Wednesday, April 27, 2011

I never regret a run

This morning was a perfect example of how deciding to run is almost always a better decision than deciding not to run. (I say almost always, because there are certainly legitimate reasons to not-run, including illness and injury, and sometimes a spontaneous rest day is totally worth it.)

This morning my almost not-running was not for any good reason, it was just because I didn't want to get out of bed. I actually got to the point of convincing myself that it would be a good idea to wait and run in the afternoon after work instead of the morning. Even though I didn't run yesterday and had no special need for extra rest. I did also convince myself to go to the Y instead of just staying in bed for an extra I wasn't being a complete slacker. Just a partial slacker.

But then the weather report came on (yes, I had the TV on as I was debating my morning plans) and the weather guy said that although it was dry this morning, it would almost certainly be raining by 5:00. Really? So I would choose not to run when it was not raining, and exchange that for running in the rain? Not real smart. Of course I will run in the rain when I need to, but choosing rain over no rain? That makes no sense.

So I jumped out of bed and threw on my running clothes. I figured I might only have time for about five miles since I had wasted so much time in my mental debating. Still, better than nothing.

This would be my third* run since Boston. I did seven miles on Easter, and 6.3 on Monday, all at about a 10:20 average pace. I felt fine and considered myself fully recovered. Today I wanted to do some kind of speed work, to challenge myself a little and prepare for Bloomsday on Sunday, where hopefully I can run a little bit fast.

So the plan was to warm up, then do three one-mile tempo intervals at Bloomsday goal pace**. Or something thereabouts.

I warmed up for about 2.25 miles (to a convenient turnaround point). Then I launched into my first speedy mile. I was running on a slightly downhill slope, so that gave me a little extra speed which I appreciated greatly. Mile 1 - 8:09 (woo hoo!). After a quarter mile recovery, mile 2 - 8:14. Another quarter mile, then mile 3 - 8:23 (a little incline in this mile). I added a tenth of a mile at 8:17 pace to make a 5K. I did a very short recovery jog then headed really downhill for the final half mile at 8:05 pace. With another short recovery, my total distance was 6.65 miles.

And I was really glad I decided to get out and run this morning.

*I did run a mile on a treadmill in the hotel on Friday, but that was more of a treadmill experiment than a run. Didn't enjoy the treadmill. I haven't been on a treadmill since about 2008, and I could tell.
**I am not claiming that I will actually run Bloomsday at an average pace of about 8:15. Just that I would like to.

Saturday, April 23, 2011

Thoughts from the plane

Here are some non-running lessons I learned from this trip to Boston and Maine. You would think I would have learned them already after my many trips to England and elsewhere, but no, I never learn. And probably won't this time.

Some of these lessons are race-travel specific, and even Boston Marathon specific (and thus not likely to be relived), but basically I could apply them to any trip.

•Pack all the running clothes, shoes and gear I think I will need, even if some goes unused. (This one is a free license to pack!)

•Other than running gear, I do NOT need as many clothes as I think I do.

•Here are some items that I really don't need and won't wear no matter how much I think I will: Dressy clothes. Fancy shoes. More than a couple pairs of jeans or pants. Lots of shirts. You get the picture.

•I see no problem with wearing the same outfit two or more days in a row (or non-consecutive days, if I'm being fancy). I should pack (or under-pack) accordingly.

•However, it doesn't hurt to pack extra underwear. It hardly takes any space and no one wants to run short on that.

•Running shoes can double as walking/hiking shoes (as long as it is not a hiking trip). Bring a pair of slip-on shoes or sandals. Think hard about whether you really need yet another pair of cute casual shoes. I will admit, I did bring a spare pair of running shoes along. And I did wear every pair of shoes I brought, but only once each for the sandals, extra casual shoes, and spare running shoes.

•Don't overestimate my willingness to bother with make-up or curling my hair. Most likely I will happily make do with the hotel hairdryer and my sunscreen moisturizer and be too lazy for anything else. Although I did use my curling iron a few times (after leaving Boston), and it really is an easy way to make my hair look better. I am going to shop for a smaller model for travel.

•If I am going somewhere that has irresistible shopping, like the Boston Marathon Expo or LL Bean, keep in mind that I will probably wear stuff purchased there and reduce packing accordingly!

•On the same lines, leave extra space in my suitcase and carry-on to add new stuff. This is especially important when flying, as you can't just haul extra shopping bags on the plane anymore. Not very many, anyway. (This is not a new rule for me. I have lived it again and again and again.)

•Either limit the number of magazines I bring or force myself to discard them before going home. No magazine should travel cross country more than once. (This is very hard for me. I have carried magazines to England and brought them home again. I don't know what's harder to get rid of, an unread magazine or one I've read that has some snippet of something that I think I want to keep.) (Can you download mags on the iPad? Something to check into.)

