Saturday, April 26, 2008

DNF At Capitol Peak aka The Princess and the Pea

I ran at Capitol Peak 55K today and made it all of 15 miles before calling it a day. But first the prequel....

I originally hadn't planned to run Capital Peak this year since I was running Chuckanut in March. But Rich, whom I ran with last year, said his mom was flying out from CT to run and he wanted us to run together. She's exactly my age and apparently he told her about me! So I agreed to sign up. I also decided to run Mt. Si 50K (I forget why) and realized if I ran all three, I would be eligible for the elite status of Marathon Maniac! So I had a plan to do all three. All was on track, and my friend Tracy wanted to try Capital Peak, originally as a comeback ultra from her achilles injury. But as they say, life is what happens to you while you are making other plans. Tracy plays tennis, and during a game, she came down funny on her leg and knocked her fibula out of whack. The first diagnosis said it was injured and she needed to allow it to heal. But after seeing a PT, he suspected it was just out of whack and recommended a chiropractor, who also happens to be mine. After one adjustment, she felt better (but has some more). He and the PT allowed her to run just half of the course. So now the plan was for her to hang with us and drop at AS#3, which was also the start area.

Meanwhile, I managed to catch a very mild intestinal bug which hit Wednesday, and by Thursday I was messed up in the electrolyte dept, as well as really tired. My latest chemistrys showed my sodium and chloride were low (after Mt SI - duh!) so I was a little extra cautious about getting hydrated for Saturday, drinking water and Gatorade or Nuun. Friday I had a kinesis session at 7 am (note to self - no strength training the day before an ultra, even just upper body!) and got stretched by Laura at 8, and saw my chiro at 9:30. I had a weird feeling on my right knee, like I had scraped it, but all that was internal - no surface scrape at all. And there was some swelling to the right of the front, below the kneecap. Laura massaged some Arnica into it, and I showed it to Mike (chiro). He said it looked like a case of patellar tendonitis, and not to do any long runs this weekend. I told him I had one planned but didn't say how far. I decided to see how it felt, and also make sure I took my Arnica. Also topped it off with a hit of ibuprofen to lessen the swelling.

Tracy picked me up and we stopped by Essential Bakery for a coffee and treat. We ran into Mike who was also on his way to Oly but to volunteer. He had just come back from running rim-to-rim at the Grand Canyon - tres cool! We made it to Oly in time to get our packets and get a bite to eat (another note to self - stop eating creamy pasta the night before a race lest you wake up with a head full of snot!). After a somewhat fitful night of sleep, we got up at 4 and got ready. I put my shoes on and they felt tight. Well, my toes felt it! What was going on??? I thought maybe they would loosen up when I ran. We headed out in the dark to Capitol Forest and got there with a few minutes to spare before the start.

I saw lots of familiar faces and met Chandler's dad - really nice guy! How did he get someone like Chandler??? Oh wait - Chandler's cool too - duh!!! My reason for being there was no where to be found, though I found Rich. Mary Lou was somewhere but the Go signal started and off we went. She was hanging up front, but after a couple miles she got more sense and came to the back with us. Finally I got to run with her a little and chat. What a sweetie! I wished I could have lasted the whole way to hang with her! Here are her and Rich catching up after a quick bathroom break:

We leapfrogged off and on and when we were together I got to learn more about Rich and his siblings. I snapped a photo of Mary Lou on the trail - hopefully I'll get to run with her back east some day!

We climbed and descended and after a while, my knee felt funny (but not where there was swelling - more later) and my toes hurt- like raw hurt, like they would feel near the END of a race, not in the first half. What was going on???? About mile ten I made the (somewhat) tearful decision to drop with Tracy at AS#3. I couldn't see running another 16 miles with toes like this; the knee, maybe, but not the toes. So we came in and Tracy and I dropped and said goodbye to Rich and Mary Lou.

While we hung out, I asked about my shoes and toes. Alison's theory was I hydrated really well and my feet were swollen. Possibly, but my other shoes fit fine. My toes were tender though. I asked if shoes could shrink. Eric said by all means, especially if they had gotten repeatedly wet. Well duh! I went with that theory. Til later....I also iced my knee and discovered the source of my "pain" was an allergic reaction to something I had rubbed against. It had nothing to do with the swollen area! We socialized a bit more and eventually got it together to get in the car and head home.

