Friday, May 31, 2013

Spirit of the Marathon II

Yesterday, since I was working from the LiveAreaLabs office (thanks for the hospitality!), I ran a Very Exciting Errand -- I went to the cinema to buy these:

We saw the first Spirit of the Marathon movie when we were training for our first marathon ... and it was fantastic. The movie itself followed the lives of 6 or runners as they trained to run the Chicago Marathon. Some of the runners were training for their first race, while others -- including the eventual women's winner, Deena Castor -- were very experienced.

Every runner faced challenges along the way -- one of the subjects actually had to bow out due to injury -- but each story was inspirational and moving. So of course I got teary-eyed several times throughout the film!

I actually blogged about the first movie:

After our workout, we went to Pacific Place for to see "Spirit of the Marathon", a documentary about training for and running the marathon. Wil kept nudging me at moments when he knew I'd be teary. Which was often. It was strange and fun to be in a movie theater full of runners -- lots of people calling out to each other, talking about their weekend run, etc. Wil and I talked to a man who runs half marathons -- has been doing it for seven years. During the movie people gasped, laughed, and cheered. And, of course, everyone left feeling inspired.

Then, a few days ago, I came across an ad for Spirit of the Marathon II. And, yeah, I'm super excited. Here's how the filmmakers describe the film:

From the producers of the award-winning documentary Spirit of the Marathon (2008), this highly-anticipated sequel follows seven runners from around the world as they journey to the starting line of the 2012 Rome Marathon. Spirit of the Marathon II weaves the compelling stories of each runner - the trials and the triumphs - that paved their road to Rome. The documentary also features insightful interviews with marathon greats such as Stefano Baldini, Paula Radcliffe, Frank Shorter, and many others, as they offer perspective and insight into this legendary race. In addition, immediately following the presentation, movie theater audiences will be treated to an exclusive featurette with never-before-seen interviews, deleted scenes and memorable outtakes from the filming of the documentary.

I loved sitting in the cinema with other people who loved running -- even if I didn't feel like one of them yet. Now I think I may actually have a nodding acquaintance with some of them.

The film is showing in select cinemas nationwide on Wednesday, June 12, at 7 pm. The list of cinemas showing Spirit of the Marathon II is available online, and apparently they're adding new screens all the time. I highly recommend it to anyone who runs.

Watch the trailer here:

I'll be packing my tissues -- but I'm a sap like that. :)




Monday, May 27, 2013

Good Karma 5K Race Report

One of my running goals for 2013 was to finally "pay it forward" -- by actually volunteering at a race. Of course, the challenge was finding a race on a weekend when we didn't have plans.
Good Karma 5K
When we decided not to go out of town for Memorial Day weekend, I looked for a race... and, well, how could I resist the Good Karma 5K?!?
One very nice thing was that the race had an online volunteer sign-up via Volunteer Spot -- which meant I could choose what I wanted to do from a list of available spots. So I decided to sign up as a "course monitor" -- you know, the folks who tell people which way to turn.
Of course, I still wanted to get a run in -- so I got to Magnuson Park early and ran my own 5K beforehand.
Then I went back to the car to bundle up a bit -- and while I sat there, briefly, it started to rain. Good thing I brought my Gore-Tex jacket... even if I forgot to bring a pair of long pants to put on over my running capris.
I went to the volunteer check-in... and was pretty much ignored for a couple of minutes. Which was odd, because there were only a few people there. But eventually, a woman -- probably the race organizer -- noticed me, checked my name off the list, and gave me a shirt. Aaaaaand then I just stood around for half an hour. (I always hate the pre-race faffing around...)
But 20 minutes before the race start, I was handed a map and told to go out to a certain point on the course. Since the map didn't have mileage marked, I started to worry that the spot was far enough out that I would have to hustle to beat the runners! But, nope, only about a kilometer in, at the top of the first big hill of the 5K course.
my spot on the course
"turn left and follow the loop around"
A few minutes after 9, the first runners came into view, moving up the hill. I stood there, clanging my NYC Marathon cowbell, and cheering. There was a little gap after the first few runners... but I could see others moving up the hill, so I kept clanging, kept cheering. Having run that course before, it was good to be able to tell them that they had just completed the toughest part. Well, okay, there's a second hill on the loop, but it's not as big as the first one. :)
It was nice to cheer for folks... though I felt like I wasn't really getting in the groove of it. But some people said thank you, and others at least smiled.
I did have a slight panic when the first runner didn't reappear at the end of the loop before going back downhill for a while. I worried that I had somehow sent them the wrong direction -- but, no, they came back. Phew.
After a while most of the runners had passed me on the uphill, and were making their way around the loop. I cheered for people on the way back down, telling them that it was all downhill from here, that they were looking great, etc. And, yes, I clanged that darn cowbell.
I liked that the stragglers really responded -- being happy to have a friendly face tell them that the biggest hill was over. I also liked that the race had a sweeper -- which meant I knew when the last runner was done.
After the sweeper came through, I moved the cones up to the water stop, and then walked the remainder of the course. I admit it -- I walked it mainly to get in a few more miles for the Peace Marathon, which I've struggled with. Again, this month wasn't a very good month for me, running-wise!
When I reached the (now deserted) finish line, I made my way to the post-race area. A lot of cool organizations and sponsors were there -- including the Seattle Humane Association's fantastic mobile truck, which had big windows showing a selection of adoptable cats. (Honestly -- it looked like a cat-vending machine!) I picked up a bottle of coconut water and then headed home.
I'm really glad to have done this part of my goal. The other half is to spend a morning cheering at a half marathon... but it occurs to me that I could volunteer as a course monitor again... helping at a race AND cheering for runners.
I've run dozens of races (74 as of last week!), and I had never volunteered. I have to admit I didn't like the random stuff before the race, but I did like actually cheering for the runners. It's clear that races can't be run without volunteers -- so I feel like we need to do more to give back.

