Monday, May 30, 2011


I stole borrowed this ABCs of Food questionnaire from Janetha of Meals and Moves, who got it from another blog, who might have got it from the original creator XC Foodie. Or someone else along the way. Since I love both food and quizzes, obviously I jumped right on it! So here goes....

A is for Apple, what is your favorite variety?

Honeycrisp in season...which is late summer. Year round I like Braeburns. They are crisp and sweet. I really like most kinds of apples as long as they are crisp. Can't stand mushy or mealy apples!

B is for Bread, regardless of nutrition, calories, or whole grains, what is your favorite type to have a nice big piece of?

I love bread, even though I limit my consumption. Some of my favorites...hearty grain from the Calico Cupboard in LaConner, especially with honey butter...whole wheat rolls from Sisters in Everett...any and all breads from Sarah's in Wiscasset, Maine.

C is for Cereal, what is your favorite kind currently?

Fiber One original, it's really the only kind I eat and I. Love. It.

D is for Doughnuts, you might not currently be eating them but what kind do you fancy?

Anything with maple frosting! Maple bars of course, but you should try French crullers or old- fashioned doughnuts with maple frosting. Yum-o!

E is for Eggs, how would you like yours prepared?

Veggie scramble, heavy on the veggies!

F is for Fat Free, what is your favorite fat free product?

Oikos Greek yogurt!

G is for Groceries, where do you purchase yours?

QFC (in my neighborhood), also Safeway and Haggens on occasion.

H is for Hot Beverages, what is your favorite hot drink?

I drink Americanos all the time, and hot tea, but for a special treat I love a nonfat mocha with a pump of peppermint.

I is for Ice Cream, pick a favorite flavor and add a fun topping.

How about coffee ice cream with hot fudge? And maybe some crushed peppermint bark, like a cold version of a peppermint mocha? (I've never actually done that.)

J is for Jams and Jellies, do you eat them, and if so what kind and flavor?

I do eat jams and preserves (not jelly so much), and my favorites are the seedy dark berry kinds! Boysenberry, blackberry, and raspberry. I have a special favorite in Nervous Nellie's blackberry peach conserve. OMG yum!

K is for Kashi, name your favorite Kashi product?

I don't eat Kashi!

L is for Lunch, what was yours today?

This is sort of atypical for me, but I used up some odds and ends... I had a Hebrew National lowfat beef frank on a Franz sorta whole grain bun with mustard and relish, some leftover coleslaw on a bed of spring greens, Mary's Gone Crackers curry-flavored sticks, and watermelon. Then half a cup of peppermint ice cream (leftover from the holidays!) because I was craving something sweet.

That was Thursday by the way, I've been working on this quiz for a while.

M is for microwave, what is your favorite microwave meal/snack?

I like to cook an egg and/or egg whites in a custard cup and top with salsa.

N is for nturients, do you like carbs, fats, or proteins best?

Well, even though I feel that moderating quantity and types of carbs is important for weight control, I do have to admit that I love me some carbs most of all. Obviously all my beloved veggies and fruits are carbs, and I do love breads and carby sweets as well. In the healthy eating arena, after the fruits and vegetables, I do lean towards proteins but carbs are my secret love.

O is for oil, what kind do you use?

Mostly olive oil.

P is for protein, how do you get yours?

Eggs and egg whites, greek yoghurt, salmon and other fish, chicken and turkey, beef. I have noticed, in comparing nutrition data info, that chicken, turkey and fish offer a lot more grams of protein per serving than non-meat protein sources...I think I should probably eat them more often.

Q is for Quaker, how do you like your oats?

Pumped up! I like both steel cut oats and regular oats...also raw regular oats soaked for overnight oats. Regardless, I like to add at least some of the following... fruit, berries, banana, dried cherries or other dried fruit, a sprinking of chopped nuts, chia seed, cottage cheese stirred in at the end, egg white stirred in during cooking, greek yoghurt as a topping, a drizzle of maple syrup or sprinkle of brown sugar, fiber one cereal as a topping, granola or trail mix as a topping. I do not use all of these at one time!!!

R is for Roasting, what is your favorite thing to roast?

Vegetables! Sweet potatoes, parsnips, carrots, brussels sprouts, beets, bell peppers, zucchini, mushrooms, onions, eggplant. I am sure there are more possibilities but these are the ones I have enjoyed.

S is for Sandwich, what is your favorite kind?

BLT (bacon, lettuce, and tomato). I hardly ever have them but that answer came immediately to mind so it must be true!

T is for Travel, how do you handle eating while traveling?

It really depends on whether I am on a foodie trip or not. Sometimes I will bring along food (especially breakfast stuff), shop in grocery stores, delis and such, and eat mostly "in." (We do that a lot in England.) But if I am traveling in a place where the food is special, I love to seek out delicious local food in restaurants and other food venues. I do keep up with exercise on vacation. I run most days, and depending on where I am, may do a lot of walking. more so in places where we don't have a car, like London!

U is for Unique, what is one of your weirdest food combos?

Compared to all the food blogs I read, I can't say that anything I eat is very strange!

V is for Vitamins, what kind do you take?

Right now, none. Sometimes I take Vitamin D, Vitamin C, and fish oil. And/or maybe a multivitamin.

W is for Wasabi, yea or nay?

I say yea!

X is for X-ray, what would we see in your stomach right now?

As of tonight, Monday, a lot of Copper River salmon, asparagus, salad and fruit. My mom's birthday dinner!

Y is for Youth, what food reminds you of your childhood?

