Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Feeling fast (but not really)

Have you ever had a point in a run where you feel like you feel like you are flying, your legs move effortlessly, and you think you must be hitting an exceptionally speedy pace...and then you look at your split and it is surprisingly slower than you expected? That happened to me this morning during my first speed interval. (The others weren't so fast either, but by that time I didn't have any illusions about breaking land speed records.) But it's okay! I still had a good run. Here's how it went down.

Yesterday afternoon I got an email about an emergency meeting at 8 a.m. today. Scheduling-wise, this created a bit of a crisis because I rely on starting court at 9 a.m. (and barely get done running and dressing to be on time for that). I "needed" to do my run on Wednesday morning because Tuesday was an off day already and I didn't want to stack too many runs at the end of the week in any case. (I say "needed" because obviously, running is purely recreational and in the end I need to adjust it for work obligations, not adjust my work to accommodate running...too much.)

Anyhow, obviously I needed to get out at least an hour early to allot the usual amount of time to running and still attend the meeting. So I set my alarm for earlier and resolved to spend less time hitting the snooze button and checking email and just get out and going. I did okay...I walked out the door about ten minutes later than I intended, but it was still a lot earlier than my typical morning.

It was still dark, of course, but pretty balmy compared to Monday. It was almost like...dare I say...a spring morning!

I started with 2.25 miles warm-up. My warm-up miles are always so slow. Sometimes they are even slower. Today they were pretty darn slow, at least the first mile. On the second one I didn't even look at the time. One of my current resolutions is not to worry about the warm-up pace. So many things contribute to what my legs are willing to do first thing in the morning. Darkness, outdoor temperature, whether my legs are tired or always takes me at least two miles before my legs are ready to come to the party.

My plan for today was 2 x 1200 (3/4 mile) plus 4 x 500 (half mile). Since I was on the road instead of the track, I also plotted my route to allow me to do the intervals without dealing with too many stoplights and other distractions. One thing I did not contemplate, however, was how many miles it would take to accomplish all the speedwork plus recovery between each was more than I expected, which contributed a little to my time crunch in the end.

There are many disadvantages to doing speedwork on the road. One of the advantages, though, is getting the benefit of the downhill portions of the road. My first 1200 was on a slight downhill. From the moment I took off my legs felt so light and speedy, none of that awkward effort I sometimes experience...surely I must be going at a sub-8 pace. My time goal for the 1200s was 6:05-6:10...surely I would beat that. And the Garmin said...well, I can't remember exactly. Around 6:20ish. Pace of 8:28. What? I guess I should have been suspicious when at no time did I feel like I was going to suck my lungs out of my body.

The second 1200 was back the same route. So, slightly uphill. It was a few seconds slower--no surprises there. Plus, I did feel a little like my lungs were going to collapse. Back to normal, then.

My 800s were to be done at about 4:00. My first one was about 4:05 (actually okay), and the others were slightly slower. On #3 I had to run through the students milling about the sidewalk at Everett High. On #4 I turned around the block but I did get to finish on a downhill.

Distance-wise, it took more than 6.5 miles to get all this done...not great on a day with a time crunch! This is partly why I ended on the downhill. Normally I would have that as part of a cool-down mile, but I really had no time to do anything but finish. My total distance was 6.75 miles.

Maybe I am too lax, but I am not terribly disturbed that I could not meet any of the goal paces today. I felt like I was putting out a really strong effort and definitely got some benefits from the run. Next week I can do my speedwork at the track (spring break), so this will be a good measure of what my speed really is for short intervals. (On the schedule--two sets of 6 x 400. Gulp.)

I know--or at least I believe--that the short distance speedwork is not the most crucial for marathon training, or even half marathon training. But I think it is still important, not just because the Run Less Run Faster people put it on the plan. As I said the other day, I am way too accustomed to running at a comfortable pace. Speedwork forces me out of my comfort zone, and I hope makes it easier to push myself on race days. Also, I think that making myself really uncomfortable on some runs will improve my cardio ability, and make my easy runs a little faster. And I do want to do okay in the occasional 10K and 5K.

And getting to that 8 a.m. meeting? Well, I stopped at Starbucks, walked home, then cleaned myself up and dressed in superfast time. (Let's just say that I really need to wash my hair with shampoo tomorrow....) I was about 15 minutes late but the meeting started late anyway. So I was rewarded for my laziness. Or at least not penalized.

Tonight I am making vegetable curry using a combination of the recipe in my sidebar and this recipe from the Amateur Gourmet (which is very similar to my recipe anyway). The star of this show is cauliflower! I am so excited.

Monday, March 25, 2013

THIS is spring!

More specifically, this is my first spring race of the year, the Mercer Island Half Marathon yesterday (Sunday). And the weather was pretty good. The grass behind me is green, isn't it? No snow, no rain? I'll take it.

