Sunday, June 27, 2010

Rock n Roll or bust!

Unfortunately that was a bust!

The Seattle Rock n Roll Full and Half marathon had over 27,000 participants this year.  Incredible!  They do know how to put on a race of this size.  Everything is well organized.  I even chatted with a favorite vendor (Sound Sports) who was at the expo.  According to her, even the vendors benefit and the expo is well organized adn they are very well treated.  That was nice to hear. 

I managed to hitch a ride with JCB and other Coach Lesley athletes to the start of the race in Tukwilla.  JCB's husband is the ultimate in taxi services and knew just where to go to avoid all traffic.  And the drop off was close to my secret bathroom which I found last year when I gave up waiting in porto-potty lines for over 2500 people.  No.  I'm not telling!  I wore a throw away shirt and planned on not checking anything.  It was fun traveling light. 

It was a perfect morning.  Low 50s, cloudy and cool with no wind.  It was humid and I did take an electrolyte tablet early as I'd knew I'd need the salt.  Since I had signed up for this race last summer with discounted pricing, I'd had some other goals in mind when I seeded myself.  I was in corral 3 (out of 30 or more) but that would be too fast for me know so I tucked myself into Corral 4 after a good warm-up.  Ready!

Obviously the organization listened to issues from last year.  This year they had PA system set up so the people in front could hear what was going on.  I listened to the national anthem and marveled at how quiet so many people could be.   She sang "In the dawn's early light" and you could see all those late runners scurrying around.  Pretty funny, I thought. 

I placed myself behind the 1:45 pace group for the half and pretty far back.  My aim was to run 8:15 pace for the first few flat miles, take it easy on teh big hill at mile 5, get back on pace on the flats, don't lose it on the hill and tunnel and then keep it strong on the downhill and finish.  1:47 is what I ran last year.  I was doubtful I'd do that but was thinking I was in 1:48 - 1:49 shape based on a recent 10k.

and we were off.  It was crowded and so right away I was right on 8:15 pace and feeling good.  I carried a small bottle of water so I could avoid the crowds at the aid stations and not have to stop to drink out of those cups.  That works very well for me.  I was worried my shoulder which has been bugging me (from that trail fall a month ago) would not like carrying water but it wasn't an issue.   Tick, tick, tick.  The miles just fell away.  And then we start the very long hill at mile 5. It's not real steep but it definitely goes up and I could feel it.  I honestly did not want to push here so just took the pace easily.  the downhill was nice on the backside.


I was tending to a bit slower than I wanted but the effort felt right so I chose not to try and push it.  Mile 6 is still pretty early in a half.  I had decided to wear headphones (in one ear) and my ipod.  Last year most of the bands weren't quite awake or something when I came through.  This year they did better but I was still glad I was wearing the ipod.  With such a big race and at half marathon pace, there isn't chatting going on.  I'd done a special playlist and was really enjoying it.

:insert music here:

Praise You by Fatboy Slim.  A feel good song for me with a lovely line "I have to praise you like I should."  It always makes me thankful for all the things I can do and all the wonderful people in my life.  I was also enjoying seeing Seattle at it's best.  It was green and glorious and felt so nice out there.  There were numerous people out cheering too.  Nice!  50 states and 12 countries were represented at this race and it's nice to show off the city.

And then around mile 7, I started to feel the first twinges of my hip.  Oh, that isn't good.  I tried switching up my stride a bit with quicker turnover and then slower turnover.  Sometimes that can help.  Slowing definitely can help as I knew from long runs.  I'd taken a gel at about mile 5 so I made sure to finish water off and decided I was going to need more and took my first aid station stop in here.  Six miles.  Can the hip hold it together?