I called SRC to see if I could talk about my shoes and to exchange some road shoes I had recently bought. I went in, with my muddy shoes in a bag. I told my story to Robert, and noted that they also hurt at Cougar last Saturday, and that I had gotten a pedicure the day before. He started laughing, and it turned out he had personal experience with getting a pedicure (and getting the callouses taken off) and trying to run afterwards (he did his gf a favor when she needed to do a practice pedicure for Gene Juarez). The callouses were there for a reason - which may be why my toes are so tender! Especially at the tip and where the end of the nail and skin meet. So that is my latest theory and in future (if any) pedicures - I'll forgo the salt scrub and callous removal, thank you!

So I have until the end of May to figure out where to do my third marathon or beyond. I'm thinking Tacoma marathon, especially after seeing Rob's mug in Northwest Runner. He's the volunteer coordinator - I might as well race and make the job worth his while!

Sunday, April 20, 2008

Spa Day, Snow Day

Spa Day....

Friday was crazy busy even though it's supposed to be my day off. It started with a 7:15 am Kinesis workout at 5 Focus. We worked on core strength and endurance. And man did I work!! I knew I was gonna be feelin' it later but it was good! I needed something like that to kick my butt into action and get the day going! The only downside was my trainer was up in arms about the state of the Democratic party and how Hilary should be nominated and how mean and nasty the Obama people were (news to me) and blah blah blah. I saw shirts for sale at the Ballard Farmers Market today that had a drawing of Barak Obama on them and the words "Come Together". I thought about buying and wearing one to my next session, but I was afraid she'd really work my butt off. Don't you just love politics?

After the workout, I headed back home for a quick breather and something to eat and then headed up to Capitol Hill for a Mayan Abdominal massage. I have been having tightness in my right side of the hip, on the abdomen near where one of the incisions was. I've always had trouble on that side with a kinked up psoas muscle, probably stemming from my scoliosis. When Laura has been stretching me, a lot of times my pelvis is torqued and it's possible that scarring is contributing to that. She recommended a therapist, Megan, who specializes in abdominal massage. Most of Megan's clients are dealing with fertility problems but she also deals with other problems of the pelvic area. So I thought I'd give it a shot and go for a free intro session.

We started off with an intake, and while my feet soaked in a warm herbal foot bath, I drank the most amazing herbal tea I've ever had! She blends it herself - she should sell it but she doesn't have time. Anyway, after that, I got prepped and on the table and she went to work on my back first. She managed to get it in line fairly fast (I look like I have two backs - a small and a large side) - her approach was to work on my tailbone. It was a bit painful at first but then it settled down nicely. After some great massage, in which I fantasized about peanut butter and jelly tortilla wraps (yeah, that tea was workin' good!), I flipped over and she worked the front. She was able to locate the troubled spots and work them down to a quiet roar. The whole massage was a little under two hours and I felt deeply relaxed. I have at least two, maybe three more sessions, and we'll see how my body responds to it. I wish I could have gone home and continued the relaxation but I had a client at 1 so I had to hurry home and make that PBJ wrap. It went well with a cold glass of soy milk. Yum!

I met my client at Greenlake and our lesson was in and out of the CC and in and out of the hail and rain. We had a good time and afterwards we went to the Derby Salon to get pedicures. She had mentioned she had an appointment and I asked about the place. I don't usually get pedicures unless I really can't get the mud out of my toes myself. In the end, I decided to go too and got my toenails painted clear, but painted nonetheless. They look so pretty! And clean too! Just in time for me to run in mud and snow the next day!

Snow Day...

Saturday Tracy, Chris, and Laura S. and I went to Cougar for a very short and sweet run. We got there about 7:30 and there was a good dusting of snow on the ground. It was a nice winter scene, except it's spring!

Tres Amigos ready to run

We set out from the Sky Country trailhead and headed to the north end of the park. Along the way we saw skunk cabbage poking through the snow and a regular winter scene.

looks like we're gonna have a cold winter - or summer?

As we climbed higher it got snowier and soon snow was coming down like it was December or January instead of late April. Weird weather indeed. The run was over too soon and we were back at the car.

all done for now

The Seattle Running Company van was parked next to my car and I couldn't resist getting this photo taken by Laura S.

Look - we match!

Soon we were back in the city and off to our separate lives. I didn't feel the least spent which was good since next up is Capitol Peak 55K - or 51.6K since it got shortened this year.

