read the blog (as far as I know)... It is a gift card to the McMenamin's group of hotels and restaurants...specifically intended so that they can go spend a couple of nights at the Olympic Club Hotel in Centralia (the only McMenamin's hotel in Washington). Of course they can go to any of the hotels that they want, but the gift card will go further at the Olympic Club as it is less expensive than some of the others. Plus it is more conveniently located, just a two hour drive or so, or you can get there by train as well! (My dad is a train travel buff.) I've had this in mind for months, but have hesitated because McMenamin's are a bit pub/brewery-centric, which is not my parents' taste, but I like the way they convert old buildings into quirky hotels, and I think my parents will enjoy that. (They can always bring me along if they want! :)

We had the most beautiful weather today. And Friday as well (yesterday, however, was dark, rainy, and stormy). I continued my running recovery on Friday morning, not as early as I should have been, thus my early idea of ten miles went to eight miles, then 6.5, and finished with seven and very little time to get ready for work. And it was a hectic day! With two Christmas parties, one in the afternoon and my office party at night.

Yesterday I got my hair cut (fascinating, yes?) and afterwards I had a massage! She spent extra time on my feet and legs and it was wonderful. Just what I needed.

Today I ran my longest (first double-digit) run since the Seattle Marathon. I planned on ten miles, but ended up with eleven when I miscalculated how far I needed to go to ensure the ten (I didn't want to have to tack on at the end). I ran in Marysville, around a loop that had some extended longer hills (up and down). I pushed myself just a bit, and ended up with almost a 10-minute-mile average pace (10:04). Enough faster than my recent paces to make me happy.

I just updated my HBBC totals for the rest of last week, plus this weekend. I can just kick myself, I always seem to trail off on entering sometime during the week, so then I have to go back and add everything up again to see what I forgot. Pain in the neck. I am current through today.

In other of today, I am at 1992.31 miles for the year (may be off by a hundredth or so, but I'm not going back to recalculate!). That means less than 18 miles to go to reach 2010 miles for the year. I did not set a mileage goal for this year (didn't want the pressure), but earlier in the fall I noticed that I was on track for 2000+ miles. I probably will hit 2010 on Christmas Eve, if I run three times during the week, at least six miles each (which is typical for weekdays currently).

So then the question will be, do I just stop running for the rest of the year, to keep it at 2010? Hahaha.... (Of course, I won't be laughing if it snows and I can't run...on the other hand, I probably will be!) (Not that there's any forecase of snow for Christmas. But we can always hope....) (A lot of ellipses in this paragraph....)

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Two pretty good days

I have been working on getting my running ramped back up to half marathon mileage, as well as getting my mind and body back to a place where running is something I enjoy, and feels good, not just something I need to get through. Granted, as long as we have dark, cold, wet, early mornings there will always be some element of "getting through it," but even on rough mornings I would like to feel good about my run after I get through the very difficult barrier of getting out of bed and out of the house.

Sunday's eight miles in the afternoon left me feeling rather achy, so on Monday morning I chose not to force myself out to run. In fact I chose to let myself stay in bed and not even go to the Y! I did go to the Y after work instead. I was going to just hit the elliptical for as long as I could endure it, but I happened to notice when I came in at 6:20 that the 6:30 yoga class had a substitute instructor. This interested me because I am not too impressed with the Monday/Wednesday instructor and was not planning on going to yoga that night, but with the substitute I decided to give it a shot. Plus all the ellipticals were in use.

I headed up to yoga and I was so impressed with this yoga instructor (I think her name is Erin). She is clearly very well versed in yoga positions and practice, and led us through a routine that was exactly what I would want in a yoga class. She also names all the positions, which is one complaint I have about the regular guy, that he doesn't identify the poses by name. She teaches flow and power yoga in Monroe, and I am seriously considering making the trip over there once or twice a week for her class. The time of the classes is good for me, but I am not sure how I would like the 20-30 minute drive on a dark and rather dangerous highway, considering that my local Y is just five minutes from my house. I followed up the yoga class with an hour on the elliptical.

Tuesday morning I got myself up and out for 6.5 miles. Happily, the rain held off for most of my run and only sprinkled in the last mile or two.

This morning, Wednesday, I had the best run I have experienced for a while. I was not fast. I was just as slow as I was on Tuesday. But for a change, the miles slipped by smoothly and I felt like the runner I am. I went 7 miles and felt good.

