Sunday, February 27, 2011

Ramp it up...

Here we go.  Eugene is not that far away.  I refuse to count how many weeks because that will alarm me.  It's close and therefore my miles are going up and I'm enjoying that.  The workouts have been challenging and I'm mostly hitting them.  That's a big change.  Before, I'd always hit them no problem. 

What has been even more challenging is the weather. Snow and ice and freezing cold temps.  I still can get the miles in as long as it isn't icy downtown but it sure isn't fun.  I have spent quite a few workouts this week wondering if I'm hardcore or crazy.  Yes. That is usually the answer I come up with by the end of the workout. 

And last weekend we redid our tub surround.  Try fitting in two workouts a day without a shower.  Yeah.  That won't happen.  Fortunately we were able to use our neighbors' shower as they were out of town and we cat sit for them.  This weekend I finished final caulking and painting and it looks like we have a new bathroom.  Love it! 

And after all the running and house projects this weekend, i thought I better spend some time sitting too.  So I knit a cat toy for the neighbors' cats.  The pattern is from Clara Parkes "the Knitter's book of Yarn" and it was a quick and easy knit which took about 3 hours.  It does have the toe of a sock stuffed with catnip in there as well.

I made sure it was cat approved.  York and Keswick think it is pretty interesting.  They will have their own soon. 

Sunday, February 13, 2011


 Photo by Glenn Tachiyama
Wow.  That downhill from the Orcas Island 25k did a number on my legs.  My legs finally felt back to normal Thursday.  And I was constantly hungry.  It really was a great event and I highly recommend it.  I'm looking at other events produced by Rainshadow Running and am pretty seriously considering the 50k for next year.  It really was an outstanding weekend.

And I was delighted to find that Glenn Tachiyama was at the event photographing runners.  I've seen his photographs in a Tribute to the Trails running calendar which I've had up at my work cubicle for a couple years now and love his views.  Those pictures whisper "trails" to me every day and always bring a smile when I think of the trail running adventures I've had over the years.  Best of all, these calendars support the local Washington Trail Association.  That's a win-win! 

finally, i was at an event that Glenn was at and I jumped at the chance to get one of his photographs.  He was well placed in this event.  We'd just come out of the forest to a spectacular view and then turn the corner and there he is.  I still had a grin on my face from the view and notice that it was a spot where you had to watch your footing.

I took it pretty easy this week as I recovered.  15 miles on those sorts of trails definitely took it out of me but I was pretty happy that I didn't feel too challenged.  yes, I was sore and respected my muscles yelling at me but nothing hurt. 

With some bonus money from work, I finally got a rower for home use this week.  When I took that learn to row class a couple years ago, I found I really enjoyed rowing.  When I belonged to a gym, i would use one consistently.  I haven't belonged to a gym in quite a while now so I was missing that component.  It's a great warm-up for core and a nice complement to biking.  I've used the rower twice so far this week for just a short time and I am just happy to have it.

and once I was certain legs were feeling good although still a bit tired, I went ahead and raced a 5k this weekend.  The Love' em or Leave 'em 5k Valentine's Day Race at Green Lake has grown!  They were predicting 3000 runners this year.  I don't think they got quite that many but there were a lot.  I had a good warm-up and went out at a planned 7:30 pace.  I really wasn't sure what to expect but was happy to stay pretty even.  My splits: 7:29, 7:27, 7:24. that last mile was into the wind too. Chip time was 23:30 which was the same as last year but mentally this was a much better race.

Training for the Eugene marathon begins in earnest.  I've been working harder in training and I'm able to take more quality workouts.  We are past the worst of the winter darkness and Spring is around the corner.  I can't wait!

Sunday, February 6, 2011

Orcas Island 25k Trail Run

A group of us had signed up for the 25k in late September of last year as this race sold out early. One intrepid soul even signed up for this as his first 50k organized trail race. I've done one other longer trail race of 13 miles in 2009 and was just expecting this to be a very long and tough fun run/hike. Add in the incredible setting with a bunk house filled with friends and this became a most memorable weekend. For some reason I never looked all that closely at the elevation chart. Somehow I missed that it started at 500 feet and went to a climb topping out at 2300 feet and honestly, I think it was better that way.

