Tuesday, January 22, 2008

And you thought that was muddy!!!

Last weekend was Capital Peak Mega Fat Ass (has anyone out there googled Fat Ass? - third hit is some porn site) in Capital Forest down by Olympia. The course had been rerouted due to too much snow on top and was a figure 8 of two loops for half and four for full.

I ran at Cougar for two hours on Friday with some of the gang, and felt okay for Saturday, though my stomach rebeled at getting up so darn early. I carpooled down with Dan and Kathleen, and enjoyed listening to them chat, while trying to ignore the lead, er, breakfast sitting in my stomach. We made it to the start, where it was raining/snowing and a little cold, but not too bad. After John said go we headed off to the first loop, and faced an uphill climb for a couple miles (maybe less). I still wasn't awake and had to step aside several times to let the speedier ones pass. We had already started to hit mud, and I saw it suck the shoe off a gal in front of me. Hoo boy! This was not a course for tired ankles! My stomach still was rebeling and a gel helped- either it pushed the "lump" through or my symptoms were those of bonking. From then on I was pretty good about eating every 35 minutes or so and felt fine, digestively speaking.

The disadvantage of letting all those people pass is by the time you get to the muddy part, it's REALLY muddy, with all the feet mashing it up. I was doing as best I could and was able to get through the mud, but when I hit "level" ground (not muddy) my ankle must have gotten used to moving around, and I rolled it pretty good. Felt the ripping below the ankle bone - ugh! I spat out a lot of profanities and a gal in front of me turned around to see if I was okay. Turned out to be Jenny, #401, whom I had been hoping to meet! We ran together a little bit, until I stopped to walk and eat some more. She was trying to break 4 hours for the first loop to make an eight hour 55K. Along the way every now and then, my ankle would painfully roll. I decided finally that I would bag the rest of the race when I got to the aid station. Having made that decision, I decided to work on my hill climbing. It's my goal this year to get stronger on the hills, and we have plenty around here to work on. As long as the ankle said it was okay, I ran up all I could, or power hiked them. It was good fun! I came upon another guy, Eric, who had rolled his ankle and was bagging at the aid station too. He had more trouble walking and/or running than I so I told him I'd save him a beer and ran on. I limped into the aid station and gave the time keeper my name, got the car keys and after changing, alternated between standing in the rain by the fire and sitting under the tarp, where it was much colder. I cleaned off as much mud as I could and taped my ankle and proceeded to wait for Dan and Kathleen to finish their second loop. I think I spent more time socializing than I did running, which was a lot of fun, as I got to know some of the other runners more. Some of them I will see at Orcas; hopefully Tim Stroh will bring more mulled wine - that was good!

The ankle isn't too bad - still a little sore - and I got the mud finally cleaned out with a little pedicure on Sunday after swimming. It's bad when there is still mud ground in and chlorine doesn't clear it out! I got a massage from Alison at SRC and afterwards Donn and I marched with the AFMB in the MLK Day parade. First time I've played my horn since December, and it wasn't too lame! Back home I worked on a hat I'm knitting and learned to crochet (for the edge). It'll look cool when I am done!

This morning (it was DAMN COLD!!) I attended a miniclass of Kinesis (a strength training system utilizing pulleys and weights) at 5 Focus, which my friends Laura, Jeff and Beth recently opened. I did one circuit of the workout - all upper body. It was quite good and I am looking forward to doing more, though I am pretty sore, between that and the horn playing and knitting. Time to lay on the yoga bolster and stretch out the pecs!

Lastly, I broke my mile-a-day streak today because I decided the ankle needed to rest, as did I. Back on the wagon tomorrow!

Monday, January 14, 2008

Dancing in the mud at Bridle Trails

I finally ran at the Bridle Trails Winter Running Festival last Saturday. I've been wanting to do this and chickened out last year because it was so snowy and icy - I wasn't driving ANYWHERE! The options are a 5.2 miles loop, 2 loops at 10.4, a variety of relays for 50K, or a solo 50K, most of which would be in the dark since the race started at 3 pm. I opted for the 10.4 miler and agreed to meet my friend Ali there. When I got there, I saw all sorts of friendly and familiar faces, and met some more. It is really starting to feel like I am a part of that community of folks who enjoy working out in a natural setting and don't mind getting dirty!