I felt a little less good, though, when I got home with my grande Americano and knocked the whole thing on the kitchen floor. Not only did I have to waste precious morning minutes on clean-up, I was deprived of my coffee! I substituted tea but I was so frustrated.

I have been thinking about races for 2011. I need to decide whether to sign up for the Portland Marathon soon, before it fills up. And if I do not do the marathon I have been thinking about in late June, I wonder if I should (or if I want to) do the Seattle Rock 'n' Roll Half again. I hadn't planned to, but that was partly because I thought I'd be doing something else. (Though also because I think it is a cluster and I don't know if I want to go through that again!) It fills up fast, though, so if I want it, I need to decide sort of soon.

I guess it is encouraging that despite my slump, I still want to sign up for races!

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Running and guilt

It occurred to me today (when I was in a much darker state of mind than I am now), that so much of running goes hand in hand with feelings of guilt. Of course, for some of us, much of our lives are guilt-ridden (running-related or not). Perhaps if one has a tendency to take on guilt, it is much easier to transfer that to running as well....

First there is the guilt that is a direct part of the actual running. Guilt for not running enough miles, not going fast enough, not doing speedwork, not doing hill repeats, whatever the transgression may be. Sleeping in instead of getting out at 6 a.m. Running three or four days a week instead of five or six.

Then there is the guilt over what running takes away from other obligations. Going for a run instead of getting to work early, or working late. Running taking time that could be spent cleaning house, or gardening, or doing laundry. Running stealing time away from friends and family. Running interfering with your mother's expectation that you will spend most of the day cleaning your house and decorating for Christmas. (Guess what inspired today's "guilt" post?)

There is also the (possible) misuse of running to atone for other types of guilt. Mostly food guilt. You know what I'm talking about.

Luckily, most of us are able to balance the guilt and obligations fairly successfully. So you're always almost late to work? Well, you show up, don't you? Maybe your house is messy...but at least you don't have to look at it while you're out running. Friends and family complaining you ditched them for a run or a race? They'll get over it.

And as for the Christmas decorating...well, the tree is up! (Cell phone pic, kind of blurry....) My compromise for this year is using a table-top faux tree to save on the expense and effort of a big tree. I think this is very pretty, and I love having it on the tea table.

Oh yeah, eight miles today, around noon, after sleeping in and eating a big bowl of oatmeal with maple syrup and putting my mother off to 1:30. Smiley

Friday, December 10, 2010

I used to be fast

No, this is not another whiny post about slow running. I'm talking about walking.

Even before I was a runner, I was a pretty fast walker, leaving companions trailing at my heels. Even though I was overweight and out of shape, I was brisk.

Nowadays, I feel much less speedy on the sidewalk. Between the sore achilles tendon and ankle flare-ups, combined with random soreness and DOMS from races and long runs, I find myself frequently hobbling and dragging when I walk.

It must seem crazy to those who know I run (sometimes even run fast!) to see me limping around at work. (Then when you add in stiffness from sitting for any extended period, I'm pretty much thoroughly crippled.) And let's not even talk about getting out of a car after a long drive!

On the positive side, people don't complain much about walking with me anymore.

HBBC Friday - 7 mile run, 1 point F&V.
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Thursday, December 9, 2010

Fab food day

I had the best food experiences today. I went to Sisters Restaurant to meet a friend for lunch, but she got stuck in court and had to cancel. I was there already, so I went ahead and ordered lunch to go.

I had the special salad, called Texas Caesar, romaine topped with sundried tomato, bell pepper, corn, parmesan, and delicious cornbread croutons (I ate every one). But the star of the salad was the cilantro vinaigrette. To.Die.For. I used half of it and sort of wanted to drink the rest. I also had a cup of soup, also SO good. Ham hock, butter bean, and sweet potato. AND the best whole wheat roll ever.

As I left I saw a bin of pomegranates marked $1.69 each at the Co-op next door. I bought three, and they only charged me .99 each! Then as I left again I noticed kabocha squash in the squash bin. I haven't seen that for months! I bought five. :)

Tonight with dinner I roasted kabocha slices sprinkled with brown sugar. candy!

HBBC today - 70 min + 50 min elliptical = 8 points. One hour yoga = 3 points. And F&V = 1 point.
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Wednesday, December 8, 2010

A quick update

I did start running again on Saturday...I did a 4-mile Jingle Bell Run up in Mount Vernon, followed by a very slow additional mile so I could at least say I ran five miles! The "race" actually went pretty well. My finish time on the clock was 33:20, so I'll adopt that, although my watch said 33:36. It really was a "fun run" as well as a fun run--they didn't even record finish times. I'm pretty happy I did it, since it gave me a chance to prove (to myself) that I can still run sub-8:30 pace, which gives me hope that I'll get my legs back again in the future.