•Take advantage of the iPhone (and soon, iPad). I have downloaded books, and can add more if needed. There is no reason to carry more than one or two real books. (I can't go completely cold turkey.) Don't pack hardbacks. Read them at home. Books that aren't available on Kindle or whatever can be read another time.

•Try not to pack too much food. Try to eat the food you bring (if possible without overeating). Try not to carry too much food home. All of these are very difficult for me. I am working on the first (not overpacking) so that I have less trouble with the second and third.

So those are my travel tips from X-thousand feet (I have no idea of our flying altitude). Not brain surgery. And lucky for me, my dad came without a real carry-on, so he is now the temporary owner of a new LL Bean duffel bag filled with race gear and other purchases (including the Boston Marathon commemorative pillow, so cute!).

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Running a marathon is hard!

Well, duh. Running a marathon is hard. So perhaps that enough explanation for how I didn't meet my 4:15-4:30 time goal. Not that I need an explanation. Because, you know, marathons are hard.

I will write a real race report when I have some pictures (hopefully, considering that I prepaid for photos) and I won't have to mess around with the iPhone. But here are some bullet points:

•The weather was pretty much ideal after we got past the chilly waiting period. I ditched my throwaway jacket at the start and tied my other jacket around my waist in the first two miles. I was comfortably sleeveless the remainder of the race.

•Traveling to different time zones messes with your bodily functions. Although I stood in porta potty lines twice before the start, it didn't do the trick and I made three stops along the way. The third one was probably gratuitous, especially since I only had three miles to go, but it did make me feel better, even though it didn't help my time.

•I was amazingly consistent through at least 25K, then things went downhill.

•The Newton hills aren't all that bad. That is, they aren't really any worse than other hilly races I've run, or the other hills that occur throughout the Boston course!

•The downhills really are hard on your legs. I expect that contributed to why my legs hurt so much by the last 20 miles. Perhaps my only real disappointment in the race, more than my slower finishing time, was that I didn't have the strength to take advantage of the last five miles.

•The day before the race, I figured out where my dad could go to watch the almost end of the race--the corner of Mass Ave and Boylston, near the Hynes Covention Center T stop. I didn't see him there in the crowd and he didn't see me among the runners, but approaching that spot gave me something to aim for near the end. Plus when I turned that corner onto Boylston I could see the finish, and that was amazing!

Now we are finishing our trip with a few days in Maine. Hopefully by the time I get home the photos will be online and I can see myself running the Boston Marathon!

Monday, April 18, 2011

Athlete Alert

Event: 2011 Boston Marathon
Runner: Kristin Timm
Latest Results:
Location Time Pace/mile

All times are unofficial. Times may vary in post race official results.

Athlete Alert

Event: 2011 Boston Marathon
Runner: Kristin Timm
Latest Results:
Location Time Pace/mile

All times are unofficial. Times may vary in post race official results.

Athlete Alert

Event: 2011 Boston Marathon
Runner: Kristin Timm
Latest Results:
Location Time Pace/mile

All times are unofficial. Times may vary in post race official results.

Athlete Alert

Event: 2011 Boston Marathon
Runner: Kristin Timm
Latest Results:
Location Time Pace/mile

All times are unofficial. Times may vary in post race official results.

And so it begins.

Here I am leaving for the buses...I added fleece pants which will stay on till I drop my bag. These jackets aren't going anywhere fast, either. It is a lovely day but the wind is still bone chilling. I am currently in the Athlete's Village in my second trip through the porta potty line. When I finish that it will be time to leave for the corrals.

Saturday, April 16, 2011

Blog errors

I am quite frustrated (again) because I wrote a long post (again) which failed to publish (again). I am just mentioning it to make clear that all is well, I just don't have the energy to start again. If I manage to somehow solve the problem, I may post it later (and out of sequence).

Only one more morning where I can get up and not run a marathon! (I borrowed that from the unpublished post.)

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Here we are in Manchester

New Hampshire, after a long travel day. I was packing and getting ready to leave until 10-11 last night, then woke up at 2:30amto begin the travel process. I also wrote a post last night about my 6.5 miles yesterday morning, with 5x400 and a mile at GMP. I have not been able to get that to post successfully and I've pretty much given up. It's old news now.

Anyhow, I was supposed to pick up my parents at 3:30 for the trip to the airport. I was about ten minutes late and after a little comedy of errors in the driveway we were enough behind that I just dropped them at the airport to check in for their 6:15 flight and went to park the car. My flight didn't leave until 7:30.

With my transfer in D.C. and the time change, I didn't reach Manchester until about 7. It was just a quick shuttle to the hotel (we pick up a car tomorrow). I had instructed my parents to order pizza for dinner and it was waiting when I arrived.