Sunday, May 26, 2013

Scenes from the run: before the Good Karma 5K

Today I am going to complete part one of my "Pay It Forward" goal by volunteering at the Good Karma 5K... but I still wanted to get in a few gentle miles before the run, so I sloooowwwllllyyyyyy ran the loop  before my volunteer shift starts at 8:15. The rain held off ... until just now! ... but the threatening skies meant that I pretty much had the path to myself. This morning's highlight? A flock of Canada geese, including some very gangly "teenagers" fiercely defending their stretch of beach. 

Friday, May 24, 2013

Scenes from the run... ummmm, WALK

Having had eye surgery on Wednesday, I am not allowed to run until Sunday, when I can go for a "gentle" run. 

But I was feeling a bit antsy today, so I decided to go for a walk out to the lookout and back. Going for a walk, rather than a run, meant that I noticed a lot of interesting things, even while following a route I have run dozens of times.

I saw gorgeous rhodies that made me want to plant some in the front garden:

I saw a fine collection of toys:

I saw the signs:

I saw the grumpiest little gargoyle imaginable:

I saw some art on a phone pole:

I saw the strangest (yet perhaps most obvious?) mascot for a plumbing company:

So, while I hope to get back to running soon, I enjoyed slowing down and really taking notice of my surroundings during today's walk. 

And at the end, discovered that I had crossed this Nike+ milestone:

2501 miles?!? That doesn't include a couple of hundred miles running on treadmills (I don't bother with the shoe pod anymore). But still a nice big number, I think!!!


Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Me, myself, and eye.... final edition (hopefully....)

Over the past few months I've undergone a series of surgeries on my eyes. Last fall I had the "hole laser-punched through the eye" to relieve pressure on my right eye. And then starting in February I have had Ozurdex injections in both eyes, as well as cataract surgeries in both eyes.... the final being today.

I've already blogged about the laser iridotomy thingy, so I won't go into that. I also wrote about my first Ozurdex implant procedure. And the second procedure, two weeks ago, was weirdly fun because I knew the entire crew, so I spent the pre-op and post-op time just chatting with my "pals". (Highlight of procedure two: this time I was alert when they rolled me into the operating room. I heard Doctor Carroll tell someone he would be right back, and I just lay there waiting. Then I felt them moving me, so I assumed I was being moved into position in the operating room. Nope, they were done. Yeah, they laughed at me again.)

But I also want to write about the cataract surgeries I've been through -- if only so that *I* remember them.

The first surgery, on my left eye, was back in March. Same friendly crew at NW Eye Associates, and I was feeling okay. The anesthetist was actually the father of the anesthetist from the Ozurdex implant procedure, which was pretty funny. As a coincidence, that happened again with my right eye. I remember lying in the bed trying to slow down my heart rate and breathe deeply. It seemed like there was a bit of a delay -- the previous patient was taking longer than expected -- so I think I had an extra dose of the Lidocaine gel at some point to keep me numb. Then Doctor Carroll came out to say hello, and the anesthetist came out to give me something to calm me. And that's all I remember.