My ankle was surprisingly sore later and the next day, though. I scrapped my plans of running again on Sunday and opted for some elliptical time instead.

My greatest obstacle this week (and I don't suppose it will change over the winter) was getting myself out of bed early enough to get some miles in. On Monday I dilly-dallied but still squeezed in 6.2 miles without being too shockingly late to work. Today, Wednesday, I had hoped to increase to seven miles, but just barely had enough time for 6.25.

I just managed to get to Starbucks this morning when the rain started. By the time I left Starbucks a few minutes later we were in the midst of a full-fledged storm, sheets of driving rain and wind (luckily at my back as I walked home!). Shortly after I got into the house (thoroughly drenched), I heard thunder. I see that the forecast for Friday (next running day) still shows 60% chance of rain. But really it's not the rain itself that is so bad, unless it is pouring and windy as well!

I resolved to return to yoga in December and attend at least two classes a week. Last week I went on Wednesday and Thursday, plus I did a 15-minute yoga series on my own Sunday. My abs have really been feeling the planks and push-ups from Sunday!

HBBC update for Monday and Tuesday:
Monday - 6.2 miles running (6.2 points). Didn't meet the F&V quota. I went out to dinner and I really can't get enough in unless I am doing the cooking!
Tuesday - 66 minutes elliptical (4.4 points) plus F&V = 5.4 points.
Wednesday - I've already entered 6.25 points for my run, but will add in F&V plus whatever I do at the Y tonight.

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

The Seattle Marathon - 11/28/10

Last year, before I had ever run a marathon, when I was beginning to think about running a marathon, I thought about the Seattle Marathon...and decided that I didn't want to run it. I ended up registering for and running CIM instead (a wonderful experience), and I ran the Seattle Half as a warm-up race for CIM. An acquaintance who runs a lot of marathons and has been a pacer for the Seattle Marathon and half told me that it's much nicer to do the half...the Seattle full is "horrible"! So I felt validated in my decision.

Fast forward almost a year. My Bellingham Marathon plans had fallen through, and I was trained for a marathon at the end of September with no marathon to run. I tried to find a good October marathon to substitute, but couldn't really come up with anything without traveling (and that just didn't seem practical). Portland, which would have been my top choice, was full and didn't allow me to transfer my half marathon registration to the full.

I believe I said, "I can't do the Seattle Marathon because that would stretch my training period out way too long." (Another eight weeks!)

However, the thought persisted. "Do the Seattle Marathon. Do the Seattle Marathon. Might as well do a difficult course before tackling Boston in the spring."

So, after I ran the Portland Half on 10/10/10, I wandered down to the computer center at the hotel, and before I knew it had made a hotel reservation at the Westin Hotel for the night before the Seattle Marathon.* Then I consulted with my mom and, perhaps surprisingly, she agreed that I might as well do it. (I never know when she is going to take the "go for it" side versus the "you need to rest" side!) I don't think I actually registered until later in the week, though. I faxed my registration from the office to avoid the huge online registration fee. (Really, it's a lot. Like $10 or more.)

So I was back in marathon training mode. Really, I never left. My main concentration was getting in enough long runs to maintain my endurance. Unfortunately, I did no speedwork between the end of September and the Seattle Marathon (except for the 5K and 10K races I did). That really hurt my pace, I'm afraid.

I really pounded out the long runs, though. I did 26.2 miles over two days on three consecutive weekends (September 17-18, September 25-26, October 2-3.) The Portland Half on 10/10. The 22.5 mile trail run on October 16. The Lake Sammamish Marathon (26 miles, it was a bit short) on October 23. A half marathon on November 7. Eighteen miles on Veteran's Day. Maybe all that slow distance hurt my pace too....

And then it was Thanksgiving. Thanks to our Thanksgiving week snow and ice (and bitter cold), I didn't run at all on Tuesday, Wednesday, or Thursday, but I squeezed out a few miles on Friday. The snow had mostly melted on Thanksgiving Day, but on Friday there were still a few melting icy patches on the sidewalks.

That was fully gone by the day of the marathon, though! Sunday, November 28, was just about perfect weather. It was cool (very upper 30s to very low 40s) but not cold and stayed constant throughout the day. There was no chance of rain in Seattle, and the clouds eventually broke a little bit in late morning and gave us a few rays of sunshine. Not too hot or anything, though!

