Thursday, April 17, 2014

Inky

Loving something with all of your heart means opening up your entire heart to being broken. 

Our boy

This idea is something I have talked to my daughters' about over the past few days. That we can't live our lives fearing sadness and hurt, that instead we embrace love and joy, and know that with opening your heart that wide will make you susceptible to the grief. The sadness comes in direct proportion to the amount that you loved. 

We loved Inky with every ounce of ourselves. 

Love

Adopting two kittens last December shook up our family in the biggest, and best, possible way. Two kittens! It's practically grounds for being committed. They were so small (Inky was about 10 weeks, Opal 8 weeks), just teeny little things ready for their forever families. At the shelter the girls were drawn to the kittens that we would eventually name Inky and Opal. Iris picked Inky quite quickly. A black and white Manx who waited patiently at the door of his cage. Eloise had to lobby hard with buckets of tears for Opal. Matt and I wanted to pass her up because one of her eyes was already crusted over with green goop-- and she was climbing the door of her cage, a troublemaker from the start! We caved, as you already know, and shoved the two furballs in to the carrier, paid the lady behind the counter, swung by the pet store for supplies, and then brought the kittens home.

New kittens at home

Inky spent about six weeks at home being a perfectly normal kitten. He played with toys, he wrestled with his sister-- in fact, we had to pull him off of her constantly when her eye goop eventually mutated in to a full blown upper respiratory infection and she was too tired to play. The girls layered a bunch of their favorite blankets in the bathroom, which served as the kittens' home for the first couple of weeks, and Inky discovered his very favorite blanket was a super soft and fluffy one. He would suck on it, as if nursing. I read that kittens who were weaned too early will suck on blankets like this. We thought it was adorable, if not a little sad, and supplied him with all of the fluffy blankets he desired. 

Inky on his favorite blanket

Inky and Opal were inseparable for the first few weeks. They played and ate and snuggled together. Often Opal would just lay right on top of her brother, which was pretty much the cutest thing ever. Inky appeared to tolerate it, like a big brother would of a little sister. 

Tolerating sister

At the end of January Inky was spending more and more time on a bottom shelf in our bathroom.  It wasn't until I noticed that he had spent an entire day there without moving that I became concerned and brought him in to the vet's office. We discovered he had a mild fever and when they ran a blood test, there were quite a few things off. The doctor talked to me about all of the things it might be, but I still came home and did hours of internet searching. Most signs pointed to one thing: FIP. Everything I read said FIP is 100% fatal, but that it presented differently in each cat and was difficult to diagnose. Other than lethargy, Inky wasn't yet displaying any other outward signs of being sick. 

Playing for a moment

As time went on he ebbed and flowed with how much time he spent laying around. He alternated between shelves, eventually preferring the bottom of our shoe rack, but he also spent time on the back of the couch as well as under a rack in the kitchen. Some days he would bat at a toy, or briefly respond to one of his sister's many invitations to play, or scratch on the scratching post. He started to become more fearful of pretty much everything and darted from room to room when he had to go eat or use his litter box. He stopped enjoying being held or pet, though we loved him so much, we always tried. It was a struggle between warning the girls not to bother him because he was sick, and letting them bother him because they so desperately wanted to snuggle and love on him. 

We call this Opal's "smiling position"

One thing Inky always loved was eating. In the morning he was the first one ready for breakfast (even if there was still food left in the bowl from the night before). He meowed, loudly, until he was fed. He also loved treats, sometimes sitting on the floor under the treat shelf, gazing up at it. I tried not to feed him treats if he "begged" for them, as I didn't want to start a bad habit-- little did I know, though. 

In healthier days, Inky would sleep on Matt's belly. 
They bonded, being the only two guys in the house. 

The week before he died we noticed Inky wasn't walking very well. He basically looked drunk and was having a harder time jumping up on the low surfaces he could previously reach. He also would fall over when he tried to walk on an unstable surface. I realized over the weekend that he wasn't bringing himself to the litter box, so I picked him up and set him in and while he couldn't really hold himself up, he immediately pottied. That little guy, he couldn't move himself around, but never went to the bathroom outside of his box. 

