Monday, December 15, 2014

What I Listen to When I Am Running

I confess, I need like to be entertained when I am running. I really don't enjoy listening to the sound of my breath and footsteps. Plus I like distractions to pass the time. I mean, I like running, but I also like to be done running, and if my iPod can make me feel like I'm done sooner, all the better.

There have been a few times when I've voluntarily run without earbuds and lived to tell the tale. There was one half marathon and a 15K (that I've done a few times) where headphones were banned and I obeyed the prohibition. When I did the McKenzie River 50K I ran the first 26 miles without music. I felt like I needed to concentrate on the tricky footing of the trails without distraction. The rushing of the McKenzie River was the soundtrack of my run. I did turn on the music for a boost in the last five miles, though.

Occasionally when I have done speed work I have turned off the sound for the last lap (e.g. 400 meters) to see if I would run faster without music. Sometimes I did, but it may just have been because it was the last lap! Talk about noisy breathing and pounding heart, though. And sometimes I will mute the earbuds for a few minutes during a run because I feel like shutting off the noise, or I'll pause at a light and then leave it off for a few minutes. Just a variation on ways to pass the time.

For many, many years I ran with music, and only music, during every run. Then a few years ago, as I began training for marathons, I began to get tired of hours of music during long runs. Yet I needed to be entertained, more than ever, when I was running for two to four hours at a time. That is when I joined Audible (first book is free!) and started downloading books to listen to during long runs. I'll list some of the books I've enjoyed in a bit. I like memoirs--running, triathlon, other sports, and non-athletic memoirs. I've also listened to a few books for my book club (mostly books I've read years ago and don't want to necessarily sit down and read again, but want to refresh in my memory).

I will say one cautionary thing about Audible. You pay for a book credit every month, and I have actually accumulated more books than I can get through (I've also paid for books when their cost is less than the value of the credit). Occasionally I feel like I should cancel my subscription until I get through my library.

In the couple years or so I have also started listening to talk audio rather than music during shorter easy runs. I generally listen to podcasts (more below) or sometimes radio shows with an app on my phone. I keep this mostly to easy runs because I do naturally run a little slower listening to books or chat than listening to music.

I save music for specific purposes where I really take advantage of its energy. I like it during speed work, tempo runs, and of course, races. I also like to switch to music in the last one to three miles of a run (depending on the length of run). That helps give me a finishing kick!

I will admit that I listened to talk instead of music in a couple marathons where distracting my mind felt more necessary than speed (of which I had little anyway). During the Kauai Marathon my head started out in a bad space (for various reasons), and my music was annoying me. Thanks to the time difference in Hawaii, I was able to turn on KIRO radio and listen to two hours of Seattle Kitchen, plus at least an hour of another talk show. I did go to music to finish up, and after that mental break I enjoyed the music's boost. During the Mount Desert Island I listened to an hour podcast for miles 18-23, and then I was ready to kick to the finish.

If you would like to explore some audio ideas, here are books and podcasts I've enjoyed. Sorry I can't do a link to everything (that would take all night), but you can look up the books (you might just want to read them, which is actually faster than listening, but hard to do while running), and you can find the podcasts on iTunes.


I have listened to these books while running, cycling on a bike trail, walking, and long car drives. Many of them I have read as well as listened to (which is good because sometimes my mind wanders while listening). A few I have read, then purchased the audiobook, but haven't yet listened to the audio (but know the book was good). There are a lot more in my library that I'm not listing because I haven't read or listened to them yet. (Also, there are a lot of other running books and memoirs I've enjoyed that aren't available on audio, or at least I haven't found them.) The books here are not listened in any order of preference.

Running Books

Run! Dean Karnazes
50/50 Dean Karnazes
Ultramarathon Man Dean Karnazes
The Extra Mile Pam Reed
14 Minutes Alberto Salazar
My Life on the Run Bart Yasso
The Longest Race Ed Ayres
Running Ransom Road Caleb Daniloff
The Long Run Matt Long
Eat and Run Scott Jurek
A Race Like No Other Liz Robbins (this is about the NYC Marathon)
Running With the Kenyans Adharanand Finn
Born to Run Christopher McDougall

Triathlon Books
I don't do triathlons, but I've found these books fascinating and fun!