The marathon started at 8:15 at the Seattle Center, about a mile from the Westin Hotel where I was staying. I got up about 5:45, made coffee, and then went back to bed to drink my coffee and eat breakfast. I was a little worried whether my chosen clothes would be too warm or not warm enough, but it worked well. I wore long Asics Thermopolis running pants rather than capris...I didn't need the extra warmth of the long pants, but I wanted to wear recovery socks and that would look goofy with with capris! I also wore my Lucy half zip top that I have worn in many races (including last year's Seattle Half and CIM), with a throwaway sweatshirt over it for the beginning.
At around 7:15 I headed out to walk over to the start. I was not alone...the surrounding streets were littered with runners walking, and occasionally jogging, northward. I got to the McDonald's across the street from the Seattle Center just as the half marathon was starting at 7:30. It was fascinating watching the start...I've never seen a half marathon from this perspective! (Usually I'm in the mob.) I heard there were 15,000 entrants in the half...don't know if that is right but there were a lot of people!

I (along with a number of others) decided to stop and use the indoor bathroom at McDonald's before heading on. There was a bit of a line, but it hardly mattered as we were warm inside. My wait, plus use of the bathroom, took about another 15 minutes. Half marathoners were passing by the entire time. In fact, there were a couple of them still in the bathroom!

When I crossed the street to the starting corral I decided to hit the porta potty, even though I had just gone. Might as well pass the time! There were tons of porta potties and since there were far fewer marathon entrants, the lines were practically non-existent. I stood in a short line just to stay near the starting area, but if I had walked a little further I probably would not have had to wait at all.

I had hoped that there would be a 4:15 pacer that I could try to stay with, but I confirmed at the Expo that they were only have pacers up to 4:00, plus 4:45, which seems so ridiculous. Don't most marathons have pacers for 4:15 and 4:30? And if they are only doing pacers for BQ qualifying times (which is one of the things that was said), why have a 4:45? Oh well.

I lined up a little ways behind the 4:00 pace group. I had no intention of trying to keep up with them, but I figured by getting in that general area I would be running with people trying for a moderate pace, and that would help me with my pace.

While waiting for the start, I saw at least two people near me wearing Vibrams, and at least a couple of people during the race! (Don't know if they were the same ones as at the start, or different.) I also saw, somewhere on the course, someone running completely barefoot.

And then, at 8:15, we were off. I figured out along the course that I crossed the starting line almost exactly one minute after the clock, which made things convenient for calculations along the way. Not that I needed that, with the Garmin showing my cumulative time along the way.

If I had been able to achieve my 4:15 goal, I would have had to average about 9:45 per mile. With a first mile of 9:53, it seemed possible, but as I was hovering in the 9:50s and around 10:00, it soon seemed unlikely that could happen, though maybe 4:20 was a possibility.

We started out running south on 5th Avenue through downtown Seattle. At about 1.5 miles I ditched my sweatshirt on a pile of other dropped clothes. This picture is somewhere downtown after the sweatshirt was gone.

Just past the two mile point we went into the express lane tunnel onto I-90. I don't like the tunnel because there is no Garmin signal and it messes up my timing. Mile 3 was okay but miles 4 and 5 are all goofy and have to be averaged together. Mile 4 was 11:15 and mile 5 was 8:21; together they average about 9:49 each, which seems right.

That brought us to the I-90 floating bridge across Lake Washington. The half marathoners left us at that point to finish their last eight miles (which would eventually be our last eight miles) and we headed over the bridge to Mercer Island. In another tunnel on Mercer Island we reached the 10K point and turnaround back to Seattle.

Here I am on the return trip across the bridge! Honestly, I am running, not walking!

In examining my splits later on (much later), I determined that in the first six miles I was on pace for a 4:18 finish, with an average pace of 9:52 per mile. However, I slowed a bit in the next seven miles. Part of this can be attributed to a bathroom stop in mile 10. It was necessary, I knew a stop would be unavoidable (I have yet to get through a marathon without one), and I am not bummed about it. I only had to wait a short bit to get into a no-line potty, so I consider that a bonus. This stop probably didn't take much more than a minute. Still, my cumulative average pace at the end of thirteen miles had slowed to 10:09, which was on track for a 4:25 finish time.

Miles 9-13 were "out" into Seward Park, and the remaining miles up to 17.5 were the return trip. Seward Park is actually a very pleasant run (I'm sure I ran through it in the Rock 'n' Roll Half), and I was doing well despite the bathroom stop. I saw the mile marker for mile 16 shortly after we got into the park, and the return to that point was a significant landmark in my mind.

