Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Distance runner?

Trees at Cougar Mountain
The nice thing about hiking/running 18 miles is that you recover from it quick.  I'd planned on an easy week post-Cle Elum and mostly kept that promise.  It was nice to run the hilly perimeter trail at Lake Youngs the strongest I've ever run it and then still go out the next day for a lovely trail run at Cougar Mountain. 

What's next?  I've been pondering this for a while actually.  And basically have come to the conclusion that I'm not really meant to be a distance runner. Oh sure, I like running longer but it doesn't necessarily like me.  I'm good for one or two very good long runs and then that's it.  The rest (say in a marathon training cycle + marathon) tend to turn into slog fests. 

To get in multiple long runs, I need to start protecting myself and that means my mid-week runs suffer.  After about 2.5 hours of running, I start to have lung issues and foot/hip issues.  So I'm done fighting against this and plan on focusing on shorter distances for a while now.  I'll be the first to admit I love half marathons (I've done over 15 of them now) and really enjoy shorter distances like 5ks and 10ks. 

And some things will never change.  I love running (longer even) on trails.  We are very lucky in the Seattle area as there are three different groups which are putting on various distances of trail runs and I plan on fitting these in judiciously.  I was asked if I wanted to attempt another 50k at the end of October and I was happy and satisfied to say no.  I'm very happy with my decision and that means it is the right one.  I'll work on keeping my mileage higher overall during the week and get in the speedwork that I enjoy and throw in a longer run (16 or so) on either roads or trails every once in a while and I know it'll be good.  I've learned that with running you can never say "never" so I won't say I won't ever do a marathon again but it just is not going to be my main focus. 

Sunday, September 18, 2011

A Running Anniversary

September 2001 has many horrific memories for a lot of people including me.  However there is one thing that happened September 2011 which changed my life for the better.

September 23, 2001
I'd joined a team at work and on this day after training a bit, I walked (yes walked) my very first 5k the Susan Komen Race for the Cure.  I was astounded to take part in the event and had a great and memorable experience.  The most eye opening part for me was the huge variety of people (men, women, big, small, young, old) who were running.  I'd always been fairly active with gardening, walking and had biked some.  Running baffled me though.  It didn't look or feel fun but this event made me want to try running.

And after much sweat and learning (and injuries including the first round of physical therapy), I made it to the start line of the 2002 Susan Komen Race for the Cure (now moved to June) and ran every step of the way in a blistering 33 minutes.  And I felt great.  It took two years until i ran my first half marathon and six years until i ran my first marathon.  Ten years later I define myself confidently as an athlete.  both my husband and i are happier and healthier for this random discovery.  I've made countless friends near and far.  Any time we take a trip, I run and make more memories and usually more friends.  It's been a great ten years!

How to celebrate this?  I knew at some point I'd want to run a trail 50k.  There are a lot of great events around here and earlier this year I ran a 25k on trails.  Coach Lesley, of course, got behind this venture.  JT was the inspiration of choice for the particular race.  Cle Elum Ridge run was supposed to happen in June (right when i was rocking the seattle Rock n Roll half marathon) but the horrendous spring flooded the course and it got moved to September.  Perfect.  Training was mainly building on my fitness from earlier marathon training this year and Ragnar NW Passage and adding in longer trail runs.  I came in feeling a undertrained and very nervous but ready for the challenge.  I was in this to finish and to have fun. JT and SJ planned on running the 25k distance.  Coach Lesley and TC would run the 50k distance with me.  EA was along for cheering.  Wow.  I was looking forward to this weekend. 

And then like every runner knows, life happens.  The weekend before the event, a coworker had a massive stroke at work and died the next day.  I'd known this gal casually for years and as an avid hiker and only in her mid-50s, i was shocked and saddened by her death.  I still cannot believe it (do you know the symptoms of a stroke?).  A friend's husband was fired.  Our sewer line broke.  And there was a deadline at work with extras and I stressed about getting everything done.  To say it was an awful week is an understatement. 

Wednesday I was super achy and tired in the evening.  I thought i was just tired from it all and achy from a (great!) workout the day before.  The next morning I woke feeling better but still very off.  By that afternoon, I was running a low-grade temp, had a rash, my lungs hurt and I felt even achier everywhere including my feet.  Ugh.  I got into the doc because I wanted the rash which i'd had before checked out.  She cleared me to run as long as nothing got worse. 