Norwegian pancakes (some people call them Swedish pancakes). They are very, very thin pancakes with butter and sugar, rolled up. My Norwegian grandmother used to make them for us.

Z is for Zucchini, how do you prepare it?

Most often, sliced and sautéed. Sometimes oven grilled or on the barbecue. Today we had raw sliced zucchini with chipotle dip and and it was delicious. Also, baked into zucchini bread is a good way to use excess garden zucchini!

That was fun! What are Your favorite foods?

Sunday, May 29, 2011

I Won I Won I Won!

I just found out I won the Merrell shoe giveaway from Mom vs. Marathon! Luckily I was scanning my Google reader tonight and came across the post where she announced it. I also got a comment from Alma at The Average Woman's Running Blog letting me know, but somehow I didn't see that until tonight either. So excited! I'll post about what I get! Thanks Kerrie!

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPad

Long weekend

I've been reading about everyone's Memorial Day races (except for the ones on Monday), and kind of wish I had a race this weekend. But not too much. I've done races every weekend in May (Bloomsday 12K, Heroes Half Marathon, Have a Heart 10K, and Seattle's Best 15K). The only race I could find for Memorial Day is about an hour away from here, and I really don't feel like making the effort. There's a local 5K in mid-June which seems a lot more appealing. Mostly because of the location.

I decided to do my "long" run on Friday so as not to suck up too much weekend time. (Yeah, better to suck up work time instead.) My planned length fluctuated along with my willingness to get out of bed Friday morning. When I finally got myself dressed and out the door I tentatively planned on twelve miles, which seemed doable, time wise.

But I was a little dissatisfied with the idea of twelve miles, as that had been the distance of my long run two weeks ago, plus the total miles I had run last Saturday with the 15K. It didn't seem like progress, for distance at least. (I do feel like I have been making progress with speed.) My only longer run since Boston had been the half marathon plus warm-up.

My current "plan" is training only for half marathons through the end of June. Obviously long distances aren't necessary. But I do want to work up to 15-16 miles by that point, both to help my half marathon performance and to be ready to launch into twelve weeks of marathon training (for Portland).

So, taking into consideration the amount of time I had available without being desperately late, I decided to up the distance to 13.1, with the ability to cut back if necessary. Actually my whole route allowed me to cut the distance short at any time if needed.

Friday morning was cloudy and cool but not cold. I wore my Boston shirt quite comfortably, plus gloves which I removed after about three miles.

At my 3.25 mile potty stop my average pace was just slightly over ten minutes. It took me much of the run to get to a 10-minute average pace, although I finished a little under, at about 9:56. (Total running time 2:10.) Of course it took a few miles to overcome my slow starting mile, but what really happened was that most miles in my first half were under ten minutes, but then most miles in the second half were a bit over ten minutes. Until the final couple miles.

I have an unsubstantiated theory that my "easy pace" was faster when I was listening to music on my iPod, and a bit slower when I switched to a podcast at about 6.5 miles. Of course the relative up and down hill terrain might have played a role as well! But since it was all easy, I was just happy to average under ten.

On Thursday I had read in another blog about "funfetti cookies" made with cake mix. They caught my fancy, and one google search and quick trip to the store later, and I had a batch of fun(fetti) cookies to bring to work and give away. Here is a plate of cookies wrapped for delivery! No, I am not a professional photographer.

One box funfetti cake mix
1/3 cup oil
Two eggs
Frosting-- I used a can of whipped funfetti vanilla frosting, but you could use regular funfetti frosting or make your own
Extra jar of sprinkles (I got stars--if you are not using funfetti frosting I would get two jars of sprinkles)

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Pour cake mix into a bowl and stir in some of the extra sprinkles if you would like. Mix in the eggs and oil until blended. Form dough into one-inch or smaller balls and place on ungreased baking sheet (I put a baking mat on mine). Flatten balls with a glass dipped in flour. Bake 6-8 minutes until lightly browned around edges.

Cool on baking sheet for two minutes then remove to rack. Frost and decorate with sprinkles (this is why you need extra, there is not enough with the frosting). Makes 36 or more cookies depending on size (I had 42).

I gave away most of the cookies but have had a few as post-run treats!

My second run of the weekend was today, Sunday. Since I did the long run on Friday I wanted to do a "pace" run today. I was a little nervous but told myself that if I couldn't hit the paces of course I could just run.

The plan: 8 miles progressive pace run
2 miles WU
2 miles @ 9:00 (MP)
2 miles @ 8:45 (HMP currently)
2 miles @ 8:30 (HMP goal)

It went amazingly well! Even the warm-up miles went well. Mile 1 was 10-something (like :09) and mile 2 was 9:20 (even with a long uphill in it). I was doing a loop that was just shy of four miles, and I planned so that I'd start my first pace mile on a downhill for a boost.

Mile 3 - 8:50
Mile 4 - 8:57

So that was good, so far, but I wasn't sure about picking up the pace...

Mile 5 - 8:45
Mile 6 - 8:43 (this had that same long uphill)

There's a reason why 8:45 is my go-to half marathon pace!

I got to start my final pace miles on a downhill, and it shows.

Mile 7 - 8:15
Mile 8 - 8:25

I wanted to make it a 10K, so...

.2 at 8:18 pace (1:40). I think that adds up to 53:35 for the 10K.

I felt like going a little further so I did two more miles recovery.

Mile 9.2 - 9:10
Mile 10.2 - 9:30

Plus .05 more to make a total of 10.25 miles with an overall average of exactly 9:00 per mile.