The night before Inky passed away. 
He rarely tolerated Opal near him at this point, so it was extra special she was able to snuggle in. 
She even got to lick his ears a bit. This was Inky's blanket nest on my bed.

On Monday I was watching him closely and his body language made me extremely concerned. He was laying in a way that was more relaxed than his usual tensed up position. I had a brief flash in my mind that he was dying, that if the girls and I went out to run the errands we had planned, he could die. I called the vet and asked if we should bring him in, hoping they would tell me I was over-reacting. Of course, they didn't say that, and told me to come in right away. I frantically texted Matt, who was at work, and I loaded up the girls and Inky and drove to the vet. Matt met us there. 

The vet told us she thought Inky was blind, or at least mostly blind. His eyes weren't responding normally. He wasn't able to really get around. She broke the news that Inky was dying and we could let him die on his own or we could consider euthanasia. We decided to bring him back home and plan our next move. 

Sleeping on my lap on his last afternoon

Matt and I decided euthanasia was the kindest thing to do. Not just for Inky, but for the girls. We had no way of knowing when he would die or how awful it would be, and the waiting would have been hell on the girls, and honestly me, too. We called the vet and planned to have the doctor come to our house that evening.

During the afternoon we fed Inky tuna and laid by him as he rested on his shoe shelf. We petted him, then left him be, then petted him some more. Eventually I picked him up and held him on my chest as he drifted off to sleep. He would have never done that before, it was so bittersweet. We told him we loved him about eighty billion times. 

Saying goodbye

The vet came that night. We all sat around, Inky on my lap in his blanket. He got a sedative, which was a shot and he hated it. One last little burst of fight from our boy. He then relaxed, and a few minutes later got the shot that would stop his heart, surrounded by the people whose hearts were breaking at the same time. 

This is by far the most difficult thing the girls have ever had to go through. I am glad they were there with Inky as he passed, I don't think being gone would have made it any easier. They got to hold him before and after he died. I placed Inky's body on the floor on a soft blanket and Opal came over to say goodbye. She licked her brother's body. The shattered pieces of our hearts broke all over again as we watched. We waited for Opal to finish, and when she walked away, we knew it was time to let our Inky go. I carried him out to the vet's car, and it briefly tickled us all that she drove a VW Beetle, aka a "slug bug", because we play the slug bug game. I laid Inky on her passenger side seat and said goodbye.


Opal kissing her brother goodbye

Inky will be privately cremated and his ashes returned to us. We will have a funeral for him when we get the ashes back and as of now the plans are to put some of his ashes in the ground with a new plant. 

I could write a billion more words on the conversations we have had with the girls over how such a horrible thing could happen to a little kitten. It all boils down to "I don't know" and "it isn't fair". We could fill an ocean with the amount of tears that have already been cried in our house. We talk a lot about cat heaven, about how Inky now has a chance to be a real kitten, in a healthy body. 

We miss Inky in all the silly  little ways you miss a cat that hides away 95% of his day. We miss calling his name, and all of his funny nicknames-- Inky Dinks, Inky Dinky Doo (sometimes adding many, many "Dinkys" to the name), the Inkster, Inks. We miss checking for him on his shoe rack. We miss his loud cries as we struggle to serve up his breakfast quickly enough. We miss that he no longer snuggles in to his blanket nest at the end of the bed. 

Since we adopted two kittens so they could have each other, we have also been sad for a long time that Opal lost her buddy when Inky got so sick. We are hoping we can get another kitten soon. It will help our fuzzy little girl, who desperately wants a playmate, and our human little girls, too (who also want another playmate). 

Our Inky Dinks

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

The Worst

Yesterday, Monday, our dear sweet kitten kitten, Inky, passed away.

It is the absolute fucking worst.

I will write more about it as soon as I feel up for it.

We have two little girls who have had their hearts absolutely shattered. The girls knew Inky had been sick for  long time, just didn't realize how sick-- well, honestly, neither did we. He had suspected F.I.P., something we discovered back in late January after he had spent several days not acting like a kitten at all. We just thought he might go on living a pretty sad life for a long time, but then WHAM. In a couple of days he went from being just okay to barely hanging on for life. Matt and I made the heart-wrenching decision to have him put to sleep, which, mercifully, the vet was able to do at our house last night. 

