Thursday, June 30, 2011

halfway there...

5 runs down (if you include the Rock 'n' Roll Half, and I do), 5 to go... I'm a little behind, but I think I can make it up before the 11th.

Had a weird day at work -- had lots of projects to get through, so I pretty much just kept my head down and got through them. So when I got home I didn't want to think anymore... which meant a run on the treadmill in the basement. No thinking, just turn it on and go. Not the best way to run, but at least it was a run.

Sunday, June 26, 2011

Seattle Rock 'n' Roll Half Marathon Race Report

I'll be honest -- I wasn't sure how this one was gonna go. I was undertrained, still a bit stiff-kneed from the bike crash 4 weeks ago, and had a late change in running buddies (and Wil would be the first to tell you he wasn't particularly prepared either...).

As such, I had two goals for this race. 1. Finish. 2. Finish in under three hours.

Wil and I got up, got dressed, had some toast, and headed downtown. We parked a couple of blocks from the Westin and quickly got on a shuttle around 4:45. The drivers seemed a little panicked -- people weren't turning up early. But we arrived at the starting area before 5:15.

We stopped at the VIP Porta Potty first, saying hello to the crew and testing out the facilities. We ran into Melody (goal: sub 2; stretch: 1:45) and Stevie (goal: finish), too. Everyone was giddy and happily edgy. Nice.

We decided to get some water and then find a quiet spot to chill for a while. Again we talked about the weird lack of music -- or any sort of information system. I feel a bit bad for Tukwila as it's not as if they're really getting to showcase any part of their town! We sat around until 7 and then headed back to the porta potty for a final "go". Weirdly enough, there was a long line... which made people edgy. That said, there were also very long lines for the regular porta potties. And at about 7:15, a Competitor employee came over and announced that there were lots of empty porta potties near the starting corrals, and that people needed to head over. I think they realized that most people didn't know the race was even starting!

Also, while waiting for the porta potty, we noticed shuttle buses still arriving. Wow.

After using the potty we headed over to the starting area, where 10 or so corrals had already started. We made our way into corral 28 and hung out. We saw Dyana and Jana, made a bit of small talk, and took the obligatory pre-race photos...

We decided to run 3:1 splits -- I figured I could do 3 minutes at a time! I wanted to be extra gentle at the start, just run and walk and see how things went. If we got 5 miles in and walked the rest of the way, so be it.

Things were crowded at the start -- for a while, it was clear that walking was just as fast as running in that crowd. But within a quarter of a mile we had room to run. We stuck with the splits -- even though it was hard to do at first, from an "ego" point of view.

The Dude was at mile 1 again -- a bad spot for him, but still nice to see him. I wish Brooks had sent a bunch of people do cheer next to him. (Maybe next year?)

I don't have a lot of vivid memories from the course -- the little hill over the freeway, the long slow hill along the train tracks, winding through the neighborhoods getting tonier and tonier, then the steep hills down to the lake. When we got to the downhill, we heard a girl say "use the hill", which made us both laugh... but also made us start running faster.

We ran down the hill, not stopping to walk. Then down to the lake, and the long flat stretch. Woot. :)

At some point we passed Endorphin Dude, who seemed to be having a rough day. But we said hello, asked if he remembered us from Bay to Breakers, and he said, "Oh, yeah -- the Half Fanatic!" But we kept on going without pausing for a photo.

Up the hill to mile 9 and the split -- still feeling remarkably good. Okay, sure, I walked up the hill, but then started running again in the tunnel. I recognized the song that was playing -- "Get Up and Go" -- and thought that the band was doing an amazing cover version. Until we got closer and I realized it was a DJ. Oops.

I made sure to drink plenty at the water stop at the end of the tunnel -- I've learned my lesson -- and then we headed out along the ramp into town. The awful, longest ramp in the world. Again, we decided to walk up most of the hills, but otherwise kept running.

Was very excited to hit the final water stop on 4th, just before the turn down to the viaduct. The hill down was too steep to run down on our tired legs, so we walked... and then walked up the ramp. The band there was playing some sort of rock anthem, so of course we joined in. I did wish that we were on the top of the viaduct, but also happy that we were almost at the end of our race.

The offramp had been changed -- which seemed to add extra distance -- but then we rounded the last corner. I needed a little break in the final stretch, but then we got to the 13-mile marker. I said "God save the queen!" and took off sprinting.