On the walk back from Starbucks I saw these cool trees planted along the sidewalk. This is a close-up, they are actually tree-like in shape.

In the afternoon Rod spent three interminable hours assembling a new barbecue. Painful, but the end result got us delicious ribeye steaks for dinner!

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPad

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

To be or not to be...sugar free

I have been wrestling off and on with the question of whether I should jump into the June 10-Day Sugar Free Challenge. You can read more about it from Amanda at Run to the Finish here. Basically it calls for giving up all sugars, syrups, sugar substitutes and fruit juice from June 1-10. The purpose is to reset your taste buds and get rid of sugar cravings, with the long term goal of reducing overall sugar consumption. It doesn't necessarily mean giving up all sugar, forever. The ten days is a sort of detox period, for your body, your taste buds, and your mind.

Now, in many ways I think this is a great idea and it would, in fact, probably be great for me. I do have a wicked sweet tooth and periodically I set out to shun sweets and desserts in hopes of conquering my sugary desires. In fact, I would say that I am almost constantly in a period of avoiding sweets, it's just that sometimes I am more successful than other times.

I know that giving up sweets would probably help me in my desire to lean up some (read, lose a few pounds) in order to improve my running. I would say that on many, if not most, days, I consume 300-400 calories that can be attributed to unnecessary treats (cookie, piece of cake, candy, etc.). That is not including the sugar calories that are in "allowed" sweets (a spoonful of honey* in my tea, a drizzle of maple syrup on greek yogurt). (I really don't eat as much sugar as this makes it sound!)

As far as sugar substitutes, I know it would not hurt me to reduce my consumption of Coke Zero.

With all that, you would think that I would enthusiastically jump on the Sugar Free bandwagon, wouldn't you? Plus, I love a challenge!

But...I think not. Probably not.

Why not? I have pretty good reasons and not so great reasons. I am not sure which is which. But....

  • Rod's birthday and my niece Eva's birthday fall right in the middle of the challenge. I suppose I could eschew all birthday cupcakes and other birthday desserts that are on offer that weekend (and eat strawberries), but honestly, I think that would be rather mean to the others involved. I know that Oprah didn't eat the cake at her 50th birthday party...but I bet she kind of regrets that now. I have declined desserts at some events, and will again, but it seems a little extreme to reject all special event desserts considering that I am not on a major weight-loss diet.

  • I always put two Splenda in my grande Americano (coffee). It doesn't make it sweet, just takes the edge off. If I eliminated the Splenda, I would probably compensate with more cream, and what benefit is that?

  • The aforementioned Coke Zero. Yes, I know this is a bad reason. But I love it so! It will be easier to drink more water when the weather gets hot. But giving up all sweeteners would also mean eliminating things like Crystal Light, and TruLemonade (great in water or iced tea!). Frankly, I don't believe these sweeteners make me crave other sweets in the way that cookies and "real" sweets do.

  • The drizzle of maple syrup on greek yogurt provides a lot of satisfaction for very few calories. Same thing with a spoonful of jam on a peanut butter or almond butter sandwich. And what about the small amount of sugar in Justin's maple almond butter?

  • I don't want to examine the ingredients of everything and eliminate it if there is a little sugar. For example, Oroweat Double Fiber English Muffins. I actually don't know if they contain sugar. But I don't want to stop eating them. I occasionally buy whole grain scones or banana nut muffins for breakfast. I know they contain sugar. I don't have to have them...but I would substitute an English muffin instead.

  • And then there is the issue of bars. Meaning granola bars, snack bars, whatever. I actually don't eat a lot of bars. But I do like the South Beach Fiber Fit bars (110 calories) for an occasional treat or snack. Or I might have half a PR*Bar as a pre- or post-run snack. Or a mini-Clif bar or mini-Larabar if I have them. I don't have to have these...but I might substitute an English muffin (or half) with almond butter instead and...see above.

  • And what about Gu? Pure sugar. Okay, I know I'm taking this a little far, I doubt that I will need any sports gels during this ten-day period, but that is another example of a sugar product that is intended to help, not hinder, my running.
Having said all that, who knows? I may end up jumping on the sugar-free train after all. But I'll probably just stick with my current goal of moderation most of the time, with an occasional treat on special occasions, and try to avoid making treats a daily thing. was speed work! I had to cut my distance to 7.27 miles again because of work (darn those courts for starting so early!). I did two miles warm-up, then three tempo interval miles (10K pace) with half mile recovery at approximate marathon pace between, plus another half mile at 10K pace (I would have done a full mile but just didn't have time), and a quarter mile recovery at the end.

My splits:

1 - 10:46
2 - 9:58
3 - 8:24
4 - (half mile) 8:56 pace
5 - 8:12
6 - (half mile) 9:17 pace
7 - 8:18
8 - (half mile) 9:17 pace
9 - (half mile) 8:18 pace
10 - (.27 mile) 10:09 pace

Total distance 7.27 miles, 1:05:19, 9:07 average pace. If you average all the tempo splits, they come to exactly 8:18 pace!

*I intentionally consume small amounts of honey for the antibacterial properties, to help fend off colds.

Monday, May 23, 2011

What a difference a day makes....

I love that song. There are so many different versions and performances, each and every one wonderful and moving. (That was Jamie Cullum.) What a difference a day makes, twenty-four little hours, brought the sun and the flowers, where there used to be rain.

Now, granted, in the Pacific Northwest, twenty-four little hours can take you from sun and flowers (last week), to rain and showers (this weekend), to sun and back to rain again (this week).

But a day can also take you from tired, beat up legs, to fresh, happy-to-run again legs, just like that!

