Monday, June 30, 2014

Good Health

We are traveling with friends which we did two years ago. In that interim time, the husband of the pair had a heart attack and triple bypass surgery. While he is in remarkable health now having made dramatic life style changes, there are some nasty side effects of drugs he's on. We did a lot of easy hiking today to see the amazing Giant's Causeway and it was a tough but worthwhile hike for him. It made me appreciate the good health i'm in now even more. It lets me do and see things that so many people cannot if they do not take care of themselves. 

The very long day

Monasterboice High Cross & Round Tower
That flight we were scheduled to be on got cancelled. We were rebooked onto a different airline and a different itenerary which included a nice long wait at Seatac and then a wait at Heathrow in London. Heathrow included what seeemd like miles of walking to get from one terminal to another. The bonus was nice seats you could actually lie down on and sleep on. I sleep terribly on airplanes (ie not at all) so even getting that down time helped. And then we were finally in Ireland.

We met our friends, picked up the rental car and headed north. One quick spectacular tourist stop to see a high cross, round tower and peaceful cemetery. We were just 9 hours late into Dublin which is hardly anything at all.

Friday, June 27, 2014


TSA pre-check. Couscous salad with raspberries from garden for lunch. Snazzy recovery compression calf high socks. 17mile long run complete before 7am. All are fantastic!

Thursday, June 26, 2014


I've signed up for a race and I want to be well trained for it. Thus, my running shoes and running clothing I"m taking on vacation are the first to be pulled and ready to go. And yes, I'm planning on getting up extra early to get in a long run.

Vacation. It is a priority to have fun with K and friends and enjoy myself. That means I don't have a running schedule nor any pressure to hit miles or certain workouts. I will certainly run and I'll enjoy it but it is not the focus. I arranged my running schedule to take into account this vacation.  I can't wait!

Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Focus on this

The first workout of this training cycle with 4 miles at tempo pace. It's a gray morning with saturated gray air. The humidity is up and i've not run fast for what seems like forever. The blisters don't bother me at least. The first couple miles feel very hard but after warming up and working through it, it feels good and i finish feeling like i could've run a lot more at that harder pace. The pop of color at the end was a nice beacon. Focus on whatever will pull you through that workout.


Blisters upon blisters actually.  Something has changed with my go-to shoe. I am getting blisters around my big toe on my right foot. Dropping the orthotic has changed something there. It was painful enough that i was aware of having to fight to keep my running form the same during the run yesterday towards the end when it started bothering me and i was aware of it a lot of the day at work.  
I did take the time to drain the blister and trim the callus area (probably related) also on the big toe. I slathered body glide all over the area and tightened the forefoot area of the shoe (a new pair) on that side. And? I had no problems for an easy and short recovery run. It's making me a bit nervous for long runs now though. 

This is the same toe where i'm going to lose the toenail from teh half marathon a month ago. There is something subtly different on this foot that is causing this issue. I hope just careful attention to preventative measures will help. 

Sunday, June 22, 2014

The Long Run

It wasn't even that long. 14 miles starts off marathon training for a mid-september race I'm planning on just running easily. Sure I'd run 14 miles three weeks ago at NODM (1 mile warm up plus the 13.1 half marathon) but it's different than running long and deliberately. Fortunately I had company for most of the run and we had a really fun and new course with a lot of hills and some great views.  I've missed long runs. The last long run i had? Deception Pass 25k trail race in December!

Friday, June 20, 2014

A Friday Sign.

It's been a long week. Five easy miles which wasn't a struggle. I just went out and ran and enjoyed the morning with whatever it had to offer. This helped. 

Thursday, June 19, 2014


No, not me. Another early morning and thus a double with a run commute to the track. Building miles doesn't really need any speedwork! It was fun to see everyone and do the short core work afterward. 

Wednesday, June 18, 2014

Meanwhile, these are lurking...

I've been so distracted by the ripening raspberries that I missed the giant blueberries which are now ripe. If this is any indication, it's going to be an excellent blueberry season too! We just have two blueberry bushes of two different varieties. One produces an early small dark and very flavorful berry. The big ones come later.  They are quite early this year. 