Remember Friday, when I was whining about running in the blizzard? Well, by 10 a.m. the sun was breaking out and the remaining snow was melting. By 5 p.m. it was a sunny spring afternoon (though not too warm). Saturday was similarly cool and sunny, and Sunday, though not quite sunny most of the day, was dry and not-cold enough that I almost felt like my rather heavyweight top was going to be too warm in the half marathon. Luckily I was able to moderate my body heat by running without gloves, and sweating profusely.

This year was the second time I've run Mercer Island, and once again my opinion is confirmed, I really like this half marathon. Even though I am not crazy about driving to Mercer Island, and I was once again freaked out over the confusing directions and dodgy parking. But it's not hard to get there at all! In case I am worried again next year, here are my driving and parking tips (personalized for me).

  • It takes about 45 minutes to get there. But obviously allow at least an hour driving time.
  • Arrive before 7 a.m. to get easy, good parking. The earlier the better...even though the half marathon doesn't start until 9 a.m.
  • Take the Island Crest Way exit. Follow the signs to the park & ride. If you are early enough, you can park in the park & ride which is right on the 13-mile marker...meaning about a tenth of the mile to the start and finish, and the MI Community Center which is race headquarters.
  • Get there really early. Did I say that already?

We did leave really early (though about 15 minutes later than planned, my fault), and arrived a little after 7:00. We got into the park & ride garage, where they allowed us to park even though the directions said only the top level would be open for the race. If the second level hadn't been opened, I don't know how early we would have to arrive to get one of the few, prime spots.

The only downside of our parking was that our spot in the parking garage was pretty dark. My dad complained about that. My mother didn't care that much (she has a Kindle). So I walked my dad up the the Community Center where he spent his time reading, eating the breakfast we brought, walking around the vendor displays, and talking to people. He really enjoyed that. My mother would rather die than leave the car and go somewhere else. She stayed in the car.

I actually made one trip up to pick up my number and chip and stuff before getting my dad. Obviously the convenient parking location was really helpful. I had plenty of time to do a two-mile warm-up, then leave my jacket and gloves in the car, squeeze in a final porta-potty visit, and find a spot in the starting corral with seven minutes to spare.

I had projected my time to be somewhere between two hours (optimistically) and 2:10 (hoping I wouldn't be any slower than that). Last year my time for this one was 1:58, but I am not quite in the same place as I was last year (yet). My heavy marathon training started a month earlier in 2012, so I figure I'm about a month behind.

I think the Mercer Island Half Marathon is an easy hard course. It is definitely hard in some ways--it is quite hilly throughout. But in addition to the uphills, there are corresponding downhills, including long downhill stretches which were great for making up (a little) time.

I think that one of the casualties of spending so much time marathon training, as well as doing so many races, is that I am far less willing to put a hard effort into a half marathon. This is because when doing marathon pace training, the goal is to find a pace that is not impossible to maintain for long, long periods of time. I should be able to push myself a little harder for a half marathon, and I do, but not enough, I think. (I can still do it for 5Ks and 10Ks.) Also, with the number of half marathons I do, I have become a little numb to the adrenaline kick in a race. You know how you're supposed to be able to run faster in a race just because of the excitement of it all? I don't find that so much any more. Some...but not enough.

However, I did set out at a good pace and actually I was averaging about 9:09 pace (some a little over, some a little under) for at least the first half of the race. Of course, being right on track for a two-hour half marathon doesn't leave a lot of room for error. Or for getting tired. Or for the second half being harder. Or for the race course being a little long. Do you see where I'm going with this?

After the halfway point (6.5 miles), the course started climbing steadily (though still maintaining rolling hills). The elevation was definitely net uphill from about the 10K to 15K point. I know that's only three miles but it was a tough three miles. We did get to cruise downhill for about a mile after that but hit another long, steep hill between miles 11-12, as well as a short but killer climb from mile 13 to the finish.

I decided to engage in race strategy beginning in mile 6. I begin running the first 3/4 of each mile at my comfortably hard pace, then pushed harder for the last quarter mile. This hopefully helped keep my paces down a little, though I definitely logged some slower miles in those last few miles. I took a gel around mile 8 to hopefully give me a's always hard for me to tell if it really works. In addition to my quarter mile kicks, I also tried to push a little harder on the downhills, and not just use them to rest and cruise...though I may have done that also.

I knew I wasn't going to break two hours when I saw the 2:00 as I approached mile 13. My watch gave me another .19 mile to the finish and my final (official) time was 2:02:12. That was a 9:20 official pace and 9:14 according to my watch.

