Sunday, March 30, 2008

January in March

Good timing with the knitting and 3 minutes of fame
I love my new sweater! Why? Because I finished it in time for the spring snow! It has been serving its purpose well in keeping me toasty warm while it snows outside. Here it is:

This has been a busy week and weird one, weather-wise. Wednesday I was on TV running back and forth for the camera as King5 did a Health Spot topic on Laura's new wellness center, 5Focus. Since one of their services offers ChiRunning and ChiWalking instruction, she got four of us instructors together for a taping about it. We had fun running by Lake Union while the camera rolled. Tim Robinson, the interviewer and local TV personality interviewed Laura and Mary Lindahl about the technique. At one point, he ran to us to tell us something - probably an eighth of a mile -and we all commented on how natural he looked! Then he started running all goofy just to show off. Ha ha! Anyway, it aired on Wednesday but I missed it!! Arghhh! Laura said they will send a file and if it's kosher, I'll post it.

Soaring Eagle snow and mud run
Fast forward to today - the NW Trail Run series had a five and ten mile run at Soaring Eagle park. I did this last year as a training run and it was pretty darn muddy. Plus about mile 6 of the ten miler, there's a pond that you go through calf deep in water. Last year, it was rainy and a little cold. This year, thanks to our weird weather system, it was snowy! In fact the last mile it started snowing again. But I get ahead. Tracy and I drove over there (the eastside); she walked the five miler with Ali since they are both on injured reserve right now. As we got further and further from Seattle, it got whiter and whiter. Going through Redmond looked like January:

It got weirder! As we turned up Sahalee way and started to climb the hill, there were all these cars abandoned alongside the road! I guess they got dumped on last night and people freaked out about climbing the hill. There is a neighborhood nearby; I suspect the owners lived there. Very odd. We got to the park, picked up our bibs and chatted with folks, all of us talking about the weather and snow. Here's the trail head for the race:

I started out in the middle of the pack and climbed up the very muddy road to the single track trail where the fun began. I ran with Lisa, Murray's wife (he's on the adventure team Mergeo that puts this together), and after a while, I slowed so I could down some gu. There was a pack of people behind us who we let go by - they were doing the five miler and having a fun time. Here's Lisa and me before all the fun began:
While I was running alone, I noticed my ankle more, though it was taped and braced. It was really challenging in all the mud and on the inclines trying to keep it quiet. It talked to me and said I should consider turning with the five milers at the aid station. When I got there, Lisa was finishing up a snack and asked how I was doing. I told her my ankle was a little sore and I was going slow, and she offered to run the rest of the ten miler with me! How could I refuse???

We carried along and had a really nice time getting to know each other. She is about my age and her two sons are just a couple years younger than mine. This was her first time on this course and she thought for sure we must have come to the "pond" but I kept saying nope, though inside, I had hoped it somehow had drained and we had already gone through it. But alas, as we ran along, I heard her shout OMIGOD! Yup, there it was - big as and maybe even bigger than it was before. Tracks in the snow showed that people had gone up into the woods to get around it, but we decided to try and go along side the "shore". I still managed to get my feet soaked and thought it was a good thing we only had four miles. After that obstacle, everything else seemed easy.

We got to the little loop around the lake and as we were heading back up the hill at the end of it, several people were coming down. It was somehow comforting to know we weren't DFL. I thought I had brought enough gu and tried to find it since I was starting to feel bonky. But I couldn't find it at all so I did without. (Later at home, I found it in a side pocket - I had thought it was trash - arghhh!) We finally got to a wide trail, which I thought was the road leading to the finish. Lisa didn't remember it (we had come up part of it in the start) but I was pretty sure. Fortunately, I was correct, and when I saw the sign the said 800 meters to go, I was so glad! I was really getting hungry! We came across the line together holding hands. It was so good to run with her - I even focused on her heels at one point to get me through the bonking. It was a minor bonk, but nonetheless, it was good to have someone pull me through it. And I bested my previous time by 10 minutes - in way worse conditions than last year. I think there were a lot of PRs - go figure cuz the course was no different from last year.

Ali and Tracy were waiting at the finish line and I got an incriminating photo of them (for their docs and PTs) as they showed off the mud on their shoes and legs:

After dropping Tracy off and a quick trip to the lab (where I got to show off the mud to HK) I headed home for food and icing, followed by a hot soak in the tub.

Now maybe spring will arrive - the sun is out as I type. Always a good sign!

