Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Ready. Set....DONE!

I think that is the best way to describe a two mile race.  Never having run when I was a kid, I've never run a shorter race than two-miles and that's what it feels like to me.

I always need a longer warm-up than I think.  This time I didn't have time to do some of the dynamic stretches nor hill bounding that I've done in the past to warm up. Oh well.  I've done the Winter Grand Prix series Super Jock n Jill offers the past couple years but this year I could only make it to this weekend's past race.  bummer.  It is just a lot of fun and 2-miles hard is not a big deal.  Quick recovery and I can usually still get a pretty good long run in the next day. In fact see photo of Coal Creek Falls in full falls.  Fantastic 10 miles on trails. 

The weather was good albeit warm for January.  I wore shorts for the first time running in quite a while.  that didn't mean the course wasn't a bit sloppy in places however.  We've had a lot of rain and there were some good and muddy puddles.  I stomped through like usual and made some time.  I always like living up the PuddleThumper status. 

I'm listening to some coaching going on around me as we wait for the starting gun.

"Get out and run hard.  See what you feel like at the mile mark and either push it or just steady on in."

Seems reasonable.  and better than some of the comments of parents shouting to their kids running in the race. 


And before I knew it, I was pulled out at a 6:15 pace.  Ooops!  No worries, settle down and this race is so short that it'll be fine and it was.  Before the mile mark, I passed my usual running reference point.  My running reference point is a well known local running star who is in her mid-60's and I am always happy when I finish usually just ahead of her. 

She stuck with me though and just finished a few seconds behind me.  Hey!  Maybe she was using me as a reference point.  Ha!

14:39 watch time which is a fair bit slower than last year's race of 13:58.  With that race, I was a month past a hard 5k effort and had done some appropriate speed work.  I've chatted with my coach and am testing faster paces in workouts lately and sure enough, i can run a lot harder.  Somehow I forgot that over the past year.  I do my easy runs so easily and that's great but there is a time to push it.  I'm looking forward to this too.

Monday, January 17, 2011

The day after...

I was pretty mentally raw about the 10k the next day.  Physically, quads and hamstrings were sore with the effort and like usual, it was hard to sleep after a race effort.  my legs always feel hot and it's hard to get to sleep.  And we were getting lots of rain and a lot of wind which was rather loud.

So what to do the next morning?  go run on trails for 10 miles, of course! 

yes, trail running is the perfect cure for a frustrated race.  I've been managing to live up to the blog name lately.  With all the rain the trails are deeply muddy and wet and my toes are sadly muddy looking even after much scrubbing in the shower.

We did have a small group who was out running but no one was quite at my slow and careful pace.  I knew I was sore and it would be easy to trip so I kept it really easy.  I knew I wanted to run longer too so that dictated a gentle pace.

RPD was often a ways ahead or a ways behind depending on the status of shoe laces (innov8's shoelaces do not seem to stay tied), stopping to get food or check trail or whatever.  It was a wonderful contemplative and companionable run.  AT some point we were running close together and came to a sign for Doughty Falls.  I'd never been there and by the map it was just a quick out and back to see them.  With all the rain, we figured the falls would be good and they were.  I'm really glad we stopped.

After that I decided that I did feel good enough to do the full 10 miles and really wanted to add a long descent and ascent in prep for Orcas.  I knew I'd be slow especially climbing but that was fine.  And it was.  Legs felt pretty good considering the busy weekend and I was glad to get the opportunity to do both activities. 

Plus with all the rain, it was teh perfect excuse to stay inside and finally finish a big knitted piece I have been working on for quite a while.  Yeah!  I learned a lot about knitting to gauge, measuring for the pattern and finish work while doing this pattern and I'm pleased with the results. 

Busy Weekend

It's one of the best races in the area at a time when there is not much else going on.  Nookachamps Winter Runs has a race distance for everyone from a 5k, a 10k and a Half marathon.  The Half is the big draw and I've run it the past couple of years.  This year, I wanted a shorter harder effort and K was going to be back to an organized running event after 3.5 years.  Wow! 

Quite a few friends were running in the events so it was fun to see everyone and we got a good group together to go for the obligatory lunch and beer stop at Skagit Brewery in Mount Vernon.  That hamburger after the race always hits the spot. 

