Wednesday, March 25, 2015

22 is Tough

Okay, no longer feeling 22. Ha.

I won't lie, that run was pretty rough sprinkled with a few parts that were really nice. 

My good friend Sally came to pick me up bright and early. Thanks, Sally! We started our run in Fremont and ran to Magnolia, did two loops on the Discovery Park trail loop and then back to Fremont via the Ballard Locks and Ballard. The weather during this part was interesting. We got some sun, some rain, lots of wind. Even saw a rainbow!

I said goodbye to Sally at 13 miles and started on my way towards home. At that point it was nice and sunny, though a little windy. I kept looking down to keep my baseball cap from flying off and eventually just had to remove it and stuff it in my pack. My original plan was to run east along the Burke Gilman, then across the Montlake Bridge and south through Capitol Hill all the way down to the International District. I was able to run a bit further than originally planned with Sally so I took a shortcut home, but unfortunately not the most fun shortcut. I went south from Fremont along Westlake, then through south Lake Union by the Amazon campus, then up to Capitol Hill via Boren then Pine, then south on Broadway. I think I hit every. single. stoplight. It was really frustrating, though part of me loved the constant forced breaks. Finally made it down to the I.D. and had a quick jaunt through there until I made my way over to the Elliot Bay Trail. This section was incredibly boring, and once I hit East Marginal Way the wind was straight at my face. It sucked. The wind was a bit better once I turned west on to the West Seattle Bridge Trail. The sky looked threatening, but luckily it only sprinkled a bit. I ended the run at a coffee shop, where I got a fancy drink and a chocolate chip cookie to inhale on the way home.



Anyways, the second part of the run wasn't anything to write home about, it was more like a "get it done" sort of thing. Though it is cool to know I ran through so many neighborhoods all in one run! It would be fun to try that again sometime and cover different neighborhoods.

The run was really hard, though. At different points my legs and/or feet were hurting, but luckily nothing painful. Mostly my legs were just kind of annoyed with me, I think. That is a long ways for me to run on mostly pavement (save for the two loops at Discovery Park). My feet were definitely not amused and two blisters popped up on my left foot.

So I am suddenly feeling tentative about my 24 miler, but I think the 26 miler I will be able to do as trail marathon race and that will be nice.

Friday, March 20, 2015

I Don't Know About You, but I'm Feeling 22

Saturday morning will bring with it the third longest run of this training cycle: 22 miles. I will hopefully not have the Taylor Swift song "22" stuck in my head the whole time.

I feel like I should be worried about this run, but I'm actually not. Mostly I am just super excited, it has all of the makings for a really fun long run-- partly with a good buddy, partly on my own, a little bit on the trails, and lots and lots of exploring areas of the city I have never run through before! Will post the route after I run it, with, of course, many comments on how my route planning skills worked out, haha. Sometimes things seem great on a map and not quite so great while traversing it in real life. 

As I type it is Friday night and there are four girls on a sleepover running and screaming through the house on the floor above me. The two that belong to me promised to be quiet after my bed time, we shall see how that works out. 

We will all be fueling tonight with pizza and ice cream. Plus chips and candy for the girls. It is a sleepover after all! I let my girls spend their allowance on snacks. That won't backfire, right?

It is supposed to be raining on Saturday's run, which is annoying, but not the end of the world. Nothing will beat last weekend's run. That was slogged through in record setting rain. After a while it turned in to a total joke. I was out on Cougar Mountain with few other insane brave runners and it felt like every other step was through a puddle. It was probably the slowest run I have ever done. Barely even fast enough to qualify as a run. Just over 9 miles in just under 3 hours. In my defense, I can be a bit speedier, clocking 8 miles in 1:40 this week. That is actually kind of blazing fast for me on the trails! 

Was so soaked under this coat, it was incredible.

Assuming all goes well on Saturday, and it will, it will cap off a week of nailing every single workout I had scheduled. It's been a while since that happened so it feels good to know I can pull it off. I even managed to push hard enough on my strength workout on Wednesday that I am still sore on Friday. Hooray for not wimping out!

See you on the flip side.

