Saturday, November 30, 2013

Weather a'comin!

And just in time for the Seattle Half Marathon.  No, I'm not running it but someone near and dear is.  Last year it was fun to sit on course and wait for runner(s).  I'll be doing the same this year. I'm not sure if i need the specialty rain gear or not! 

Friday, November 29, 2013

Black Friday

8 mile trail run with friends.
Cook a turkey and all the fixin's and having family over for the traditional meal a day later.
What mall?

Cocktail: cranberry juice, triple sec and prosecco

Thursday, November 28, 2013

Give Thanks!

Friends, family, health and happiness. I ran with a smile for the entire 5k Turkey Trot and then we were off to my mom's for a lunch time Thanksgiving meal at her residence cafeteria. Happy Thanksgiving! We are having our home cooked Thanksgiving feast a day later (Friday) after a long trail run.  Can't wait! 

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Thanksgiving Prep?

Which shoe should I wear at the Turkey Trot tomorrow?  These are my everyday trainers with my usual insert. I have a lighter pair of shoes which don't really need the insert.  BUT I'm not in 5k shape right now and I'm planning on a long trail run the day after.  These'll work.  Menu set, turkey is dry brining, cranberry sauce is made. 

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Who else does this?

When all of a sudden you realize all your socks are threadbare or too old or have holes in them?  This has happened to me. I don't actually tend to get holes in my socks. maybe it would be better if I did because then I'd throw them out earlier.  No they tend to get threadbare for me and feel slippery when I wear them in my running shoes.   I tend to need more thickly cushioned shoes as my feet are narrow. As socks get older, they lose that cushioning which seems to affect fit. I clench my toes and keep stopping to retie my shoes as they don't feel right. 

Mini crew with cushioning. I can't do those thinner socks and at this time of year those no-show or micro mini crew socks leave my ankles cold!  I prefer gray or black socks as they don't show the trail running mud so much.  The pair on the right below are new (Smartwool Phd Outdoor Light Mini).  I hope they will work for me as I'm going to wear them for 12 miles on trails.  I do plan on bringing along another pair I can change into just in case.  Is it cliche to actually look forward to new socks for Christmas? 

Monday, November 25, 2013

Eating to run, Running to eat

Cherry scone courtesy of the baker in the house K. Monday treat. I'm planning on lots of fun running miles this long weekend.  Why yes, I'll have another. 

Sunday, November 24, 2013

Glorious Sun!

Plans for the day include a barre class just before lunch.  I want to run a few miles maybe throwing in some faster stuff.  Hey!  Why not wait until it's above freezing and run to the class?  And then it'll be warmer and that glorious sun is up.  Instead of the steady slog I've been running all week, it was a sprightly fun workout.  I forget how hard it is to run faster right now.  It's very cold in the morning and the sidewalks can be a bit treacherous in the dark.  I forget this and think I just run really slowly.  Nope.  I am running very easily because it is just safer to run slower.  And it's important to get in the faster workouts when i can.

It was a very short workout because i had to be finished in time to get to the class and because I have a 5k on Thanksgiving.  It was just enough to remind the legs that they can move fast. And as bonus, I got to strip off all my layers at I warmed up. 

Weekend warrior

Not. Last weekend was a busy and fun running and everything else weekend and this week has been all about recovery. This works out fabulously as we need the weekend to prepare for the Thanksgiving holiday.  A short trail run (6.5 miles) was perfect. It has been freezing this week and I am just not used to it.  Between needing the recovery and the very cold temperatures, I've been running slow and slower.  This is the perfect way to spot Silk Ice out on the trail again! Note: i've decided i like the term "Silk Ice" better. 

Saturday, November 23, 2013

Friday Relaxing

A deep, dark (and strong!) beer with dinner.  Did you see that NYT article about runners and beer?  I don't think the article was talking about this Irish Death beer.  So tasty.  (Friday - Day 97 photo - posted late)

Thursday, November 21, 2013

I can feel it.

