Monday, October 27, 2008

musings on the long run

So last night it suddenly occurred to me just how far we had run on Saturday. When we were running in Portland last weekend, every step was a bit of a mystery, a surprise, so we didn't really have any sense of the distance. But running the very familiar route to downtown -- a route that, to be honest, feels a bit long on the bike! -- and then running home via the Locks... well. I'm still sorta astounded by it. I mean, just looking at it on the map ... it seems an absurd distance to have travelled.

Saturday, October 25, 2008

Fourteen Miles!

Today we broke into uncharted territory -- a 14-mile run! We ran from the house the same way we ride into work: down to the Fred Meyer, out along the Burke-Gilman to Fremont, across the Fremont bridge, along the newly paved path along Westlake, past the houseboats and boat shops, across the S.L.U.T. tracks, right on Harrison, left on Dexter, then right on Bell, and then left on 2nd all the way down to Yesler. Whee!

At Yesler we turned and ran down to the waterfront -- very few tourists at this time of day -- and all the way down past the Sculpture Park, past the grain silos, through the train yard, and past the boathouses to the Locks, where we were reminded of how little spatial awareness most people have. Then the short run home through the Ballard backstreets, and we hit mile 14. Hooray!

I had a rough start -- my right foot and calf were really bothering me, felt very stiff. But I loosened up after a couple of miles and then I was okay until about mile 12, when I was tired and ready to be done. We went at a slower pace than we did in the half marathon last weekend -- probably the lack of others to pace ourselves with.

My iPod shut itself off after 9.96 miles, but I'm still giving myself credit for 14. Wil's iPod recorded 14.02 miles, 2:37, pace 11:14, 2108 calories.

We got ourselves up and out the door early -- by 7:40, I think -- which certainly helped our moods. I'm looking forward to a nice relaxing weekend. And a pint of cider.

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Thursday is treadmill day, too...

Skipped out of work a wee bit early -- what? No meetings? Well then! Then picked up Wil and we went straight to the gym. Yes, it did seem like a waste of another glorious autumn day, but Wil's foot is still tender so he decided to swim instead of run.

The gym was pretty empty, which gave me my choice of treadmills. I chose one where I wouldn't have to stare at a television for an hour. I warmed up for 5 minutes, then ran for 50, and the cooled down for 5. I started at a 5.5 mph pace for ten minutes, then sped up by .1 mph every 5 minutes. I feel as if I need to give my knees and feet plenty of time to get warmed up before I run on them... but I think I could speed up a little.

In other running news, our dear friend Lindsay got a gold star yesterday for running three miles straight. Brava girl! We're so proud of you!

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Tuesday is treadmill day

So my good intentions on the green front mean that I don't get home until 5:00ish -- I mean, I can either stay at work until 4 and be home at 5, or I can leave T-Mobile at 2:45 and be home around 4:30. And given the early nights and, well, how much I dislike running in twilight, I spent tonight at the gym in north Seattle. Wil is nursing his tender foot, so I ventured out alone. Pretty crowded when I got there at 6:45 -- only one empty treadmill! And I should point out that the spin class AND the step class looked full as well. Oh, and don't get me started on how many people were in the pool for water aerobics!

I walked for 5 minutes at a 4mph pace to warm up, and then sped up to a 5.5 mph pace, where I stayed for a good 30 minutes, zoning out listening to the Go-Go's and watching the World Series of Poker. (At least it wasn't full of political attack ads!) As the clock ticked down, I sped up a bit -- but only cranked it up to 6.0 for the last five minutes. Then a 5-minute cooldown, a quick awkward stretch (where was I supposed to go?), and then home.

Still feeling on a bit of a high thanks to Sunday's half marathon!

Tomorrow is a rest day... ahhh.

Monday, October 20, 2008

36 hours later...