Yesterday was a total rest day for me. Although I frequently have non-running days, I almost always fill in with some other kind of cross-training, and it is almost always on my legs. Yesterday I just took a completely lazy day.

Although I had a little bit of guilt about not working out (especially as there was a delicious pastrami Rueben sandwich lunch involved), I easily kept my total caloric consumption under 1800 even without burning any extra off. (And even with eating 3/4 of a Rueben sandwich and sweet potato fries for lunch!) That does lead me to believe that if there was some reason I could not exercise for a while (heaven forbid), I might be able to avoid eating everything in sight and gaining a ton of weight. Believe it or not (tongue in cheek here), when you are not exercising for hours at a time your body is less likely to demand massive amounts of food!

My heel had been hurting rather sharply (though sporadically) on Saturday and Sunday, so I thought the extra rest would be good for it too. I iced it with a cool pack on Sunday night and hoped for the best. Actually I wasn't especially worried, because sporadic heel, ankle, or achilles tendon pain is something I am used to, and it doesn't usually bother me when I am running. Running fast(er) seems to aggravate it a bit. (In contrast, I wasn't sore at all--in the heel or ankle that is--during or after the Boston Marathon!)

So after all this rest I gave myself on Sunday, I hoped to have fresh and happy legs this morning. And I did! Oh, getting out of bed was still a chore. That's probably as much psychological as physical. At about 5:30 I ran downstairs and grabbed some leftover coffee and a couple of Cookiehead mini cookies and brought them back up to eat in bed. I checked my email and looked at the weather forecast on my phone and on TV. It was actually a lovely morning! Mid-40s or so and lightly cloudy, but bright. I dressed in capris and my yellow Boston shirt. I put on a jacket and gloves, but ended up taking off the jacket after a mile and the gloves a few miles later.

Then I was off. My typical morning route these days takes me slightly uphill for the first couple miles, which I use as a warm-up, then back down again and onward. My legs felt springy and light. Mile 1 - 10:19 (unheard of for an early morning first mile!). I didn't see the actual split time on my watch, but glancing at it in mile 2 I thought that I might be able to get to two miles in 20 minutes, which would be a 10-minute pace in the first two miles--again, unheard of! Mile 2 - 9:43. So that was actually 20:02 for two miles, but still.

From there I cruised. Obviously I was going slightly downhill for a while, which is faster in any case, but I was genuinely running at an easy effort. Mile 3 - 9:30. Mile 4 - 9:28. Mile 5 - 9:38. Mile 6 - 9:34.

This was one of those morning when I really didn't have enough time for more than about six miles or 10K, but as usual once I get in the zone I hate to stop so soon. So I squeezed out another mile, this one with a little more than easy effort. I needed to get done and I wanted some speed! I was probably running the first half of the mile at the same easy effort and then picked up to around an 8-minute pace at the end. Mile 7 - 9:04. Finally, I ran around the block at QFC for another quarter mile at 9:33 pace.

Total 7.28 miles, 1:09:59, average pace 9:37.

I know that not every run is going to be this effortless. I am happy that my easy pace may be stepping back from 10:30 to 10:00, and any inroads toward 9:30 will be welcomed! If my easy pace gets faster, then my fast pace will get easier, right? I feel a lot like I did in the spring of 2009, where I came out of a dreary winter slump around about this time in the spring and went on to achieve PRs (as yet unbroken) in every distance in the fall of 2009. I would like to see some PRs again...but even if that does not happen, I want to run strong at a level that is right for me.

Saturday, May 21, 2011

Two days, two 9-mile runs

Two days: yesterday and today (Friday and Saturday). Two runs: 9 miles easy (general aerobic run) and 9.36 miles in Seattle's Best 15K.

Other than the general similarity in distances (and my involvement), the two days had little in common. Although, I guess I could also say that both runs were a success for what they were.

Yesterday was the nicest spring weather we have had this year. It was actually the fourth sunny day in a row! (And last....)

I was able to take a late start and didn't head out until after 8:00. It was still cool, but very bright and sunny, so I was able to happily wear one of my NuuMuu sleeveless dresses (with capris) and, of course, sunglasses.

I had today's 15K on the schedule, so I just planned to take it easy and not stress about pace. After a 10:53 first mile and then 10:26, I was running easily at 10:08-10:21 (and everywhere in between). Obviously I was going to average over 10, but I didn't care. However, I did care about getting finished and getting ready for work. I had estimated that I could do about eight miles in the time I allotted myself. That was allowing for a bathroom break, but not for the time I frittered at a garage sale while checking and returning emails on my phone.

So, to move things along, and also to approximate some "strides" in anticipation of the race on Saturday, in mile eight I picked up the pace in alternating blocks. That gave me a 9:31 mile.

A little math and my watch suggested that if I picked up the pace some more, I might be able to get to the 10-minute average. I was clearly going to top the original eight miles, and as I passed 8.5 I decided to make it nine. I ran around the block at QFC as fast as I could. I stopped my watch at 9.0 miles...and 1:30:09. Exactly 10:01 average pace. You can consider that either a victory or a failure! (That last mile was 8:16, and that was a victory for sure!)

That evening my mom and I went to Third Place Books to see Jen Lancaster. She's on tour for her new book, If You Were Here (a novel). She read a selection and then took questions from the audience. She's really funny and good at talking from the hip. She has very loyal fans, who read her blog and feel like they know her personally. It was a fun event!