There are a lot of logistics involved in getting 8 people and all their gear onto a ferry and then an island camp with limited (but perfectly acceptable) facilities. A bed for two nights was just 40 dollars and really you can't beat that.  Camp Moran fit perfectly with this well organized but low-key event. There was a lot of info at the event website but I kept missing important pieces.  As is the way with planning for long term running events, life happens so not everyone who had been planning on running this race was able to come. We figured out carpooling and food and sleeping arrangements and it all worked out just as I knew it would.

We arrived in good time to rearrange cabins so we could all be together and then prepped for the community potluck.  As long as I had a pile of pasta and few veggies with some protein (another friend had brought very tasty cooked chicken), I was happy.  The camp houses slept anywhere from 8-15 people and we had 8 in our 12-bed house.  The bathroom house was a quick walk down teh hill and clean with very nice hot showers.  I didn't expect to sleep well in a room with 7 other people and I did not but that really wasn't going to matter.  It was fun and very handy to the race start/finish.  I'd do this again. 

the best part of all the logistics was that it kept me very distracted from the actual race.  Oh yeah, that whole elevation thing.  Straight up and straight down.  It was just over 15 miles on very good trails except for the last few miles which had the most challenging technical trails of the whole race. Ouch!  Those hurt.

I'd done a few 10 milers on trails and felt ready enough.  And really, I think that was the right attitude. I wanted to go into this race and enjoy myself, take in the views and trails and finish feeling strong. And I did.  this was not a goal race but just a fun, tasty piece of the training pie.

How'd I do it?  The 25k and 50k started concurrently on a road for not quite a half mile.  It was a downhill start and I positioned myself in the middle and just trotted off with everyone.  Once we got to the turnoff for the trail there was a wait to get onto the trail going up.  Perfect!  No reason to try and go out too hard.  Just start walking up and taking in the clean, fresh smelling forest.  It had rained the day before but Saturday morning was cloudy and relatively warm (40 degrees probably?).  It never rained a drop during the race.

Almost immediately I wanted to stop and take out my camera to start taking pictures but it was just too crowded on the trails and I didn't want to hold anyone up.  Eventually it opened up and you could start running.  I felt great and just enjoyed myself and listened to the chatter around me.  I had put my garmin watch onto a screen which just showed me elapsed time and elevation.  Really this race was not going to be about pace.  My plan was to gel/eat about every 25-30 minutes and take sips of water in between that.  I started with 30 oz of water and expected to refill but never did (more about that later).

We'd studied the maps on the ferry ride over because we were all concerned about getting lost but the trail was very well marked.  That was a big relief.  I came to the water stop at mile 3 along Mountain Lake and was ready for the climb up to Mount Constitution.  And what a climb that was!  I think the only way to prepare for that climb would be climbing stairs at work.  Fortunately I do things like that every day at work and I just kept it steady.  I would very gradually catch up adn pass people on this climb.  And while we were climbing, I'd chat with various people and hear some stories.  Note: Men, when you get passed in races it really is better if you don't quickly mention that you've been injured this year and that's why you are slow.  Silly.

I was pretty happy with how I'd dressed.  Capri tights, short-sleeved shirt and arm warmers plus mittens I'd take on and off depending on my temp.  Many people were quite overdressed for the climbs and probably would chill for the downhill.  The trails were really amazing.  We saw the full mix of deep, dark woods interspersed with glowing green mossy/ferny luxuriousness.  Climb a bit and turn a corner and it would look completely different.  The trails were very soft and well maintained and not at all rooty or rocky for the majority of the run.

Eventually after a calf and quad-burning climb, we started getting the incredible views.  Everyone would exclaim and chatter excitedly as we came to those views.  Yep, it was worth it!  The trail seemed to cling to the edge and suddenly became much more runnable.  Seriously, it started to trigger a bit of woozy vertigo and I kept my eyes strictly on the trail except when i'd deliberately stop to take a photo.  Beautiful.  it was great running in here and I made sure to eat and drink and soon enough we'd made the climb to Mount Constitution at 6 miles. 

