Wednesday, December 30, 2009


Wow, it started off pretty stressful.  I was very concerned about my job, K's job, morale was super low at work because people had been laid off and busy season was looming.  It was tough all over and all those stories are hard to hear. 

I was running again and doing pretty well.  I set a huge PR for me in February (under 14 minutes for two miles on a track) but was still having foot issues and still trying to figure that all out. 

What can you do though?  All I could do was continue to do my job to the best of my abilities (but possibly redoing a resume or at least thinking about it and what would happen if...) and plan out the year both running and otherwise. 

It all worked out that is for certain and I feel very lucky. 

I've taken on a lot more responsibilties at work and have learned a lot and been recognized for what I do every day, mostly cheerfully.  And, i'm approaching 10 years at this job and still happy at it.  I keep thinking I'll get sick of it but then it ends up changing enough so I really enjoy it. 

We didn't have any large house projects we were working on this year by choice.  But still, we got some much needed clean up done, had windows replaced and finished the final touch up work on the multi-year house siding project. Wow, it was good to finish that.  Oh there are still a few things to be done with that (a door needs to be painted, a basement window needs a bit of work and painting) but I'm calling that project done!  We got the side yard planted as well after many, many years of black plastic landscaping while we were working on windows/siding.  I'm excited about that and have started to have a bit of a think of the backyard which needs a lot of work. 

Oh sure, we do have some pending projects in the next  year or two but they are either not a gigantic project or we will hire out some of the work or both.  We recently went to a nice showing at Seattle's Museum of History and Industry to see their nice "Arts and Crafts Movement in the PNW" show.  It made me appreciate our little old house even more.  K is doing some fine projects this winter break that I'm excited about too. 

Running?  Well I ended up running 1627 miles for the year and did 22 (!) races and almost 1200 biking miles.  That is solid miles for me both running and biking and I'm amazed by the races.  I didn't do a marathon which was a goal and that is disappointing to me but I just couldn't make it work.  There was a huge variety of racing which I think was a very good thing for me this year. 

2 - road 5k
1 - road 5k walked with my mom. 
1 - road 8k
1 - road 10k
1 - road 10 miler (in england!)
3 - road half marathons, one as a pacer
1 - winter series which included 2 mile and 3k xc, road and track races
1 - trail series with 5, 7, 10 and 13 mile races.  Plus another 10 mile trail race. 
3 - relays!

I set quite a few PRs, even earned some hardware in races and had a blast in all of them.  I did my first trail race this year (multiple ones!), my first 10 mile road race and reminded myself how much I like pacing people in races.  I knew I was planning on a fair number of races as I'd committed to the relays and wanted to do the two series.  I am delighted that I was able to do all this year and come out feeling strong and healthy.  Much thanks to a very patient K. 

2010?  I'm working on those goals.  :-) 

Sunday, December 27, 2009

Deep in the Holidays.

It's been a great few days with family and friends. The kittehs (shown above napping with my mom) are just keeping us all amused. We will be in search of new 'cat dancer' toys soon as these boys have shredded the two we have as they play with them all the time.

We had a lovely brunch on Christmas Day as usual since we had no weather interrupting festivities. K and I had to go in search of dried hominy so we could make Posole on Christmas Day. Posole is a stew of hominy and pork cooked in red chile. When I first had this dish in New Mexico, I was rather eh about it but it has grown on me over the years. In New Mexico, you can find cooked, frozen posole in the freezer section. Here we found it dried at Whole Foods.

After the race of last weekend and then a long, hilly road run, my shins were giving me notice that they were not happy on monday. I took a few extra days off from running and did get on my bike instead. I rode on the trainer for over an hour while watching a movie and listening to music.

This morning, I got out on my road bike outside. Our temp here at the house read 38 degrees but once I was down the hill it was actually more like 30. Cold! I had chemical hand warmers stuffed into my booties and chose the wrong gloves but it was still nice to get out and ride. Seattle has been spraying a mix of de-icer and salt on the roads after the debacle of the sand last year and I like it. It's nice to not have the sand on the roads, it works and only has a faintly chemical strange smell.

I did still get out and have a fun trail run on Tiger Mountain. It was a pretty tough slog straight up to Poo Poo Point (snicker, yeah, me too, but evidently the name is derived from a sound of particular logging signals). It's a narrow trail which would be tough to run in the summer. The undergrowth would be really close and those blackberries hurt! The sun was out at times but we also ran through patches of old snow. As we climbed, the wind picked up as well. Coach, knowing full well I'll go exploring given a chance and feeling good, sent me up to Tiger Mountain Peak #3.
Gorgeous day! My quads are seriously sore from the huge descent and I got a very badly bruised toenail but it was worth it. Plus shins are feeling 100%. I'm looking forward to the next holiday and the new year soon!

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Dark days of winter

It's that time of year when I only see daylight on the weekends. Most runs are done in the morning before work in the dark or after work in the dark. during the summer it is light here from 5am to 10pm but we pay for it right now with very little daylight.

I've been trying to get in an occasional lunch time run along the waterfront of downtown Seattle. It's a nice out and back course through Myrtle Edwards Park with some great views of Elliot Bay, the Puget Sound and the Olympic Mountains. However, my time is limited, there is no place to stretch or cool down and I have no access to showers. I also miss the softer surface of my usual running area.

running in the dark does have some challenges. It's hard to get in a good tempo or fast-paced workout as you just can't see the ground as well. I do carry a flashlight and I'm careful in areas where I know there are issues like any sidewalk in seattle!

so this morning was just going to be an easy-peasy 4 miler. If I was feeling good, I'd push to marathon pace but no biggie if i just wanted to trot along easily. It was cold again in the mid-30's but dry and almost clear. I got down to Green Lake and realized I'd forgotten my flashlight. The area I was planning on going has no street lights but it does have a fair bit of ambient light and I know the route well (including bumps and such) so I wasn't too worried.

After the usual one mile real easy warm up and wake up, I was trotting along quicker than usual, turned to go to the playfields and looked forward to pushing up Soapbox Hill as that area is known. It's a wide paved area behind playfields that obviously used to be used for soapbox racing. It's a really nice grade for pushing up a hill.

I got all focused and noticed the road looked different but in the low light it didn't trigger what was different. I ran right into a huge loose and soft gravel pile they'd put on the hill. Smooshed right into it. I didn't quite fall per se since i was going uphill and smacked into the side of another hill basically. It sure was surprising until I figured out what had happened. If anybody had been able to see it, i'm sure it was hilarious looking.

Then I started laughing. I had gravel dust all over me and was very thankful this was not dirt or rocks or manure!

Lesson: don't forget the flashlight!

And I'm ready for the longer days now thanks!

Sunday, December 20, 2009

Ready for a Christmas break.

York flying after his favorite toy, Da Bird.

Since we've been back from England the first of November, it has been so very busy at work and at home. After the stress and sorrow of losing Dex, York and Keswick have just made themselves a part of our home.

They are hilarious and are just showing more and more personality. I laugh at some of their antics every day. K's computer has this cursor thing which is every so interesting to watch.

York is very good at keeping himself entertained with toys. Keswick is more of a lap lover but will never say no to a rousing session of Da Bird.

With the change of weather and the more time inside, I do like to knit. I made this Koolhaas Hat last winter in blue and gave it away. I made another one in blue (started on plane to england) and decided I needed to resize it as it was a bit small for me. Before I could do that, a friend walking by at work loved it so much and it fit her so well, she bought it! So I had to make another. An orange Koolhaas Hat in front of an original Koolhaas.

'Tis the season. We decided to do cookies for gifts for neighbors and people at work so that's what this weekend was spent doing (when not running). Mmm. Looks pretty good!

It's going to be pretty busy the next couple of weeks at work as coworkers take vacation but that's just fine. I'm in a fine mood for the season.

Bring on Christmas!

Saturday, December 19, 2009

Cold to Welcome Wet - a new PR!

The cold finally broke. Looking out at the garden, I realize we have lost a couple of hebes. When the call came out to protect plants, i honestly couldn't think of any which needed to be protected. Oops.