That night (friday morning)  I woke up at 2 am and felt super hot and shivery.  And my temperature had spiked to 102ยบ.  I drank some water and went right back to bed.  Fortunately by the time I'd woken up the fever had broken by itself, the rash had mostly disappeared as usual and i felt better.  No cough or congestion so I was pretty certain this was some weird viral thing and I doubted I was contagious. I'd woken up very hungry every morning since I'd been sick but had a hard time eating anything more than what I'd usually eat.  Things tasted a bit off and my stomach was vaguely off as well.  I knew I needed to get more calories in but it was a struggle.   The plan changed to just get to Cle Elum and see what happened.  Maybe I'd make it to the start line or maybe I'd volunteer.

Well it was a blast going to Cle Elum with such great people.  I started the 50k as planned but from the start I felt winded and dead legged.  I'd hoped that would get better once I loosened up and got going but it didn't.  I struggled with the decision but made the turn to the 25k course and started back.  At this point, I was just out for a hike and to enjoy the trails. I definitely had some moments of pity party but it was just one of those things.  The trails?  They were gorgeous.  The creek trail was so pretty with lots of bridge crossings and lots of evidence of blow downs and water damange.  I ran a bit here and there, took photos and went along in no hurry since the others had continued on the 50k.

It wasn't the day I wanted at all for running but it was still a really fun day and a great way to celebrate 10 years of running.  I ended up covering about 18 miles (the "25k" was 17 miles plus the addition of a 50k start) and had fun hanging out at the finish line chatting with everyone on a last day of summer. Thanks to all who made this happen whether you were there or not. The support in the running community never fails to astound me and I wouldn't be the runner I am today without all the experiences and wisdom I've been exposed to over the years. 

Sunday, September 11, 2011

Whose house is this?

It looks like a whole new house!

Ours! Goodbye old porch.

With the end of the summer, we are working hard on getting this last bit of awfulness gone.  I look at this old picture and cringe!  Wow that looked bad. Last summer we had a contractor redo the cement footing.  This summer we had Ballard Ornamental Ironworks make something custom for the porch.  It was installed while we on the cruise! 

It took us a while to decide on the final panel and railing design but I'm really happy with the tulip motif I came up with as a happy compromise.  We wanted something a bit different yet simple and which would work with our old house. Ballard Ironworks was very easy to work with in this regard. They came in took measurements and let us know what we needed to do for code.  I gave some sample sketches and voila! We've gotten complements from neighbors all up and down our street. The final boards which were missing from the underside of the porch roof are up today.  Final caulking, nail set/filling and then final painting still needs to happen.  My plan is to have this DONE by mid-October.   I've started a bit of work with re-grading around the porch and plantings can't happen until that is decided. 

We are still missing one piece of siding on the back of the house.  Other than that our decade-long redo of the exterior of the our old house is done.  It is probably time to paint it again!  

Monday, September 5, 2011

Soaring Eagle Trail Marathon

NW Passage Trail at Soaring Eagle
I need another long run.  Actually the plan called for a long run followed by a 10 mile trail run the next day.  Problem is that I want a run-free day for the holiday weekend.  And the long run would end up being in-city.  Sometimes an in-city run on a glorious summer day is torture for me and I really felt like i needed some more trail running before the event in just two weeks.

A quick search revealed Northwest Trail Runs was putting on a trail run at Soaring Eagle.  Yes my favorite place to run trails and it was supposed to be gorgeous and there was a 10 mile or marathon distance.  OK! So how to approach this then?  Run a few on friday and then run about 4 hours on Saturday paying attention to fueling and hydration and make sure not to beat up the legs.  I signed up for the trail marathon.  Not only are NW trail runs on great trails but they are inexpensive too.  I love that they do trail maintenance and trim back the vegetation on courses as well. 

I always forget how much slower the Soaring Eagle trails are.  It's deceptive because overall they are much more runnable than Cougar or Tiger because nothing is as steep. BUT they are constantly turning and winding and slight ups and downs with some rocks and roots to keep it interesting.  An easy pace on these trails is a couple minutes over my normal road pace at least.