I am definitely okay with that time. I hate to play the "it could have been worse" card, could have been so much worse! This was so close to two hours that I really have hope for doing two hours or under in the Whidbey Island Half Marathon in three weeks. (I'll post about why this is significant to me at a later time.) I'm not sure where I could have shaved some time off of this race, but I think that I could have tried a little harder on the downhills. 

I finished fast enough that my dad missed my finish...I guess his expectations of me have lowered a bit. Or he's just slow....

I was originally planning on running at least a mile afterwards, to make at 16+ mile day, but that didn't seem to make sense with my parents waiting to leave. It would have worked better if we'd been forced to park further away, but that would have been a pain in other ways. So my 15.2 miles will have to suffice for the day.

My back did not bother me at all during the race. Well, I did have my phone in the back pocket of my shirt and it felt a little weird to have that bouncing against my lower back (it didn't really bounce, the shirt is snug, but I felt something), but overall, no back strain. In fact, I woke up in the middle of the night on Saturday/Sunday and thought, "my back is healed." Let's hope it stays that way!

I had a surprisingly good recovery run this morning. Sometimes it is better to run on the morning after a long run or race, because the DOMS won't really set in until the next day (I do expect some chatter from my quads about the downhill running). My average pace for 7.77 miles this morning was 9:44, and that was with a first mile of over 11 minutes, and a second mile around 10:30. After that I was able to stay in the nines and even had one 8:59. Tomorrow I cross-train and then tackle speed work on Wednesday!

Friday, March 22, 2013

This is spring?!

I am so not excited about the weather this morning.

We went through the whole winter with nary a flake of snow in the lowlands, and on the third day of spring we get this? The picture does not really show the wet, cottonball flakes falling from the sky, or the inch of wet snow on the ground, or the slushy, icy puddles that fill every depression in the street or sidewalk.

The worst of it for me, is that it really put a damper on my spring running rejuvenation that had been going quite well until today!

That sounds a little dramatic, I know. But I really have felt a new spring in my step (ahem) since March 1 (even though spring just officially began this week). I am pretty sure I have managed to keep all my weekday runs to an average pace of 10 minutes per mile or faster (even with the inevitably slow warm-up miles).

Today, however, harkened back to the bad old days of deep winter, when the mornings were dark, wet, and cold, and my legs felt heavy, tired, and slow. You see, two things that always slow me down are darkness, and a non-paved running surface. Running on an inch of snow is like running on dirt trails to me...soft on the body, but slow on my feet. Average pace this morning (hanging head in shame)--11:17 minutes per mile. (I might add that I did not push myself at all...the wet snow was also quite slippery, and the last thing I wanted was to fall! Which I also why I am always so much slower in the winter.) I had to cut the run short to 5.6 miles, as I ran out of time and really was just done, anyway.

But looking at the positive side of things. It was pretty and sort of fun to run in the snow. The soft surface was definitely easier on my body, which is kind of good as I have had back issues since Tuesday and it is just today feeling noticeably less sore. I guess I could also call it a taper of sorts, since I am doing the Mercer Island Half Marathon on Sunday and would like to make a strong effort. (I am praying that the weather forecast remains dry for Sunday!) Even though I wasn't able to do any goal pace miles today, at least my legs will be fresh.

Today's run (per my schedule) was supposed to include three miles at 8:44. That just was not going to happen. Luckily I did manage to accomplish my speed work yesterday! After 2.2 miles warm-up, I did three miles (with a couple minutes recovery between each) at 8:20, 8:13, and 8:21. Goal pace was 8:15, so...pretty good.

Tuesday was my "easy run" of the week (who knew today would turn into "even easier" run?). My legs were a little sore from the weekend (this was before the back issue kicked in), but after a slow warm-up I picked it up enough to finish with my sub-ten average pace. Thanks to a light afternoon schedule, I was able to go to a yoga class at noon, but it wasn't the delightful experience I hoped for. I wasn't crazy about the class, and some of the stretches were just awkward and bizarre to me. I'm not sure if I overstretched or what, but about halfway through my lower back started complaining. I wasn't even able to do a bridge without discomfort! And I could only hold a plank for about ten seconds before my back hurt too much to go on. (Proof that when your abs are weak, you compensate with your back.)

My back issues persisted throughout the week. At night I put a hot water bottle under my back, and that felt great. I was able to walk, elliptical, and even run without too much difficulty, but I could barely bend over to put on my socks.  And let's not even talk about putting on and taking off compression socks....

Last night I tried some child's pose and a downward dog to see how things were, and I could tell that my hips and glutes were very tight. I couldn't even really straighten my legs in the downward dog! I am feeling much less discomfort today, though. I think by tomorrow I will be almost back to normal. I have a yoga class I really like on Saturdays, but I am reluctant to risk it tomorrow, since I am concerned that the poses (particularly the core poses) might put too much strain on my back, too soon. I can't be laid up in the middle of marathon training! (Well, I don't want to be laid up, ever.)