Saturday, March 14, 2015

Roller Coaster Week and Looking Ahead

Feeling glad this week is (almost!) over. It has been quite the roller coaster, leaving me not just sad/upset/excited/hopeful in the moment, but about some things to come, as well.

I was sick-- again-- this week. Not sure what the heck is going on, though my younger daughter has been getting sick more than usual, too, so it's not just me! Being sick meant missing out on some training workouts, which was frustrating after missing some workouts the week before when I was home with a sick little girl. Not much I can do about it, of course, and I am looking at Sunday's long run totally lost about how I should approach it. Try to do the full 16? Take it easy and cut back more on what is already a cut back week? We'll see!

There was also an ultimately good, but still stressful and challenging, meeting about one of my girls. In case you weren't aware: raising kids is crazy hard work. I have attempted a frenzy of activity using the information from the meeting, which was made more difficult by just feeling like total crap.

Then there was also being drop-kicked from some upcoming weekend plans that I super excited about. Extra sting in that I already spent non-refundable money on said weekend. 

The icing on the poop-tastic cake was the most god-awful playdate I might have ever hosted in my home. At one point I was pretty sure my life had morphed in to a sitcom and that there were hidden cameras somewhere documenting the ridiculousness. 

BUT! As all good roller coasters do, there were moments where things went up. There was, when the fever was gone for good, a wonderful yoga class followed by Top Pot donuts and coffee with one of my very favorite people. 

I already ate the maple frosted one.

Then, at the end of the donut/coffee date, I got some amazing, wonderful, perhaps life-changing news regarding my older daughter's school situation. It was something I had been completely stressed out over for many months, so the news felt almost literally like a weight being lifted from my shoulders. 

However, this good news doesn't come without a price. It will mean that I need to get a job to support this amazing opportunity. Getting a job, one that means a lot of hours and earning a reasonable wage, will have significant impacts on my whole family. The obvious impact to me is that, well, I go to work. In the time I was previously taking care of almost all of the household duties, volunteering and training, I will be working. So what will happen to the training? The time I have available will decrease significantly, so this 50k might be it for long distance races for a while, which is fine. It is what it is. And what will become of the household duties? Well, that will be an interesting one! I'm still flushing toilets, turning off lights and closing doors for people that should be more than able to handle such remedial tasks . . . so I think there will be quite the interesting adjustment for the family. 

Thinking about the future and the changes ahead makes me more appreciative than ever that I am able to keep working towards my goal of running this 50k. Training was starting to get hard before I was side-lined for two weeks, and then I just started to feel a bit "doom and gloom" about it. How was I ever going to get there? But knowing this might be my one chance for a little while makes my resolve harden just a bit. 

Onwards and upwards. Always. 

Monday, March 09, 2015

Lake Sammamish Half Race Report (plus 7!)

On Saturday March 7th Tara and I ran the Lake Sammamish Half Marathon. We tacked on seven more miles at the end to make 20 miles total for the day. Hooray for marathon/50k training!

This was the first time either of us had run this race. I drove over to the start line in Marymoor Park on race morning and Tara walked over from her hotel that was nearby. Traffic was easy peasy! I was parked by about 6:40 or so, found Tara and got my bib and goodies bag from her. She picked both of our bibs up the previous day, though it looks like it would have been easy enough if we had saved it for race morning. Of course, there were some perks for Tara for picking the bibs up at Road Runner Sports!

It was pretty cold before the 7:30 start, high 30's. We waited in a short line for what seemed to be plenty of porta potties and then stood around and shivered waiting for the race to start. Since we were using the race as part of a longer training run, we decided to line up somewhere near the 10:00 min/mi pacer and roughly aim for that for the race. The start went off in waves, we crossed the starting mats about 7 mins after the race began.

The course itself was . . . okay. It was detoured for a pretty long chunk along the shoulder of Lake Sammamish Parkway because of construction on the Lake Sammamish trail. The shoulder was narrow and at times heavily banked. Not fun. Once we made our way back down to the trail the runners thinned out and we were running on packed gravel. That section was by far the best of the entire course.

Photo courtesy of Woodinville Bicycle. This was at mile 5.


The temperature slowly climbed during the morning, and once the sun came out about 9 or so miles in it was an absolutely beautiful day. 

