Sunday, June 26, 2011

Seattle Rock n Roll Half Marathon

You can tell this race is coming up by the buzz in the air. With 26000+ athletes running and walking it not to mention all the cheering and set up and road closures, it dominates the running scene of Seattle.  It seems like everyone and their mother are running it and I think that is wonderful thing!

Ragnar team prep is kicking into high gear and this was a wonderful distraction to the lead up to this race.  I've been enjoying my workouts and feeling good.  What was the goal for this race?  I wanted to finish under 1:50 and finish strongly.

To facilitate all the major road closures, this race starts dang early down in Tukwilla.  Thanks to JB for driving myself and a couple of other runner friends to the start.  JB had planned on racing herself but had to bow out at the last minute.  As we all know a DNS (do not start) while always done for the right reasons is not the easiest thing to do mentally.

We made it to the start by the secret back door (although the race officials seem to have a better handle on those secret back doors) in good time and I was off to find a port o potty line (found it!) and bag check.  Holy sea of humanity.  I'd mostly avoided all of that over the past couple years but had to wade through on my way to the UPS trucks used for bag check.  With 30 minutes to go, I started my mile very easy warm-up.  I'm glad I did because I realized I had to go the bathroom again.  Those lines were ridiculous so I found a convenient bush.  Believe me I was not alone.  And then I roamed up to the starting corrals as I knew it would take a bit to get into them.

And I was ready.  This course is flat to vaguely downhill the first couple miles.  I planned on 8:10 pace, take it easy on the short hill at 3 and longer hill at mile 4.  I was planning on carrying a little bottle of water for the first few miles to avoid water stops and would ditch it when appropriate.

In short order we were off!  And I was very happy that the 8:09 pace I hit for the first two miles felt easy.  The weather was perfect 50 degrees and cloudy but not drizzly.  I wore short compression shorts and a sleeveless shirt.  the miles ticked along pretty quickly and suddenly I realized we were on the hill starting to climb at mile 4.  And I felt crappy all of a sudden.  Hmm.  Heart was up too high and it was time to eat.  At the next water stop, I walked through to get a gel and an electrolyte pill.  Even though it was cool, I was sweating pretty heavily so knew I needed to monitor fluids closely.

Right about here I spotted Tommy the UPS guy manning a water stop.  I see him often at work and he is the nicest guy.  He volunteered his time to drive a truck chock full of supplies (water and tables). He shouted out his usual greeting to me (my name at the top of his voice) and that made me smile and all those around me too.  What a nice boost. 

The downhill to the lake was pleasant and like usual I was amused by runner reactions of shock when we hit the very steep short downhill right at Seward Park.  Here I started to see CoachLesley support signs which made me smile.  The best one for me?  "whose idea was this anyway?"  Haha!  It was a good reminder to stay in the moment.

I started having some hamstring twinges around mile 7 or 8 which did not make me happy.  I'd ditched my water bottle by this point and made sure to walk right before the hills started again at 9.  That way i'd get in more water and rest hip/hamstring.  This worked. And I had a talk with myself about how you are supposed to feel around mile 8 or 9 of a half marathon.  I'd looked at heart rate data for successful halves in the past and was very surprised at how high it was for the entire time.  I wasn't used to effort for long races anymore.  It was ok to feel like I was working hard. I knew I had the strength to hold the last few miles.

At 10k, I'd been on a steady 8:08 pace even with the hill and a walk break.  From 6.2 to the 9 mile mat, I was a 8:42 pace for those less than 3 miles.  That takes into account walk breaks and the short, steep up to the I90 express lanes and the refocusing issues (ha).  Last year that short hill had been my undoing.  Everything felt awful after that and I limped through the tunnel.

This year, I got into the tunnel and started passing people and felt so much stronger.  It was wonderful.  I was taking manual splits with my garmin (as it doesn't work in the tunnel) and completely missed a mile in here.  We hit 2nd avenue and I enjoyed all the crowds.  I was sooooo thirsty by this point though.  I couldn't help it.  At mile 11-12 I took one more walk break to get in some water.  And then we were down Columbia to the viaduct and I was shocked to see I just had one more mile.  Last year the steep down had jacked up everything but this time, I was ready.  I had been continually monitoring my form and I came to the realization that I am running differently now.  I doubt I look any different running but I feel different.  I use my hip/butt muscles more (hill repeats work!) and I work to keep my gaze down just a bit so I don't sit back.  that sitting back when I get tired puts strain on my low back and hips.