We had a pretty good morning of black ice too. So bad that I slipped and fell pretty hard on the way to work earlier in the week. Ouch! My wrist, forearm and upper back and shoulder were all sore for a couple of days. That coupled with a good but hard tempo run meant that I had a run on Thursday which was terrible. Everything felt achy and twingy and I was tired and sore. it's been really busy and stressful at work as well. So much to do with work and holiday planning.

the next race for the Winter Grand Prix Winter Series was this morning. I had a fairly disappointing race with the first race two weeks ago but knew I had a faster run in me. But today? After such a tiring week?

At least the weather was about perfect. 45 and drizzly. I brought my hat to wear if it was raining but I never needed it. The course was bit messy in places with some puddles and slop but no ice!

I had forgotten my bib. D'oh! I had to re-register and they were going to charge me a whole $1 fee. However, i didn't have any money on me so I told them I owed them. I love these little, casual races. It took a bit longer to get re-registered so I didn't have quite enough time to get in a full warm-up. I wasn't too worried though since it was so much warmer and I still wasn't sure how I'd feel.

I was surprised to see they had heavy machinery on the xc course. I wonder what they are working on? It did affect the road course a bit so there was a change but it was for the better I think. Usually we would start to the south and there was always a bit of a bottleneck in the first quarter mile as we made the turn to go north. This time we started to the south and there were no such issues.

MJ found me in the line up before we started (RPD DNS'd as he was sick). She admired my Fast Shoes I was wearing. Fast Shoes? yep, I did finally get a pair of racing flats a couple of months ago. I've been wearing them just on occasion for speedwork. I thought this race would be good for their racing debut.

And we were off! I got out to a pretty quick start but reigned it in quick and just settled down watching PN ahead of me. I knew she'd get a steady start and she is easy to spot in the crowd as she's in her 60's! About a half mile in, MJ passed me as I expected. It was nice to see that she wasn't bolting past me quite as quickly as she had last time.

I checked pace again about three quarters of the mile in and was surprised to see sub-7. I honestly had been expecting to race this at around 7:05 pace. Would I be able to hold it? And then the reminder to myself of don't think, just run.

And I did. At .8, we made the turn to go back to the north and I could feel the breeze just a bit. I started reminding myself "strong" and "relaxed." And what did that mean for me?

Strong as in a strong arm drive and a strong focus. Normally at this point in a race (the middle), my focus is wavering a bit and I'm slowing. Relaxed. Keep the shoulders down and breathe.

And it worked. I hit the first mile and heard the caller say 7:02 which is gun time. I hadn't really expected to run a 7:00 flat first mile but there it was. And I was feeling good. My fast shoes were feeling fast, my breathing was good and I felt calm and focused. I maintained the pace and made the turn again to the south. I had started passing people gradually. And as I did, I realized that my breathing compared to theirs was often more relaxed and not as labored. That gave me confidence to continue pushing.

As I hit around 1.6, I pulled even to a high school girl (#42). She did not at all want me to pass and we stuck side by side through the rest of south road and through the turn. With a quarter to go and the finish in sight, I muttered to the kid "ok, go! pull me in." She TOOK OFF!

It was awesome! 41 year old legs who've been doing distance training don't have quite that kick (ummm... at all). As I watched her pull away in amazement I knew I couldn't even keep up but I'd still at least pass the guy ahead of me. I just made it and I was done. Last race, I was barely able to breathe and was feeling just awful the last bit but this time was so much better. I had a bare smidge of a kick, legs felt strong and could breathe. Wow!

I found #42 and just told her how awesome that had been. She also had a huge grin and was just as delighted with the race. Fun stuff! I got in line to turn in my ticket and that's when I looked at my watch to see what the final time had been.


I couldn't believe it! I'd gotten faster the second mile. That is a huge PR at this distance for me. I ran last year without a watch 14:26 and the year before I'd done the course in 14:30. I did come under 14 (13:58) for the first time at the end of this series in February but that was on a track at the end of the series when I'd had the faster races in preparation. So this is a pretty big deal for me and I'm just delighted.

The cold and the smoggy dry air really did a number on me the last race. This race, I felt so much better and having had a couple harder efforts also helped this morning. It has been a while since I've raced. Mentally, this went so well and I know that's been part of my difficulties lately. It is something that I will continue to work on for sure. I know I can apply it to longer races.

and then I got home and found an interesting link:

garmin connect track: click here

Sunday, December 6, 2009

A whole year...

Frozen Tundra @ Magnuson Park

The first race of the Club Northwest Winter Grand Prix series was this weekend and I had been waiting for this one. Really? it's just a little podunk 3k xc race to begin with which takes place on a 1.5 k grassy loop course in Magnusen Park. Nothing special. Really.

I've done this series two years in a row as an intro to faster running. the past two years, I've been injured and not running late summer and into fall and just running again in late fall. Yes, it took that long to figure out what was going on and I feel like I've figured some things out about what works for me. Last year, I still had some residual foot things going on but was still able to get some pretty good running in during the series. this year I was excited to go into this series but also this particular race with a whole year of solid running behind me.

I thought for sure I'd show some real improvement in times but alas that was not to be. And it's given me some things to think about.

first off, the race. It was cold! Gah! K was going to come over to the park to watch the race and I'm really glad he came so he could do the driving on the slick roads. There was frost/ice over everything and we hit ice fog as well. He had a great time taking in the beautiful frosty foggy landscapes and got some great photos.

We got there with plenty of time for a leisurely "warm up" of about 2 miles. This is the first real cold snap we've had and I could tell my muscles did not like it and weren't used to it. Everything felt sluggish. I found RPD who looked a bit cold as well and then we ran into another runner MJ who is back to running after double stress fractures earlier this year. It sure was nice to see her running so well!

The event was even more low key than usual as they did not set up a PA system nor use a clock. the race director's air horn had fizzled too so he just yelled "go!" and dropped his arm and we were off!

My plan was to do a quick start (otherwise you get hung up a bit in the section known as The Fins), stay strong on the uphill section going up Kite Hill, use the downhill (side photo) and don't fade in the middle. Stay focused on the second loop going up Kite Hill and then all out to the end.

And I honestly think I did this. I ran it well. I've very pleased that I stayed pretty steady going up the hill and then passed people once on the crest. I didn't let up in the middle section either which is usually a tough go for me. I let it all hang out too as I had no kick at the end whatsoever and got passed by quite a few people at the very end.

And? that's great, right! Well yes it is, but I was quite disappointed with my time. I came in at 14:59 which is a few seconds slower than last year's XC race. They did do a few minor tweaks to the course so it was a bit longer than last years and a true 3k. I was faster pace-wise if you compare it (7:50 this year to last year's 8:02) but I felt disconcertingly slow.

Some of this has to do with conditions. It was on grass but the grass was frozen and hard. A couple of places, we crossed a road and there was definitely ice on that area. And again, I haven't had any running yet in frozen temps and I know I get used to that after a few runs. A bigger issue is the lack of speedwork. This short, hard race was quite a shock to this system and I know by the end of the series, I'm in better shape to handle the pace.

Some other things have changed these past few months as well. I've used a coaching service in the past as I dislike coming up with my own schedule especially when working towards a particular goal race. As of September, I'm setting my own schedule and speedwork. It's gone well and given me a chance to try some things but there is a definite reluctance on my part to run hard by myself. Obviously this is something I need to work on.

I've been toying with goal races next year. I'll continue the winter series because it is just fun! I think I'm pretty set now on racing the Nookachamps Half Marathon in mid-January (barring acceptable conditions). I had debated a mid-February marathon but now think that'll be too soon so I'll aim for a may marathon. It feels really nice settling this in my mind. I've had a wonderful running year (that post is coming soon) and it is great to be able to continue to build what I've developed this year.

garmin track: click here
last year's garmin track: click here

more photos: click here

Saturday, December 5, 2009

One More. The Next Generation.

This is my cell phone photo taken with my cell phone. it cracks me up every time I see it.

And introducing the next furry generation:

York is the Red MacTabby and Keswick (Kez - ik) is the black tabby. They are 7 month old sweeties whom we got from MEOW. They were hand raised in a foster home from the time they were about three weeks old. They are total lovebugs.

Everything is new and an adventure for them and we are delighted.