They did seem to change the course this year to the more gradual climb (starting at 8.5) to access the very steep short access road to the I-90 tunnel.  I found that a bit easier but I still kept it easy on the very steep section.  And had a huge laugh as "Stayin' alive" by the Bee Gees came on.  Last year I got way too hot in the tunnel which this year wasn't an issue.  I do find the tunnel rather horrific though.  The sound of traffic from the other tunnels echos strangely and I really dislike it.  It's creepy to me. I put in the other earbud at this point.  the hip was starting to bind and ache.  And I know from experience that I will eventually be unable to maintain any sort of pace as I stop being able to extend my leg.  At mile 9, I took my first stop to stretch out the hip and hamstring as I stopped being able to extend it and my race was done.

Nope.  Hip couldn't hold it together.  I had to alternate running in and stopping to loosen the hip.  Frustrating to say the least.  Once off the I-90 bridge, I was tempted to jump off the course and just jog it in to the meeting place but ultimately decided I didn't want another DNF. 

8:37 (downhill)
1:54:21 or 8:44 pace overall.

Basically this was a good tempo run with marathon pace at the end.  And really, marathon pace or easier is what the hip can handle once it is irritated.  Doing the marathon training for Lincoln, I'd managed to keep the hip under control but knew long runs would irritate it.  I was encouraged that as I built distance that moment when all of a sudden I'd be aware of the hip got later in the run (first 8, then 12, then 15 or 16) but running at the faster half marathon pace brought up the issue sooner.  And I've been lax in some of the care I do to keep it happy.  When the trail fall, I couldn't do yoga as easily with my shoulder so iffy.  I'd had a hard time getting into get a massage since work was so busy.   Don't you hate it when you try to ignore things and they come and bite you in the butt (literally)? 

All the coach Lesley gals had run really well and there were numerous PRs.  that was great to hear and listen to people's race stories.  I was pretty quiet but very happy for everyone though.  I was in a bit of shock at how quickly the race had turned and really was questioning my training and the choices I'd made.

And now it's been 24 hours later.  I knew the hip was starting to act up and I wanted to address the problem before I decide what my next goal should be.  I called last week and made a physical therapy appointment for this coming wednesday.  I am SO glad I did this.  I honestly cannot think of a time I've not dealt with some mild hip issue which at times has gotten worse.  I'd love to figure out what this is and the PT (recommended by multiple friends plus husband who has had success after a long and frustrating injury) sounds like just the right fit.  I went off and did a really nice and easy trail run this morning.  Hamstrings are tight but the leg with the bad hip is very sore in both quad and hamstring as all muscles struggled to compensate for a hip/butt which wasn't working correctly to move a leg.  the trail run felt so nice though and a great way to move the legs without bothering anything. 

Yesterday I spend a lot of time vacillating between I need to take a month off of running to I need to run many more miles.  Shock and anger and frustration was getting the better of me.  Today?  Keep up the 30-40 miles per week with biking and get back on the core/weight  training program and see what happens with PT.  I do plan to ask a some questions regarding my thoughts that I may be much better at shorter distances.  How can i train to get better at longer ones? There's always been a huge disconnect between my PRs at shorter distances to longer distances and I'd like to look at that in better detail. 

And because I plan on using this playlist again for half marathons, here is what powers a PuddleThumper:

On the Road to find out - Cat Stevens
Have you Ever - Brandi Carlile

Superstition - Stevie Wonder
Silence - Delerium & Sarah McLachlan
Come on Eileen  - Dexy's Midnight runners
Once in a lifetime - Talking Heads
Brimful of Asha (Norman cook remix) - Cornershop
That's Not my Name - the ting tings
Take your mama - Scissor Sisters
Mamma Mia - ABBA (yes, really)
I got it (What you need) - galactic & Lyrics
I see you Baby (Fatboy slim Remix) - Groove Armada
heads will roll - yeah yeah yeahs
american idiot - green day
daylight robbery - imogen heap
last train to lhasa - banco de gaia
vacation - the go-go's
praise you - fatboy slim
land of a 1000 dances - wilson pickett
stayin' alive - bee gees   :-D
I love baby cheesy (skippy mix) - banco de gaia
rock this town - stray cat strut
suddenly i see - KT turnstall
the dusty miller - the Chieftains
marvo ging - the chemical brothers
when you're falling - afro celt sound system
synchronicity 1 - the police
the wind that shakes the barley - the chieftains

Sunday, June 20, 2010

June Gloom...