Tara and I appreciated the plentiful water/nuun/clif shot stations along the course, as well.

Besides the section along the shoulder of the road, the other major bummer was a one mile weaving up and down along roads in Lake Sammamish State Park, where the finish line was. With one mile to go, and the finish line in sight, you run passed it, back towards it, away from it again and finally get to finish. I would rather see a zig zag like that at the start of the race, not the end! We finished in 2:11:46 Interestingly, it was just 30 seconds slower than the Mercer Island Half Tara and I ran together last year! 

The medals/shirts/bibs were really cool this year. Of course, I can't wear my long sleeved shirt on account of my long limbs, but it was still a great design. 

At the finish in front of Lake Sammamish.

We found a lot of food and drink at the finish line, grabbing a few things to eat on the spot and a few to tuck away until our entire run was completed. Once we were ready to leave the race we walked to the bus, got right on one, then it drove right back to the start line, where my car was parked. We appreciated that there was not a bunch of waiting around. 

The race was extremely well organized, which was wonderful. I thought the registration fee was a little steep at $85 total, however. 

Once Tara and I got back to my car we changed and drove to Cougar Mountain. We were tired, but ready to take on our last seven miles. Despite some challenges, including tight calf muscles and a crazy allergy attack, we had a great time and ran strong the whole way. We finished both runs in a total of 3:51! 

Post-20 miler selfie! 

We finished this 20 miler 50 minutes faster than I did last weeks extremely hilly 17 miler-- and I felt much, much better afterwards, too. I think it definitely will help to do a mix of a more flat off-road run and some hilly trails for my long runs. 

It was a fantastic day of running, and it was so fun to run that long with Tara. We get to do 16 together in three weeks up on Vancouver Island!

The half plus seven gave me 37.6 miles for the week with a total elevation gain of 3195.

Wednesday, March 04, 2015

When the Plan Goes Awry

This week has been a bit tricky. Going on several days of being home with a moderately sick eight year old has got me a little, well, stir crazy. Eloise has what I refer to as the "Mystery Fever", which is to say she has a fever and the accompanying run-down feeling that goes with it, but no other symptoms. Annoying. Giving her acetaminophen or ibuprofen helps her feel 100% fine, but as soon as it wears off, she's back to feeling run-down again. 

Luckily she has been feeling good enough to get a lot of school work done, including her entire science fair project. Solar system, FTW!

What is the solar system?

Being a mom, and a stay-at-home-mom, at that, means family is always my absolute #1 priority. Sick kids mean I am at home on nurse/mom duty. However, it gives me some anxiety about my current #2 priority, which is training. All of my weekday workouts happen when my girls are at school, so when they're not at school, well, it gets a little complicated. Being a creature of habit, it is hard to reach outside of the normal schedule and find other times to workout. I ended up taking Monday off, which was fine after the difficult long run on Sunday. Tuesday I ventured to the gym at night to do something I haven't done in, geez, well over a year!, which is run on the treadmill. And you know what? It wasn't so bad! I messed with the speed and incline a bunch and that helped make it more interesting. I also broke it up with three miles on the treadmill, a strength workout, then two more miles on the treadmill. Needless to say, the last two were the most boring. Tonight will hold some crossing training of some sort and fingers are crossed my mid-length run tomorrow will be on as scheduled.

Random hilarious shot of our kitties. 
Opal, the gray one, was cleaning Oscar, the orange one, mid-yawn.

Looking forward to the weekend, when Tara and I will run the Lake Sammamish Half then tack on seven more miles at Cougar Mountain. It is going to be so much fun to catch up with her! I am happy about all of the flat miles, too. This week will hold significantly less elevation gain than the past few and that is A-OK with me. My body was feeling it and I will take the odd week of training to take things down a notch.

Monday, March 02, 2015

Ouch.

Things are continuing to move along in 50k training land. Hit every workout this week, except for one (sorta).

Despite starting out pretty well, Sunday's long run ended up being quite tough. My plan is always to run on Saturday and rest on Sunday, but it didn't quite work out this week. It means that my 20 miler will be only six days away, instead of seven, which is actually more significant than it sounds!