New additions

Monday, November 30, 2009

Seattle Half Marathon

After missing this race for the past two years because of injury, I was very happy to sign up for it early (for me) in September when I realized I'd come out of the summer feeling good. I'd had ideas of racing it but over the past few weeks realized I'd be better off doing it as a fun run for a few reasons.

The race in England even with the course difficulty and conditions showed I'm not quite to a good race shape yet. I have the miles but I don't have a lot of solid tempo runs under my belt and I knew I'd lost speed. If I chose to race the Seattle Half, I knew I'd be disappointed with my time and I'd have to take time off of running for taper/recovery. It just felt like a long race right now would be disruptive to my training schedule.

"Fun run" and "race" are often hard words to put together for me. If you start out real easy, the temptation to start blowing by people at the end when you are feeling great is just too tempting. So once I'd decided on my training plan for the week (50 running miles for the week with a track workout and long trail run), I decided it would probably be better if I could find someone slower than I to run with.

Coach Lesley had just the client for me. JCB was looking to race the Seattle half and expected to finish possibly under 2 hours but not necessarily. That would be my perfect easy pace for this hilly course.

I knew what the plan would be because Coach Lesley had sent me instructions about how to handle the course and pacing JCB in particular. It was a very informative and I will save that information to use for my future seattle half marathon plans! Basically the plan was to keep JCB in control the first few miles, use the flats along Lake Washington and keep it steady and strong on the hills through Madison and Interlaken. Once past mile 10, this was where the race would start. JCB herself knew that we were aiming for around a 2 hour half marathon but not the basics of the plan and depending on how the hills felt might be just a bit slower.

Phew! No pressure! I was quite nervous about this the night before and slept poorly. Once I was up the next morning and happy to see good weather, I was ready and looking forward to the whole experience.

Her husband would be driving us and another friend M who'd be pacing with us to the start. Her husband even was able to meet her along the course for gel and moral support which was really a big boost for her. M has been a runner for a long time and it was fun to have his support as well.

JCB's husband knew right where to drop us off with no fuss at all (I'm remembering this for next time!) and before we knew it we'd run into Coach Lesley's gang and posed for a good luck photo! Off to the clothing check and porto potty line and we were walking towards the start just when the marathon walkers started. We really had the easiest time of it.

And we were off! I had taken my garmin off of autolap and planned for manual splits with the mile markers. I hate how the miles get all mixed up in the tunnel.

Downtown and the tunnel.

Planned Actual
1 9:10 9:12 I breathed a huge sigh of relief.
2 9:10 8:48 Oops! I had no idea that I'd lose satellite reception downtown. The first half of this mile is uphill and then a pretty strong downhill. I did slow us down quite a bit on the downhill.
3 9:15 9:06 Better. We would be chatting a bit and start to drift faster.
4 8:50 9:08 In tunnel. I do think we took a water break in here which added time and had not been included in the pacing plan. I was glad to get out of the tunnel. I dislike it!

Lake Washington

5 8:50 9:15 Water stop.
6 8:55 9:01 Gu stop.
7 8:55 9:09

A little slower than planned pace but we had had a couple of faster miles at first and getting in the water was important as it was warmer than expected. JCB might've been a bit overdressed. JCB was still chatty at this point. I did tell her that at the end, I did not expect her to talk and that would be just fine!

Madison and Interlaken

8 9:45 9:39 Seriously, I was amazed by this! I can take hill running lessons from her I think!
9 9:15 9:14 Perfectly run. M & I kept her form in check for the downhill and the uphill which is on this mile. She ran it perfectly and made us tell stories. I made her stop trying to respond to our chatter. She needed her breath for recovery. It was here I was pretty certain she'd make the 2 hour marker.
10 9:30 9:01 Confirmed! A gradual climb, JCB stayed steady and strong. She was working and her breathing showed that. Water stop while the 2 hour pace group caught up.

One Green Lake Unit left

11 9:00 9:05 This is a sneaky tough mile as you cross Roanoke and feel like you must be close but mile 11 has a lot of rolling which is tough at this point in a race.
12/13 whatever's left! 17:49 Missed the mile marker but 8:55 average pace. JCB was hurting in here but kept at it like a trouper. M & I kept up a steady stream of form checks and encouragement. The last little dip under Aurora on Mercer is evil. JCB dug deep and kept at it.

As we approached the finish I could see the gun time clock just tick over to 2:00. Woohooo! she had done it and looked done in but it didn't matter at all. The grin came out shortly.

We did spot Coach Lesley and crowed the good news. At this point JCB started the "i can't believe it" but it didn't matter at that point because she had done it.

Wow! What a thrill to help someone to a 5 minute PR and sub 2 half marathon on such a tough course. It really hit home some points I've been missing lately in training.

1. Run hard for those hard training runs. I think I've been slacking in this partly because of poor conditions (dark/sloppy).
2. Have a realistic race plan and stick with it.
3. Stay with it mentally when it gets tough. JCB flat out said she'd never have been able to hammer in the last mile unless she'd had help. I doubt that but it is a learning experience to know that you can experience that level of discomfort and pain and still keep running.

I have never had a half marathon go so quickly and this one is actually my second slowest. I'm poor at math and pace calculations even when running easily and that could've hurt us. M seemed to have a very good grasp of where we were pace-wise and it's something I need to develop a better head for.

Watch time 1:59:28!
garmin connect course: click here

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Happy Thanksgiving!

It's been a great Thanksgiving. We actually did the Turkey Day a week and a half ago when K's parents were up for a visit. That meant today was free to go play and explore a new trail area and then join my mom at her new residence for a very nice Thanksgiving meal. The best part was the no cleaning and no cooking knowing we already have a freezer full of turkey.

I'm thankful for the ability to go run and explore and play.

I'm thankful for family and friends I can hang out and relax with.

I'm thankful for simple things like a comfortable bed,

the sun shining,

and a friendly face.


We miss you Dex.

Saturday, November 21, 2009

Last Days Across the Pond.

Holy Cow! were my hamstrings sore from the race. No biggie. We were in England and were going to make the most of our last days in Keswick.

Monday seemed to be fairly decent weatherwise so we thought we'd take advantage and visit the west coast of England. It was an easy drive over to the wee village of St. Bees and before we knew it we were admiring the waves of the Irish Sea. St Bees Head is a stunning red bluff with sheep pasture. the C2C trail starts here and ends on the east coast. We spent a lot of time admiring the stunning rocks on the beach. Each was like a different color of the rainbow. We did come home with our pockets full of rocks!

the next day, the weather seemed much the same and we knew we'd have a chance to get to Catbells. The last time we'd been to this area, we had started this hike but when the weather deteriorated mid-hike had cut it short.

Catbells catches your eye from the lake. When on the water or on the shores of Derwentwater, you can see little figures on the ridge climbing. We drove over to the trailhead (my hamstrings were still sore!) and then started the climb up.

it goes up quick but we had to keep stopping to take photos as teh sun would peak out and make the valley and lakes below sparkle. It's a well cared for and well loved path. There are a couple of sections where you are scrambling straight up rock but it's nothing too terrible. In the rain, I'd not want to climb down however as it would be slippery.

Basically it was breathtaking. At various times, squalls would move through with rain, wind, rainbows and hail. On the back side of the ridge, the wind was so strong and biting that I honestly worried about frostbite if we stayed long. the decent was quad pounding. All too quick we were off the fell and contemplating the last evening in Keswick. I haven't mentioned the local ales at the local pub but they were just as good as I remembered. Yum!

The next morning we were headed to London via a train from Carlisle. The train was very enjoyable and London was a shock after the peaceful quiet of keswick. I'm glad we'd made our focus of the trip non-London!

see ya next time England!

On a sad note, just two weeks post trip Keswick and the entire cumbrian region has been hard hit by devestating and deadly floods. The B&B we stayed at had been flooded in the last flood event in 2005. This event according to all reports is much, much worse.

hike course: garmin connect
photos: click here

Thursday, November 19, 2009

50th Annual Derwentwater 10 - Keswick, Cumbria UK

This was such an amazing experience. I'd gone into the race hoping for a solid and fast (under 8) race. Saturday morning after having run (2.5 miles on dead legs), spent all day walking about on paths and in shops, I hit the bed that evening and realized my feet and legs were aching! Hunh. I'm guessing this is not the best way to set a PR! The forecast for the next day was for heavy showers and wind.