A Life Without Limits Chrissie Wellington
Can't Swim, Can't Ride, Can't Run Andy Holgate
Triathlon for Everywoman Meredith Atwood
Iron War Matt Fitzgerald
You Are An Ironman Jacques Steinberg
Finding Ultra Rich Roll

Miscellaneous Memoirs and Other

Wild Cheryl Strayed
Orange Is the New Black Piper Kerman
I Feel Bad About My Neck Nora Ephron
I Remember Nothing Nora Ephron
Lots of Candles, Plenty of Cake Anna Quindlen
Seriously, I'm Kidding Ellen Degeneris
Bossy Pants Tina Fey
A Walk in the Woods Bill Bryson
Catch Me if You Can Frank Abagnale
Diet Cults Matt Fitzgerald
Fried Green Tomatoes at the Whistle Stop Cafe Fanny Flagg (This was a book club book; I first read it about 20 years ago, and thought the audio version was lovely!)


Podcasts are great for running, as they tend to be about 30-60 minutes long, good for three to six mile runs or so. Even better if they're a little longer, in case your six mile run takes longer than an hour! I listen to podcasts for entertainment, and if they are preaching certain theories or philosophies, I take all that with a grain of salt. Depending on the podcast, you might get new episodes weekly, occasionally, or even more than once a week in some cases. But luckily any podcast that is new to you will have a backlog of episodes.

Podcasts I listen to regularly

Another Mother Runner
Diz Runs With (somewhat new to me, but I've listened to a few)
The Marathon Show (no longer producing new episodes, but there should be tons of old ones to access)
Marathon Training Academy
Runner Academy
Everyday Runners
NPR-Wait Wait Don't Tell Me (when I don't catch it on the radio). (I don't always want to listen to this running, sometimes I feel it makes me slower than other podcasts. Especially that time I listened to an interview with Al Gore near the end of an 18-miler. I literally had to turn it off so I didn't stop entirely.)

Newish-to-me podcasts that I have been exploring
Ultra Runner Podcast
The Running Lifestyle
Finding Ultra with Rich Roll

The one you should go listen to right now, if you haven't already
SERIAL from This American Life

Tomorrow morning I'll be listening to 57 minutes of Another Mother Runner!

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPad

Saturday, December 6, 2014

CIM Weekend (I'm not there)

In Sacramento, hundreds (thousands, probably) of runners are finishing up at the CIM expo, anticipating a pre-race pasta dinner tonight, laying out running gear and planning strategies for CIM tomorrow. (That's the California International Marathon, by the way. Folsom to the State Capitol.)

I'm not one of them. I should have been. I could have been. I paid to be and I'm not seeing that money ever again. But thanks to my injury-caused two month hiatus from running this summer, I'm in no shape to run 26.2 miles right now. Certainly not at the quality level that I had planned for CIM. I ran a half marathon last weekend at least a minute per mile slower than I wanted for CIM. And I'm pretty sure I would not even be able to sustain that pace for a full marathon.

In reality, if I tried to run a marathon right now I would certainly be shuffling and walking in the later miles, and I might hurt myself or otherwise damage my chances of getting back into good marathon shape sooner rather than later. I would also put a big damper on my good feelings about CIM. In 2009 it was my Boston Qualifier, PR, and first marathon ever. I have always believed that if I were able to beat (or match) that time, it would be at CIM. So that dream is still alive. Just waiting.

I accepted that I wouldn't be able to do CIM back in September, after I'd been back to running for a few weeks and could see that my comeback would not be miraculous. But I didn't actually bite the bullet and completely cancel my plans until this week. Of course the race entry is not refundable or deferrable. I could still toe the starting line tomorrow, if I were in California. But I had a very expensive luxury hotel reservation that needed to be cancelled (not something I want to pay for by accident!)

And then there were plane tickets. Luckily flights to Sacramento are cheap, relatively. I had purchased flight insurance for my parents and myself, thinking my dad's health might require them to cancel (with no expectation that I would have a problem). But I think trip insurance is the biggest rip-off in the world. When I was looking at the policy* I am pretty sure that it excludes having to cancel a trip because a leg injury required me to drop out of a race. I think that particular situation is actually spelled out in the rules. It is possible that my parents' tickets may be covered, as long as his medical issues are not a pre-existing condition. But on the other hand, who knows if I cancelled their tickets in the right way to collect. We haven't tried yet.

Now, even though the cheap Alaska tickets are non-refundable, Alaska does allow you to cancel and apply the value to another ticket within a year, minus a $125 fee. So I will be able to use it against another flight next year. Unfortunately, the credit expires before CIM next year, so I won't be able to use it for next year's race. Which sucks a little bit. (And I'll only have about $100 left after the fee. But it's something.)

About a week before Thanksgiving, I was browsing the CIM Facebook page and website (as you do), and I learned that although marathon spots can't be refunded or deferred, marathon entrants can transfer to the relay and get a refund of the marathon that way. The relay has four legs, varying from about five to seven miles. CIM had a "friend finder" on their Facebook page, where people could meet up with others looking to form a team.