Saturday, March 22, 2008

Bachin' It

I'm bachin' it this weekend - Donn and Orkestar Zirkonium are on tour with Circus Contraption. They played in Olympia last night, Eugene tonight, and Portland tomorrow night. I'm holding down the fort and giving Abby her daily meds, as well as getting bugged by her constantly. You'd think that cat would be happy just to hang in her bed - I worked hard to make it for her!
Anyway, I've been enjoying having the house to myself and sleeping in late. Donn is usually up and at 'em early and I always feel a twinge of guilt for hanging out in bed. It gets even worse when I can smell the espresso brewing. So what have I been doing?

Well...last night I went to swimming, had the lane to myself, and stayed the whole hour, doing the entire workout. Haven't done that in a while! It started late (8:30) because they had the dive-in movie before our group. Earlier in the day, I had gone out to Agua Verde with the lab to celebrate Matthias's birthday. He is from Switzerland and tradition there is he buys all the birthday drinks. I got one margarita, which is usually my limit. But then HK got up to get more and I ended up with another. Holy moly! I rode home (only a couple miles) and could barely feel the pedals turning. I had been going since early that morning, so the alcohol added to the fatigue. Donn was about to start dinner when I walked/stumbled in; I went straight up to bed and passed out til he called me for dinner. By the time I decided to go swim, I was feeling better but a headache was already coming on. So when my coach asked me how I was feeling about halfway through the workout, I thought he was referring to my inebriated state. I replied that the alcohol was almost out of my system. It was then I realized he was talking about recovery from Chuckanut! Oh yeah - that! I was happy to report I just had one tender toe, but other than that I felt good.

After knitting way too late (check out this endless knot pattern I put on one of the arms of my sweater)I fell into bed and slept the sleep of death. It was great! I woke my lazy butt up and puttered around the house, finally getting over to Discovery Park for a couple of loops about 10:30. I ended up running only 7.5 miles, but the first loop was not as easy as planned. Someone was breathing hard down my neck about half way through and I couldn't shake them. Finally, the last hill before the visitor's center, I was able to leave them. I looked back and saw some woman catching her breath but not sure it was her. I wanted to yell - hey I am recovering, leave me alone! but instead just pushed through it. Second loop I ran some extra trails and went to the beach and back up. I ran into Kathy J. and her training partners getting ready for Vancouver full and half. They had finished up a long run and looked great!

Back at the car, I decided to call it a day. I had been trying out a new ankle brace and my metatarsals on that foot were feeling the difference, so I didn't want to push it. After a trip by PCC (they will be carrying Chia seeds in a month for those interested) I came back home and now have to decide on what movie I want to get. It will be one Donn wouldn't find himself watching; maybe the Bee movie, since that's what was playing at the dive-in.

Sunday, March 16, 2008

Chuckanut 50K and Good Birthday

Having just read Devon's great report about this race, I am ready to report from the other end of the pack. This was to be my second ultra and my first since surgery last August, and I can say I am feeling like I am back! It was a long day, but I am so glad I did it and happy to have made it through relatively unscathed (more on that later).

Friday, I spent the day wrapping up loose ends and waiting for Chris to come by. Midafternoon we, our gear, and the two traveling 5 gallon Gatorade jugs (known from here on as my Ultra Jugs) piled into his VW Golf. We were going to go by Krissy's parents house to drop off the Ultra Jugs before Bellingham, but decided to go into town first to get our race packets. They had the usual goody bag items in them plus a very awesome race technical Tshirt. In fact, it's my new favorite shirt - I am wearing it as I type!

After checking into the hotel and getting something to eat we headed to Bow to drop off the jugs. I had Googled the Moehl's address but Google maps didn't provide enough detail, so, though we were on the right road, we couldn't find the correct address. We ended up pulling into some fellow's driveway (he was watching us) and asked if he knew where they lived. He hadn't heard of them (the houses are like a quarter mile apart), so while he a Chris chatted I called Krissy who said to go further west and watch for her Subaru at the top of the driveway (she was still at Fairhaven Park). We found it shortly and put the jugs on the deck. I looked around to see if there was a front door - maybe we could let someone know they were there - but no luck. There were several cars around the driveway. Unbeknownst to us at the time, James and Alison were sitting in one of them watching us and waiting for Krissy to return so they could get in. Apparently (unbeknownst to them) Devon was in the house* (the basement) and could have let us all in! Too funny! I did notice Devon's car parked there on the way out, but thought she must be at the park.

