Friday, August 29, 2014

The last summer trail race

Photo from NW Trail Runs
Summer is certainly winding down. It's been warm this week but since there is much less daylight with the noticeably shorter daylight hours, it doesn't seem quite so hot.  The last midweek trail race series of the summer was Tuesday. Of course I had to do it even though my legs are tired and I'm looking forward to tapering. 

I wanted to see this course in action because i was having a hard time wrapping my head around a 4 loop course for a 10k. Interlaken Trails which are directly adjacent to one of the most beautiful sections of the Seattle Marathon/Half course really appealed to me too. It did not disappoint and I think ended up being a harder course than either of the other 3 venues I raced at this summer.  

Of course, it may have felt harder because my legs are tired, it was hot (85 was the high for the day), I was stuck in traffic for an hour on my way to the race and thus did not get any sort of easy run warm up to loosen the tired legs which got stiff and sore sitting in traffic for an hour.  

I parked at 6:28 pm. The race was scheduled to start at 6:30 but I knew they'd be doing their pre-race briefing.  I'd parked in a super sneaky area less than a quarter mile from the start/finish because i knew a STAIRCASE that would take me right to the area. Ha! Easy parking because those stair runs are teaching me some sneaky tricks of my city.  I got there in time to grab my bib, swing my legs around a bit pretending to loosen up and was ready to go. The race started as usual about 10 minutes late.  

As a result of all the drama getting to the race and my tired legs, I really just wanted a good tempo workout as usual for this event. We started on E Interlaken Blvd which is a paved road which is closed to traffic. It's a main pathway for the Seattle Marathon/Half and a well loved access road for runners, cyclists and neighborhood walkers.  Gradually hilly with some nice turns it was a good way to warm up into the race. I tried to keep this at marathon pace as an easier warm up knowing the heat, training fatigue and trails would make me regret a too fast start. After the turn around and heading back down Interlaken we hopped onto some stairs and onto the trails. And oof! 

There was even a scramble steep and painful straight up. I would've been happier with a ladder it was so steep. I kept trying to grab onto the plants on either side of the trail for more leverage but ferns are not so sturdy.  Up and up we went until gradually we hit some more stairs and came to the high point of the course. Turn around and back down another set of stairs back to a nice gradual downhill and to the road for a short bit to the turnaround. Brutal.  This was a tough loop! Only 3 more to go.  

I just worked on settling into pace such as I could. I saw a friend out running and gave her smack for not doing a trail race that was in her own neighborhood. She claimed she didn't know about it. Too bad! Each loop was 1.55 miles and seemed to go pretty quickly. After 2, i started passing the slower 5k runners and after 3 i was lapping 10k runners. I knew from teh out and back on the road that I was 4th female overall as usual and I was feeling good. 

I made it a point not to get passed by the guy who was behind me and just worked on running strong all the way to the finish. I wasn't running fast that was sure but I was running strong. I had good form and was enjoying the effort.  
1:03:21 that was the slowest 10k I've done! 4th overall female and just 8 minutes off of the first female. Typically I've been around 55-57 minutes for these trail 10ks so yes this was a tough one! I ran pretty even splits too. I had one final hot dog to celebrate. I hope this series comes back next summer. It has been wonderful!

Sunday, August 24, 2014

The best summer day

I'm signed up for the Beat the Blerch marathon which is a month away now. This race all takes place on the Snoqualmie Valley Trail. It's an old railroad line which has been converted to a miles long gravel trail. I used to do a lot of runs out on this trail but gradually realized that the gravel trail would bother my hip and I hated the flat trail.  Why did I sign up for this race again? 

It will be fun but i really wanted a long run out on that surface again. I needed to figure out which shoes would work on the gravel and decide if I need to carry water for the race.  Only 17.5 miles later and I figured out the trail shoes I have will work well enough and yes, i will need to carry water. Trail shoes? It's not what I'd consider a "real" trail but my normal road shoes are light and I can feel every rock through them.  My trail shoes are also lighter but they have a rock place which gives a bit of protection. I'd forgotten that the gravel could bother my hip and as I suspected, I've managed to settle that whole hip issue and I didn't have any trouble on the long run at a my long run pace. (knock on wood!)