Iris and Eloise saying good-bye to Inky.
More soon. 

Monday, April 14, 2014

Running Wild: Weekly Wrap-up

A truly wonderful week of running! I am feeling strong and confident again, which is great, because things were looking pretty dire there. And who knows, they may get there again, so I am definitely going to embrace the awesome, because I have spent far too much of my running days embracing the suck.

Total Miles Run: 21.5

Monday: Yard Work

I skipped yoga in favor of lots of lifting and digging and working my ass off in our vegetable beds. Considering how much I sweat during the project I am absolutely going to go ahead and call it a workout!

Tuesday: 3 Miles Run

Nothing fancy. In fact, I am not even sure I remember this workout?

Wednesday: Strength

I did my new "pull" workout, which went like this:
*lateral shuffle with exercise band around the ankles
*squat on bosu ball
*stork stance with bungee cobra-- okay,  a weird name for this. Attach an exercise band about waist high, the hinge at the hip, holding one leg straight up behind you. Arms are extended overhead then they pull straight down in front. 
*one leg squat with bungee row-- with the same exercise band, stand with one leg bent and off the ground and the opposite arm holding the band close to the body. Hinge at the hip, extend raised leg behind you and the arm holding the band out in front.
*balancing bicep curl
*bent over dumbbell row with staggered stance
*front and lateral raises while kneeling on bosu
*twisting lateral plank
*hamstring press on bosu
I then did an ab sequence which was:
*side plank with dips
*ab crunch with weight
*curl up crunch
*chinnies (my trainer's word for a bicycle crunch)
*plank
*single leg v-up
*push through crunch

Okay, that is A LOT of exercises. No wonder it took me so darn long! 

Thursday: 4.5 Miles Run

I tried to keep my running intervals to 9 min/miles, but I did stop to walk a few times. 

Friday: Rest

Saturday: 14 Miles Run 

I wrote about this amazing run yesterday . . . 

Sunday: A Light Strength Workout

Basic moves with abs and some rolling, myofascial release. 

Sunday, April 13, 2014

What I Learned From 14 Miles

Saturday marked a major milestone for me: it was the first time I had run over the half marathon distance in training. 14 miles. It seems insane to me. Who does that?! Well, lots of people, apparently, including me. I loved pretty much every second of it, too.

I learned that 14 miles is the biggest deal ever, and regular ol' deal all in one.

14 miles made me nervous in a way I had not been nervous to approach a run in a very long time. I felt like I didn't even know how dress for it, which was silly, because I ended up wearing, and being totally comfortable in, a t-shirt and shorts. Having a love/hate relationship with running in my Pro Compression socks, though. I have always run long runs in these socks, but my new theory is the seams in the toe area are giving me blisters.

I learned that 14 miles is an easy distance to pick clothes for, but a hard distance to pick socks for.

Ever since I cheered my sister-in-law on in her 13.1 on the Lake Sammamish Trail I have wanted to run there. On Saturday I was able to, and it was just as lovely as I thought it would be. When cheering I did not realize the trail was packed gravel, and . . .

I learned that packed gravel makes for a forgiving running surface. 

Preparing my fuel for the run was tricky because I wasn't sure I could carry enough with me. I decided on 3 gels and 3 bottles of Gatorade and one of water in my belt. I thought I would take one gel at 4, 8 and 12 miles to be safe. Once I took my second, however, I knew I absolutely did not want that last gel. It sounded terrible. I made it from mile 8 to 14 with just a few sips of Gatorade and finished feeling just fine.

I learned that if I plan to run a marathon, I need some more fuel options than just gel. 

My body seems to have held up to the stress of 14 miles. My newest big worry is my foot. It aches, which might not be too terribly concerning, but I have already had 2 stress fractures in that foot and I don't need a third.

I learned that strength training and focusing on my form and my glutes is really helping, but my body isn't letting me have this marathon without a fight.