Back in B'ham, I woke up about every hour wanting water. Between the dinner beer (bad idea) and moisture sucking heater, I was really dehydrated. Finally the alarm went off and we were up, packed and out the door into the light rain. The race start was about five minutes away but we decided to park in a remote lot and walk to the start. The lodge for the number pick up was nice and warm and CROWDED. I saw lots of familiar faces and trash talked with a few. Eric was sitting in a corner and at one point, I wanted to show off my new camera. I was sort of in the doorway and he was holding his camera up point towards me, so I held mine up pointing towards him. I was waiting for it to focus and click and I heard someone say "excuse me." I said "hold on just a sec" and turned to look right into Krissy's eyes - she wasn't very pleased that I was blocking her way. I felt awful - I know how stressed she must have been organizing and coordinating a race of that magnitude! Oy!

From Chuckanut 50K

Soon we were out on the lawn with the rest of the racers and volunteers and ready to take off. The first six miles were relatively flat and the pack never really thinned out til we got to AS#1. There Robin was volunteering and it was good to see her. Van Phan was also there cheering folks on. I had started in a long sleeve T and hat with my short sleeve in my pack. I was already heating up despite wearing shorts so I left my long sleeve T and hat with Robin and put the short sleeve one on, then my Patagonia jacket. I had my buff to keep my head warm when I needed it, and my mitts for my hands. I was off and ready to start climbing. The trail up to Fragrance Lake was different from what we had gone on for our 20 miler. For this, we went back down the to Interurban Trail, then a sharp right onto trail and started climbing. A little ways up, Jamie came limping down, saying she was headed back to AS#1 and dropping. Still don't know what happened, but she looked at her watch, and asked me how come I was running so late. I said, um, this is my usual pace. She looked a little startled for a moment, and then said "I knew that!" Pretty funny. We'll see where she's at pace wise in 20 years. After more climbing and a pretty run by Fragrance Lake, we headed downhill to AS#2 where I got more Nuun. Dan Sears was waiting down there and called out my name - I think I knew someone at every aid station, which makes it all the more fun! We started the long 2.9 mile climb up Cleator Road. I mostly fast walked but occasionally ran, and fell in and out of pace with Cheri Pompeo, who was getting over a nasty cold. She had run a marathon in Greece two weeks ago and finally succumbed to the cold that was making its rounds. This was her tenth Chuckanut! We chatted off and on all the way up to AS#3. Just before that AS, the front runners were coming down the hill by us, and I high fived Scott as he ran by. At AS#3, another familiar face, John Pearch, RD of Capitol Peak Ultras, was waiting to see to our needs. I got more Nuun, some coke, and snacks, and headed out to the ridge trail.

It was pretty cold up there and we were socked in with a misty fog that chills to the bone. With the first step up over a boulder, my calves seized up. Very painful. I took an electrolyte tablet and sucked on my Nuun, but it took a while to calm down. Every time I lifted my leg it would cramp. I soon figured out that if I focused on using my psoas muscle more, it wasn't so bad. It was pretty rooty and rocky, but my ankle was holding up really well! I got to one huge boulder that I started to crawl over. it was slanted down and about 3-4 feet long and very slippery. I slipped and sat down hard on it, and started sliding down it. There was a hole at the bottom and all I knew was I didn't want to go into that hole. I managed to land in soft ground on my feet bit got pretty dirty - in fact later at home I discovered dirt all inside my shorts, and well, I got dirt in places that had never seen dirt before. I also felt my leg scrape as I slid down, and thought, ooh, that's gonna hurt later. After shaking off the fall, I started running again and actually started feeling a bit better. Finally, Dan's Traverse sign appeared and the trail turned more level and easier to negotiate, but I knew mud lay ahead.

A guy I had seen climbing Cleator came by me. He had been walking with his buddy whose achilles tendon was in pain. His buddy decided to stay in the race, but told him to go on. He stopped at one point (up ahead of me) to shake a rock out of his shoe. As I passed, I reminded him wryly not to get mud on the velcro of his timing chip. Yes, the timing chip guy asked that we wear the chip UNDER our sock to keep the mud out of the velcro. I can only imagine what shape they came back in since no sock would protect from that much mud. Anyway, the trail continued on, and my ankle did well through all the mud.

Finally I came to Chinscraper and began the climb. I was so glad we did this in our training run! It was bad, but not as bad as it could have been. There were a few people down below me, and a mountain biker came through from above. As I stepped aside, I asked if he was going to catch some air; I thought it would be so cool if he sailed over those below. Climb climb climb - finally I reached a little sign telling me to turn left!! In all the climbing I thought about me turning 53 the next day and how my mom had her first heart attack at 53. Of course, she was in a high stress job and smoking three packs a day. I, on the other hand, was out here climbing up this monstrous hill.

