Sunday, December 28, 2008

Kauai Part II - the North Shore, with a little Waikiness thrown in

Thursday, Dec 18, we headed to the North Shore to cap off our vacation in a yurt. We first stopped in Lihue to exchange my phone - the first one I had kept freezing up and I would have to remove the battery to reboot. Not very convenient! I had been in daily touch with my kid who was house - and cat- sitting for us. He regaled me with tales of the snow and conditions in Seattle. I didn't grow up with snow and normally would have been bummed about missing it all, but every time I spoke to someone back home, I relished where I was even more. It was crazy there!

Our journey took us into Hanalei where we stopped by the grocery to stock up on food and beer. We also checked out some of the shops and bought some souveniers. Our gas tank was getting low - Donn realized later he was looking at the wrong guage. He likes to run the tank way down (and we have run out of gas before) whereas I like to keep a comfortable amount in there. My theory is it's because I grew up in hurricane country and you needed to make sure you had enough in the tank in case you had to evacuate. In the current case, we were heading into a very rural area with no room for breaking down on the road. We went on to the yurt with the promise that we would head to Princeville for gas the very next morning.

The yurt was past Hanalei about six miles, just past the Hanalei Colony resort. After a couple of turns on dirt roads we found it. Here's what we saw when we pulled in to the property:

We let ourselves in as no one was around, and made ourselves at home. It was on the property of the owner, Christine. She and her husband paint airplanes and travel a lot, so she was gone at the time we got there. We found inside a small refrigerator (couldn't fit all of the beer and food in there at the same time so the food had to stay out - kidding!), a hotplate, some appliances, a full bathroom (the shower was outdoors though - we used that exclusively), entertainment (TV, DVD player, CD player, games, books), a sofa, dining table, bed, writing desk, and small closet. Pretty soft for a yurt! I loved it!! There was a fan in the middle that hung from the ceiling, which had a skylight in it. Also, Donn got a new pet - a gecko....

Outside, the yard had a couple of plumeria trees that gave off a delicious scent at night. The wind would carry this through the yurt and the smell would fill it up. It was very intoxicating.

There were also a lot of other trees and the backyard was left as when they moved in an built the house. Christine also worked as a gardner and volunteered at the Limuhuli Tropical Garden. She did a wonderful job lnadscaping the yard with native plants! There was also an outdoor table which we dined at a few times. My favorite was the hammock - I had at least one nice nap in it under a couple of palm trees! It was all very peaceful and serene, and so different from anywhere I've been lately! Our directions said the beach was nearby. It took us a while but we found access down a little trail to a somewhat secluded beach. At any given time there may have been as many as four other people there; Tunnels was a couple of beaches away and that's where most of the people went. Plus the access here was known only to the locals. So nice!!

Friday, we headed back towards Princeville and rode in on fumes to fill up the tank. I was a nervous wreck so Donn made me drive. I told him I would kill him if we ran out of gas, and that I was sure the locals would support me! We shopped in Hanalei where I found my favorite store - a little variety store in the Ching Young village. The owner was an older local guy. I saw another older guy shopping there who was wearing an old tank top that said Boston Marathon on it - made of cotton, not technical material! I asked him about it and we struck up a conversation. Turned out the owner of the store qualified but didn't run it. He was 22 at the time and did a 2:59 at the Honolulu marathon. I think it must have been a long time ago cuz he was no spring chicken! After getting some board shorts and a tank top (I was starting to get the local look) we headed back to yurt central and to the beach for some snorkeling.

Our beach had a lot of live coral and it was really tricky maneuvering around it, but we saw some really cool fish. My favorite was one that looked like the sand. When it got spooked, it would burrow down til you could only see its eyes. If you didn't know it was there, you would think you were looking at a couple of rocks. The water was on the cool side so we didn't stay in long. We got back to the yurt and warmed up in the hot tub, while sipping a beer. Christine came home from her travels for the weekend and we had a nice chat. After a lovely dinner made by Donn, and a game of Scrabble in which he kicked my butt soundly, we headed off to bed and listened to the wind. We fell asleep smelling the plumerias...mmmm!

Saturday we headed to the Hanalei Farmers market. It was set in a field with a beautiful backdrop of Kaliki mountain (I think). The crowd was as thick as the University District farmer's market in the summer and the food was as good and diverse. I overheard some women exchanging Solstice wishes and how glad they were that the sun was going to be around longer. I had to laugh and said at least it's not dark at 5 here. They said but it's dark at 7 - in the morning! Then they realized I meant 5 PM! It's all relative - they won't have the luxury of it being light at 9 pm in the summer.

As I was walking around, I spied a very tall girl with only one arm and it clearly was not a birth defect. I could see the scar from where they sewed the surgical flap. It was Bethany Hamilton, and she was there shopping, wearing the local surfer uniform - board shorts and tank top. Very pretty girl - she's about 18 now. Last time we went to Kauai in 2004, she had recently been the victim of a shark attack. She was 13 and was out dawn surfing with her best friend and her best friend's dad. They were home schooled, and the dads took turns taking them out surfing in the morning and afternoon. She was already being looked at as a potential pro - she was that good. Anyway, she was bitten and lost the lower part of her arm; later they removed the rest up to the shoulder. She opted out of a prosthesis and vowed to get back on the board, and today she is (I believe) one of the top ten women in the world. She competes in the same category - i.e., not handicapped. Pretty inspirational! She's got a book out about her comeback called Soul Surfer, and a movie is in the works about it. Seeing her at the Farmer's market made my day, if not most of my vacation! You can check her out at her website.

The rest of Friday and Saturday were filled with more beach time and snorkeling. We walked to Tunnels and checked out the snorkeling there - it was even better than where we were, though swimming out to the second reef through the deep water made me nervous about sharks, especially since that's where Bethany was attacked. But we snorkeled on and enjoyed the scenery. One of the days, we walked down the beach all the way to the end, at Ke'e beach. It was a long walk - about 2.5 miles, in the sand. We checked out the scene at the end of the road and headed up the road, with a short stop by the trail head at the Kalalau trail. We would decide later whether to hike it Sunday. I was feeling torn - I could hike/run at home, but snorkeling wasn't going to happen any time soon when we got back to Seattle. I love the water and its one of the things I miss about not being near a swimmable beach. We walked the raod back home and took in the sights there. We were both pretty worked from the long walk and spent a quiet evening hanging out in and around the yurt. At night, the stars were out and we walked down to our beach and gazed and gazed. It was just too beautiful!

Sunday morning was nice, so we headed out to the beach and got in a snorkel session. Donn saw a turtle - I missed it. Boo! We came back for lunch and hung out after an outdoor shower (which we had been taking advantage of after every snorkel session). Later, we discussed whether to get in one more snorkel round or hike the Kalalau trail. As I mentioned above, hiking in Seattle was an option but snorkeling wasn't. Plus we were both a little tired from the walk the day before. In the end, we stayed "home" and snorkeled and napped on the beach.

We got our things organized Sunday night and I called Hawaiian airlines to see if we were flying to Seattle. They weren't sure but said they would call and let us know if it was canceled. Christine said we could have the yurt one more day if we needed. Monday came, and no call, so we headed out for Lihue to return the car and fly out. At the ticket counter, I asked again if we were flying all the way through to Seattle. The guy said they would know better when we got to Honolulu. I thought I should keep a bathing suit in my carry on just in case but opted not to. I did pack my trail shoes in it though, since I thought I'd need them in the snow back home, along with warm clothes. We flew to Honolulu, deboarded, and checked the Seattle flight. Canceled. What??? Other planes were going in and out of Seatac! But by that time SeaTac had closed down and Hawaiian couldn't get their planes back to fly us home!

