Thursday, October 31, 2013

Nicely done Seattle!

Last chance for a daylight run mid-week until spring barring holidays.  Once the clocks roll back for daylight savings ending, it will be dark when i get to work and when i get off of work.  Traffic is always horrific on the evening Halloween and I wanted a longer run, I opted to run commute home. 

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Bwah HaHaHa!

Heh. Scouting out some interesting routes near my house this evening after work.  I drove there and walked around.  I'm planning a very interesting and tough in-city run for a group run. These are the 96th Street Stairs in Maple Leaf Neighborhood. 

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

A New Stop

A new park opened up close to our house.  It's been a park with a playground and playfields but it had a restricted open air reservoir.  I can't even remember how long it has been since the reservoir and all the grounds around the park closed to renovate the playground, playfields and cover over the reservoir and add park space. It opened this weekend.  Great new addition to the neighborhood!  There is a half mile paved loop path which i think will be great for doing speedwork.  There is a lovely overlook with views of Lake Washington and Mt. Rainier.  The overlook features an interesting sculpture pictured. 

Monday, October 28, 2013

The Roundup

It's coming.  We've not hit freezing temps yet but soon.  Where are all my mittens and gloves again?  Oh yes, York the Cat has absconded with a couple random ones.  Fortunately in the dark when I run, no one can tell if they don't match. 

Sunday, October 27, 2013

Snohomish River Run Half Marathon 2013

All smiles at the start.
You just never know what race day is going to bring.  I'd planned for a half marathon a month ago and realized that one was not going to work for me.  I found another one, actually registered for it and woke up the day before with a cold.  Sigh.  I dropped down to the 10k and enjoyed myself.  And still really wanted to race a half marathon.

Training hasn't been ideal the past 6 weeks or so.  There's been a lot going on some of it not so good and interfering with running.  Vacation last week was great but not necessarily relaxing or restful as I like fairly active vacations.  But I found another half marathon and planned to just go for it.

Weather was supposed to be perfect for race day.  And then it changed quickly the day before. Oh well.  I love running in rain. RIGHT? Actually it is better than sun for me.  It did change some things for me however.  More on that later.

It's a well organized event with very limited parking at the start/finish park. The race organizes shuttles from a couple local schools.  They kept harping on getting there early so I was. And it was freezing and rainy.  I'd grabbed a trash bag and extra plastic item to sit on in best experienced runner mode and crammed myself under a vender tent desperate to stay warm and dry.  And still froze and got wet.  Eventually it got to be time to run and I had to turn over all my warm clothing to bag check.  There was a pretty good line for that and it limited my warm up running time.  I'd wanted to run a couple miles but just had time for 1 mile.  Oh well.

I headed back to the start and was delighted to hear a loud shout of my name and run into a couple of running friends I've not seen for a while. one of the friends had targeted this race as a goal race as well and another was using it as a long run.  It was great to laugh and chat with them before the race. I figured I'd be a bit ahead of them and would look forward to seeing them on the out and backs of this race.  

And my goal?  Having set a lifetime PR in the 5k earlier this year, I've really wanted to break my half PR.  I knew that i did not have the training for that now however.  I thought i was pretty close to a master's PR and wanted to aim for that (sub 1:47 time/sub 8:09 pace).  The goal?  8:05 pace and see how long I could hold it.  I did not carry water which meant I'd have to take water on course which usually means a short bit of walking/slowing. I thought with the cooler weather, i could get away with less water and less stops.  We started right on time and were out onto a road which runs along the Snohomish River.  The best part is that they completely closed this road for the race. It was five miles out and back on this road with very good running. 

I got onto pace immediately and was pleasantly surprised to feel good.  Runs post-vacation typically don't feel great to me and this vacation was no different.  It just seems to take a bit to readjust. I took a gel at the turn around at mile 5 and was rather annoyed with the extra teeny cups they had at the aid station.  I saw the husband of the friend here and was happy to hand over arm warmers.  I'd planned on just tossing them but hey, he was there!

There were lots of trains going by and all were blowing their horns. That was fun.  There was a herd of cows who were mooing confusedly at runners.  Hilarious.  And less fun were noxious smells coming from the river.  Ugh.  Dead salmon smells are a local river phenomenon of the fall in the northwest. Then there is the toxic algae stagnant water smell.  Believe me, it's gross. 

I took in water about 8 (cursing the teeny cups) and walked just a bit. I got back onto pace but everything started feeling hard.  And here is where i goofed.  I'd had a gel around 5.5 (so 47 minutes) and had brought another gel.  I didn't want to stop at the aid stations and the cups were so small i didn't think it would matter. It was a cooler day and i needed less water i told myself. Because i didn't want to stop for water, i wouldn't take a gel. Mistake.  I needed the gel and really started slowing after mile 9.