Even though it's only 6:00 at home, I am pretty beat. I guess that's good so I'll be able to wake up early in the morning. Even though this isn't the most interesting location, I want to go for a run (no more than an hour) before breakfast and departure.

Boston is getting closer and closer...both in time and distance!

The Goals Post

I apologize if this all one long paragraph...lately blogger has been dropping the paragraph breaks and turning my multiple paragraphs into one. It bugs me but I don't know how to fix it! When this posts on Thursday I will be on my way to Boston, only four days from the marathon. I have thought off and on what my goals for this race would be. I cannot say that I don't have any goals, because I do, but I am certainly not so wedded to my expectations that I would be crushed if I failed to meet them. (Insert paragraph break here. Okay, I'm not going to say that again, but I almost feel like I should stick some sort of dingbat in to signify breaks!) *** My primary goal for Boston is to have a fun, fulfilling run. Everyone says that, don't they? But it's true. Certainly having a good experience is more important than any objective time goal. *** However. One does like to have goals, something to reach for. My baseline time goal is to finish under 4:30. Even when I was in my slump, I believed that was achievable. My Seattle Marathon time was 4:38, and that was a hard course and I was in a slower period in my running late last fall. With the gains I have made this spring, I believe that 4:30 is easily within my reach. *** As far as more challenging goals, I have thought a lot about this and done a number of tests and calculations. They all lead to the conclusion that 4:15 is a doable result. Here is why. *** In the last month I have given myself three major test to determine my marathon readiness and likely pace. Those were the Birch Bay 30K, the final set of ten Yasso 800s, and the Whidbey Half Marathon this last weekend. A couple of other runs have also played into this, although they weren't intended to: the 5K I did on April 2 and the 16-mile long run I did on April 3. I don't think I wrote a separate post about the 16-miler, but my average pace for that (run "easy") was 9:55, and it included two miles of uphill. *** A 4:15 marathon requires an average pace of 9:44 per mile. A 4:20 marathon requires 9:55, and 4:10 requires 9:32. *** My average pace for Birch Bay was 9:24, which would be under a 4:10. However, Birch Bay is arguably an easier course than Boston, and it is almost seven miles shorter, of course. My two hour half marathon this weekend can be used to predict a marathon finish between 4:05 and 4:15, depending on what pace calculator you use. And finally, the Yasso 800s, with all but one under 4:00, might indicate an ability to do close to a four hour time, if you buy into the Yasso myth. I also put my half marathon time into various pace calculators, and the prediction was for 4:13-4:15. There is also a rule of thumb to double your half time and add five minutes (that would give me 4:05). *** On the one hand, I think the pace calculators that use my half marathon time do not take into consideration that I was running Whidbey at what I felt was a reasonable marathon effort pace. If I had been running for my "best" half marathon, I would have run harder and hopefully had a faster time. So hopefully those predictions would be on the high end. On the other hand, I think the Yassos and the "double your half and add 5" methods underestimate the fatigue and breakdown that the marathon distance can lead to. Especially with hills at the end. *** So the conclusion remains unchanged; 4:15 is the time to beat. I think it is possible that I could do better; it's also possible I could do worse. Either way, I will be happy to have had the opportunity to run Boston. *** One other thing. With the change in qualifying times and entry procedure, I am quite sure I will never run Boston again after this. Instead of being discouraging, this realization really takes the glister off of beating four hours. Yes, it's a nice benchmark to beat, regardless of your age or whether it would be a qualifying time. It is quite possible that I will want to beat four hours again at some point (now would be great too!). But it no longer has a mythic aura. It's a nice number, but 4:05, 4:10, 4:15 are perfectly fine numbers. (3:55 is good too!) And I am pretty sure that one of those numbers I have just written will reflect my time on Monday, April 18.

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Boston Marathon Tracking

I hope this will not be horribly irritating (if it even works), but I have signed up to get my splits sent directly to the blog. Interesting experiment, at least! My bib number is 20504.

Sent from my iPhone

Sunday, April 10, 2011

A few things I forgot

This is me after the race (back at the hotel). I meant to put it at the end of the first post to show the contrast. Obviously the hat is back on my head now which is NOT an accurate reflection of how I looked in the race. I would have liked to take a picture of my wild hair but the first time I saw it in the mirror was when I was about to go in the shower...and this not that kind of blog. :)

Did I mention that this race was the final leg in the trifecta of tests I set up to determine my readiness for Boston? I. Am. Ready. More on that in an upcoming Boston Goals post.