For a while, it was a mess, trying to find our luggage, calling my boss (who said just enjoy my extended vacation - it was too crazy in Seattle), finding a cheap hotel, getting rebooked and figuring out how to get there. We got on a flight on Christmas day - direct to Seattle. They had wanted to fly us through Maui but we didn't want to take any chances! I called a friend whom I knew had been to Honolulu several times and she recommended staying in Waikiki. We found a reasonably priced hotel and figured out the bus line to get there. We still didn't have our luggage, but the awesome rep told me she would send it to our room. So off we went to wacky Waikiki on the local bus. We got quite the tour on the way there - even saw the Dole Pineapple factory! Our room was on the 14th floor and the whole experience was a huge culture shock from the yurt!! OMG - it took a day or so to adjust. The beach was way less secluded than "our beach" and the buildings were a lot taller.....

After checking in, we went out exploring and checked out the International Market. I picked up a very cute bikini for $20 in case our luggage didn't arrive. We ate some Mexican food at the food court and made our way back to our hotel. It had become a very, very long day. Our bag had arrived and I was amazed at how my spirits had lifted. Our snorkel gear was with us and we could wear summer clothes again!! We went back out to the grocery store and checked out the local scene. There were lots of Japanese tourists and there were all these people wearing sandwich boards for an indoor shooting range where you could "shoot real guns!!" We guessed they were directed at the Japanese tourists since most of them had probably never seen a real gun, much less shot one. They were also way into Christmas - it was like Disneyland for them. Crazy!

There was a lot more to do in Waikiki, but the thing I enjoyed most was the people watching. We were across the street from Fort Derussey, which led to the beach. I got in a couple runs (did some in Kauai too, that I forgot to mention - heat and humidity were killers!). Wednesday we walked to Kapiolani beach and found a snorkeling site that was reputed to be one of the best in Hawaii. It was shallow, and the coral was mostly dead (sunscreen kills the coral, as well as standing on it or grabbing it), but there were lots of fish because they feed them. We saw some species we hadn't seen before, as well as the usual. It was nice because when you got tired you could just stand up. The water was on the cool side, and a couple we met who went in with us, got out much earlier. He had snorkeled in the Florida Keys and said it was much warmer there.

The walk back was filled with more people watching, but Donn got a sore spot on his metatarsal, from walking in loose shoes or flip flops. That, and the fact that we decided too late in the day to go, put the kibosh on plans to hike up Diamond Head. So I went to the beach and got in some swimming instead. It was really fun siting off of Diamond Head and getting a good swim in! Again, people watching was primo, and I watched this woman walk backwards with a bottle of water balanced on her head, listening to her ipod. When she would pass the lifeguard stand, she'd remove an earbud and yell Merry Christmas and continue to walk backwards! We went out to eat that night at Irifune's - a Japanese restaurant my friend Tracy had recommended. The food was quite good, although I would go for sashimi stuff next time. I had the ahi stir fry, and it was cooked through. I like my tuna almost not cooked.

Christmas day I got up and got in a five mile run around the Ala Wai canal and the beach front all the way to Kapiolani Park and back along the canal. Really humid!! After a shower, the shuttle came and took us to the airport. The flight home was uneventful - we had seats in the very back - nice! Shuttle Express was not going to residential drop offs so we shared a cab with a guy who lives near us. It was another shock to be home in so much snow - and I understood it was half of what it had been! But home, we were. I really didn't want this vacation to end, and didn't expect the surprise of getting "stuck" in Waikiki. Had I been there the whole time, I would have been ready to come home. As it stands, we are already looking at other tropical places to visit - we gotta start saving pennies now!

Saturday, December 27, 2008

Kauai Part I- the South Shore

Donn and I got away on December 11 and flew through Honolulu to Kauai. It was pouring rain in Honolulu when we went through - not a good sign. Especially since the marathon was in a few days (I had a friend running her first marathon there). Storms usually pass through quickly in Hawaii but this one seemed to be hanging on. Our flight was uneventful and we landed in Kauai in time to visit a couple of places on the island before checking into our cottage in Poipu.

When we got to our cottage - Koloa Landing Cottages - we found the manager in our unit cleaning up and looking very tired. The storm we saw in Honolulu had passed through Kauai early that morning and the place, save our cottage, was a disaster. Her office was flooded and all the other cottages had leaks; she had been there since 5 AM! These cottages are slated to be razed when the economy picks up for building more condos. Ours was a cute studio that used to be a boat house and was built pretty solid. Throughout the weekend the storms came and went; some were pretty spectacular but we stayed dry. Waikomo Stream near our place; it dumped into the ocean at Koloa Landing. When we arrived this is what it looked like:

By the end of the weekend it was a torrent of raging red dirt and mud:

The housekeeper at the cottage said she had lived here 19 years and had never seen anything like it! We had considered shipping our snorkel gear back home since we thought we'd not get any in with all the murky water; so glad we didn't.One of the benefits of the rains was seeing the small animals that usually live out of sight. We got a new pet - not sure what to name him (her?)- maybe Sluggo. He (she) reminded us a lot of our cat. There were also anoles hanging out eating all the bugs, which helped keep the mosquito population down.

Our friends Sarah and Zach had been up on the North Shore three days and came into town Sunday afternoon. They were going on a snorkel tour the next morning that went along the Na Pali coast. It didn't look good for snorkeling due to all the mud in the water (sharks can't tell you from a sea turtle) but we wanted to see the coast, so we managed to secure a spot on the boat. They picked us up early Monday morning and after a little talk by Captain Trent, we were off to sea in a big catamaran! I took lots of photos -too many to post here, but here are a few:

Sarah heading to the open sea

Zach contemplates life in Kauai

When we were heading back to port, someone spotted a whale or two off in the distance, so the captain steered the boat over for a look. It was a humpback and her calf. She put on quite a show, breaching and slapping her fin. Too bad my camera was below deck by then! We also saw some porpoises and a manta ray. My favorite part was laying on the deck and relaxing to the gentle sway of the boat. After a good lunch and a beer, that really hit the spot! It was a long and fun filled day and Sarah and I were pretty tired near the end of it!

All afternoon I took naps and that night I slept the best since being there. Tuesday we visited the farmer's market in Lihue in the pouring rain, and that afternoon I sneaked into the pool associated with Sarah and Zach's place. It was longer than 25 yards and had a water slide and hot tub. We took advantage of it all, getting in a nice workout, some good sliding, and good gossip in the hot tub. After dinner at our place, we met them at the bar at their condos and were treated to the best Pina Coladas I have ever had. Plus a "baked Hawaiian." Mmmm!

The next morning we met them again for an early morning snorkel - first of the trip- finally!! I saw some cool fish and had fun hanging out in the water. Later, Donn and I went to Waimea to use the internet at a cafe/art gallery and check out the west side of the island. The weather turned out to be a little cool and rainy, with some residual flooding which closed some of the roads. We kept hearing people talk about digging mud out of their homes and how much water they got, etc. Later we headed over to Kapa'a to the farmer's market. It was quite a bit bigger, and the rain had stopped, bringing out more people. Lots of hippies on this side of the island made for good people watching! Two older women who looked like aging hippies were selling vegetables. We wanted to get some kale, and one of them started giggling at her own joke about it being Russian kale - it's rushing around! I told Donn I make it a rule to never get stoned before doing retail.

The weather continued to improve and by Thursday morning it was perfect for a surfing lesson with Sarah! We hooked up with Amy from Aloha Surf lessons; we were her only two students for that 2 hour session! We did a quick ten minute lesson on land and then carried our boards down to the water where Amy stood armpit deep and helped us catch waves. She interpersed the lessons with stories of growing up in Kauai - like when Hurricane Iniki went through during her first week of high school. It destroyed the school, which made for a bunch of really happy kids! The roof blew off her house but that just meant they had to sleep in the open for a while. It was all good. Meanwhile, Donn was up on the beach and snapped photos of us. Here we are attempting to look like real surfers:

up on the board

steady now...