The weather was amazing again this year.  It's been pouring but for that morning, the rain stopped.  It is unseasonably warm around 50 degrees and the day of the race, we had some pretty good wind which was noticeable.  Actually, since it was so warm, I welcomed the wind to cool myself off when I was running. 

The race itself?  I feel like I ran a great 5 mile race.  The only problem was that the course was 6 miles.  What happened?  It's a hilly course. I got out at just the right pace (8:17) and felt relaxed and comfortable.  Mile two has a long downhill which I used but didn't push on (7:50).  Mile 3 is a pretty good climb.  I stayed focused on form and kept it in control (8:42).  I did manage to pass one gal but got passed by two others.  Hey, that's better on hills than I have been.  This is an amusing mile also because you go a by a dairy farm.  All the cows are right next to the road staring at you in bemusement.  The urge to "moo" is great. 

Mile 4 is rolling and like usual for a race, I had to stay focused in the middle to keep pace up (8:24).  Mile 5?  It drops for half a mile and then climbs culminating in a short sharp uphill ((8:44).  I managed to stay with my little group on the uphill which I was pleased about.  I'd normally get dropped. And then?  I knew this race went onto a woodchipped trail for almost the entire last mile.  The last half mile is a gradual grind uphill.  All in all, the worst possible combination for me.  The short sharp uphill followed by a downhill on an uneven surface messed me up!  Almost immediately I got a side stitch which got worse and worse.  No good.  I had to walk and was really, really mad about it. 

Oh well.  So it goes.  I'm used to trails but I didn't apply that knowledge when I hit the trails after that hard uphill when I was tired.  My form fell apart, I probably was leaning back and not running with correct form and it does not surprise me that I got such a side stitch.  Ouch!  I used to get those a lot and still can with the right circumstances. 

Lots of other people had very good races and I was happy about that.  K got his nookachamps hoody after two years!   We all got showers (best part of this race) and hoptailed to the brewery.  Tasty!  This race is certainly something to think about and reminds me yet again that I really do need to race more often.  Even train a bit harder I think.  I'd been thinking this before the race and still believe that I never really get out of my comfort level for key workouts.  How do I expect to handle that when racing?  Something to ponder a bit more obviously. 

Sunday, January 9, 2011


Orcas Island 25k is coming up disturbingly quick.  I wanted a longer effort on trails but the group run as scheduled was going to be at Tiger Mountain.

Meh.  that is my reaction to Tiger Mountain.  Either boringly flat around Lake Tradition or straight up and straight down.  there isn't much running as hiking and I honestly just hate it.  Take me to cougar mountain and I'll be fine.  But remember that other trail running haven?

Soaring Eagle Regional Park in Sammamish is my idea of trail running heaven.  It's not too steep.  the trails constantly go up and down and twist and turn.  Some rocks and some roots and lots of mud.  the trails jsut feel great to me.  it's easy to get out too fast and think oh, I've only run 4 miles.  when you stop and think about it you realize all that constant adjustment for such technical RUNNABLE trails is working you like a dog and you are hungry! 


So I begged and got the group run moved there if I'd mark a course of a short distance (4 to 5 miles is reasonable for our walkers) where no one would get lost.  I admit I was nervous the night before.  There are a lot of intersections with mountain bike traffic so marks can get lost easily.  We'd gotten a lot of rain and in my limited experience I knew some trails could be underwater.  No really.  RPD and I found a lake over a trail here and there.  I love that stuff but a lot of people do not.  It could be ankle deep mud and a lot of people don't like getting their shoes wet or dirty. 

I helped put in lots of warning into the group run description and was delighted to have some company marking the course.  None had been to these trails and it was a great workout with great people.  2 hours and 8 miles later, we were done and everybody had big grins on their faces.

We found deep mud (see shoes above) and a deep water over some of those trails.  We laughed and I hear that some almost cried.  It was trail running at it's best.  

Success!  I know we will be back to that park and I cannot wait.  