Afterwards we ate at one of the food venues (Third Place has a sort of food court). I had pasta and salad in preparation for my race! Then we shared a piece of chocolate cake. ("Funny" story: When I brought back the cake and told my mom what it was, a woman at the next table whipped around and announced: "That cake is just awful!" We thought she was joking, and laughed, but she was dead serious, repeating it several times. It was quite disturbing, actually. But whatcha gonna do? We ate the cake. The frosting was kind of stiff, which is probably why she didn't like it, but it wasn't the worst thing ever.)

Morning was going to come VERY early. The race started at 7 am and I wanted to get there early enough to guarantee parking and warm up. My mom was going to come along and I told her to pick me up at 5:30.

I know lots of people get up at 3 or 4 a.m. to go to races but I typically don't. The 7 a.m. race I did a couple weeks ago was only a few miles from home. Last week's 10K started at 9:30. My alarm goes off at 5:15 on work days but I often hit snooze until 6.

Anyway, today 5 a.m. hurt. My body actually ached and it wasn't from running. But I forced myself out of bed by 5:15 and threw on my clothes. Wisely I had laid everything out and packed my gear the night before. I slapped together a couple of English muffins with almond butter and jam for my mother and me.

Friday's beautiful weather was gone. In its place we had heavy grey skies and drizzle, occasionally turning to rain. Nice.

With all these negatives, my heart and mind was not into running. As I pinned on my bib and attached my chip in the parking lot of Gasworks Park, I found myself almost dreading this race. Normally I love 15Ks. This one I didn't even want to do.

But I dragged myself out for a warm-up jog. I only had time to do .75 mile. Although I had used the porta potty twice already, I really felt like I had to go again, but feared there wasn't enough time in the five minutes remaining.

But the line was very short and I got in easily. This was a good sign, the first thing I really felt positive about today! Maybe things wouldn't go so badly after all....

When I came out I joined the crowd around the starting area and went about 2/3 forward. It was pretty tight. In fact, even after crossing the mats I felt a little held back. Mile 1 - exactly 9:00 (Garmin later updated to 8:59).

After that I was able to find my pace and hold steady at 8:40-8:45 for several miles.* A lot of the time I was around 8:30 mid-mile but without fail I popped out an 8:4x at the end. I tried using several people as pacers but most seemed to lose steam and I would pass them when the pace neared 9:00. Others, of course, left me behind.

I was wearing my yellow Boston shirt and gloves which I took off and carried after a few miles. I guess it was drizzling most of the time but I barely noticed. The temperature was probably in the 50s.

My plan was to pick up the pace in the final 5K. (That is always my plan.) Of course, as usual, that didn't quite happen. Mile 7 - 8:43 (at least I'm consistent).

It would have been nice to speed up in the next mile, but that's where the crazy little hills happened. Short, steep hills up with sort, steep downhills on the other side. Mile 8 - 8:58.

I was finally able to find my kick in mile 9. A moderate downhill stretch helped. 8:23. And then, .36 mile at 8:01 pace. I tore through the finishing area as fast as I could. I heard someone yell "go Boston!" hurrah for a clearly marked shirt. Final time 1:21:20. (Garmin pace 8:42, official pace 8:45.) In the training spectrum, I consider this a half-marathon pace run.

Amazingly, when I looked up the results this evening I was second in my age group! (Out of 17.) 35/253 females, 130/417 overall. I didn't have a clue that I would get an award so I left before they were announced.

Before we went to breakfast, I made myself run two more miles. I did this in 21 minutes, which wasn't too bad considering it was after a race.

My mom and I then drove up to Julia's in Wallingford for breakfast. I have a Living Social voucher for Julia's but we really needed three people to use $40, especially for breakfast. So we'll have to come back another time for that.

I couldn't resist ordering a cinnamon roll (to share), rationalizing that the 12+ miles I'd run was almost a half marathon! For the rest of my breakfast I had an egg white veggie omelet, toast (and jam), and fruit. The omelet was very white. I'd rather have it made into a scramble, I think. But it was good.

Since I've done two consecutive medium long runs, tomorrow will be a much anticipated non-running day!

*8:42, 8:39, 8:43, 8:40, 8:44, 8:42

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Finally, a lovely day!

But don't blink, the sun might disappear.

Actually the forecast shows at least partly sunny for the rest of this week, through Sunday.

It's about time! The rain this weekend just about drowned us. Apparently both Saturday and Sunday had record amounts of rain. Even though it was actually pretty nice and dry on Saturday until late afternoon...the evening made up for it.

I did benefit from the decent weather Saturday morning for doing my 10K up in Mount Vernon, but no such luck on Sunday. My informal training schedule (currently making it up as I go) called for twelve miles. The half marathon last weekend was actually the longest I'd gone since Boston, but from now on out I plan on staying in the double digit long runs most weeks.

I didn't head out until 10 a.m. I had oatmeal for breakfast, and it probably would have been a good idea to have it a little earlier than I did (9:30). When I'm not racing I'm not so diligent about allowing time to digest before I run. That oatmeal sat pretty heavily in my stomach for the first few miles!

I started with music on the iPod. I figured I'd do that for about five miles, then switch to a podcast for another five or six miles, and finally switch back to music to finish whatever was left. I ended up keeping the music on until my bathroom stop at seven miles,* and the podcast took me the rest of the way to twelve.

I wanted to keep my pacing in the effortless range, which for me is still in the mid-10s. I guess that's about 90 seconds slower than goal marathon pace. I am hoping over the summer to see that effortless pace drop to about 9:45 (without making an effort to get it there). I'm not saying that my goal marathon pace is over going to be faster than nine-minute-miles, but I am also working on a goal half marathon pace, which is about 8:30 (or faster, but let's try for 8:30 first).