That picture at the top was from downtown Everett in the middle of my run. It was my second attempt at a snow picture. The first time, a few minutes earlier, I had stopped to take a picture and while I was standing still on the sidewalk, I slipped on the snow and fell down! While standing still! No injury, just a wet leg. I also managed to step in several slush puddles and a giant hole of ice water in the McDonald's parking lot.

Snow, begone!!!

Monday, March 18, 2013

Shamrock Weekend

Happy Monday! I'm back from a fun running weekend in Portland with my parents.

St. Patrick's Day is not a super significant holiday to me--I can't really get into a holiday that revolves around drinking and where the highlight is often a parade--but on the other hand, I love to wear green (all the time), and the Portland Shamrock Run is one of my favorite running events each year. So I do observe St. Patrick's Day, just not in the "traditional" fashion.

Portland is one of my favorite race travel destinations. I've gone there for the Shamrock Run six times (including this year), the Portland Marathon and Half Marathon twice, and Portland R 'n' R once (with another upcoming in May). I like to stay at the Benson, a grand old hotel in downtown Portland. Last year I wasn't able to get a room there (waiting to long to register), but I made early reservations for this year's Shamrock Run and R 'n' R!

I picked up my parents in the early afternoon on Friday to drive south. We couldn't leave until after 2:00 because my mother had a lunch, and we paid for our delay with horrible traffic all the way through Seattle, Tacoma, and Olympia. I think it took three hours to get past Olympia (usually two hours is reasonable). After Olympia the traffic congestion disappeared, though, and the remaining drive to Portland was smooth. We got to the hotel just before 7:00.

Since it was sort of late already (and because we like room service), we ordered dinner from the room service menu. The Benson has always had tasty food on the menu, but they've really expanded the room service offerings and there were a ton of things to choose from. My dad had a brie and ham sandwich with fries, my mom had a grilled chicken sandwich with salad, and I decided to start carbing up and ordered pasta from their mix and match pasta menu (penne with tomato and basil, plus grilled chicken breast). I also got a spinach salad with dried cranberries and goat cheese (which don't show much in the photo, but there was a ton).
I thought I should start getting in some carbs early because I had been eating pretty low carb during the week, and actually felt like I was getting surprising tired early in my weekday runs (at about five miles). I think bonking at five miles is ridiculous, so I wanted to bump up my carb stores for the weekend. Not showing in the picture--two rolls, both of which I ate.

On Saturday morning I skipped my typical trip to Starbucks and drank free coffee from the hotel lobby. We had brought a couple of big mugs along, which was a much better option than their paper to-go cups!

We also skipped the usual modest Starbucks breakfast (which would have been a wrap for me, obviously), and ate at the Benson breakfast buffet. Oh, it was fabulous! I narrowed my focus and had waffles with maple syrup, bacon (amazing thick cut deliciousness), a scoop of their special potato casserole, and lots of blackberries, blueberries, and pineapple....twice. Other items on the buffet that I bypassed--sausage, roasted potatoes, oatmeal with tons of topping choices, a variety of cereals and cereal add-ins, muffins, and an omelet bar. There were also some other pastries that may or may not have left with me in a ziploc bag for an afternoon treat.

With full stomachs, we headed over to the Convention Center for the race expo. The MAX train was easy transportation, although it was cold in the wind waiting for our train to arrive! We spent about an hour at the expo. I got my bib and chip, and race shirt, then wandered through the vendor displays. I didn't buy anything, but did leave with a few Larabar samples, chips, and cereal.

The weather was cloudy and felt cold because of the wind, so we didn't really have any desire to get out and about. Back at the hotel we sat in the lobby and read for a while. The Benson has a beautiful lobby.
In the photo I am wearing a new shirt and scarf that I bought at Renee's (a local boutique) on Friday before leaving town. The green scarf above was also from Renee's.

We got so full from breakfast that we didn't really need lunch. But later in the afternoon I went over to Starbucks and bought some snack boxes (cheese and fruit, protein box) that we divided up for a heavy snack to sustain us until dinner. Afterwards there may have been naps....

We ate dinner at a restaurant just about a block away from the hotel, Pazzo in the Hotel Vintage Plaza. It's a pretty sophisticated Italian restaurant with very good food. I really wanted to order the butternut squash ravioli with truffle butter and hazelnuts, but I was afraid that might be too rich for a pre-race meal and went with pappardelle and bolognese sauce, and a Caesar-type salad. I also ate most of the brussels sprouts that my mother ordered as a dangerously.