I met my friend Brooke out at Cougar, she had 12 to do, I had 18. I planned a great route, albeit a pretty hilly one. It felt like we were hiking as much as we were running, and that started to drain on our energy levels. Our 12 miler, which I estimated we would run in 3 hours, ended up being close to 3 1/2 hours. Once I said goodbye to Brooke and headed back out, I was just feeling DONE. Everything hurt, and while some food perked my energy levels back up, nothing was helping my lower limbs. My legs didn't want to move, my hamstrings didn't want to hop over anything. I ended up cutting the run short to 17 miles. It was disappointing, but I still ran for over 4 1/2 hours, which is how long I thought 18 would have taken.

Once I looked at the elevation at home, however, it really made sense why the run felt so hard on my legs. It ended up being the second most elevation I have ever done in a single run, behind my marathon. 

With 3,288 feet of elevation gain, the run was no joke!

Brooke and I at the 12 mile mark. Tired girls!

It also was tough just to be gone that long for a run. Out the door at 7:30am, back home just after 1:30pm. I felt like the amount of time was overwhelming and it meant missing out on a lot time I would typically spend with my family. There are some runs coming up that will take even more time, as well. Starting to wonder if the answer to those runs is something that is part road (or at least flat) and part trail so that I am not out there for 5+ hours of running. 

Sunday's run made for 35.3 miles for the week with a total of 6,282 feet of elevation gain.

Monday, February 23, 2015

Long Run Saturday

Whew, I did it! My third longest run ever, though I am not sure it *technically* counts (counts towards what, I don't know . . . ) because it was broken up in to two runs.

I planned to do 8 miles in the morning before some mid-day things we had to accomplish, then 8 miles later in the afternoon. What I ended up doing was 8.75 miles around West Seattle (which included a terrible headwind on Alki!) and then 7.75 at Cougar Mountain. So, 16.5 all together. In the morning I was just heading in to as if it were just something to get through. I especially wasn't excited about the spin around the pavement, mostly because running the same old streets AGAIN is boooooring. That run ended up being pretty much fine, I felt really strong after I got my only major climb over with!

After the run I went to watch Iris's basketball game, which was a nail biter! Right down to the last second, we weren't sure who would win! Sadly, it wasn't our girls. We lost by ONE POINT. It was a great game. 

Then after some lunch and girl scout cookies and chores, it was time to head out to the trails. Before I set out I gave my route a little thought and came up with what I hoped would be the right length. While it meant I ended up with 1/2 a mile more than planned for the day, it was worth it. I hit some great spots out on Cougar and did tons of climbing. 

If you do this run, here's the way I did it: Start from Sky Country Trailhead and go south on Nike Horse Trail. Follow route to Shy Bear Trail and turn LEFT. From there go to Whittaker Wilderness Peak Trail and follow the route back up to Long View Peak Trail and go LEFT. Then follow the route around back to Shy Bear Trail. Take a LEFT on Fred's Railroad Trail and then follow the route back to the trailhead. My Garmin told me that was 7.75-- soooo, roughly 8. 

The elevation from both runs. Kind of funny looking! 
I thought that first bump was a giant hill! 

That route passes my favorite falls (Coal Creek) and then gives you the long awesome downhill on Gombu Wilderness Cliffs Trail and the beautiful uphill on Whittaker Wilderness, which also has some fun bridges and other things to see. It is on Deceiver or Shy Bear Trail (maybe both?) where there are more bridges. 

I decided to run with music while at Cougar, which I haven't ever done on the trail before except for at the very end of my marathon. These days I claim to be a "no music" person on the trail, but man, I absolutely LOVED having some tunes for this run. It kept me upbeat for sure. Hopefully no one heard me belting out "IIIIIIIII want to swiiiiiing, from a chaaaandeliiiiiier!!!!!" as I flew (okay, tiptoed like a pansy) down the Cliffs Trail, haha. Not sure if I will use music more often, as I do love to just listen to nature when I am out there, but I greatly enjoyed it on Saturday. 

Post run(s) selfie and gratuitous Garmin shot.

The week ended with 31.6 miles run and 6100 (!) feet of elevation gain. My mileage was actually lower than last week (by one mile) but I feel solid about it, because I spent so much time climbing that I still put in the time on my feet.