After my warm-up mile, my pace settled down nicely. Miles 1-7 - 10:46, 10:18, 10:14, 10:15, 10:21 (and that mile had a steep uphill in it), 10:00, 10:24 (fooling around trying to get to seven miles before stopping). The next few miles I was dragging a bit... Miles 8-10 - 10:34, 10:27, 10:40. I think I was a little bored. Oh, and it was raining quite hard and windy at this point. It did rain consistently throughout; lightly for the first few miles, then rather heavily, then lightly again at the end. Mile 11 I picked it up a little - 10:18.

At the point I reached my "finish" on Grove I was still only at 11.25 miles. I had no chance but run the rest of the way to Safeway (which brought me exactly to 12 miles) and get another Americano for the walk home. (I had gotten one earlier in the morning, and they gave me an extra espresso shot in it, so with the second coffee I was at seven shots for the day. Scary.) Mile 12 (before the second coffee!) - 9:48. Guess I was anxious to finish. That's the pace I would like all of my long runs to be!

My total for the day, 12.01 miles, 2:02:37, 10:21 average pace.

I postponed my Monday run to today, to take advantage of much nicer weather (yes, the weekend rained continued, heavily, through Monday). This morning it was a little foggy but much nicer for running. Unfortunately I was a little short on time (and didn't get up earlier to compensate), so I had to cut my run to six miles. Well, 10K. Actually 6.5. I stopped at 6.7. (And this, folks, is why I never have enough time to get ready for work!)

It was actually a very good recovery/easy run. I think I am going to rename these runs General Aerobic Runs (GAR). I have never really felt the "recovery" in a run, though I certainly have felt "easy"! My informal goal the last few weeks has been to do these GAR runs at a 10-minute pace or faster. It's a bonus if I can finish the first three miles under 30 minutes, because then I can cruise the remaining miles!

Getting the first three miles under 30 is a job, though, since at least the first mile is going to be slow while I warm up. (Sometimes it has taken four miles to get to a ten-minute average.) Today mile 1 was typically glacial - 10:55. Mile 2 was better - 9:40 without too much effort. Well, there was some effort...I was heading for a bathroom and time was of the essence! Mile 3 - 9:08! This was slightly downhill and made it easy to make my 10-minute average. The remaining splits were good, 9:19, 9:27, and .7 mile at 8:56. Total 6.7 miles, 1:04:18, 9:36 average pace.

Tomorrow I have speed work on the docket. I am thinking of returning to the track, now that it has had a chance to dry up!

*Actually it was my second bathroom stop, but who's counting?

Saturday, May 14, 2011

Blogging by iPad

I've been reading on other blogs that Blogger was down on Thursday and Friday. I wouldn't know about that as I haven't tried to post anything for a few days! Let's say I've been busy with work, shall we? Okay, also playing with my iPad, reading blogs, reading books on the Kindle app, and playing crack, I mean Bookworm.

Today I finally decided to write a blog post using the iPad. I'm just doing it with the regular blogger, not a special app, and it's working okay. A few quirky things, but probably due to user error.

So, let's see, what's been going on. I've been running since Bloomsday on May 1. I may have already written about some of this, I can't remember. Both last week and the week before, I've tweaked my schedule a little bit to accommodate post-race legs, iffy weather, and a weak character (early morning laziness). Still, I've managed to follow the general weekly plan of one easy run, one speed/tempo run, one goal pace rn (meaning a few miles at marathon, or better yet half marathon, goal pace effort), and one long run at an easy pace. On non-running days I fill in with cross training on the elliptical and an occasional rest day. So the last two weeks have looked like this:

Monday, May 2 - Elliptical, yoga
Tuesday, May 3 - Elliptical in the morning in lieu of running, 9.34 miles in the evening (9:53 avg pace)
Wednesday, May 4 - 7.75 miles evening, with 3.1 at tempo pace (8:22/mi)
Thursday, May 5 - Elliptical, yoga
Friday, May 6 - 7.5 miles easy
Saturday, May 7 - Rest
Sunday, May 8 - Heroes Half Marathon, 1:55:10 (plus 1.3 miles warm-up). This race combined my long run and Pace run, hence the two easy runs earlier in the week.
Monday, May 9 - Elliptical, yoga
Tuesday, May 10 - Elliptical in morning, 8.78 miles after work, <10 pace
Wednesday, May 11 - Elliptical, plus a massage
Thursday, May 12 - 7.27 miles (morning!) with four miles at marathon/half pace (8:51, 8:55, 9:00, 8:43, plus a half mile at the end at 8:25 pace)
Friday, May 13 - Elliptical, plus six miles walking in the afternoon (I walked home from work, then did a 3.25 mile neighborhood loop, then walked to Gordito's to get a burrito for dinner).
Saturday, May 14 - Have a Heart 10K, 52:51 (plus 1.5 mi WU and about .3 after).

Tomorrow should be my long run.

Even though my half marathon time was just so-so (but definitely my best this year), I ended up winning second in my age group! Actually I was third, but the first placer won an overall award, so dropped out of the AG awards. I never expected to win anything with a time over 1:50! I left before awards, but dropped by on my way to brunch to pick up my sweet red ribbon. The two ahead of me were sub-1:40, which is more like it!