Over the past few weeks I have really come to consider my friend Sally to be my new BRF (best running friend). She is just the coolest, strongest, most kick ass runner and I am so thrilled that I have been able to run so many freaking miles with her. We never run out of conversation, and she is my favorite source for answers when I have training questions. She makes running seem effortless, and I am constantly inspired by her ability to, I don't know, run 22 miles like it's NBD. Sally also said she hopes to run the Seattle Rock-n-Roll marathon with me which would be AMAZING, so now I want that goal even more than I did before!

I learned that BRFs are more than worth their weight in gu.

My mad "photoshop" skillz. 


My 16 miler is scheduled for 3 weeks from now. We'll see what lessons I have to learn from that milestone! 

Wednesday, April 09, 2014

Training for "My Sport"

I think I officially train to run more than I actually run. So, if I considered running to be my sport, you could say I am almost always training for my sport. I suppose that's a good thing? It's a little frustrating to me when I see so many runners I know (in real life and online) who only run. How do they do that?! To be honest, I enjoy strength training. I enjoy going to yoga. I enjoy the foam rolling/myofascial release/stretching. What I don't enjoy is the pressure to keep it all up. Feels like I'm holding all of these balls in the air, and my body is mostly responding well to all of the hard work (except for my stupid knee), but I am scared to let anything fall. 

My trainer is awesome, but sometimes she gives me these epic workouts with a whole bunch of moves and I need to to do two sets of like 20 reps of each thing. A lot of the time I put in a bunch of work, but I don't always end up doing the entire thing. Today I had to do all of this balancing stuff-- squats on a bosu ball, one legged something or others. They take me forever to either maintain my balance, or pick myself up from toppling over. 

So what else is up?

Today I cancelled my StrideBox. Of course, had I cancelled it yesterday I would have saved myself a month of $$. Ah, well. I have received three boxes so far and each one was worse than the last. This month was by far the worst, it included Quest Nutrition Peanut Butter cups and holy god, they were awful. I threw them out after one bite. I don't like fake candy. I like real, HFCS-filled candy. I thought it was interesting that when I cancelled my membership I was never asked why. Seems like they might use their customer's feedback to improve things? 

I also a bit annoyed with Amazon. I have been ordering a four pack of nuun from them forever, seriously, I have probably ordered 15 boxes of these and they have always been $17.99. Always. Today the box is $26.00! What the heck?! I think I need to lay off my nuun habit. 

And . . . today's the day the Ragnar team I am captain of finds out their runner positions! I find this terribly exciting. Spoiler alert: I'm runner #11. Super, super, SUPER excited to be in van #2 this year-- it is going to be so very different from last year! I have to say I'm also excited to not have to leave as early as van #1 and not have to drive all the way up to Blaine to start the race. We get to start in Bellingham. (and, I am the runner who will run over Deception Pass, which simultaneously scares the shit out of me and thrills me to no end). 

Monday, April 07, 2014

Running Wild: Weekly Wrap-up

A supreme lack of running this week because of my knee. Two words for that: It. Sucked. Well, I did have a wonderful 12 mile run on Saturday, but once I was done my knee let me know it was not happy with me.

My physical therapist recommended that I not run until my Saturday long run. This week also saw two almost total rest days back-to-back, for no other reason than I was just too lazy to figure out what to do instead. 

Total Miles Run: 12

Monday: Yoga

Again, my favorite. My instructor must have gotten all up in my subconscious for this class, because everything she did was perfect runner-y stuff. 

Tuesday: Walk 4 Miles

I helped out with a field trip Iris' class took and we had a lot of walking to do. And not just walking, but up and down and up and down hills. It was fantastic, and my knee didn't complain, so it was a decent sub for running that day.

Wednesday: Workout With Trainer

I met my trainer at a local park, right on the water, and she led me through a warm-up and some drills and tons of great new "pull" exercises. Lots of fun stuff with the bosu ball, too. I am such a dummy. It didn't occur to me to actually stand on the ball part of the bosu, and she had me doing some squats that way. I have very poor balance, which is probably why I never stood on my bosu, so it took me a while to get through some of the sets! 