Shortly before 3 pm, the five milers gathered at the start line and got instructions from Scott McCoubrey about the course. He claimed to have "marked the hell out of it" and there was lots of mud for your enjoyment. At 3 he gave the signal and they were off. Next up was my group; after a similar lecture, at 3:05 we were off. I was not warmed up at all, and Ali was quite a bit speedier; I saw the back of her for about a mile and then no more til the end. The first big hill I came to, I walked a little bit. It was a lot warmer and though I had stripped down some, I was still too warm. I think I was also having a hot flash - don't know if that's possible while exerting one's self, but it sure felt like it! As promised, there was lots of mud on the trail and it was fun figuring out how to dance around and/or through it. I've run this course several times and always seemed to know where I was, though I still get thrown off by the water tank about half mile before crossing the power line section again. Once you make the second crossing of the power line, you're almost home.

Coming into the aid station, I refilled my water bottle and took off. I wrapped my jacket around my waist but had a hard time getting it tight enough. Finally got it right and felt better with less on. I also had finally started to feel like I was hitting my stride and a gel I had taken earlier had started to kick in. Ali had convinced me not to take a flash light, and she was right. I didn't really need it, though the light was failing in the last two miles. The last mile goes up into the woods more and was even more muddy, but it still was not too bad. I finally crossed the finish at 1:46, about five minutes behind Ali.

We hung out and chatted with folks and watched some of the 50K folks come through, including both of the Jureks, and several marathon maniacs. I hosed off some of the mud (Scott M. pointed out there was a hose if it was too muddy for you) and headed for home. It was getting cold and I opted to leave my wet shoes on for the ride home. Probably not the smartest idea, as I could feel some blisters trying to form. Also, I left my water bottle and buff on my roof. When I got home, they were wedged up against my roof rack - how cool is that?? I had a nice soup (Gypsy Soup from the Moosewood Cookbook) cooking in the crock pot and picked up a loaf of bread on the way home. I also had some goat cheese rounds breaded and ready to bake for a baked goat cheese spinach salad. A hot shower, a good beer and all that food made me a tired but happy camper!

I thought about my race time and a little perspective. It wasn't as speedy as I might have wished it to be, but then I remember what all I have been through health-wise the latter part of 2007, and I'm so glad I can get out there and enjoy running again! I may get speedier over time, or I may not. When I think of the alternative, or when I think of people I know who are sidelined, either temporary or permanently, I count my blessings and remember to enjoy the journey. This life is a gift and it is a privilege to be able to enjoy it!

Friday, January 11, 2008

Running Resolution

Today is day 11 of the new year and so far I've managed to run every day. Most days are easy, and some are shorter than others (like ones where I would have had a no run day). While some people get in a run every day, for others it can be a challenge, trying to fit it in with work, social activities, and family obligations. And that is to say nothing of the weather - it can be downright ugly this time of the year, though, thankfully, not freezing and icy (most times). It requires a little creativity. For instance, Wednesday, I was going to get in a little run and hadn't really decided where to go. I called Donn and told him I was going for a short run, in case he got home before I got back. He said he needed some tofu from PCC, so there you go! Route was planned. I strapped on a waist pack, ran to PCC, got said tofu (and other stuff), and ran home.

Today was another one- my boss, who turns 40 tomorrow, has been stuck at home with a really sick family. He's the only healthy one, probably because he works at Children's hospital and has a primed and pumped immune system. We weren't sure he would be in, so we hadn't gotten a cake for lab meeting. Fifteen minutes before meeting he called and said he'd be in. We HAD to get a cake, and one of the folks said we could go in his car to get it. Turned out, his car was halfway to my house! Fortunately I wore my Brooks Radiuses to work today (I walked in), because we decided to run to the car. It would have been easier to just go to the bakery on the other side of University Bridge, but my friend got a plan stuck in his head so we had to go get his car. I wasn't peeved at all - I got my run in!

Tomorrow, it's Bridle Trails winter running festival. Lots of mud - 10 miles of it. Yay!

Saturday, January 5, 2008

Tiger FA - a race of attrition....

