Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Best marathon sign of the weekend...

A woman was standing at about mile 10 (mile 23 of the full course) holding two signs.

The first sign was one of the ones they handed out at the expo, saying:


The second sign she had made herself... Probably on the back of one of the official signs. It read:



Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Today's minor obsession...

While looking for marathons in Montana for next year on the Running In The USA calendar, I saw a reference to the "Center of the Nation Series" half marathon in September... And discovered this:

5 Days, 5 Marathons, 5 States?!?  Um, wow. I was hoping to pick up five states next year... so perhaps this Center of the Nation Series is the way to go... I haven't run in any of those states yet...

Of course, me being me, I had to start thinking about logistics. Fly into Rapid City and rent an RV? (A weird little dream of mine is to rent an RV... ). Fly into Rapid City and rent a car and stay in motels?

And then it hit me... ROAD TRIP. I mean, if the first race is on the Monday morning, leaving Seattle on the Friday evening would give us PLENTY OF TIME to drive across. And with the last race being on Friday morning, that would give us PLENTY OF TIME to drive back from Nebraska. Perhaps even to drive through Yellowstone.

In other news, I had been toying with the idea of running the Yukon Do It Half Marathon on my birthday... but admittedly I didn't want to pay $70 (with tax and fees) to run it. Plus getting to Port Orchard early in the morning, etc. etc.

And then I found this cute little race:

It's unsupported essentially -- we'll have to carry our own water. But it is timed, so that works for me. Plus it starts at Green Lake, runs down to the Burke-Gilman, out to Golden Gardens, and back. It's not that different to what we would have run on our own -- so it's perfect!

Now I just need to plan runs for the weekend of the 8th, the 15th, and the 22nd. Oh, and the 5th of January. I do have some ideas for runs I'd like to do:

- a track half marathon. I have no idea why I want to do this, but I do.
- a million inch run -- 15.8 miles. It would be a little weird if I didn't hit this goal, right?
- a run to downtown and back -- I've missed doing this route for a while!
- one last Green Lake half?

Sunday, November 25, 2012

Seattle Half Marathon race report

Wow! The Quadzuki is over... and I feel both happy and relieved.

We found good street parking on the northwest corner of the Seattle Center -- perfect for an easy escape after the race. We walked in to the Armory for a potty break and to get warm. It was 37 degrees -- colder than I expected -- but I was wearing an warmer top layer today, so I figured I would be okay.

We stayed in the warmth and looked at the "Centerville" train set until 10 minutes before the start, when we headed out onto the street. I put us on the far side of the street again (though we walked around the median rather than through it...) -- made for a much less crowded start.

It still took us a couple of minutes to get across the starting line -- it's the first time the horn and the "woo!" happened without us at least walking a little... But once we crossed the line, it was pretty smooth running.

We ran all the way up and down Fifth Avenue, down to the International District and on to the I-90 express lanes. This time no one slipped and fell. Still not sure what happened two years ago to those people.

I still prefer running through the tunnel at the beginning of the run rather than the end... even if it gets weirdly warm running through there. Then, of course, the worst little ramp in the world. I guess any and all Seattle races require a trip down that little walking path... Steep, narrow, and slippery when damp. Neato.

It is, however, nice to hit the bottom of the ramp and turn left -- rejoining the Ghost course from yesterday. It was also nice to run out in the street rather than along the sidewalk. That said, it was a little sad not to be able to pick up some Ruffles and jelly beans at an aid station in Leschi...

But we kept running along the lake, past the Ghost turnaround, and then up up up up up the hills. Ooof. But Wil kept us moving.... sometimes walking (faster than a lot of runners), and sometimes running (potentially slower than walkers!). I was sad not to have seen any Hashers out with beer on the hill. Not sure if they weren't there, or if I just didn't see them this year? Maybe next time.

Then back down Madison and into the Arboretum, which is my favorite part of this course. I think my brain sorta fuzzed out at this point, because I don't remember all that much, other than that, at some point on the closed-off road through the woods, someone called my name. Wil and I turned around to see someone waving at me. I smiled and waved back... but had NO IDEA who it was. I'm really sorry to whoever it was... but I sadly don't see super well, and often have a hard time recognizing people outside of their street clothes. But thank you for cheering at me. And I hope you had a great run! :)

I was't sure how far we'd run today... when we got to mile 8, I thought we might stop... nope. Mile 10 in the woods? Nope. After mile 10, it just seemed like we should just keep going, so we did.