Thursday: Massage 

I got a massage for the first time in a while. The therapist worked exclusively on my lower body. When I walked out of the office I wasn't too sure it helped that much, but I have to say, the next day I was feeling more normal. Not great, but normal. Thursday I was also noticing that my hamstring wasn't bugging me as much recently and I went to try "legs up the wall" which typically is almost impossible for me to do without serious discomfort and sure enough, I was able to do it! Not sure what that is about? Curious if it's calming down because I haven't run this week or if I am really doing what needs to be done to help it relax. Either way, hurrah!

Friday: Random Strength/Stretching

Nothing that could be called a workout, but just needed to get in my booty exercises and stretches. I swear, I'm going to look like Kim Kardashian when I am "done" with these exercises. Which is pretty awesome considering I come from a long line of flat-assed women. 

Saturday: 12 Miles Run

I met up with Sally again, joining her for the last 12 of her 22 miler. Yes, 22 miles. Isn't that amazing? I felt like I was just as exhausted from my 12 as she was from her 22 when we finished. Sally is running Big Sur in a few weeks and I am so excited for her. It will be her tenth marathon! 

Sally and I post-run!

My 12 miles went well. My knee pain mostly stayed away, just whimpered a bit here and there, which was honestly about as good as I could have expected.

My weird sorta sideways obligatory Garmin photo. I was surprised our run was so "slow" 
but then realized we had a ton of hills, and I also never stop my watch at road crossings.  


Unfortunately, I was pretty darn wiped for the rest of the day, and my knee pain just kept getting worse. It feels like something is pulling on it, and interestingly, when I foam roll my IT band it puts a lot pressure on my inner knee. Not sure what is up with that, but it might support my PT's idea that my IT band is pulling my knee out of alignment, I suppose.

All in all, it really sucks. I feel like this will likely be the end of my 3rd attempt at marathon training, as history has showed that I don't recover from my injuries quickly enough to make up for my missed training and go on to run my goal race.

Post-run movie. Love this one! 


Sunday: Strength Training

I did my "push" workout. It was really hard, I think my legs were still pretty tired from Saturday's run. 

Friday, April 04, 2014

A Real Effort

I just realized that I didn't really ever intend to use this blog as just a training log, which, when I look back at my post list, is what it is turning in to. So, in order to keep it from just being a log, I'm going to try a little harder to come up with something to say. Here goes!

This will be another disjointed post full of random updates. That's maybe better than a training log, right?

I got a massage today with a new guy. It was okay. I have now seen two new people since my old massage therapist closed up her shop and it's a frustrating experience. And yes, I am fully aware that this is a FWP (first world problem). The guy I saw today came highly recommended, and I think he might be okay, but I didn't have an instant "OMG I love you" feeling right off the bat. Yes, I went for a massage because of my running aches and pains, but I spent the entire time on my stomach and he worked only on my legs. I think for that my legs would feel 100% better, but they don't. Of course, that might just be the fault of my totally bum legs, and not the massage therapist. He did teach me a couple of things that I appreciated, such as a new-to-me stretch for the front of my hips and a series of movements to increase my range of motion in my hips. 

The one main thing I wanted help with was my new issue-- my inner left knee is still bugging me. It's not awful. Definitely not sure if I should be running on it, so I decided to take off of running during the week this week so I can attack my 12 miler this weekend. That will truly be the test for this new issue. 

I am sure I can come up with something non-running related to say, right? Right? 

This week my daughters' school had their science fair. Have you seen the below image floating around the interwebs recently? It nails it on the head. Exactly. 

Sadly the yelling and crying chart is the most accurate part of this. Eloise cried approximately 
eleven million times. I may or may not have yelled more than that. 

I thought I had the brilliant idea of having the girls do a project together, though I'm not sure if it was better or worse than last year when the girls both had expensive and time-consuming projects that didn't really end up working in the end, anyways. But, science, you know? The only thing this project above is missing is the total cost. Our stupid trifold board alone was over $9.00. Another $12 for the sharpies. Another $10 for supplies. 