A friend was volunteering here but i never saw him.  I got over to the aid station got a salt tablet and took a cup of nuun and was off.  That was a mistake.  I should've taken more time to add water to my pack but honestly I just didn't want to hang out with all the people and the busy atmosphere.  Off I went to the first quad pounding switch-backed downhill.  Once again it was quiet and I was running by myself. It was rocky at times and very steep and I was careful. Like on the climbs, I'd occasionally get passed on the downhill but mostly I'd catch up to people ahead of me and pass them.  It was just over a mile of downhill and about 1k of elevation loss.  I ate (my energy bar) more once we started the climb up that not so Hidden Ridge but started worrying about running out of water.  I drank but was starting to get thirsty and hungry.  That wasn't so great with a long downhill ahead.  Oh well.  I told myself to run smartly on the downhill and don't get carried away.

Turns out the downhill was so long and so steep that this was not a problem!  I was not expecting two miles of downhill with lots of switchbacks.  It was a constant down and I started running out of fuel. I had slightly crampy feet and and calves. My elbows really started to hurt as well and I knew I needed to eat more but didn't want to stop to eat at this point as I knew it would throw me right off.  Careful and steady.  It was at this point last may that I took a bad spill on a trail run and jacked my shoulder.  There would be NO repeat of this.  The best part of this downhill section was running with all women mostly.  That was a nice and companionable part of this race.  And looking at race results there were not quite twice as many women in the 25k than men (that was reversed for the 50k).  Fun and different than most trail races I've done.

Finally we reached a section of downhill where you could actually run.  I had another gel and more water and immediately felt better.  My trick had been for the first 6 miles to tell myself that I still had 10 more miles no matter where I was.  Garmin readings are all over the map for this "25k" so I really wasn't sure how long we'd be running.  Once down to Cascade Lake, I thought it was a couple miles around to the finish but I wasn't sure.  So I just kept telling myself one more mile no matter how far I thought I'd gone.  Just keep moving!

And here is where it got really tough.  I (and it sounds like many people) were not expecting the very tough and technical, rocky/rooty trail along the lake.  That was super hard and I was tired.  Tripping is not allowed so close to the end and I was careful.  It also goes slightly uphill the last mile.  Evil!  I wanted more food and water but didn't want to stop (just 1 more mile remember!) and truthfully I stopped being able to open my water valve to drink.  I was getting too tired and had no strength to open the valve with either my teeth or my hands.  One more mile, one more mile.

And then we hit that road and I knew it was less than half a mile.  Here I started passing a bunch of people and was delighted to be soooo close!  yippee!  done!  K had been concerned that I was taking so long and people had been looking done in but I was happy and excited as could be.  yep, I'd worked hard but finished well and felt strong.

Quickly I went off to shower and realized I was a bit shakey/wobbly.  I drank my trusty chocolate milk, showered and got into warm clothes and felt so much better.  I had time to get some food (blech - chicken noodle soup with mushrooms or bland veggie chile) and waited for everyone to finish.  It was great to see their exhilarated faces as they charged for the finish line.  And we waited for DC to finish his first 50k.  Wow.  Would that be a tough one or what?  he did great though. 

We had lots of time to hangout in the main community area and chat with some other runners.  Everyone was very friendly and chatty. My favorite moment was watching a 50k'er finish with his two young kids.  The runner behind him waited for him to gather up both kids to make the run to the finish line.  Sweet.

Everybody rested up and we went off to town for dinner and stories.  We heard about the volunteer experience on top of Mount Constitution.  It sounds like it was harder work than running truthfully!  thanks to all who made this event possible.  It was a super fun experience and I'd gladly do the event again especially with such a great group of people.   Congrats to all! 

Final time: 3:27
Garmin connect track:  link
gels: 4
PuddleThumper's energy bars: 2
water: 30 oz
beers: .5 (at finish)
wine: 2
sampled cocktails: 3 (lemon drop, sunrise and gin & tonic)