Surfin' Sarah shows great form!

It was great fun and after 1.5 hours, I was toast - There were a lot of plank poses and push ups involved, along with paddling. We took a break and then went out to try and catch some waves on our own, but they had gotten pretty crumbly. We have both vowed to continue lessons back home....

Donn and I took off for the North Shore that afternoon to our little yurt near Hanalei. More about that in the next post. We were so glad we were there for longer than a week, as the weather slowly improved. In Hawaii, just wait a while and it will get better!

Saturday, November 1, 2008

Been a while....

It's been too long since I last posted. I seemed to notice I'm not the only one guilty of that. I think it's good to take a break once in a while, like you do (or should do) with running. So this post is meant to be a little catch up...nothing more.

Running is slowly coming back. I've been getting out on the trails with the old gang and last week did the NW Trails 10 miler at Soaring Eagle park. I did a run 8 min/walk 2 min with Robin and we had a nice time. I felt very strong coming in the last mile and my hip cooperated, giving me minimal soreness afterwards. I've decided not to worry about time (not that I did that much before) but to enjoy the moment of the run more, and it seems to be paying off.

Today I did three hours of the Carkeek 12 hour run, getting in 11.7 miles and 2580 feet of elevation gain. Not much compared to those who did more loops or all twelve hours, but it was enough for me! It was a 1.9 mile loop, which gave me lots of opportunities to catch up with friends I hadn't see in a while. I hadn't run on the trail in the dark before (I know, hard to believe) and this started out in the dark. We startled one woman who was walking her dog (with no light) through the trails in the dark. I thought that was kind of odd that she would be out there in the dark; obviously she knew the trail better than me! The more I think about it, the nicer that sounds, especially with a big dog. Anyway, I was only going to get in about three loops but it was so much fun, I kept going back for more! Put this one on your calendar for next year - and work on hills before hand! That climb out of the aid station is killer!

That's about it for now - looking forward to Wednesday when the suspense will be over. I'll either be moving to Canada or cheering in the streets. In either case, I'll be glad to see this current administration end. Don't let the door hit you in the butt on the way out!

Sunday, September 21, 2008

Baker Lake - more volunteer fun!

Though some might think I'm going for maniac status for volunteering, I'm really using it as an excuse to go hang out in the woods all day long. That said, I worked the aid station at Baker Lake 50K, got some more "forest time" and had a pleasant time getting to know more folks in the ultra scene. Robin and I were the aid station captains, but I felt I barely had to lift a finger thanks to the folks hanging out waiting for their runners. They were runners themselves and knew what made a good aid station work!

When the runners had all come through the first time and were safely ensconced on the trail, I sat down to my knitting to finish the cuff on a slipper. I got it done just in time - a minute later James came barreling in! He threw off his shirt, grabbed some goodies and headed back out. He was having a lot of fun! Other folks rolled in in his wake, including Eric and Michelle Barnes, celebrating their 29th anniversary with a trail run together! Steve Stoyles and his son Robin were with them at the 20 mile mark. One of the stellar helpers, a veteran of several Western States and Leadville runs, was helping Robin refill his water bladder. He told him he really needed to clean it. Turned out Robin had borrowed it - I won't say whose it was but he knows who he is! Geez - they make stuff to clean it; so use it already! Anyway, it was another fun day in the woods and the race seemed to come off really well, despite the frantic last minute re-routes. And the rain held off til the end! Nice job Shawn and tc! Enjoy the photos!

Monday, September 15, 2008

Cle Elum - more volunteer duties - briefly

Cle Elum Ridge 50K volunteer report in brief.....

Friday night - beer and pizza in Roslyn with JV, AH and WW, followed by camping and sleeping under the stars at the race site.

Saturday morning - Socializing, ES shows off his fancy water, and race starts. DM and I head to AS2 and set up; enjoy beauty all around;

replace ES's fancy water (in drop box) with empty Pringles can.

Runners start coming: JV in lead; ES panics over missing water (priceless); chat with MB waiting for SS (they later go to crew EB and RH at Plain); yuk it up with DM and the ham radio guys; go out to meet sweeps....try to take GT's photo

GT's powers prevent clear pic

meet last three runners on trail; meet sweeps and head back; take LB back to finish.

At finish - eat good food and get one of GM's beers. Shoot the breeze then head home. Good times had by all.

photo -Glenn Tachiyama

Monday, September 1, 2008

Good busy Labor Day

This was a good day - I got up this morning and decided my body could handle a little run. After a shot of espresso and a little food, I got dressed and headed out the door towards Fremont. I was able to run/walk for 30 minutes with no bad effects! Yes! From that I had a lot of energy and did a little work around the house, til we decided to load the boats on the car and get in a little kayaking.

That was pretty sweet - we went over to Mercer Island, and drove around for half an hour til we found a little secluded pocket park to put in. It was nestled between some huge gated mansions - I still can't figure out who has that much money to build those things. Anyway, we were on public land, so they had to tolerate the riff-raff. We launched the boats - we were on the east side of MI. I won't say where because 1) I don't think those folks would be very happy and 2) I couldn't tell you if I tried! After crossing the East Channel, going under I-90, and heading past Enatai beach, we went into the Mercer Slough and paddled as far as 405, where it was blocked for further navigation. It was quite a nice paddle with calm waters, some wildlife and interesting scenery. Wish I had brought the camera, but there are plenty of photos online. Coming back out of the slough, we had to cross the channel again, through rough water and windy conditions. As soon as we went under I-90, it calmed down. Back at our destination, as I was getting out of the boat, I sat down in the water. That was the worst thing to happen, and that wasn't bad. All in all, nice afternoon - and good day! I'm pooped!

Saturday, August 30, 2008

Cascade Crest 100 - volunteer duties

Last weekend I did my first volunteer stint at a 100 miler - Cascade Crest 100. I've been pretty lax getting something posted about it - even most of the bloggers who ran it have already managed to get a race report up. Oh well...At WR50 Alison asked if I wanted to work at No Name Ridge with her and James, and of course I jumped at the chance - even though it meant being awake most of the night (something that is harder to do - at least voluntarily - as I get older). So here is a brief report....

Saturday after dinner, I drove to Hyak to meet Alison, who was pacing Suzanna Bon from there to No Name. No one wanted to pace Suzanna the whole 47 - she's too dang fast! - so her training partner Paul was to pick her up at No Name. I met Paul at Hyak and gave him a ride to No Name. James called and said the trail between No Name and Thorp needed glow sticks - I was in no shape to run 9 miles (much less 2!) and he had fallen at Cutthroat Classic earlier that day and banged his knee up bad. We were definitely the gimp aid station! Adam was also going to be there, but he had run 26 miles earlier in the day and was refueling at Village Pizza in Roslyn. After adequate pizza and, more importantly, beer, he was ready to mark the course. Whew!

We arrived, after a nice little climb up logging roads, about midnight. Paul made a nest in my car to get some shut eye and I plopped down in the zero gravity chair to watch James putz around the aid station. About 1:30 a call came over the ham radio to expect our first runner. We waited...and waited...and waited...and a little after 2 am, Tom and his pacer Justin came through - not who we were expecting. They said Jesse (first runner) had left Mineral Creek 18 minutes ahead of them. Oops. Justin said the markers at the junction were hard to see and he may have gone off course. Since Adam was still out and I had the only other car (besides the ham radio operator), I was elected to go hang glow sticks at the turn and look for runner #22. I even got to carry a handheld to report back if I found him (my dad, a ham radio operator who is now a 'silent key' would have been pleased to see me finally using a ham radio). Sure 'nuff, after coming across a few runners and pacers, I saw Jesse climbing up the road. I reported in, marked the course and headed back to the AS.

