Friday, July 31, 2009

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

A new Record

and one I would've been happy not to break.

Maple Leaf @ 5:35 pm.

The inside temp of the living room is 96. Another new record. :-|

Saturday, July 25, 2009

Ragnar Relay Northwest Passage 2009

Or How to have such fun over 24 hours.

This was such a different experience than last year. Last year I had committed to running this relay and had to bow out about a month before because of injury. I had planned on helping the team by doing bike support during the night hours. Lo and behold, the team came up short a couple of runners and I got asked to run again. I did it and realize now just how much at a disadvantage I was going in with my limited training. I had a fabulous time but it sure did hurt.

This year, the same drama began this week as we came up short a few runners. My running group wanted to put together a fast team and was scrambling to find women runners for our mixed open team. At the last minute, the roster was set. It included 5 elite or ex-elite runners. A couple of friends of friends who were just as fast (it seemed to me) and then people like me. :-p I seriously was the slowest on the team but that was ok with me. My goals were to run my best and have a great time.

Since we were expecting to come in at such a fast pace, we had a very late start. Of the 150 teams, teams had been startin since 8am. We started at 4pm with two other teams. :-O It was very strange having so much time in the morning to get up the race start at the candian / us border town of Blaine, WA. The worst part of this was that we were not going to be running with anyone for hours and hours.

At 4, the dedicated volunteers got us started. The three runners took off and our guy beat the other two quite a bit. It was hot out there at 80 and humid and at the hottest part of the day. He blazed in and handed off to me, Runner #2.

LEG#1 – 4:34 PM – I had two volunteers holding traffic for me at a tricky 4way stop with railroad crossing immediately after the exchange. I blazed out of there not wanting to hold up traffic. When I saw sub 6:00 pace (:-O) I spent the rest of the mile slowing myself down and didn’t do a very good job. :blush: I had hoped to come in between 7:45-8 for this 6.2 miles. Once I was out and running, I knew I’d be delighted with 8 pace. I got passed by one runner after a couple of miles and waited the whole rest of the run to get passed by the guy from the all male team who started with us. It never happened. :cool: My van passed me and cheered at about 2 and I begged for water. I was already so dang hot and running into a hot headwind with the sun in my face. At 4, I got water again (dumping on my head and such) and ran along Birch Bay. I’d been hoping for more of a tailwind but no, headwind again. The last two miles were just holding on. As I was running along a beachfront, the temptation to get in the water was great! I ran by a family water park. :meh: I passed a family out for a stroll with ice creams in their hands. :temptation:

Total: 49:45 6.2 miles 8:02 pace.

Everyone else in the van ran well considering the heat and rising humidity. It was lonely out there. We saw no one else involved in the race at all except for a couple of volunteers at each exchange. We pulled into the exchange where we’d change vans and were happy to see a few other teams plus the rest of our team waiting. It was nice to meet everyone who was running. We sent them off and headed to our hotel room to shower and relax a bit before our next runs. We got a little lost on the way there plus the other van was so damn fast that we only had time for showers, a bit of stretching and then we were back to the next hand off. Oh well. It was still wonderful to have a hot shower.

It was already dark by this time and we heard from other teams that the last runner of van 2 was tending to get lost. Our team had a bike escort plus we had radio contact with the other van and we warned them. But that last runner got lost. :sad: She ended up running about 1.5 miles longer than expected (making her 7 mile leg rather long) and she came in and took the mix up hard especially since she’d been sub-6 up until the point she got lost. She is an elite runner and had not done an event like this before but she obviously regrouped because she ran really well the last two legs.

LEG#2 – 11:46 PM - The guy before me had a fairly short run which meant we had to hurry up and get to the exchange so I’d have a chance to get a short warm up. It was that usual feeling when running at first. There is this horror that you have to run hard on these lead lined stumps called legs. But after a few minutes of easy running, I thought well, I’m as ready as I’ll ever be. Runner #1 came blazing in and I having learned my lesson took off at what seemed like a comfortable pace. I’d expected to come in between 7:30 to 7:45 for this flat 3.5 mile course. But after just a few minutes of harder running I felt great and kept a very steady pace. I did have a bike escort and he was great. I’ve done long rides with this guy and he just cracks me up. He’d obviously been warned by the team organizer and my coach not to babble and distract runners but I made him chat with me even though I told him I’d not be responding back. He had my bright commuter bike lights on his bike and lighted my way. It was really nice. Cooler although humid (still 65 degrees at midnight), peaceful and we were on dark country roads with no one around. I am delighted with my steady pacing and kick ass time! I’m surprised I slowed the last half mile but there were some turns in there and I was worried about getting lost.