Cloudy and rainy lately but lots going on!  I'm too busy to be gloomy.  

There is something about these longer days in May which make for, uh, very long days!  it's easier to get up in the morning since it is so bright at 5:00 am and it's hard to get into bed at the regular time because it is so light out at 9:30 pm.  Add in World Cup, home renovation, training, busy at work and I cannot believe it's already past mid-June!  Happy Summer Solstice! 

World Cup:  we spend a lot of the day trying not to see results and then the evenings watching a lot of soccer.   I am loving every minute of it except for that horrible referee call in the US v Slovenia match

Home renovation:  After spending a good chunk of our lives renovating our old house ourselves, we are ready to call in a contractor to rebuild our crumbling porch.  We've found the contractor we want and will be setting up when this work will be done.  I cannot wait!  meanwhile, we have two large shrubs which need to be removed.  One shrub we planted shortly after moving into the house 13 years ago.  It was very, very happy in it's spot and was a shorter lived shrub and suffered the last couple winters we had.  I'd been planning on removing it anyway.  The other shrub is a beloved Kalmia (picture) which came with the house.  They are slow growing so who knows how old the one is outside our front steps.  It is blooming now and it is tough taking it down.  I researched a bit about taking a cutting but found it wasn't teh right season and Kalmia don't take to that all that well. 

Training:  The Seattle Rock n Roll Half is next weekend!  I am very excited.  Training has been going pretty well.  I've had some confidence boosting runs of late and feel that this race will help me move past the mental block I've had against racing longer distances.  It's not going to be a PR effort as I'm not in that sort of shape but I am hoping for a solid run.   Last year was rather warm, it'll be a big joke if this year's race is warm.  It has been a wet and cold late spring. See the raindrops on the kalmia above?  I kept waiting for a sunny day to take a picture but no luck.

I have been focusing more of roads of late but I had the best trail run yesterday on my favorite trail.  It's a really tough trail.  Overall uphill for 8 miles and then features a screaming descent for 1.8 miles.  I offered to mark the course for a Coach Lesley group run.  This way, I could get my run in and still see friends.  Since I have the half marathon next weekend, I knew I needed to keep this run super easy and marking the course (using colored chalk to put arrows down on trails to direct runners) is a very good way to keep it easy.  The fastest kid of the group caught me  at the end on teh uphill to Wilderness Peak so I had a good time chatting with this kid for a few slow miles.  Since I knew where we were going, he had to stay behind me!  I love how running can bridge a gap between such different people. 

And I finally realized what bothers me about my trail running shoes.  I've been wearing La Sportiva Wildcats which I like very much.  Good lugging on the sole and fits my foot pretty well. they are a little too stable a shoe for me but work well enough for softer trails.  I do not like wearing them on roads or even gravel trails.   I like the bumpers on the toe.  However, I hate the built-in gaiter (lace cover thingy in photo on left) on the shoe.  What is the problem?  It is supposed to keep out rocks and sand but for me it keeps me from cinching the shoe tight enough and i end up banging my toes at the end of the shoe.  It's not tight enough.  So I took a pair of scissors to that little problem and voila!  I can't wait to take the shoes out for the next trail run.  It's my first shoe surgery and I'm happy about it!

Last but not least, the kittens (but now over a year old) York and Keswick continue to amuse and delight.  the new treat is raw chunks of chicken necks.  York is a little mouthy and enjoys really gnawing at them.  Good stuff and supposed to be good for their teeth.  It looks like a workout when they are going at them.  And they do not mind the weather.  Good for sleeping. 

Sunday, June 6, 2010

Rainier to Ruston Relay 2010

June 5th was National Trail Day!  I sure did my part to celebrate wonderful trails.  The Pacific Northwest has so many to choose from and what better way to celebrate to run a rail-to-trails relay with friends? 