Tuesday, June 17, 2014

Giant Yacht on Run Commute

This is moored right now in Lake Union. I think they were getting deliveries from various trucks and are in the process of provisioning. Seriously, this yacht is so big it just stopped me in my tracks. There were various workers out and about on the decks too. 

It's a crazy week at work and it is messing with my run schedule. I had to be into work very early today (and the next couple days) but still wanted to hit my planned mileage. So a double it is. I got up the same early time and ran an easy 3 miles and got into work an hour early. 

I wanted 10 miles total and the most direct (steepest) way home is just over 7 miles but I hate that route so I opted for the slightly easier but longer way home. And the miles caught up to me. I was getting very tired and hungry. 

So, for another first, I opted to hop on a bus the last 1.5 miles home. If I had been feeling good, I would've run that however slowly and been fine. I was done and I had options so I took them.  I figured this is also good training for Ragnar as well. I haven't done too many doubles of late and it's helpful to get runs in at different times of the day.  I am really looking forward to my planned rest day tomorrow. 

Monday, June 16, 2014

Raspberries Galore!

The raspberry bushes we have in our front yard are just starting to produce. It looks to be a huge crop. There are a few reasons why this is a problem.
  • We still have frozen raspberries from last summer.
  • We'll be gone right at peak season for a week. That is great for the neighbors but in reality it does take a bit of effort to keep the raspberries picked. 
  • I'm starting to snack on raspberries all day long!
So my plan is to pick pretty heavily the next couple weeks and take extras into work. Anybody want raspberries? Let me know and I can get you some or come pick!

Why do we still have frozen raspberries from last summer? I do use the frozen raspberries year round in smoothies but smoothie consumption drops off severely with winter. I've been going through a couple cups of frozen a week but we really did have a lot.

And why is it a problem to snack on raspberries all day long? I raced a half marathon two weeks ago and took a pretty severe cut back/recovery week. This week I've been upping my miles (45 miles this past week) plus ran a longer trail race mid-week which has increased intensity.  Plus trail running in general just requires more calories mile per mile.

And? I was pretty tired saturday on the trail run. That was fine as i was expecting to feel the uptick in running but I thought i was a little too tired. the issue? All this healthy snacking means I'm not eating enough calories and my weight is down.  It's too low of a weight for this point in training. Yes, i've seen a drop in body fat percentages overall which is great but losing weight too quickly can set me up for difficulty hitting workouts, poor recovery from workouts, a loss in muscle and basically mucking about with my metabolism.  I don't weigh myself very often as I tend to just rely on how my clothing fits. I knew I'd lost a little bit of weight which was fine but wasn't quite expecting that big of a drop. 

So what to do? I baked and used a recipe which required frozen raspberries. The rhubarb almond crumb cake i made a couple weeks ago worked fabulously with frozen raspberries. I've been having a slab of it for a mid morning snack. I'll admit this is a good problem to have.  It probably means going back to a calorie tracking app.  Why? If I'm running 6-10 miles per day, I get lazy about replacing those burned calories sometimes. Seeing the hard numbers helps me plan more food at work.  Baking is just fine!

Leschi Stairs

Frink Waterfall Bridge
The next stair run has been tentatively scheduled for next month. With upcoming travel coming soon, I have to fit in an exploratory run. I'm upping miles this week so an "easy" run exploring some new areas is an entertaining way to do this.  I planned a 7 mile loop but of course once out exploring not every trail or stair was quite what I was expecting. I ended up being out running for almost two hours and cut the planned route short because of time and less than spectacular stairs. Yes, i've become a stair snob. 

it sure was fun though! The best set of stairs? I can't remember where they are! It was early in the run and just north of Madrona Woods and probably the Newport Stairs. They are impressively slippy/sloppy/slidey. These are steep hillsides next to Lake Washington and obviously the hillside isn't completely stable. The houses tucked into these steep areas were impressive too. They've mostly been there for decades so I'm sure they are safe, right?