Winter continued to happen and in the worst of it, some of my neighbors and I completed our little project, hanging buckets to hold crossing flags at 38th and Stone and 36th and Stone. Geoff took photos (I don't have them) and we all got a big feel-good out of it. Our first customer came at 38th, pushing a baby stroller, while we set up the ones at 36th. Very cool! Next time you are in our neighborhood and need to cross Stone Way, use a flag! Thanks to Bastyr Clinic and Morgan's Plumbing for donating money and goods!

Now - will spring please show up before it's summer! Geez!

Monday, April 14, 2008

A Perfect Weekend

For those of you who didn't stay in Seattle last weekend, you may have heard what an awesome Saturday we had in the weather department. It felt like summer with temps nearing 80 and clear blue skies overhead. For some reason, when it is like this, I get a burst of energy to clean my house. Donn likes to be outside, but I feel an urge to mop and dust, so I gave into it, until he observed that it would be a good day to be in our boats on the lake. So I dropped the housework and piled the gear into the car while he loaded the boats on top.

Testing paddles on the lake....

For my birthday, Donn wanted to get me a new kayak paddle of the carbon-fiber variety. We went to NWOC on my birthday sans our boats just to see what they had. Herbie showed us the variety of paddles and suggested we bring the boats by to demo them. I was too pooped from running Chuckanut the day before so I said I'd come back another weekend. Well finally we got back there and boy was it crowded! Lots of people were renting kayaks and getting out on the lake to enjoy the rare weather we were having! But they weren't too busy to let us try some paddles. First I had to compare low angle versus high angle paddles. We got in the boats and were off. As you can see, it was a pretty day!

Donn testing one of my paddles

After deciding on the low angle paddle, next I compared bent versus straight shaft. I like to feather my paddle at abouto a 45 degree angle, feathering the right paddle. I discovered that Donn feathers the opposite paddle and at 30 degrees. I kept wondering what the hell was wrong with the paddle - it took me a while. I ended up really liking the bent shaft; it felt easier on my wrist. So I decided on that and am now waiting for it to come in to NWOC. Yay!!

What was really perfect about this day was I was walking around NWOC in shorts and a tanks top and barefooted and didn't even feel the slightest of chill! It was such a contrast from two weeks earlier of January in March to July in April - nice! After dropping off the boats at home, we headed to Ballard for a Goodwill drop off and ran into Linda and Mike, who suggested we try a new Vietnamese restaurant called The Monkey Bridge. It turned out to be a great prerace meal for Mt Si 50K. I highly recommend it - it's on Market and 17th where the old Stimac's Pharmacy used to be.

Hanging with the ultra legends....

Three years ago, I ran on a relay team at Mt Si Relay and Ultras. I saw the 50K and 50 mile runners out on the trail and was in awe of them. I was two weeks away from running my second marathon (in my life AND in 20 years). I told several of them how I was in awe of them. So it was really deja vu but from the other side to hear that last Sunday as I ran the 50K! Even got it from a former running partner who didn't recognize me at first (I had sunglasses on); when I shouted Hi Desiree, she almost flipped! But I get ahead....

I got there at the leisurely hour of 7:30 and immediately looked for my friend Kaci
who was running her first official 50K. She ran the 25K Orcas Fat Ass for her first trail run and got hooked. She is such a stud! Here she is ready to rock and roll--->

I was ready to go as well and wondering how the day would unfold. I hadn't slept well most of the week, and on Thursday I tried to body surf the trail along the Montlake Cut while out on a run with my boss and a lab mate.
I skinned up my right knee and left elbow pretty good, but tegaderm is my savior. By Sunday, I felt as good as I could and was ready to see what the day held.

As we took off, I tried to hold a little back and ease into my pace. The fast runners were off, and the rest of us seemed to hang together more or less through the golf course. The sun was out and it seemed it was going to be another warm day. My stomach wasn't feeling so hot and I was hoping off and on for a porta john to appear on the trail. A gal was running behind me and soon came up to my side and started chatting. She was in the 2005 ChiRunning class I took with Danny Dreyer; she said she noticed my running style and thought I was ChiRunning. Guess that's a good sign about my form. She lived nearby and said she runs these trails in minimal shoes; she also ran Portland marathon last fall and was really into the technique. She soon moved ahead and I chatted off and on with other folks nearby.