As usual the people on the stretch were all quiet -- all of them looking for their own runners -- so I tried to get them to cheer, Desi-style. A couple of people offered high fives, and a few of them whooped... and then, with hands held, we crossed the finish line.

Random race memories:
- the little girl on her father's shoulders, eyes shining with excitement, waiting for her mom to run by
- "here comes Lindsay... with a moustache"
- a banana-laden table in the recovery area

I stopped looking at clocks (other than my intervals) pretty early on. As I said, I really just wanted to finish, ideally under 3 hours. At some point I realized that, unless the wheels really fell off, we would easily finish under 3. But I have to admit I was surprised to finish in 2:35:11 -- a few seconds slower than 2010, and a minute or so faster than 2009. Really pleased with that result! Again, not our fastest not our slowest race, but evidently that's my average pace for that course.

Oh, and did I mention that I registered myself and Wil for 2012?

Friday, June 24, 2011

Rock 'n' Roll Seattle Race Expo

Spent a little too long at expo today... but had to see Meredith before she disappears for the summer! Also ran into Lindsay, who was there picking up... Wil's bib. Great to see her and get caught up a little with all of her adventures! She and Patrick are doing crazy amounts of work on their new house -- amazing!

So here's something funny -- Lindsay and I registered for this year's race at last year's expo. Sure, we did it at the same time. But I still didn't expect this:

Yeah, that's right. Consecutive numbers. Now, Wil and I sign up for things together all the time. And it's rare that our race numbers are even in the same freakin' corral. So that's super weird.

Anyway, also picked up this year's pin, pint glasses, and (as my "Brooks employee bonus") a very cool beer stein. Ran into a few other colleagues -- everyone has that same "oh, well, it'll be okay" tone that I have about this race. Which is sorta satisfying.

All my gear is set and ready to go for tomorrow. Now all I have to do is get a decent night's sleep.

Thursday, June 23, 2011

oh dear, another skip...

Today I spent the day volunteering at the Ronald McDonald House with Brooks. We cleaned most of the day, and then cooked dinner for the 80 families. Lots of scrubbing, wiping, and dish washing... Really glad the race isn't a triathlon this weekend -- because my left shoulder is shot.

Two days of manual labor and I'm a wreck. :) But it was good work -- both days.

Tomorrow I'll go to the race expo and pick up my packet. And, no, I didn't run today. That just means I'll have to go hardcore for the next 2 1/2 weeks -- no missed workouts!

Two other running related items....

1. We're a month away from the Great Alaskan Maritime Marathon -- woot! So excited!!!

2. RunDisney released images of the Tinker Bell Half Marathon medals today -- pretty!!!!

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

My first skip, and some news...

Two running-related events from yesterday...

1. I didn't run. I knew yesterday would be challenging because I had an appointment in Tacoma -- which means I *should* have run on my lazy Monday night. But I didn't. That's why I built in two "days off" (in addition to all the other days off...) in my challenge. I could have run when I got home last night, but didn't. Hey, at least I'm up front about it.

2. Chatted with the busiest girl in the whole USA, Ms. LL. Here's what she's got going on right now:
 - She just bought a house which closed on FRIDAY (woot!)
 - She just got a new job, gave notice to her old job, and will get to inform the magenta client on this FRIDAY (super woot!)
 - Oh, and did I mention she's getting married in, oh, 6 weeks?

As such, she doesn't have time to "run" (that is, take a heck of a long time getting through) the Rock 'n' Roll Half on Saturday... So this weekend the part of Ms. LL will be played by... Wil! Now, don't get me wrong. I don't approve of race bandits. But I also don't approve of a "no transfers" policy by race organizers. Ms. LL paid for her bib fair and square -- and may I mention they've had the moolah for a year now? So she's gifting it to Wil.

Today I'm heading to the expo to help with the set up -- I know it's yet more proof that I'm a dork, but I can't wait to see behind the scenes!

Saturday, June 18, 2011

3 down, 7 to go...

Wil and I went for a walk after lunch, and as we neared the house he said, "You could use this as your warm-up walk." We got in the house, I quickly changed clothes, and then headed out. Now, maybe it's because I went from 3 minutes to 5 minutes. Maybe it was just cold enough to trigger my asthma. Or maybe it's because I was running on a pretty full stomach. But I spent most of the run feeling queasy and wanting to quit.

But I stuck it out, struggling (as usual) with my pacing. Still, glad that I went out and ran a little!

Thursday, June 16, 2011

and another little run...