Somewhere after the halfway point I started to feel an "urge" for the bathroom, and I wasn't sure it would be a good idea to try to hold out for the finish. This wasn't important enough to me to risk some kind of embarrassing disaster. When I saw an empty porta potty at the end of mile 14, I jumped in. And I am really happy that I did.

So far in the race I had been dividing my mental race into 5-mile blocks, with a nod to landmarks like 10K and halfway. After I finished mile 15, my next mental landmark was that 16-mile marker that I had seen coming into Seward Park. Then I was planning on dividing it into two-mile blocks up to mile 20 (not that you can ignore miles 17 and 19). My pace was still slowing, thanks again in part to that second bathroom stop. Through mile 19, my cumulative pace was now 10:22 (for a 4:31 finish).

I am not good about race fueling, and I really need to try to work on that. I ate my first Gu after mile 8, and another after the halfway point. Somewhere after that, though, I started to feel a little nauseous and couldn't stand the thought of trying to eat Gu at Mile 18 (as planned). I did force myself to drink Gatorade at two water stations, and walked a few steps there to make sure I got it down.

After Mile 18 we ran easily along Lake Washington, and my pace for miles 16-19 are in the 10:30-ish range. After mile 18 we met up with the half marathon course, and soon began the hardest part of the race.

Mile 20. Short, steep hill up East Madison. I walked. This was the only part of the race that I walked, and I am happy with my decision. This hill was so steep that I really felt running would be like my dream of the gravity pushing me back. Walking, however, I felt strong and powered up that hill.

The next few miles were on very hilly Interlaken Boulevard. I didn't walk again, although my pace slowed measurably. Miles 20-24 were well into the 11-minute plus time frame. If I had kept that extra minute or so off those five miles I would have been oh-so-close to 4:30!

Strangely, although these miles were hard to run, I felt okay during them. Probably because I was running so slowly and not forcing myself to push hard. I had felt a lot crapppier around Mile 18. You know those thoughts..."why would anyone want to run 26.2 miles?" "This is really hard." "I don't want to do this again for a long time." (But I didn't say never!)

Miles 25 and 26 took us back toward downtown Seattle and finally we got some downhills to make up for all the climbing. I was too beat to pound too hard down the hillls, but I tried to let my legs loose and make up for at least a little of the time lost on the uphills. Unfortunately, I was only able to run fast enough to get back into the 10s, but not as low as I would have liked.

The Seattle Marathon is known for its cruel trick of one last hill on Mercer before the finish line. I was expecting it, so I didn't let it bother me. I turned into Memorial Stadium and pounded--well, trotted--across the finish line with a smile on my face.

I really did feel just fine as I crossed the finish line. (Obviously, I hadn't worked hard enough to feel like I'd been hit by a train.) Chip time 4:38:34.
I was still smiling for the post-run picture.
I stopped to email Rod and call my mom to tell them I was finished. By the time I did that, I still felt okay but my legs had started to turn to cement. I don't know if I would have been able to avoid that if I'd just kept walking around!

I hobbled into the finisher's area and the first thing I saw was the Seattle Massage tent. Yup, I got myself another massage. I know it's not the best thing to get massage right after a marathon but it felt good!

By the time I was done with that I went to look for post-race goodies and found almost nothing. I did get a piece of banana and a cup of hot chocolate (kind of wish I'd had two, it was good!). There weren't tons of samples and giveaways like last year. I don't know if they just didn't exist or if they were all taken by the half marathoners! Instead, I did a little more shopping in the Seattle Marathon shop.

Finally, I headed outside and found the bus to return me to the Westin Hotel. Because of the race route going through downtown, the bus had to take a convoluted route through Queen Anne, and for a lot of time we were actually going away from downtown Seattle! I briefly wondered if I was on the right bus. (I was, of course, the Westin was the only shuttle destination.)

Finally I returned to our hotel room, where I took a shower and put on a new pair of recovery socks (I.Love.Them.). Then my mother and I went down to the lobby, where we ate a very late lunch of bar food, then checked out a Christmas tree display that was being set up in a ballroom on the fourth floor (where the expo had been the day before!).

Later that evening we ordered pizza from room service for dinner, plus two desserts. Yum.

