Sunday, February 22, 2009

San Diego - Running Friends Part 2

Part of the joy of visiting San Diego (or anywhere for that matter) is exploring the area by running. To run in San Diego in mid-February is a huge boost for me. Shorts and running bra and sun glasses. I haven't run in that gear since last August!

Beloved Rooster is a former running partner from Seattle who moved to San Diego last year. This was the perfect opportunity to hook up for a run and make that a trail run, please! When I asked about meeting for a run, Aimee's response was "HELL YES!" so I'd knew it would be fun. Fortunately the foot cooperated so I could run.

Lo and behold it was rainy in So Cal when I first got there. Seattle has this nice gentle mist which really isn't so bad to run in. So Cal rain tends to dump but at least compared to below 40 degrees it felt warm. Aimee had a couple of ideas for where to run and had suggested Torrey Pines as a good place to get both trails and beach. When K and I visited San Diego last together it was for a wedding in 2005 and one of the places we visited was Torrey Pines. We both loved it and thought it would be a great place to run. So I was all over this suggestion.

Aimee and I met at UCSC Training Facility and were able to use the restrooms. This sign was about 3' x 4' and very prominent. I felt guilty just looking at it! We trotted off catching up as we went. Aimee had not been on these trails but had an idea of where to go. It was a pleasant mid-50's with clouds but no rain.

Soon we came to the Torrey Pines Gliderport which had lots of signs about NOT going onto the promising areas where trails might be. An employee said that there was a trail to the north of the parking lot and that there was a trail down to the beach but we shouldn't do it since it would be "mucky."

Woohoo! both Aimee and I revel in muck. So we went off and came to a dead end but soon found the trail down, down, down to the beach. It was a quad-jarring staircase which was going to be lots of fun to come back up.

And then we were on the beach. I have to admit that one of the few things I miss about Southern California are it's beaches. The pacific Northwest just cannot compare to to the soft white sand, soothing waves, fresh sea air and scenery and not to mention the balmy weather. It was early on a Tuesday so we had the beach to ourselves.

After a few miles and a bit of scrambling over a point and some rocks, we found a trail up into the Torrey Pine Preserve. The scenery was pretty amazing and I wanted to get high enough on the bluff to see a Torrey Pine. Aimee had done a spin class and weight class the day before so could feel her legs talking to her but she was also game. It was worth the climb to see the views off the bluff. We had to turn back around but I was so tempted to just keep running. Next time.

I had not had breakfast before running and we ended up being out there for a longer time than usual because of trail conditions and photo opportunities. I was starving towards the end but there were still so many things to look at including washed up kelp, interesting bird tracks and funky rocks. We could see a storm rolling in off the pacific and knew we'd be getting wet as we climbed the bluff back to the cars.
Aimee suggested breakfast at one of my favorite places and a perfect running vacation was complete. Thanks for the great run Aimee!

Sunday Ride

(A little interlude before I return to the San Diego trip.)

I had a wonderful hilly run yesterday. It was then sunny and dry the rest of the day so I was able to work out in the yard a bit. Spring is coming!

It was mildly raining this morning but I thought I still get out for a short in-city ride. I just did my normal almost 20 mile route of around Green Lake, down Stoneway and around Lake Union and back. It was relatively warm and no traffic was out.

I haven't been riding all that much because the foot injury which was affecting running also is bothered by my bike shoes. It was time to replace my old, tight fitting ones and I was glad to try out the new pair outside this am. I still have a bit of tweaking to do to avoid irritating that silly little sesamoid bone but it's definitely better. I might need to change my style of riding in-city as well. I tend to crank on the sore foot to get started at lights. That doesn't help but it is hard to change this riding habit without being a danger of falling over!

Since I haven't been outside riding I must've missed the sneaky city putting up tons of bike route signs. When did this happen? And how'd they figure out what to sign and where? This particular sign is at 8th Ave NE and NE 88th St. in my neighborhood. Who bikes along 8th? And why would you ever go towards Magnuson Park this way? 88th? Really? Holy Hills, Batman!

It is still nice to see the attention to cyclists. I'm still hoping for better street sweeping after icing and snow events. Gary Prince was my bike buddy when I first learned how to bike commute and is out of riding for a while. We had another small snow event a couple of weeks ago and all the sand seems to be back although not as bad.

And I'm hoping there might be some pavement repair on the agenda too. If you see my back bike light and batteries along Fairview Ave N, I have the other half for you. I guess I need a new light as my old one got shook apart on the ride.