At mile 10, we were pretty much back to the finish line but ran past that area and got onto a smaller paved trail.  I'm sure it was beautiful. All i could do was curse how long it was and curse the blisters I'd developed on one foot (and was developing on the other).  It just seemed to go on forever and ever the blisters were just starting to really be painful.  I'd even looked at the course and had told myself that it was going to seem long at this time of the race. Didn't help and i shouted out with relief "Finally!" when i saw the turn around.

I saw both friends on this section once i made the turn and that was great.  The one doing this race as a goal had caught up a bit to me but still looked like she was running strong.  The second gal who was doing this as a training run didn't look too happy (found out later she'd developed some gi distress the last couple miles). 

I knew i was gong to come under 1:50 and was happy to make it under 1:49.  1:49:50 is my official time and I am always happy with a half marathon under 1:50.  I saw the friend come in and we both bitched about the out and back and waited for the other gal.  They had a nice spread of hot soup and coffee too. I did actually have a hard time eating after this race which is rather unusual for me, bottomless pit that I am.  And I wonder if that is a result of skipping that second gel?  I eventually forced down lunch much later and felt better.

Good event with solid course and some nice touches.
Fun laughs with friends.
Solid race with a 3rd 2nd (Edited!) in Age Group.

I call this one a win! 

Saturday, October 26, 2013

Enough Fog and The Valles Caldera

It had been very foggy for a couple days before we went to New Mexico.  Turns out the fog stayed and it was still here when we got back.  Keswick (pictured above) prefers sun thank you very much.  He's been enjoying his craft paper tents.  Notice all the pinprick holes?  These are claw marks as he and his brother race about hiding toys under the paper.  Good times for all.  

Valle Grande and looking to the lip of the caldera
New Mexico is a great place to go to get some sun.  At this time of year it tends to be colder than Seattle in the morning but the sun is always out and it gets to a very pleasant 60-70 degrees.  On our last day in the Los Alamos area, we went for another sunrise trail run and then headed out to the Valles Caldera.  It's a National Preserve and just west of Los Alamos.  If you are in Los Alamos and look to the west, the highest hills are the edge of the caldera.  
Yes a volcano.  There is a supervolcano lurking in New Mexico.  Actually there are a couple other in the United States (Yellowstone for instance) and Valles Caldera is one of the smaller ones around.  Still it's impressive.  You drive over the rim of the caldera and all of a sudden there is this flat wide open expanse of grassland.  Off in the distance you can see the other rim of the caldera.  There are various lava domes which break up the floor of the caldera.  Access is limited into the area so without a guide or planned event, you can't go onto the grassland area of the floor of the caldera.  There are a couple ares where there is some free hiking and we headed there.  
Fire ravaged trees and understory coming back
The Coyote Loop is about 3 miles and pretty well signed with marks on trees.  This must be a cross country/snowshoeing loop in the winter.  There is an added out and back to the top of Rabbit Ridge which we didn't know about.  The trail (an old logging road) has a lot of blow downs and many washouts/trees so it's rather slow going.  We did not make it to the top because we just weren't sure how long the trail would be. There was also snow on the group which isn't much surprise as this is a north facing trail and we were at 9000 feet!  
This whole area was burned in a couple of large fires many years ago.  Many trees are dead but the forest is coming back. It was a beautiful area to visit. 

Elevation on upper left. GASP!

Friday, October 25, 2013

Got Greens? and Bandelier National Monument

The other sign of recovering from vacation?  I'm craving vegetables and greens.  Thus I was outside
Arugula in the garden by flashlight. Day 69 Photo
with my flashlight this morning and thinning the crop of arugula which is coming up all over
the yard.  Hey, you'd pay extra for organic baby arugula in the store!  I just call it the lazy gardener method of yardwork.  Keep a couple plants of arugula watered and let them seed.  Sprinkle the seeds all over and voila!  Tons of baby arugula. 
We always end up with a couple of plants which make it through the winter and the process restarts in spring. 