On the day I found this, there were at least two possible teams I could request to join. I did some additional research and found a cheaper but well-located hotel that would have a room for me, and figured out that by paying the $125 fee, I could change my plane ticket to a shorter weekend so I wouldn't miss work on Friday.

But I waffled. I wasn't sure if I should do it. I wasn't sure if I wanted to. This was before the Seattle Half Marathon, so I hadn't yet tested myself on a longer race distance. (One of the relay options was to run two legs, essentially a half marathon.) I looked at the Friend Finder page several times a day. My opportunities to join a team dwindled. The price of the alternate hotel went up (a little). The airfare went up so I would have to pay something in addition to the change fee. I started scheduling things at work that would be difficult to miss if I were gone.

The window was closing. On Thanksgiving weekend I slammed it shut and walked away.

This weekend, instead of flying to Sacramento, I watched the Pac-12 championship game on TV. This morning I ran a 5K in Burlington (the Skagit Jingle Bell Run). Tomorrow morning I will run 10 miles. I will probably think about the CIM runners. (Also the Tucson Marathon runners, which was my December marathon last year.) I'll probably watch the Seahawks game. (Last year my dad and I couldn't watch the Seahawks game in Tucson after the marathon, because they didn't air it in Tucson!) (Don't know if it will be on in Sacramento.)

The thing is, I'm not a person who is willing to run a marathon inadequately trained just to say I did it. I read about those people all the time in blogs and on Facebook. Good for them, if that's what makes them happy. When I run a marathon I want to give a strong effort, and have the ability to give that strong effort. Sometimes that effort will result in a slow or unsatisfactory result. Probably it will result in a slow result, but most of the time it won't be unsatisfactory. Because I know I am prepared and I've given what I can on the day.

Which is why I won't be running CIM tomorrow.

*That would be looking at the policy to see if I could collect. Not looking at it prior to purchasing the trip insurance.

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPad

Sunday, November 23, 2014

Four Things

The latest blog survey going around has you list four things in a series of questions. Of course I am jumping on the bandwagon because, as Bridget Jones would say, "I love quizzes!" I will try to restrain myself to the mandated four things....

Four names that people call me other than my own
Ms. Brice (my law partner, sometimes judges get us mixed up)
Kretchen (this is what my mother used to call both me and my sister, Gretchen

Four jobs that I have had
Summer cleaning crew
Temp worker (receptionist type jobs)
Law Clerk for a judge

Four movies that I have watched more than once
Bridget Jones's Diary
When Harry Met Sally
Sleepless in Seattle
Notting Hill

(Honorable mentions: You've Got Mail, Love Actually, Four Weddings and a Funeral. And I completely omitted Christmas movies; otherwise White Christmas, Holiday Inn, Miracle on 34th Street, and It's a Wonderful Life would top the list!)

Four books I'd recommend (oh there are so many!)
Iron War: Dave Scott, Mark Allen, and the Greatest Race Ever Run by Matt Fitzgerald
White Oleander by Janet Fitch
Moloka'i and Honolulu by Alan Brennert (yes, I snuck in two)
Memoirs of a Geisha by Arthur Golden

I restrained myself to only one running book! I have many more I could include. The others are all fiction. Even though my favorite genre is probably memoirs, my most intense reading experiences have been novels.

Four places I have lived
Tacoma, WA (college)
London, England (study abroad)
Washington, DC (internship)
Seattle, WA (law school)

Four places I have been
Five of the Hawaiian islands (Oahu, Maui, Hawaii, Kauai, Moloka'i)
Norway and Denmark

Four places I have run marathons (I added this category)
Boston (Boston Marathon)
Bar Harbor, ME (Mount Desert Island Marathon)
Minneapolis-St. Paul (Twin Cities Marathon)
Hawaii (Honolulu Marathon and Kauai Marathon)

Four places I'd rather be right now
Hawaii (any island)
I can't really come up with anything might be easier if I were doing this at work instead of home! As it is, any other option would require me to go out into the cold and change out of my sweatshirt and yoga pants, so....

Four things I don't eat (This one is hard because I pretty much eat anything and everything, but....)
Lutefisk (this is a Norwegian cod dish, and I just don't like it...but I could eat it if I needed to)
Pumpkin pie (I don't like it, but I made a pie with Kabocha pumpkin, and it's pretty good!)
Tapioca or rice pudding (I think it's a texture thing)
Liver, heart, gizzards (I don't think I like these things, but maybe with the right preparation....)