Soon I came upon Glenn taking photos; I was so happy to see him - I think he got a huge smile out of me! Cyrus Gates overlook soon appeared, this time with no snow. Back out onto Cleator road, I came to AS#4, which was also #3. John gave me some hot soup, and I got more Nuun. I thought about changing into new socks, but the niggling spots I felt coming on had settled down, so I stuffed my dry socks into my pack in case I changed my mind and headed down to Fragrance Lake.

The road descended and a sharp turn took us onto a nice soft trail. I went into a sort of Fell running mode, using my quads and hips to keep stable. My ankle just loved it! I ran pretty much the whole 3.9 miles to AS#5, save a stop or two to catch my breath and take a photo. As I came into AS#5 they were closing up shop. I grabbed more Nuun and headed down the flat trail to the finish. This part seemed more difficult than some of the climbing I did and psychologically was harder to run the whole way. I would imagine seeing myself running 3-4 feet in front of me, and get a good clip going, but soon as I looked up towards the horizon, my mental fortitude would fail me and I would have to walk. I did this most of the way, playing leap frog with another woman. Finally about a mile before the end, I was able to maintain and run into the park, finishing in 7:56, just under the 8 hour cutoff.

Chris was waiting for me at the end - he did it in 7:29:09. His first ultra in six years! He was beaming and it was so good to catch his excitement! Olga was at the end and I was a happy recipient of one of her famous hugs. Robin and Jeff were there as well, and kept me company while Chris went to get the car. After getting some food, and putting on my dry tights over my shorts, we headed for home, making it there in record time.

Today was my birthday and I headed to the pool for a short stretch out swim with the masters group. Turned out that one of the gals, Jerri, works two doors down from Chris. I can't wait to hear what he says when she tells him she saw his results in the paper! Hee hee! Donn and I went to lunch at Senor Moose, and then over to NWOC to look at kayak paddles. I'm heading over in my boat next weekend to demo some carbon fiber paddles - can't wait!

*Apparently Devon was still at the park earning her stay (see comments).

Monday, March 10, 2008

An interesting week

Haven't posted since there were no races last weekend but it's not because life hasn't been interesting. This month marks the anniversary of the death of Susie Stephens, former executive director of Bicycle Alliance of Washington, and a friend of mine. When Susie was director of Bicycle Alliance, they had a raffle which I had entered. I got a phone call from her, all excited, because I had won a bicycle - a Montague folding bike, which my son uses to this day. She told me it was really fun when she picked someone's name and she actually knew the winner. I really miss Susie, as do many, many people.

Fast forward to last week. There was a product show at work put on by Fisher Scientific where they showcased all the vendors they work with. You got a "bingo" card and if you got at least 20 signatures from the vendor reps, you could put your card in a raffle. I got 25 signatures and actually had a nice time checking out all the new lab ware out there. I went back to my lab and an hour or so later the phone rang. My boss picked it up as I joked that it must be someone calling to tell me I won something. I heard him say 'yes she is, just a minute.' It was for me and it was Susie Miller, a friend, from Fisher telling me I won something and had to come get it. I went over to the show and she said 'It's always fun when you pick a name and it turns out to be someone you know!' Where had I heard those words before??? I won a gift card to REI for $100! Wow!

It was only when I was walking back to the lab I realized that this month was the anniversary of Susie's death and how odd/funny that someone named Susie called to tell me I won something.....thanks Susie (both of you)!

Saturday, March 1, 2008

Des Moines Creek trail run

Okay - I thought I'd try and beat Eric to the draw for a blog account of this run today. This was the end of a long week (mileage-wise) for me and the start of tapering for Chuckanut. Not that I have any aspirations of winning my AG or anything, but I just want to run it and let my body actually enjoy it! My ankle is very happy about this; it was a tad swollen when I woke up this morning, so I promised it some TLC if it got me through this little three hour jaunt. Including last Sunday, my mileage was 51; not high by a lot of standards but up there for me. Consequently, I'm a little pooped today. Now onto the run....