It was a good lesson. You may have ideas of a goal race, but you just never know how circumstances are going to conspire against you. I knew I would just be running this for fun. yes, I'd be working pretty hard for that fun but one way or the other it was going to be memorable.

I really had not had a good idea of what this road course was like. I'd heard flat with a pretty sizable hill from about 5-7. After riding the boat around derwentwater (the lake that the course would run around), i knew the road was going to be more rolling than I expected. I was right to trust those instincts. Yet the course definitely had more surprises.

The race had a noon start which meant i could pretty much have a normal breakfast at the B&B. That meant cereal, fruit, eggs, toast, coffee, sausage. Good stuff! I passed on the beans and tomatoes for the day. Even though we were eating breakfast at 8:30, partway through the race I was suddenly starved! Another lesson in traveling so far for a race, expect the unexpected with food. I'd be just fine and then all of a sudden voracious. It was hard to plan for that sometimes.

As I walked the mile toward the school and race registration, it was pouring and windy as promised but not too cold (mid-50's). I could see the river was rising and running very fast. With that 15 minute walk, my shoes were already soaked. I figured I was crazy, but then I got to race registration (inside a nice warm school) and saw hoards of other crazy people. I got registered easily and cheaply for day of race. 11 pounds! that's about 17 US dollars which is extremely reasonable for what the race offered.

I went off to change and decide what to wear. I chatted with some fellow women and got asked a lot of questions because of my accent (where are you from, are you here just for the race?) and generally just enjoyed the whole thing. Everybody was moaning and complaining of the weather but ready to run.

I found out once there that the race actually started at the center of town and not at the school. Ok, but it's wet out there! At the last possible moment, I went trotting the half mile to the center of town and huddled in shop fronts trying to stay out of the rain. It was really hopeless.

I knew it would be relatively flat the first few miles so I thought I'd try starting around 8 flat knowing I'd slow with the latter hills. Considering how my legs had felt yesterday, I was really out here just to enjoy the scenery and the experience. the gun went off (I jumped) and we were off through town. It was a bit crowded at first but not bad. I wanted to make sure not to trip or go down on the slippery streets or random road furniture. Soon we were out on the road leading out of town. I got my first laugh out loud moment as I saw a sign on the road warning of badgers. BADGERS! I so wanted to see one. Maybe next time.

After the first mile, the effect of the rain became clear. Quite frequently, we'd run through water which was coursing over the roadway. My shoes and socks were completely soaked and running through that required a different technique to pull your feet out of the water. It was tough running. The road was also not closed. Cars would tuck in with runners until they could get to a place where there was room to move faster. Since I was feeling very confused about what side of the road runners and cars should be on (this is england!) I never quite knew where to expect the cars to go. It was a bit disorienting.

I settled into a good pace and was just enjoying myself. As expected the road started immediate ups and down but not too bad. Once towards mile 4, the rolling became steeper. then we made it around the south part of the lake and suddenly there was a lot more water over the roadways. Seriously it was at least ankle deep in places it seemed. Hard running! there was a water stop at 5 and I did actually walk and had a gel. I was hungry!

then the real hill began. chug, chug, chug on up the hill. the views were good and I just kept at it. Periodically we'd pass groups of fell walkers all wrapped in gortex and many layers. Running was a lot better today. it was warmer and we were going to be done much sooner! Eventually I made it to the top of that hill and was looking forward to using the downhill to my advantage. I'd stopped looking at pace as I knew it would just be discouraging. What a shock to realize the downhill was too steep to run fast! Since my shoes were so soaked, my orthotics started slipping forward as well. I finally got running well again and then we came to a large cattle grate. No way I'm going down for that so slow again and then the road started rolling yet again.

I really think this turned out to be one of the more difficult road courses I've ever run. it was relentless. And towards the end my hamstrings had had enough. With half a mile to go and going along familiar territory, I could not speed up at all. Hamstrings were tight and had been pounded into meek protesting with the hills. Oh well. A gal I'd been chatting with before the race passed me here. I asked her how she was doing. her response? "I'm knackered." and really that summed it up perfectly.

I made the turn towards the finish and started looking for K and K's brother. It was great to see them and I was done. No cool down for me. I was comfortable but knew I'd chill quickly since I was so wet. We walked up to the school so I could go change. And here's where a big difference became aparent. There seemed to be one very large locker room and a smaller women's locker room. Both men and women were chaning in the large locker room. Hunh. You wouldn't see that in the states.

After stripping off wet clothes and shoes, it was so nice to put on dry items. I'd forgotten to bring a plastic bag for the drippy things and bundled it all up as best I could. Hot tea and biscuits (cookies) were being served and it tasted pretty good. I wanted to see the awards ceremondy which was held in the school auditorium. I knew I'd not place as I'd been too slow but was curious as to how the field had held up with the awful conditions.

this is a local race. There were over 400 finishers yet most of the runners were from local running clubs. They started the awards by introducing Ron Hill. Wow! I had spent the day before drooling over some of his running specific clothing for sale in the shops. He's a former winner of the Boston marathon and quite a legend in England. He was there! He ran the course and he presented awards.

I expected the typical US awards ceremony where they give out prizes for the top 3, mention the AG and master's winners and that's it. No. This was the Awards Ceremony. Winners were announced through the 20th place runner for both men and women. Each age group was announced through the 3rd place and masters' runners got the full deal too. Most took away some little prize or ribbon. (not sure, couldn't see) And most amazingly, everyone seemed to have stayed to watch and cheer and congratulate. Runners supporting runners and it was nice to see.

all in all, this was a very memorable experience and I'm really glad I got to do it. I'd love to return to run the trail (fell) races which take place in the area. We also learned a fair bit about trail shoes in the local shops adn I'll be looking for those shoes once back stateside.

And a t-shirt? Nope. I got a cool little fridge magnet. I'm very pleased.

course: garmin connect
race site: keswick ac
results: click here (found out from this site that some races were canceled or altered because of bad conditions on race day)
Magnet: (sorry about the bad picture - it's dark here lately...)

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

On to Keswick

We've been to Keswick in the northern end of the Lake District of England twice before. We had to go back yet again and this time we were staying for longer and I was going to do a 10 mile race.

The Lake District is just beautiful. it's a National Park of England and a relatively small area (34 miles across). Unlike national parks in this country, people live within the borders of the park and in fact, there are some pretty good sized towns within the park. That's partly what is so appealing to me about this area. I would go out the door of our B&B to run and within a mile, I could be on footpaths climbing up the side of the local fells and taking in the spectacular scenery. It's a well loved area of England and very much full of English tourists and Germans.

We were going at a time when the weather was going to be similar to Seattle. you know, iffy. And that was going to be fine. We made it to our B&B pretty easily and went out to a local Jennings pub for the famous Snecklifter. We were a bit disappointed to find that the favorite pub had gone a bit upscale but at least the Snecklifter was just as delicious as remembered.

What to do after that? Well, I had to go for a short run. Sure it was dark and it was raining but after a day spend doing the museum walk and a long car drive, I knew I'd feel better. It really was pouring. I had packed my running flashlight and definitely needed it as I wanted to run along the Kewsick Railway Trail which was just a block from our B&B. The trail ended up being a bit more potholed than I expected and that was hard to see in the dark. Within minutes my shoes were soaked!

Unexpectedly, fireworks were going off nearby for some town Halloween celebration. the fireworks would light up the surrounding fells and made for an interesting running experience. I thought to turn around and go see where the fireworks were but I could tell as I headed back towards town that the grand finale was wrapping up. Sure enough, I hit walking crowds coming back from watching the fireworks and decided I was done running. I just hoped my shoes would dry in time for the next run!