I really wanted to rest my legs on Saturday so it was a complete rest day except for walking to and from our various locations. I very rarely take a full rest day without cross-training, but I think it really helped. My legs had felt a little worked over during the week. Last Sunday I did a 20-mile run (which went really well), then about 7.5 miles on Monday (which also went really well). But both Wednesday and Friday my legs felt tired, and also I had that mini-wall-bonk thing going on. On Wednesday I did so-so speed work, six half mile intervals on the road. I didn't hit goal pace on any of them, but I don't know if I might have been a little faster on the track. I felt okay about it. Friday I kept it pretty easy with just 6.5 miles, the first two as warm-up, a couple sub-nine, and the rest easy (approximately marathon pace). I figured Friday's tempo run could be incorporated into Sunday's race.

The 15K started at 7:40 Sunday morning. I got up a little before 6:00 and got coffee from the lobby, then laid in bed and had coffee and my pre-race breakfast, a whole wheat English muffin with almond butter and chia seeds, until about 6:40. I put on my festive green running gear (which was subdued compared to some of the outfits out there!) and headed out around 7:10 to warm up and go to the start. I was a little late leaving the hotel so I didn't have time for a two mile warm-up as I had hoped. Instead I did about 1.35 miles then found my place in the start area. I squeezed myself into the 8-9 minute mile section.

I had multiple goals for this race. Not one involved a PR, as I know I'm not in PR-speed shape. My goals sound modest but keep in mind this is a pretty hard, hilly course! Goal A - sub-9 pace. Goal B - 9-9:09 pace (which would be the pace I'd need for a 2-hour half). Goal C - 9:14 pace (which I was supposed to do four miles at for my tempo run). Goal D - sub-9:30 pace. Goal E - sub-90 minutes for the 15K or DIE! (Spoiler alert--just so you don't think too highly of me in advance--I didn't manage goals A or B.)

I've done this Shamrock Run 15K about five times (this year makes six), and although they've changed the beginning of the course a few times due to road work, the basic course remains the same. The first two miles are relatively flat. Then on S.W. Broadway you start to go up, up, up to about five miles, where you hit some rolling hills (but are still climbing) through mile six. Then you go down, down, down for three miles and flatten out for the final .3 to the finish.

I cruised past my parents at the hotel just before we began our uphill stint.

It was pretty clear I wasn't going to be doing sub-9. My first mile was about 9:07 and then I think mile 2 was 9:22, even though we were still on relatively flat territory. Once we got into the hills I was doing around a 9:45ish pace steadily, I think (my slowest mile was 10:10). I felt okay, and I'm not unhappy with a mostly sub-10 pace on hills! Around mile 5 I managed to get my Gu out of my pocket (my shirt has a large back pocket which I stuffed with some money, jelly beans (which I didn't eat), a Gu, and my phone, making for a rather enhanced posterior). I wouldn't normally eat anything on a 15K but I wanted to avoid a 5-mile bonk and maybe give myself a kick for the finish. I took a few bits of it along the way. (I was still clutching it at the finish, and luckily I had taken off the glove on that hand because it was oozing onto my hand!)

The long downhill finish is, of course, what makes this race great. If I was disappointed in myself for anything, it was that I didn't take as much advantage of the downhills as I would have liked. I definitely ran faster...miles 7 and 8 were around 8:45. (But they should have been under 8:30, at least!) I did manage to pick it up in mile 9, for 8:24, and then the final .35 mile (on the flat!) was an 8:07 pace.

Total time 1:26:46, average Garmin pace 9:17, official average pace 9:19. Sooo...not quite goal C. But close. Although maybe not close, because I didn't have four single miles at 9:14...most were either significantly slower or significantly faster! Well, in any case, I rocked goals D and E.

Afterwards, I walked up to the area where the 5K was starting and worked my way to the back of the pack. It was supposed to start at 9:20. For some reason, though, it didn't start until at least 9:35 (with a staggered start, so more delays). I got pretty chilly in my sweaty clothes standing around...if I'd known it was going to take so long, I would have worked my way forward a little more, so I wasn't quite so surrounded by people who thought it was okay to walk in the middle of the road in the middle of a 5K (the 5K "walk" was supposed to have a separate start).

I know this was a huge crowd of people, and a "fun run," and I was just a hanger-on for this, so I'm not complaining (much) about having to weave around people for two miles. I only wanted to do a 10-minute pace, and it wasn't even really possible. My first mile was about 10:30, the second around 10, and I thought I could really pick it up in the third mile and finish in 30 minutes, or at least 31 for 5K. BUT by now the roads were more open to traffic, and we had to stop and wait for the MAX train to go by twice, and that ate up all my speed efforts. My third mile turned out around 10:15. but the final .15 was downhill, and I must have really booked, because my watch gives a pace of 6:24 for that segment! I frankly don't believe it. Maybe the satellites were really messed up and mile 3 was faster than the Garmin said, because I'm sure mile 3.15 was slower. However...every once in a while I say to myself...6:24.
Because of all the delays time was running out so I ran back to the hotel to get dressed (also to add a little additional mileage to the day). Before I changed my mom took a picture to really show my race outfit.
I showered and dressed really speedily and we had time for brunch at 11 a.m. before the noon checkout. I went with the same plan as Saturday, except they had french toast instead of waffles, and I forewent the potato dish in favor of more bacon. Yesssss.