I got over there easily and was immediately annoyed because it turns out there was an early start allowed but there was no mention of this on the website.  I would've been happy to start earlier because it was going to be a long day.  oh well.  But then the pre-race briefing didn't start until about 8:30 when the race was supposed to start.  They were trying out a new timing system and it was having a few glitches I suspect.  So 15 minutes late we start.  Actually that was amusing.  The race director said "Go!" and no one wanted to move forward.  Haha!  I was one of those standing towards the front and no way I wanted to get out in the front.  I was just out for a run remember?

Anyway, after listening carefully to the race directions, we were back at the start after a 1.2 mile loop (hey i thought we were supposed to do the 5 mile loop first?), i went back out to start the 10 mile loop and got lost with a bunch of other people as well.  No, we weren't lost but we skipped a portion of the course.  I realized this pretty soon and decided that it really was a good thing for me.  Instead of having to decide about finishing the race as intended or not, I could just run for time as long as I felt good.

The new plan based on chatting with coach was just to run about 4 hours.  I could go longer as long as I didn't feel beat up.  Turns out that wasn't an issue at all.  By about 2 hours, I was feeling beat up and by 2.5, I was stumbling.  Yeah no.  No reason to continue with this and I cut out across trails to get back to the start sooner and turned in my chip. I had just run over 13 miles so pretty slow but that also includes closely questioning the race directors during hte middle of the race about where I was supposed to go, some general group consults with fellow runners and figuring my way across the trail system when I decided I was done.  Trail running always has some of this! 

I guess I should've had a clue when I went out for my run the day before and made it 3/4s of a mile before I turned around.  I was just not in the mood to run and feeling off.  I felt fine enough trail running and got into a good rhythm at times. 

I figured out what I'd eaten during the race and it was just barely enough per general guidelines for carb consumption during endurance events (40-60 g of carbohydrates is recommended).  I thought i was eating enough but evidently not.  Here's my intake over the almost three hours:

food calories carbs (g)
fig newton 45 11
potato piece 30 3
potato chips (about 3) 32 3
mike n ike (5) 28 5
mint choc gu 100 20
coke (1/4 cup) 24 7
accel gel choc 100 20
1.5 my energy bars 221 33
580 102

Mike and Ike's candies don't count nearly enough carbs considering they take a bit of time to eat! The potato piece dipped in salt tasted really good but I just had a little piece so I'll have to try more of that.  It's also that time of the month so I often need more food not to mention that general malaise.  Oh well. I enjoy the mix of foods offered at these long trail events but probably just need to supplement gels/my energy bars instead of grazing instead of eating my planned food like I did.  I never felt hungry but the stumbling I was doing towards the end indicates low fuel.  If I figure out what I'd had up until around 2 hours15, it was quite low for what it should've been and I started having trouble directly after that.  I felt rather wiped from the effort the rest of the day but perked up by the evening and felt fine the next day so that's good news.

And like usual, any day running on trails is always good! 

Friday, September 2, 2011

Beach Interlude

That week of easy segued into a San Diego beach interlude.  I highly recommend this to all!  Oh yes, I did go to San Diego having run 10 miles Thursday morning, 9.6 miles Friday evening and 12 miles Saturday morning before hopping on an airplane.

It was a weekend full of sun and warmth and friends.  Actually i'd call them family by this time since I've known these friends now 30 years.  The big draw of the weekend is visiting two little boys who are growing bigger by the minute.

I did get a great run in with a couple of miles at tempo pace on monday.  I was shocked that my legs felt great and of course i loved the running venue.  One mile away is Florida Canyon and Morley Field.  Florida Canyon is just a simple canyon intersected by a road in Balboa Park.  As I trotted along (7:40-7:50 pace yes!) I breathed in lovely scented eucalyptus and coastal sage scrub.  Ahhh, that was wonderful.

Even better, we had a beach day at La Jolla.  White sands and little waves in that water temp which feels cold at first but then just right.  I alternated between building a Sand Castle Complex with adjacent lake and teaching a gaggle of kids about jumping just when the wave hits and watching for those "sneak" waves.  You know, the one that comes right behind another wave when you aren't expecting it.  I did also get a chance to get completely in the water and try and catch a wave body surfing.  It's been a long time.  The waves were poor and I am out of practice and that was just fine.

Next up...did I really just sign up for a trail marathon as a way to get in a long run before the upcoming 50k?  Yes, yes I did.  and I signed up for this trail marathon practically the day before the event.  That's a new one!