We spent the night on Sunday, then had to get up pretty early Monday morning so I could get back to work. I had enough time to back up to the 4th floor and check out the magnificent finished trees. Then I got coffee from the hotel coffee shop and got us two "free" scones using the $5 credit we earned by declining housekeeping services in our room on Sunday. (Thus participating in Westin's scheme to save costs by screwing housekeeping staff out of work.Smiley)

Here are a few of my favorite trees...there were about a dozen overall.

Time for Christmas.
Northwest Christmas...with crystals for raindrops!
This one has a musical theme.
Christmas around the world.
This one is based on the movie, A Christmas Story.
This one is my favorite, "Classic Christmas Memories." Here is a close-up below!
All in all, I am happy with how the Seattle Marathon went. I would do it again, although probably not next year because I have other things in mind for the fall. I might do the Seattle Half, though...but I guess there's plent of time for those decisions!

*Much later, only about a week before Thanksgiving, I added Sunday night to our hotel reservation so my mom would have a hotel room to hang out in while I ran, and I would have somewhere to come back and recover.

Sunday, December 5, 2010

Once again all I have...

...Is my HBBC update. I turned on the computer tonight to download some pics from my mom's camera--I even drove to her house to get it--but quickly got distracted by Christmas shopping. Which quickly turned to Christmas shopping for myself...I needed a few ideas for the question "what do you want for Christmas?" (Boots, baby! Well, maybe, anyhow.)

So, just so I don't forget, HBBC weekend update:
Saturday: A mere 5 points, all running. (4-mile Jingle Bell Run, plus one extra mile.) Fruit and veg? Actually I did have a great veggie scramble for breakfast after the run, plus fruit on the side, but at best that would constitute 4 (or so) servings. The rest of the day...I doubt that the veggies on a slice of pizza, or lettuce, tomato and onion on a burger, or a piece of apple pie, really made up for the remaining 3 servings.

Sunday: 90 minutes elliptical (6 points), 20 minutes pushups and yoga (mostly yoga) (1 point), F&V 1 point.

Note to self: don't forget to enter Thursday, Friday and weekend in spreadsheet. Or did I already do Thursday? Now I need to go back and count again, darn it!
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Friday, December 3, 2010


Or not writing, as the case may be. I signed up for a writing exercise project called Reverb 2010, where every day you get an email with a topic to write on (through the month of December). I have yet to do any...maybe I will get into it, maybe I won't.

One of the prompts asks what interferes with your writing, and how can you eliminate that interference? In my case I think it is exhaustion, or maybe just weariness. By the time I get through a sometimes draining day of work, plus running or cross-training either before or after work, and making and eating breakfast, lunch, and dinner, I just don't have the energy to turn my brain to, say, a race report of the Seattle Marathon.

But it's coming. The pictures are out, and I like several of mine! I ordered the digital download, but I'm still waiting for my link.

Tomorrow morning I am breaking my "no races in December" vow and running a Jingle Bell 4-mile Run up in Mount Vernon. To be followed by breakfast at the Calico Cupboard and a little small-town shopping. This will be my first run AT ALL since the marathon. I seriously wanted to give my legs a decent rest. I wasn't just being lazy! I have a snazzy red and green outfit set out. Not as stylish as all you ladies in the running skirts and knee socks, but cute all the same.

HBBC for December 2-3 (gotta remember to get this on the spreadsheet):
December 2 - 90 min elliptical, 60 min yoga, + F&V = 10 points.
December 3 - 90 min elliptical + F&V = 7 points.
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Wednesday, December 1, 2010


I am watching the second half of The Biggest Loser "Where are they now" show from last week. (I watched the first half the other night and, as usual while watching TBL, fell asleep before I was done.)

I see that Tracey (a rather unpopular contestant from, I think, last year) ran in the Boston Marathon. I am assuming she either ran for charity or using a special television show entry spot. Don't know about the rest of her entourage.

Mark, from a couple years back, also ran a marathon.

Now I am watching Biggest Loser alumni participating in a triathlon (Olympic distance). The top male and female each win a $25,000 prize...pretty sweet! Looking forward to seeing the outcome. (The winners--Mark and Tara, remember her?)

Speaking of competition, today's HBBC numbers:
1 hour elliptical = 4 pts.
1 hour yoga = 3 pts.
F & V = 1 pt.

And speaking of yoga...tonight was my first class back in months. The combination of my long hiatus, and the marathon on Sunday has left me quite inflexible. I couldn't even cross my legs without feeling the pull in my glutes. And, shamefully, my core strength is pathetic...even non-existent. But at least there's room for improvement!
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