From here on, runners trickled in every hour or two. I managed to get a little sleep in the back of my car after Suzanna and Alison came through (around 4 or 4:30) and she and Paul left. James would give a whoop every time he saw the lights of a runner approaching. I must have slept through a couple of those whoops because I came back out of the car a little after 5:30. The sunrise was really pretty.
Throughout the morning we heated up raviolis, made grilled cheese sandwiches, and crepes filed with Nutella or cheese or whatever we had on hand. I had brought some freshly roasted Ethiopian beans and a hand grinder and French press. Some of the tired runners seemed to really perk up after a hit of that. Alison tried to combine a nap with an escape from the mosquitos - see if you can find her in this photo:
At one point I was surprised to see the intrepid Rob Hester and his faithful pacer Eric Barnes heading up the road. I wasn't aware Rob had planned to do CCC! He looked really strong and seemed to be in pretty good spirits for someone with 81 miles under his belt! He's a machine!
Other familiar faces appeared throughout the morning and by 11:30, we were ready to strike the set and head back down to the finish. Alison rode back with me and it was really amazing to both of to see all that road they had to climb up! Really puts it in perspective...

Back at the finish, Devon and her runner Monica were soaking their tired feet along with others. Jonathan was tiredly walking/limping around after finishing his first 100 miler - he had decided last Tuesday to go ahead and get it done this year. And he ripped it out in 26:06!! Stud.

All in all it was a great experience - I love volunteering at these things. You get the best of both worlds - being outside and having energy left over to take it all in, plus a very minimal recovery time! Back in Seattle, I wore my volunteer shirt today at the University District Farmer's market and someone commented on it. I turned around and he had a blue version (mine is orange) - he crewed his nephew Devin Corcoran who came in at 23:48. Another person - a gal working at one of the stands- said she was getting ready for Seattle marathon but wanted to do some volunteering at ultraruns. I highly recommend it.

Sunday, August 3, 2008

Week in review - WR50 and Tahoe Vacation

Since I wasn't able to run White River 50 miler, I got to volunteer. This was way more fun (I think) and recovery time was negligeble. My training partner Chris was running it and heading back to Seattle hours later to hop a plane to Michigan. We were sharing a hotel room and I thought it was silly for him to drive down, since I sort of had the same plan, but my plane was headed to California. So I offered to drive us both and let him relax for the ride back. We got in late Fri night and were up by 4:30 to make the early start. The pics from a volunteer's perspective, mostly at Buck Creek aid station. My favorite moments were two: first were the good ol' boys and gals who ventured over from their campsite to watch the runners come through Buckcreek aid station. Uli was standing next to them and they were asking us how long it takes to run one of these things. Then they asked how fast the fastest person was. Uli told them, without hesitation, 6:32. They were in awe, and then asked him if he was the one who did that. When he said (modestly) yes, they couldn't shake his hand enough! It was really cute!

Second was Lesa Overfield's husband and two dogs - a black and a blonde pug. The blonde pug liked to climb up on his back and hang out there. Never seen a dog do that, though I did have one that climbed trees. We were always having to rescue it. At any rate, enjoy the photos.

Sunday after that, we flew to Reno and drove down the west side of Lake Tahoe to visit Donn's uncle Bill. He lives in El Dorado National forest, and last year the Angora fire came up to 80 yds from his house. The fire damage is pretty dramatic; some of the pics below are on the trails behind his yard, where Donn and I hiked one afternoon. In places it looked like something out of the Princess Bride - really scary! We also hiked on the PCT a couple of times - once at Echo Lake and once to Lake Winnemuca. I took a nice "ice bath" in Winnemucca - felt so good!

Thursday, July 17, 2008

Radioactive Hip

I went for my MRI arthrogram today on my hip. They were running a bit behind so I got to listen to this lady tell me her life story in the waiting room til the nurse thankfully rescued me. She got me prepped and then a couple of docs came in and, after some explanation, located the right spot and shot the lidocaine into my hip. We all donned thyroid shields and they proceeded to inject the dye. I guess it was bound up when it was in cuz we removed the thyroid shields. They let me out into the hallway where I got to run up and down and see if it hurt. Damn it felt good to run! Oh how I love drugs! The downer is, if it didn't hurt, then it is most likely a labral tear. The good news is that means it's probably not a stress fracture (which I doubted anyway).

Next I was sent to the MRI suite where I was greeted by Aaron, the tech who did my MRI on my ovaries last year - about a year ago exactly! We joked about seeing each other yearly and that this was our one year anniversary. Now we're going steady! Hope I don't see him next year. They strapped me down, tied my feet together (so the hips couldn't move), put my headphones on (I chose Beatles music) and slid me into the tube. You gotta have a high tolerance for small spaces as the top is inches above your face. I thought about camping in a small backpacking tent - that and remembering when I did a Yoga Nidra class. I was in there for twenty minutes - but it did help. One thing I remembered from last year was my rings - they aren't pure silver like I assumed they were. Whenever they would shoot the rays (or whatever you call it) they would vibrate - a weird sensation, indeed. When all was said and done, they released me, and Aaron and I said our fond goodbyes and hoped this was the last time we'd see each other.

When I got back to the lab, I got Mattias to hold the Geiger counter to my hip to see if we could get a signal. We managed to get a light one going; when he put the probe on my arm, it was silent. Cool - in a nerdy, geeky, science way! Tomorrow I meet with Dr. O'Kane to discuss results and strategy. I'm thinking of asking if he'd sponsor Chris, Tracy, and me since we all go to him. We could get Team O'Kane tshirts - that would be awesome!

Update: No labral tear or stress fracture - just a really cranky psoas muscle - off for some rest, stretching and PT!

Tuesday, July 8, 2008

WR Training Run number one

Last Sunday (7/6), Tracy, Chris, and I headed out early to meet Jeff and Robin at Buck Creek campground for a preview run on the White River course. SRC was holding the first of two training runs up there and we were expecting to do the first loop, which tops out at 5800 feet at Corral Pass. Due to snow above 4000 feet, Scott decided to do the second half first, which tops out at Suntop (less than 5800). I was going along for a 15-16 mile run, and Robin was going to keep me company while the others did the 23 or 27. My adductor has been acting up and it was uncomfortable to start out running, but okay as long as I kept moving, and I had ibuprofen keeping the inflammation at bay.

After getting ready and seeing some of the SRC group arrive, we headed out towards the airstrip. When we came out onto the road, they headed one way, towards the trail to Fawn Ridge, while we headed the opposite way, where we inadvertently took a tour of the camp ground south of that junction. We came back to where we had left them to find Scott and Shannon there waiting for the runners to pop out onto the road. Scott was heading up to Sun Top after that to set up the aid station. We talked to him and tried to figure out where we were, and ended up getting a ride with Shannon back to our cars. We originally were going to go up with them to the top, but I really wanted to run the Skookum Flats trail. Plus my leg was really hurting (from stopping and standing) and I wanted to be able to get back to the car when I needed to. So in the end, we did an out and back on Skookum Flats trail, which is nice and soft. Leg was okay - no worse - and we had a nice time. Robin was great company and I really enjoyed the run. Click the pic for some photos of the day:

During the week I listened to my body and my pectineus muscle was not happy so I didn't run, but I did swim across Greenlake with my friends Karyn and Sarah and had more fun than I expected, given I haven't been swimming regularly! And Thursday Donn and I took an impromptu trip to Port Angeles and hiked the very easy hike to Hurricane Hill. It was a long but fun day! See some pics here:
Hurricane Ridge

I also got in a couple pool running sessions, some stretching and strengthening, and a short stretch session with Laura. But it still was complaining, though it has been getting slightly better, so I decided to rest it this weekend (no WR training run :-( ) and see what Dr. O'Kane has to say when I see him Monday. I did volunteer at SRC's Cougar Mtn series 10 miler (and had fun!), and if WR is a no go, I still plan to head down and help out. Meanwhile, a much neglected house will get cleaned, and my swimming and biking will get more attention.