We popped out near Roanoake Street, which always surprises me, crossed 520 and I-%, and then turned toward downtown. The trip back under the freeway, along the road past the tilting townhouse (again, does ANYONE else remember that?) and one last trip over the freeway.

We turned down the steep hill by Cafe Venus -- which we decided to walk, rather than bang up our knees even more. After that it was pretty much straight ahead, across one block to get on the Mercer underpass, and then up into the stadium. I had the strange realization that I felt better at that point today than I did running the Rock 'n' Roll Half... weird.

We turned down the road into the stadium, said "God Save the Queen" at mile 13, and then sped down the ramp and across the turf to the finish line. Huzzah!

After we collected our very handsome medals, we went into the Recovery Area -- nightmarish again, and already very picked over. (No Muscle Milk... sigh.) And freakishly hot. So we quickly escaped, walked the 3 blocks to the car, and came home.

Still a little surprised that we've finished the Quadzuki... but as I sit and type my knees do feel as if they're seizing up. So I guess that's proof as well.

Seattle Half Marathon 2012 medal

Seattle Half Marathon 2012 medal - back

Saturday, November 24, 2012

Ghost of Seattle Half Marathon race report

Was thrilled to wake up this morning to the sound of silence.. by which I mean, no rain!

Got up, got dressed, and was out of the house quickly. Got to the start and jumped in the line for bibs. Nope, that was the porta-potty line. So bib pickup was super fast. We also found the Quadzilla guy and bought a glass. He said if we don't see him after the Seattle Marathon, that he'd mail us our medals. Cool.

We headed back up to the car to drop off our bags and glass, and ran into Ian, who had come down to say hi to Lauren and us. But basically we got back to the start and had to start running. At a minute and seven seconds in, we were probably the last people to start, but who cares. Our goal was just to finish.

The course starts out around Seward Park, and it was a beautiful morning. We ran around the park, chatting with other runners and admiring the view. Then back past the start, and out along Lake Washington Boulevard.

They allowed marathoners to start at either six or seven, so we saw some of them heading back toward us as we went out. It was a little disconcerting to see people so far "ahead", so it must have been weird for people to see us during the Widdle Waddle.

We were both pretty achy from yesterday's trail run -- so decided to let discretion be the better part of valor and only ran half way rather than the eight miles we had planned. All I can say is that those 6.55 miles were supremely easy compared to yesterday!

We passed the Leschi aid station, headed out to the turnaround, and then back. I told Wil that I loved this race because the aid station had Ruffles and gummi bears. Got there and -- yay! Ultra kibble! Had some jelly beans, some Coke, and some Ruffles and headed back out. Awesome.

The way back was pretty uneventful, except that I started to get cold so took Wil's jacket. We cheered for our fellow runners, smiled and waved at a lot of folks, and happily finished in something like 2:50. Pretty slow, but still okay.

After the race we indulged in the great post-race food -- veggie dogs, chili, and of course, some tasty beer. Oh! And the medals were very cool -- a combination trophy, medal, AND bottle opener. Sweet.

Ghost of Seattle Half Marathon Medal

Happy to have gotten three races done... just one more to go!!!

Friday, November 23, 2012

Half Bone Half Marathon race report

It was, in a word, WET.

Got up early for the drive to Gig Harbor... where we got a bit lost trying to find the start, but arrived with, oh, 15 minutes to spare? I liked the set-up for this "not-a-racc"... a couple of porta-potties on a front lawn, a gaggle of runners in a living room, paying a $20 cash donation to the food bank, then picking up a number that was left over from a previous race... Perfect.

We made our way to the start and joined a small group of folks who looked just as wet and a little worried as we did.

But everyone -- at least everyone who put themselves toward the back of the pack! -- was friendly, chatty, and full of a "we're all in this together" spirit. Hmmm... maybe that's the endorphins talking...

A few words were spoken... but I couldn't hear them. There was a request for walkers to start at the back, so we hung back a bit, but then realized we weren't starting off as walkers, so joined the line of people.

bundled up before the race
Much of the race was on single-track trails... so we actually walked for about the first five minutes. Fine by me -- it was brisk and got me used to the feel of the trails in my new shoes. Then we set off at a trot. Not super fast, but a nice trot. I felt like I could run all day at that pace. The trail was narrow, the plants on either side were soaking, and I spent most of the time running looking down at Wil's feet and legs so that I didn't trip, slip, or stumble.