So it's been about 36 hours since we ran our second half marathon -- and we both *still* feel great! Wil's got a pain in his foot -- the same pain he had before the race -- and I'm a little stiff in my right leg, which I think I'll attribute to the driving back from Portland today. Otherwise, still feeling stupidly pleased with ourselves. We must have told 20 strangers yesterday that we did a half marathon in the morning!

Wil and I were both saying before the race that of course we would be able to finish, but we weren't sure how we would finish -- strong or just barely. We decided that it would either be an affirmation that our training was going well... or a wake-up call that we needed to get more serious. Afterwards we confessed to each other that we were both worried that it would be a huge wake-up call! So we are thrilled, tickled, overjoyed at how well it went. Now, it's not as if we were fast... not by a long shot. But we did finish, we finished pretty strong, and we felt great at the end. So hooray!!!

Of course, it may have been the post-race pints that helped... I mean, some carbs for energy, some alcohol to help us relax, a bit of dancing around, then showers, a nap, and a long walk around Portland. Might be the perfect recovery recipe!

Sunday, October 19, 2008

Our second half of the year, and surprisingly fast...

Just got back to the hotel after finishing our second half marathon of the year...

and we finished in 2.21  which is amazing for us..  10.40 miles (including a line for a potty stop halfway through!!)  The weather was perfect, as we stayed the right temperature all the way through, and the course had a last minute change due to a landslide.  So it turned into an out and back, but as from 6 to 9.5 miles was a gentle uphill (boo) it meant that 9.5 to finish was a gentle downhill all the way (yayyyyy).

We're psyched, which I am sure is helped along by the fact that the finisher's beverage was beer.  Sadly the finisher's food was chicken wings;  but we turned that into a positive by asking the beer man for a second pint for our food token, as there was no veggie alternative he thought that was a fine idea.   (then walking away with a couple of pints prompted another nice couple to give us the beer tokens they didn't want too...)

So all in all our fastest half marathon followed by 3 pints all before 10.30 means we're having a lovely Sunday in Portland..


Run Like Hell Half Marathon!

Today was our second ever half marathon -- the Run Like Hell Half Marathon in Portland. We started pretty much right on time (though it seemed to take forever to get to the "start" line...) but started along with the 10K runners. This was a little chaotic. I mean, why not just send the half marathoners first? But we headed off along the big street that faces the river, running through the Pearl district and then through some more actual warehousey/industrial area. Then we looped back (having lost the 5Kers along the way) and ran the other direction along the riverfront. At some point the 10K folks turned off, and we half marathoners were sent out and back along a long, slow, curving uphill. Oof!

Was thrilled to see the 7 mile marker -- at that point, I wasn't really sure where we were and wasn't sure if we'd even passed the 6 mile point! Up, up, up we went, keeping a pretty steady pace. Then we got to a water stop -- seemingly the first for miles -- and ended up staying there for 4 minutes or so in the Portaloo line. But we had chocolate Hammer gels (YUM!!!!!) and some water and then continued on up.

I know it's bad to say, but I was THRILLED to see how many people were behind us at that point. :)

Another mile went by, and then another, and then we heard a volunteer tell us that the turnaround was "just around the corner" and then it would be downhill all the way. Of course, the corner lasted forever, but suddenly, there it was. A friendly water stop (which had sadly run out of cups, but they were putting out their own coffee cups, bless them!) and then we were headed down.

We kept on with the same, steady 5:1 intervals that had gotten us to that point -- and both felt pretty good. Wil was faster on the downhills than I was, but we stayed together and suddenly we were at the 12 mile marker. Hooray! At some point Wil had told me what time it was and I was surprised that it was still that early. I mean, my goal was just to go a bit faster than the last half marathon (where we finished at 2:45:17), and, as a stretch goal, to finish under 2:30.

We turned the corner, saw the "6 mile" marker, and knew we only had .2 miles left. Unfortunately, it was the tiniest of uphills, and I was pretty much toast. So I did another minute of walking, and then was ready to go. There was the 13 mile marker! Only .1 of a mile left! And then we held hands and ran down the hill, across the mats, and done. Yay! I looked at the clock as we approached -- could that say 2:24? Knowing that it took us a couple of minutes to cross the start line? Really? Of course, the announcer couldn't see my number, and called out the wrong name for me, but who cares! We were done!!! I can't remember the details, but we finished in 2:21:16 -- smashing our PR.