The girls made rock candy. It was fairly cool, but still a pain in the ass. And it exactly didn't work how we thought it would. Yay science!

Speaking of girls and school, I signed up to teach a math games type class at the school. It been a secret dream of mine to bring a math club or something to the school, but make it really fun and interesting, play games and do crafts and whatnot. Here's the kicker, though: you guys, I am not good at math (well, anything beyond basic math). I always hated math, always assumed I was terrible at math, always struggled with it. Since becoming so involved with my girls' edumacation, however, I have started to realize that it doesn't have to be totally sucky. It can maybe, possibly, sorta be fun, too. So I am diving head first in to a world of math, something way, way, way outside of my comfort zone, in an effort, to, simply, help make kids excited about math in a way I never was.

That said, feel free to send me your tips, ideas, well wishes, and boxes of wine! 

This delightful little graphic explains my issue perfectly.

Also, in reaching for my Mother of the Year award, I decided to let my bigger girl stay home from school on Friday so that we could do something fun together. Let's just hope that something isn't just her watching YouTube videos all day while I fold laundry and use my foam roller. Well, I can't foam roll and fold laundry at the same time, but maybe some day. So far she is trying to talk me in to buying a bunch of expensive crap for her to make her own lotions and perfumes and whatnot. Damn YouTube! I only told her we were not going to the mall, and that we were going to lunch somewhere yummy (because I love lunch). Will let you know how it goes! Maybe even instagram our day together?

Monday, March 31, 2014

Running Wild: Weekly Wrap-up

This week was . . . a little frustrating. It started off really well, yoga on Monday felt good, if not really difficult to do the day after a half marathon. I wasn't feeling hurt (yet . . .) but my legs just about laughed out loud when the instructor asked us to do half moon. For the first time ever I was like, um, no. I am going to do something else, then I promptly slumped in to pigeon pose.

Tuesday is my new track day, but I wasn't sure I was ready for that yet, so I swapped it for a strength session, which felt good. No major issues, though my knee was starting to be a little whiny, especially on lateral lunges. 

Wednesday I met with my PT and let her know I was starting to get a wee bit worried about my knee. It was a new thing, this time it was the inside of my left knee- an area I have never had any kind of pain or discomfort in. My PT decided that it was bugging me because my IT band tugged on the outside of my knee during the half, which might have thrown off my knee cap and caused pain on the inside. She said she wasn't overly worried about it, and we talked about some other things and she cleared me to keep running. 

I ran that afternoon and felt good, but my knee felt like it went downhill after that until Friday night when I was almost in tears, with ice on my knee, not knowing whether or not I should do my long run the next morning. In a perfect world, I wouldn't have run, but in my real world, I decided to go for it. The knee felt decent by morning and while Iit bugged me a bit during the run, it never erupted in to full blown pain. I also seemed to notice a direct correlation between actively focusing on my glutes and a decrease in knee discomfort. 

Luckily, at this exact moment in time, I can't feel my inner knee. It made a few squeaks at me while I did my strength workout on Sunday afternoon, but nothing significant.

Anyways, the other exciting thing about Sunday is that it marked the end of the first half of my marathon training plan. I have made it half way. I have run a half marathon. Now the real fight begins. Will I be strong enough to get to the start line of this marathon? Who knows, but I am working like hell to strengthen all of the right muscles. Stay tuned! 

Total Miles Run: 13.2

Monday: Yoga

Tuesday: Strength

"Push" sequence.

Wednesday: 5K Run

I did this run as my Rock-n-Roll Las Vegas virtual 5K. Was going to link to it, but apparently the site is down? Or no longer active? I guess I am supposed to get a free t-shirt out of doing this, which is fun. 

I decided I want to get pink laces for these shoes. To add some frill. 


Thursday: Rest

Friday: 3 Miles Run

Typically I don't ever run back-to-back days, and it probably was especially not a good idea when my knee was already hurting, but there ya go. I did it this week like an idiot.

Frozen corn on my knee. Exciting.

Saturday: 7.3 Miles Run 

This was a wonderful run with Sally. We ran around Greenlake as part of the route and it was so lovely. Since it was a cloudy/rainy morning there wasn't a ton of people out running around the lake so it was almost peaceful!