We ran for the first 3 miles with a nice Maniac twosome, sometimes trading leads after wider paths. I was feeling pretty good about the day -- like I could run and run.

And then we hit our first big, big puddle. Now, we'd been through a lot of puddles so far, sometimes jumping over them, sometimes skirting the edge of them in the mud. But this one was a doozy -- all the way across the path and well into the woods beyond. This brought all of us to a screeching halt, as we tried to find the shallowest way through. Jumping ahead to our second loop, I watched a woman -- who was completely soaked already -- just walk straight through it, and the water was nearly up to her KNEES.

Wil and I were wearing our Adrenaline ASR GTX shoes, so we were dry -- unless water went over our ankles. I think I actually stayed almost perfectly dry for the first loop of the course by remembering to walk on my tippy toes to keep the top of my shoes above water.

The course was pretty -- lots of gorgeous autumnal leaves, red ferns, mushrooms, huckleberry bushes. But the rain just kept pouring down so I didn't want to stop and try to take any pictures.

The course was marked with fluorescent paint arrows indicating turns. We were running with a small group when we caught up with a nice German guy standing next to a small path with an arrow. He said, "it's a turn, yes?" and we all agreed --- and tried to call after the people who had run straight past it. As we know from the Birch Bay Road Race, all it takes is one person to go the wrong way and everyone follows. So vielen dank to our German friend!

Before we knew it, we had reached the end of the first loop, so ran out to the aid station at the start/finish to warm up a little. I ate a very delicious pancake and the nicest hot boiled potato you could ever imagine. We weren't sure if we were supposed to go back out to the start/finish, but I'm very glad we did.

We then decided to just walk the second loop. This had the advantage of making it less likely that I would trip and fall, but had the disadvantage of making for a loooooooong day out in the rain. And it was raining ridiculously hard... so hard that every hill turned into a small stream, small puddles completely overwhelmed the path, and dirt turned to ankle-deep mud. Multiple times we had to pick our way across a deep pool. And, of course, at some point I managed to get my feet soaking wet. Oops.

I also got really, really cold... so cold that my hands went almost numb. Not good. Wil ended up pulling my sleeves over my hands for me and then velcro-ing shut my sleeves so I could try and get some feeling back into them. Sadly, this was at mile 12 or so... and he accidentally bumped my GPS... so it stopped recording. Still, small price to pay for avoiding hypothermia, right?

Never has anyone been so pleased as I was when we reached the turnoff for the start/finish... unless perhaps it was me when I remembered that we had only signed up for the half. Yay us!

We got to the finish, gave them our numbers, had a bite to eat, picked up our medals, and then hurried to the car, where it took me a good 15 minutes to thaw out my hands enough to drive.

wet and relieved... and a little bit manic

make that VERY manic

That's day two, then. Tomorrow and Sunday may both be rainy, but they won't be muddy!

and the cutest half marathon medal in the world

Thursday, November 22, 2012

Widdle Waddle Half Marathon race report

Quadzuki, day one... we decided to take the offer of the early start at start our half marathon at 8 rather than 9 -- even if that meant we would have our time recorded as 3:00:00. Who cares? Today was just about getting through it.

Our strategy -- which makes it sound as if we really thought about it a lot -- was to run the first 4 miles of this race and save our legs for the next three. We then plan on running the first 6 of the next race, the next 8 of the race after that, and then the entire half marathon on Sunday. Oof. Tired just thinking about it!
We got to Gas Works Park relatively early so we could pick up our numbers and -- surprise! -- cute hats. Yay for the hats! I will say that it would have been funny if they had embroidered "drumsticks" on the side -- where they would have sort-of looked like wings AND made the hats look a bit like a turkey. Well, a bit. But the hats were warm, fit our beast-sized heads, and were a cute surprise. So yay to you, Chief Giblet!
Only a few people took them up on the offer of an early start -- I think we had about 7 or 8 of us with big blue circles on our bibs. The rest of the runners at the 8am start were the full marathoners -- also not a huge crowd, but some folks. We walked around the park a little bit, enjoying the use of a proper restroom rather than a porta potty and posing for some very fine action photos:

After a brief course talk, where most of us pretended we knew what he meant about the turnaround, the route up the hill, etc., we got started. The half runners were asked to line up at the back .. and at some point, were told to just run straight up the hill and back. But we weren't really sure what that meant.... so we ended up going up and over the hill. Oh, great, already we were lost...