Finally, yesterday on the drive up to Oak Harbor I felt a real twinge of excitement for Boston. It's not that I have not been excited already, on many different levels (getting through the registration mess was big!). But this was different, more visceral, a preview of the endorphin thrill of running the race and crossing the finish line. Just for a moment, I was there already.

Windy Whidbey

I was expecting rain, which did not happen. I was not expecting the blustery winds that did happen! Still, the Whidbey Island Half Marathon turned out surprisingly well for me (despite a difficult course and wind-related obstacles). I set two alarms for 5:40 and 5:45 and woke up easily. My hotel bed was amazingly comfortable and I slept well. Even though I woke up every two hours on the dot I fell right back to sleep, so that's a good night's sleep for me. One of the benefits of traveling alone is that you don't have to be considerate of anyone. So I got up, fixed a whole wheat English muffin with PB and fruit spread, took my Americano out of the fridge, and brought it all back to bed where I remained for another 45 minutes. Then I quickly dressed and geared up for the race. The temperature forecast was for mid-40s so I thought I'd wear a jacket to the start and check it. I didn't want to leave a new jacket so I used my old black Lucy jacket that has served me so well. Here is how I thought I'd be running, in my new blue Boston-bound Lucy top. Note the ill-fated, but matchy, Maui Marathon cap. I left the hotel about 7:20 or so to jog the mile to the start. I immediately realized that it was very windy. About halfway there my hat blew off and I had to run after it. Not a good sign! I stopped at Starbucks along the way to use the bathroom. While I was waiting in line I unpinned my bib from the blue shirt and repinned it on my jacket. The wind just made it seem too cold to leave the jacket behind. I have never run Whidbey without wearing a jacket...I don't know why today would be different. I got to the start about ten minutes before 8. It was good not to stand around too long, and I quickly joined the crowd that was forming near the starting line. I tried to stand by people who looked like they might run a 9-minute pace. Don't ask me how I determine that...just on a hunch. The run started on an uphill...not too steep but fairly long. I remember last year my first mile was exactly nine minutes but I was slower than that this time. In the second mile we got some payback in the form of going downhill. The wind quickly became a problem in the first few miles. It wasn't long before my hat started to blow off my head. I managed to catch it but couldn't get it back on, so I ran carrying it for a while. As long as I was running into the wind this wasn't too bad as the wind kept my hair out of my face. But when we turned around (on an out and back) my hair whipping in my face was incredibly irritating. So I actually stopped to get my hat back on my head. That only lasted a few minutes, and the next time it blew across the road and was picked up by someone else. That was enough to show me I shouldn't Lose any more time messing with the hat. I resigned myself to carrying the hat and my hair flopping in my face Justin Bieber-style (pre-haircut). I still spent a lot of time pushing it away and shaking my head around! It was a pain in the neck (I chose that word deliberately). I was also having trouble getting an accurate pace reading on my Garmin. Rather than stressing, I decided to stop looking at it and just run by feel. I think I only looked at it 3-4 times again, and only to check distance. My objective for this run, after all, was not to try for a great time but rather to practice running marathon pace effort. The course was fairly gentle for the first six miles, through Windjammer Park. After that I knew the hills began. The next 3.5 miles had a lot of uphill. There were a couple of rolling downhills, and a lengthy flat stretch as well, but there was a lot of incline. The turnaround was shortly before 9.5 miles. In these last three or so miles we got to go back down a number of the hills we had climbed. Last year I really hauled ass in the final 5K. I didn't want to do that this year because I didn't want to over-tire my legs or wreck my quads a week before Boston. But when you are looking at long stretches of downhill it is hard not to try to compensate for the slow uphills. So I picked up the pace and tried to run at least a little faster in the final few miles. When we passed the 12-mile mark my time read 1:50 (this would be one of the few times I checked the Garmin). I had sped up to at least a 9-minute pace and figured if the markers were right I could finish under two hours. However I was pretty sure the markers were a little shy and there was probably more like 1.25 miles to go. At that point I officially abandoned my "take it easy" philosophy and poured it on. (I later saw that my time for mile 12 was 8:16 and my pace for the final tenth was 8:09.) It was very close. My clock time when I crossed the finish line was 2:00:16 and my watch said 2:00:10. There is almost no chance of the chip time being ten seconds faster, so I'm stuck with two hours, I'm sure. On the good side (and it's mostly all good), I didn't really expect to be this near to two hours. The only downside is, well, 10 seconds! C'mon! If it hadn't been for the wind-hat drama.... It was 10 am when I finished and the shuttles left at 10:30. So I went directly to the massage tent for a 15-minute massage. While I was on the table the wind was whipping around the roof of the tent, and it seemed even colder 20 minutes later while I waited for the shuttle. The evening news just said that Oak Harbor just now got a 46 mph gust...I'm pretty sure we didn't have anything that bad. So that was the last of my major pre-Boston runs. I'm looking at a couple short ones this week before we leave, then one on Friday in New Hampshire before heading into Boston. It's time!