The next day in Keswick dawned clearer and warmer than we had expected. I went for another short run along the River Greta walkway (legs were dead!) and we headed into town. Keswick is my kind of shopping! All sorts of outdoor stores. We all had a good time looking around and finally decided we needed to take advantage of the weather. An easy walk to Friar's Crag along Derwentwater's shores was perfect. It was so pleasant out with such beautiful views.

why does Keswick appeal to me so much when I have incredible opportunities for the outdoors here with the Cascades in my backyard? There is just a sense of history in the hills. This area had been settled for a millennium and it looks so very English yet at the same time, there is the very real Wild still calling from the fells. the local rescue group, Keswick Mountain Rescue Team is very prominent within the town.

After all that walking, we were ready for a sit and hopped on the Keswick launch to do an easy hour circuit of the lake. It was gorgeous! We'd never done this before and I'm glad we did. A peaceful and scenic view of the lake even though it got a little cold at times!

Photos: click here

Next: The 50th Annual Derwentwater 1o

Saturday, November 7, 2009

Finally! Vacation....

I went straight from busy, fun and exhausting relay/vacation on the east coast into crazy deadlines at work. The 10/15 deadline passed and then had to catch up with all the other bits at work so I'd be ready for our next trip to England! Even though I am not supposed to work overtime, I worked at least an hour extra every day in a desperate attempt to catch up. Add in 40 miles of running a week and getting ready for our trip, well, I was ready to get on that plane!

We'd gotten a huge deal on airfare to London and bought tickets way back in the beginning of this year. Finally the time to fly to England had arrived and I couldn't wait to go back to visit some of my favorite areas. After arriving in London around noon local time, we took the Tube to King's Cross Station to wait for our train trip to York, England. Since I cannot sleep on airplanes and then want to stay mostly awake once landed in England, it makes for a very long day. Surprisingly it went better than the last time. I did a better job of pushing fluids and eating enough throughout the flight.

the train ride to York was uneventful and we remembered how to do the 10 minute walk to our B&B. We stayed at this place the last time we were in England (2004) and were happy to be back. It's a very convenient location and the hosts are so nice. York was pretty well booked so we were unable to get separate rooms for my husband and i and my brother-in-law (Ke) who was traveling with us. B&B en-suite (with bathroom) rooms in England are always space challenged and this room was no exception. The bathroom was particularly tight. I honestly could barely undress or dress in the bathroom to get into the shower! Oh well. that's just the way it is. The room was clean, the beds were comfy enough and I love the assortment of teas/coffees and biscuits which are always in the room.

After 10 hours of sleep, I felt almost human! And I had to go for a run. York has great signed bike and public foot paths including a lovely wide path which runs along the river Ouse. First thing, i got up and went to run 6 miles. I thought I'd better include a bit of faster paced miles and I did with no troubles. York Run

It was really a perfect morning. Clear and still with just a hint of fog in places. People were out walking their dogs and greeted me with a singsongy "mornin' luv." Yep. I was in Yorkshire! The path was mostly flat and went over some cattle grates. That should've been a clue. I was on a well traveled path when I came across a bunch of cows standing on the path. It had at one point been a railroad based on how it was built up and steeply dropped off the sides. This meant I couldnt' go around the cows as it was too steep. So I stopped and politely started talking to the cows and asking them to move. I can't quite remember if I've ever been so close to a cow before except ones that are penned. They are huge! Do they kick? I really wanted to touch one but thought I better not.

They blinked their peaceful eyes at me and gradually moved off the path, one at a time. Aren't herd animals nice? Back to the B&B for the traditional english breakfast. Cereal, oj, toast with the BEST lemon marmalade (I had to bring a jar home), sausage, bacon (like ham really), two eggs (often hardboiled but they will often scramble them on request), tomatoes, beans, mushrooms (EWWWW!) plus coffee. Oh yes. We eat well in England. We eat all meat and bread but it is tasty.

Next we walked back to the train station to pick up the rental car. The rental agent was pretty funny and we had a good chat about what we were planning on doing. she had a lot of Harry Potter lore to share too and I was delighted. Yes, K my husband is brave enough to drive in England. He does a great job too. We went directly off to Pickering to ride the North Yorkshire Moor Railway. Stunning is the only way to describe that.

The English do love their trains. I think it must be because they have such a long history with them and they are still a major means on transportation about the country. It's a historical railway just for tourists and we really had a good time. The countryside was beautiful, all the little stations we went through were so cute. We got off in Grosmont Station to go and look at the train sheds. It was very interesting wandering through this area as this is where they restore old steam trains and have a lot of them parked about. I was also impressed by the big pile of coal.

Eventually they brought out a locomotive star, the LNER Class A4 4498 Sir Nigel Gresley. Everyone stopped what they were doing to watch this locomotive and once it had pulled into the station (it would be the locomotive used to pull us back to Pickering), it had crowds of people all about taking photos. Seriously sexy and beautiful locomotive.

We got back to Pickering later than we had wished and realized we were not going to have time to drive to Whitby and see the east coast of England. It would get dark too early and we really didn't want to be driving back into York in the dark. We returned to York and promptly got extremely lost anyway. Eventually we made it and went wandering around the quiet streets of York and found The Shambles so Ke could see the crazy medieval street. And we ate at a pub, of course!

the next day, we decided we had to do the National Railway Museum in York. Again, did I mention the British love their trains? What an impressive and informative display. I'm glad we went. We had just enough time to wander around the York Minster and be impressed all over again by the scale of it all.

Soon enough it was time to drive to our next destination. See you next time York!

More Photos

Sunday, October 18, 2009

A 10 Mile Trail Race - Soaring Eagle Park, Sammamish

After the deluge and long run yesterday, I was really tempted by a trail race out at Soaring Eagle Park in Sammamish. I've never visited this park before. I'd heard about the park in a fairly recent news article and had really wanted to get out there to visit.

It's a high mileage running week for me (46) and I'd had a longer mid-week run (9.6) plus the long run yesterday (14.75). The trail race had a 5 mile and a 10 mile option. I thought I'd probably opt to do the 5 mile race and be smart about the mileage. But after thinking through the options and realizing that my legs felt just fine after the long run I opted for the 10 miler for a few reasons.

I'd be more likely to all out race a 5 miler because I could. I can start off as slow as I want but if there is a mile to go in a race and I'm feeling good, I KNOW I will sprint it in. that's not what I need right now in training. Plus I really wanted to get a feel for the trails in this park. The 5 miler had a few miles off on the single track trail but the first and last mile was on a main, wide, manicured trail. boring! the 10 mile race started and ended the same way as the 5 mile but the majority of it wound around the park. It was a good decision.

I got to the park in seemingly no time at all. That was good to know for future use. it seems closer than Redmond Watershed Preserve to me and quite direct from Seattle. So I was there pretty early and ran into a friend who was running the 5 with a couple of her friends. It was nice to see her as I hadn't for a while. We all were chatting in the time before the race. Soon it was time to get a bib on and change out of my warm clothes and decide what to wear.

After the rain and wind of yesterday, the morning was a very comfortable 50 degrees with no rain and no wind. Perfect! Short sleeves and tights and I did bring mittens which I knew I'd stuff into my pockets once I'd run for a bit. I saw a lot of overdressed people!

We got a short talk about how the course was marked (very well actually) and trail conditions. With all the rain yesterday, it had brought down a lot of leaves which would be slippery and even a lot of trees. The race director had cleared quite a few off the trail but there were some pretty big trees down which we'd need to climb over.

And we were off just like that! The course is nice in that the first chunk of a mile is on a wide gravel/wood chipped and rather soggy trail. it was just long enough to string out the field enough so that when the turn to the single track happened, there was no delay getting on the trail. I had passed a fair number of people in the first bit but was content to settle behind the group once on the trail. it was quite pretty and I did look around a bit. The trail was technical enough and we were going fast enough though that I was in the trail-focused, in-the-present, stimulating attention locking zone pretty quickly. I love that feeling. Do you have a name for it? I can't quite pin it down.

I'd get passed every once in a while and then I'd pass periodically as well. I watched one gal almost roll an ankle a couple of times and then she obviously slowed trying to be more careful. Pass. After 2.5 miles, the 5 milers seemed to tucker out a bit so Pass. I had a 5-miler gal on my heels from 2.5 to 4 who stuck pretty close and was definitely using me as a pacer. That was just fine. I was enjoying myself and pushing a bit harder because of it. I figured I'd run a bit harder the first 4 miles and then slow for the rest of the course and that was just fine. My goals were just to finish strongly and not fall!

