Monday, May 31, 2010

Welsh run

Got up this morning to go for the tiniest of runs -- over to the sea front, along the promenade to St. Trillo's Chapel, and then back. It was glorious weather -- hot but breezy enough to stay cool. All in all, it was just 3.1 miles, but it was the longest I had run since the Kirkland Half.

So, again, I completely missed my mileage goal in May -- despite having run two half marathons! Ha. But this was a gorgeous little run to round out the month.

Friday, May 28, 2010

Disneyland 1/2 Marathon news

So when we ran the Disneyland Half last year, we were sad that we didn't get to run up Main Street USA. So this year we contemplated running the 5K that happens the day before (a mini-Goofy?), because it's a great course. But then the fee for the 5K was $50, which is absurd. So I let it go. THEN we got an email about the race -- and the theme is "Fabulous 5K", and the "medal" (which is made of rubber) features the "Fab Five" -- Mickey, Minnie, Donald, Goofy, Pluto. So I was tempted again -- even though our flights get in around 7, and getting to the expo on Friday night to pick up the 5K packets would have been challenging.

Luckily for us, they also posted the map for the half marathon ... and they've changed the course slightly. We *do* still get to run through Angel Stadium (yay! jumbotron!), but we also get to run up Main Street -- as it should be. It even looks like we'll run in a different "backstage" area that we've never seen. Very cool.

So thanks, Disney, for tweaking the course so we get to run up Main Street... and saving us $100 and the extra 5K. :)

catching up - Boot Camp Days 11 and 12

Sitting at the airport waiting for our flight... which means I suddenly have a completely free 20 minutes after a hectic couple of weeks.

So let's see -- I did go to Boot Camp days 11 and 12, which were pretty quiet. Just me and Lori on the Wednesday, and we did a lot of leg work. Then on "fun Friday" Ben set up 12 stations and we had to roll the dice to know what station to report to. Knowing that 7 is the most-rolled number, he put lunges at that station.

So I loved Boot Camp -- loved the act of getting up, working out for an hour, and then arriving at my desk all giddy and "endorphined". I don't think I will pick it back up, however -- I don't know if I am working hard enough? Sure, I'd feel sore, but never really sore or tired. Not that I believe in the "no pain, no gain" stuff, but I think I need more.

That said, I essentially stopped running in May. Other than the two half marathons, I only ran one small distance. So perhaps in conjunction with running I would feel more "exercised"?

We're off to Blighty for the first time in years -- for Beck's wedding. Looking forward to seeing everyone again, and the change of scenery. I brought my running shoes, but Wil wasn't going to... until this morning in a last-minute change of plan he decided to wear them on the plane. The sad shoes post earlier today shows my fashion shame... yes, I'm wearing my running shoes with my street clothes. At least they are black.

poor shoes...

How sad for my running shoes...that they haven't run a (non boot camp) step since the Kirkland half...

Monday, May 17, 2010

Boot Camp Day 10

Entering the last week of Boot Camp, feeling a little sad that this is the end. Tressa and I were there, and Ben worked our arms so hard that I already feel sore. Which is satisfying, I admit.

Wil and I were talking on our drive home that I think I need a tougher coach -- a tougher camp. Or perhaps I don't need a boot camp at all. It *has* been fun to be coached -- exercise without thinking -- but it's a bit pricier than I really want to spend. But we'll see how I feel when we get back from our holiday.

Reading my travel guide about Paris and getting excited about a tiny little run along the Seine and/or in the Jardin du Luxembourg... also excited at the prospect of an early morning run along the seafront in Penrhyn Bay...

Saturday, May 15, 2010

Boot Camp Day 9

Glorious weather for our third Fun Friday. I was a bit dubious when I noticed the golf clubs. I have a completely irrational dislike of golf -- or at least golf culture. No, I have never played golf. But the stereotypes of the corporate slimeballs and drunken fratboys kinda turns me off. I have friends who golf, none of whom fit the stereotype, but for some reason I still don't like the idea of golfing.