Saturday, April 9, 2011

Whidbey Eve and a disappearing post

It is the night before Whidbey, I am in a hotel in Oak Harbor, and I just finished a big post that disappeared with the tap of a key. I don't know what happened, but I do know it's too late to recreate it. So, I guess I'll wait for the race recap.

It was brilliant, darn it.

Thursday, April 7, 2011

Victory laps

Today I finished my final set of Yasso 800s, and if I do say so, I. Kicked. Ass. (My own ass, anyway.) And by kicked ass, I mean I accomplished my totally reasonable and moderate goals. Go me! More on that in a mo.

As you may recall, my speed work efforts these last few months have been strong, but dictated somewhat by our crazy winter (and spring) weather. Rain, snow, hail, bitter cold, and (as of this week) flooding on the track, have affected the scheduling of speed work.

I've done an assortment of tempo runs and other types of speed runs. As far as 800s on the track go, I've done 4x800, 6x800, 7x800, 8x800, and another 8x800 which was supposed to be 9 but I ran out of time before Starbucks was closing and I needed to get over there.

So today was my final opportunity to do a set of 800s before Boston. (I adhere to the theory that your last Yassos should be no closer than ten days before the marathon.) The weather had been terrible all week. Finally today the rain had stopped and it stayed dry all day long. In fact, by late afternoon the sun even came out a little!

I hoped to get away from work quickly, so I changed into running clothes while waiting for my last appointment (who never did show). I hustled as much as I could but it was still almost 6:00 before I walked out the door. Starbucks closed at I had a goal.

I started with a warm-up jog downtown and back, 2.25 miles. During this time I was a bit frustrated because my Garmin was freaking out, jumping around from 15 minute pace to 7 minute pace and everywhere in between, all the while I was doing about 10-10:30 pace. It never abated, even when I was in the bathroom, Garmin paused, sitting down (if you know what I mean). I was extremely stressed out, not about measuring my pace during this warm-up, but by the idea that my Garmin could be blowing up one week before leaving for Boston!

Luckily it seemed to settle down once I got to the track and restarted it. Maybe the satellites are just weird downtown. This wasn't the first time I've had problems, although this was extreme.

So, the plan...10x800 or bust. Unless it didn't work out. I didn't want to hold myself to impossible standards. I didn't want to rest the entire outcome of Boston on this one workout! (I'm being a little facetious, but....) Luckily the track had dried up and there were only a few puddles remaining.

#1 (no, I'm not going to count through every one). Turns out my legs could move pretty well...3:59 (7:58 pace), right on! I made it through the first four at sub-8 pace. In fact, #4 was my fastest pace overall, 7:41, and #5 was 7:49 pace After that I had a bit of slippage on the sixth one, dropping (raising?) to 4:03, 8:05 pace.

But I was more than halfway through! Two more at 7:54 and 7:57 pace, and then I had only two left. And it wasn't even 7:20 yet. Plenty of time.

My last two splits were 3:58 (7:57) and 3:54 (7:49) (always nice to finish strong). I finished just before 7:30 and cooled down jogging to Starbucks.

My recovery jogs were .2 mile between laps in the first half, and .1 mile to save time in the condition half. My total distance in this segment, including the trip to the store, was 6.8 miles and 56:56 minutes. With the warm-up, I ran 9.05 miles total tonight.

I am quite thrilled that I finished ten 800s and did them at my desired pace. While I don't think it predicts too much for the marathon, it is still an accomplishment and quite encouraging. It does suggest that my modest goals for Boston are not unachievable. (I'll write about them next week.)

I have about four runs left before we fly out next Thursday. One is the Whidbey Half Marathon on Sunday. To be run at marathon pace we shall see what that means soon!

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Weight, weight, don't tell me!