Thursday, June 26, 2008

Lessons from ultrarunning

On cancellation of Western States '08: Life is what happens when you're making other plans. There was another somewhat appropriate quote from Marat/Sade (it's Donn's favorite movie) where the Marquis de Sade is talking about the world falling apart and nature watches, unmoved. He goes on to say "I hate nature". Not exactly how I feel in that I don't hate Nature, but she sure doesn't take into account our hopes and plans when she does her thing. I'll have to watch that movie again and hope that I'm awake for that line.

On getting violently ill from food poisoning and recovering: Defizzed Coke is a wonder drug. My non-running boyfriend got me a Coke in the middle of the night and, upon my instructions, defizzed some for me to sip on. Someday, he'll make a great crew chief! And sipping Nuun today to rebalance the electrolytes is a good lesson too.

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

running crazy weekend

Last weekend was my biggest training yet - two 20 milers, back to back. For someone who was told not to run every day, this is huge that I made it through unscathed (so far).

Run 1 - Solstice Day from my house to Discovery Park and back home.

I left the house around 8 and ran by the parade site in Fremont where they were staging the start. The plan was to meet Tracy at Discovery Park and run some loops with her. On the way back I was hoping to hook up with my friends Bill and Cindy and see if we could get away with a skinny dip in the ship canal, or at least a soak for my feet. My friend Bob was having a "living room set" at the parade and encouraged us to bring a stuffed animal and pillow. He would be next to the judging stand where he is every year. I threw my mini polar bear in my bag - it was a prize for 5th place in my AG in the Maui Polar Bear Swim in 2005.

I ran through the Locks and saw some Chuckit folks on their long run. It's been a long time since I ran with them, seems like a world away. Tracy called while I was talking and was already about to start her second loop. She went counterclockwise and I was to go clockwise and we would meet up somewhere on the upper loop. I got to the park and soon met her on the trail about half a mile from where she started. I turned and we continued CC, and soon heard someone say "My two favorite runners!" We were joined by the jet setting Kathleen Egan, who had just returned from traveling in Germany and Switzerland and was still feeling jet lagged. She joined us for a loop down to the beach and then parted when we stopped by the car. After one more beach loop with Tracy, I headed back home.

As I approached Fremont, I could hear the parade in full swing. A couple of naked cyclists came down the trail towards me - one was on a tall unicycle so I was eye to eye with, um, things. Quite a traumatic sight after running 20 miles - I almost had to lay down right there. I called Bill and Cindy but the parade was too loud for them to hear their phones. I swung into PCC to get my chocolate soy milk and ran back out to look for Bob and the living room set. Too crowded for me to find them, so I went home instead and took a nice cool soak in the tub.

Party to recover.

After stretching and a nap, I headed to party number one where Devon was pre-celebrating her birthday. I wanted to wait for Donn, but he was still out gigging with Orkestar Zirkonium so I went stag. I met several of her friends and relatives and had a blast talking to all of them! Some ultrarunning folks showed up including Dan from Bellingham, who entertained us with stories of a 135 mile run in Minnesota last February. Brrr! Soon Donn called and I headed off to pick him up for party number two. This one was with the Bicycle Alliance friends, Steve and Louise, out in West Seattle. They were in full party mode when we arrived and the food and drink were flowing. I filled up and rehydrated and had fun chatting with various folks. We stayed til after 9 and then headed home to get me ready for run #2.

Run 2 - Cougar Mountain.

Danika picked me up at 7 am and we headed to Cougar to meet up with Tracy and Tim, and see some of the SRC folks. Ali was there as well and a new woman, Amy, who had moved here recently after living in Bolivia for a while. Brian was heading up the SRC group with his last long run before Western States. We did a ten mile loop, except for Ali who decided to make it a 13 mile with the Wilderness Peak loop. Danika and Amy were a bit faster and were only doing one loop so they were gone when we got back. My stuff was in Tracy's car, and she, Tim and I refueled and refilled bottles and took off again. Well, they practically had to drag me out again. Plus my right foot was cramping on the fifth metatarsal and I was worried it might turn into a stress fracture. We kept thinking of turn around spots for me, but after Tim massaged my leg, it loosened up and that, plus more salt, kept the cramping at bay. We varied this loop a bit and at one point we were on a long trail heading back to the cars (eventually). They got way ahead and for some reason (blame it on the flying monkeys) I got it in my head that I may have missed a junction. I didn't have a map (mistake #1) or my phone (mistake #2) and got more and more rattled. I started calling Tracy's name out but to no avail. I was going down a nice decline and really didn't want to turn around. After a few minutes (seemed like forever) I saw Tracy coming up the trail towards me. She had heard me, and called out, but I didn't hear her call. They were waiting for me at the next junction - duh!! I felt really dumb and was kicking myself for not carrying a map and not trusting that they would wait at the junction. Lesson learned. It was a really pretty trail and I may go back there next Sunday with Chris. We soon finished up our run at 22 miles and after a little soak in Coal Creek, we headed home.

That weekend was a hugs confidence booster for me and despite feeling a bit tired, and some twitches on my lower legs, I feel pretty dang good! I'm so glad I stuck it out and finished it with them, and was so glad Tim was there to fix my crampy foot, as well as give us support. Thanks Tim!!

Now it's on to recovery and keeping up with the great race that's coming up next weekend at Western States. The field is so deep in both the men's and women's races that I may have trouble sleeping Saturday night since I'll be glued to the computer! Plus I'll be sending my buddies great vibes for good running!

Lastly - a shout out to Linda Barton who finished her first 100 miler at Big Horn last weekend! When the going got tough for me, I thought of her running at that moment and it gave me mega inspiration to keep going! Congrats Linda!!

Saturday, June 14, 2008

Lake Youngs Ultra - a family affair

I did Lake Youngs ultra Saturday - all three loops, total 28.8 miles. It was a fun day and lots to celebrate - from Jenn Sempsey's first ultra (as well as others') to Van Phan's 100th ultra! The entire Martineau clan put the race on, with Arthur and Jennifer as Race Directors and the kids checking off the times for racers coming in from a loop and grandma chasing down the younger ones. It was quite impressive and very well organized!

The day started early - way too early for me, but it's good practice for White River and the early start. After a fitful night's sleep, the alarm went off at 3:45 and I bolted out of bed (highly unusual behavior for me) and went in the bathroom to get dressed so as not to disturb the sleeping Donn. I managed to get breakfast, make an espresso, and get myself ready to go by 4:25 - a new PR! Funny - when I got up Donn thought to himself as soon as I was done in the bathroom, he'd get up. Next thing he knew, I was leaning down to kiss him goodbye. Damn I'm good!

I picked up Danika in Ballard and we headed to Renton, making a quick pit stop before getting to the race site, as the restrooms were still closed. There were quite a few folks at the start when we arrived and several had already taken off. The area seemed socked in with clouds and despite the nice sunrise we saw, the sun was not going to appear there today. It was also rather chilly - something that would last the whole race. Tracy and Jenn drove up and we picked up our race bag and numbers. The shirts were a short sleeved version of the Chuckanut shirts (made by Patagonia) and very low key - not any advertising. It's my favorite summer shirt! The Martineaus managed to secure some awesome sponsors as the bag had some decent stuff in it!