Stay with it!  Focus!  Strong!  These were all going through my head as we finally made the turn off the Viaduct and then north to the finish line.  WHOOO! I could see a clock now and realized I was going to be under 1:50.  I wasn't sure by how much. 

1:47:41 Chip time - 8:13 pace overall!  Those last 4 miles I covered in 8:00 flat pace.  I'd call that a strong finish!  In 2009, I ran this race in 1:47:42.  Haha!  It has been a long and bumpy road to get back to this point and I am delighted.  Thanks to Coach Lesley for helping me figure it all out.

Sunday, June 19, 2011

Twin Falls


It doesn't seem like it will ever stop raining.  But when you get these views when off trail running, it's ok.  This view is from the bridge looking away from Twin Falls down the South Fork of the Snoqualmie River.

Seattle Rock n Roll Half marathon is coming up next week.  Then Ragnar Northwest Passage in July.  What is the goal after that?  Well, i have something brewing. 

Thursday, June 9, 2011

My debut as a Triathlete...


No way I'm getting in a lake.  Uh no. 

but the call came out for volunteers needed at the Issaquah Sprint Triathlon as is a title sponsor.  I was free and looking forward to helping out especially since the day was supposed to be a spectacular 70 degrees.  Yay for NOT standing around in rain at dawn. 

I woke up late.  Oops.  But in record time, I was over to Lake Sammamish Park for volunteer check in only a few minutes late.  I quickly found other friends who were volunteering and just hung out.  We were all working the transition area and it was quite entertaining to watch all the athletes setting up their transition area. 

I could feel the nervous energy.  I did know quite a few people who were competing though so it was fun to say hello to them and wish them well and snicker silently about the obvious race jitters. Hey, we've all been there and it's good!  

Someone who seemed to be associated with the race came over to tell us what we'd be doing.  Basically I'd be standing at the "bike out" portion of the transition area and yelling at people to run/walk their bike over the chip mat and then mount their bikes over by a sign.  It was important that people didn't get on their bikes until they were closer to the sign (it was an area about 30 feet long) because otherwise people could bunch up too much.  Uh hunh.  Ok.  This seemed to make sense. 

The duathlon started (bike/run) and it was fun to see the wide variety of abilities and bikes.  Soon enough the first sprint triathletes came in and it was amazing to see them in and out so quickly.  And the instructions I'd been given made a lot more sense especially since I watched many athletes struggle to get going on their bikes.  A couple fell over and one guy who was very quick out of the water, REALLY struggled to get clipped in.  More practice or an equipment issue?  Who knows.  

There was a steady stream and I got to cheer for various friends as well.  It was fun clapping and cheering and yelling at people "mount at the sign!" Because if you did not yell this, people would stop immediately after the chip mat and block others coming through.  Another volunteer helped me realize that the athletes needed their helmets on too!  One guy forgot his and had to go running back for it.  I caught a few who had it on but not buckled and they had a surprised look as I pointed it out.  Oh yeah!  There are a lot of details to remember in a triathlon.

I could see the athletes coming back on their bikes and soon got pulled over to that area to yell at the athletes to slow down and get ready to dismount.  They were so focused and the dismount area was hard to distinguish so you really had to get their attention.  Basically volunteering at a triathlon is a lot of yelling.  Ha!  And everyone is thankful.  Nice. 

I'm really glad I got to do this.  it was fun and it's nice to give back.  And I reiterated to myself that I really have no interest in triathlons.  I love swimming but not here in the Pacific NW and I don't have time for it.  Biking is great fun and I've been doing a lot of it but seeing the biking skills demonstrated on the course just makes me nervous!  And there are so many rules and so much equipment.  I really admire those who do these but it's not for me and it's good to remember that. 

Sunday, June 5, 2011

Trail Ready!

Meanwhile, something is going right.  I've been feeling really good lately.