Friday, February 20, 2015

Venturing Up Tiger Mountain

On Wednesday night, as I laid in bed, I began contemplating my Thursday medium-long run. I have been alternating between running in my 'hood, Cougar Mountain, or Discovery Park. But I had an idea-- I wanted to be a bit adventurous and head out to Tiger Mountain. All by myself. Gulp. While I am 100% (okay, 95%) comfortable at Cougar by myself, neighboring Tiger and Squak Mountains seriously intimidate me. They seem bigger, more remote, and more likely to end up with me eaten by a wild animal. Side note: there are no actual tigers on Tiger.

I have run up to West Tiger 3 a couple of times now, and wasn't about to re-live that pain again, so I (yes, stupidly) decided to run up to Poo Poo Point (and beyond). The reason I say stupidly is because Chirico Trail up to Poo Poo Point is easily just as difficult as the trail to West Tiger 3, if not more so, because it is less "runnable". 

My run started at the Chirico Trailhead. The rain was coming down fairly steadily by the time I got going, which was annoying, as Seattle's weather has been amazing lately! But no matter, I settled in to hike the 1.6 miles to the top as quickly as I could in the rain. It surprised, and relieved, me that there were so many other people on the trail mid-day on a Thursday.

At the trailhead. Just got more dreary the further I moved up the trail.

Once I made it to the top the view was . . . lost behind a thick layer of clouds. There was zero view. Nothing. Apparently when it is nice the payoff for the climb is spectacular. I wandered around Poo Poo Point to figure out where the trail continued on, and found that it ran right past a small building with a toilet. Yay! I went in, locked the door, did my business, unlocked the door, and . . . . it wouldn't open. It was acting as if the lock was still catching. I turned the lock, tried again. Nope. Tried again and again and again. My blood pressure shot up about 50 points. I started shaking. I was 100% sure in that moment I was locked in and started taking my pack off to see if my phone would work to call for help. In my fear and frustration I slammed the left side of my body in to the door and after the third slam it opened! UM. I am dying to know if other people have gotten stuck in there?! It was really scary. 

A cool looking patch of furry trees near my turn-around point.

After that fiasco I continued on along the trail for a bit and then turned around just over an hour in to the run. Coming back down the mountain was not that fun for me. At the more muddy parts I kept losing my footing and slipping. I made it down at about a 17:00 min/mile pace, which is pretty slow for a downhill "run". Ah, well. I never fell! Made it back to the car, quick changed and headed towards home.

On the way back through Issaquah on Front Street I remembered that the store Uphill Running was in that neighborhood, and sure enough, I was able to find it! The store is really cute and small, not packed with a ton of stuff. I was hoping to just grab some more shot bloks to add to my stash, but all they had for fuel was Pocket Fuel, which the guys there raved about, so I bought three to try. Looks like they have my favorite shoes in stock, so I will be back when I need new ones! They also told me about their group runs, hopefully I can get in on some soon and explore more of Tiger and Squak with company. 

Looking forward to Saturday's run. I am trying out something new, which is splitting my 16 miler in to two 8 mile parts. One in the morning on the road, one in the afternoon on the trails, which will be fun, but is also due to necessity because of some scheduling stuff for Saturday. I will be running the whole thing solo, as well, so this will really help me keep my head in it without being on the trail for four hours alone! 

Happy weekend! 

Tuesday, February 17, 2015

Long Run on Valentine's Day

These weekend long runs are no joke. I haven't even gotten up to my "drop back" level of weekend running, which will be 16 miles once my mileage gets in to the 20s for my long runs. While I do absolutely love these long runs, they take for.ev.er. to do. 14 miles (well, 14.4 to be precise) took me 3:30 total, plus driving time I was looking at about 4 and a half hours of being gone for my run. Luckily life is such that it works out okay for my family for me to do this, but dang, it's a lot of time. I don't do any training during the weekdays outside of the time the kids are at school, so this is my big chunk of time to be away during the week.

Approaching a very cool log bridge on the route.

