Sunday, February 24, 2008

between pavement and stars

Saturday was overcast and cold, with a lot of snow still on the ground. Wil and I had a fantastic day walking all over town, from Columbus Circle down to Battery Park, up to the 102rd floor of the Empire State Building, and nearly everywhere in between. (Okay, so we didn't walk up the ESB... and we took the subway a bit... but there was a lot of walking, regardless...)

On a whim last night we went to the TKTS booth and got half price tickets to see Xanadu. How is this relevant to a running blog? Well, let's just say that we'll be doing more roller skating when the weather turns nicer.

Today Wil and I went back down to Battery Park -- the weather was glorious today, and Wil really wanted to see the color of Lady Liberty... rather than just seeing her as a shadowy grey squiggle. Then the train back to Columbus Circle, and then a lovely walk in still snowy, sunshiny, Cenral Park. Wil had to leave around 2:30 for the airport, but we still had time to wander around the park, witness a ridiculous argument at the "Imagine" mosaic in Strawberry Fields, and have a tasty brunch at Cafe Frida. (And Wil was right, we probably didn't need the second mojito...)

Then Wil headed off to the airport, and I went back to the hotel to get dressed for my run. Even though the sun was out, it was still cold, so I layered up. Felt nervous and excited, clutching my little runner's map. Discovered early on that my sensor wasn't working (again...), but went on. The main road was clear and dry, full of runners and cyclists and families out for a walk. Really lovely time. Made the mistake of heading up to the reservoir... discovering that it was very, very snowy still -- and most of the path was either too slick or too slushy to comfortably run on. So I slowly moved around one side of the reservoir, waiting for another spot where I could get back to the main road.

I'd barely gotten back on the road, and back to running, when Wil called from the airport. I walked while we chatted, and then Wil went to negotiate the security lines at JFK. So back to running, slowly chugging up a hill. Once I'd hit the top of the hill, Wil rang again. We talked longer then -- all through the downhill and uphill stretch at the north end of the park. It was shady, I had gotten cold. Then my battery died. The only good part was that I could start running again to warm up a little.

I chugged the rest of the way around the 6.1-mile circuit. Not sure how long my sensor thought I ran today. But I've given up on Nike+... at least for now.

Central Park Run

Snow at the reservoir.

Friday, February 22, 2008


Arrived last night and immediately met up with the BOS gang for drinks and dinner. I was a bit tired and edgy and had that dingy, too long in your clothes feeling. After dinner I felt a little restless and was worried I wouldn't be able to sleep, so I decided to check out the fitness center and have a 30-minute run.

Big mistake.

The fitness center here at the Hudson leaves a bit to be desired... I mean, it's nicer than a lot of hotel "gyms"; it has 3 treadmills, 3 stationary bikes, a couple of stairclimbers, a very nice set of benches and dumbbells, and some faux "nautilus" equipment. Unfortunately, the treadmills are rubbish -- probably designed for home use, and really run down and perhaps even unbalanced. Mine was trapped in some sort of program that I couldn't get it to stop, which meant that it kept slowing itself down every 3 - 5 minutes. Very frustrating! It was also very hard and maybe uneven. Weird.

But I just kept going, trying to get some exercise and work out some energy... even though I noticed that my sensor wasn't sending info to my iPod. Grrreat.

After 5 minutes of warming up and 30 minutes of running, I did a 5-minute cooldown and then bailed.

That wouldn't be so bad if I hadn't woken up this morning with seriously painful knees. Limped in to work -- right knee really having trouble -- and then by the end of the day (and walking around with Wil after he arrived) I was favoring the left. Blend that with the slush and the cold and the ick and that means that we may well not go for our run on Sunday. But we'll see.

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

1500m PR

This morning I swam again in Issaquah -- there were no water exercise classes so they had set up all six lanes for lap swim. Without thinking I joined the only lane with one person moving at a moderate pace... later realizing it was the "fast" lane... but as it wasn't crowded and I only shared the lane for the first 10 minutes I think I was okay.

Swam 850 meters freestyle and then swam another 850 meters with swim gloves and the pull buoy. I seemed to be plugging along reasonably quickly, so after 1500 meters I checked my watch -- just a hair past 39 minutes. Sure, that's not very fast. But it's the fastest 1500 I've ever done, so I'm pretty pleased. All in all I did 1700 meters in just under 45 minutes, stopping only to put on swim gloves at the half-way point.

Tomorrow is a travel day for me, but I'll try and get at least a short workout in after my dinner meeting in NYC.

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

solo flights

After our triumphant return to the saddle yesterday, Wil rode in to work this morning in the dark, gloomy mist. He and our buddy Eric commuted home together, too. Meanwhile, I got home from work, changed into my running togs, and went out for a 30-minute run around the neighborhood, running little loops around blocks and going up and down the streets between here and 80th, 14th and Dibble. Was really happy to have my flashing taillight (thanks Reba!) because it was dark when I was done.

Tomorrow: I swim, Wil rides his bike.

Monday, February 18, 2008

omnibus redux

Thursday evening, after our runs, we went home to celebrate Valentine's Day -- where among other things, I received a beautiful magenta iPod Nano, which I immediately christened "Cupid". Given the on again, off again issues I'd been having with my Nike+ system, even after replacing it, we had pretty much decided that the problem was the little old silver Nano.

So on Friday after work I went to the gym downtown to run on the treadmill -- I'd read that you don't have to re-synch the sensor if you get a new iPod, so I thought I'd give it a go. Happy to report that it worked just fine -- pretty much right on with the mileage on the treadmill -- so I excitedly came home to load the information to Nike+.

The data transfer went smoothly, but unfortunately the run didn't get added to my goals or challenges. Weird. I could see that it had loaded, and that it was being included in my monthly total... but it wasn't picked up by my resolutions.

I did a little snooping around the forums and saw posts from a super helpful "Nike Pro" named Clover -- so I decided to PM her (?). She got back to me with supportive and friendly information, reminding me of just how great the interface and the support of the tool is. Chalk another one up for the "love" argument. It didn't solve the problem, but at least I heard back very quickly that it was an odd but known issue and they were working on it.

Saturday was a lovely lazy day, with a little road trip and some walking around. Good to have some rest. Because Sunday was long run day -- and we were scheduled to run 8 miles. Eight! Unbelievable. But we got up early and headed out in the sunshine to Green Lake, where we mentally prepared ourselves to run around the lake 3 times.

It was cold, but the sun was out so we warmed up pretty quickly. Still, my knees felt really stiff. We ran slow but steady, with Wil watching the heartrate monitor and reminding me to slow down. By the third time around the lake was getting really crowded, which is both nice (it's great to see people out being active) and awful (it's challenging negotiating the stroller squadrons marching three abreast across the entire path). The other annoying thing is that my sensor wasn't working correctly. After three times around the lake, it only recorded 3.5 miles. Of course, it got the time right; however, seeing my "pace" as 25 minutes/mile is pretty demoralizing. So I'll go with Wil's information -- 8 miles, including a 5-minute warmup walk, and two 1-minute walk breaks, at an overall pace of just over 11 minutes/mile.

I reconnected my iPod to iTunes a minute ago and see that my miles are now registering as part of my "goals", however, it's sad to see that they're not my actual miles. I think I need to stop obsessing so much about the "results" and celebrate what I accomplish in the real world. Yes, I'm a dork.

Then today we got up early and took the bikes out for our first real-world bike ride of the year. Heck, it's my first real-world ride since Chelanman last year -- I know this because I had to cut the numbers off my bike and helmet. We did a nice little 10-mile jaunt to the Burke Gilman Trail and out to the university where we learned two things: 1. Wil's new saddle is a bit too painful for early season riding; 2. Sunny still doesn't really know how to use her gears effectively. But it's early, we had a good ride, and I didn't fall off my bike. So that's a plus.

Thursday, February 14, 2008


Because the weather was nice, Wil and I decided to run around Green Lake tonight. We had both expected to run at the gym, so we had our stuff with us, but we went home and changed there. Got to Green Lake, found parking really easily, and were all ready to go... when I realized that I hadn't brought the little piece that clips to the iPod.


So we ran a gentle three miles in 30 minutes... but again I didn't add to my total. It makes me feel silly and sad. Oh well. 15 more days, 35+ more miles. The goal slips farther away...

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

broke the mile barrier

This morning I headed out to try a different pool -- the Julius Boehm Pool. Armed with Google maps and my Navigon, I headed out to the farthest edge of "downtown" Issaquah, arriving around 7:30. I was nervous -- would it be crowded? Noisy? Full of Speedo Dudes?

None of the above. It was a perfect example of a public pool -- simple locker rooms, plenty of coin-op lockers, group showers in an alcove. Go out to the pool deck and it's got soaring ceilings, 6 lanes for swimming, a separate shallow section, and, glory of glories, very few people.

There were 5 or 6 people in the three lanes, with another gentleman swimming next to the lane in an open swim area. I settled in next to him, following the black line for "lane 5". Happy as a clam. The water was comfortably warm, but not too warm. And there was a ample supply of kickboards and pull buoys. Heaven.

After I'd done 800 meters of freestle, the lanes had emptied out a bit so I moved over to them for my arm work. I did another 700 meters there with swim gloves and a pull buoy, and then finished up with 100 meters of freestyle. Probably the first time I swam a mile since high school.

In the meantime a deep-water exercise class had started (8:30) -- pretty good attendance, too. Got out, did a little stretching, and enjoyed the nearly empty locker room. All in all, a fantastic experience. I think I've found my new morning pool.

Tomorrow I run -- if my knee feels up to it. It's felt better today, but we'll see how I feel tomorrow afternoon.

Monday, February 11, 2008

5 more down

Because this is another crazy week, went to the gym after work today and ran for 5 miles. Felt pretty good, though now have a twinge in my left knee. Tomorrow I have an offsite until 5 and then the last of the Tolkien lectures at 7, so no gym time in the middle. Trying to decide if I want to go to the TMO gym in the morning for a short run... either today or tomorrow.

14 miles under my feet so far this month -- really far behind. But I'm starting to catch up.

Sunday, February 10, 2008

Love 'em or Leave 'em 5K

Seduced by the t-shirt, Wil and I signed up for the Love 'em or Leave 'em 5K around Green Lake today. And, yes, the shirts are indeed nice. It seemed very crowded -- we had to do a lot of weaving in and out of other runners, adding about half a K to our total distance. But the weather was decent, we both had new kicks, and there was the promise of candy after the run...

We put ourselves back in the 10:00 pace group, which would have been good. But about 50 feet after we crossed the line, Wil (who has been suffering from a nasty cold all week and hopped up on cold medicine) needed to make a pitstop. So we stopped, I milled about, and a hundred or so people passed us by.

But then Wil came bounding out of the Honey Bucket and we were on our way. Determined to make up for lost time, Wil shot ahead of me. But we soon settled down and found a pretty decent pace. Pretty fast for us, truth be told. But the two-minute stop right at the start meant we didn't better our PRs. No matter. Wil came in 750th over all, and I came in 751st, at a slightly below-average time of 32:23.

We both thought the shoes worked well, as did our schmancy new Brooks socks. At the end I wanted to run more, but didn't want to enough to run on my own. At that point, getting cold in the wind, I wanted a hot shower.

Mileage accumulating very slowly this month, which makes me worried and a little sad. Tomorrow is set as a cross-training day, but I might do a shortish run instead. We'll see how I feel at the end.

Friday, February 8, 2008

finally, a run

Should have run yesterday, but a late start, a hectic time at work, and, to be honest, forgetting my iPod, I skipped it. Which is stupid, I know, but that's where I am right now.

So I came home after work and rode grouchily in the basement for 45 minutes. Rowr. I guess that makes two rides this week. Better than nothing, but still.

Today I was determined to go to the gym and run; so much so that I slipped out of work a little early to make sure I did. I walked for 5 minutes and ran for 45, amassing 5.03 miles along the way. I'm still very far behind my goal pace, but at least I got a small chunk of miles in today.

Felt good during the run, kept my breathing pretty easy (2 steps in, 3 steps out). The new shoes make my arches feel a little tender... not sore, but I'm more aware of them. There's a tiny bit of rubbing, but not enough to cause a blister or a hotspot. I guess wearing arch-supporting insoles is bound to make my arches a little sensitive.

On Sunday we're going to run the "Love 'em or Leave 'em" run around Green Lake; I must admit I was seduced by the very styley t-shirt. I'd like to do more miles that day (it's just a 5K), but we'll see how the weather makes me feel.

Wednesday, February 6, 2008

rude awakening

Got up this morning, put on my swimsuit, picked up the rest of my gear, and dropped Wil off on the way to Bellevue. i thought the parking garage seemed a little quiet at Epicenter, but I also think I was about 10 minutes earlier than usual. So imagine my surprise when I got out of the elevator and saw a sign saying that Epicenter Bellevue had closed, and that our memberships were being transferred to L.A. Fitness.


The woman behind the counter was friendly enough, giving me directions on how to get there, where to park, etc., and assuring me that they had a pool. So, a little befuddled, I got back in my car and (after driving around trying to find the way into the parking garage...), got there.

The woman at the L.A. Fitness counter was also friendly enough, but didn't seem to understand how I had a membership that allowed me to use both the Seattle and the Bellevue clubs, and why I wouldn't just want to sign up -- or "upgrade', she said ominously -- to L.A.F. I had to fill out a form, sign out my towels ("We've had trouble with Epicenter members stealing towels"... nice...), and then I headed down to the locker room.