Everyone is ready for the upcoming holiday.  The constant topics at work concerns Thanksgiving plans. I can't wait for the couple days off for the holiday. We aren't traveling and I'm not taking any extra time off. I really enjoy cooking a bird, running a turkey trot and other fun. Focus though! There is still work to be done and workouts to get in.  The temperatures have dropped rapidly over 24 hours and I wasn't quite ready to face freezing temps for a run this morning. So another run commute to core class and I was delighted by the festive lights up on the Blue Trees at Westlake Plaza. 

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Just Because

I took another day off today. Just Because.  Here's the photo of the day. Sunset from work. Just Because.  

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Many miles

Both running packs have seen me through many miles and a couple marathons.  For sale! 

Monday, November 18, 2013


It was such a dreary day today.  I don't think it ever stopped raining.  It would sometimes slow to a cold and sullen drizzle.  We just lucked out this weekend! Not only was it great conditions for the trail race on Saturday (you know, for November), we had very nice weather over the weekend for showing off some fun things in Seattle with the friend who visited.  yes, it was even sunny yesterday.

It was a relaxing rest day off from running today.  I thought I'd help recovery out by arranging to take a half day off from work and working that half day from home.  It is nice to have the ability to do this every once in a while.  Generally I like that my job requires a fair bit of up and down stairs and walking around. However I'm catching up with some at my desk/online work and it is nice to not be distracted by the physical stuff i am required to do at work each day as my part of office responsibilities.  Plus this gave me a chance to do laundry, snuggle cats and go grocery shopping once done with work.

And running pack review!  I ran the trail half marathon wearing my new UltrAspire Alpha 2013.  It is a lovely green shade.  No really. I like that.  I'm not sure what the deal is with the bright red water bladder tube but I guess it is easy to grab it.

The pluses:
I was able to cinch it down tight enough during the race by tying off the front straps.  I carried 30 ounces of water and used 20 ounces. I could feel the pack getting looser as i finished off water but couldn't easily grab the pull cord to cinch it down tighter per manufacturer's claims.  I will try that next time when I'm not 12 miles into a race and blasting down a technical trail.  We'll see if this ends up being a con!
The front cinch pockets were very secure and held a lot.  I could easily get my iphone into one pocket and a bunch of wrapped rice balls in the other.  The cinched pocket held everything securely with no bouncing out.
The small zip pocket in the front is just big enough to hold a key.  I'd be a bit concerned about putting my car key in anything but a zip pocket or something which hooks on. Since it doesn't hook in I'd not put anything else into this pocket for fear of my car key falling out if trying to get something.
I liked water bladder tube management.  There are a couple fabric tabs to run the tube through and the hook used to hold the tube is well placed.  I also ended up just tucking it into the vest and that worked. 
I do not hit my wrists or forearms on the front pockets like I would with previous vests.  This may be because I have to have the vest cinched up as small as it can go and the pockets are set close together in front of me and thus don't interfere with my arm swing.  Whatever. I like this a lot as it would annoy me with other packs. 
I really liked having access to side pockets and a back magnetic stretchy pocket. I could access both of these when running although it took me a bit (when running) to figure it out.  I assume I'll get used to pocket access placement with more use. The back magnetic stretchy pocket held 4 gels easily and could definitely have held more.  I do think that this pocket will only work for things that are ok to get squished.  Sometimes i carry pancakes and PB and that might be pretty difficult to carry.  Works great for gels though.
Overall very comfortable and I like the material which feels light, doesn't absorb water (which would make the vest heavier) and has more give than previous running vest and packs. I think the water sits a bit lower into the small of your back which is easier to carry.   

The cons:
I'm still a bit concerned about fit. I think it'll work for me but for a gal who is shorter, smaller in the chest and especially the lower rib cage, I don't think she could get it tight enough.  I talked with a very petite gal at the start of the race who was asking about it and really doubted if she could get it to fit.  I'm tall which helps a bit with length and fit.
The hooks to secure the vest are a bit iffy for me right now.  They hold very securely and seem just fine.  After the race however when my hands were cold and I was tired and maybe they were wet, it was hard to get them undone. This would be an issue if I wanted to refill the water bladder.  I think this might get a bit easier as I get used to the vest but I'm not sure. 
That bite valve on the water bladder sprays water when open.  I doused my socks and a lot of the living room carpet when I was loading the water bladder into the vest before leaving in the am.  I'd notice it dribbling too when running if I couldn't get it closed fast enough.  Granted I do remove air from the bladder so I don't get so much of a sloshing noise but I am surprised so much water dribbles out (all over me).  I've used Nathan, Camelbak and UltimateDirection water bladders and never had such a problem.  