Sitting in the car waiting for the rain to stop. It actually did about 1/2 mile in to the run 
and then I just sweated my booty off in my dumb rain jacket. 

Sunday: Strength and Myofascial Release

I did a scaled back strength workout from home. Focused a lot on abs and then spent a lot of time with the "it hurts-so-good" tennis ball under the most tender parts of my butt and back. Ouch. 

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Mercer Island Half Marathon Race Recap

Dear reader, let me take you back, back to a time when there were two friends, who lived in two different countries, who both loved to run, and often wished they could run together. Twice they ran a 10K together (this one and this one), but they had bigger dreams, they wanted to team up for a half marathon. Alas, one of the runners, she was incredibly injury-prone, and it just wasn't looking like it was in the cards to run the half together . . . until a few weeks ago. Out of nowhere, the injured runner was making great progress in her training plan towards a full. The non-injured, Canadian-born runner was game. The injured runner found a half marathon that fit in to her schedule. The non-injured runner booked a ticket on the ferry to sail down to the states. A plan was made. THEY WOULD FINALLY GET TO RUN A HALF MARATHON, SIDE BY SIDE.

I'm so tricky, right? I'm that injured runner. My dear friend Tara is the non-injured runner. 

On Saturday night, after stuffing our faces with open-faced turkey sandwiches and Molly Moon's ice cream, Matt and I picked Tara up at the ferry terminal. We came home, chatted about things, and headed to bed.

Carb loading at it's finest.

The first wonderful thing about the Mercer Island half is, if you are running it (as opposed to walking it), the completely decent start time of 9:00 am. I was worried about the seemingly complicated parking situation (several parking lots all over the island with shuttle buses to the start) so we left the house at 7:30, go to Mercer Island at 7:45, and ended up parking a few blocks from the start line in a huge lot. We were at the start at about 8:00am. Easy peasy. I didn't pick up our bibs early, so we headed in to the community center gym. It was extremely well organized for packet pick-up. We got our stuff, attached our bibs to our belts, then checked our gear before choosing to stand in a long line for the inside bathroom. Of note, however, is that on our way to packet pick-up we noticed a long line porta potties with no lines. We chose to wait inside because it would kill time and keep us warm until the race started. It was the perfect decision. Once we headed back outside we lined up pretty far back in the pack and the race began. 


Tara and I, ready to run! 

The first couple of miles were fairly crowded, but not annoyingly so. Tara and I kept around a 10:30 min/mile pace during the early miles. Eventually the crowds spread out, and the rolling, twisting course was laid out before us. I seriously think there were less flat spots than there were hills on the course! The course followed Mercer Way around the outer edge of the island, in a clockwise fashion. The inner lane of the road was closed for runners, the outer lane was open to cars. Truth be told, I absolutely loved the hills. The only thing I didn't like about the road were the parts where it was quite slanted.

The course had plenty of water stops, some of them with nuun available. When there was nuun I always took that, as I already drink it daily and knew it wouldn't upset my stomach. There was one gel station with Clif shots, around the half way point. I took one of my own gels around mile 5, then held on to my Clif shot to take around mile 9. I absolutely LOVE vanilla Clif shots, so I was thrilled that they were available on the course.

                         
      
Some fun race photos I stole from the race's website.

Tara and I chatted the entire way, save for the top half of some of the steeper or longer hills. It made the miles slip by without notice. Throughout the entire race we were treated to views of Lake Washington and the shore on the other side, as well as the gorgeous houses that the populate the island. The volunteers were extra nice and helpful, and a few locals came out to cheer on runners, which was so lovely.

Of course, I need to add, one of the most amazing things about the whole day was that we were running in the most perfect running weather ever. The sun came out around the end of mile 1, the temps were in the upper 40s. Couldn't have been more perfect if we'd specifically ordered it!