I've run along Lake Washington Blvd for years and years. There are common bike routes which cut through these neighborhoods and i've seen the trail access and been curious. I still have to go back and scope out some of the trails especially through Frink Park and Madrona Woods. There just are not very good, clear trail maps of these areas. The most impressive area? The Leschi Natural Area has been lovingly restored with new trails installed and there is a fabulous overlook. I was not expecting that and just laughed out loud in delight. the Leschi Natural area does not even show up on maps. 

I tried to find a cut through trail in the Madrona Woods and mostly found an unsafe mess but I was amused to find yet another long abandoned car.  How DID that get there?

Of course I wanted to get home in time to do a barre3 class. Oof. My legs are tired!

Saturday, June 14, 2014

Drizzly Trails

Grand Ridge Trail - an erratic!
An easy run on tired legs. I am bumping up mileage this week and the legs are tired. That is ok. Grand Ridge Trail in Issaquah is a favorite trail of mine but it looks like it is now a favorite trail of many other people. It had more people on it than I have ever seen. There were many mountain bikers, some other trail runners and a few hikers.  
There are new "Share the Trail" sign up and to me, the trail seemed harder (very well packed) and rockier with which more mountain bike use is to be expected. it did make me a little wistful of the first time I went exploring this trail years ago and it was very narrow, overgrown and a soft and almost fluffy feel under the feet.  

There is definite signs of trail upkeep though and that is a good thing. There were many mountain bikers but all were very polite. This is not a trail now to wear loud music. You've got to be able to hear.  

And the legs were tired. I have some plans for a longer trail race later in the year. I plan on utilizing walking on the uphills more. So I walked. Yes, part of the plan makes it good thing!   

Winter is coming.

BRR! Cloudy and cool with rain. Rain? What's that again? We've not had any in forever. It was chilly and the perfect day for a day off of running and a partial day off from work.  I did some work at home for a couple hours and was amused that York got into the cat igloo which is the preferred spot for winter snoozing.  

Local strawberries are in which is a sure sign of late spring/early summer around here. I could eat a bucketful of these. And I have the perfect reason to do so. These spoil so quickly that they must be eaten or used within a day. Even two days is usually too long. 

Friday, June 13, 2014

Ravenna Revisted

A nice medium long run mid-week with company. Of course I wanted to go back to those trails in Ravenna Park.  There were just as nice in the early morning light. Peaceful. I needed that with an anxiety inducing day ahead of me.  

Thursday, June 12, 2014

Wednesday, June 11, 2014

A midweek trail race?

Photo from Northwest Trail Runs
What a fabulous idea! I wasn't planning on racing this at all. I had run the morning before and then ran a few miles in the morning the day of the race. I figured the race was a good way to get some fun miles in through a park which is very near to my house and to just enjoy the fun and energy of a race. I've run countless times through Ravenna park but had never been off the main trail. I was looking forward to running the other parallel trails on this 4.1 km (2.5 mile) loop course that I'd run three times. 

Traffic was some sort of horrendous after work but I mostly managed to miss it and got to Ravenna Park in plenty of time. Northwest Trail Runs day of race registration was open which is nice considering just that morning I'd signed up for a race in January which sold out in about an hour. Day of race registration was certainly pricier but even last week i wasn't sure how i'd feel post half marathon so I hadn't wanted to register.  I also just wanted to support a local race which offers really nice, friendly, well run events. 

It was a small group who were lined up at the line drawn in the dirt on one of the well groomed packed gravel/dirt trails. I figured it would be a pretty even mix of people running the various distances (1, 2 or 3 loop). I took my watch off of auto mile lap and just planned on hitting laps for each loop. This would just give a better overall pace on this rolling hilly course and help me keep it easier. I really didn't want to race.  

Yes, I kept telling myself this over and over again.  No racing! I wanted a moderate fun run and planned on a very easy first loop and then picking up the pace to more moderate each successive loop.  I didn't count on the half mile downhill start with a lot of excited trail runners! So after that blast off, I settled down especially once we ducked onto a trail I'd never been on. It was gorgeous! I just worked on keeping it steady and slowing down especially on the wider flatter sections (so I wouldn't impede anyone behind me.).  I stopped to take a photo and the gal behind me caught up. We were going the same pace so started chatting. Perfect! 