Through running friends and friends of friends, we had our 6 person team all set and ready to go at South Prairie, Washington at 7:00 am for packet pickup of the Rainier to Ruston Relay a fundraiser for the Foothills Rails-to-Trails Coalition.  It was a really nice group of all masters (over 40, although we had a couple of grand masters too) with three men and three women and one husband who helped out by driving another car.  It's a just over 51 miles and divided up so each runner runs twice. 

After all the rain and cold we have had, it was such a relief to have such a gloriously sunny day.  As I waited for DB (runner #1) to come into Fairfax, we took time to marvel at the views, Mt. Rainer, the Carbon River and the gorgeous area that we live in.

Soon enough it was time for me to run!  According to the relay manual "Leg 2 is very rough and muddy and particularly challenging as well as isolated and should be assigned to stronger and more experienced walkers and runners." For some reason I had it in my head that this would be converted rail line on most of this trail.  I had emailed the director asking if trail shoes would be warranted and got a yes, trail shoes would be useful. Evidently I needed to ask if this section would have single track trail on it.

Boy did it ever!  After a short section on road and over a bridge, we turn a right and went under the bridge and started immediately on single track trail through lush forest.  The trail overall was going to be downhill from start to finish but this trail was along a river with many little stream crossings.  This always means a steep down, stomp through a stream/creek/rockbed/bog and climb right back out.  The mud was ankle deep in places and rocky and rooty.  While I'd been expecting a slower pace, I was not expecting to be doing a trail race.  Woohooo!

I was in heaven.  I tried my best to take peeks at the glacier fed river but all attention had to be for the trail.  I would not fall.  I would not fall.  I'd tweaked that ankle last week and I realized that the day of the race was the first morning I'd woken up with it not swollen.  I'd taped the ankle in preparation for the leg and had no problems.  It was so muddy that it was really slick in many places.  Slow going.  I had to stop to retie a shoe as I was going to lose it to the mud sucking bogs.

Over the section of trail, i very gradually passed a person here or there.  I believe these were mostly ultra walkers but there were a few relay runners as well.  I was not expecting to see any race officials but they did have a few stations set up to check on race participants and i was glad of that.  I have no doubt people took falls on this trail.  Good to know that there would be people around to bring help.  I heard a burro was set for emergency trail evacuation if some one was injured.  No really! 

After some miles, I finally did hit a rail trail. It was narrow and closely grown with brush and still marked with huge muddy puddles.  Faster running in here but I was still careful as the rail trail was fairly rocky as well.  I'd see people ahead of me really picking their way through the bogs.  Eh.  I tried to find the least deep section of mud and just plowed through.

I was at 6 miles and had been out running for far longer than expected.  I'd hoped team members weren't worried as they'd see other runners coming in covered in mud.  Nothing to do but keep running but then I realized I was coming up on what should be the exchange (6.3 miles) and there was nothing.  No indication that I should continue or if I'd missed a turn.  I could hear a road through the brush.  I stopped a few times to listen to see if I could hear an exchange and debated turning back as I knew I'd seen some trail access points not too far behind me. 

 I kept running but eventually doubted everything too much and came out to the road.  Then I saw a relay gal I'd passed earlier.  She ran up and I asked her if she was runner #2 as well and she confirmed.  She'd been told to continue on the road and the exchange was close.  Oh what a relief.  I took off and then saw M & JT in their car coming to check on me.  Yep.  I was fine just very, very slow for my almost 7 miles (not 6.3!). 

Trade off runners and then I got to take a bath trying to get my shoes off and into bags and clean the mud off my legs so I could get into a car.  All the next legs did great as it got sunnier and warmer.  It was just pleasant waiting around at the exchanges. We were going through an area that I'd biked before and is just flat, rural farmland.  I was very tempted by farm eggs and preserves but next time!

My next leg was run around 4 pm.  It was hot and sunny and windy.  So windy that at times I felt like I needed to lean into the gusts of wind.  However, if I hadn't had that wind, I'd have been dealing with high humidity and sun.  It was hot! 3.6 miles and basically gradually downhill (it wasn't noticeable at all).  I'd hoped to run pretty fast along here but I think the trail miles and heat got to me.  I ran 8 flat and was all out whooped and glad to be done running.