Sunday, January 2, 2011


Last year's running was an odd mix for me.  The biggest surprise was adding up mileage and realizing I'd hit an all time yearly high of 1790.  That is almost 35 miles per week average for the year and much higher than I was expecting.  I never had any forced injury time besides just a reduction of miles mid-summer when the hip blew up. I did take it very easy after both the Reach the Beach Relay in September and the marathon in late november.  I do think that helped with recovery and motivation. 

I ran in 13 events which is much lower (as planned) from last year.  Two relays, 3 short races, 2 10ks, 5 half marathons and 1 marathon.  And when I look at them all together (I keep a spreadsheet but is also a handy site), I'm a bit dismayed to see how there was no real outstanding race.  All were similar effort and the times reflect that.  I'd hoped to work on getting a new half marathon pr but all 5 of them were consistent times (1:53-1:56).  I still think I have a pr in that distance left in me but it'll be tough to get the right mix of training and get the right course.  This year?  Maybe.

I wanted to run a 3rd marathon in 2010.  I did finish one and it was most unsatisfying.  I had a lot of people ask me if maybe I should just focus on shorter distances.  I really like running longer though.  So I've had some thinking done and coach consultation and am looking for 2011. Eugene 2011 here I come.  I've registered and that will be the goal race at this point.  It took me many halves until I hit a good half marathon race where everything came together so I need to remember that for the marathon distance.

I maintained very consistent running last year and I'm very pleased with that.  I ended up dropping biking and only have just started back up.  For a while, I thought biking was bothering the hip and I just didn't have that much time.  I really do enjoy a mix of training so back to the bike I go and I hope to get a rower for home use soon.  I've wanted an rowing machine for years.  I think it's a great all body workout and I really enjoyed it when I took that learn to row class a few years ago.   And through much hard work, K has really gotten our extra room so it's usable now and could hold a rower.  Nice!

I'm going to race (hard effort) the 10k at Nookachamps in two weeks.  It'll give me an indication of where I am and get me the hard longer effort I need.  I hope it's not icy!  After that is Orcas Island 25k on February 5th.  Its an uber hilly trail run and I'm just looking to finish and have fun.  I started the new year of running off right by going out to Cougar Mountain this morning for a 7 mile trail run on frozen mud.  I'm not sure there is anything that is going to prepare me for the Orcas Island run (see elevation chart) but it sure is wonderful to be back on trails!

Happy New Year!

Saturday, January 1, 2011

Happy New Year!

I do plan on sitting down and looking at 2010's running adventures.  But today I started out the new year right! 

Nope.  That's right, I didn't run.  In fact, I ran my long run (9 miles ha) yesterday morning in 25 degree temps before work so I could volunteer this morning at the Resolution Run and Polar Bear Dip.  I'd planned on volunteering at a race last year and didn't manage that.  I'm happy to have that checked off my list. 

I showed up bright and early to the above view and joined other volunteers in handing out packets at race day packet pick up.  It was under 30 degrees so I was well dressed with small chemical hand warmers tucked into my shoes and gloves.  I was a little cold towards the end but not too bad.  Two hours went really quick and it was quite enjoyable to see various friends who were running and the happy, cheerful runners. 

I can let you know that as a volunteer at packet pick up, please speak clearly and remember your bib number.  No really.  If you looked up the bib number 25 yards away, remember it definitively when you come to tell me!  And I know the shirts don't fit everyone but pick a size and move along.  Overall, everyone was very friendly though.  I liked seeing those obviously new to races out there too! 

My service done, I wandered over to the dip part of this run.  Yep, at the end of the 5k there is the optional dip into 41 degree Lake Washington.  I ran this race a couple of years ago and I have to say that I enjoyed watching the dipping and volunteering much more than dipping in the lake!  It was great fun watching the various methods of preparing for the lake.

Most of the leaders of the race just dove in headfirst with a maniacal grin!  Some runners had a look of dread as they approached the water but most looked happy with a what-the-hell attitude.  Quite a few stopped to strip off most clothing and shoes before heading into the water.  Some opted out all together and ducked over to the non-dip finish line. 

As a new twist, this year we've had air temps below freezing for a few days now.  The ground was frozen so after a hundred or so runners dipped in the lake and emerged dripping, the water hitting the ground started freezing.  It's not like your legs work well after going in the water so that added some fun. 

Happy New Year!