My 10K today was another solid but not spectacular finish time. My average pace was 8:30...I would have liked to see 8:15-20, but it was not to be. The race started at Edgewater Park in Mount Vernon and the first two miles were on a gravel trail along the dike. It was nice for running but not a fast surface for me. Then we moved onto paved roads for a couple miles, which I liked. Finally we were back on the dike to finish. That kind of put a damper on my big "push" in the last two miles. But I was okay with my time. I felt like I ran hard without killing myself. There weren't too many females ahead of me. I might have won an AG prize had the been tracking ages. Oh well.

So that was it for the last two weeks. we are finally getting some sporadic spring weather here. Some of those runs were in the sunshine! I'm hoping for more of that in the weeks to come!

Monday, May 9, 2011

Win a pair of shoes with Mom vs. Marathon!

Kerrie at Mom vs. Marathon has a sweet giveaway for Merrill Barefoot Running shoes. Go to her blog here to enter and reduce my chances of winning! :)

Thursday, May 5, 2011

The in-between time

Now that Boston has come and gone, I am in between marathon training cycles. I am figuring to start training for Portland at the end of June. That will leave July, August, and September (plus a week in October) for a 12+ week training cycle. I don't see any need to restart a 16-18 week plan, as long as I keep myself in good shape and continue to do medium long runs (before increasing to "long" runs).

The question is, what to do over the next few weeks? Actually, I know what I want to do, the question is how to accomplish it. I probably won't set up a formal plan (though putting things on paper is always fun, and it might be a good idea just to keep track of races and not miss any or double-schedule myself).

My focus is going to be working on getting my half marathon pace back to where I was last year, hopefully so I can work toward a PR, as well as doing a few speedy short races (5K and 10K). I will continue to work on those goals when I return to marathon training, since I don't expect to accomplish them in just two months. This will also hopefully help toward speeding up my marathon pacing abilities.

I have been reading Mastering the Marathon by Don Fink, which is geared toward athletes over 40. The basic premise is that you can improve your marathon performance and time by including three key runs in your week: a marathon-pacing run, higher-intensity repeats, and a long run. He also suggests how you can fill in with other runs or cross-training, and how you can substitute cross-training for some of the key runs as well, particularly if you are injured.* He also discusses the importance of rest and recovery, and includes anecdotes about runners who have done well after 40. He goes into specifics about how to do these runs to work toward a specific marathon finish time.

His premises are actually similar to how I structure my training already, but I am enjoying the book (reading it on my iPhone during down times in court), and I think I can use it to fine tune my training program.

My training plan for the next few weeks will include:

  • 4 (sometimes 5) runs a week: easy/recovery, speed work (track or tempo), medium-long run with goal pace miles (half marathon effort), and a long run. Long runs will not exceed 15 miles until after the end of June. The fifth run might be the odd 5K now and then.

  • Yoga about twice a week. I may consider adding a third yoga class, if I can manage it. Meaning if I can make myself drive to Monroe an extra evening in the week....

  • Cross training on non-running days (mostly elliptical).

  • Figure out a plan for weights and strength training.

  • Continue to work on achieving a more desirable racing weight.

This will probably be the same when I resume marathon training, actually...except that the length of the long runs will increase, of course.

I have a few half marathons either on the books or in my reason to make up a written training plan would be to get them on a calendar! I also want to do some shorter races for sharpening and working on my cardio ability. (Sucking air is great for your lungs, right?) I tend to consider races to be a good variation on tempo runs.

This week I've had two good runs so far on our two sunny afternoons (Tuesday and Wednesday). I will admit that the reason for the afternoon runs rather than my usual mornings was pure laziness and reluctance to face the weather! On Tuesday morning it was raining, but the forecast promised sun by 5:00 (which arrived, though it was windy!). That day was an easy run, but I did push myself just a bit after the early warm-up miles to get my average pace under 10-minutes...9.34 miles at 9:53 average pace.

Yesterday the weather was dry but a little cold in the morning, and my legs were still a litte tired from the night before, so I put off my tempo run until after work. I was able to go out in a sleeveless top! I started with 2.2 miles easy warm-up, then launched into 3.1 miles tempo (8:29, 8:16, 8:22, .1 at 7:57 pace). I finished with another 2.44 miles easy (though faster than the first two miles). Total distance 7.75 miles. Average overall pace 9:28.

Today was an off day from running, thank goodness. I have felt so tired today. I went to the Y before work and did 70 minutes on the elliptical plus 15 push-ups, but I did not feel up to par at all. I've just been lethargic all day. The weather has gone back to gloomy and dark, although not rainy. I will probably go to yoga tonight (I've missed my Thursday night class through most of April due to my travels), but I might take a little nap at home first!

*Although in my opinion if you are so injured or so prone to injury that you are trying to use cross-training for all of your runs, perhaps you should reconsider marathon training for a while!

Sunday, May 1, 2011

A few more things I forgot...

Sorry about the lack of paragraphs in the earlier post. I really do put them in. First blogger failed me, now the iPhone is ignoring my hard returns as well. :( (Although the paragraph spaces worked here. It's a mystery to me!)

The variation in pic size is also an unintended consequence. Of course the homely self portraits are gigantic and the nicer ones are tiny. :( again. (I fixed this later, now they are the same size, hopefully!)

Despite the cold morning it was not cold for running. My gloves came off in mile 2. Yes, of course I carried them the rest of the way. I have never yet thrown away a pair of $1 gloves! I also determined within a few miles that I would have done fine in a sleeveless top. I have determined this every single year and have not yet gone sleeveless in Bloomsday!