00:25:50 3.5 miles / 7:23 pace :grin:

these were all fairly short legs and soon enough we were in waiting for our last runner and hanging out with the other van. We’d been seeing flashes of lightning off in the distance at this time and realized it was coming closer. This had not been forecasted. Lightning storms are rather rare out here in the Puget Sound Area. About 10 minutes before our runner came it, there was a clap of thunder (still a ways off) and it started pouring. We were all delighted that we would be done soon. Poor van 2. :coughcough:

We were a block from our hotel room (van 2 would use the showers once in their off time) and we did have enough time to shower and turn the lights off for a bit. Unfortunately, we got a call too early from the other van to COME NOW and I really could not fall asleep. Imagine our dismay when we got to the next van exchange and waited over an hour. :muchnamecalling: Oh well. We’d rather be way way way way (no really) way early than late.

LEG#3 – 5:57 AM – I’m running a 5k and I’m done. That’s all I told myself. When I first started warming up, I could barely run but after a bit I felt better yet again. I really did keep warm-up to a minimum (half mile) and I probably should’ve gone a little longer considering this course. Overall it was going to be downhill but the first half mile featured a nasty climb. But we were in the thick of things now and starting to catch other teams and that would help. I’d finally feel like I was in a race and see other runners! I took off and within a quarter mile passed a guy fussing with his ipod :eyeroll:. Then the steep climb began and I was dismayed by the barely 8:30 pace I was hitting. I just concentrated on form and kept at it. I knew I’d get my reward. I could hear the guy making time on my pass but once we crested the hill I was ready! I could see other runners ahead and it was a long downhill and my legs finally felt warmed up. Go! :grin: I passed three other runners and I am so pleased with keeping my head and staying with it. The hard workout I had last week with the hard downhill mile and uphill repeats was really valuable for this run for me. A final turn and into the exchange and I was done. All my team was cheering me on because they knew I’d run well. Yay me! :blush: I was bouncing in the van for a while let me tell you.

00:22:40 3.1 @ 7:18 pace.

And this may be a 5k PR. I looked it up and I ran 22:30 in 2006 on a course which I’m not sure is certified and was before I wore a garmin. I walked :blush: in the last mile of this race and still came in at that time so I’ve always thought the course was short but I don’t know. Either way, I’m delighted!

We made it to the last van exchange where showers were available. Then we started the drive towards the finishing area. Along the way we passed the other van close to their exchanges as we cheered for their second runner. We knew the organizer of this team and my coach would be starting his next hard hard leg and wanted to heckle, I mean cheer. It was fun being able to see other runners from our van. They really ran their hearts out. :hug:

We made it to the finish and there was nothing there yet really. No food yet. :majordisappointment: We heard from the other van at their last exchange that there were just 7 teams ahead of us now out of the 145 which had started earlier. We knew we were ahead of the two teams we started with at 4. :cool:

Our final runner came in, food was finally available and we all hung out and chatted for a while. As a team we’d run the 185 (or so) miles in 19 hours and 22 minutes (or so). I have a hard time comprehending the overall pace was 6:15. amazing! Everybody had their ups and downs but we’d all done our best and had fun while doing it.

It was quite an experience being on such a fast team. It meant we had very little rest between legs and made getting to exchanges (even our exchanges ahead of our speedy runners) a bit of a challenge. It was nice to be done so early.

I came into this event obviously much better trained and I’m delighted with how well I ran. I’m going to be sore but just that sore. No aches or pains. I am amazed I was able to rip out a second sub-7:30 5k at the end of the event.

Great event! The Ragnar group really does do a good job taking care of their runners. I’d do one of these events anywhere I believe. Of course in the middle of that first leg in the heat with two more legs ahead and a long sleepless night, I swore I’d not do this one again. :blush: Then I remembered that whole Reach the Beach thing coming up here sooner rather than later. :laugh::hug:

1:38:15 overall time / 12.8 overall miles – 7:41 overall pace
Passed by 1 runner, road killed 4.

Saturday, July 11, 2009

Cougar Mountain Trail Race #2 - 10 miles

Wow. Was I looking forward to this race. After the high of the fantastic trail run last weekend and then the very big low of losing a cherished pet, this race was going to be a good get out there and run race.