Turns out this was her first trail race and she would be running her first half marathon in a couple weeks. She was a recent transplant from AZ and was feeling the manic call of the long, long light days we have here in June. She was doing great but you could tell she was not really used to hills so after running with her for about two miles (through loop 1 and into loop 2), I pulled ahead on the gradual downhill section which i like running. Loop three was just get it done. I wanted to run strongly so did push on the downhills and worked on form going uphill. I was passing a bunch of guys who had probably gone out too hard. I stopped for one more photo (stairs!) and was pleased to come in with pretty even loops and a slightly faster 3rd loop. It wasn't racing but a good moderate, strong run and I felt great. 
There were hardly any women in teh longer event so I ended up with 2nd female overall which caused me to snort a bit.  Hey, I will take it! They had grilled hot dogs at the finish so i had one and came home for real dinner.  I was worried that running harder like that would make it hard for me to go to sleep but I hadn't run hard and had no problems zonking.  I can't make all of these summer series races but I do hope to run a few more of them. Really fun!  

And I spent some time looking for trail maps of Ravenna (they are named on little way signs on the trail) but couldn't find anything. I did find a very nice history of the area with some great photos here (scroll down) however.  Ravenna Park is really a little gem of a park and I'm really thankful that such a place still exists here in the city. 

Future run course?!

Tuesday, June 10, 2014

Is it really June?

It's been such a dry late spring. It feels like summer has been here forever. Summer temps here in Seattle are just pleasant in general and seldom all that hot. However, I've already been watering in the garden forever.  Ferns and moss pop up everywhere here though. These are fragments of the older Burke Building incorporated into the current federal building on 2nd avenue. The tucked in fern made me smile.

Monday, June 9, 2014

Back to the Garden

And that rest week worked because I spent a lot of time in the garden this weekend and got lots done. Weeding out grass around an established shrub is hard work. Someone else thought so too at some point. I (re)found this older Anheuser Busch beer bottle and lots and lots of snails.  The yard waste bin is full and the garden looks great.  And the easy bike ride with K was a really nice outing.  I could've done without the buzz by a car though.   

Sunday, June 8, 2014

How did I miss this?

Easy short run this weekend for a long run. I was running (and makring the course for the group run) for one of the very first distance runs I learned as a new runner.  I'd never noticed this golf course along the road before.  Golf courses seem like they have a lot of possibilities for running but are wasted.  OH well! 

Saturday, June 7, 2014

The Rest Week

I was more sore than is typical for me after that half. So as I have some definitely plans for summer that involve a fair amount of running, I thought it would be best to take this week very easy. I also stayed out of the garden in the evenings. Work was crazy enough frankly.  I planned to only run twice and I'll bike a bit too.  Keswick appreciates the extra couch time.  Yes that is drool.  He has drooled when relaxed and purring since he was a kitten.  

Thursday, June 5, 2014

Trail fun!

Another mid-week trail escape and a wonderful recovery run post half marathon.  We had the little brown dog along for fun and she managed to find a tennis ball on the forested trails.  Finding tennis balls is very much a gift she has.  My legs feel much better but are still tired.  An easy hour run on soft trails with company was a great escape which felt great. 

Solomon Park Hydro Soft Flask

Just the soft flask.
For longer trail runs, I'm happy to use a backpack/vest and carry water in a bladder/tube system. I have a couple of smaller hand held water containers but really wanted something that would hold a bit more water.  Yet the traditional bottles with carrying sleeve or case are just too heavy for me.  Enter this new "soft flask" and carrier by Salomon, the Park Hydro Handset

I know, I know.  You aren't supposed to do anything new on race day.  However, I knew it would be an ok weight and it was going to be warm enough at the race this past Sunday that I'd really want to carry water.  
Strapped onto hand. 
How does it work? The soft flask is as described. It's a comfortable feeling type plastic container with an easy to use and effective bite valve. It's bpa free too.  The "park hydro handset" is the nylon mesh carrying sleeve which comes with it.  The flask slots into the sleeve and then there is a wrap around velcro band to secure the whole contraption onto your hand.  It really is pretty comfortable and you don't actually have to grip it to hold it.  