But eventually we just got onto the Burke-Gilman Trail, and settled in to a run. I had worried about crowding, but the little run up the hill (and the fact that so many of the runners were running either the Quadzilla or Quadzuki) meant that paces were slow and people were stretched out. 

We spent most of the time pretty much on our own -- which was fine. And when we hit mile four after about 37 minutes, we made ourselves stop and walk. This is surprisingly hard to do... both from a pride standpoint (it's hard to let yourself be passed) but also from a physical standpoint. Because you've been running, so it just makes sense to keep running. But walk we did. 

Our walk gave us the opportunity to chat, plan our remaining half marathons (very exciting!), and just enjoy the surprisingly dry day. 

Because I didn't really listen to the course talk, I had assumed we would turn around, well, at the turn-around point. But Wil reminded me that the full marathoners would only have an additional 6 miles at the end... so they had to run longer. Oh. Well then, I wonder where we were supposed to turn around? We saw a half marathoner heading back toward us and asked her -- she said she came to a crossing where there were big yellow turn-around markings... So on we went, and right around 6.55 miles, we found it. So we turned around and headed back.

Toward the end of our race, we saw the runners from the normal start coming toward us. We waved and smiled.. and felt a bit funny about having started early. But, hey, we wanted to get things done early. So we were quite happy to stroll hand in hand across the finish line in about 2:45... or 3:00:00 as the records will show.

We took a post-race photo, had some potato chips and chocolate milk (ultra kibble!), and then happily headed home for a quick hot tub and some Thanksgiving preparations. Quadzuki day 1 in the books!

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Seattle Quadzuki 2012 Pre-Race Report

I really think it seemed like a good idea at the time. Caught up in the excitement of Wil's 40@40 project, running four organized half marathons in the four-day Thanksgiving weekend, well, it just seemed like the obvious thing to do.

Plus, it will move me to 6-moon status in the Fanatics... something I have coveted for two years, since the Wishbone Run on Black Friday didn't hold a half marathon.

See, two years ago I ran the Ghost of Seattle Half on the Saturday, and the Seattle Half on the Sunday -- but still felt like a dork because there were so many Marathon Maniacs there who were doing the Quadzilla. So when it was announced that the Wishbone would offer a "HalfBone" this year, I couldn't resist.

But now it's the Tuesday before Thanksgiving, and I'm feeling weak and nervous. And excited... I do love these small "ultra-type" races. Just a couple of hundred people, Coke and gummi bears at the food stations, and a very low-key vibe.

Here's what we have in store for the looooooooong weekend:

Thursday, November 22: 
The Widdle Waddle Half Marathon. 

Starts and finishes at Gas Works Park, and follows the Burke Gilman Trail as an out and back.

Friday, November 23: 
Grandpa's Halfbone Half Marathon.

Run on trails in Crescent Forest near Gig Harbor... this one feels like it will be the most challenging / worrisome.

Saturday, November 24: 
The Ghost of Seattle Half Marathon.

Run on sidewalks and paved trail around Seward Park. I ran this two years ago and really enjoyed it -- a very nice, low-key run.

Sunday, November 25:
The Seattle Half Marathon.

Seattle's hometown race. A weirdly hilly course, but one I do like.

Monday, November 12, 2012

Rock 'n' Roll San Antonio Race Report

I probably always say this, but the race was a blur. I always struggle with my pacing, especially when running on my own, but I tried to relax, let my stiff legs warm up gradually, and not waste too much energy tying to weave through the pack.

I had left my loud Timex interval timer at home, and was going to rely on the sportwatvh for intervals.... Which, of course, is the major flaw with the sportwatch. But I also decided that today's goal was is ply to finish.

By mile 2i felt like I was running in an easy rhythm. Not too fast, not too slow, just easy. We were winding around heaven knows where in an essentially nondescript part of town.

Then after another mile, we got into a bunch of twists and turns and there were spectators. Happily, the "mini-marathon" ended around here,, removing a lot of people from the crowd. Then, all of a sudden, we were running on flagstones. That was weird... I mean, who would route a course over such a slippery, uneven surface?!?!

Oh. Wait. That's the Alamo. Ahh. Gotcha. 

Other than that, i have only fleeting memories of sights on the course.  A couple of pretty, older neighborhoods with grand homes; one particular street with one faded mansion and a lot of empty former fast food restaurants; maybe a small park?

I think I usually notice more of the city around me, but this time I didn't, really. I don't know if that's because I never really felt the pack thin out all that much, so I was focusing on not running into anyone?