When we were ready, we thought about taking off, but it was so close to 6 that Arthur asked us to wait. Finally we were off and Jenn and Danika soon sped ahead. Jenn had some unfinished ultra business- last year, while training for the Northface 50K, she sustained an injury that put her out of that race, and left her unable to train for another til now. They both looked very strong every time we saw them on the trail - oh to be young again! Tracy and I had a nice loop together, but I wasn't quite awake, and hence, not very talkative and maybe even a little grumpy. Poor Tracy tried, but I just wasn't very responsive. We came in (9.6 miles) at about 1:48. The regular starters had already taken off, and we decided the second loop would be a reverse of the first one (which was clockwise). We saw Shawn and *tc heading towards us near the end of the first loop, and I pointed out to them they were going the wrong way. *tc said 'oh crap!' and started to turn around but Shawn protested so they continued backwards. Hence our decision to try the next one backwards.

We soon started seeing other people as they came towards us. Arthur was running in his own race and oops! we were busted for going backwards! Steve Stoyles came towards us and we stopped to exchange hugs. Soon Rich and Linda came our way - more hugs! I told Tracy it was amazing I didn't come away from these events with a cold from all the hugging. Eric and Iliana came our way too and so may others I can't remember 'em all. I was amazed to see Jess out there since she had run her first 100 miler the week before. She was doing a one loop "recovery" run - wow! At one point we got a peek-a-boo of the reservoir which got us to talking about soaking in cold water after the race. Neither one of us could think of a place to go - no rivers or lakes were nearby. Bummer. The loop soon ended and as we came into the aid station I heard Arthur yell "Laura!" and I looked over to see him sitting in a kids wading pool! Brilliant idea! I yelled to Tracy - there's where we can soak when we're done!

Tracy changed shoes, I ate my PBJ, we both hit the toilet and then we were off - clockwise this time. Funny thing about this loop - seems like a lot of people decided to go counterclockwise so we saw many more as we went along. The amazing Bob Stoyles (Steve's 80 year old dad) was out there cranking out the miles. He's my hero -hands down! About halfway through this loop, I started getting bored. Plus, little aches and pains kept coming up and I was getting ready to be done. I must have checked my watch every half mile thinking 'are we there yet?'. I tried all kinds of tricks - speeding up a little, going to certain points on the uphill, you name it! Thank goodness Tracy was there - at least we could talk! About a half mile before the end, we came to a nasty hill. I totally did not remember it from our first loop! I was really shocked! We grunted up the hill and finally came to the nice slight descent back into the parking area/aid station/finish. Done! And so glad to be, that it made me nervous thinking about the upcoming 50 miler.

There was a fabulous post race barbecue and Team Hippy had a brief reunion. It gave me a chance to wish Linda well on her first 100 at Bighorn - let's all send good vibes!! I stood in the kiddie pool for a while but couldn't bring myself to sit down. It was still cloudy and cool and I was getting chilly. A little while later, the two youngest Martineau kids were playing in it. Young Arthur really had to pee, but was refusing to take the time to go to the bathroom, no matter how much Jennifer tried to coax him. When I saw him in the pool, I thought, hmm, guess it's a good thing I got in there earlier. Of course Arthur the elder could have been doing the same thing while sitting in the pool....nah!

I have a spot on my right bunion that gets rubbed. I have tried taping it (that rubs off), lubing it (no help) and two coats of New Skin. It still gets rubbed and there may be a blister under the callus. It's a little tender when I step down. I talked to Karen Wiggins who gets the same thing and she uses Elastikon. I'll have to try that. It bothered me through the second loop but as my feet swelled, it didn't bug me so much. Still I'd like to take care of it once and for all. The Mizunos did well, though maybe a little too cushioned for that trail (?) as my knees started talking. I still love them for trails like Cougar. All in all, this was more good training for what's to come.....

Wednesday, June 4, 2008

More good training

Last weekend was a big training weekend for me - at least in terms of my schedule. I was supposed to get in a 16 and a 20 miler, but I'm starting to be okay with doing what I can do. I also had to fit in a ChiRunning intro class in there somewhere. And to top it off, I was supposed to work Friday, processing a sputum sample (yum!) for a study I'm helping on. Here's how it all turned out...

Friday....lowered expectorations lead to a long run

Our patient couldn't produce a good "specimen" (i.e., they weren't expectorating that day) so my Friday became free. Seeing as how Saturday was going to be pretty busy and on the feet all morning, I went for a run from my house to Discovery Park. I went through the Locks and into the park via a back way (a secret I cannot reveal lest it becomes overrun), ending up at the Indian Cultural Center. I took in the lovely view of the Sound and continued into the park. I had been feeling particularly blue and really felt like I just wanted to sit and cry. It was weird since I haven't had that feeling (hormonal like) in about 20 years, but there it was. It lasted for about six miles, when down by the beach I saw a woman walking towards me. I flipped on my sunglasses so she wouldn't see my sad eyes. Wouldn't you know it?? She stopped me to ask if I knew where the restrooms were. I was able to answer her and snap out of my funk at the same time. It never came back. Whew!!

I did a couple loops that included the beach and then ran back the way I came. The Locks were really crowded the second time through. Got back home and treated myself to a nice ice bath - 18 miles down. Still dislike the pavement too.

Saturday...if I faint, will I still be demonstrating good form?

I had a ChiRunning intro class to teach to thirteen people from 9-1. It went well, especially when we got to exercises and it became more interactive. When I was having to do all the talking there were times where I felt I was on the edge of bonking. But they were all understanding and we took a break about every 55 minutes to refresh. Just like hitting the aid station, I fueled up and took care of my personal needs. The last hour of the class we went outside and did some light running to put it all together. That was fun (as always); but then they wanted to see how it was supposed to look and asked me to run for them. I mustered up my best form and hopefully showed them what they were wanting to see. But it was hard since I was tired - great practice for later in the race when I am tired!

Later that evening we went out to eat (get a couple extra bucks, get more beer - Donn says that's the life of the unemployed!) and went to a goodbye party for a friend. We were back home early so I could get some sleep before meeting Tracy and Chris for a run at Cougar Sunday morning.

Sunday...Cougar and It's a Small World After All

Tracy, Chris and I met the other SRC runners at Red Town Trail head. The plan was to say "hey" and do our own thing, but follow their route. Phil was leading and I had him check out my Mizuno Wave Ascend 3's. I think I am finally in love, at least this month. My Innov8s were great in really muddy stuff, but they still felt a little too tight in the toe box and a little too hard for my old feet. So I was trying the Mizuno's to see how they would do.

We all started heading up Red Town Trail and were soon left in the dust by the younger more energetic folks (there was one woman who looked like she might be in our age range - she was tough and hung with them). The really cool thing about running with them is that at every junction, they (Phil?) would place three fern fronds in the shape of an arrow telling us where to go. This was so cool as we didn't need to stop and think about it!

We decided to not do the Wilderness Peak loop as Tracy is still taking it easy on her fibula. So when we were stopped, a few came by, including Michael Havrda. Now here's the funny part: a few posts back I reported on a neighborhood project where we put up orange crossing flags at a couple of crossings. We had solicited donations, one from Bastyr Clinic, which is at one of the crossings. They kindly donated some money, which I received in the mail (I bought the flags). The letter included was very nice and signed by a one Michael Havrda. I kept seeing this name in race results - like third overall in North Face 50K. I kept wondering to Donn if it was the same person, and he, ever the doubting Thomas, would always say no way. So when we ran into Michael, Tracy started talking to him (she met him at NF) and I asked if he was the same guy. Hah! He was! I couldn't wait to get home and brag to Donn at how RIGHT I was!! I had that song "It's a Small World After All" stuck in my head all Monday!