So when we ran out and set up 9 "holes" around the park, with different exercises, I was feeling a little pouty. Especially since I have never actually swung a golf club outside of a few childhood rounds of putt-putt and a single bucket of balls at a driving range. I suppose it didn't matter that Ben didn't have any lefty clubs -- it wasn't as if I was going to be very productive anyway.

But I took a club and began hacking away at the ball, moving it a few feet at a time. Which was okay, because I wanted to do more reps at the holes. At one point Ben ran over to give me some golf tips. I told him I didn't know how to swing a club, so it didn't really matter -- but that just made him want to show me how it's done. Let's just say I improved exponentially, but I still think my longest shot was about 50 feet.

So once I got over my "ew, golf" issues, it was okay, though I missed chatting with the ladies a little.

Next week is my last week -- I need to start looking for whatever will come next!

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Boot Camp Day 8

Wednesday's boot camp was a little strange -- we had a "new" member (who was really a returning member who had gone on a two-week vacation), and it seemed like it was short. Not sure what happened. We did some running, we did some squats and lunges, we did some arm work, and so on, but even with a longer-than-usual abs portion, we finished 5 minutes early. It left me feeling a bit sad, sorta confirming that this probably isn't going to be something I continue doing after the end of next week. (I can't explain why I feel this way... I just do.)

I'm hoping that tomorrow's Fun Friday gets me back in the mood a bit -- especially since I'm NOT running a half marathon this weekend. Tra la la.

Monday, May 10, 2010

Boot Camp Day 7

Woke up this morning to a steady drizzle... and to the realization that I hadn't set my alarm for 5:00. Oops. But I had set it for 5:30 (my wake-up time for Sunday morning), and I had already packed everything for the morning and even put out the trash and recycling, so I was still on the road by 5:45. Unfortunately, the wet weather slowed down traffic and I didn't arrive at the park till 6:05. Luckily, they (Ben and Tressa) were still there.

See, on wet days they hold Boot Camp "in a space undercover" -- which turns out to be the covered walkway in a nearly-empty shopping complex, the one where that great Thai restaurant Charley introduced us to used to be. So we drove over there and Ben got out the stretch bands -- brand new ones -- and some cones, and started putting us through our paces.

He was impressed and a little envious that I had run another half, which sorta makes me laugh. As such, he was a little gentle on my legs, but all the more harsh on my arms and abs. ("You need balance." Amen, brother.)

It's much nicer to work out in the park, but as the rain got harder and harder, I was really happy to be undercover. Here's hoping for nicer weather on Wednesday.

Kirkland Half Marathon Map + Elevation Profile


Sunday, May 9, 2010

Kirkland Half Marathon

Not sure if it is Lindsay's fault or my fauit... or some kind of co-dependent thing. But Friday afternoon on the way home I signed us up for the Kirkland Half Marathon, and we ran it today.

It was a glorious day -- perfect half marathon weather, with a cool but bright and sunny sky and it didn't get too warm until the very end. (Hence perfect HALF marathon weather...).

Picked Lindsay up and carpooled to Kirkland, colonizing an empty parking lot when we arrived. Lots of milling about pre-race, both of us a bit surprised by the numbers of people who were there. They let the walkers go at 7:05, and sent us after them at 7:35. We dropped ourselves in the 10-minute "corral" and both commented on how surreal it was that we were there.

With little fanfare an airhorn sounded and we were off. The map had shown two big hills before mile 4. The first one was within the first mile, and wasn't too bad. I started to think that I had worried too much about hills... until mile 3, when we saw The Hill. We started running up it, but then decided that there's really no shame in walking up a steep hill -- especially when the apartment complex half way up calls itself "The Ascent".

But we hit the top, rounded a corner, and hit our first water stop. Then we ran for miles and miles along a road... at least a few of which were a long, slow, uphill. So I guess, when the man at the shop said "I hope you like hills!", he meant it.