I worried afterwards that I had passed out or something -- because I know you need to be "awake" for the procedure so your eyes don't roll back, and so you can keep looking in the direction the surgeon needs you to look.

But I was assured that, no, I was chatting and alert during the procedure, but that the drugs often cause amnesia. I did have one slightly searing memory of super bright, multicolored lights, pressure, and fear -- but it was gone in a second. I suspect that my heartrate jumped and the anesthetist responded quickly.

So that was my left eye. I went home with little discomfort, though Wil said I looked sad and scared when I came out of the back room. The follow-up on the second day was also good, and my eye has healed well over the past two months. The only real change is that, because one chooses a synthetic lens that either gives you clear distant vision or clear close vision, I no longer have clear close vision. I had been warned, and warned again... but I essentially didn't realize just what that would mean until after I had the procedure. But boy, do I get it now...

Today was my right eye. I was sorry that Sean (Shawn?), my "main" nurse for the previous procedures, was out on vacation. But Erin was also nice and sweet and funny. Plus Jon was there -- and he got me caught up on my son's performance in the track meet. State meet starts tomorrow, so good luck to him!

I did the same thing pre-op -- tried to lie quietly, lower my heart rate, breathe deeply. But today I was very aware of them wheeling me into the operating room, taping my head down so it didn't move (TAPING MY HEAD DOWN SO IT DIDN'T MOVE!!!!), and even draping my eye to isolate it. I said, "Umm... I don't remember any of this from last time". They told me I would probably forget all of this, too... but I haven't.

Now, it's not like I felt any cutting, or anything... There was no pain. But I did feel pressure, the discomfort of looking at the light, and even "saw" the lens being inserted. It was absolutely terrifying. I kept worrying that I would start to feel something other than just pressure. I mean, I could feel when they were washing out the eye repeatedly... though of course that could have been coolness that I was feeling, or even the skin next to the eye. But it was very, very scary.

And it seemed to go on for quite a while -- my right eye is the more damaged of the two eyes, and the doctor told me after the first operation that it was harder than he had expected. In the end, he added extra fluids to my eye as well as some extra medicine to help it heal. Before I was wheeled out to the recovery area -- yeah, still completely alert -- he told me that it had gone well, but if I had a third eye, he'd see if I could find a different surgeon. Which did make me laugh.

Came home and felt a bit wretched -- was still feeling really frightened from the surgery. Maybe not frightened, but really shaken. I had to keep myself from crying at first. Not because there had been pain -- there hadn't -- but because it was really, really scary. Let's just say that I'm really happy that I won't have to go through it again.

Decided to try and sleep for a bit, and ended up sleeping for two hours. Here it is, another 5 hours later, and I feel okay. Of course, I will be taking it pretty easy for the next few weeks -- no boot camp for a while, and only gentle running.

my eye before surgery
my eye after surgery




Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Farewell to Bothell

Leaving the Brooks office for the last time before we move to our temporary home at "Camp Brooks" in the U District.

Saturday, May 18, 2013

Rock 'n' Roll Portland pre-race report

Rock 'n' Roll Portland Half Marathon
Got up early for the drive to PDX this morning -- I love getting an early start on Saturdays! We stopped at Burgerville for some fried asparagus spears and an anasazi bean burger -- okay, maybe it wasn't a traditional breakfast, but it was really hard to resist it this morning.
Arrived at the expo around 10:15 - after paying $8 for parking. Now, look, had we been in the heart of downtown, I would understand why there is a parking fee. But surely the point of putting your city's "expo center" way out on the edge of town is so that you have tons of room... and therefore free parking? No? Oh, so it's a money grab. Okaaaayyyy.
Got our bibs -- GINORMOUS, Rock 'n' Roll bibs are always so huge! -- our shirts -- gray! -- and our so-called swag bags -- the usual disappointment. Well, okay, not a disappointment because I don't expect anything actually in them...
We went into the Brooks area to find Tara (thanks for the VIP Porta Potty passes!!!!) and ran into Keely and Angie, too. We had a nice chat and I got all embarrassed when they noticed my charm bracelet. :) We picked up a pint glass and a pin (of course), and while we were waiting to check out, heard an announcement that John Bingham was speaking in a few minutes. Well, it seemed silly not to say hello, so when we were done we wandered over there to watch. Of course, John being John, he stopped everything to come over and hug us. But we settled in to listen.