This was a NW Trailrun sponsored event in a park just south of SeaTac airport, directed by Eric Bone. The run for me was a three hour run on a (approx.) 3.84 mile loop. Driving there was pretty easy except directions didn't say which way to turn off of the main road. To the right was a closed gate; I didn't see a left turn at first. I ended up calling Donn back home who went on his computer. He has a really slow and retro browser and he couldn't get NWTrailruns to come up, because he kept trying NW Trails (site of Skyway luggage). Arghh!! We went through this last year when I was trying to find Soaring Eagle Park. We finally figured out where I was supposed to go; I think it would be nice to have a sign at the main turn off, much like James and John do for the Capitol Peak ultras. Apparently I wasn't the only lost one. Fortunately, I had plenty of time to get lost (unlike Soaring Eagle, where I was late) and got checked in and had time to arrange my "aid station" aka my car. The first little loop (less than a mile) went by the cars so it was a no brainer to make that my stop.

We got prerace directions, well, some - the planes were flying over pretty low and I missed most of what Eric said. But he does such a fantastic job of course marking that I wasn't worried. At about 9:03, we took off. One poor lady fell near the start, but bounced back up and was off. I had sort of planned to run with my friend Kathy (Mile's GF), but as usual, I overdressed and fell back. I swear I sweat way more and get way more heated up now than I did pre-ovarianectomy! It's like a continual hot flash! I'm still figuring out how to adjust. I even had shorts on this time. I did the first loop in my overheated gear (gloves, earwarmers, visor, long sleeve and short sleeve shirts, and Patagonia jacket - it was damn cold standing around). I'm not sure how long the first loop took, but at my car, I stripped and left in just my shorts and the long sleeve top, and was pretty comfy the rest of the run.

I almost caught up to Kathy, but the ankle would not settle down. It was really pissed we were out here and was giving me holy grief. The trail was nice and soft and not bad at all! I enjoyed the single track and even going through the really shallow puddles. There were a few short steep hills, which I walked so as not to overstretch my calf and achilles. I had time to think about form and some little tricks I've been reading about on Danny's blog. My favorite was visualize yourself running 3-4 feet in front of you and run towards that. It's so cool! I imagine it's a lot like focusing on a pacer's feet in a long run when you're really tired. At any rate, I was having fun playing with that and other tricks he had.

I stopped at my car each time and it was nice to have fuel and Nuun waiting for me. The course drink was Gookinade, but I didn't try any. I had it before and it isn't bad, but Chuckanut has Nuun, so I wanted to be prepped. I also gave in and took some ibuprofen in the third loop to calm my ankle and ate some banana quarters and Girl Scout cookies from the main aid station. Yum!

During my second lap, near the bottle drop, Greg Crowther passed me and zoomed on. We both said hi and he was gone. There were people standing around the water drop (it was near the start-finish, but you still had some looping to do) and they must not have known who he was. I said to them, that guy kicks ass! One guy said, so do you! You're right behind him! I pointed out that he was on his third, maybe fourth loop and I was still in my second. That's the fun part about looped runs - you never know who is where! The other thing I like is when someone passes me, it seems to give me energy. That happened again when Devon went by me in my last loop. I was so tired and was ready for a nap right there, and she cheered me up just by being Devon. She is so funny - what a crack up!

Another thing about looped runs, that still confuses me, is I know there are other people out there running who are faster than me; in fact that would be most of the field! But I didn't see those people until I was done. Some of them in the 3 hour run did the shorter loop (there was a 6.4K loop - the main one- and a 1.7K - the short one). I just assumed they all were doing the long loop. Maybe the six hour runners were taking it easy? At any rate it puzzled me.

Like in lap swimming, I tend to lose count if I am out there too long, and in a 25yd pool I have tricks to keep track (I yell out the number just completed underwater). This loop was a little too long for that, and in my 4th loop, I had a hard time convincing myself I was on loop four. Fortunately there were monitors to keep track of that. And, also fortunately, as I felt better and more energized (thanks Devon!) I eventually caught up to Kathy, who had slowed down. She was ready to be done and didn't want to get to the end too long before 3 hrs, lest she should have to run the short loop. I ran the last couple or so miles with her, and we ran into the finish together. I was glad to be done, and though it was under what I should have run (at least what's on my schedule), my ankle was thankful we were done. It wanted some ice, so after some socializing, I headed to my car and treated it to a nice ice massage with my Ice Up.

A quick change of clothes and Kathy and I headed back north to Seattle. I'm pooped and so glad to be going into taper. My ankle is just beside itself at all the rest it's going to get! RICE, RICE baby!

Eric - where's your report????

Post blog: My bad - looking on the NW Trail runs site, Eric has excellent directions! Shoulda used that instead of google maps!