At 4, the 5 milers turned to go back a mile to the finish. They had an aid station there but I just continued on. I was carrying water so I had a swig and a gel while on the run. And all of a sudden I was alone in the woods on the trails just trotting along. I felt like I was slowing quite a bit but in reality the trails just became hillier and a little more technical than it had been for the first 4 miles. Yes I was tiring too but it just didn't seem to matter. It was such a pleasant day to be out in the woods.

At around 7 was the most challenging part of the course. There was a long downhill rocky section. I could feel my quads protesting as I had to slow because of the rocks. I came to a little boggy area, crossed a solid trail and laughed as I contemplated a straight up scramble. Get to it! then the trail did a leisurely loop with a more sensible decline and started back up the long rocky section I'd just descended. Oof! This was a power hiking section. Too steep to do otherwise. I was around other people at this point and they were doing the same.

Just when I was really wanting more water (I'd run out), I hit the last mile and the long mushy mile long section back to the finish. Ok. Here I was going to push as much as my tired legs would let me. I could see a couple gals distantly ahead of me and I was pleased to see that by the time I reached the finish line I had almost closed the gap to them. Strong running.

Woo! I had a huge smile as I finished and walked to the car. They had a nice spread of food which included yummy chili. I did have a bowl as I'd forgotten to bring anything to eat for afterwards. Results are not up and I am very curious as to where I end up. I'm delighted with how strongly I finished and how good my legs feel after so many miles this weekend. This bodes well for the next running events.

And I cannot wait to get back to Soaring Eagle Park and run some more trails.

Saturday, October 17, 2009

Red blobs are never a good sign.

Ran 14.7 miles this morning and these have been moving through the area all day long. I have never been so wet on a run. I was running on trails which became rivers. All you could do was laugh and keep moving.


Saturday, October 10, 2009

Boston 2!


It's been real, real busy since getting back from the east coast but I had to post my favorite photo. Sam Adams and K looking out over the city at Faneuil Hall.

How was Boston?

Fantastic! A fun, fun city to explore on foot and by subway. We walked the entire Freedom Trail and hiked the 275 steps to the top of the Bunker Hill Memorial. I can't think of a better way to recover from a relay race. That AP US History class I took way back as a junior in high school all came back in much more vivid detail than I could ever have imagined.

We had perfect weather and really enjoyed walking all over such a walkable city. I think we would've done about two or three other things but we just ran out of time and energy. Next time!

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

an anniversary..

About a year ago, I was finally and formally diagnosed with a stress fracture.

It's hard to believe it's been only a year as I honestly thought it had been longer. It's been quite a summer. Relays, trail runs and races, a return to the track recently and some fun running related travel coming up soon.

What have I learned?

Trust myself. I knew something was wrong with my shoes, orthotics and feet for a while.

Keep strong. I've been very consistent with weight training and core work and I feel very good about that. It makes me feel so much younger.

Yoga and massage. I do almost daily easy yoga of just a few minutes each day. It helps in so many ways. I really notice when I skip it because I'm too busy. Just a few minutes is all it takes. And a little easy self massage does wonders although I'll never say no to a painful and ever so useful massage with Surfer Dude Massage Therapist (now with adorable baby I can play with before a massage!).

Less is more. This applies to shoes (lighter and no stability for me now!) and to mileage. When in doubt, cut a run short and there is nothing wrong with a bike ride instead.

More boston pics are coming! We've been really busy trying to finish exterior window trim painting before the weather changes...

Friday, October 2, 2009


Sunny afternoon on Harvard Bridge

After a very successful Reach the Beach, K and I headed to Boston. We'd both wanted to go for many years. It started off well enough when we easily found our guest house on Beacon Street in Back Bay.

We unloaded luggage and checked in and were ready to return the rental car to Logan Airport. We asked the front desk clerk how to get to the airport and were told turn ____ at the second set of lights and follow ____, it'll get you there. Neither one of us could remember which way we were supposed to turn and heard completely different street names because of that Baaaaahston accent. After much circling, a gas stop right by Fenway, a quick trip back towards New Hampshire we eventually found the airport.

Note: Do NOT rent from Thrifty and return a car to Logan Airport. In reality, the rental car return is not at Logan but they do a poor job (ok no hint) of telling you this. We were rather tired after all these shenanigans but I was happy to make it to the subway station for a ride on the "T" back to our guest house.

Seriously, I love subways. So much fun riding on them and Boston's T is no exception. You can see the neglect at work and the obvious challenge with keeping up with maintenance but it is a great system and we used it every day to get around the city easily.

We were back to our guest house in time to get out for a walk around the neighborhood, along the Charles River and Newbury Street. it was so much fun to be in a city where everyone is walking around their neighborhood.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Are you a WIMP?

Yes I am!

WIMP = Team Member of Weird Internet Marathon People

What did I do this past weekend. I flew to New Hampshire to do
Reach the Beach Relay. What a great experience on so many levels. This is another 200 mile race from the hills of NH to the beach with 11 other of your closest friends crammed into 2 mini vans.

The Set-up: Captain WIMP, Alisonvet, asked me to join the team way back in May? The team would be composed of fellow runners on the Marathon board of the running forum I've known some of these people online for years and have over the years and various races, met many in person. After much consulting with K, I was a go! I’d never been to the east coast and knew I’d LOVE to see some of New England running. Then K and I could visit Boston which we’ve wanted to do for years.

Training: It was a summer of trails and slowly building mileage up. I had trained for a half in June and was a bit disappointed by my time in all honesty. I had run a similar type relay in late July and been delighted with my pace but as a runner on that relay, I had significantly less mileage than I would at RTB (just over 12 miles). As relay time approached, I was feeling iffy about my projected pace over 18 miles and wished I had switched it to 8:30.

Pre-race: Seattle is far away! The earliest flight arrived 4:30pm in Manchester and I left at 6:50 am from Seattle. The team had arranged to have one van pick me up from the airport and we went directly towards the start in the White Mountains and to our hotel. It was just gorgeous. Mountains? Um…yeah. Ok. ;-) Rather pleasantly rounded hills but beautiful nonetheless. Dinner had been arranged at a local restaurant and we all tromped in to a late dinner. My New England pot roast with wine was delicious and the wimp company was great although service was slow. It is so much fun meeting so many people in person after so long.

After dinner, I was totally awake since it was only 7 my time. Everyone else was drooping. We went back to the hotel and I went running. This little ski town seemed sad and tired and waiting for the snow. At night trotting along the main street, I just enjoyed the quiet and the cold. I couldn’t wait to run the next day.

Race Day: That was a comfortable bed! Indie and I (we were sharing a room) slept soundly until 8. the continental breakfast was appreciated and the antics of the attendant were hilarious. She took her job very seriously! We were off to grocery shop and headed towards race start in good time.

Who said it could rain? It was cold and rainy for a chunk of the day, mostly when standing on a “mountain” waiting for our 1:00 start. We hung out with the another forum based team called The Fellowship of the Bubblewrappers as they were waiting for their 1:20 start. The whole start at the Cannon Ski Resort was just getting me excited. I got a nice RTB fleece which I then used the rest of the race.

After the start, both Van 2’s went off to lunch since this was our "off time" as the other vans were running. Good times and the hot meal was much appreciated after we had been waiting around in the rain. At least we weren’t running in it! Donna showed her excellent pandering skills by getting Doughboy (a famous forumite baker) to hand over baked goods early. Score!

Run 1: Oh yeah. There’s running in this event. I was the first runner in Van TuTu. I was really looking forward to my first run of 7.25 miles leaving from the Cannon Ski Resort. It was amazing seeing so many vans and the hoard of runners. I went off to do a warm-up mile by heading up the ski slope. The trees had just hints of color and the rain had stopped and I was so happy to be there. I would be starting my first leg around 5:30 pm on Friday evening.