It was a good run overall even if it got tough and I was happy to get it done. I'd had a really good 12 mile run with 7 (7!) at tempo pace on Thursday. I wasn't exactly expecting my legs to feel peppy and they did not. Still, it wasn't any trouble ticking off the miles at an easy pace. K and I ran together for about 5 miles which was fun and it was quite pretty as the fog in the valley was burning off. 
Since we were already out in the Snoqualmie Valley (about a 30 minute drive from Seattle), we thought we'd combine long run and summer blueberry picking. WE usually go once during the summer and this was a good weekend for it. 

First off, we had breakfast at a small place out in the valley. We don't go out to breakfast too often and this was a treat! And by about mile 14, I was getting really hungry. Why yes, corned beef hash with potatoes and eggs with coffee will hit the spot.  

We headed off toward the blueberry farm and found a a roadside peach stand. Oooh! I'd been debating getting a case of peaches at the local farmer's markets. This roadside stand was even more direct as Yakima area farmers just set up by the side of the road.  And one case was half the price as at the farmer's market. SCORE! 
Teh blueberry farm was busy as expected but it's a big area. We got our buckets and headed off into the field. I set a timer on my phone for 30 minutes and GO! Thirty minutes later, I was hot and my legs were tired and I'd eaten my fill of blueberries. We'd picked 7 pounds and were happy.  

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

The Birthday Present to Myself

That's right. I gave myself a day off and arranged to go trail running with a friend. Really, it doesn't have to be complicated. It was a gorgeous summer morning and we got an early start to avoid the rush hour traffic. LMA ran ahead as her dog runs better if she is first on trails. That meant I got an added birthday present as LMA cleared all the spider webs on the trail for me as first runner. Ha!  

We were running for time (2 hours) and keeping it very easy. I figured that would be around 9 miles and that's about what it was. I was scheduled for a 12 mile medium long midweek run. On roads that would take around 2 hours. This was definitely more tiring but we did keep it easy and I was happy that everything felt good. It's been a while since I've been on a longer trail run as I thought it was best to stay off a bit to keep the knee happy. We were surprised to see some serious trail work on one section of Shy Bear. The stairs were really nice and then led down to a new footbridge across a creek. Next year will probably be a summer of trails for various reasons (yes planning begins early!) and I also hope to get out for a trail work volunteer session next year. It's something I've always wanted to do. Next year will be a good year to do it. 
And this is it. I gave myself the goal of posting a photo a day for a year last year. This is photo 367. It's been an interesting thing to always have in the back of my head, what should today's photo be? A good exercise in focusing on simple things which deserve appreciation.

Monday, August 18, 2014

The Bright Idea

Do not do this at home.
My trail shoes currently are Solomon Sense Pro. I stopped running trails for a while because the steep uphills were bugging my knee. I was ready to start adding them in now as an easy run here and there. I've done a couple shorter trail races but those trails are such that I've just been using my lighter road shoes. The trails are dry at this time of year and those particular trails are not really rocky so I haven't needed the protection of a real trail shoe.

BUT, I'm going trail running tomorrow for longer (2 hours) on a trail system which tends to be rockier and I need trail shoes. the Solomon Sense Pro are a nice combo of protection and lighter shoe with a good tread. However there is a quick lace system on the shoe. I've tried it a few times and finally decided last time that I need to replace those laces with more traditional athletic shoe laces. The quick lace system gives even distribution of the laces over the entire lacing section of the shoe but I actually need the laces to be tighter closer to the toe. My feet have been slipping inside the shoe and I cannot get it tight enough with the existing system. 

So I snipped off the quick lace system and tried to relace the shoes with an extra pair of shoelaces from another pair of running shoes. A couple hours later, I cannot get anything but the shoe laces that came with the shoe back into the shoe. ARRGH! So annoying!

Actually I had to google the solomon quick lace to see how even to relace the shoe with the originial laces. Yes, it does involve fire. 