Four of my favorite foods
Wild Alaskan Salmon
Sweet Potatoes
Raspberries, blackberries, blueberries (possibly tied with watermelon, cantaloupe, honeydew)

Four TV shows I watch
The Middle
The Goldbergs
Modern Family

Pretty much keeping ABC Wednesday night in business--I DVR them and watch throughout the week if I don't watch on Wednesday. I also watch Once Upon a Time on Sunday nights and Hot in Cleveland on DVR (so bummed it's been canceled). And Orange Is the New Black on Netflix (I only watch about one episode a week so I haven't binged through the whole series yet!)

Four things I am looking forward to
Maui trip in January
Vancouver Marathon in May
Going to see Wild, the movie, in December
Three running movies coming out in 2015! McFarland, USA (cross country, big studio, Kevin Costner, opening in February); Tracktown, the Movie (indie film set in Eugene, created by runner Alexi Pappas and her boyfriend/business partner); the Boston Marathon film, a documentary directed by Jon Dunham. Exciting!

Four things I am always saying
"Jeez Louise"
"What?" (People mumble.)
"Grande Americano, light room."

So there you go. A few of my favorite things. What are your four things?

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPad

Sunday, November 16, 2014

Ten Years

It's been ten years since my last blog post...not really. It just seems that way. I really fell off blogging, mostly because of computer struggles. My iPad app wasn't working, my laptop at work was dying (finally replaced a few months ago), and uploading photos seemed to get harder and harder. My adult ADD would not tolerate sitting around trying to make things work.

But I did get the new laptop, my iPad is all updated, and I don't know about pictures yet but we'll see how that goes. If I ever write another post after this.

Here's a super quick running update for 2014. I started working with a coach in hopes of regaining some speed (I was really burned out after all the fall marathons on 2013). I made some decent progress in the spring with strong half marathons. Then I ran the North Olympic Discovery Marathon on June 1. I thought I had the potential for improvement over 2013. Turns out I did not. My 2014 time was virtually the same as 2013--actually three minutes slower but I'm giving myself a break because they changed the course so that the first half was quite a bit harder than before. I think my second half might have been faster this year than last. But that hardly matters, my overall performance was basically mediocre (4:31). Still, that was substantially faster than my last three marathons in 2013. And even though the NODM course was harder (I would call it a moderately difficult marathon overall), it is beautiful, and fun, and I would recommend it to anyone. I probably won't run it again because my fate seems pretty much sealed as to time. I wouldn't mind running the half, though. And I'd be happy to take another trip to the Olympic Peninsula.

NODM was on June 1, and I took a week off to recover, then started running again. Then I hurt my knee. I still feel it's ridiculous that I trained for and ran a marathon (not to mention 15 marathons before that) with no problems, and somehow got injured in a minor training run. To try to make a long story short, I tried to keep running after my knee hurt, I probably made it worse, I saw my doctor, a PT, a sports doc, had X-Rays and an MRI, and was tentatively diagnosed with a meniscus tear than was probably more due to wear than traumatic injury.

So for the rest of June and all July, I stopped running. I used the elliptical like it was my job (ask me about elliptical workouts that will kick your butt), started bike riding long distances, went to weekly spin classes, and even went swimming sometimes on weekends when it was hot enough. And did PT exercises, core work, and yoga. (Still, I managed to gain a few pounds over the summer.)

In August I was able to start run-walking. Running was so hard! My legs felt heavy and foreign to me. Eventually it got easier and I was able to run "normally" (though slowly) starting about in September. I'm up to 13 miles and on November 30 I'm doing the Seattle Half. With no expectations. Over the summer I had to miss four half marathons that I had registered and paid for. Two of them I was able to transfer the registration to someone else, but Seattle RnR and Portland were a complete loss.

I am also registered for a marathon in December, but I'm not going. It breaks my heart a little bit (not just because of the money down the drain), but I am not a person who is willing to go just do a marathon when I'm not properly trained. I know lots of people do.

Also, this was supposed to be my big attempt at a long lost marathon PR, after a summer of hard training. That didn't happen (not as far as running goes), and I don't want to ruin my positive, optimistic feelings about CIM being my best chance for a fast marathon. Maybe it will be next year.

This has gotten really long, and I haven't even gotten to the topic from my title. "Ten Years." Ten years ago, November 2004, I was 39.25 years old and I decided to change my life (health and body-wise) by the time I turned 40. I'd actually had it in mind for a while, but (of course) procrastinated until pretty much the last minute. I don't know why this time it worked when it hadn't before, but over the next nine months I lost about a hundred pounds (estimating wildly here), and then after my 40th birthday continued on until I was about 10 pounds less than I am now. By the time I was 40 I was running and walking a lot on the treadmill. I took up outdoor running the following year, and haven't looked back.

How's that for covering my whole topic in one paragraph?

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPad