Saturday, March 29, 2008

Birch Bay Road Race

Drove up to Birch Bay yesterday after work in the sleet and snow and crawling traffic... but got to our cute little room in the "Tropico" before dark. Wil made a mushroom and pasta bake (unintented carbo loading) and we tried to have an early night, though we were both a little worried about the run and the rain.

This morning there was a little squall right about 7:45, which made us both worry a bit, but it cleared up. We layered up and both had waterproof jackets on, just in case. Got to the start, got our numbers (264 for me, 315 for Wil), and our TECH SOCKS! Woo-hoo! Blustery and chilly, but not raining.

Lined up with the 15K gang, behind the 30K group and ahead of the 5K mob. I had that same "umm, what on earth are we about to do?" feeling that I always do, especially after the 30K group set off. Then with a WOOOO we were off, running over the mats and down the hill. Lots of standing water from yesterday's rain meant the runners were all over the road, at one point surrounding an old gentleman's car like a herd of deer. Just before we hit the 1K sign, the first of the 5K runners caught up with us and turned around. On we ran -- 2K, 3K. When we got to our motel, Wil took off his coat and gloves and hid them by the door. Picked up a cup of very cold water at the first aid station, promptly spilling it down my front. Whee. Good thing I had the waterproof jacket on.

Then into the state park, which was beautiful and quiet. We were towards the back of the pack, but feeling comfortable so we just kept rolling. We saw the 4K marker, then nothing. No markers, no aid stations, nothing. But we could see the pack ahead of us, so we kept on. I began to fret, because I had looked at the map and knew that there was a turnaround point at the halfway mark -- and no runners had come back the other way.

So on we ran. Lots of murmuring runners. Wondering what was going on, and where the freakin' aid station was. I noticed spray-painted marking at the turns, and of course could see the rest of the pack, but I was pretty sure that we had all taken a wrong turn, somewhere.

Finally, we made a turn towards another entrance to the state park... and saw an aid station. Picked up some Gatorade and a Hammer Gel (mmm, apple and cinnamon tastes like pie filling), and then waited in line for 5 minutes to use the Honey Bucket. Oh well, it gave us a chance to stretch.

I tried not to be too worried when I noticed that there was an obvious "turnaround" marking painted on the road.

A few hundred yards after that aid station, we saw a K marker, hoping it said 11. But, no, it said 7. Lots more grumbling by the runners around us. Down through the park and back down to the waterfront, where I realized where we had all gone wrong. But a lack of signage (or even a single volunteer to point out the way) meant we had all gone way off course.

But then back along the waterfront, where we thought, okay, this is only 3K from the start, so we'll be fine... except that there was a "tail" at the end of the run where you continue past the start for another few K. Sigh. But on and on we ran. We started seeing people who had hit the final turnaround and were encouraging us, telling us it's really a 19K. Fun! One couple heard the news and decided to just stop and go up to the finish. In fact we saw a lot of runners just bail and head up to the finish line, rather than run it out.

We decided to just run it out. I mean, we could see the final turnaround only another K up the road. So up we went, and back down. Then up the steepest hill of the course, where I had to stop and walk because I just couldn't breathe any more. Then a right turn (again, no indicators, but we knew the general direction) and then, hurrah hurrah, the finish. I don't think I've ever been quite so happy to see the finish line.

We smiled for our race photos (I'm sure mine will look like a grimace...), hobbled across the line, and were told it turned out to be an 18.5K course. Oops. So 11.5 miles, which is 3 miles longer than either of us has ever run. But the very friendly volunteers took our chips, told us how strong and brave we were, and gave us lovely finishers' medals.

Now, all warm and cozy and showered and clean, my right hip is really bothering me, as are Wil's knees. But we did it. And now we have earned margaritas. :)

Thursday, March 27, 2008

busy week

It's been a stupidly busy week at work, but fortunately we've still made time to get some exercise in. 

Tuesday after work we headed over and ran for 35 minutes around Green Lake; we did a "sprint" in one of the last minutes and Wil ran too fast for me to comfortably keep up. :) The weather wasn't brilliant and the run was only 3.25 miles, but it was good to get some miles in.

Wednesday morning I went back to my "usual" pool schedule (whatever that means), swimming just over a mile in 42 minutes. I swam 1000 meters freestyle before switching over to the pull buoy for 400 and then back to freestyle for another 350. I felt a lot faster than I did last week -- much more "Sleeky the Otter" than "Shamu"...

Today, even though we're both feeling a bit under the weather, we decided to go on our scheduled "easy 20 minute" run. We ran a strange, looping course from our place to the library, me carrying a rucksack with a book inside (bounce bounce bounce) and Wil in jeans. I think we looked like shoplifters. :) But the run was easy and smooth and we were both pleased to have done it. Of course, we then celebrated by getting a bunch of books and drinking cider...

Tomorrow after work we head up to Birch Bay for the Birch Bay International Road Race. Wil's nervous about the headphone ban; I'm nervous about my hip. We'll just take it slow and steady and hope for decent weather. And in the end, we'll have new socks. :)

Thursday, March 20, 2008

water buffalo

Too much travel (because of work) and too much work has messed up my schedule for weeks... Wasn't able to go swimming yesterday because I had an 8:00 a.m. meeting. So this morning I headed off to the pool.

Perhaps now is when I should mention that, rather than run on Tuesday, Wil and I decided to have a brisk walk... down to the Sloop. Sure, it's nearly a 2-mile walk each way, and we did walk briskly... but I think our "Slooper-sized" ciders probably negated any exercise benefits from the walk...

I set my timer for 42 minutes and started my swim. The pool felt somehow murky, though it may have just been that my goggles fogged up extra fast. The water was very chilly in the deep end, and weirdly warm in the shallows. I felt slow -- like I was swimming through Jell-O. I kept trying to think "dolphin" but kept feeling like "walrus". Or, worse, "water buffalo".

But I swam on and on, slowly. 400 meters of freestyle, 400 with the pull buoy and gloves, 200 with the kickboard, 400 of breaststroke, and a final 200 of freestyle. It took me all 42 minutes to swim it.

Considered, briefly, coming home today and going for a little run... but I didn't feel up to it. Tomorrow is Friday -- phew! It's been quite a week...

Sunday, March 16, 2008

Green Lake Laps

Another slow morning, even though Wil got up at 7:30 and made us breakfast, I wouldn't be budged until 9:30. But we were at Green Lake at 10:00 and (after a stop at Gregg's to get Wil a coffee holder for his bike -- did I mention we live in Seattle?) were ready for our run.

Wil set his iPod for 8.1 miles, which gave us nearly three full laps around the lake. I forgot my sensor. Whee. Not that it would have been accurate, of course. We set off slowly and my knees and feet felt terrible -- really painful and brittle. But after about 10 minutes I felt better and we were well on our way.

Lots of people out today, which is nice, though I suspect most of the runners were down at the Dash. Even yesterday we toyed with the idea, but we needed to get more miles in today in preparation for our race at the end of the month.

So around and around and around we went, taking two walk breaks, averaging a very slow but comfortable 11-something per mile. My Achilles tendons are feeling sore, as are the muscles in my hips. But all in all I feel okay.

Yesterday on the way home from visiting my mom and Ed we stopped at the Brooks Outlet at the Supermall and bought way too many socks. But lovely, lovely socks.

Thursday, March 13, 2008

Phoenix Pharewell...

Left Phoenix this morning -- happy to be home. But before I left, I decided I would go for a run in the lovely city park next to the hotel. Set my alarm for 6:00, not knowing whether it would be light. It wasn't. So I reset it for 6:30 and grabbed a little more sleep.

Was out the door at 6:35, pleasant pink morning, suprisingly cool. Ran down the park along the "lake" and then looped back and up around the larger park where the pool is. It's not a very big park, but it does seem like they connect for quite a while with other parks. But time was tight so I gave myself 40 minutes total -- 5-minute warm up, 30-minute run, 5-minute cool down. Really lovely morning; people out walking dogs, a man praying to Mecca, a surprising number of birds (was that an egret?). Also a surprising number of people smoking...

It took me a while to feel loose; my knees hurt for the first 10 or so minutes and I felt queasy the entire run. But all in all I was really pleased with myself for getting up and doing it. Then I did a too-quick stretch, jumped in the shower, and was headed to the airport 20 minutes after finishing my run.

Rest day tomorrow...

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Big Ups to the TMO Runners!

Oh! Belated congratulations to Tracy, Kyle, and Brandon for running the Mercer Island Half Marathon on Sunday! Well done gang, even if we weren't there to clang a cowbell for you!

Phoenix report

Got here on Monday and spent the day visiting Taliesin West, driving around the Phoenix grid, and asking why people live in the desert as I was already missing the color green. Had a brief swim in my funky hotel pool; the odd shape and the presence of bored ducks put me off a little. Later in the evening I went for a brisk walk in the park next door, checking out the public pool and the running paths.

Tuesday was the first day of my ANA course (the reason I'm in Phoenix); afterwards Jenna and I went out for dinner at an amazing place called Barrio Cafe. We waited an hour to be seated; I can honestly say it was worth the wait. But the wait meant I didn't get back to the hotel until 10:30ish; that and the fact that I was STUFFED meant no exercise for me.

Overslept this morning but still made it to the last day of the course on time; came back to the hotel and got caught up with my neglected e-mail. I did, however, also make it to the pool... glorious, lovely, public pool...

The pool at the Eldorado Aquatic & Fitness Center is one of the loveliest pools I have ever seen. Okay, it's not nicer than the pools at Hearst Castle... but for a public pool it's amazing. It's got a play area, two big water slides, a therapy pool, a diving well with four diving boards, and -- get this -- FOURTEEN 25-meter lanes. Fourteen! It's incredible. Swimming under the night sky in pleasantly cool water, alone in my lane, just swimming back and forth, back and forth... I only had 30 minutes before the pool closed, so I only got 24 minutes of swimming in, but it was wonderful, relaxing, perfect. It wasn't the best workout I had ever had -- I felt sluggish and strangely breathless -- but it was a fantastic experience.

I must confess that I have been underwhelmed by Phoenix and Scottsdale, but I'm impressed by the Scottsdale pool and parks.

Sunday, March 9, 2008

bike expo!

Today we dragged our tired bodies out of bed, saddled up our bikes, and rode down to Bike Expo. It's the longest ride I've done since, oh, the triathlon last summer... Wil's been riding back and forth to work for the past couple of weeks, but other than our one ride a couple of weeks ago, I've just been riding in the trainer.

Bike Expo was fun, looking at all of the schmancy bikes (ooh, a $5,200 bike? Ummmm...) and trying the rehydration drinks and "power" snax... We each tried on a few things, but realized we really don't need anything. Had a glimpse of Sally Edwards, but whereas I wanted an "anyone can do triathlons!" talk, she was giving a "here's how you train in different heartrate zones" talk, so we didn't stick around. 

Best of all, we rode over 16 miles today and I feel okay. Well, other than residual soreness from yesterday's run...

Tomorrow I head to Phoenix, where I hope it's not too hot to run.

Saturday, March 8, 2008

LSD - 8.4 miles

Today we got up early and ran our long runs around Green Lake. Wil hadn't done a long run for a couple of weeks, so he ran 2x around (5.6 miles) while I ran 3x (8.4 miles). Felt pretty good until the very end; my calves were really tight and my right arch felt sore. Wasn't even remotely fast; it took me 91 minutes to run the distance. But I still felt okay. Hard to set my own pace without Wil; I felt like I got into a groove towards the last half of the last lap, however.

Lots of racewalkers out today; at one point I saw two of them about 30 yards ahead of me and was amazed how long it took me to pass them. Wil pointed out that we run slow for runners, and they walk fast for walkers, so our paces aren't so different.

Having now had a shower my calves are screaming. Oh dear.

Thursday, March 6, 2008

wet run

Wanted to run today after work -- needed to run out a little work stress. I brought my gear with me so that I could go to the gym on the way home. But because I felt cooped up with too little daylight, and because I thought the weather was still nice, I decided to think about running around Greenlake instead.

I was still feeling torn on the way home -- the skies had turned gray. But I still wanted the fresh air. So I decided to let the traffic light on the offramp be my guide. If an odd number of cars was in front of me at the light, then I'd go to Greenlake; if an even number I would go to the gym. When I got to the light, there was one lonely car. Sorted.

Went home, got changed, filled up my water belt (which I promptly forgot), and headed out. Because the temperature was pretty warm, I decided to run in just a thermal shirt and a fleece vest. I did remember to put a hat on, so at least I had that.

I ran around the 3.1-mile outer path -- my first time -- and it's pretty horrible along that stretch of 99. I walked for 5 brisk minutes, and then took off running. Slow and steady, slow and steady. I was about halfway around when the rain started... just drizzly at first, then stronger and stronger. But I kept plodding along, trying to remember to slow down when I felt breathless.

Got around to my starting point in 32 minutes (including the walk!) and then around to my run starting point in just over 30 minutes. The rain was really coming down at this point; really wanted to quit but decided to try and keep running for another 5 minutes.... and then another 5 minutes... and then the final 5 minutes. Oof. Was really happy to do my cooldown walk!

When I started my cooldown I checked my iPod; Nike+ had credited me with 5.08 miles, which seems pretty close to correct. Damn you Nike+. I'm still not going to trust you.

Was soaked to the skin by the time I got to the car. Still made sure I got my stretching in. The arch in my right foot feels a little sore, and my back feels a little sore. But otherwise I feel good, and I'm pleased with myself for sticking with the run when I wanted to bail.

Wednesday, March 5, 2008

morning swim

Went for my weekly swim in Issaquah this morning; I love the airy pool, the little old ladies exercising to Madonna, the relatively empty lanes.... I swam a simple mile; 1/2 mile of freestyle, 1/2 mile with swim gloves and a pull buoy. I forgot to put on my little SportCount ring, which meant that I had to concentrate on counting laps rather than fretting about work and other things. This turned my workout into a much more meditative affair. Just breathing and counting and swimming...

On the way home from work today I was pondering whether the raking of the gravel or the contemplation of the raked gravel was the more "zen". I called Rebecca who agreed that they are both meditative. So today I was the raker, carefully arranging my limbs and counting my laps. It's not going to take me to a higher plane, but I did seem to swim faster than two weeks ago.


Tuesday, March 4, 2008

morning on the treadmill

Just got home from a loooooong day in the office... so it's a really good thing that I ran before work today in the TMO fitness center. It's not much of a fitness center -- three treadmills, a couple of recumbent bikes, stair-climbers, and elliptical trainers, some free weights, a bench, and a "universal machine". Oh, and a big wood-floored "aerobics" area, complete with mirrors and barre. It's pretty quiet in the morning, with just a handful of people there and in the cramped locker room area.

Warmed up for 5 minutes, then ran for 40 minutes and cooled down for 5. The run and cooldown came out at 4.69 miles on the treadmill... and, frustratingly, on my Nike+. But I won't be seduced by you so easily, Nike+... I don't trust you anymore...

Tomorrow I swim. :)

Monday, March 3, 2008

back on the bike

Got home from work at a decent hour today, so I went downstairs and rode my bike in the trainer for 42 minutes + cooldown, while listening to a triathlon podcast. Yep, I'm a dork. First time riding in my new shoes; I don't think I have the cleats in quite the right spot but I want to take the time to get my bike fitted before I clamp down the cleats. The shoes are comfy, though; quite a change from having my toes go numb while I ride!

Tomorrow I got booked into a meeting until 6:00 (huh?!?) so I may try working out at the gym at TMO in the morning. Terrifying thought, but...

Sunday, March 2, 2008

Marching Orders

It's been quite a week! Too many hours spent either away from the office or in the office ... and not enough time spent at home, or exercising. Haven't done a lick of exercise since my Central Park run a week ago. However, I think things will be calmer next week (famous last words...) so I should get back on track.

Eagle-eyed readers will notice that I removed the Nike+ widget from the blog; I just got frustrated running 6 miles and being credited for 2. I know that I am getting miles in, and that I'm getting faster and stronger... so I'm going to stop obsessing over Nike+. According to the sensor, I was some 15 miles shy of my February goal; according to my running logs I just barely made it. My March goal is to run 55 miles, swim four times, and bike four times. Still not super ambitious, but a start. My stretch goal is to ride to work at least once. It's always the first time that's the hardest.

Tomorrow is a bike day; I'll probably stick with riding in the trainer... but if the weather's nice, maybe I'll go for a little longer ride. We'll see how the day goes.