I did my good deed for the day. I could see a gal on her bike waiting for the turn traffic light to Stoneway way up ahead. I cranked it out seeing if I could make the light. Nope. then I realized she hadn't triggered the turn light properly so I coasted along until I came up behind her. Turns out she hadn't triggered the light (and was waiting through almost 3 cycles of the traffic lights) because she was in the crosswalk and not on the "T marks the spot" where the traffic light will be triggered. "Oh!" She didn't seem to realize that is what that mark meant. Nope, they don't always work quite right but they are handy to know about and not every city has these.

For the sad, dramatic moment this morning, I was riding by the emergency vet and could see a family with very long faces and a vet employee going to the back of the suv. Obviously they had lost a cherished family member. I happily noticed all the very waggy-tailed dogs being walked today. Give your pet a hug!

Happy riding! I've been really tempted to sign up for a sprint tri this summer. Too bad about that whole swimming in gross Seattle pools thing...

Friday, February 20, 2009

Running Friends Part 1

I've been a part of an online running community for years now. I joined way back in 2004 when I was falling hard for running and had no clue how to go about training. I had so many questions and randomly came across an online forum at I was drawn to the marathon forum even then because I knew at some point I was going to want to run a marathon.

I joined an online game made up of random members who every week would post their weekly miles run. There were teams and each team vied for having the most miles run for the week. There were around 20 members on each team and 9 or 10 teams total. I was a pretty new runner when a space opened up on Team 3 - The Thoroughbreds. I hadn't even run my first half marathon but I was training for it.

Various software upgrades later and the mileage game is still going strong years later and I'm still a member of Team 3 although I've moved to a different running forum. I've met a few members of my team who I have known for years online. In fact, I pick races based on who from the forums and from my team will be at races. And as I've found out, meeting fellow forumites (as they are so styled) is very rewarding.

SuperRun (aka Ron) has been the captain of Team 3 ever since I've been on it. As an runner who is looking to almost his fifth decade of running, he's got a huge amount of knowledge which I've come to appreciate over the years. he's dispensed advice and humor to this newbie for years!

A couple years ago he went through a life altering event with a serious DVT. In the last couple of years as my father-in-law, brother-in-law and husband have all had clotting issues, Ron and I had much (too much sometimes) to discuss. When my brother-in-law first presented symptoms of a clot in his calf, I was pretty certain what he was dealing with and pushed for him to go to the doctor. It was only because of Ron's experiences that I knew the dangers of DVT in athletes.

Ron lives in Orange Country where I grew up and has a fierce dachshund who used to race at Los Alamitos Race Track. I lived less than a mile from this track so thinking about racing dachshunds just makes me giggle with delight. Ron has not been able to race lately so there hasn't been the opportunity to meet him at such a venue. Finally I just decided I needed to meet him regardless and on a trip to San Diego, I would make a trip out to the old 'hood to meet this online dad. And that is how I think of him.

We met at the Richard Nixon Library which opened just a few years before we left Southern California. Ron has a favorite running/multiuse trail which goes right by this easy to find landmark. Of course, on the day I'm driving from San Diego it was pouring. It's a good thing I'm used to rain and so I dragged Ron out for a run. Being a southern californian I knew he'd not be used to running in the rain!

We did a short out and back along a really nice trail. Ron had just recently recovered from a bout of flu, so the short run was perfect. We chatted and chatted and Ron showed me the interesting sites along the trail. A mini horse, a couple of donkeys and a couple of miniature goats. It was rather odd as this just felt like a subdivision but I guess smaller animals are allowed. Not too many years ago this area would've been farmland and orchards. The local girls and boys track teams were out for their runs so we got a lot of friendly "good mornings" from the kids.

Afterwards we went to the local Pancake House for the best apple pancake i have ever had. Apples in a caramelized syrup baked into a pancake. I had tons of coffee and we just continued to chat. As with any runner I've met over the years, there is much to talk about. It just continues to show me that doing something you love will only bring great happiness in countless and unexpected ways. I was so glad I made this trip and it was with regrets that i had to tear myself away after such a wonderful morning.

I can't wait for my next apple pancake!

Saturday, February 14, 2009

Back to the trails...

Ok, so it's not Hawaii. It's not San Diego (coming soon). It's the view from Anti-Aircraft Peak on Cougar Mountain looking north.

It is a nice day in the Pacific Northwest and I went running on trails. What a contrast to the track race from last week. Focused speediness is fun but trotting through the woods is better! There was still some snow on the ground but not on the trails. The trails themselves have had some work/repair done on them which was nice to see. Some places were muddy and slippery but just enough to make it a lot of fun.