We ate well in New Mexico, of course.  I love green chile in everything but when you are on the go, it is hard to get in vegetables and most restaurants serve them as an after thought.  A pile of romaine lettuce and a couple slices of cucumber don't quite cut it for me but for traveling, it is better than nothing or iceberg lettuce. Note that one of our favorite New Mexican restaurants just added a salad to their menu and this was a big deal to K's mom who is a salad fanatic. We tend to eat a very large breakfast (bonus if it is a local B&B provided breakfast) and fill up.  We stop by a local grocery for some fruit, yogurt and head on out for the day.  If we happen to be someplace where we can get more food, great.  If not, we are set.
Along Falls Trail

Bandelier National Monument is just a short drive from Los Alamos.  However after repeated floods have wiped out parking space, the park services instituted a mandatory free shuttle from a close community (White Rock) using local transit services.  Great idea!  The road out to Bandelier is narrow and winding and gets crowded no doubt.  We got out the next day to Bandelier fairly early and were ready to hike, picnic items in our bag.  

Fires and then subsequent floods through the canyon have taken their toll and some trails are closed.  According to  a park volunteer, visitors in the back country were pretty much on their own.  There are many washouts and destroyed trails.  That should not deter anyone from visiting.  We took an easy hike (3 miles round trip) down the canyon to the Upper Falls.  The damage from the flood of just one month ago in September 2013 was amazing.  Snags and debris was piled up 8 feet tall along this creek-side trail.  Picnic tables were under feet of sand deposited by the creek turned raging river.

It was an easy hike the 1.5 miles to the overlook of the Upper Falls.  The fall color was at peak and just beautiful.  The falls were breathtaking and unexpected. We'd been to Bandelier 15 years ago but had not hiked this easy trail. We had our lunch overlooking the canyon and waterfall. It does not get any better than that! 

View down the canyon. Rio Grande River in distance.
We then went to do the main loop trail which takes you past all the remarkable remains of the ancestral pueblo people who lived here 400 to 800 years ago. They carved their homes into the volcanic tuff (a softer easily carved rock made of ash which looks like fake cement) and created larger circular village on the canyon floor.  It was a perfect fall day with the cottonwoods (which grow along streambeds in New Mexico) showing their stunning yellow fall foliage.

I'd only vaguely remembered our easy hike here 15 years ago and knew then it was someplace I wanted to go back to.  This trip made more of an impression as it was just so beautiful.  I'd wanted to get to the Alcove House trail but unfortunately the trail and area was completely closed because of washouts.  Darn!  Next time! 

We'd also heard from our B&B host that the Tsankawi (pronounced San-Ka-Wee) Section of Bandolier, a small area separate from the main park, was where the locals went.  Evidently it has just as impressive ancient pueblo dwellings plus more petroglyphs.  We'd hoped to get to this site but ran out of time. It'll be on the list to return to as well as those trails around Los Alamos. 

Thursday, October 24, 2013

Back to Reality / Los Alamos Trails

It is wonderful to be home. And back to a foggy, dark, flat run. It was pretty out on my normal loop as the trees here are in full amazing autumn colors. I ran at my normal time for a midweek run which meant it was dark. It was warmer than it has been for morning runs in Albuquerque and Los Alamos too.  And the humidity?  Yeah. I'd call it 100% compared to the 20-40% of morning runs in New Mexico (the humidity like here in Washington drops as the day progresses).  It's been uncommonly foggy here in Seattle since before we went on vacation.  My eyelashes got all dewy! 

White Rock Rim Trail at Sunset
I consider myself lucky to be a runner in Seattle, Washington and living where I do.  Within just a couple miles, i have easy access to THE most popular running area in the city and know dozens of variations to add in miles.  It's hilly and beautiful with often views of Mt. Rainier, Lake Washington, Green Lake and the Puget Sound.   If I drive just a little bit, I have access to countless other road courses plus amazing technical trails. 

Sunrise run on Perimeter Trail, Los Alamos
And?  I keep thinking of the amazing trails in Los Alamos.  These are dirt trails popular with dog walkers, mountain bikers and runners.  It's hilly and the altitude is certainly noticeable although by the end of the week, I was feeling more normal.

Those trails are well loved.  I mean that they are well used and worn in places.  Signage is minimal and I was prepared to get lost and was ok with that.  You can always pop out onto a road (usually after a steep climb or downhill) and find your way. The trails all interconnect and the area of Los Alamos isn't huge.  White Rock, a community about 10 miles to the south) also has amazing trails and we went for a sunset walk along the edge of the mesa.  Lovely.  I do wonder how many people have to be rescued off these trails each year. They are steep and rocky in places. 