Here's the zip pocket.
I did have some issues with it on race day.  Some of it may be just because i really hadn't tried it out and I'll need a bit more practice with it.  I couldn't quite figure out the best way to slot my fingers and thumb through the various holes.  It worked the way i was carrying it but i wonder if some other arrangement would work better.  There are a lot of options.  Plus I did end up switching this from my right to my left hand a few times during the race.  This flask carries 16 ounces and while the flask and carrier doesn't weight much by itself, water is heavy!  I tended to want to flip my hand over so I had the weight balanced a bit better. This is hard to describe but could also be just a matter of figuring out a better placement of my fingers.  

There is an unsecured pouch one side which would be good for a gel. I kept it empty because i didn't want any more weight.  There is also a large, secured zip pocket.  The literature says this could be for gels, cell phone, keys etc but again, for me, that would be too heavy.  I did put some electrolyte capsules into this pocket.  

The issue then becomes maneuvering the capsules (or gel if you had one in there) out of that zip pocket. I'm fairly ambidextrous but when i had the flask on my right hand, i could not easily get the zip pocket open.  While i was doing this, the flask fell out of the carrier while i was running.  Oy! By that time, I'd used more than half the water so yes it could easily fall out. I stopped and picked it up and then just carried both balled up in my hands.  This actually worked just fine.  Next time I might put some safety pins in there to secure the pouch.

I did also find it a bit difficult to grab water or gels from volunteers along the race if I had this in my right hand.  Most of the volunteers were on the right hand side so I'd grab with my left which was a bit awkward and something to be mindful about.  
The last issue? I think this happened because of falling.  I fell and landed with both hands on the ground and rolled over to one side (right shoulder is sore where i jarred it and i have a bruise on the outside of the other arm).  I had the flask on my right hand at the time.  After a couple miles i noticed I was getting chafing between my fingers. I think i knocked a ring i wear on my right with the flask carrier and yes did end up bleeding.  Now I wonder if with warm conditions and sweaty hands I could chafe more?  Not sure. Body glide between the fingers? 
Anyway, I really liked it as an option to carry water. I think the flask will travel well too while we are on vacation. It collapses to practically nothing and weighs little. 

Wednesday, June 4, 2014

The Medal

NODM has a handsome finisher's medal and a nice technical shirt in addition to the other nice touches. What do you like in a race? I'll admit that if I can get away with a much more inexpensive race, I'm fine with no medals and no shirts. I do prefer an accurate course and timing however.

Monday, June 2, 2014

North Olympic Discovery Half Marathon

Ten years ago, we started this crazy distance running obsession.  Both K and I finished the NODM half marathon. I was hooked. I knew i wanted to run a marathon and two years later i did. This race has a lot of memories associated with it. I ran in the next year too. K did not as he was injured.  In 2007, both of us set our still standing personal record at this distance. Last year I attempted the full marathon at this course but bailed at the half as it was so dang warm on race day.

This was the year to go back. It was the right decision on many levels.  It's a great event. The whole area supports this race. These are little towns out on the Olympic Peninsula but i felt like there was better course support than many local races.  There are wonderful touches like some really nice finish area food, a really nice shirt and beautiful finisher's medal plus even with a ferry ride, it is easy to get out to the event. It's easy to stay very close to the start or finish (your choice) and there are easy shuttles to ride for this point to point race.

At the half start: bring a plastic bag to sit on.
Have I gushed enough?  If you add in the stunning beauty of the area, no race can touch this one. What are the cons?  It's not the easiest course. I think of it as overall flat but there are challenging and steep but very short hills. It's exposed for a lot of the marathon and chunks of the half marathon.  And the weather can be anything but that is true for any race.

My goals? I really thought i was in about 1:48 (8:15 overall pace) for a half.  This is slower than what I'd initially been aiming for earlier this year but with the (stupid) knee issue, I definitely lost some fitness.  I also really could not train any hills and that hurt me on this course.  I knew it would be warm race day but decided not to dial back goals.  I'd start at 8:10 and expect to slow a bit through the steep sections. There is a huge runnable downhill at mile 9 and then flat to the finish. If I were as strong as I thought, i figured i could push the pace here.