As the course continued closer to Tacoma, we were along an interesting section of the Puyallup River.  Very sandy trail which would've been difficult to run on and according to JT, there was a huge foot deep puddle of some size covering one section.  Yep.  We'd had a lot of rain and I believe the course organizers were worried they'd have to reroute the course because of it.  It all worked out.

Runner #5 (KK) had a tough course where it was poorly marked (they ended up on train tracks!) and then was running through a busy highway into Tacoma.  Yuck.  He did befriend an ultra runner and said that this gal whom he ran with most of the way was running Western States soon.  Good luck to her. She came in second place 50 mile female division I believe.  We had a nice time hanging out on the waterfront at the Museum of Glass.  It was extremely picturesque.

Last runner out and then we hit the traffic heading towards the waterfront.  Not only was it a gorgeous day it was also prom night and all the restaurants were full.  JE (runner #6) said he didn't have too much trouble dodging pedestrians and was extremely sorry he didn't have any cash to buy an ice cream from one of the push cart vendors!

Yippee!  I believe we finished in about 10 hours although I'm not certain.  After much calculation and staring at the board, we thought we were third master - mixed team.  EO showing her driven side (2 time IronMan finisher) got us our railroad spikes which were the prize.  Pretty dang cool!  

we had dinner at a local restaurant and made the trek back to Seattle.  Long, long day but well worth it.  Rainier to Ruston Relay and Ultrarun is a really nice event.  I believe it grew 100% this year from last and there were no troubles other than some crowded conditions at a couple of the exchanges.  there were some issues with course marking that I hope they fix.  I don't believe it could grow a lot more and that is part of the charm.  And there is no way you can beat the scenery on this one.  Stunning! 

Thursday, June 3, 2010

The totals are in!

No, not for running but for Bike to Work Month.

Marathon recovery was supposed to be about biking.  Well, check off the marathon recovery.  I didn't need that but it did become surprisingly difficult to fit running into a biking schedule.  I wanted to ride twice per week and once ride in three times plus get in key workouts for half marathon training.

The weather didn't help at all.  According to The Group Health Commute Challenge wrap up email:

May precipitation (2.52 inches) was above normal (1.73 inches) with 20 days of rain. And temperatures were a little lower - by an average of 2.7 degrees.

Yeah, thanks Mother Nature.  I believe we had a few glorious days of sun and warmth at the beginning of the month.  And then reality came raining back.

Name Work
PuddleThumper 19 11 0 9 9.00 47.37 19.29 173.65

For every mile biked, my work team had donated $1 to the local food bank.  I'm pretty happy with the contribution.  I also ran 132 miles for the month of May.  Biking is what got me running.  I remember that I biked to work maybe twice a week only a couple of times before running took over as the cardio exercise of choice.  riding twice a week to work was tough!  Now, this just reminds me of how far I've come.

Memorable moments:

Riding the freight elevator down at work with my bike and gear and waiting while three other cyclists would often get on, all male.  There is a nice moment of camaraderie with this. 

Getting dropped on the hills the first part of the month.

Passing on the hills towards the end of the month.  I was in running shape but not biking shape but that changed. 

To the driver with license 818 XIK, I am waiting at the light in the middle of the freaking street because that is where the mark is to trigger the traffic light for my bike.  HONKING at me will do nothing.  You will still have to wait for the light to change so you can make your right turn.  I HAVE to be right there and the 20 seconds you have to wait will not make you any later than you already are. 

I could have done without that last memorable moment.  I have to admit that by the end of the month, I was starting to have too active of an imagination moments picturing bikes and cars.  I came pretty close to getting clipped a couple times and I consider myself a good, safe and experienced rider.  I'm happy to go back to a bit more running and getting in a ride here or there.  I hope to get in a long ride here or there which isn't in-city.   

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Summer is coming, right?