We got a cheesy little medal, but then we got what we really wanted -- BEER! Hooray for the Red Hook beer tent, and for the nice man who allowed us to swap our food token for an extra beer because we're vegetarian.

We did a little dancing to the band, ate some bananas, drank some beer, and headed back to the Hotel Modera, which is gorgeous and lovely and has great front desk staff -- who welcomed us like conquering heroes.

Now we're showered and warm and ready to face the rest of our day. Hooray for Portland!

Saturday, October 18, 2008


Got to Portland after an uneventful drive -- until we tried to get close to the running store where we were picking up our packets for the Run Like Hell tomorrow. Chaos! Clearly a very nice neighborhood that has outgrown its roads... but we found parking on a residential street only a block away.

A bit of chaos in the shop -- luckily it was a nice day so they had moved the packet pickup and registration outdoors -- where we joined a very long line (and almost jumped it because there were so many people milling about!). We also picked up a revised course map -- apparently a mudslide has closed one of the roads we were supposed to run on, so now the course is an out and back. Boo.

After 7 or 8 minutes, however, we were at the front of the line, where we picked up our packets from the very friendly woman. Then we had to join another line to pick up our tech shirts. There was a bit of confusion there, too -- some people were told they didn't have the shirts in their size, but apparently that was for people who hadn't pre-registered? Not sure. Then we got to the front, and were given two very different shirts. Wil was given a cotton t-shirt and I was given a strangely heavy cotton/poly blend. Made by Port Authority. Not the "tech shirts" we were promised. We stood there for a minute, trying to figure out what was going on. Wil noticed that pushed off to the side in the shirt box was a small pile of nice shirts -- he quickly swapped his out for a proper New Balance shirt.

That left me with a heavy shirt that might be suitable for golfing, but certainly not for running. We went in to the store to confer, and Wil suggested I go back out and ask to trade because this wasn't a tech shirt. The "shirt guy" -- who had clearly been dealing with handing out the poor-quality shirts all day and was perhaps saving the nicer shirts for his friends -- got really arsey with me, told my not to look in "his boxes" and to take it up with the race director. Nice.

I guess I'm accustomed to getting decent quality shirts when you pay extra for them. I did a little research on the Port Authority site. They do offer a 100% polyester, lightweight tech shirt. Unfortunately, it costs $2 more per shirt than the 60% cotton, heavy-weight "active" shirt. So they went with a shirt described as "perfect for an active workday, hot weather and travel". Poor form. I think I'd rather have my $10 back and just get a cotton t-shirt. At least I wouldn't feel as if I was cheated.

Friday, October 17, 2008

a day late, and 5 minutes short...

I got home late on Thursday so we decided to postpone our run until today. Neither of us felt particularly sprightly; Wil is stressed because of work, and I somehow managed to only eat a bagel all day so I was hungry. A handful of Sport Beans and a bit of false enthusiasm managed to get us out the door...

We kept telling each other we were doing a slow run -- just get a few miles in and take it easy so we are fresh for the half on Sunday. But somehow, even though I felt like we were sluggish and slow, we managed to go faster than usual -- 30 seconds per mile faster. We went so fast that we had finished our standard "loop" 5 minutes early. Rather than force things, we just retired early and did a bit of extra stretching.

Now, a few hours later, my ankles feel a bit tender -- not sure why. Tomorrow we'll get up early-ish, throw way too much stuff in the weekend bag, and then head down to PDX. Looking forward to our trip!