I did notice a few things... I spent much of the race near a bride and groom running together, which made me feel as if I were part of their wedding party. The Dude standing proudly. A band somewhere around mile 9 who played a Matt & Kim song, followed by "Party Rock Anthem" by LMFAO. (Best on-course band ever? Probably!)

Oh, and best marathon sign ever:
If marathons were easy,
they would be called

I tried not to look at my watch much, other than to see intervals. But at around mile 10 I realized I was having a pretty good run. Not a potential PR or anything, but a pretty good run. Mile 11 went okay, and even mile 12. But I was finally getting tired, and, well, you know how I get when I am tired. I did have a look at my watch just to confirm that I was not on pace for a PR... Nope. So I let myself walk a bit, especially up the last little hill (an underpass).

We rounded the last corner and I could see the finish line. I realized that I had plenty left in the tank, and that I should sprint to the finish. So I took off as fast as my expo-sore feet would take me. This triggered a sprint in a 20-something woman near me. She looked at me, I looked at her, and the race was on. Cut to the chase here... She out-sprinted me. Maybe she looked at me and thought, "damn, I can't let an old lady out-sprint me!"

But I finished,feeling pretty good about it all...amd remembered that with my VIP wristband I would have a mimosa waiting!

The "secure" area was a little chaotic... I never saw the early water bottles, or the cool towels. And I love a cool towel, so I was sorry about that. They changed the finisher photo process in a way that should have made it faster for people to get through, but that somehow was still really hard to get through. But finally I broke free and found the VIP pen.

The pen was weird... First and foremost it was HUGE, and I think everyone had to walk past it on their way out. I had that same feeling of wishing I knew someone else, because I just felt weird eating on my own. But I enjoyed the tasty portobello mushroom tacos and, yes, mimosas...

I didn't bother to wait around for the concert... I just went back to the hotel, showered, and left to spend the afternoon wandering around San Antonio. But the purpose of the trip was fulfilled... A half marathon in Texas... check.

Oh, and perhaps most interesting... despite running alone, I was actually relatively fast, finishing in 2:23:22. Not bad for a post-expo run!

2012 Rock 'n' Roll San Antonio Half Marathon Medal

Sunday, November 11, 2012

San Antonio Rock 'n' Roll pre-race report

Two days at expo (okay, really one and a half days at expo plus half a day of flying...), surprise visits from old friends Javier and John, some awesome Tex-Mex food, and an impromptu marathon (ha!) of Downton Abbey season two last night had me feeling ... Not anxious, but sluggish? I mean, I knew I would finish, but I didn't feel that I would really be doing my best today.

But who cares, right? It's a Rock 'n' Roll race, which means it will be fun.

Had my leftover garlic bread for breakfast, dawdled in my room (ahh, the joy of staying at the start line!), and headed down about 7:15. Stood at the start to watch the wheelers and the elites take off - something I have never gotten to see before. Wow, those folks are FAST.

Then over tithe VIP porta potty, where the line was weirdly short, and chatted to Angie and Keely for a bit before heading over to the corrals.

I watched the various corrals move forward, noticing that there was apparently no number policing at all. Plenty of people with really high numbers in the early corrals. Ummm, and many of them were, well, not particularly fast-looking.

(That makes me feel horrible...)

I decided that I felt pretty good. Much better than the predicted time I put down: 2:45. So I decided to jump ahead a bit, to the 2:30ish corral. A

I slipped in to a corral as it approached the start, did a little dancing to the music, laughed at John (who didn't see me), and then took off at a good pace.

Thursday, November 8, 2012

(belated) October wrap-up

October was funny. I felt like I didn't get much exercise. I wasn't able to get back to boot camp after our Canyonlands trip, which still makes me a bit sad. Especially since we won't have another session until January, when we're gone a bunch. Sigh.

And I felt like I didn't run very much -- only six times.... but, hey, four of those were at least half marathon distances! So I've got that going for me. Which is nice.

Tomorrow I leave for San Antonio to work the Rock 'n' Roll expo for Brooks... and then run the race on Sunday. I'm hoping it won't be quite as dismal / difficult as the Denver race... (I should quickly point out that there was nothing wrong with Denver -- other than me!) But at least I have low expectations for my performance...

November will be another strange month, running-wise. I may not get many normal runs in.... but I've got SIX half marathons, including a quadzuki. Yeah, you heard me. QUADZUKI. More to come on that....