John has a great way about him -- he's funny, he's honest, and he puts people at ease. A group of women from Montana were there, all of whom were nervous about running their first half marathon. So he answered their questions, told funny stories, and generally made them feel better. Afterward we had a very quick talk, but I forgot to volunteer our services for the night before the Alaska cruise. I'll send a note. :)
It feels like a lot of vendors are bringing snacks to the expo nowadays -- we got chips, energy bars, yogurt, and something being pitched as half-popped corn... We also picked up a Geico-branded 13.1 sticker (weird?), a Paypal-branded pace "tattoo" (umm... is it really news that you can pay with Paypal at Jamba Juice?!?), and we probably could have picked up much more.
We also waited a few minutes to see Kara Goucher, whom John was interviewing at noon... but all I wanted was to catch a glimpse, so we didn't stay around.
We left expo, checked in to our suite at the Hotel Modera (so awesome! thank you Hotel Modera!), and eventually had a wander around pretty downtown Portland... we hit the Saturday Market, bought hand-made wool hats, admired some sweet sneakers, looked at kaiju, had a very late lunch or early dinner at the Veggie House, admired the incredible selection at Fizz (?), a new candy and soda pop shop, and then had a nightcap in the Rookery Bar at the Raven and Rose. Perfect!

Everything is laid out for tomorrow; here's hoping for a dry morning and a good race!

Sunday, May 12, 2013

Zombie running!!!

In this summer's quest to run a lot of different fun 5K races, I've signed up for not one, but TWO zombie theme races and I'm feeling pretty excited about them. The best part is that they're just a week apart.

The first one is the Zombie Run, being held in Magnuson Park on August 17, 2013. Here's the spiel:

We hope you like to run, because the post apocalyptic playground you’re about to brave offers no protection. At the starting line, you’ll come across a flipped tanker, the source of the toxic compound. After the first kilometer, you’ll enter into a military-controlled apocalypse zone. Beware, this is where your dash from zombies will begin. Around kilometer 3, you’ll make it to a vaccination hydration center. The vaccine will fail, and you’ll have to continue to sprint from zombies. The last 2 kilometers are a free-for-all, as you charge towards freedom. Zombies are everywhere. Helicopters circle overhead and military personnel distribute facemasks for safety during your final steps.

This one sounds pretty awesome -- not an obstacle run, but like running through a movie set. One has the opportunity to run with a "life balloon", which the zombies will try to take. I sure do hope the balloons are pink, like good fresh brains...

I'll be running this one with Wil, and we'll try to survive as long as we can -- by getting our inner Darryl on. That said, I'm more interested in enjoying the scenery than attempting to post a fast time, so if we're bitten, we're bitten. Either way it should be a blast. To be totally honest, we might not have signed up for this one if we hadn't gotten a Zozi deal... on top of another Zozi deal (2 registrations for $25? Sign us up!!!). But the location is convenient (actually IN Seattle, not miles away) and the time is fantastic (11am? Great!) so we're in.

The following weekend I've managed to get Suz to sign up with me for the Run For Your Lives 5K... but not as a runner, as a "shuffling zombie". This run is really an obstacle course, with the additional obstacle of avoiding zombies. So besides a "blood pit", a dark "smoke house" and a maze, runners will face fast running zombies and a large shuffling zombie horde. I'm not gonna lie, I originally wanted to be a running zombie. But all three shifts were already sold out. So instead I decided to shuffle... which means we just slowly try to block the human runners.

I'm excited about this event because it means a day to hang out with Suz, PLUS we are going to be transformed by "professional makeup artists" into zombies for the day. And at the end of our shift, we will be given beer. Sweet.

I love the idea ot seeing zombie life -- or death? -- from both sides in such a short space. Okay, does anyone have any tips for avoiding zombies? Or for catching runners?


Saturday, May 11, 2013

An anniversary of sorts

It's hard to believe, but we ran our first half marathon five years ago today. As with all things time based, I feel like it's both too long and too short a time... I mean, only five years? Haven't we been running halfs forever? But I also feel like we're still quite new to this, so I can't believe it's already been five years since our first, the Over the Dam Half Marathon...

