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! 

Monday, February 09, 2015

Frost Eagle Half Marathon Race Recap

Do you like mud?

Do you like rain?

Do you like sometimes knee-deep puddles?

Then the Frost Eagle Half Marathon is for you!

(sorry, I couldn't help but write my intro in the way the 2nd and 3rd graders I work with at school are writing their persuasive reviews . . . . )

Holy cow. I will start with this gem:

Smiling big, because why not?

I really loved this race. It was put on by Northwest Trail Runs at Soaring Eagle Park and there was also a 5 mile option. The trails were insane-- mud, mud puddles, and portions where the trail turned in to a stream (see above). There was a couple of very short sections without puddles, otherwise it felt like every few steps-- SPLOOSH-- right in to a puddle. At first myself and the folks around me were trying to go around the puddles. Once we got to the portion pictured above there was clearly no way through but through. After that I went straight through pretty much every puddle, albeit somewhat cautiously. It was impossible to of know how deep they are without stepping in to them. A few moments after this picture was taken I stepped in to a hole that was up to the hem of my shorts! Luckily I never fell, but I watched a poor guy in front of me take an epic tumble, eventually landing on his back. Mercifully, the course was only small, rolling hills, so we didn't have to hike up (or slide down) any major ascents. 

Due to the mud it was very, very hard and slow going. Which is normally A-OK by me, but I was trying to get to Iris's basketball game after the run so I attempted to haul ass. I finished in 24th out of 52 women who completed the half. So not fast overall, but fast for me. I wanted to run this as a training run but it became clear that if I lollygagged through the course I would've totally missed the game. Interestingly, more women than men ran this race! Love that! 

Race photo from Michael Lake Photography.

The half marathon was only 12.1 miles according to my Garmin. I am curious if that is just me or was the course really that short? At any rate, I was glad about it (see above mentioned time-crunch and slow going). We did two loops of the course. The first loop was fairly dense with runners but on the second loop I spent significant chunks of time without getting passed or passing anyone. 

I didn't use the aid stations, but they looked well stocked and the volunteers were friendly!

In the porta-potty line I made friends with a really nice woman and the two girls who I asked to stop and take pictures with were super kind, as well. I appreciated them so much as I was running the race without any buddies. 

Once I crossed the finish line I looped past the table to snacks to check it out and then kept moving right towards the car which was parked about half mile away. Luckily I made it to the game a few minutes after it started!

Definitely looking forward to running this race again next year. I hope it's just as muddy! 

Once I got my shoes off, this is what my feet looked like. Glad I had my Injinjis on!

Friday, February 06, 2015

Training is Hard.

It is pouring rain.

I am tired.

My body is sore.

So many excuses! 

It is the second week of training and I am ready to crawl under the covers. This stuff is hard, you guys!

I am incredibly fortunate that I have time during the day to get workouts in and a few of them take up a great deal of time. Two days a week I am strength training along with a run or swim, and there is just no way to get through it quickly. Training for an endurance event takes, well, endurance. Duh.

Monday was strength and my shortest run of the week. 

On Tuesday I tried a barre class for the first time, and, oddly, there was no actual barre involved. That class is tricky, because you think it's going to be easy to lift 2.5# and 5# weights, but oh no. When you are lifting them many, many, may times, your arms will hurt

Wednesday was another strength workout followed by a swim. With changing and showering and all of that, again, took for.ev.er. 

Then there is the not-so little matter of my eight year old suddenly rejecting all things sleep related, instead choosing to stay out of bed and scream. For hours. So that's putting a cramp in the rest of the family getting decent sleep. It should make the half marathon I am running on Saturday challenging, but maybe in a good way? That whole "running on tired legs" thing? Probably total lack of sleep is not what the sentiment means . . .

On Thursday I got out and made the run happen despite the rain, exhaustion, and soreness. I was glad I did it, though. 100% of the time I feel better after fitting in the run.

This morning I bailed on yoga. It wasn't all bad, as I did a bunch of stretching/rolling at home, instead. I needed to be home in my jammies and near the comfort of the couch should I need to just pass out. Sleep deprivation is no joke.

The one thing about this morning was my sheer delight in being faced with a giant sale rack of $10 shorts at the running store. Say what? I stopped in to grab some shot bloks and the rack snagged my attention. I was pleasantly surprised to find a pair of Moving Comfort shorts and a pair of Oiselle shorts-- $10 each! Almost $100 worth of shorts for $20! Score!

I got these Oiselle shorts. That isn't me.

and I got these Moving Comfort shorts.
So, that is exciting and soothes my weary heart. I am looking forward to what will be an extremely wet and muddy trail half marathon tomorrow morning. Woo hoo! 

Wednesday, February 04, 2015

New Career?

My friend Sarah and I have had a kind of running joke for a while that we should jump on the under-used "Middle-aged Mom Fitness Model" niche. 

She and I have been photographed working out for a few different businesses, and my photo has been used to advertise a race series, fitness classes, yoga classes, and, recently, Ragnar!

Here is the post Ragnar made on Facebook last week:


I absolutely LOVE that photo of me. That one and the one from my marathon are tied for my favorite running photos ever. 

Wouldn't it be hilarious if middle aged mom fitness model was actually a thing?

Monday, February 02, 2015

Saturday Long Run and Re-Thinking the Training Program

Saturday marked the first long run of my 50k training cycle. Stacey was away running the Orcas Island 25k and I passed on a road run with Sally because I needed some trail time (one of these days I will get her out there with me!). I did 10 miles at Cougar and it was absolutely fantastic. Where I was shocked that I couldn't pull off 7 miles at a 15 min/mile on Thursday, on Saturday I maintained exactly that pace overall-- which included some stops to read the map, to take in the sights and also snap some photos. There was some (admittedly flat or downhill) portions where I was just flying (my version of flying) down the trail with speed I rarely see when I'm in the woods. It was so much fun!

The route was 9.8 miles, and I added on .2 at the end with a little out on back on the Nike Horse Trail to make it an even 10. To run this, start at Sky Country Trailhead and head East on Old Man's Trail and then follow the loop!


My favorite part of this whole run was the Whittaker Wilderness Trail. "The Boulders" were very cool, and there was a long, windy walkway built out of boards:

I love all of the bridges and walkways on Cougar. They make my heart feel super happy.

Saturday's run brought my mileage for the week to 25 miles with 4307 feet of elevation gain.

After some chatting with my chiropractor, who knows a thing or two about a thing or two, we found some agreement about the best use of my time spent training-- which actually will cut the amount of time I spend running down even further. Going to give it a try and see how it feels, though I am pretty sure it will work well. I seem to do okay showing up at starting lines "under trained" as I typically run even fewer miles than the lowest training plan I can find! 

Anyways, what I'm going to try is three days of running. A short-ish, medium-ish and long run. Then I will add two classes in, one yoga, and I am going to try out barre and pilates to see if they are good subs for a second yoga class. Then I will keep my two strength training sessions, and work harder to make them quality workouts that keep my heart rate up. Lastly, I will add in swimming. This works out to something like this, which is next week's schedule:

Week: MondayTuesdayWednesdayThursdayFridaySaturdaySunday
2. Feb 2- Feb 84 miles + strengthBarre Swim + Strength 7 miles YogaFrost Eagle 1/2 marathonOFF

In addition to all of that I do several miles of walking each week, which includes some major hills. 

I am pretty excited about this schedule, and to see how successful I am in staying healthy and running a strong 50k in May! 

In other news, I am running an offical half marathon this coming weekend. Super excited about it, as I have never run at Soaring Eagle park! It should be a lot of fun.