Apologies to NPR. It's about time for my weight loss widget to remind me that I haven't changed the number for a while. Why is that? Because the two numbers currently showing, 158.6 and 156.6, basically reflect the numbers I continue to see on the scale, with occasional dips to 156 or spikes to 159. I believe that the general trend is a couple pounds lower than it was a month ago...but it is hard to say. I think it is pretty much safe to say that I am not going to lose weight before the Boston Marathon. I am perturbed by this only because I am bewildered over what I can do to lose a pound. (Well, five or ten pounds.) I eat lots of vegetables and some fruit, included protein in every meal, eat moderate amounts of whole grain carbs, and only indulge in treats to the extent that my daily calorie allowance allows it. I track food and exercise to the point of obsessiveness. I suspect that my net calorie allowance might be too low, but I sometimes go over anyways, and plus that allows some cushion for potential underestimating of food portions and overestimating calories burned through exercise.* I have compared the percentage of calories in my diet from protein, fat, carbohydrates, and my numbers consistently fall within the American Dietary Guidelines recommendations. My typical ranges are Protein 18-20%, Fat 20-35% (though generally close to 30), and Carbohydrates 45-65% (mostly from fruits, vegetables and whole grains).** I actually would like to increase the proportion of protein a little, to 20-25%. I guess I could accomplish that by replacing a cookie treat with a hard-boiled egg...something to think about. My fiber consumption, by the way, is off the charts. That's what happens when you eat whole bags of spinach and prefer Fiber One cereal to any other kind of cereal! I have been a little worried that my weight is higher than last year, and could thus have a negative effect on the marathon. Well, I'm sure weighing less would have a positive effect (but that's not gonna happen). However, looking back at this time last year plus the months prior to the Newport Marathon (which was the first weekend of June), it appears that my weight range was exactly the same then. So I guess that is reassuring. I have been weighing myself almost daily, just so I can get a good picture of the range of fluctuation and not be stuck on any one number that comes up. I also have Tanita body fat percentage scale, and that consistently claims 14-18% body fat (depending on hydration). (I don't rely on that figure as accurate, but at least it is proportionally accurate from day to day.) After I am done with Boston, and recover from my post-marathon surfeit of lobster rolls and whoopie pies, I can take another look at weight loss efforts and see what I can accomplish over the summer (prior to the Portland Marathon). Now, I just need to fend off potential taper weight gain! *I have some concern that since I am quite good at running and other cardio, my body has become too efficient and doesn't use as many calories as the standard measurements would indicate. **American Dietary Guidelines: Protein 10-35 (15); Fat 20-35 (30); Carbs 45-65 (55).

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Pics from the 5K

A couple of guys took pictures before, during, and after the 5K on Saturday. They were kind enough to share them on Flickr. One thing about a small race, it is easy to get into a lot of pictures! So here it is, the Race Judicata photo essay.
Here we are, gathering for the start. Yes, that is how many people were running the race! Well, minus a few who hadn't found the starting area. There I am on the far right, carefully listening to instructions.

Very important to adjust your ipod before the race starts!

Waiting. Nice hair. (That's why they make hats!)

The start! Surprisingly, I am not visible in this picture.

Throughout the race I trailed 138 and 139. They beat me by about 20 seconds.

Just runnin'....

Maybe this is at the top of the big hill...that may be why I look so dead!

My nemeses approach the finish line... I can be seen in the far background.

Okay, there I am, almost done!

I thought I had crossed the finish line at 24:45, but apparently I was wrong.

But I am so happy to be under 25 minutes!

Walking it off.

Sucking down orange wedges.

Telling the race organizers that I was a UW law graduate.

Okay, might as well have a little piece of muffin before I go.

Sunday, April 3, 2011

5Ks of confidence boosting

When I wrote up my current training plan, I had a great idea to throw in a few 5Ks (like one per month) to work on firing up whatever fast twitch muscles I might have. Plus work on regaining my short distance speed, in hopes of improving my distance speed a little as well.

But after the Valentine's 5K in early February, I didn't manage to do another. The series I had in mind just seemed inconvenient and too much work to get to. The one 10k I planned to do was on a day that was bitter cold and icy, after a snowstorm earlier in the week. I ditched the race and went skiing instead. (The ski hill we went to actually had better weather, and amazing powder. I don't like skiing in soft, deep snow, but this was dry and light and fun even for me!)

So most of my runs have been longer. There were the four half marathons in January, then the Shamrock 15K, and finally the Birch Bay 30K last weekend. All of those were fine for the distance (especially the 15K and 30K), but didn't really give me a chance to see what my legs could do after a few months of getting back into speed work.

Then I got an Active email mentioning the Race Judicata 5K on April 2 (put on by one of the law school departments, of course). ("Res judicata" is a legal term preventing relitigation of claims that have already been decided. It gives rise to a play on words that is a popular name for law school sponsored races!)

It seemed like a good opportunity to kick off the "sharpening" phase of taper. At best, I might run a fast 5K and feel really happy with myself. At worst, even if my pace was way off what I would like, it would still be faster than marathon goal pace, a good (though short) training run, and a success regardless.

I didn't really decide to run it for sure until after I did a strong tempo run on Wednesday morning. I had been undecided whether to go for tempo or 800s, but when the rain continued unabated (I later saw the dirt section of the track was almost entirely a big puddle), I opted for the tempo run.

Because I had to be at work almost an hour early on Wednesday, I actually hit the pavement at 5:50 a.m. (which has been unheard of this winter). I did about 2.25 miles warm-up, then launched my first round of tempo miles, 3.1. I will admit that some of this had a downhill grade...but I also got to go up as well.

