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!