Major design flaw.

Sunday, August 17, 2014


Watch out for that word. It was only 14 miles. A "short" long run and only 14. It went quick as I ran 10 with a group of people on an old standby course which nonetheless is quite beautiful in sections.
Along Ravenna Trail

Saturday, August 16, 2014

Back to Barre3 & the Zoo

No, they are not related but it has been a while since I've been to either. 

Either the legs were still a bit tired from the trail race or I need to remember to continue leg strength work. Or both. I was pleased to find the return to a barre class not that bad. Oh it was a great workout and I can feel it but I felt strong throughout except the legs were a bit tired. 

My work held a summer picnic for employees at the Woodland Park Zoo just a few miles from us. It was a lot of fun and we had a nice dinner with drinks included and then a chance to have 3 "animal encounters" plus we could wander through the zoo. 
One of the animal encounters involved a spectacled owl. He was stunning to look at and the handler/zoo keeper was great to talk to. I've seen an owl before while running early in the morning. yes they can be territorial at times but nothing to fear generally. We then wandered through the trails and saw the wolves. It was a very peaceful evening and quite enjoyable.

Friday, August 15, 2014

Winter is Coming

Well yes it is but not immediately. We so seldom get rain in August that it has been a cool(ing) surprise. I've already noticed it is almost dark when starting to run in the morning.  Summer has gone so quick!

Thursday, August 14, 2014

Recovery Week Help

After three solid heavy weeks of training, I thought it would be prudent to take a cut back or recovery week. There are some signs too. One hip is feeling a bit tight and I'm having slight foot tightness on that side too. The problem with cut back weeks is that the reduction of running makes me feel stiff. It's always a problem enough that i know i still have to run (reduced amounts) AND make sure i get in some easy yoga and use various things to help loosen tight muscles. It amazes me that it is harder to NOT run than it is to run.  

The cats like to help too. 

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Midweek Trail Race!

RPD on Erratic Trail on Seward Park
And it does deserve multiple exclamation points!!!!

It's a cut back week. After 3 weeks of high mileage where I've hit lifetime mileage highs for the week, i felt like it would be prudent to take an easier week. I still wanted to get in a good workout during the week though and decided a 6 mile trail race would work well instead of a tempo run. 

As usual, the sudden lack of running meant I felt rather off and more stiff and tired than when I'm typically running more. It's very strange but typical for me so I try not to think about it too much. the trail race, a summer race series put on by Northwest Trail Runs, was something i was really looking forward. Even better a friend was coming along and he'd talked a neighbor into joining us for his first trail run. 

I took light rail and then a bus to get to the in-city park and felt all mass transit savvy.  The friend would give me a ride home and i could stash my backpack in his car while we were running. 

the race took place in a park that I've run around countless times. Seward Park is a small peninsula which juts into Lake Washington. It's been a part of Seattle Parks since the beginning and has old growth forest. There is a paved road/path which runs along the outside of the park and has great views all around the lake. There are some parking lots and roads which climb to the hilly interior but I've never been on any of the trails. It's a small area but i was really impressed with the trails. They are well signed and mapped with stone markers.   
Like usual, it was a pretty mellow vibe for these small mid-week trail races. I do like the underlying tension though, it is noticeable.  We got started just a bit late after a course briefing. Northwest Trail runs are always well marked so I look at the course map (always well done too) and don't worry about it. This 10k race was a 3 loop course run of a just over 2 mile loop. The first mile of the loop was on a wide graveled rolling wide trail and then we'd turn onto a more technical trail. My goal was to go out faster and then settle into the technical trail. I wanted a good tempo workout and to maintain a steady pace for the next two loops. 

We were off and it was crowded for the first quarter mile. One of the locked poles blocking car traffic nearly took me out but someone pointed it out at the last second and I swerved and pointed it out to the runners behind. Gotta pay attention! I was going feeling good and ready to see that technical trail. A sharp left turn after about a mile and we were on a twisty, turny trail that went up quite a bit with some well worn stairs. There were a lot of very large logs accross the trail too. It was seriously fun! 