It was still dark out--and did I mention raining?--so I had to run by feel rather than looking at my Garmin incessantly. I tried to run at a hard but not lung busting effort. I didn't even get to see my splits until I was completely done later, but it turned out that each of the three miles was about 8:30, within 2-3 seconds. The final tenth was at 7:50 pace. Great!

I jogged for about 2/3 mile to recover and round off the mileage on my watch. Then I did two more tempo miles, 8:49 (uphill and into the wind) and 8:29. I jogged the rest of the way home and ended up with 8.75 miles (on a day when I didn't even think I had enough time to run before work).

That gave me enough confidence to sign up for the 5K today. It didn't start until 10:30, so I didn't need to leave super early, though it was a fairly long drive down there.

My trip through south central Seattle took me back almost 20 years, when some of my friends lived in the area. I drove down streets I hadn't seen for years, as well as some I'd never been on before. Finally I approached Seward Park on Lake Washington. Luckily I went easily to the right parking area and got the last spot near the starting area. That was convenient for dropping my jacket at the last minute. And being in a strange place alone, I just felt better parking close to the start.

I got my bib and race shirt (a tech shirt, nice for such a small race), and dropped them at the car before heading overt the restroom (also nearby). Then I quickly put my gear on so I could do a warm-up run. The race started in 30 minutes so I figured I could manage two miles and still have a cushion of time to get to the start.

I've only been in Seward Park a few times, including during the Seattle Rock 'n' Roll and the Seattle Marathon. It is a big park, with lots of running (and walking and biking) paths. Since it is right on Lake Washington, many paths border the lake, although the 5K ran inside the park as well as beside the water.

I did my warm-up in the opposite direction, just jogging about a mile then turning around and heading back. I was doing about a 10-minute pace, and had no sense of whether my legs would want to speed up soon. I had enough time to make another potty stop and round up my warm-up distance to 2.2 miles before heading to the start area.

I had a general idea where the start would be and figured the crowd of people would confirm it. As I was heading toward that spot, I saw several runners heading further along the path. I thought they were going too far, and did not follow them. Shortly thereafter, I saw another group of people and a woman with an airhorn and I met them at the real start. Unfortunately there was nothing to mark the starting line, which I am sure caused some confusion!

This was one of the smallest races I have ever been in. The final results show 39 participants. When we were gathered at the start there seemed even fewer, and the start was delayed a few minutes for stragglers to join in. (We did, however, run into some other misguided participants along the way, and I believe they may have jumped in from there.)

I had no idea how I could do with such a small group of competitors. Luckily, there were a few people running about my pace, or a bit faster, so I had people to pace myself by.

As the fastest runners disappeared into the distance, I hit my stride at a steady sub-8. The first mile was pretty flat, even slightly downhill in places, and although I didn't want to look at my Garmin too much, I couldn't really help myself. It was encouraging to see my pace consistently in the 7s, even 6:xx for a moment or two on occasion. Mile 1 - 7:41.

In the second mile, I knew from the pre-race instructions that we would turn and do the "Picnic Loop," and also that this segment involved a hill. Oh yes, it did. I don't know how long this hill was, but it was plenty long enough in the middle of a 5K. And it wasn't a very gentle hill, either. I don't know how slow I got on the hill, but it slowed my time for mile 2 to 8:30.

I'll admit that in my speedy first mile I had a glimmer of hope that I might have a shot at my 5K PR, but after the second mile I knew that wouldn't happen. I could still do pretty well if I could get back to pace in the final mile.

It's a little hard to get back on pace after wearing yourself uphill, but the downhill that came next helped a lot! Soon I was back under eight-minute pace.

I was, of course, sucking air like a vacuum cleaner (I couldn't come up with a better metaphor). But I only had a mile to go! I started targeting landmarks to run to. Specifically, garbage cans. This park had a garbage can every few feet!

Then I could see the finish line. The clock was just past 24 (PR long gone) but i knew I could beat 25. I pulled out everything I had and barreled across the finish line. I believe I crossed at 24:45 but my "official" time was 24:47. I didn't stop my watch immediately because there was a photographer there and I didn't want the picture to be me stopping my watch! Garmin time 24:49. Mile 3 - 7:49. Final tenth - 7:19 pace.

I might have won my age group--I might have been the only one in it--but they didn't have age group awards! There were only 39 finishers. I was 11th overall and 5th female. (Also 5th in F0-99 AG.)

I grabbed a few orange wedges and couldn't resist a piece of Costco muffin (about 1/5 muffin). Before leaving a ran another 1.2 miles so I could log a total of 6.5 miles for the day. I really don't like running more after a race!