We loped along, mocking the other runners as needed, getting cheered on by a lovely aging lesbian couple (yes, in a Subaru...), thanking the cops and the volunteers, all the way down to Bridle Trails Park -- which was right around the half-way point. At the water stop after mile 7 we ate a gel each. Me: chocolate Hammer Gel. Lindsay: tri-berry Gu.

Then we started going downhill fast. Thump thump thump past the garbage dump -- and the nice young man with his electric guitar and tiny amp, playing "Chariots of Fire". Nice.

We crossed 405 on one of those pedestrian bridges (oh, so THAT's who uses those!) and then thumped farther downhill. A few more twists and turns and we were suddenly on the waterfront near Kirkland -- and the 10-mile point. Hooray!

We skipped most of downtown Kirkland -- running through the waterfront park rather than on the roads -- and then we were off again. We passed two cops who said "Last hill! You're looking great!" We asked for permission to walk up the hill, which they granted. Of course, a few blocks later, we came to another hill. I guess you can't trust the cops.

Some more winding through Kirkland 'hoods, past megamansions and the final water stop. Suddenly we veered off into a park I didn't know existed, and then we hit the 12 mile marker -- yay!

We ran along an old road that's now a pedestrian boardwalk through a nature preserve, turned left at the Michaels, and hit the home stretch. We crossed with a clock time of about 2:33 -- but no final results yet. Oh, and we both got shout outs as we entered the chute.

We turned in our chips, grabbed bottles of water, and an apple each... and then decided to bail. Both of us needed the restorative powers of a Diet Coke. Weird omission: no medals? Really? I was pretty sure Lindsay and I tied for #1 in the Most Awesome Division.

A few random memories: three people wearing the Vibram Five Fingers shoes; the identically dressed duos, and of course, leather legs. Ew.

So, with the result, I can now join the Half Fanatics and hold my head up high. Thanks Lindsay for being my totally awesome running buddy!

Friday, May 7, 2010

Boot Camp Day 6

Today was another "Fun Friday" at boot camp -- and it really WAS fun! Ben set up 20 different exercise stations along a long stretch of path, with a magnetic dartboard at one end. The rules were simple -- you threw a dart and took direction as to which station to visit from your "score". Then you ran to the station and did 15 reps -- or 20 if you had missed the target completely on your first throw.

It was fast-moving and had plenty of variety. Ben kept moving between the 4 of us (no Tressa today, again) and kept correcting our form, etc. I was surprised how quickly the time went -- even if I got sent to the pushup station twice and the crunches station three times.

I will say that it's easier to do crunches than it was even a week ago... so I guess that's something. Plus I really enjoy the running around and exercising.

Funny randomness -- learned that one of the ladies also works at TMO... and then I actually passed her in Loehmann's Plaza when I went out for a walk with Lisetta and Stasi at lunch. Small world, innit?

So, boot camp is officially half over, which makes me a tiny bit sad. But we'll see how I feel on Monday!


Yes, it's official. I am insane.

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Day 4 & 5

I'm so far behind on blogging that I am going to combine Monday's and Wednesday's boot camp sessions into one post.

Monday morning I felt really spry -- a little stiffness in the tendons along my ankles -- probably from the severe camber on the roads in Vancouver. Other than that, I felt good. Got to the park a little early so I decided to stretch out my legs wih a guiqck loop (1/2 mile) around the park.

When I got back, Tressa had arrived, so Ben gave us our powerbands and we set off. We did a 30:30 interval workout, with intense sets of exercise followed by rest. Flex, rest, repeat.

Tressa is sweet and intense -- loves to work out with the hardest band, is focused but friendly, and is a good workout partner. I think she likes that I've been steady and that I also work hard (rather than chat).

Felt surprisingly sore during the abs portion, but got through it in the end.

A quick drive to TMO to shower, a swing by my desk to pick up my laptop, and then back over to Bellevue for the "Marketing Bootcamp" 3-day offsite. (Yawn).