I'm definitely keeping it and contemplating selling both my current pack and vest.  I use a larger pack to run commute but I do think I could use this vest as long as the items I run commute home with (wallet, bus pass, nook, keys) could be wrapped securely in a plastic bag and secured into the vest. 

Sunday, November 17, 2013

Evergreen Grand Ridge Trail Half Marathon

Notice the dirt marks on right - wipeout!

I'd signed up for this race a couple months ago thinking it would be nice to get a supported long run in on trails before the goal 25k one month later. Grand Ridge Trail is one of my favorites - easily accessible, usually pretty quiet and nicely runnable.  

Then a good friend of mine contacted me asking if I were free this weekend. She was flying into town for a meeting and was hoping we could meet up with her.  Of course! this friend doesn't get out to Seattle too often.  We had ballet tickets saturday evening as well so it was no trouble to get another ticket.  Her flight landed early afternoon at SeaTac and she was staying downtown. Lightrail is a great way to get downtown and she'd never taken this one. It would be great if i could meet her at the airport and sheppard her back to her hotel.  It would give us a chance to catch up.  

Oh yeah. That race. I checked previous half marathons on trails and figured I'd be 3+ hours if I were just running this course very easily.  But the previous trail halves were on more challenging courses (Cougar Mountain and Soaring Eagle) and I thought i could be finishing right at 3 hours.  THAT would work. I could get back home, shower and eat and head out to catch bus/light rail to the airport. 

And I looked up the course before the race and realized there was more elevation than I expected. 3 hours? I suddenly got very nervous thinking I'd really have to push the pace to be done on time.  All the logistics of the rest of the day (meeting up for dinner with K and my mom and then heading off to the ballet) started to make me anxious.  Would it work out?

With a race start at 9 am, i had time to sleep in, get breakfast and get off to the trail head with plenty of time. I'd prepared clothing, my running pack and post running gear the night before. I'd planned to be there before 8:30 figuring parking would be pretty tight. I didn't want to have to park too far away.  After I finished, i needed to be gone quick!  The weather, which had been spectacularly crappy the day before, cleared. It was cooler (40s) but not raining. It was breezy but we were mostly protected once up on the ridge.

We started right on time and I breathed a sigh of relief about that.  I'd done a half mile easy warm up.  We start on a slightly downhill rail trail before turning onto the brutal uphill trail. A little more of a warm up before starting that would only help.  I'd really planned to take this first uphill easily. No passing people and just staying easily moving up.  I'd started fairly far back too so that worked well. It was a comfortable pace climbing and soon we were onto the long downhill losing all the elevation we'd just gained.  I did make sure to pass people in here jsut stay at an even effort.

4 gels and 3 baked rice balls + 20 ounces of water
I'd read a great account of one woman's quest to conquer the Cascade 100 and was really struck by her fueling strategy of eating every 30 minutes.  And when things weren't quite feeling right, she upped that to every 20 minutes. The thought of a gel every 20 minutes makes me want to hurl but hey, if that is what your body needs, you do it.  I'd brought some of the handy dandy Feed Zone Portables baked rice balls and my usual favored gels.  I'd planned on eating a gel at least every 50 minutes and supplementing with a rice ball as needed. I carried 30 ounces of water.

And at 30 minutes, i was already feeling i needed something so i got out a rice ball and worked on eating it.  I was also testing how these worked if not fresh. I'd made a batch last week and froze the extras.  Freezing them does change the texture and frankly makes them harder to eat in a race situation. It would be fine for a training run but not for a race. 

At mile 3, i was really questioning continuing. It's a tough start with this course and I debated how hard i was working for pace. I was maintaining under 13 minute miles and started trying to the do the math.  13 miles at 13 minutes per mile equals what? Give me a piece of paper and a pen, sure i can figure it but can't in my head.  I passed the turn off to the shorter distance race and decided I would check this figure at the aid station coming up at 4 miles.  It's fun running in here anyway. We'd finally climbed up to the ridge and were starting my favorite section on a long out and back.