My goal for this first leg was to run strongly but not kill myself on the overall downhill run. I had some good climbs in there as well and I knew I’d better run those conservatively. After the 6:15 opening pace, I quickly settled into my projected race pace with no problems. Really this was an excellent run with beautiful scenery and my head was in a really good place. I expected to be passed by Robyn here but it didn’t happen. At about the mid point, there was another van parked and they asked “Are you a WIMP?” And I replied with a whoop and a “YES!” I believe this was the commotion team which had befriended Donna. 7.27 miles – 55:05 – 8:00 pace. Well, I was committed to that 8. Not sure if I was going to maintain it but I was going to do my best!

Interlude: I get really spacey after running hard and need to eat immediately. I was delighted to find that they were grilling hamburgers and hot dogs at the transition where our second runner (donna) was coming in. I bought a hamburger and munched it down. In record time, Donna came flying in and Lauren was off to her challenging first leg. In the commotion of Donna coming in early and the rush to get out of the transition, I left my wallet at the transition. Now I didn’t catch on to this until at least a transition or two later when it was too late to do anything about it. I just had to trust that the hoard of runners and volunteers would be kind. Fortunately this happened early enough that I could call K to tell him to bring my passport with him when he flew out the next day. The lesson is that I should know better than to try and do anything complicated like carry my wallet after running hard.

Sleep?: Um no. We got to the van exchange area once all Van TuTu members had finished their first legs with a couple of hours to go. It was dark and quiet inside the technical college and nice to lie down but no chance to sleep. Oh well. Alison’s call to my cell that I had an hour until Cristen came in got my heart started. The volunteer group was selling coffee swill for 50 cents. It worked. I was ready to run again and really looking forward to my 3 am run.

Run 2: It was cold to be standing around in the transition area but it was perfect running weather minus some gusting winds. I opted for long sleeves, shorts and a headband to protect my ears. This leg was 4.4 miles and I let my van know to expect a quicker pace than 8. All my legs were rated moderate mostly based on rolling hills I guess and it was a thrill to see all the blinkies going off ahead of me when I was climbing a biggish hill during mile 2. I knew I’d catch a lot of them. The last mile got a bit challenging when the road became more uneven and gusts of wind would blow crud into my eyes but I kept it strong. 4.41 miles – 33:49 – 7:39 pace.

Interlude: The thrill here was watching Donna work an incredibly hard leg. She is one big rock star! Anu was being psychic and asked for a lifesaver candy as she went by the van (Donna had been handing them out to any runner going by). Lauren had the best run ever and it was a thrill to be there when it happened. Nagesh blasted his run. Peg (backseat buddy and Alison's Mom!) looked awesome. It was so much fun waiting for her to finish in the gorgeous transition area. Too bad a freaking wasp marred the moment by stinging Anu! Soon enough we were done and all cheered by the dawn of such a beautiful day.

Sleep?: Um no. It was really nice lying down in the sun waiting for Van 1 to finish their last legs. Typically this is a hard part of a relay of this type for me. You are tired and sore and stinky and still have to run one more leg. The peaceful gorgeous day did much to help dispel some of the mental challenges.

Run 3: I had been dreading this run ever since assigned to this set of legs when Peg joined the team. 6.9 miles of rolling hills. Ive only ever done relays where my last leg was usually pretty short (3-5 miles) and I wasn’t sure what to expect with this. I decided not to look at my garmin and just run by feel after the initial slow down from the start. I felt better than expected although hamstrings and hip were complaining. My big thrill was running the entire large hill at mile 4 when I passed quite a few people walking it. I roadkilled quite a few people on this leg and the mostly men I passed were getting grumpy about it. I often didn’t get a response back to my “good job.” I cannot keep track of roadkill and passes but I would say it was about even. I always passed some and got passed by others on each leg. Only towards the last miles did I allow myself to look at pace and was pleased to see around 8:15. Better than was expecting. 6.7 miles – 55:32 – 8:16 pace.

Finishing: The last legs of Van TuTu were all rather strange because of what we needed to do to get our runners in place for such short sections. What I most remember was the bundle of nerves Peg was as her run time approached. She was just so much fun and such a competitor. We drove to the beach with less fuss than expected (traffic) and were at the Atlantic Ocean! I went straight over to the announcer to see if my wallet was at lost and found. It was! Sealed in a plastic bag with “TEAM: WIMP TA #9” attached to it. Thank you to that runner and/or volunteer who sent that on. I gave kudos to them in my post-race survey. What a relief!

Peg came in exactly when expected and we all ran the bit to the finish line. The yelps and yips of “ow” were hilarious and felt by all. Peg was all emotional at the end as was I. And then? I had to reach the beach. I tromped right down to the water and stood in it. It felt fabulous. Eventually I had to sit in the water because I knew my quads and butt would thank me.

I am so delighted that I completely nailed my projected 8:00 pace exactly. 18.4 miles, 2:27:16, 8:00 pace. The final leg convinced me that I should probably wait to do a marathon. I’m getting there but I need more time and don’t want to jump so quickly into longer distances.

It was a total and complete pleasure to be a WIMP. I am delighted to finally meet so many Bubblewrappers and watch them in action. After the fun and intensity of RTB, K and I are had a blast in Boston as well. It’s been a spectacular trip. More about that later.

PuddleThumper's report posted to runango plus all other team members reports: link

Photos: link

Saturday, September 12, 2009


No, not for me!

I first started running because of a combination of factors. In fact, my first running event was as a walker at a 5k in 2001. I did the walk and saw women of all sizes, shapes and ages running the event and realized that I could run a 5k too. Less than a year later, I ran my first 5k in June of 2002 and the rest is history.

I had planned to go for a PR in the IronGirl Seattle 5k but realized it was going to be too close to the looming Reach the Beach Relay. What to do?

I could do what I did last year when I was coming back from injury and pace someone to a PR. That is always fun and challenging. Then I found out that my mom had gone on a field trip with her new living quarters and walked the loop at the Redmond Watershed Preserve. That's five miles long and pretty hilly! Well, alright, I can just walk a 5k with my mom and she was all for it.

The day started off bright and sunny with a promise of heat. That was perfect actually. No rain and no cold. With 1500 people scheduled to be in this event, I knew we'd have to get over to Green Lake early to get a parking spot and didn't want to get chilled waiting to start.

I put a timing chip on my mom shoes, handed over her bib and we went walking over towards the start along with other AR folks. She was amazed to see so many people! I explained that we would be starting towards the back adn it was going to be crowded the first half mile. Be careful! The race started a bit late and we were off. Wow it was really crowded! Of course, I've not walked an event like this in years so it was rather strange setting off from the back. I was worried my mom would get tripped but she held her line at her quick walking pace.

Sure enough after about a half mile, the crowds thinned. A few folks I know waved as they ran past and that was neat to see. LB came upon us as we were walking. she'd recently been diagnosed with a foot injury which precluded running. It was great to have more company and the miles went quick!

The last half mile was in sun and I could tell mom was getting a bit warm but she certainly never let up on the pace. We came towards the finish line onto a narrow path with 10k runners zipping past us and mom had to ask what all the people were doing? They were cheering all the runners in! She laughed at that.

As we came in towards the finish, I'd hope they'd say her age and name as they had done with some of the older finishers. they missed her though. Mom was relieved! She got her medal and a bottle of water and we went off to meet Coach Lesley and crew.

She had a good time and it was neat having her see a part of my life which has become very meaningful to me. We went off to pick up K and get some breakfast. She wasn't tired at all and wanted to go off to the mall and then walk home!

Checking results, she came in first in her division. I hope they mail a ribbon!

Congrats Mom!

As she said before we started, it was nice to see so many women out there being active. She thought it important to keep active and she is so right.

Sunday, August 30, 2009

The Shore, the Beach, La Playa or the edge of the Continent

We've lived in Seattle now for about 12 years. We've been to the rugged coast close to Forks and Neah Bay but have never made it to the beach. We finally crossed that off the list in a nice way.

First, did you know that correct Washingtonian usage is to call the beach "the shore?" I found that out this week at work when I mentioned we were going to Ocean Shores and "the beach." Anyone have any dirt (or sand :-p) on this one because I can't figure it out. all I can assume is that as a gal growing up on the beaches of Southern California, that the beaches of Washington in NO WAY compare so you better call it something different.