I am, of course, a bit slower on the uphills so expect to get passed by people on those sections but we were all pacing pretty well though this mile. As we came back to the start to start the second loop, i did get passed by a gal when i stopped to grab water. We'd had 90 degree temps the day before. Fortunately the weather was cooler but it was still pretty warm (80) and quite humid. With such a small race, there were no cups of water just set out so i had to fill a cup and toss it down and then start up again. 

That worked out because now i had that gal ahead of me and I kept her just ahead of me most of the rest of the second loop. Towards the end of the loop, she stopped suddenly to walk up a hill. I yelled at her that she wasn't allowed to stop now so keep up! She went with this and started running again letting me pace. Haha! 

Yes, i'd figured she was only doing 2 loops and was fading a bit but she rallied and stuck to me and finished the second loop (and her race) solidly. I took another water break and went off for lap three. I was not expecting to have anyone around me and was surprised to hear footsteps behind me.  No worries for that as we were starting the easier graveled path that had a nice section of downhill. I decided to go ahead and push on this portion knowing the downhill was relaxing for me. And it was, my heart rate dropped as I recovered somewhat.  

Last left turn onto the last mile adn the technical section. The footsteps behind me stayed close. "Go ahead and pass when you need to," I called out. I got silence and this person stayed put. Ok that was sort of annoying. It makes me a bit nervous having someone breathing down my neck right behind me on a technical trail. This one had plenty of places where I'd need to suddenly apply the breaks to get over a log for instance.

My legs were feeling tired but there wasn't much to go. However the heavy breathing dude was bugging me so finally i turned around and asked him to go ahead. Turns out the friend had invited a neighbor along for a trail run and this was the neighbor! He'd never done a trail race before and obviously didn't realize that he could be annoying hanging so closely to another runner. I was quite surprised and let that distract me unfortunately. I chatted with him a bit while he (still!) stayed behind me. I should've just had him go ahead. 

Finally we reached some of the last little hills and he went ahead with another female runner who'd caught up.  Finally, it was fun to run along the last bridges and turns and duck onto the last turn to the finish. I was just under an hour and had run fairly even splits. The neighbor had had fun and as the friend came in, he was all smiles too. I was slightly bummed that the distractions and water stops had probably cost me 3rd place female over all (remember: very small field) but the point was to get in a good workout, explore some new trails and have some trail fun with some friends. Done! 

Monday, August 11, 2014

A morning treat

"Super Moon" moon set.
Smokey Sunrise

It's hot today. It was almost 70 for a short easy run this morning at 6 am. There are a lot of brush fires in the state to the east but shifting winds (and a heat wave) mean that the smoke is drifting this way. It makes for pretty sunrises and sunsets but I'd rather not have that, thanks. It's an easier week for training and I love it when that corresponds to less than idea weather for running. I still am very appreciative for those gorgeous morning views.

Sunday, August 10, 2014

Lake Union 10k - the volunteer

Directions for Water Station #1 volunteer: "As runners come through please hand them water cups, do not just leave them on the table. Most of the fast people will probably not slow down for water, please do not be offended!"
Haha! The Lake Union 10k is one I've often run and it's a great race. This year? I'm signed up for a trail race in two days and I needed a long run this weekend. K and various other friends were running and I'd heard they were desperate for volunteers for the race. So, I rode my bike to water stop at Gas Works Park and enjoyed volunteering. 

Most of the volunteers were not runners. And yes the faster runners do not tend to take water (for a 10k) and if they did it was mostly to splash the water onto their face to cool down. it was hard to hand water to the faster runners as they were running uh fast. It was easier to give water to mid-packers as they were going slower. Some mid-packers looked pretty bad for only 2.5 miles into a 6 mile race. The walker and run/walkers were a friendly bunch towards the end. They appreciated my orange wig and orange Ogre attire. 

The tail end sweep (a cop on a motorcycle) came through and we were free to take the water stop down. That was quick as i'd had time to pick up all the water cups tossed close to the trash cans and I headed to the start/finish on my bike to say hello to everyone that I'd seen run.  