In the intervening 5 years we have run dozens and dozens of halfs - obviously increasing the tempo for Wil's 40@40 project! Even if I didn't count the unofficial halfs we ran for that project (it's hard to find 40 races without flying lots and lots of weekends), I've run 45 organized half marathons... plus 4 marathons and a handful of 15K, 12K, 10K, and 5K races. And I sometimes still get nervous before races.

Why nervous? Well, I don't worry that I won't finish, or that I will finish last. I'm always sure I'll be able to complete a race, even if it means walking a lot, or limping a lot. And though I haven't yet finished "dead last" in a race, I've come close in a couple of small events that I've walked. And it's just fine. People are always absurdly supportive to those who come in at the end. Somebody has to be last, right?

I think I get nervous about the unknowns. If I'm running alone, sometimes I worry I'll get lost. Or I worry that I'll hurt myself somehow. (I'm clumsy.) If I'm running with Wil, sometimes I worry I won't be able to keep up! (He's much faster than I am.) Or the usual -- and completely ridiculous -- fear that I will somehow look stupid. Yeah, I don't know what's up with that one.

But mostly, now, I can pretty much relax and enjoy the day. I LOVE running races -- I like being part of something bigger (even when I dislike less courteous runners - ha!), I like seeing how different organizers set up different events. I like the opportunity to thank volunteers at water stops and road crossings. I really like seeing finish lines! I like witnessing other runners' achievements. I like seeing elite runners just gliding by. I like a crisp new race bib -- especially if it has my name on it! I like eating vanilla bean Gu. (Really!) And of course I like getting race bling. :)

I can't run much right now -- I'm in the midst of eye surgeries on my right eye -- but maybe I'll got out for a little jaunt. 1.31 miles, maybe, just to celebrate five years of half marathons!!!!

the 2008 Over the Damn Run half marathon medal


Monday, May 6, 2013

Swimming leg...

We flew down to California this weekend for Bat's Day -- the annual goth / alternative trip to Disneyland. We didn't go last year, but figured it was a good excuse to go down and get some more use out of our annual passes. Besides, chances were good that the weather would be fantastic, and we love a bit of sun. (Which may be the least gothy thing one could ever say....)
Well, it turns out that the weather in Ballard was actually nicer than the weather down here in SoCal, which reinforces our status as gray-weather gods. Seattle friends, consider last weekend a gift from us. But we did have hot weather on Friday, warm weather on Saturday and Sunday, a crazy rain storm early Monday morning, and then mixed sun / clouds for the rest of the day. Still, the rain stopped before 9am, so what more could we have asked for?
We tend to stay at the Anaheim Plaza Hotel when we go to Disneyland. It's not fancy -- it might even be a bit run down. But it's super close to the entrance of the parks, has inexpensive parking for guests (which we don't always get charged for...), has rooms with balconies with views of the Tower of Terror, is close to Alerto's (our favorite taqueria, and where we get most of our dinners and many of our breakfasts while at Disneyland)... AND it has this huge, simple, amazing pool:
Anaheim Plaza Hotel pool
Okay, that doesn't look all that impressive... but it is a proper, 6-lane, 25-meter pool. No fuss, no slide, no pirate ship. Just a great big pool surrounded by deck chairs. It's a nicer pool than we swam in when I was on my high school swim team. And it is outdoors. The only way it could be more perfect is if they opened early in the morning so you could get up early and swim laps. But I suspect that's not high on the agenda of most people visiting Disneyland. (Umm... let's be honest, it's not high on my agenda, either -- but I do like the idea...)
But we do like to get up early, be in the parks when they open (before, actually, to be there for "rope drop"...), spend a few hours before they parks get too crowded, and then come back to the hotel for a swim and a nap. So while the sun was out on Saturday, when things started feeling crowded, we came back, got in our suits, and swam.
Because I'm having eye surgery in a few days, after which I won't be allowed to swim for weeks, I decided I needed to get my swim in for the Running Bloggers Virtual Race. Luckily, the swim was "any distance" -- even if I feel a little wimpy for my short distance. I swam 18 lengths, or just over a quarter mile. Not far, but better than nothing, right?
Even without the looming surgery, I probably won't have another chance to swim outside for several weeks. Maybe in late summer I'll brave a dip in Green Lake?