At the aid station, i pulled out my phone and opened the calculator app.  13 mpm times 13 miles equals 169 minutes divided by 60 minutes equals 2.8 hours.  YES!  The course would probably be a bit long on my watch and my pace at mile 4 with the worst climbs and drops done was at 12:45. I could do this.  And i started back up having grabbed a couple potato chips at the aid station and felt more relaxed.

The miles went pretty quickly. I had the rice ball at 30 minutes, a gel at 50 minutes. Rice ball at 1:15 and another gel at 1:30. Conditions were pretty good. We started hitting the returning runners for the 50k/marathon and eventually the half marathoners.  The trail is fairly wide but it did require paying attention so as not to impede any incoming runner plus maintaining a good running line on the sometimes rocky trail.

I got behind a gal who was running very steadily this long downhill before the 7.75 turnaround.  I tried not to crowd her as i didn't want to push here.  The trail drops off pretty quickly and I knew the climb back out would feel impossible if I ran too hard now.  Plus we hit a couple areas where the mud was really, really slick.  Soon enough the turnaround came abruptly into sight just around a turn.  it was just a sign saying "turn around" and a couple jugs of water with little cups.  No table and only self serve for getting water.  There would be no room to put any table anyway.  I laughed at this and took myself and my running pack with water right back around.  The gal i'd been pacing with never caught back up.

The back towards the finish went quickly.  I felt strong and kept moving and monitoring eating and drinking. I'd walk sections of up but would still pass the occasional person doing this.  I had my last gel at 2:20 and figured i was just over 2 miles away from the finish. I wanted to make sure i was fueled for the last steep downhill mile.  I was pretty happy here as I knew I'd be able to be on my way back home by noon.

that last mile is always pretty amazing.  We'd climbed up this same trail but in a line of trail runners hiking steadily. It always looks completely different running quickly downhill.  It's rocky at times but a very runnable downhill and just when i saw the last tiny section before it connects to the rail trail, i tripped.  ARrgh!  My calf threatened to cramp so I bolted back up and started right back running. I also took a bow for the dad and kids waiting around here.  No need to pretend it didn't happen. It surely did but that's ok.  Falling is part of trail running but I failed in my second goal.  No falls!  Next time then, I'll get that goal.

It's a slight uphill back to the finish for a half mile and always seems to go on forever. I could see the marathoners heading out for their second loop and was really happy that was not me.  One gal heading towards the finish was limping along very badly.  I checked with her if she was ok and she assured me that she would make it.

I hit the finish line at 2:44 and was delighted. I got a quick bowl of chile, chatted with someone who'd said "Hi Axxxxx" to me along the trail which caused some puzzlement as i'd not recognized him and headed to my car happy and satisfied.

I ended up 8th in 10 year age group. 3rd if you factor in the 5 year increments.  I'm delighted. Only a couple of minorly bruised knees and slightly bruised hands from the fall.  This upcoming week is a rest week and that will be good. 

And it ended up being a wonderful rest of the day meeting up with the friend, dinner and then ballet.  I'm really glad i got to do the longer distance at this trail race. It's a fantastic event. 

Saturday, November 16, 2013

Full, rich day.

Trail half marathon. Done. And well under goal time of 3 hours. Why that time? Because I needed to be at the airport by 2:30 to meet a friend. Quick tour through downtown, dinner with K and mom and then ballet with mom and friend. Very good day!