Long Runs and Theater Seats

They do not go together! Ouch. But both are well worth it.

Saturday, August 9, 2014

Duck Duck Goose?

Here's the mystery fowl of Green Lake. And I had some of the Greek Yogurt from the shop (loose term) at the Pike Street Market. WOW! I cannot wait to have more it was so good. This is the blackberry flavor with some of K's homemade granola.

Friday, August 8, 2014

One of those days

The sun is shining and the birds are singing. Ok, at the Pike Street marking it's more likely that the pigeons are cooing and crows are cawing but you get the idea. Fantastic run this morning where I was aiming for a particular pace and ended up running way under where I expected to be. And it also felt easy. I guess this training is working! Off to the market at lunchtime to get some treats.

Thursday, August 7, 2014

Exhibit and Dinner

After that fun block party, I got up early to get in my 10 miles. Urgh. That's a lot of miles but that is marathon training and staying committed. I really try to make sure that training doesn't interfere with life however. I might have split this run up to two shorter am and pm runs because I knew I'd be tired (and maybe a slight bit hungover).  But we had plans to meet my mom at the Seattle Art Museum and enjoyed the exhibit of Modernism in the Pacific Northwest and a nice dinner at TASTE, the restaurant. The exhibit was well worth it and ended up being really well done.

Wednesday, August 6, 2014

Block Party! And how many miles do you run?

Seattle Night Out and we had excellent turnout for our block party. We've been doing this now for 9 years and it is really fun to hang out in the middle of the street and chat with the neighbors.  We have actually lived on the block now 17 years and that puts us among the oldtimers!

I got asked a lot about running because of course the neighbors see me coming back from my morning runs and are curious. There is an aspiring runner on the street too who wants it to be easier.  I've had this discussion quite often with very new runners and they are always surprised to hear that cardio fitness takes years of consistent training to develop. It's not something Americans are used to hearing or experiencing. Instant gratification works so well most of the time!

Tuesday, August 5, 2014

The Looong Days of Summer

It's already a little bit darker when i get up in the morning to run. Right now, the sun is very much in my eyes at times on that morning run. I'm having to adjust my run schedule to take into account that heat but it is worth it. i love the early morning summer runs here in the Northwest. They cannot be beat!

Monday, August 4, 2014

Farmers' Market bounty

A day off and that means stocking up and planning for the week ahead! From top left clockwise: red butter lettuce for salad with pizza tonight, local organic cantaloupe for lunches, amazing peaches from Yakima, last of the Bing cherries for eating with lunch, rubel blueberries for snacking, local organic cabbage for various salads or random veggie and center is Lapin cherries for freezing. 

We might have to go back to get a case of peaches. They were that good and i'd love to have a supply frozen. 

Sunday, August 3, 2014

Long Run Fun

And it was fun. I've really slowed down my long run pace which means I run with a group (which included K) who is a bit slower than i am usually for speed work. It was fun running with a different group and very relaxing keeping the pace slower although I did notice that towards the end I was getting very stiff and it felt good to stride out. I've been thinking of the next stair loop and we were in the area where I'd like to do it. I did spot a staircase I've never noticed before even though I've run the route we did for years.  Haha! These are the Glenmont Stairs.

Saturday, August 2, 2014

Feathered Friday

Herry in the morning.
Friday's are tough for runs sometimes. I only need to run 5 or so and know I'll feel better for a short run and a good stretch but I am usually tired by the end of the week. At some point in training, it will be better for me to sleep in but not quite yet.  

Meanwhile the birds around Green Lake were a nice distraction. I've been seeing a new pair of ducks at the lake over by the Recreation Center. They are bigger than mallards and a lovely sandy color. They refused to put their heads up when i went by so i just cannot identify them. Maybe some goose? They are bigger.
Unknown duck still sleeping in.

Friday, August 1, 2014

Protected Bike lanes a-Comin'?

Waiting for a ride downtown outside my building on 2nd Avenue. There is a traffic counter set up but it's only set up for the bike lane. Hmm? I haven't seen that before!