Today -- Wednesday -- got up despite staying up too late last night. No Tressa today, but the other laeies all came. I felt like we did a surprising amount of work today -- lots of lunges, lots of squats, and LOTS of arm work. Not sure why, but things seemed to flow really well today. Also, I didn't struggle as much with the ab work -- would be nice to be impriving a bit! So... 5 days down ouf of my set of 12 -- and I'm still really loving it!

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Off topic: we love Jonathan Richman

Fled an absurdly boring work offsite (about which the least said, the better....) to come home and nap before going to the Tractor to see Jonathan Richman play the first of two nights. The doors were for 9, but when Wil called they also said that JR would take the stage at 9. This seemed unlikely in this city of "club shows" where the usual pattern is doors at 8, opening act at 9, and headliner at 10 or later. But when we arrived at 9:30, JR was on stage and crooning away.

It was lovely to see him -- my first time seeing him live -- he seems the embodiment of the word "troubador" or "balladeer", somehow. He sings and plays with such joy that the whole room was enraptured. A few minutes after we arrived he played his wonderful, marvellous, "Dancing in a Lesbian Bar" song; leaving his drummer and the audience to clap the rhythm, and the audience to sing the choruses while Jonathan engaged in what could only be called a "dance solo". Delicious!

I am a huge fan of early nights -- especially since I have Boot Camp tomorrow! -- so thank you, Jonathan, for a civilized evening that wrapped up at 10:25. Looking forward to seeing you tomorrow night. (And we'll be there at 9.)

Congratulations to Rebecca!

Our beloved Rebecca ran her first ever half marathon in Eugene on Sunday as well with the fantastic time of 2:26! Way to go! We're so proud of you!!!!

Capilano Crossing

Perhaps not the best thing to do after a race, especially if you're not a fan of heights, but here's what the suspension bridge feels like in real time...

Monday, May 3, 2010

Vancouver Half Marathon race report

Here are my two favorite parts of every race:

1. A few minutes before the start -- when I feel giddy and weepy (happy weepy, to be precise) and thrilled to be part of a big event.

2. A few moments before the finish -- when the finish line is in sight, and Wil and I grab hands "leave nothing in the tank" for our final push.

Which isn't to say that I don't enjoy most of the time in the middle. I also like when the crowds thin out a little, and I can relax into my pace (and not worry so much about tripping over someone or being clipped from behind). I like seeing new places -- I am sure I would never have seen quite so much of suburban Vancouver if I hadn't run this race. I like settling into a rhythm, and seeing the miles pass by. I like eavesdropping on other runners. I like water stops. I like wondering what flavor of gel they'll have at the gel stop. I like when people have funny things written on their shirts, or when they have sad things to honor fallen friends. And I love it when we pass by a traffic cop with a STOP/SLOW sign. Invariably the STOP side is facing cars, and the SLOW side is facing the runners. And I get to yell "Your sign should say FAST!". Ah, it never gets old. Well, except for Wil.

The race wasn't corralled, so the start was very bunchy and full of people who hadn't yet learned proper race etiquette. Groups of walkers, 4 abreast, starting at the front "because they were worried about getting swept". (I hasten to add that I have absolutely no issue with walkers -- the more the merrier, I say -- but please learn to walk in pairs!) We also had to execute a hairpin turn about 100 yards from the start -- crazy, and I saw a woman trip on the curb and nearly fall. Then another set of left turns until we looped around and got on a high ramp.

The ramp was also a little weird -- there wasn't any real guidance, so we ended up on a "sidewalk" that got narrower and narrower, eventually trapped behind some slow-moving people. Then, all of a sudden, it was clear that we had to climb over the barrier to get onto the street because the sidewalk was moving away. Whoops! But it was easy to cross and we were back on our way with the main crowd.

The course was more hilly than I expected -- we always seemed to be running up or down a hill, which is funny because I never thought Vancouver was hilly before. Not very much support out on the roads, but then again, it was early on a Sunday morning and the weather was getting worse.