Then we checked out and drove home. The end.

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Liebster Award

So, I'm sure you've heard of the Liebster Award, a type of blog survey post that is "awarded" to bloggers that have a smaller following, by other bloggers who feel they deserve to be noticed. I was recently tagged by Cathy, of the blog Living the Dream (a Crazy and Convoluted Dream), and then Marie, a college friend who has a blog called Every Day is a Miracle.
I've sort of procrastinated over doing it, even though I love answering questions, because part of the survey is to list 11 random things about yourself. I was having trouble thinking up random things that weren't already a part of my profile...because I'm pretty boring, really. But with the two mentions, I figured I could combine them and only list the 11 things once, but answer all of their (22) questions. And it turns out, I could think of 11 random things...but they are still pretty boring things, I'm afraid.
So here are the rules:
  1. Thank the blogger who nominated you, and link back to her blog. Thank you, ladies! And see links above.
  2. List 11 random facts about yourself, and answer the 11 questions from the nominator.
  3. Present the Liebster Award to 11 other bloggers, and create 11 questions for them to answer. (I'm skipping this one, because a lot of the blogs I read have already participated.)
11 Random Facts about Me
By the way, these really are random, not arranged chronologically or anything. Just how I thought of them.
  1. When I was young (grade school, middle school, maybe into high school), I was a little obsessed with the Sound of Music...the true story (I read the book many times), the play (I read the script many times), and the music (I listened to the movie soundtrack many, many, many times.) This was before VCRs were common, so I only watched the movie once a year, when it came on around Easter. I knew all the words to all the songs, and sang them frequently.
  2. Right before I graduated from law school (actually for a good part of my third year), I had bad eczema on my fingers and bad sinus headaches (might have been a sinus infection). Then when I was preparing for the bar exam, I sprained my ankle and spent a few weeks on crutches. In retrospect, I connect all these things with my unhappiness about law school and looking for a job at a law firm (which was really not my calling). (It actually took eight years before I found my niche, which is Juvenile Court!)
  3. Starbucks introduced the egg white, spinach and feta wrap right before the Portland Marathon in October 2011.  I have had one for breakfast almost every weekday since then...and occasionally on a weekend day.
  4. I have really, really big calves. It is my bĂȘte noire.
  5. I don't often chew gum, but when I do, I go through the whole package (because I only like it while it tastes good, so I chain chew). Then I get gas and an upset stomach from the sugar alcohols (sweeteners). It is ridiculous..
  6. My boyfriend and I have known each other since we were about four years old (Sunday School and church), went to the same high school and college (where we lived in the same dorm), and both went to law school (though different schools) but we didn't start seeing each other until our 25 year high school reunions. (And we weren't even close friends in school, just casual friends.)
  7. In 1992 I went to Seattle to see presidential candidate Bill Clinton at a rally. I went really early and got to see him returning to the Westin Hotel from jogging (yes I said jogging, not was the early 90s). I was so excited to take a close picture that a secret service agent told me to "please step back from the curb" (I don't remember if he added "ma'am", but probably). I got a good picture though! Unfortunately I don't where it is anymore.
  8. In August 2011 my house was burglarized while I was at work. They messed stuff up (dumping drawers, etc.), but the only things taken (as far as I know) were a mini-stereo, the TV in my bedroom (the only really nice one I had), and pretty much all my DVDs. They also took the yard waste container to wheel everything away down the alley.
  9. I am not a good singer, nor is anyone in my family, but throughout my childhood and youth we sang. Not just at church. We sang at home, we sang in the car (in fact my dad got a speeding ticket once for driving too fast during a particularly heartfelt chorus of something). My girlfriends and I sang camp songs and musical theater at the beach, in the car, in a boat. This continued through high school and I think sometimes in college...I seem to recall a road trip to Anacortes to go on a boat trip where we were singing along the way.
  10. I had really long hair for a lot of years after law school. I stopped going to my fancy stylist and just let it grow. At some point I did start getting trims, but kept it long and wore it in a ponytail most all the time. I know, this is not very interesting without a picture.
  11. I was a National Merit Scholar in high school. I got a scholarship out of it, but only $1000, not a full ride or anything.