Friday, November 15, 2013


view of pack from the back
I've been eying a possible new running pack, an UltrAspire Alpha, and just decided to try it once i saw it marked down. I want to wear it for a long trail race tomorrow but thought I should try it out for at least a short run.  So for a 2.5 mile shakeout neighborhood run, i donned the pack with water on board.  And? I chose a small based on chest size and still had trouble getting it tight enough. It wouldn't stay tight either. The buckles seem to slip a bit so I"ll try tying them off.  The bite valve of the water bladder is different than I"m used it.  You have to close it or water goes spraying out. Better to learn this on a neighborhood run when i don't need water! 
Hook closure and very long straps.
What did I like? It's very light overall but has plenty of pocket space.  This is an issue with my current packs. They have front pockets but it is hard to get things into them especially my phone. This pack even features pockets along the side and back which i can access while running.  This is not possible in my other pack.  I do think i'll also like where those front pockets are situated. Since I have to cinch the straps up tight, the pockets end up more centered over my chest.  When running, i have a pretty tight arm swing and sometimes am annoyed by my wrist or forearm brushing against the bulging pockets.
So off to try it for 13 trail miles tomorrow. I'm not racing it per se but I do want to aim for a harder effort than just easy long run. AND i need to be at the airport in the early afternoon to meet a friend. Did I mention the wind is howling and snow levels are dropping? 

Thursday, November 14, 2013

Shameless begging

But I earned it!  The Age group award beer mugs for Snohomish River Run. I was standing right there listening to the awards thinking i had a chance. I was waiting for a friend to finish and eating and it was impossible to hear.  I never heard my name.  Oh well.  I was surprised to find out once results were released later in the day that i was 3rd in AG.  Cool beans! And that was just fine.  But then the race posted photos of the AG winners and all had beer mugs when I'd thought they'd probably only given them out to 1st in AG.  I ended up 2nd after results were finalized.  I wanted mine. I earned it, remember.  I contacted the race director and kindly asked it to be sent out. Please, please, please! I did provide shipping label but they were nice enough to package and drop it off.   

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Find the work

That was the bit of wisdom in this morning's barre class. And even after years of doing weight training, this class is helping me figure out engaging my muscles when specifically trying to work them.  Sounds dumb right? Evidently this wasn't something I quite understood when doing strength work. Oh you contract the muscle when you lift and hold and slowly release. Barre uses little movements to target the muscles and you hold it and engage for a longer period of time. I have been finding the work and I'm curious as to whether I'll notice the difference in running. I think yes!

Meanwhile it is dark. All the lights are going up downtown. This always makes me happy.

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

More baked rice ball

Why yes, i do have a long trail race this coming weekend.  So I made more baked rice balls this weekend to sample on the run. the peach coconut rice ball just tasted like sweet rice.  Nothing wrong with that but not really much flavor. Pumpkin curry is a huge win!  Very, very tasty.  And because I am pretty lazy when it comes to making perfectly sized little balls of rice, i had a brain wave and got out the trusty ice cream scoop. We use these for cookie dough too so have a couple different sizes.  The top one pictured is a typical ice cream scoop. the lower two are used for cookie dough.  So much easier!  
It's still be a bit challenging to wrap. I've been using just plastic wrap twisted but in my pack, they come untwisted and pop out.  I'll try a bit of tape over the twist this weekend for the run.  

Monday, November 11, 2013

By Chance

Out for some errand running at lunch time. No i do not have the day off from work. And I went by the Garden of Remembrance. I used to come by this small pocket park frequently many years ago. I seldom wander by now. It's matured into a peaceful place. 

Sunday, November 10, 2013

Random Forest Scenes

It's Sunday so that means, yes, trails. I'm a month out from a goal trail race and need both miles and trail miles. If i can run trails on tired legs, even better!  Extra bonus? Having a couple friends around who are training for the same race!  
We headed out to St. Edwards State Park for 8+ miles. Turns out this is GVB's stomping grounds so he knows the trails very well.  It was nice not to have to worry about navigation.  I'm a little more familiar with these trails but it all looks different since i last ran here in the summer.  

Tree vomit aka slime mold
There were a fair number of other runners plus walkers plus a few mountain bikers out this morning. It's always nice to see the trails being used.  
What stopped me in my tracks? We were along the South Ridge trail and came across what looked like tree vomit.  WEIRD!  Slime molds in action is my best guess.  Wet and decaying materials equals lots of interesting things in the forest. 