We wrapped up our run at 10 miles, said hi to Michael again in the parking lot (he was getting in 34 miles that morning), met his fiance Shannon, and headed back to Seattle. At Chris's, we hung out with daughter Emily and wife Nancy and went over to the Volunteer Park Cafe for coffee. It smelled SO GOOD I had to get a slice of the veggie quiche! Nancy used to be in the dental field as an administrative support person and I used to be in the Perio dept doing vaccine research. We caught up on all the people we knew in common. Tracy and Chris were doing the usual "Laura knows everyone" when I felt someone touch my shoulder and say "We missed you at swimming." I couldn't remember her name, but definitely know her! She swims several lanes over; that's the funny thing about swimming - unless you are the same speed, you probably won't get to know your pool mates very well. Anyway, it was good timing on her part relative to Tracy and Chris's teasing!

The rest of Sunday was spent lazing around and watching the rain fall. Oh yeah - and the Mizunos did spectacular! I didn't wear my ankle brace OR tape it, and it handled the roots and rocks like it was used to them! And the width was great - forefoot loved them! Guess it's my summer shoe for now...til they change it!

Saturday, May 24, 2008

Training the BTM way

Week of life change....

Donn's job was one of the casualties of the (historic) layoffs at UW in the UW Technology (til recently it was called Computing and Communications). For some interesting comments regarding this, click on the soundoff. The last two comments (#7 and 8) really say a lot - at least in my opinion. So what does this mean for us? Until Donn lands on his feet or starts receiving unemployment, we will have to do with my salary, which is about a third of what he brought home. Kinda scary, but I think we'll do okay. One day at a time is clearly in order here! The thing that really riles me (in addition to the layoffs) is for TWENTY years of service, he got one month's severance pay. I'm not sure if that's the norm in today's world, but it sure it cheap.

Training "Brian Morrison" style....

With the life stuff going on, and work getting busy (we're starting a new project that I'm very excited about), it's been tough to get all my running in. Suffice it to say, I didn't meet my weekly mileage goal, but then all the folks I ran with today don't train that much anyway (and some of them are getting ready for 50 milers too). Note that most of us are over 50 and those under are over 45, so maybe they are on to something. But that's not what I am referring to when I say "Brian Morrison" style.

Friday I wanted to take a friend out to Watershed Preserve. She's a road runner and she works near there, and she had never been on that trail before. Normally I take Friday off from running to rest up for my long run on Saturday. But this time I threw caution to the wind and took my friend out for a 5 mile loop in the preserve. I figured my legs would be ready to go on Saturday, as that's not that far. The other thing about this weekend is it's Folklife - which means several gigs for Donn and at least one for me. Friday night was the annual party at Bob G's house where he hosts a slew of Morris Dancers who have come in from out of town to dance at Folklife. It's always a good time and Bob's house is absolutely stunning, set next to Discovery Park and overlooking Puget Sound. There are always lots of musicians there, so jam sessions are inevitable. I knew I was running long early Saturday and almost skipped the party. Donn was going anyway to see if he could get in some networking and tuba playing. I decided I would prep everything for Saturday and go with him.

We got there about 8:30 and were treated to the most gorgeous sunset I've seen in a long time, with brilliant colors over the Olympic Mountains. Too bad my camera was at home! Donn and I agreed we would stay til 10:45 at the latest. I saw and chatted with folks I hadn't seen in a while and met some new ones. Finally about 10:15, people started gathering to play together. Several fiddles, a recorder, a drum or two, a bagpipe, guitars, banjos, accordions, a musical saw (!), and Donn on tuba filled the room with all sorts of music. I settled down in a comfy chair and enjoyed the show and sipped on a beer. About 11, Donn looked over at me to see if I was ready to go, and I mouthed "one more song". I thought of Brian and how he used standing on tired legs at a concert til 1:30 am, and viewed this as training his screaming legs to toughen up. Okay -this wasn't exactly like that, but getting to bed past midnight and up and out the door way too early would push my body to run when tired - much like the later part of the 50 miler. We finally left about 11:15 and I was in bed before 12:30 am - at least five hours of sleep!

Masters Runners at Tiger....

I picked up Chris and Tracy at Chris's house at 6:45 and we drove to the south end of the Tiger Mountain Trail off Hobart Road to meet Jeff, Robin, and Tim. Not a single person under 45 was in the group - a little different from past runs, but great for comparing training notes relative to our aging bodies! We set out with Tim leading the way - he was a machine climbing the hills and not looking like he was working hard at all. I was surprised at how good I felt - not as tired as I expected. We ran/walked up to Paw Print station, where I took advantage of the facilities. Jeff had left a car on a different part of the road, and left us to do a return on our own. We had a nice mostly downhill run. The cool thing for me was I decided not to wear my brace (though it was in my pack) and overall my ankle did great! I do have a blister under my left bunion, so I still need to figure that out. Almost to the end, we saw Eric coming up the trail by himself. I swear they let anybody on the trail!! He asked if we saw the bear up the trail (near Paw Print?). We hadn't but I guess he/she had been sighted by several folks. After more nice downhills we made it back to the car in four hours and headed for home.

I still don't know if I'll be able to make the cutoffs for White River 50, but it doesn't matter as much to me as getting out and enjoying the scenery! I love having this outlet to let go of life's stresses! And finding new ways to train (i.e., the Brian Morrison method) is always a bonus!

Sunday, May 18, 2008

Watershed Preserve training run - fun in the heat

This was my "recovery" week and I didn't need to do anything crazy, running-wise or other, so I agreed to help out at Watershed Preserve 12 hour run, at least for half a day. Too many other obligations pulled at me to stay all day, though I would have loved to! So for handing out goody bags and generally helping Chris check in runners, I got to do three loops on the course and socialize with the other runners. It was a good thing I didn't plan to run further than that, since we were invited to Vashon Island Friday night for dinner and too much wine! But I digress.....

I was up early Saturday morning and at the race start before six, where Chris was already setting up a check-in spot. A couple runners had been checked in so I high-tailed it to get oriented. Along with a goody bag (which I stuffed on the spot) there was a sort of grab bag of various stuff that I sent people to sort through and pick out what they wanted, as well as a bag of Linda Ripley's hand crocheted hats. The hats weren't really needed that day, but one could take one and fantasize about cooler weather. There were a bunch of old watches that were really popular for some reason. I guess runners love watches!

After the runners were checked in and eventually sent off by Tom, I got myself ready to go out. I started out on the trail about a half hour after the start and enjoyed the beauty and peace of a very well groomed trail all by myself. The run was a 5.4 mile loop; it wasn't long before the lead runners started passing me. One fellow did a double take when he passed me - I think he must have thought I was in the lead. Hah! The trail was totally runnable, even most of the hills, and the heat hadn't gotten too bad yet. There were a lot of bugs and I must have swallowed a pound of them. Every time one flew in my throat, I chased it down with water and called it calories. Yum! There was a little loop before the end that was really enjoyable as well, and my only complaint was my second toe that usually gives me trouble. I had forgotten to tape it - it sticks way out past the others and gets pretty beat up. So after taping it, I went back out for another loop.