11 Questions from Cathy

  1. Are you a cat or a dog person? Definitely a cat person. I always say I like dogs on an individual basis, but I like all cats. I have one cat right now (I had three at one time, but two have passed on) and Rod has two. I am particularly not so much into dogs since the dogbite while running last summer! Also, cats are much more forgiving and adaptable to working long days and being away from home. Meaning me working and being away, not the cat.
  2. What is your favorite workout? Obviously, I have to say running. I assume that counts. :) Everything else is just cross-training.
  3. What do you do for "me" time? Well, since I don't have children, really all my time is "me" time, except for the third of my life that belongs to Juvenile Court. To decompress from work, I like to walk while listening to audiobooks on my phone, sit around and watch TV, and read. Sometimes running is "me time," and sometimes it is another obligation (that I enjoy and am committed to, but it is still an obligation). However, when I am spending a lot of time with Rod or my parents, leaving them all behind to go running is my "me" time! 
  4. If you won the lottery (the really big one), who would be the first person you told? And why? Probably my mother. Because she would be so happy for me, and have similar ideas as me what to do with it (in the frivolous sense, as opposed to the investment, practical sense).
  5. What is the strangest thing you can think about yourself? This is kind of a difficult question to figure out...I guess I will say that despite being an avid runner, and very committed to physical fitness, I think I am pretty lazy at heart (and in action). I like to park close to the door, and I don't like chores such as house cleaning.
  6. If you could go back in time and change anything, would you? What would you change? There are many things I wish never happened (both in the world, and with me) but I am too afraid of the Butterfly Effect to want to make any big changes. I do wish I could go back and be less shy as a child and teenager. Even now I am very introverted...I am fine in a professional setting, but tend to cower in the corner in social environments. Unless I know everyone. Well.
  7. What is your greatest accomplishment? I am not going to say anything related to school or education...even though I got very good grades, went to law school, etc., I don't consider that an accomplishment, that is just what was expected of me (and what I expected of myself). I think that my real greatest accomplishment was losing 100+ pounds about eight years ago, and then becoming a runner.
  8. What was your favorite toy as a child? I always liked books best.
  9. Are you close with your family? Why or why not? Yes, I am close with my parents and sister (and don't have any other nearby relatives; my grandparents are all deceased). There is no special reason why we have always been close, although the fact that we all live in the same area at least has allowed us to get together frequently.
  10. Empty your purse...what is in it? Oh very dull. Credit cards, driver's license, passport card, Y card, Starbucks card (though I use my phone app), cash and change, a checkbook, a few groupons I've printed, some useless receipts, several tinted and plain lip balms, birth control pills, a few honey, sugar and splenda packets, a bandaid (need to remember that), one Kleenex (all that is left from a packet), and other random pieces of paper. My phone and keys travel in my hand or pocket.
  11. How did you start blogging? I started writing a travel blog for one of my trips to England. I did it so I could post pictures and write about my travels without having to email everyone. (This was before Facebook was invented!) I've updated the travel blog a few times for subsequent England trips, but haven't been to England since 2009. Somewhere in there (I think 2007), I came back and wanted to keep writing so I started writing about running...then added this blog.