Except I felt like the attritionee! I ran the 25K loop this morning with a bunch of other Fat Asses, and though my time was slightly faster than last year, and I thought for sure I would be DFL, I feel better than I did last year. When we took off, I felt weirdly strong running up the road. By the time we got to the first big climb (about mile 3?) I was starting to fade a little. Soon the faster younger set left me and I could occasionally hear their shouts but never saw them, except when they stopped for a break at Paw Print. It was always a surprise to me to come up on someone, especially when running for an hour or more alone.

At times it felt a bit like relentless forward motion, as my climbing skills leave a bit to be desired. And I ran most of the middle to end by myself, which I kind of liked, as there was no pressure to try to keep up with someone and hurt myself. I did the usual left ankle roll about 2 miles in, but seemed to recover okay. My left foot also bugged me in the third metatarsal and my right ankle had a weird twinge if I stepped on it wrong. Don't know if it had to do with the buddy taping method to limit mobility in my big toes, but all this lasted off and on for about 3/4 of the run, then mysteriously went away.

I had fun at Tiger No. 1 summit - arms spread wide and taking in the view. The wind be damned!! Okay, that lasted a minute then I wanted to get out of the wind. The other two summits were sort of anticlimatic and I was so happy to see the sign saying I had 3 miles to the end at No. 3! Right before I got to summit no. 3, I did see Uli Steidl coming down the trail for his second loop (50K was a double loop, with the second in reverse from the first). I stepped aside and then greeted him with praying hands and slight bow. I'm sure he thought I was nuts, but what else do you do when a demi-god comes running towards you?

As I started the three mile descent, I really had to "tuck in", keep a strong core, and think upwards so I wouldn't land too heavy and roll the ankle. Last year I must have rolled it six times going down, so I was determined not to repeat that mistake! It was rocky, some roots, and muddy, but I did okay. At times coming down the snow was blowing hard into my eyes making it tough to see. And I am sure my obliques are going to tell me about the descent tomorrow - I felt like I had overdone it on the bicycle kicks!

It was fun to see people coming up the hill for their second loop, like Van, Eric, Steve, and Shawn. They are such studs, or more masochist than me! All in all, even though I had some low moments out there, it was better than last year, and I feel pretty good! My goal is to get back to Tiger for some more training. Beat me, whip me, make me write bad checks!

Tuesday, January 1, 2008

Happy New Year '08

Every year I do Club Northwest's Resolution Run and always go for the Trip and Dip option - a polar bear dive into Lake Washington. Well, actually not a dive, but more a reluctant walk off the boat ramp, complete dip to cover my head, and a faster walk onto shore, followed by a short run to the finish line. This year was no different except for a few things. The water temperature seemed warmer (did all those who went before me pee in the lake??). Also, I treated it more like a tempo run and really focused on keeping good form. My right hip is still a little tight where my scar is, and I must have been compensating because my left calf (and ankle/ achilles) has been cranky lately. In fact, there's been a little knot in the gastrocnemius; lots of massage, arnica ointment, and keeping relaxed lower legs is working to loosen it up. Anyway, though my time was a couple minutes slower than last year, and I am positive I didn't make the top three in my AG, I'm very happy with the run. It's the first time in a while I've felt good going into and coming out of a race, and I didn't have a heart attack going in the water (I'm semi-serious about this with all the issues surrounding my blood pressure and heart). So life is good right now!

Some "celebrity" sightings - Speedy Greg Crowther (I think he won) coming towards us on the out and back portion of mile 1-2, right behind the pacer car; Karen "kick-ass" Buttram (who is dealing with frustrating health issues, including tachycardia); Gina Young (who usually finishes top three - I think her partner, Ann Rinehart, won our AG); Greenlake Bob (Berg), trying to run from the eagle perched on a tree along the water; and all my running buddies from Chuckit - I miss seeing them so good to catch up. Oh yeah - and thanks to all the volunteers who made the run possible!

Lastly, my "crazy" new years resolution is to run every day this year, at least a mile. That may involve some running at airports if Donn and I head south for a tropical vacation. We'll see...also I got into Chuckanut 50K, so now I am committed to toughing out bad days/weeks (sleep-wise) to get ready for it. Yeehaw!

Happy new year to all and happy running, or whatever you do to float your boat!