Perimeter Trail at Sunrise - fire damage visible
We'd get up early to go run a few miles and then go visit the sights around Los Alamos and get in a  few more miles hiking or walking. We were limited by running because we did not want to miss our B&B breakfast at the North Road Inn. Yes, get the green chile, add in the potatoes and blue corn pancakes.  We'd grab picnic items then at the local grocery store and head out for other activities. I keep thinking of those trails and want to go back!  68

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Rest and travel day

And now, I have a handful of rocks and photos and lots of memories from the past couple days.  We had a great vacation after a really nice trip to see family.  And that was a great way to do it too.  K's parents need some help now about the house and we are happy to help out. There is also a lot to see and do in New Mexico and it was great to take some time to get to areas of the state I'd not been to before.  

These are chunks of rocks from the volcanic activity in the area of northern New Mexico. Lava rocks lay all about when we'd go hiking or running or walking around the mesas.  The small black rock is a rounded piece of obsidian.  The cave dwellers of the ancient communities around the area used this natural volcanic glass to make sharp arrow points. 

I'm still marveling over the Valles Caldera.  We could see the volcano shell easily from our flight now that we knew where and what to look for.  

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Valles Caldera

Super volcano!  And stunning trails to finish off our couple days in the Los Alamos area.  Nine thousand feet equals quaking aspens and they were all at peak of color.  Yes, snow on the ground in sheltered area but a comfortable temperature for an easy (gasp altitude!) hike. 

Monday, October 21, 2013

Los Alamos and Bandelier National Monument

Wow.  That is all I can really say.  Fabulous trails just out the door from our B&B in Los Alamos to stunning scenery and hiking at Bandolier. It's been fabulous!  We'd driven through Los Alamos and promptly gotten into classified areas 15 years ago on our way to Bandelier.  I remember being awed by Bandelier then and it held true today too.  Also incredible is the recent scars of fire and flood in this area.

Sunday, October 20, 2013

New Mexico at its best

Dinner at Rancho de Chimayo and a beautiful cottonwood and Mesa filled drive into the sunset towards Los Alamos. I can't wait to explore tomorrow. 

Friday, October 18, 2013

The morning after

Oh it was lovely.  Sweeping views off the North Channel Trail.  Only one balloon out and it was low to the ground far off to the Rio Grande Valley. 

Happy Annuversary!

Wick snap of Rio Grande on way to dinner to celebrate. Other fun things included weeding and snipping out the alien pods of a tree in my in laws tree (look up Japanese pagoda tree seeds). I wouldn't have had it any other way. 

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Another sunset

Looks a little different. It's the first step to some relaxation and recovery. 

Tuesday, October 15, 2013


It never fails.  After I've been sick, I have a moment at work where i walk up a flight of stairs and feels so winded and tired and I think, how did i ever run this morning, a marathon, 40 miles a week?  It's a strange thing.  The deadline is done, things will settle down and we are taking some vacation time.  Time to rest and renew and play a bit.  And yes that does still mean running.  Meanwhile, in a few more days, this cold will have passed and I won't notice the stairs anymore.  I will notice the altitude though and that is ok!  59

Monday, October 14, 2013

Cross Training?

Still sick here. And yes I did go for a short run to loosen up my legs, my back and the snot in my head.  I felt pretty good after 2 miles but that was enough.  Work deadline has not been fun. I would normally have no trouble taking a day off if I'm not feeling good and don't want to spread the crud about at work.  Oh well with this deadline.  I had to go and spent all day running around.  Oh yes. Up stairs too.  This book was released this year and I've always wanted to look at it and check out the stairways i see when I'm out running.  

Sunday, October 13, 2013

And there was rest.

And knitting!  Cold hit full force today so it was a nice relaxing day watching tv, soccer with a bit of cleaning and such thrown in. 

Saturday, October 12, 2013

Fall City 10k

Goal half marathon?  never mind.  Waking with a round of crud the day before the race means no racing.  Turns out K got the crud too!  Arrgh!  He'd just been planning on the 10k at the Fall City events. It wasn't a given that we'd go to the race.  i was pretty sure I'd at least be able to run the 10k. I wanted a good workout but figured I'd fade in the race as the crud caught up to me.  And we both felt ok as we got up.  It was raining a bit here in seattle but by the time we got to the race location about 30 miles away, the weather had lightened up.

This was a first year event for Fall City 10k and half Marathon and a very sucessful event too.  Sure there were some issues.  Parking became an issue for the 10k-ers arriving for their race start 30 minutes after the half marathoners.  We got stuck in traffic going into the school and finally realized there was no parking so back out to the road to park.  No big deal but it took a fair bit of time.  And there didn't seem to be any port-o-
potties at the start/finish area.  They had the auditorium of the school opened which was very nice for staying warm but the bathrooms weren't sufficient for a bunch of runners.