11 Questions from Marie

  1. If you could get paid to do anything, what would you do? Oh, this is difficult. There are lots of things I would like to do, but figure it would be too hard to be successful and make a living...which I guess is the point of this question, right? You are "guaranteed" that you would be paid for your activities, even if you weren't good at them. Under those circumstances.... I have always wanted to have a tea room and serve afternoon tea and sell antiques and collectibles. This would of course require me to travel around to antiques shows and buy things and decorate the charming English tea room and create a menu. It would not require me to actually prepare and serve food, clean up and wash dishes, or do the bookkeeping...we have staff for that!
  2. Who are your favorite actors? Male: Hugh Grant, Dennis Quaid, George Clooney, Colin Firth, Jude Law, Cary Grant. Female: Meryl Streep, Emma Thompson, Helen Mirren, Kate Winslet, Renee Zellweger, Tina Fey, Amy Poehler (I love Parks and Rec so much!), Grace Kelly.
  3. When you were 10, what did you want to be when you grew up? A writer, maybe also a teacher (influenced by my parents, but I also liked "playing school" with my friends).
  4. What is your guilty pleasure? I agonized over this, trying to find something that meets all the qualifications of "guilty pleasure." To me, that is something that you love and indulge in, but feel a little bit bad because it's not completely good for you. I thought about fish and chips...which I love but rarely have, and when I do I don't feel guilty about it! I thought about reality TV...sometimes I really like watching junk like Celebrity Wife Swap, but I can take it or leave it. the kitchen...I knew the answer...and it is jelly beans. I luuuurve jelly beans and can hardly pass through the kitchen without taking one or two...or three or four. I legitimately use them for long run fuel, but I do feel a little guilty about eating them otherwise. Not too much though. Easter is a great time because you can get all kinds of jelly beans that you can't find year round! Of the Easter jelly beans I think my favorite is the Starburst kind. I also like Sweettarts and Jolly Rancher (which I had wanted to find, but now I think that I like the Jolly Rancher hard candies better). I have heard there is a Swedish Fish kind of jelly beans but haven't seen them. For the off season I have discovered a brand called Gimbal's which makes all sorts of jelly bean like candies.  My favorite are the Gimbal's Cherry Lovers. (Nine different cherry flavors and vitamin C!) Yum!
  5. How many pairs of shoes do you have? I have no idea. 50? 100? Too many, for sure. Especially since I hardly wear any of them! I love shoes but I tend to wear ones that are comfortable and protect my feet for running. As far as running shoes...I have about four pairs in the current rotation (worn but not worn out), another four brand new pairs for 2013 major runs and marathons, a good pair of trail running shoes, a new pair of biking/light hiking shoes, two newer pairs of running shoes that are not my usual model so I will wear them for things other than heavy running, and way too many old shoes that need to be discarded in some fashion. There's a limit to how many "beach running" shoes I need!
  6. What made you start blogging? See above.
  7. What is your most popular blog post? I don't know, I don't pay attention to such things!
  8. What do you order at Starbucks (or whatever coffee/tea place you patronize)? It's Starbucks....grande Americano with light room. I add a couple tablespoons of half and half, and if I am going home I add additional fat free half and half. I also get a Spinach, Egg White & Feta wrap for breakfast almost every weekday. I have been doing this since they were introduced in October 2011 (right before the Portland Marathon).
  9. What is your favorite memory of a grandparent? My Norwegian maternal grandmother ("Bestemor") lived with my family all my life until she died in 1996, so most of my childhood memories include her. She was cook, housekeeper, nanny, gardener, help-paint-the-house person, and everything else you could imagine.
  10. If you could change two things in the world, what would you change? I would eliminate cancer and HIV.
  11. What is your favorite song? I don't know if I can claim a favorite, but right now I'm loving All Dressed in Love by Jennifer Hudson (still), and Girl on Fire by Alicia Keys.
I'm not going to tag anyone, because so many of the blogs I read have already done this, but I will include 11 questions that I would ask, for fun! (And of course, my personal answers!)
  1. What is your favorite movie? Bridget Jones's Diary.
  2. What is your favorite ethnic cuisine? I am really loving local Hawaiian (lau lau, kalua pork, lomi salmon, etc). Also sushi....
  3. Describe a fun day for you (cost, work obligations, child care not a factor). On a Saturday I would like to go to yoga in the morning, then go on a bike ride on the Centennial Trail and have pastrami sandwiches at the golf course for lunch. In the afternoon I would go antiques shopping and then out to dinner (maybe for sushi) and a movie. A chick flick. Any or all of this could either be done with someone, or by myself. (In my real life I might do one of those things on a Saturday....) Alternative nice weekend day...sleep in as long as I'd like, get up and go for a medium long run (maybe 12 miles), stop at Starbucks then go home, take a long shower, then lie around and read the rest of the day. Eat periodically. But I do that almost every weekend....
  4. What was your favorite book (or books) as a child? I was a voracious reader, but my favorite series, which still stick with me today, were the Little House books by Laura Ingalls Wilder, Anne of Green Gables (and the series) by L.M. Montgomery, and the Betsy-Tacy books by Maud Hart Lovelace.
  5. What are your favorite scents? Sweet peas, roses, hyacinths, winter daphne, gardenias and other gardenia-like flower scents (e.g. plumeria), baking (or toasting) bread, coffee, grapefruit.
  6. What is one (or more) food that you really like that others might think is strange? Pickled herring.
  7. What is one thing that would be on your bucket list, if you had one? Running the London Marathon.
  8. Where would you like to go that you have never been before? Provence, France.
  9. What is your favorite genre of book? I used to say literary fiction, but now I prefer memoirs--such as personal memoirs of non-famous people (sometimes famous people also), travel memoirs, and running/athletic memoirs. (But I still read fiction as well!)
  10. What is something you are really looking forward to? Staying at the Benson Hotel in Portland for the Shamrock Run this weekend!
  11. Who is your celebrity doeppelganger? Or someone you wished you looked like? My only doeppelganger is Sylvia Plath, who I think at some points in her life looked like me at some points in my life.

This is Sylvia Plath.

As far as other celebrities, there are a few that I kind of think have a similar "look" as me (except they are more glamorous and stuff)...Felicity Huffman, Darryl Hannah, Uma Thurman (all Nordic-type blondes). When I use one of those celebrity doeppelganger websites, my "match" is always a man!