Ah yes, iron supplementing.  Hmm.  I can't say for sure but overall I think it might be helping.  the low of the cycle was much easier this time and that was even with marathon recovery in there.  I'm looking forward to getting in longer runs to see what that is like.  As is usual with adding in a lot of bike commuting suddenly and lots of gardening, my low back has been talking to me a bit.  But the usual hip/leg issues aren't there.  And before I get too cocky, I do have an appointment scheduled with the voodoo physical therapist to help sort out the low back thing.


So more formal run training restarted this week and I was really pleased that I felt fast and strong.  I did a track workout on Tuesday.  Now I did that track workout with the intention of keeping it fun and relatively easy but still tiring out the legs a bit in preparation for a mid-week trail race.  Yep.  How brilliant is that?  Evergreen Trail Runs put on a mid-week trail race celebrating National Running Day and the solstice with our really long days. 

Grand Ridge Park is an easily accessible trail system off of I-90 or the Issaquah Highlands.  I've done various runs there over the years and always enjoyed the trails.  This was a 5 mile or 10 mile lollipop type of course with some pretty good elevation changes.  RPD was, of course, game and he picked me up after work and we were off.  We'd had some pretty good rain that day but it stopped in time for the race.  It felt a balmy 55-60 degrees as we picked up our bibs and hung out waiting for the race to start.

I'm not in trail shape.  I'm not in trail shape.  I just did a track workout.  I just did a track workout.  That was my mantra as we started.  And it did help.  It's a narrow start for half mile on the graveled service road to the straight up trail.  Once on the trail, every one was polite and it was easy enough to pass with a continual "on your left."  I felt like I kept it steady and I kept it moving.  Once to the top we started a loop.  I'd been on a section of the loop but not the whole thing.  After all that climbing, we went down and down and down.  It was a very runnable trail which meant that unlike usual, I couldn't quite easily pass people.  I had to work at it but pass people I did.

And then, we were climbing again.  We followed one section of trail under power lines which was super mucky.  I had to stop to tie both (BOTH!) shoes as the muck had untied them and threatened to suck them off. I was practically giggling because I was having so much.  It was glorious out there.

I got back to the turn off to the 5 miler and back down and just felt great!  Really?  I'm not in trail shape and I did a track workout.  On the last hill back down, I got behind a small group which were going at a good pace.  It was going to be pretty difficult to pass them all on that terrain so I sat back and enjoyed myself.  Of course the trail looked completely different going down than coming back up.  We got to the last flat (but gradually uphill actually) trail and I just went.  I passed about 5 people in here who looked done in.  Sure, I was working but it was GREAT to have so much in the tank.  Done!

Not too much longer, RPD comes in with just as big a grin on his face as I had on mine.  What a wonderful way to spend an evening.  I really hope Evergreen puts on some more of these mid-week races.  It was like having a little vacation mid-week.

And I'm delighted that I came in 30th overall (about 100 total) and 11th female.  It was great to get the feet and legs ready for some more trail running.  I'm not sure when but I can't wait.

Saturday, June 4, 2011

Marathon Recovery

It sure was different this time. 

After Eugene in 2008, I ended up in the doctor's office getting a nebulizer treatment because I could not breathe.  I went on a course of steroids to help the lungs and realized I had never been able to fully breathe in forever and some (approximately).  This time, I still really noticed my lungs for a few days but the daily inhaler I am on plus the rescue inhaler worked.  After a few days, I stopped noticing. 

My legs were sore for a few days but nothing too bad.  And since I hadn't had any serious injury-type issues (unlike at the Seattle Marathon) and hadn't been on my feet an hour longer than expected, I felt pretty good.  I did make sure to keep running miles minimal for a couple weeks.  Pounding is pounding and I'm not exactly used to running 26 miles. 

And I was smack dab in the middle of Bike to Work month!  I'd signed up for the team at work.  With 2000 miles as the team's goal and work matching that amount in donation to the local food bank, I really wanted to get in consistent riding.  We made our 2000 mile goal and I road 100 miles in the month biking to work (actually rode a bit more since I've been doing some longer weekend rides).  Considering I ran a marathon in there, I am happy.

What's next?  Hopefully the dreadfully cold spring has moved past and we can get some better weather.  I see more biking and trail running and I'm co-captaining a RAGNAR Northwest Passage Team.  Awesome.  Bring on summer!