I did a barely sufficient warm up because we were rather late then getting our stuff after parking.  I felt horrible at first.  Very achy and stiff but after a half mile, legs loosened up and I was feeling more hopeful.  I figured this race which is pretty much flat and an out and back on a lovely quiet farm lined road would be good just to go for a solid pace and see what happens.

we met up with some friends who were also running the 10k and lined up at the very casual start.  There seemed to be lots of blahblahblah at the start of the race but it was hard to hear.  Just run!

And we were off!  Out to the main highway (which they closed for just a few minutes to start the race) and then onto a really nice road which goes by various farms.  It's not straight but takes a lot of random seeming turns which was great for keeping things interesting.  I planned for 7:45 for the first mile which was slightly downhill and held that at 7:43.  next mile was 7:45 and then 7:42 for the turnaround mile which was before the 3.  I was feeling pretty good and had stayed with a couple other male runners who gradually dropped back.  A couple women were ahead of me but staying steady.

K finishing.  He did have a smile.
At about 3.5, I started to feel the crud.  My lungs started burning and I could feel my throat getting very sore.  I had skipped water stops as I normally do for a good weather 10k and now think that might have been a mistake.  Oh well.  I figured I'd fade in pace the last couple miles because there is a slight uphill section in mile 5 and lungs just weren't having it.  7:51, 8:22, 8:15.  The strange thing was that i only got passed by one gal around mile 5 on the uphill (so jealous!) and a couple guys (including a couple half marathoners who started 30 minutes before me).  I maintained placement with everyone around me pretty much.

49:23 and good enough for 3rd in AG which had a very nice glass as a prize.  I will take it!

I hope they do this one again next year as it was a really nice first year event with a nice course and feel.  56

Friday, October 11, 2013

The Goal Race

It's that race that you've targeted as the race you want to train for specifically.  All out.  The training has been focused on this day for sometimes months.  And the day before? You wake with a sore throat, tight lungs, achy body and some general crud which causes a fair bit tissue usage (sneezey and drippy nose!).  It's disappointing to say the least.  Best laid plans and all that.

Knowing myself, I know my itchy, tight lungs won't let me race a longer distance race.  There are some race options to consider over the next couple weeks.Ugh. I was looking forward to being done with half marathon training and seeing what I could do! 

One of those days

When Scheduled Day Off (from running) turns into running around crazy at work.  I take the day off from running because i need the day off from the pounding of running but I always miss the stress relief benefit.  

Wednesday, October 9, 2013

Arm warmers

Arm warmers. I've been trying them out. They work great especially for faster running when you need better mobility to move your arms. If you get warm, push them down. Once it gets much colder, I'm sure I'll be back to long sleeves. Meanwhile I'm using them for am runs ( hence white - easier to see on the dark) and I'll probably use the to race this weekend. 

Tuesday, October 8, 2013


Last workout before the half marathon this weekend.  Dark = tripping hazard.  This is a local high school track and much better for a dark track workout. In the dark, it feels like you are flying on the nice track surface. And there are a few other people doing workouts at the track early in them morning.  and there were even high school students in the gym. Who knew high school students woke up so early! 

Monday, October 7, 2013

AM run ready

All set. The workout clothes are rady. The coffee timer is set for the am. 

Sunday, October 6, 2013

The Non Running Weekend

It doesn't mean that there is no running. It just means the focus is elsewhere. Taper is like that. Sort of. A lovely foggy run and lots (lots!) of yard work. 

Saturday, October 5, 2013

Friday, October 4, 2013

The Dark

And already we are here at that time when it is dark when i run in the morning.  If i wanted to run in daylight, i could run in the evening.  I am very much a morning runner though and even how difficult it is to do speedwork in the dark does not get me out running after work.  I'd had random flashlights but have found the flashlight pictured (a Fenix L2D) works really well.  It's quite bright, easy to carry and even has a secondary brighter light if necessary.  It's a bit heavier than some out there and I had to switch out the useless lanyard but it's held up to almost daily winter use for a few years. And yes i've dropped it, run in the rain with it and it has been reliable.  About the only downside is that it is a bit heavy if doing speedwork and sometimes it is too bright.  I've had people complain if i accidentally flash someone in the eyes.  


Thursday, October 3, 2013

2014 Sneak Preview?

I can't believe that I am planning for the second half of 2014 already either.  I have no idea what I want to do the first half!  However, we lost in the Hood to Coast Relay last year.  This year we get slightly better odds as a "1 year decline" group going into the lottery.  It would be fun if we got in but would be just fine if we did not.  There is always "2 year declined" for next year if that is the case! 47

Tuesday, October 1, 2013

Sun Salutation

Good Morning! Another day and another successful workout. It's a great way to get the day started.