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

goodbye old gym, hello new gym

On Saturday, before our trip to the pumpkin patch, we stopped at Safeway to fill up with gas. Wil noticed that the LA Fitness membership guys were out recruiting. So he went over to see what the deal was. It was the usual "this offer is only good until tomorrow" sort of spiel, but we talked it over (while getting a bagel and cash inside) and decided that it was a deal we could live with. A $249 joining fee for the two of us, and then $49.98/month for the two of us. They did have a "month-to-month" rate with no joining fee, but that would have been something like $87.98/month. So we paid up.

The club won't open until November (really? that empty shell? Ummm...) but until then we can use the other area clubs -- Bellevue, Mill Creek, and North Seattle. On Sunday after the Dawg Dash we went in and had a look, but as we didn't have locks we decided against doing anything more time consuming than showering. So tonight was our first workout in the North Seattle facility.

We found two treadmills next to each other, which overlooked the weight machine floor and faced large televisions. I'd never heard of the brand before, and they took a little getting used to, but I did like the little built-in fans. Of course, I forgot to use them as I worked up a sweat doing a 5-minute warm-up walk, 50 minutes of running at a gradually increasing pace, and then 5 or 7 minutes of cool down.

Wil and I both got really really bored. Maybe if we'd listened to music or been able to follow the tv programming it would have been better. But I was able to run steadily for 50 minutes, which I can no longer do in the real world.

After the run, we went to check out the pool. I did two very tentative lengths of breaststroke, but it made my shoulder twinge so I stopped. So then I put on my ultra dorky pool running shoes and did a few laps of that. Yes, I know I look like a dork, okay? The hardest ones were the sideways laps -- really challening. Luckily Wil was also ready to stop so we hit the strangely shallow hot tub. Not exactly relaxing, but still nice to be really really warm.

So for a first visit, things were a-ok.

Oh, and I also stopped off at the gym downtown to cancel my membership. They were totally cool about it and there was no drama whatsoever. And, of course, since we paid first and last month dues, our memberships are good there through November. So many gyms, so little time.

Monday, October 13, 2008

Ninety Days!!!!

Looked at the countdown on the blog here... 90 days until the marathon. Gulp.

It seems like so little time left -- like it won't be possible to get all of the runs in plus get through all of the rest of our lives. But we will, somehow.

Strange randomness this evening -- Wil and I wandered over to the Goodwill and I found a copy of Jim Fixx's book, The Complete Book of Running. On a whim I decided to buy it (what's $1.99?). Flipping through it shortly after buying it, I noticed a pamphlet tucked inside... "Some People Would Rather Die Than Admit They're Having a Heart Attack."


That aside, the book is a treasure trove of 1970s pencil drawings, inspirational quotes, and of course those famous Fixx legs.

Sunday, October 12, 2008

Dawg Dash results...

Despite feeling like we were having a slow day out, our pace was actually pretty speedy for us -- without either of us feeling as if we were "racing" at all. We ended up coming in at 1:03:44, or a 10:17 pace. Not bad for a "long slow distance" training run.

Dawg Dash

Today we ran the Dawg Dash, a 10K run around the University of Washington campus to raise money for student scholarships. We were scheduled to run 6 miles anyway, so why not run to support a good cause -- and get a t-shirt...

Today was a gorgeous day, perfect running weather with a bright blue sky but briskly cool temperatures. I was a little nervous, looking at the other runners -- and worrying because the 5K was described as a "run/walk" while the 10K was a "run" -- and I knew I'd need to intersperse a bit of running with my walking. We took pix before the race in the bright bright sun (apparently I chose not to put my face on this morning?):

Also the infield before the race:

We watched the 5K runners start (much to my dismay; I really wanted to 10K runners to start first) and then lined up at the back of the pack by the 11:00/mile marker. A woman walked past us, moving farther behind us and saying "Ah, the honest people!"

Again, I was fiddling with too much technology, so I started my Nike+ before the starting gun even went off. But off we went, running around the track in Husky Stadium, and then out and around the old carpool parking lot, across the bridge, and down along the BGT for a while. Then a meandering trip back and forth across the campus -- up towards Drumheller Fountain, past the HUB, up through the Quad, out around the northern parking lots, and then back down towards Red Square, past the Henry, and then a few surprising turns around a part of campus I'd never seen. Finally, we were back on the BGT and headed back to the bridge.