Saturday's run was a lot of fun. Due to conflicting schedules for the past few weeks I haven't run with Stacey, but yesterday was able to meet her and a couple of her friends for just over 9 miles. While I do really enjoy running alone, running with friends made the time absolutely fly by. It certainly didn't hurt that the weather in Seattle has been ah.may.zing. recently. Felt comfortable on the run in short sleeves and capris, easily could have worn shorts.

Things are even blooming already in Seattle! (This picture was NOT from my run):

Blooming teeny irises.

My total mileage running and walking for the week was 32.4, with 3,676 feet of elevation gain. I also did two strength workouts, one barre workout, one swim workout and one session of yoga. 

Getting 14+ miles in to start the weekend was a good call, because the rest of the weekend was spent consuming delicious junk food. For Valentine's day Matt and I brought the girls on a date, which meant dinner and a movie. We saw the new SpongeBob movie, which was "eh". We are big SpongeBob fans in this house, though, so it was still kind of fun. The kids really liked it! I snuck in some Necco wafers as my snack. Remember those? Oh, so good. They are mostly good, rather, until you get to the one kind that tastes like dish soap. 

The licorice ones are the best.

After the movie we were pleasantly surprised that the restaurant next to the theater had plenty of open seating, so we ducked in there for dinner. I ate a "fishwich" with fries, which isn't my usual dinner choice, but it sounded (and tasted!) great at the time. 

In the past I have not necessarily looked forward to rest days, they were just another day on the training calendar. Now I definitely can't wait for them. It makes my long run easier knowing I can spend the next day being lazier! 

Wednesday, February 11, 2015

Week Three of Training Random Thoughts

Random thoughts for today.

*The world is so very small sometimes. I was looking at a group I belong to on Facebook the other night, a group for which I haven't checked the posts in months. I came across a post by a friend I knew, what, 23 years ago? And then, later, I came across a post where that friend referenced another guy I knew in college, so about 16 years ago. Never would have guessed they would be connected to each other. For all that I hate about Facebook, little things like that just make me smile. Just a tiny connection like that, couldn't have been made without Facebook.

Have you ever made a totally random connection on Facebook? I am guessing most of us have!

*I am in to week three of 50k training. It is hard, I won't lie. Well, I pretty much explained that last week. Running the miles is hard enough, but I am absolutely determined to get stronger and stay (relatively) injury-free this training cycle!

*While I haven't been full-blown injured yet, I feel like it's still always something. Like my body is a whack-a-mole game with things popping up. Stupid, annoying stuff. Lately it's been my right hip and the bottom of my left foot. Luckily my chiropractor is helping me stay on top of it, but I would be lying if I said it didn't make me really nervous. Of course, with my history, every little ache makes me want to freak. Nothing is bad, nothing is unmanageable, thank goodness. It's just really annoying. 

*The other day I dug out my old workouts notebook from when I was strength training regularly (when I was too injured to run) a couple of years ago. I recorded each workout and the weights I used. It is sad and hilarious to see how much weaker I am now. Ah, well. 

*One great thing is that I was pleased to see I have dropped a few pounds in the past few weeks since the holidays. While I am not dieting and exercising with the intention of losing weight, it is a lovely result of being a more mindful eater and working out more in this training cycle. Getting closer to my preferred weight hopefully means I getting a bit more lean. Building muscle + getting leaner = running better and running farther! Of course, as I write this I am snacking directly out of a bag of chocolate macaroon granola . . . 

*Last week I ran and walked ~30 miles with 2,755 feet of elevation gain. Slowly creeping my mileage upwards! Making progress!

*I also think I have stretched myself a wee bit too thin in terms of my need to (okay, let's be honest, my desire to) track all of my workouts. I have my handy chart at home to track my PT work, I have a training notebook to track my workouts and all of that, I have a spreadsheet on my computer to track mileage and elevation gain, and I have been trying to log things in to dailymile.com online. So far I have lost track of dailymile. I tend to enter things about 5 days late at a time in to my training notebook. Mostly staying on top of my spreadsheet otherwise I will definitely forget it all together. My PT chart is working okay, all that needs is a red X in a box and it is hanging on the wall right next to wear I do those exercises. Goodness. I might spend as much time logging workouts as I spend doing them!