At the aid station (my car) it was so hot I was pouring sweat - literally! But when I went back into the woods, it cooled way down. I made the switch to S! Caps recently and the increased sodium made all the difference in the world! Second loop was much easier too since I was now in familiar territory. I also started seeing more people. When I came into the aid station, I hadn't decided on a third loop; technically I was going for 10-13 miles. But Tom said I was at 10.5 miles, and should make it an even number. I didn't know if a horrible fate would befall me, so I went out for a third loop, lest I should be struck down. Shortly after starting I came upon Barefoot Jon, who was walking and running. I decided since I wasn't "supposed" to be doing this loop, I would hang back and walk with him a while. We even got Mike Sharkey to take a photo of us (with Jon's camera - my battery died), and after a little more socializing, I went on ahead. Jon had told me to watch for David who was attempting the whole 12 hours in order to make Marathon Maniac. Soon I caught up to him, and was ready for another break. He was walking so we walked together and had a really nice chat. Soon I was ready to run again and took off.

The rest of the run I saw various folks I knew and enjoyed the beautiful woods. In the last little 0.75 mile loop, King Arthur zoomed past me. For a few seconds, I pretended I was a fast runner, and was able to hang on. He tried to shake me and eventually did, but I felt a twinge of guilt since he was in it for the 12 hours, and I was on my last loop. In the aid station I poked him and said "I almost got you!" but he was too hot and tired to respond. If I were in his shoes, I would have dumped my drink on me. He got me back later, squirting me with a hose as I walked by. Tom informed me that I was at 16.2, and should try to make it more even, like a whole number, no tenths. I took my chances with fate and called it quits.

After I cooled down, I got in my lawn chair and iced my knee, which isn't getting any worse. Still is talking a bit though, so I'm keeping an eye on it. Tim decided to call it quits after four loops, and found a nice spot in the shade to sit in while he waited for Paul to finish. I pulled up my chair next to his and we provided a cheering section for the runners coming into and leaving the aid station. I gave him an empty gatorade bottle to fix up with a nice pale ale, and we shared it while watching the runners come and go. Paul came in and left once, and then we were sure he would be done. We even bet on it. We watched run in from that loop and kept an eye on him as he handed his water bottles to be filled again. That got us up out of our chairs for a reality check. I told him he looked tired and ought to drop. Truth is, he looked like he got more energy with each loop! I just wanted my dollar. He said he had at least two loops left in him and bounced off down the trail. Tim gave up waiting and I gave him a ride to his car.

I was really sapped when I got home. I can only imagine (and barely at that) how the runners who kept going must have felt. My beer glass is raised to all those who took it on, and even higher to all those who persevered. All I can say is "Damn y'all!!!"

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Trail Time

After running on pavement last Saturday, followed by a shorter run yesterday on the Burke Gilman trail, my feet were begging for some time on the trail. I didn't have time to make it over to Cougar this morning but decided to make it a late morning to work, and go to Discovery Park - the next best thing. When I got there mine was the ONLY car in the south parking lot. It was 7 am - wasn't anyone awake?? I only saw a few people on the trail, and the beach was pretty deserted. What I did see was this bird; for you non-birders (like me) that's an American goldfinch. He flew down to greet me as I ran along the north beach trail, so I had to stop and gawk for a while. Nice to see summer is on its way!

Saturday, May 10, 2008

Tacoma Marathon - a new PS

I did the Tacoma marathon today. According to my training schedule I was supposed to do a back-to-back on trails but this was my chance to make up for my DNF at Capital Peak and sign up for the Marathon Maniacs. I asked Alison what she thought, and though the back to back was good for specificity, if I promised to take it easy in the marathon, then I could do that instead. With that in mind, I planned to take it really easy today.

Up at 4:15 and out the door by 5:10, I made it to the marathon at about 6 am - plenty of time to park, get my bearings and say hi to folks. I saw Rob, volunteer coordinator extraordinaire, and he seemed to be handling his job quite well. In fact, he took a moment to pose for my camera:

"Good Rob" is sitting on Rob's right shoulder

King Arthur was working the packet pick up and Eric was wandering around lost, since Michelle had taken the early start. Other familiar faces like Little Leslie and Van "Pigtails" Phan passed by. Soon we were ready to line up for the start. I was surprised at how small the field was; I guess since it's in its second year, word still has to get out what a nice course it is. Maybe it was because I was hanging at the back....

I was standing near the back of the crowd since my goal was to take it easy and not push my pace. A woman standing next to me asked me what my goal time was and I laughed and said it was to finish so I could be a Maniac. I hadn't run that far on pavement in a long time and my last road marathon was Boston 2006. She was aiming for a 4:30-4:45 and I thought that sounded good, so she asked if I wanted to run together. Rose turned out to be from Texas (my home state) and from the town where my father went to undergrad! She was out here visiting family in Bremerton and wanted to do a marathon out here while she had the chance. We started out nice and slow, and were not really on a 4:45 schedule. I'm fond of negative splits since I don't really warm up till much later in the race. The course started out going through town (this was my first time seeing Tacoma other than from the freeway) and then dropped down to run along the water. The half marathon leaders soon caught up to us, about mile 4 or 5, and for a while we had company. I came up to an aid station hosted by The Balanced Athlete and got a big hug from Eric! The half marathoners turned around near the end of this stretch and on their way back, I saw Iliana. She was bookin'!

By about mile 7, my feet were starting to complain, like they were spending too much time on the ground with each stride. I turned on my metronome to check my cadence and sure enough, it was slower than 90 bpm. I gave Rose, my Texan running partner, a mini-crash course in ChiRunning and how to relax the lower legs. For me, it felt much better when I got back on cadence, but I think it may have been too late in then long run (so to speak). We entered Point Defiance Park, another place I'd had yet to see; it reminded me of running through Golden Gate Park in SF. We got a peek-a-boo view of the Tacoma Narrows bridge, so I had to stop and snap a photo. It didn't turn out very good because of the haze. Rose ran on and I ran to catch up to her. That little semi-sprint felt good, and my legs were wanting to pick up and run a little faster, but I held back. I got a good shot of Rose as we were about to descend a long hill:

After we left Pt. Defiance, we entered a neighborhood. It was fun to see the locals and get cheered on by them. By about mile 13 Rose was fading and asked me to go on if I wanted. She had just gotten over a nasty cold and hadn't run for two weeks, plus other life issues were pulling at her, so it was no surprise that she was tired. I was impressed she was out there on the course! I decided to stretch my legs a bit and told her she'd probably catch up when I had to walk. That turned out to be the last I saw of her for the day.

Soon thereafter, I rounded a corner and got the most amazing view of the Narrows bridge, that I had to stop and take a photo. But first, I took a shot of the volunteer standing there:

who then offered to take a shot of me with the Narrows bridge in the background:

I ran on and soon caught up with another gal. We played leap frog for a bit and then settled down to run together for a while. This was her second marathon and she was doing quite nice. Her goal was a sub 5 hour run, and she was on target. The funniest thing was, though she lives here now, she was originally from Texas too! This was a day for the Texas gals! We ran and walked from the neighborhood and onto the bike path along the freeway. This was my least favorite part of the course because it was so noisy. There seemed to be a motorcycle gang tearing up the road, but it was a lot of old farts on their Harleys, probably going to a bar to discuss finances and investment strategies.

The Texas duo soon got back into a neighborhood and into the final stretch. She took off and I watched her fade out of sight and smiled because I knew she was gonna get her goal.

Seeing the mile 26 sign in the distance pepped me up and getting into my best posture, I kicked it in and came in at 4:59 - the new PS, or personal slowest. I later told Little Leslie I got a PR - the slowest time ever - and she said that was a PW -personal worst. But since it wasn't a bad marathon experience (except for the bottoms of my feet) I decided it should be a PS instead. I'll save the PW for another time and hope I don't ever have to use it.

So I finally got my qualifications down, and sent in my request to the gatekeeper, and got approved. Funny - I was talking to one of them at the marathon expo and I told him I had run Chuckanut and Mt Si. He said running Chuckanut alone should have qualified me - it was too hard for him! So now I am back to the trails - no more road races for a while!