I've been struggling a bit with training lately. I'm feeling fit yet not. Feeling very strong yet slow. All the trail running has really built up my strength and I'm ready to start some faster training in preparation for Ragnar Northwest Passage Relay. Yet I'm still nervous about the dang foot.

I did an unsanctioned track workout Wednesday am after a long hilly run the evening before. It was a spur of the moment workout with the idea that a good short speed workout would work very good things mentally and physically for me with Ragnar weeks away. I was only going to do this workout if I felt good and would pull the plug on it for any reason.

The workout was great. Quarter mile repeats in 3:20 with long recoveries. Form felt great and it was very good feeling working through the last couple hundred yards of the last repeats. It's been awhile since I've successfully battled back and 1) did not stop and 2) did not slow down.

I admitted my illegal workout to my coach and got a rather confused and plaintive plea about what the hell was I doing? Truthfully, I'm just not sure where I am right now and it's been hard to trust the training. We'll be visiting this issue shortly.

So I went into this race with the idea to run well, to run strongly and smartly and I totally succeeded.

I'd learned my lesson with the last race. I carefully checked the course and the elevation profile from last year. I wanted to know just how long the huge descent on Wilderness Peak would be and how long the subsequent climb would be. When would we be clear of the worst of the climb and close enough to let it hang out?

It was great fun going over to the race with RPD and Sj whom we'd talked into joining in on the fun. The day was glorious but pretty warm and sunny already at 9. Standing in the sun for pre-race directions was making me hot.

I did a short warm up mainly so I could stretch calves and hamstrings a bit and soon enough we were off through the field and onto coyote Creek Trail. My main goals were to go out steady and keep the first two climbs in control. I know teh long drop from Wilderness is a quad buster and wanted to run well there but only in control. Stay steady on the long climb and then push with what I had left into the finish.

All was going well on the first climb up Lost Beagle. I probably ran a little bit more of this than I have in the past races but I kept it a bit easier. There was a nice little group of people all going along in here and all at the same pace. We hit the peak adn started down Anti Aircraft. Typically, I'd pass a lot of people here since I'm a good downhill runner but with 8 hilly miles still looming, I stayed with the pack.

the big surprise was as 2.5 when the Floppy arm guy (more on him later) ahead of me suddenly slapped his ankle. Then a stinging pain hit my shoulder. Yeouch! then a runner behind me shrieked. Next another runner yelles "f#####ck!." We'd all been hit by a nest of angry bees! Heck that hurt and I was afraid the bug was stuck in my top. It was not. We all spent some time jabbering about that and wondering if any of us were allergic to the stings. None were.

I carried a half full crumpled water bottle. this meant I could skip the first couple of water stops. Once on clay pit road, I ran and drank, ran and had a gel, ran and drank some more. I am getting better at that. the people who had stopped at the water stop were hell bent to make up some time so I was quickly passed. there is some uphill in here and I managed to catch up with a couple runners ahead of me. East Fork tends to be very runnable but with the sun up I found it difficult to see where to put my feet. I heard others around me catching their feet. Still I did pass a couple of people here and was passed by one woman who was flying!

Onto Fred Railroad and quickly onto the climb towards Wilderness Peak. I caught up with a woman here and passed her but told her that I was a walker on the steep stuff so she should feel free to pass at any time. She admitted she'd not been on these back trails before and wasn't certain what the rest of the course would be like. She also thought walking seemed like a good idea!

climb, climb, climb. Honestly, we hit the top of the climb sooner than I thought we would and then the downhill began. I was just behind a very long legged gangly guy who obviously was a very quick runner on the flats and uphills. he just wasn't a very good downhill runner. I probably stayed behind him for at least a half mile however. This is steep, tricky running and I didn't want to kill my quads. Finally he'd had enough of a shadow and wanted me to pass. I told him he should say hi when he passed back on the uphill.

and then the climb began. The nice part of this race was that unlike the last race, there was almost always someone around. I had a very good sense of how I was doing. yes, I walk up the steeps but I can tell I don't lose time. it just gave me a better sense of pacing and truthfully, I was just beaming in here. I was having a great time and felt very good. yes, I was working hard but it all just seemed doable.

It was getting warm though. I had taken a gel and decided an electrolyte tablet was going to help here. I was sweating quite a bit for me and I tend to sweat very salty. I think this helped a lot. I'd finished the water I'd brought by 6. Miraculously it seemed, at 7 there was a water stop wheelbarrelled in by volunteers. I took a couple small cups of water.