It was a planned running weekend. I ran 10 miles Saturday on the Snoqualmie Valley Trail uphill to Rattlesnake lake. I was supposed to have some pick up miles in there but that didn't work at all so easy miles were just fine. I admired all the bear scat and enjoyed the drippy rain. Rain? it's been so dry this spring and summer that really this was novel. The fall rains are going to hurt this year.

I quickly came home and we went to the Sounders FC game (a rather frustrating game 0-0 but the games themselves are always fun) and then we were off for the 2-3 hour drive to Ocean Shores, WA.

Ocean Shores is a rather strange and remote beach tourist town. Obviously the town lives and dies by tourism but it is so remote feeling and closed that I was a bit taken back. No, there isn't a lot out there.

I compare it to the beaches I grew up near in Southern California. Seal Beach definitely had that same beach town feel but since it was part of the larger metropolis of So Cal, there wasn't that desolate feel. I went to college in the coastal town of Santa Cruz which is a retirement and family vacation destination on the California coast. With a big University of California campus sprawled on the hillsides, the town had a strange but vibrant mix of tourism, retirees and campus. At least they did when I was there last years ago.

Ocean Shores has beach and lots of it. And because we were there with a group, with no vehicle of our own and with a tight schedule, I saw no other part of the area besides the drive in and out. The beach itself was quite spectacular in it's own subtle gray and misty way.

On a quiet and still Sunday morning, we got driven to a street just south of Copalis Beach and made our way to the beach adn started running south. It's nearly 13 miles of flat, packed sand with the ocean and sea birds as company.

And I loved it. It was a cloudy day and soon I was all by myself and just moving along and enjoying the novel sensation of running on packed sand. the sound of the waves is deeply comforting to me. I kept my eyes open for an intact sand dollar (found one eventually!) and sometimes went sprinting after the flocks of seagulls to make them fly. I left the brown pelicans alone. They are huge and aren't they on an endangered list somewhere? The flocks of wee sandpipers were adorable and moved along the sand with the waves so quickly that I wish I had half their sprinting ability. ;-)

I debated running 10 or 13 (the options for distances for this run) and eventually decided that even though I was tired I needed to do the whole distance. How often would I be on this beach? the last few miles became a trudge through soft sand (similar to slushy snow but without the cold) as the tide came in but that was ok. I knew I could do it.

When finished, Coach T pointed me over to climb the rocks at Point Brown Jetty to see Westport across the entrance to Grays Harbor. It was nearly impossible to walk on the sand with my running shoes. I'd spent years of my life barefoot on the sand. I had to take my shoes off and dig my toes in and walk. Ahhh. That felt great!

Back to the room to shower in water that smelled like broccoli water (don't ask) and then to breakfast at a fabulous little diner. Pancakes, bacon and eggs are the best after a run! Within half a day we were back in Seattle and getting ready to reset for the upcoming week at work. We'd only been gone 24 hours but took a little vacation in that time which was really appreciated.

Ok. I'm sold on the shore!

Sunday, August 23, 2009


Busy week and weekend here at the PuddleThumper homestead. We are desperately trying to get exterior window trim scraped and cleared of paint and old glazing. This requires working around 85 year old leaded single-pane windows. Fun stuff! Gotta love lead dust.

It's been a busy running week too. I finally hit 40 miles per week again after a long absence (May). I've been keeping mileage around 30-35 per week in deference to The Foot. The Foot has been behaving itself since I am consistent about daily self-care (calf/hamstring stretching, foot massage and ice). Dare I say it? It actually does feel better now. And this past week has been all about recovery from both Spider Meadow run and the cold I got. It was Thursday until my quads felt normal and I'm still hacking and snotty. I hate summer colds.

Yesterday was an eye opening run. It was the Rattlesnake Ledge run. It's a 10 mile jaunt straight up for 4 miles and then straight down for 6. It's a nice trail and it has some really nice views of Mount Si and the Snoqualmie Valley. It's a run I first did in 2005 and have not been back since because of injury or vacation.

In my mind, I was really building it up because it is a tough run. What did I do with it? I hiked. :-p Ok, I'm a fast hiker and run when I can but for some reason this summer I tend to hike much faster than ever. I don't even pretend to run. Some of this yesterday may have been a result of still recovering from last week. And the downhill wasn't as bad as I was expecting. I did take a tumble yesterday and I"m pleased to report I did NOT break my wrist. Phew! The way I fell, I could have done that pretty easily. I only got a few scrapes, bruises and some mildly sore muscles from the fall. It's a 10 mile run and compared to some of the runs I now have done, it's well...mundane as RPD described it. And it just wasn't a big deal. I kept it easy but didn't at all feel stressed or worked from the run. This is a big change from when I did it last.

So, what did I do today? I had come across the inaugural Lake Union 10k and was intrigued. It's a nice course, mostly flat and i know it well because I bike it quite often. Could I run this? YES!

It was a really nice morning and I got out to south Lake Union early enough to get a good parking spot and a leisurely 2.5 mile warm up. Considering the 40 miles this week, the cold, the fall and the run yesterday and general fitness (little speedwork), I know I'm not in PR shape but I want to run well and work on the mental aspects of a hard run. I figure a 7:50 pace would be good to achieve this and I'd feel pleased about the hard workout.

The race was close to sell out (750) and I am always surprised to see the number of people who turn out for these things. I got a good spot pretty close to the front and we were off!

Mile 1: 7:39
I did a pretty good job on controlling speed on this mile. It's completely flat heading north along the west side of Lake Union. I'm amused by all the people who seem to be going out way too fast and are already breathing too hard at half a mile.

Mile 2: 7:36
I did deliberately speed up here. It's the only other completely flat mile besides the last one. I was feeling quite good here. Only had to blow my nose once!

Mile 3: 8:01
This has the climb toward Fremont Bridge. I did not want to go too hard here so deliberately kept effort the same. My brain helpfully lets me know that if I was doing a 5k, I'd almost be done.

Mile 4: 7:47
Keep in the game. My fear was that I'd settle here and really slow as there is a steady climb along the Burke-Gilman towards the University Bridge plus the short climb to the bridge itself. In fact, I started to see the people who'd gone out too fast walking in here. I'm pleased with this mile. A friend around Gasworks happened to spot me here and shouted encouragement. That was nice. :-)

Mile 5: 8:14
This was the mile I was worried about. The route along the east side of the lake has a section where you have to climb a very short but steep hill and then back down. I was dreading this as I've been a fairly sucky steep hill climber. I get totally bogged down. Today, I managed to keep it a good pace. I didn't blow a gasket yet I certainly didn't set a record. The downhill is too steep to use unfortunately. And more importantly, my mind was still in the game. I was really having to battle the demons but I didn't really slow and kept at it.

Mile 6: 7:47
This was getting tough and where I was feeling both the remnants of my cold (SNOT!) and the miles. I didn't have any extra here but I am very happy about keeping the pace. I really felt like I was slowing but I think others were picking up the pace the last half mile and I didn't have any extra gas.

.2 (.3 according to garmin): 2:03

Watch/chip time: 49:10 for 7:55 pace.

I immediately went to get water. I had skipped both water stations and was really thirsty. I picked up my race shirt and went off for a short jog to loosen everything up after the run. The race had a very nice post-event spread although it was a tight area with a lot of people.

I realize then that they have posted the first batch of times on five sheets of paper. I look for my name on the third sheet. Hunh. Nothing. Oh wait, I'm on the second sheet. Ha ha! I'm 110th overall (men and women), 49:10 chip time and there is a 3 next to the F 40-44 by my name. Does this mean I've placed in my age group? Yes it does! I start laughing! I cannot believe it.

I waited around for the awards then and actually end up with 2nd in my age group because of medalling up. I get my ribbon and my photo taken and can help but giggle to myself. 2nd in my AG! Me? :-D

I've reached a point of fitness that I have a hard time comprehending. I can go for a strenuous run/hike, get a cold, recover, be on my feet all day and still come out with a good 10k workout and a ribbon and feel good. Mentally this day was even more valuable to me. I was tired and battled back even when I wanted to stop and walk and go directly to my car.

And I've found the perfect 10k course if I ever want to test myself. It really is a nice course and follows the named Cheshiahud Lake Union Loop. If you ever visit Seattle and need a nice run, come here first.