Wil pushed me out the door when we got home and I went for another little run. Day 2 of week 2 of couch to 5K, so another set of 3-minute run, 3-minute walk, repeated four times. It was a bit warmer today, and I had felt tired all day, so it wasn't quite as sprightly as Tuesday's run.

Have decided to set myself a little project, with a great big reward at the end. If I stick to my schedule and run 10 times in 4 weeks, I will give myself this:

It's a little naughty -- I mean, it's made my Nike, for heaven's sake -- but we don't make watches. And this one is really fantastic. And I've wanted one since before they were available. So that will be my prize if I complete my challenge. 

It's not a super easy challenge, mind you. I haven't run ten times in any month since, oh, November? But I'm also giving myself a little benefit by starting the 4 weeks on Tuesday... so I've already got 2 of my 10 workouts done. And I'm giving myself the wiggle room to miss 2 workouts over the 4 weeks. But, still, if I get 8 more in by end of day on Monday, July 11, I'm getting myself a brand new running toy. 

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

another little run

Inspired by Friday's run with Suz, I decided to go out for a run myself tonight. Nothing fancy -- just week 2 of the C25K program. And I wanted to try my new kicks.

I warmed up for 5 minutes, then ran 3 minutes and walked 3 minutes, 4 times. It was all quite easy, thank heavens, and I ran at a slightly too fast pace. All told I covered 2.63 miles.

The new kicks? They were okay. Possibly more support than I need, but might give me knees a break. Not ready to run long in them yet. (Heck, I'm not ready to run long, period.)

Saturday, June 11, 2011

Fremont 5K Race Report

Never mind that every previous time we have considered running or walking the same event the weather has gone crazy. Torrential rain? Check. Snow? Check. But Suz and I dared the hail of toads and signed up for the Fremont 5K.

Suz has been doing the Couch to 5K program -- she's in her 4th week -- and I haven't been running much, so I wasn't sure if I would even be able to keep up! (And, no I can't blame my bike crash over Memorial Day Weekend -- I really hadn't been running much before that...)

Suz came round and we bussed down to Fremont, where we joined the crowd milling about, looking at the exhibitors and such. Suz seemed happy and excited to be there -- yay! 
before the race
 We placed ourselves at the back of the pack (because we're smart like that -- and considerate), and waited for the start. I couldn't really get a sense of the number of people there.
at the start
 But the event was well organized, people lined up in the right spaces, and the organizers were thrilled that everyone pretty much made it across the start line in under 45 seconds.

We trotted along, first along the street towards Gas Works Park. Suz kept us moving, following her scheduled workout, while I chattered away. We were towards the back of the pack, but who cares? It was a cool, dry evening and we were getting some exercise.

One odd thing -- there we were, chattering, when Suz looked over her shoulder and gasped. Right behind us -- well, okay, 10 feet behind us -- was a police car, all lit up, crawling along with a line of cars behind him. Umm, oops! We hopped onto the sidewalk, relieved to see other runners behind us, and the car inched past. We watched as the scene was repeated a few times with the runners ahead of us. But at the next intersection, there was a truck waiting to cross the flow. He was waived across about 25 yards ahead of us, but that made the police car (and the line of cars behind him) stop. So we went back on to the road, and didn't see the cop again.

Eventually we turned up a little path and up on to the bike path for the last little stretch before the turnaround. We high-fived the guy at the turnaround and headed back.

Suz was doing great, keeping us at a steady pace, though we did get a little bothered by the bikes zipping by. At one point I heard a motorcycle, and turned to see a motorcycle cop escorting a string of bikes along the trail. Very odd.

We passed the point of my bike crash (Suz: "You couldn't tell that wasn't paved? You need to get your eyes checked.") and kept going, rejoining the road on the last stretch. I told Suz to pick a spot up ahead where she wanted to start running to the finish, so that she "left nothing in the tank". She laughed and said "There's not much in the tank now."

She picked the end of the cones on the right, about 50 yards before the finish, and took off running. I reminded her to smile, cheered her on to keep finishing strong, and we crossed the line in 49:55 (with Suz pipping me by a second at the finish line!).

After the run we got a bottle of juice, stretched a little, and then hopped on a bus back home. I was very proud to run with Suz -- she did great!

post race -- thumbs up!
The only course map I could find online also shows the relay transition zones -- but you get the idea.

It's fun to run in the evening, but I doubt I would do that particular run again (though I could imagine something fun for the relay!).