Wow. The ultimate in fake fancy. I mean, yes, the wooden lockers were handsome, as was the attractive carpet and soft lighting. But the locker room was really small (seemingly more cardio machines upstairs than lockers downstairs), very crowded, and very dim. But I found an open locker, shoved my stuff in it, and then trekked down another flight of stairs, past a wall of windows, and through a locked door (code 2-2-2-2) to the tiny pool.

Three lanes. Dark. Pleasantly cold water, but a little murky. And crowded, unsurprisingly, because there are only three lanes. No swim equipment other than "noodles" and aquafit dumbbells. Snarky speedoboys. Noisy. Echoey. Most of all, no whalesong to speak of.

I was in a bad mood so I barely made it through 35 minutes of swimming. Then upstairs and into the attractive -- yet dirty -- showers. Then squeezing into a little space to change clothes, and get out of there as soon as possible.

I considered handing the L.A.F. barcode tag to the woman at the front desk (where I had to stop to "sign in" my towels...) and telling her I wouldn't need it because I wouldn't be back. Nightmare.

So now Wil and I need to decide what to do. Given the weather, I think we'll keep our gym memberships for a while. It's nice to have a place to run indoors. But I'll miss having the pool. Apparently the location up in North Seattle also has a pool, but I don't know if we'd use it. Funny if we end up being shunted off to L.A.Fitness... given that they took over my old gym.

Tuesday, February 5, 2008

windy city

It's said that Chicago is called the windy city not because of the weather, but because there's so much boasting coming from the city leaders. Perhaps Seattle was also a windy city today... sure, we had a very blustery day, with tree limbs snapping, umbrellas blowing inside out, whitecaps on Lake Washington. But Wil and I were also more talk than action.

We were supposed to make up our long run today. But the weather was grim, and because both of us were determined to run outside we hadn't packed gym bags. So there was no running today, which makes both of us feel sad and disappointed in ourselves. I went into the basement and rode my bike in the trainer for 50 minutes, working up a sweat, but it's not quite the same. (And it's really just a makeup of the cross training I *should* have done yesterday...)

Tomorrow is a "rest" day, but I'm going to go to the pool in the morning. Gotta get myself back on track.

Monday, February 4, 2008

back on track

It's the shortest month of the year, and I'm already feeling behind! Took Friday and Saturday off, and then planned to go for our long run on Sunday, as usual. However, my right knee and left foot were still bothering me, so instead we decided to go get fitted for shoes.

I personally like the folks at Super Jock n Jill. Not that I'm a frequent shopper there -- I'm not that keen of a runner -- but I tend to like the feel of the little store, full of great stuff, friendly people, and a great location.

But I'm a sucker for good marketing, so Wil gave me a gift card for Road Runner -- a bigger store with a "shoe fitting system" of sorts. I'd seen the treadmills, video camera, stride sensors, the whole shebang when we were in there before. So that's where we went. (The fact that we also had our race numbers from the Resolution Run that gave us $15 off each pair of shoes didn't hurt.)

So we went in and spent a good 45 minutes working with Ryan, who was friendly, helpful, patient, and never giggled at the thought of us running a marathon. Bless him. We walked across the stride sensors to see our arches and our pressure areas, which was pretty interesting. We then took turns running barefoot on the treadmill with a video camera. Watching my Achilles tendon twist to almost 45-degrees with every right stride was pretty scary. "That's some serious pronation...."

Unsurprisingly, I was fitted with stability shoes... and a set of extra arch supporting insoles to boot. I ended up with women's Saucony ProGrid Hurricanes... white and silver and, yes, powder blue. They feel a bit stiff, but also like my heel is being hugged. (Ryan also was kind enough not to laugh at me when I described the fit that way.)

Wil also got new kicks; a pair of men's Asics Gel-Kayano shoes (white and blue). Stability, but not quite as "corrective" as mine. (His video was less scary.)

So today we went out to Ingraham to calibrate our sensors. I wanted to check the sensor as it was -- do both a walk and a run at the current calibration and see how the distance showed up. I'm not sure if I'm pleased or annoyed that, with new shoes, the sensor appears to be exactly right again. I was really hoping it would show me that it wasn't working at all. Unfortunately, not. Wil's also appeared spot on, hitting .4 km as we crossed the "finish" line. We also (this time) made a point of warming up a bit before testing the sensors. Maybe that will make the difference.

Tomorrow we're going to try and get our long runs in, though Wil's knees are feeling a bit stiff and my foot isn't 100%. So we'll get out there and see how we feel. The good news is that my shoes felt good -- cushioned yet controlling.