I saw two gals running up ahead and recognized one as Lynn Yarnell. I had met her at Capitol Peak Mega Fat Ass. She and her running partner were on a run/walk pattern and I caught up to them about mile 5. I re-introduced myself to Lynn. The other woman turned out to be none other than Chris Ralph, former RD of White River, and co-RD of Plain 100, to name a few. I had the privilege of hanging with them and listening to some great stories. They were such a blast! In addition, as much as I love ALL my running buddies regardless of age, it was fun to chat about issues (physical, life, whatever) with gals in my age range.

We came into the mile 10 aid station where local ultra legend Jim Kerby was hanging out. He saw them and gave them big hugs. He turned to me and said he didn't know me but he'd give me a hug anyway! He asked how I was doing and gave me a mini-lecture about eating every 30 minutes. I promised to get back on track pronto with the nutrition!

Lynn and Chris both grew up in Seattle and went ice skating at the same rink in Ballard but didn't know each other at the time. They talked about life in Seattle in the old days and where they went to school. At one point, they started singing "15 Miles on the Erie Canal"; I could only remember the first verse, but they remembered the whole song! I think ultras enhance your memory! I ran with them til the turn around when I stopped to get a rock out of my shoe. I had 15 miles to go with "15 miles on the Erie Canal" going through my head!

At the turn around I had taken my pack off, and when I put it back on, I thought I had ants in the back and got a fellow to check my back. It turned out to be a nasty rash from all the sweat and rubbing. Fortunately, the clouds were returning and cooling the air off. After eating a piece of ginger, my stomach and gut started behaving. We had seen some of the front runners of the 50 mile race coming back from the turn around including Kendra and Eric, and on the way back, I saw Linda and Jamie. The relay turn around was before the ultra turn around, and once past that point (on the way back) I started seeing more relay folks. One was the aforementioned Desiree, who was running towards her turn around and yelled at me what a rock start I was. I yelled her name and she said "Laura???" She told me I looked great (she may have been trying to be nice, but I WAS feeling much better by then). I am hoping in less than three years she'll decide to try an ultra.

As I made my way to the mile 21 aid station, I thought I had a little pebble in my right shoe. I was wearing road shoes, which were comfortable, but I hadn't run this far in them before. I stopped at my drop bag and took the shoe off. The "pebble" was a blister forming on my pinkie toe. I wrapped some sport tape on it, put more powder on, and put my sock and shoe back on. For some reason I thought we were headed to Rattlesnake Ledge after this, until a volunteer told me it was a mostly slight downhill from this point on. I could have kissed her! Just before leaving the aid station, Kaci showed up. Her friend Scott had come out to run the last 10 with her and to see what this ultra stuff was all about. She fixed up my sore spot on my back with an ultra band aid and soon I decided to head on. She had some good blisters forming and was taking the rest easy. On I ran, seeing the relay folks and trying to find a rhythm. I was about to "go inside myself" and try to get in a zone, when I saw Tien from the Chuckit group. He was on a relay team. That was unexpected but fun to see him out there!

The miles rolled on and my Garmin kept track of how much further. I focused on form and technique and noticed where I was tense or sore. One thing I picked up on was the source of my constantly tense right upper back. It came down to the way I held my arm - if my wrist was flat and parallel to the ground, the tension returned. But if I kept my wrist "neutral" and perpendicular to the ground, the tension went away. Just another old bad habit I have to overcome. Nice to know I figured it out! That's what I like about the really long runs - the chance to get to know yourself and hopefully make some improvements. Another thing I need to get back to work on is my endurance. I would lean and speed up but tired quickly (okay, I was in my 25th mile, but still....). Anyway, it was a nice day to work on things since it was a totally runnable course.

Soon I was back near the finish and could hear the announcer.
It felt so good to run into the finish and know I had gotten another ultra (my third) under my belt! I hung out and socialized with various folks and hooked up again with Lynn and Chris. Chris won our age group and got a nice ceramic bowl with engraving on it. I saw Robin (I had seen her following Jeff in his 50 miler on her bike) and soon Jeff came racing in. It was a good day in the end, shared with many good friends - old and new!

Today I had the privilege of seeing and hearing the Dalai Lama speak on compassion. I never in my life thought I would get to see him in person and was somewhat overcome with emotion as he came out into the pavilion. He is such a simple yet amazing man, and his message is mostly common sense, or at least what seems common sense to some of us. His sense of humor was outstanding and though I was a little stiff from yesterday, I didn't feel it much the three hours I sat and listened. I'm a very lucky gal indeed to be where I am!