And that is basically what happened but the heat and my lack of hill training slowed me down.  What else hindered this goal? I tripped!  At about a half mile into the race, I was not looking at the (paved) trail and because of the dappled light and my sunglasses' polarization, i did not see a bump in the pavement. Down I went.  I scraped both knees (!!), lost my garmin watch and basically ended up on my side shocked.  A couple kind runners heard/saw the commotion and stopped to help. I got up fairly quick and started up again with knees throbbing but no other damage done. 

The half course is exposed and in a warm valley for the first 3.5 miles. I was so hot. Even though I carried water (more on this one in a future blog), I did grab water at the aid stations to dump onto my head/face/shirt and arms.  I hit the paces i wanted for the first 3 miles even with the fall.  8:02, 8:07, 8:12.

The first creek bed comes right at mile 3.  My heart rate spiked climbing out of the creek and i knew i needed to be careful and keep this easy so i backed off the pace. If I pushed too hard here, I'd not recover. I was feeling pretty crappy in here as it's uphill, i was still hot and basically annoyed with everything.  Just run smart is all I told myself.  Race day is what it is and I knew i had to be smart to finish strongly. I took a gel at mile 4 and that helped.  I took an electrolyte capsule at 6 and continued using aid stations for both a sip of water and for a cooling bath! 8:57, 8:39, 8:35, 9:36.

That last mile was the first mile I walked to both get in water and a gel (right before 8 mile marker).  The course is new this year.  Instead of an out and back in the first mile which was always sort of sucky and crowded, they've moved the out and back to mile 7. MUCH better! Highway 101 between Sequim and Port Angeles has been under construction for some years and this year it hit right around this mile marker. This meant there was horrible gravel for some short sections. I was not expecting this and could feel every chunk through my lighter shoes.  Ouch! I definitely slowed with that too.  Oh well.  Finally we hit the long sweeping downhill. I ran that like the trail runner that I am.  And yes, I passed a bunch of people. 8:25, 7:54

That boat! it dwarfs the usual ships we see in the Sound.
And then we were onto the waterfront trail and it was shaded with a nice ocean breeze. Yes! I felt so much better.  I made it my mission to just run. I focused on my goals of running with good form (using those glute muscles, keeping foot strike quick) and reminding myself that it was ok to be hurting at this point.  It was a race! At just about mile 10, I saw a bald eagle flying low towards me on the trail. It basically landed right above me on a tree branch so close i could see it's eyes.  I whooped with that and could hear the other runners behind me (that I'd been passing) also whooping and hollering. It was pretty thrilling and my pace reflects that.  I hit 11 miles and realized that i was very close to the sub 1:50 goal.  With this course along the water, you can see the finish area for a couple miles. I knew this and kept telling myself that the finish was at the HUMUNGOUS ship (Polar Discovery) instead of at the downtown Pier.  It didn't matter where I thought the finish was, i just needed to keep running hard. The other new section of the course is a new bridge over Ennis Creek.  This uphill although ridiculously small and short was so tough.8:11, 7:51, 8:03, 8:16
Smiling at the finish!

1:50:12 and 4th in AG.  I stopped running and realized my legs felt absolutely pounded.  There was no one in the med tent (yay!) yet as is was pretty early into the races so I decided to stop in there to have someone help me scrub out my knee scrapes.  The finish line had my favorite finish line food, salty ramen noodles and broth. I was just craving salt at that point and downed it in seconds.  I chatted with the 1:45 pacer who I've known online for some years and had fun hearing about the race from his perspective. 

This was also K's 10th anniversary half marathon race.  It was a tougher day for him as work has been very tough the past months. He did finish but that heat and those hills took their toll. 

Sunday, June 1, 2014

We forgot the chocolate

Stairs in Port Angeles.
However, this place with this fantastic creation was spotted just steps (many, many steps) from where we stayed in Port Angeles.  Locally made, friendly and delicious!