Foot is feeling better especially since I've realized that the foot problem I developed was inevitable. I had forgotten that I had my old custom orthotics tweaked to take into account the forefoot problem. Duh. Over the counter orthotics will work for me now but I still need the same tweak for running, walking and biking. I'll remember now!

Saturday, February 7, 2009

The Track

Race #5 of the Series.

The build up:

Last weekend I had the perfect trifecta of events come together to make my foot sore again (but in a different place than before). I had run a weekly high (32 miles) with a fair bit of cement, I had resumed bike commuting and had been wondering if I needed to replace my bike shoes (I do) and I did a lot of mopping/scrubbing of floors and tubs. All that combined to make my forefoot sore. That'll teach me to clean. I've made an appointment to see my favorite podiatrist to ask about this as I've had this problem before. Meanwhile I had planned on a lighter running week.

The fall:

Tuesday morning I went out for just an easy 3 miles around Green Lake. It was so hard to get up that morning. I was so sleepy. Too sleepy evidently because at about a mile I tripped and landed hard on my knees. Yeouch! I've fallen before but this really, really hurt and I had some impressive swelling. I figured it was going to be a bigger cutback week than I expected after that one. Finally by Friday, my knees felt normal again at work although I didn't run at all. Once the swelling went down I was more confident that everything was fine.

The debate:

I hadn't run in 4 days and I was still conscious of my foot at times. Should I do this race? A track race is impossible to duplicate by yourself and they are not that common here. I was so looking forward to this race and knew that if I did some warm-up miles and felt fine I was going to do it.


I picked up nervous RPD who was obviously full of very robust butterflies. We went off to see the first heat of all the fast people. It was amazing how effortless it looked when they ran. It didn't seem like they were running that fast at all. I went off to warm-up and see how I felt. After 1.5 miles I knew I'd run well. Knees felt just fine and so did my foot. I went to sign-up and put my time down in the fourth heat. I knew based on the times written that I'd be one of the faster people in the heat which made me pretty nervous but I had my plan.

The plan:

Last year I went out pretty fast, lost focus in the middle laps and hammered home the last lap. This year, I wanted to maintain more even splits, not let my mind wander and kick it in.

The race:

Line up, blah blah blah, on your mark, bahm! We are off. The gun always makes me jump. Right off it was crowded in teh first turn. I just wanted to stay easy and not get too caught up in a fast start. By rights this should not be that fast a start based on projected times (14:25-16:15) but I still heard some complaints about the slow start. I snorted at that because I knew we were going a bit faster but that was good for me.

1: 41 - excellent. Not too fast and I felt good.
1:47 - Three other gals and I are all strung out. I'm fourth but a close fourth and just settling in for the ride. I'd hoped to run 1:46 or so; this is good.
1:45 - There is continual cheering and chatter from people on the infield. Everyone knows the other three runners I am with and they all get cheered and/or coached by name. I'm a nobody but that's fine.
1:48 - The pack coalesces. All four of us are running bunched up and the announcer is calling our names (he's looked mine up). I find it really amusing to be called by name during a race over the PA system.
1:51 - The same woman had been leading these four laps. At this lap I knew I needed to take over pacing as we were going a bit slower than I wanted. I take the lead.
1:45 - That is better. I have a young gal on my heels who is getting a lot of good cheering. I'm pretty sure she is going to take the race but I'm very happy to take a turn leading. It was an interesting perspective.
1:44 - I tell the young gal (by name since I'd heard it so often) that this is the time. She laughs and takes the lead. I desperately wanted to walk in this lap. It was getting hard! I'm just trying to maintain. It's thrilling coming in right behind the leader and hearing the bell lap (last lap).
1:39 - I got passed with 300 to go so I was third. I'm just doing my best to work on my form and keep moving and I felt like I was losing a bit of ground. I know it's gong to be over soon. As we head in the last 100 meters, I can feel a good kick and I am able to pass the second place woman right at the line partly because of a mistake on her part.

The Finish:

Final watch time 13:57 and second in my heat. Woohoo! I ran this race last year in 14:11 and I'm delighted and amazed to come in under 14. I didn't think I could do that and I consider that a big PR. I thanked the young gal and the now third place finisher for running such a great race and we all have huge smiles on our faces. I could see RPD down the stretch and cheered for him to kick it in and he did.

The aftermath:

I hit all my goals and I felt so great in this race. I kept my focus and only had to fight it the last couple of laps. I am really proud of myself for taking charge of the race and taking the lead for a bit. It's a hard thing to do for me. The attention to core and strength and mixing running up with biking and rowing has been good for me. My knees felt just fine as did my foot. And the sun came out in the afternoon. What a great day!