Saturday, November 9, 2013

November Crazies

Meadow Brook Pond
How does this work again? According to Pacific Northwest Guru Cliff Mass, November is the wettest, stormiest month of the year. Add in the time change, sudden darkness and it's grim.  And what am I trying to do usually at this time of year?  Get in a lot of running miles for some event in December.  It never fails.  But then, we can get the calm after the storm and it is still gorgeous around here.  It does help to keep things ever changing because frankly doing the same boring road run when it is windy and rainy every day would mean I cut miles short and grumble to myself about every run. Today was the first "stairway run" and it did not disappoint.  It was super fun combining a couple different Stairway Walks and running in some new areas while exploring some hidden areas of North East Seattle. And the stair count?  459! I added running miles before and after and felt great once i finally warmed up.  It takes a bit to get used to that cold too! 
95th Street Stairs at Lake City Way

Fill in

It was an event downtown. Happy Hour for dinner and watching the Grand Lobby of Benaroya Hall fill in. Fun evening.

Thursday, November 7, 2013

One Week

South Lake Union Park just before the end of civil twilight
Another run commute home. One week later and after the switch off of daylight savings and it is dark by the time I finished my 8 mile run at 6:15 pm.  Sigh.  It was dark and another storm hit Seattle.  Windy and rainy but not really that cold. I got some strange looks downtown but, of course, as usual it was worse downtown.  It is always windy and gusty there!  Eventually as i went north I had a nice tail wind.

I was prepared for the dark too. I had a blinkie light on the back of my backpack which works very well to help cars and bikes see me.  I carried my flashlight too and did notice that both were enough to stop cars from turning in on me.  Win! 

The Loop

The Loop, the new half mile paved path around the new Maple Leaf Reservoir park, is getting a lot of use this week. I tried it out Tuesday evening for speed work.  It's half a mile long so 4 x half mile repeats at 10k pace worked great! It was dark when i was running so there were just a few others on the path. During the summer, i can imagine it will be busy and that is great! When we went walking it when the park first opened, there was one small square section of the path with a big hole in it and fenced. The fencing and hole is gone. Code remains as I found out on my morning run (Wednesday). Day 81

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

Real food on the run

On the longer trail run Sunday, i wanted to try some real food instead of gels. Why? for longer trail runs, i just get very tired of gels and stop eating. That is bad! So I was recommended a book called Feed Zone Portables.  This is a Date and Almond Baked Rice Ball and I also made a Potato and Sweet Ginger version. Very tasty!  Each ball is about a 100 calories with a sweet/savory taste. There are endless variations and lots of other interesting recipes to try in the book plus some solid facts about nutrition and fueling for endurance activities.  I can't wait to try various other recipes. 

Sunday, November 3, 2013

Weekend Wrap

135th Street Stairs - 169 of them!
The storm gave way to calm weather and even sun. Out for a trail run with a friend and it was wonderful. And then? More stairs!  Running course figuring done. It'll be a fun (cough challenging cough) one with some lovely views and some neat surprises. The weekends are done so quickly.  

Mid-stair view of Lake Washington

Saturday, November 2, 2013

Welcome to November!

Angeline Stairs, Seattle
November equals winter storms with major wind events and the first weekend of November did not disappoint.  It was a very easy short road run this morning and the wind was so strong that I felt like I was getting a strength/resistance workout at times.  It was really gorgeous though.  Lake Washington had white caps and WAVES in it.  Add in the dramatic and quickly changing clouds, swirling colorful fall leaves and the trees with their remaining fall colors and I had a blast.  

PLUS, I knew on this easy out and back course from Seward Park that we would pass by a couple more Seattle Stairways.  No I cannot resist and I talked a friend into exploring them with me.  Pictured are the Angeline Street Stairs just one block off of Lake Washington Boulevard.  They are rather dramatic with laurel hedges and more visible stairs up the hill.  

More Stairs! Photo by TR
We came back down (well first up from Lakewood Park) the Ferdinand Street Stairs and Walkway. It's that time of year where all the leaves are down suddenly and it pays to be careful on the slick leaves that hide potholes and stairs. And it wasn't windy in this sheltered area. Thanks to TR for joining me and taking a photo too.  

Day 77

Friday Hills

Back to Barre3 workouts and "the Hill" at work. That means i need to go pick something up at the library. Walking up the hill with tired legs reminds me to still use proper form.