I saw two people in my general vicinity wearing the yellow Boston tops and walked through the finish area with a woman who had been there with three family members (though didn't run herself). I saw a couple of people afterward walking around in Boston finishers jackets (yes, I put mine on later after I changed clothes). I also saw several people in Portland marathon shirts, Seattle marathon shirts, etc. It's like we all wanted to prove that we could run further than 12K.

We are going to have the hotel $15 early bird dinner. So it's time for me to go eat.

Bloomsday PR

On a sunny first day of May (also practically the first sunny day of the year), I ran my first PR in a year! (The last one was Bloomsday 2010. 12K PRs are a little easier to come by since I only do one 12K a year.)It's a little embarrassing to admit, I only feel really good about a race if I do better than I expect to (i.e. PR). I am a strong proponent of the idea that you cannot PR in every race (especially if you race frequently), and I certainly have been happy with various non-PR finishes. But there is definitely a little extra measure of excitement and happiness that comes with a PR. I certainly didn't expect to PR today. I am less than two weeks out from Boston (though completely recovered). More significantly, my pace times, though significantly improved this spring from winter, have continued to be a little slower than last year. So my expectations were high for a good race, but not necessarily a great race.Actually I would call this one a very good would take a little more speed to make it great. (Still waiting for that one-hour 12K...maybe I should find an easier 12K course!)The Bloomsday course is rather similar to Boston in its ups and downs...the difference being that it's only about a quarter of the distance, no time to destroy your legs! It starts with a long downhill then goes into an uphill...and repeat a few times ( with some flatter stretches in between) until the final long hill (known as Doomsday Hill) which takes you past the five mile point. Then it's a combination of flat and downhill to the finish. My mother and I had flown over to Spokane on Friday. Somehow I convinced myself to make it an extra long weekend even though I just got back from Boston. We settled in to the lovely Davenport Hotel and I was able to make my trip to the "trade show" (expo) Friday afternoon. I tried to be quick and untempted by merchandise but I did walk away with two new NuuMuu running dresses (I thought of wearing one today but I couldn't get one with any purple/lilac in it, and it also seemed a little chilly for sleeveless this morning (though actually it wasn't). I also made numerous passes by the Franz Bakery booth, taking handfuls of iced circus animal cookies which I stashed in my bag for later treats. I managed to get out of the building before being banned. One benefit of arriving early is that we could have two carbo-load dinners at Cafe Europa! Pizza on Friday night and pasta on Saturday. Plus plenty of bread both nights. Those meals also yielded leftovers for lunch on Saturday and Sunday. On Saturday we walked down to Riverfront Park and across the river to look at the falls.

That was pretty much the extent of our activities. We spent a lot of time enjoying our lovely room. And I have a new iPad which has me quite enthralled!Sunday morning I got up a little after 6 and headed down to the lobby to get coffee. I also got us huckleberry scones for pre-race breakfast. They seemed more appealing than the English muffins I brought. I wasn't worried that they would be hard on my stomach, and they were not. Then I had plenty of time to go back to bed, eat and drink, and play with the iPad rest ip for the race. The sun was out at 6 am, but by 7 it was foggy and stayed that way till close to race time. It was also quite cool, in the 30s, so I forwent the new sleeveless outfits and the sleeveless top I'd brought, and stuck with my tried and true long-sleeve. In purple, for Lilac Bloomsday. I also had one of my throwaway sweatshirts from Goodwill (only one left--I'll need to go shopping or maybe clean my closet). I reluctantly left my iPad the hotel and headed out for a warm-up jog. I thought 1.5+ mile would be good to add to the 7.46 race distance. After a mile or so I popped into the hotel for a final bathroom stop, then finished 1.6 miles heading to my corral (I was in the yellow group as usual). Last year I had been frustrated with the range of paces in the yellow group, so I made my way as close to the front as I could without being pushy. Then I waited.
It didn't seem cold in the crowd, but I kept my jacket on till we started walking forward. Then I tossed it to the curb along with hundreds of other jackets lining the sidewalk and dangling from trees. I was able to start out at a good pace. It was crowded, but for the most part I didn't feel trapped by those around me. Maybe a little, but there's certainly no guarantee I could have gone faster.During the week I did that tempo run I wrote about, then on Friday I did a few miles of fartleks, alternating fast quarter miles with jogging. On both days my fast paces were around 8:15 for the short distances. Today I figure I was running around 8:30 on the flats, 7:45-8:15 on downhills, and then there the uphills to keep my average pace up. Mile 1 was all downhill but there were a number of bottlenecks that did slow me. That mile was 8:38. I continued my rolling pace in miles 2-4...8:28, 8:48, 8:29. Mile 4 was the devil's combo. The first half was downhill and fast. Good thing, because the second half was the longest, steepest hill of all, Doomsday Hill! My pace slowed to 10+, but thanks to averaging my final time for mile 5 was 8:40. Mile 6 was my most frustrating. The first quarter was the end of Doomsday, but even when it flattened out I was having trouble getting back to my now-target pace of 8:30. That one was 8:53. Then I got my mojo back! Plus some gentle downhills. Mile 8 - 8:24. Now it was just a push to the finish. I gathered up that final kick which was so absent in Boston (um, after 21 miles) and finished up .56 miles at an 8:13 pace. Yes, as usual I ran an extra tenth of a mile. As I was finishing up I wasn't sure if I could squeak in under 1:05....Final Garmin time 1:04:57. That's an average pace of 8:35, though it will be slower for the official distance. Twenty seconds faster than last year! Woo hoo!Then I trudged through the finish area, picked up my finisher shirt, and headed to Madeleine's to meet my mom for breakfast. Cinnamon roll and a giant Americano (really just a grande)!