It was cold at the start, and we had our "disposable" fleeces on. But after a couple of miles, we got too warm. Wil took his off first, and tied his around his waist. I kept mine on until mile 3, but then was sweating so I decided to take mine off completely. I was wearing capri-length tights and a long-sleeved Brooks thermal top, and figured that I would be warm enough.

This was a tactical error on my part.

Because the mist turned into a light drizzle which turned into a heavy drizzle and then into a proper rain. So we were pretty wet when we reached the outskirts of Stanley Park at mile 5. Just in time for the strong wind coming off the water. Oops. Weirdly enough we found ourselves caught behind a large "2:30" pace group just as the road narrowed (such was surprising because they started well ahead of us in the chute). But then we stopped for a potty break... along with a number of people who were Very Very Slow. 6 minutes later (the 2:30 bunny long since gone), we continued on.

We ran on the seawall for a short while before turning up onto a vehicle road that would eventually take us up into the park. It was green and lovely and rainforesty -- and cold. Just after mile 6 there was another gel stop, and I scarfed it down, which made me feel better. The road was climbing gradually, until we turned a corner and could see "the hill" -- the twisty road that lead up to Prospect Point. I remember someone -- a volunteer? a Team in Training coach? a crazy race fan? -- standing at a curve shouting "Once you get to where I'm standing, you'll be able to see the top. It gets steeper, but you can see the top."

So we slowly passed her, and leaned into the hill, and, crossing a bridge above the Lions Gate Bridge, approached the lookout. A cold, lonely man was blasting 50s and 60s tunes from a sound system. Wil ran in to use the bathroom, and I tried to stay warm by dancing to the music: "Don't Be Cruel", "Party Doll", "Surfin' Safari". And then we were off again.

The next couple of miles were mainly downhill -- pounding through the park on rain-slicked roads. I was weirdly hungry, and at the water station around mile 9.5 I ate a third gel. I have never eaten more then two gels in a race -- even during the marathons -- my coach Ben says my body was just churning through fuel to keep me both warm AND moving.

At some point, near the exit to the park, we saw our first full marathoners. Their course started at the same spot as ours, but they ran lots of extra miles, than ran some different paths through the park (skipping the Prospect Point hill...), met up near the exit (our mile 10ish, their mile 16), and then ran with us for a mile or so before turning off for several more miles before rejoining just before the finish. And did I mention they started 30 minutes after us?

Was thrilled to pass our hotel somewhere around mile 10.5 -- knowing it was really just a short little jaunt, relatively flat, to the finish. Was especially thrilled to turn "inland" and away from the freezing wind along English Bay.

The last couple of miles were pretty uneventul -- we did pass some supporters, but it really wasn't until we were in the finish chute before there were crowds. Oh, except for at the last water stop, which was staffed by Asian cheerleaders, who saw my name on the bib and started shrieking "Oh! Sunny! Go Sunny! Go Sunny!!!!" Love that. Adore that.

And then, as we neared the finish, we sped up as much as we could, and could hear the announcer keeping a running commentary on the finishers. We heard him say "And here's Sunny Delaney from Seattle, Washington" -- the first time, I think, that I got a shout out in a race.

I think we mistimed the finish -- we were sprinting toward the inflatable arch -- but perhaps the timing mat we ran across right before my name was called was the actual finish? Who knows. We were done. Not particularly fast, and not particularly pretty, but done in 2:36+.

Only once -- at the Disney World 1/2 this year -- have I been happier to receive the race blanket. We got our medals (lovely; nice that the ribbons are different for the full and the half) but decided to skip the post-race food and just get out of there. As we were making our way up the stairs in the direction of "home", we heard the announcer talking about the marathon leader approaching the home stretch. Mind you, this man started 30 minutes after us, ran twice as far as us, and only finished a few minutes after we did. Awesome. I did have a tiny twinge of sadness that we weren't just that much slower, actually, because it would have been freaking amazing to see him sprinting past us.