Thankfully I felt really strong almost all of the time. Around mile 9 my left knee was developing a "niggle". I was worried, knowing my history with ITBS, and hoped that it wouldn't explode in to actual pain. Focusing my energy on making my glutes work seemed to do the trick, however, as the niggle actually went away a couple of miles later. Hurray for strength training and learning how to run correctly! Sadly, this doesn't mean I came out of the race unscathed. After my 10 mile run the previous Sunday I developed a small blister on the inner edge of my foot under my big toe, so I put a piece of leukotape over that area for this race. I thought I was golden, but when I pulled the tape off at home I had two big blisters under it! What the heck?! 

Back to the course-- many people warned me of the hills-- and like I said, they were truly non-stop, but none of them were too difficult. Most were low and rolling, save for the biggest one around mile 11. That was more work. 

My Garmin's elevation reading.

There was also a short, steep hill right before the finish line, but luckily it turned in to a brief downhill before we ducked under the finisher's arch. 

We did it!

Garmin results. Perfect! 

The medal, hanging on my medal rack.

There were only two negatives about this race. One was the finish line food. We were only offered water, bagels, bananas and oranges. No chocolate milk, no peanut butter, no vendors shilling protein bars or anything (at least not in the food tent). I was really surprised there wasn't more variety, and that there was no protein. The other is that I thought the t-shirts were super lame. Long sleeved, unisex, white, tech shirts. Mine ended up being huge on me (though I wouldn't have worn it anyways) and went straight in to the Goodwill pile. I wish races like this would give you the option of donating the cost of the shirt to the charity-- instead of giving you a shirt to donate to charity, I guess. 

We didn't stick around long enough to check out the booths or any other entertainment, as we had to go pick up my daughter before heading home. 

Luckily, by the time we got back to my house my husband had a big ol' spread ready for us-- omelets, potatoes, fruit, sausages, toast, coffee and orange juice! Yum, yum. 

Post-race meal, hit the spot!


After every other half marathon I have run I was completely wrecked for the rest of the day-- this time I felt tired, and sore, but able to go about the rest of the day (albeit a little more slowly than usual!). I took it as a great sign, one that meant I ran the race slow enough, and that I am doing the right things in training to help prevent more injuries. 

In closing, I would absolutely run the Mercer Island half marathon again! I would also recommend it to any locals who are either well-trained on hills or are open to the challenge. The course is anything but boring! 

Monday, March 24, 2014

Running Wild: Weekly Wrap-up

What a great week! My highest mileage in a very long time (at least since late September, which is as far back as dailymile will show me). It's all very exciting.

This week was all about gearing up to run the half marathon on Sunday. Without re-hashing Friday's post, I will just say I wanted to keep my workouts consistent with my training, but be careful not to push it so much I would be worn out on Sunday.

Total Miles Run: 22.3

Monday: Yoga

Man, being the least flexible person in my yoga class is a wee bit demoralizing. Ah, well. I will soldier on! 

Tuesday: 3 Miles on the Track

I did the exact same workout I did last week: 1/2 mile warm-up jog, stretch and drills, then stride the straights/jog the corners for 8 total laps. Again, I did two laps at a time, but I didn't push myself to the limit this time. 

Wednesday: Cross Training

I had a session with my trainer. She didn't kick my ass this time, phew! We did some tough warm-up drills (why are warm-ups always so hard?!) and then focused mostly on abs, stretching and myofascia release. 

Thursday: Rest

Friday: 6.2 Miles

I was not feeling this run. Blech. I woke up and ran without eating anything other than a few Honey Stinger chews and I just had zero "pep in my step" the whole way. It was a lovely morning to be out running along the sound, though, so that's a plus!

Saturday: Cross Training

I did the "pull" workout at home since this one is easier on my body than the "push" workout. 

Sunday: 13.1 Miles!

I ran this with my friend Tara and we ran (in my opinion) the perfect "race" (again, we just ran it as a training run, not a race). My goal was to run in the 2:10-2:15 range and we finished in 2:11. Perfect-o! Our overall time was a beautiful negative split-- not that we tried, it just turned out the beginning was crowded enough to keep up is the 10:xx range and the end we were running more like 9:30s. The course was perfect, I loved all of the hills, actually, and was so glad I had trained on hills otherwise I would have been DYING. Anyways, stay tuned for a race recap!