Steep downhill here for the next half mile. I'd caught up to a woman who had just the most impressively runner muscled legs. Just when I thought I'd pass her, she took a spill. Yikes. She popped back up with a "fine!" but then let me pass. It was a good reminder to watch my feet. My legs were getting tired.

the final technical trail along Shy Bear is a pretty tough trail at this point in the race. My legs were getting tired, I was hot and very thirsty and you know you are close. How much to push? there was a woman ahead of me whom I tried to gain contact with. with the uphills and steeper downhills, I'd get close. She'd pull away from me on the more runnable sections.

finally onto Fred's and here is where on the last race, I felt like I didn't have much left. This time, I could push it. I concentrated on form and pulled into contact with Flapping Arm Guy. Scott Mccoubrey (race director) had cheered this runner when we hit Fred's and told him it was nice to see him running again. He looked like he had noodle arms and hands when running. they just seemed to flap along unconnected to his body. Very odd. I wanted to suggest to him that arm drive could probably only help!

I zoomed past him on the Bypass Trail but told him he'd pass me on the uphill final section. It was true he did. But i think I made him work for it. Instead of feeling like I was bogging down on the very short uphill on Old Man's Trail, I managed to stay in contact with the runners ahead of me. That was a great feeling! Flapping Arm Guy Hi-5'd his kids all at the finish line which made me smile and I was done!

I quickly went jogging off to the car to get water and change out of my trail shoes (hot feet and working on a blister). A guy slowly walking around looked at me rather sourly and said "go endurance Lady." Honestly he looked rather annoyed that I was positively beaming and bouncing along. Hey, I'd had a great time!

Critically looking at this race, I did spend a lot of time sitting behind people especially for the easy and the more difficult technical downhills. It was a strong effort but even just an hour later, my legs just felt great. I am not sure I want to do this series next year except I am most tempted by it just because of how much I've learned so far. I'd like to really be able to race these trails but that does require tempo work done on trails. that's pretty challenging and there is much to think about. As always, I was just thankful that I was out and running it and feeling so good.

Shortly RPD showed up. I stuffed my face with watermelon and potato chips and enjoyed the sun now that I didn't have to run. Soon enough Sj came in and said that was a tough one! She was positive she was not going to run the 13 mile race in a month.

by the end of the car ride home, she'd changed her mind. :-D

Great series. Great race. Ragnar is in two weeks. Let's hope I can find a little bit of speed in there. I've got the strength and I've got the endurance. :-D

10.1 miles
watch time: 1:56:22 with one stop to retie shoes and one water stop
falls I witnessed: 2
falls I achieved: 0
bee stings: 1

garmin connect track: link

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Glamour Shot

Legos the Cat

Bed Badger
Badger Cat
Buffalo Cat
Great Heffalump
Big Cat
"Personality Defect" (from the vet)

Rest in Peace Big Cat.

Saturday, July 4, 2009


It must be summer since I've been trail running. I can't quite remember a spring and summer with so little rain and so much sunshine.

I have no doubt we will pay for that later this year.

Up in the alpine wilderness along the I-90 corridor, there was still chunks of snow pack left over from our record snow. Remember that? Spring just seemed to be hitting up in the higher elevations and the whole area was awash in colorful flowers.

amazing trail run this morning starting at the Pratt Lake Trail Head and continuing up towards Pratt Mountain. Pass some alpine lakes and come out to stunning views of Mount Rainier from the Ira Spring Trail.

With temps in the 80's, I was expecting a scorcher but it was still pleasant in the am hours. I made sure to bring plenty of water, just in case. I'd stop by some of the streams to dunk my hands in the cool mountain water and I picked up chunks of snow to carry and let melt to help cool myself off.
After Mason Lake, one last climb and the most stunning surprise. Mount Rainier just hanging out over the smaller peaks around Snoqualmie Pass.

It's been a rough half year in some ways and it's nice to get out and celebrate the ability to do such amazing things. Happy July 4th!

After trail running, I highly recommend a bowl of homemade cantaloupe sorbet with fresh raspberries picked at the Beacon Hill House raspberry patch. We got a bushel of raspberries yesterday. I can't keep my hand out of them!

Happy summer!

Cantaloupe Sorbet: one medium cantaloupe, 1/2 c sugar, juice of one lemon. Process to fine liquid consistency, chill and use in ice cream maker as directed.

More photos: link

Motionbased track: link