We were running 5 minutes, walking 1, and basically setting our pace off two couples who we would pass on the run, and let pass us on the walks. This was going okay -- until the last mile, when we just ran behind the couple at their pace. It was nice running behind them -- until we got closer to the stadium and they were joined by a friend who had already finished... and ended up slowing them down. So we passed them and moved on. Down the hill to the stadium entrance, then back in to the stadium and on the track -- dodging 5Kers with strollers leaving the stadium. A nice sprint to the finish, holding hands, and we were done.

All in all, the course was nice, but I had forgotten just how hilly the campus is!

One criticism -- they ran out of water at the end of the race. Plenty of chips and salsa, plenty of fruit, plenty of other treats -- but no water, no juice, nothing. Oh well. They *did* have water on the course at least.

Still feeling good about the run, no real stiffness or soreness. And looking forward to the Run Like Hell half next week.

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

the tree wins

When I ran eastward from 15th on 75th, I always had to be careful not to trip over the massive upheaval in the sidewalk caused by a very old, very big tree root.
Imagine my delight the other day when I discovered that someone had allowed the tree to win... while also improving the pedestrian experience. Kudos to whomever came up with the idea to pave a new sidewalk around the root, leaving room for a cute little garden.

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

horse chestnuts

One of my favorite things about autumn is finding horse chestnuts. They seem like little pieces of art -- carved wood, lovingly polished. So I can't help but pick them up when I see them. Of course, there are so many of them around this neighborhood, I can't really keep filling my pockets as if they were squirrel cheeks.

But on my last two runs, I couldn't resist picking one up and holding it in my hands while I ran. I remembered hearing that Emma Snowsill, the reigning Olympic triathlon champion, runs with sticks in her hands "to help with her rhythm". I've often pondered what exactly this means - does she tap them against herself? Do they help her relax her shoulders? Do they distract her ever so slightly to help her get in a zone? Who knows. But I enjoyed holding a horse chestnut today, mainly in my left hand, hoping to counteract the weird flippy motion I make with my right arm, which I blame on often holding my iPod in that hand.

I ran my standard loop backwards today -- running up the hill to 80th, then west all the way to Loyal, then the diagonal to 85th, and then south and over to the Sunset Park, and then back towards home. I warmed up a little too long -- 7:30 -- and then alternated 5:30 runs and 2:00 walks until I was 55 minutes in. Then a brisk walk to cool down for 6 minutes or so until I got home.

I felt pretty good once I was in to the run. I ended up going 5.63 miles, but again, I walked quite a bit of the time.

I didn't really want to run today -- but convinced myself that I at least had to go out and start the run. Like they always say in Runner's World, just getting out the door is the hardest part. I also want to take advantage of the decent weather for real-world runs as long as I can.

How that it's been 3 hours since I finished the run, I'm feeling a little pain in my right hip, and some stiffness in my knees. I hope I feel strong again soon.

Thursday, October 2, 2008


Two milestones today.

Today's run was my 100th Nike+ workout. This means very little, since I didn't always manage to capture my runs in the early days. But it's still nice to see the workouts add up.

Today also marks 100 days left before the Walt Disney World Marathon. This means a lot -- since it means we really really REALLY need to be serious about it. We duly went out for a run, running for 40 minutes plus a warmup walk. We were scheduled to do "drills" today -- but after one minute of sprinting on the drizzle-slickened, uneven sidewalks of Ballard we decided to just jog out another two minutes. Too much risk of me tripping, slipping, or otherwise damaging my poor scabby knees.

Oh, and after the run I went hosiery shopping. Not sure where to buy the "so thick you can't see my own skin" hose, but I bought a wide selection of hose... Again, I should apologize in advance for the state of my knees in Rebecca & Eric's wedding photos!