Then I headed back north. I decided to drive along Lake Washington Boulevard for old time's sake. Man there were a lot of bicyclists! Once I got around the herds it was fine.

The weather for the race had been perfect, cool and cloudy with breaks of sun. The sun actually increased a bit afterwards, but was short-lived. By the time I stopped at QFC for a sandwich it wad pouring! I had been considering an iced tea at Starbucks, but went for hot coffee instead. A bit later the sun broke out again, but within another hour it was hailing. And this went on all afternoon. Love April.

I am so happy that I did this 5K under 25 minutes! It was faster than the Valentine's 5K, even though it was much harder. Without that hill I might have gone under 24...maybe. Still, it was good.

Summary of this week's taper runs:

Monday - 6.5 easy
Wednesday - 8.75 with 3.1 + 2 tempo
Friday - 8.01 with 6 @ goal marathon pace (3 around 9:30, 3 around 9:10 or faster)
Saturday - 6.5 with 5K race
Sunday (today) - 16.04 long run pretty easy, 9:55 average pace. This included some long hills near the end (Boston simulator style). I was mostly running around 9:50s, but the long hills were much slower! I made up for that with a few fast finish miles on the way back down. Then we went out for lunch. I had the best Rueben sandwich ever. With sweet potato fries. OMG. Heaven.

Total miles - 45.8

Friday, April 1, 2011

Ten things that inspire me

This topic was inspired by Lisa of 110 Pounds and Counting. (Hope the link works, it's my first try.)

1. Beautiful gardens. I will (sadly) admit that my own gardening efforts have been largely overwhelmed by my running. But I love to visit the amazing gardens created by others. They make me want to create my own gardens, but also I feel happy just soaking in the ambience and enjoying the beauty around me.

2. Books. I love to read, and possess shelves of books I've read and stacks of books I haven't read yet. Even so, I shoot off an Amazon order every few weeks. Even though I am a traditionalist in some ways, I am all for ways to make reading more efficient and comfortable. I have already downloaded a few books on my iPhone for travel, and when the iPad arrives, I will embrace ereading with enthusiasm. I know there were still be many hard copy books in my life, though!

3. Books, magazines, and blogs about running, healthy living, and weight loss. A sub-category to the above, I guess. I devour these types of books voraciously. They entertain as well as inspire me.

4. Non-celebrity memoirs. Another sub-category. Okay, I like some celebrity memoirs too. But what I am thinking of is the type of memoir where the author is just an ordinary person with a knack for making some aspect of her life or history seem entertaining or enlightening. Sometime I will do a post about some of my favorites.

5. Amazing vegetables. Yes, I love all kinds of food. But vegetables really rock my world! Squash, sweet potatoes, eggplant, cauliflower, broccoli, Brussels sprouts, spinach and other greens, bell peppers, tomatoes, beans, asparagus, mushrooms, onions, beets. Even more so if they are roasted at a high temperature (except for the greens).

6. The seaside. I think that is a broad enough term to encompass all the various saltwater bodies and destinations that I love. Perhaps it comes from my Norwegian fishermen ancestors, or simply because I grew up on the shores of Puget Sound, and almost every vacation my family took involved some other type of waterfront location. Some of my favorite locations.... The San Juan Islands. If you ever have a chance, I urge you to take the ferry from Anacortes to Sidney BC (you can drive to Victoria from there). The views are amazing, and you'll probably see whales too. The Oregon Coast (actually I like it more than the Washington coast). Coastal Maine and New England. Cornwall in England. The fjords of Norway. Copenhagen Harbor. I love them all...I think saltwater runs in my veins.

7. Beautiful clothes. Perhaps it is shallow, but I get a thrill of excitement when I walk into Renee's or flip through a Talbots catalogue. I do believe that fantastic, flattering clothes--or a great pair of jeans--can be inspiring and energizing. I can't say it's necessarily cheaper than therapy, but it is a boost to the self esteem!

8. A great run. All runs are good, in some way, but a great run, where your legs feel light but strong, and you want to keep running even when you're done, is a powerful inspiration. After this kind of run, I feel the glow for hours to come. (This sometimes leads to signing up for future races, in a kind endorphin induced intoxication.)

9. Color. This may be rather clothing related as well, but I love bright, intense, beautiful colors. I love to drape myself in color saturated scarves, repaint white walls, and look for colorful accessories. (I ordered a bright green cover for my iPad to come!)

10. Happy FTDMs. This is a work-related one..,yes, I can be inspired by my work. Part of my job involves representing parents whose children have been taken away due to drug use. An FTDM is a meeting that is held when a child's placement is changed. A good FTDM is when the child is being returned home. Those are great days.

What inspires you?