We got onto the main road towards the hotel, and prepared to walk the mile and a half.... but then we saw, like a beacon, a taxi. Just sitting there, all warm and golden. After ascertaining that it wasn't a mirage, we leapt in and were dropped off a block from our hotel about 10 minutes later. The best C$12 I have EVER spent.

We got gigantic hot drinks from the Starbucks and then walked along the course -- still wrapped in our blankets -- and cheered on the marathoners as we went. I like to think that cheering is better than silence, even if it comes from people snugly wrapped in bright blue "VANCOUVER MARATHON" blankets...

10 minutes later we were up in the room, having steaming hot showers and eating as if carbs were going out of style. The fine folks at the Sylvia had granted us an hour's grace, so we could check out at 1pm, but we were pretty much warm and dry and ready to move on before noon. We celebrated with a trip to Capilano to cross the suspension bridge -- whee! -- and then headed back south for home.

As usual, here's my archival link to the course map.

Vancouver Half Marathon pre-race report

We drove up to Vancouver after work on Friday, with only a 20-minute wait at the border, and an otherwise speedy journey. Got settled in at the lovely Sylvia Hotel, had a fantastic dinner, and a really nice walk around the neighborhood. I imagine that it's fantastic in the summer, being so close to the beach.

Saturday morning we got up, went for a walk along the water, and then stopped in at Milestones for breakfast -- fortifying us for the trek across town to the marathon expo. We walked in the general direction of the expo... but didn't really know just exactly WHERE expo was. We finally ended up accosting a man carrying a bright blue "BMO Marathon" bag, who pointed us in nearly the right direction (well, eventually in the right direction... but the long way round).

Expo was... chaos? Pros: they had a live band playing on the outdoor stage. Fun! Gave it a sense of adventure. They also had a sign-scribble booth, which I always love, and they gave out bright blue "disposable" gloves -- a nice touch.

Cons: You had to snake through the exhibitors to get to the packet pickup... AND snake through them again to get back out. In the end I didn't want to look at anything, I just wanted to GET OUT! I think a one-way system might have been better, somehow.

But we got in, got our packets (names on bibs! hooray!!!), and eventually made it out again.

Not being very good at staying off our feet, or relaxing, we spent the rest of the day walking all around Vancouver, admiring the sweet Vancouver Olympics merchandise (such lovely mascots!), stopping in to get the Body Glide we forgot to pack (thus spending out Running Room token that the race organizers sent!), and having a nice dinner with a chatty waiter who wrote us a nice note to wish us good luck in the race.

We didn't stay out too late, and got home just before dark to attach our timing chips and bibs and lay out our race stuff for the morning.

The alarm went off at 5:45, with a backup at 6. We dressed quickly, ate some bread and cheese we bought the night before, and headed downstairs at 6:01. I had been watching the taxis in the nearby taxi rank, and didn't worry too much about getting a ride. We asked the front desk to call, and ended up joining forces with two other runners -- running their first race.

The driver dropped us several blocks from the start, so at first we wandered around a little hesitantly, but soon we saw others heading the right direction. We actually walked along the finish chute to get into the start/finish area, arriving at about 6:30. We immediately got into one of the two giant -- but fast-moving -- lines for the banks of porta potties. Ah, Canadians, so polite, so orderly, so happy to queue. By the time we got in and out, it was 6:45, so we decided to see what the start area looked like.

Well, they didn't have corrals, though they did have some "pace bunnies" (wearing pink bunny ears), and we saw a 2:30 sign, so got to a side fence a ways behind that. Some more milling about, a few words, and then a not-very-stirring rendition of O, Canada. (I think I was the only one singing...) And then, with a blast of a horn, the elites were off, with the announcer shrieking "Photographers! Look out! Get out of the way! Photographers!", which made me laugh. And then, a few minutes later, we shifted forward a bit, and we were off.