Memorial Day is the traditional start to summer.  Eh.  It's hit or miss around here.  This past weekend was a decided miss.  Oh well.  The non-stop rain kept us from working much in the yard (I did take down most of a very large shrub) and it was nice to have some time to clean and organize in the house.  I'd rather go for a nice long trail run. 

Even with the less than ideal weather, we still had a go of a favorite trail.  This run, we did last year on July 4th.  I was really looking forward to going back.  The alpine lakes along this trail were stunning and relatively easy to get to for a trail runner. 

It was raining and 45 degrees when we set out for milepost 47 along I90.  Pratt Lake Trailhead has a lot of different option for runs/hikes.  All of them require going straight uphill for some miles but that's just what it's like out there. 

The rain isn't nearly so bothersome under the tree cover and the trails weren't as muddy as I was expecting.  With the weather not so nice, there was hardly anyone at the trailhead which was an extra bonus.  All streams were running pretty heavily with both rain and snow melt.  I was just loving life. 

Climb, climb and climb. Stop to take photos and climb.  Pay attention to how much time has passed (45 minutes).  Ok, take a gel and have some water.  Climb some more.  I'd been dropped by my running mates since I was stopping to take photos. No biggie. 

Then, they are all coming back towards me.  Uh oh.  That can only mean one thing.  Snow!  Sure enough, they'd encountered snow which made it tough to go on.  I debated for about half a second and then realized I really wanted to make it to the lookout over Oallie Lake.  Then I could see an alpine lake and be quite satisfied.  The snow level was round 3600.  Oallie lookout was around 4000.  How bad was the trail?

 CO had been going back to the car but decided to join me on my quest to see an alpine lake.  That was good.  Company was better once we hit snow.  And soon enough Coach T and speedy E had caught up to us and passed us.  The snow was deep in places but packed down.  Post-holing was a danger in places.  Under the trees, the trail would often be open.  It just amazes me how quickly one can be somewhere so remote and wild feeling.  Careful, it's easy to slip and the trail drops off steeply.  I think everyone had a bit of a slip and slide with shrubs. 

And we made it!  What a contrast this view was to last year.  It's breathtaking in it's own right.  But I'll show you the view from last year. 

Ok.  I was happy.  I'd seen an alpine lake.  Breaking trail in these sort of conditions is both fun and challenging.  If it's in your mindset that it is miserable than it will be.  I approach it with the idea that there is no way I can get any type of this sort of experience and workout anywhere else.  It's mentally challenging and physically challenging and I do enjoy it.  No, I wouldn't go do this every day but I had a huge grin on my face much of the time. 

Of course, you are going slowly in those sort of conditions.  I'd brought gloves and hat (could've used a heavier shirt) but was still starting to get cold.  We had just the steepest section to go and realized that it just wasn't going to be possible to make it point to point on the course and so we headed back.  Sorry Rainbow Lake but I'll make sure to try and catch you later this year. 

Of course, what goes up must come down.  Oh that sounds good doesn't it?  An all downhill run?  It certainly is easier than the trudge uphill but at this point, you are tired and really needing to pay attention.  I should've stopped to have more of the food that I'd brought.  I was fantasizing about the coffee and snack I'd brought to munch on. 

The trail is pretty rocky and it's easy to fall and that I did.  I took a pretty good tumble and turned my ankle.  For all the trail running that I've done, I've never really had an ankle sprain.  Yikes!  That hurt.  We were just a bit out from the car so I was able to hobble, then walk and then eventually slowly jog and ankle felt better by that point.  I had ice and a wrap on it probably within 20 minutes of the fall.  A mild strain is my assessment as it is very slightly swollen and a touch bruised.  It feels stiff but two days later feels fine to run on and walk around on at work.  And a good lesson.  EAT!  I probably wouldn't have fallen if I'd taken the time to eat earlier.  I knew i needed the calories as we were out for 4 hours! 

Even with the tumble, it was so worth it.  Instead of moping around at home, I had a blast outside doing challenging fun things.  I wasn't going to see this view in my living room.