The Green Lake Gobble 5k and a shiny new PR

It’s been awhile since I’ve set a 5k PR – almost a year, in fact. The 5k is such a weird distance – full of people just getting into running who are having a great time and just trying to finish, and then people trying to improve and shave seconds off their previous personal bests… which would be the category I fall into, so a 5k race is more an exercise in pain and HOW MUCH LONGER CAN I HOLD THIS PACE?!

My previous PR (set this February) was 28:18 and I distinctly remember feeling like death as I slogged along trying to maintain that 9-min-mile. ( I am not fast, clearly). But after my big half marathon PR last month, and all the consistent (if slightly halfhearted) speedwork I’ve been doing since around August/September, I thought I might have a shot at finally cracking under 28 minutes for 3.1 miles.

I met up with some friends around 7:30 – we’d all volunteered at packed pickup in exchange for a race entry. Can’t beat a free race for a few bone-chilling hours handing out bibs!

It was cooollllllllld at the start – though I should have ditched my race shirt; I ended up tying it around my waist… you’d think I’d learn…

Me, Laura, and Karene - this was the 2nd 5k ever for both of them, yeaah ladies!

Me, Laura, and Karene before the race – this was the 2nd 5k ever for both of them, yeaah ladies!

When the race started I remember deciding to go for it and took off at a challenging pace for me. That saying “it never gets easier, you just get better” is so true – it felt like a hard pace has felt for me in the past around a 9 min mile, but I was actually holding a sub-8-min pace for the first time ever.

Not sure why I look startled to be running

Not sure why I look startled to be running…

I’d decided to try out a long-sleeve compression shirt I’ve had for awhile but never raced in, and while it was comfortable enough, it looked kind of ridiculous!

Ha ha, I look like a bandit in this getup... well aside from my fabulous pink shoes.

Ha ha, I look like a bandit in this getup… well aside from my fabulous pink shoes.

Even though it was like 30 degrees out I still got too warm and took off my gloves. I am my own sunshine factory. I mostly just tried to keep up the effort as hard as I could and felt shocked every time I glanced at Henry the Garmin and saw sub-9 min mile paces. I guess all that halfhearted speedwork paid off!

Zipping through the finishing chute. Yeaaah PR!

Zipping through the finishing chute… my gumby-leg back-kick is still a thing apparently…

As I crossed the finish line I knew I’d set a shocking new PR – nearly 2 min faster than my old one. I didn’t even feel like puking afterwards, which has been a staple of previous hard efforts for me – who am I?! I’m kind of curious now what I could do if I really applied myself to training instead of just going through it and completing it… like maybe actually doing 400m repeats at a pace that feels insane?

Whaaaaaaat? How did I do this?!

Whaaaaaaat? How did I do this?! I even forgot to stop my Garmin for a few seconds after the finish…

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And my official results were even 6 seconds faster. Uhhhh, I have no idea how I pulled that off.

And my official results were even 6 seconds faster. Uhhhh, I have no idea how I pulled that off.

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Considering I've never strung more than one sub-9-min-mile together in a row, I'm amazed I ran each mile faster than the last. Who am I?!

Considering I’ve never strung more than one sub-9-min-mile together in a row, I’m amazed I ran each mile faster than the last. Who am I?!

Victoria BC Canada half marathon 10/13/13

WOW. I am amazed, baffled, astounded at how this race went for me. Let’s just get the big part out of the way – I was hoping to break 2:10, and at least PR (current PR is 2:12:58), but NOTHING could have prepared me for the number I ended up with:

That there is also a 10k PR!

That there is also a 10k PR!

WHAT. Just WHAT. How the crap did I pull that off?! Even more astounding to me was Henry the Garmin’s report:

Holy poop!

Holy poop!

Not a single 10+-min-mile to be found. And mile 12, what whaaaaaaaat? How on earth did I pull off a sub-9-min-mile in a half marathon!? How the crap did I run at a 9:17 average for the whole race? (I’ve run 5ks at a slower pace than that!)

There were a few significant things I did different during this training cycle, a few of which had me convinced this would probably be a SLOW race for me:

1. I did about 95% of my training runs on the treadmill, and the vast majority of those were at a 0% incline, because I’m lazy and hate hills.

2. I had that dumb 2-month cough that interrupted my training a bit over the summer.

3. I started doing halfhearted speedwork (400m sprints and Higdon-style tempo runs) this time around.

Maybe it was number 3 that made the biggest difference, who knows! I think maybe doing my 10-milers on the treadmill may have helped me in ways – I did take walk breaks during them, but they kind of taught me to hold a consistent pace and keep going (whereas when I run them outdoors my pace goes all over the place). I am a notorious hater of hills as well, and while this course isn’t totally flat (there are a lot of mild undulations and a few gradual uphill slogs), there are no giant ego-crushing monster hills like there are at NODM and Seattle RnR. I think as a result of that I was able to run every step of this half marathon and didn’t take a single walk break – that’s a first for me!

not flat, not ridiculously hilly. Think this is my new favorite course, sorry NODM.

not flat, not ridiculously hilly. Think this is my new favorite course, sorry NODM.

The day before the race we hauled our crap on the boat over to Victoria and hit up the expo first thing to get it out of the way, then wandered around being touristy for awhile. We ended up going to one of the several Irish pubs downtown to carb load – and the pasta at the Garrick’s Head Pub was actually pretty fantastic! I also had probably the best cider I’ve ever tried.

delicious, delicious carb loading and the BEST CIDER EVER AMG

delicious, delicious carb loading and the BEST CIDER EVER AMG

Dusk was falling as we wandered back in the direction of our hotel and though I’ve been to Victoria countless times I couldn’t resist snapping some of the typical touristy photos. Our route went by the Parliament building and we stopped by the finish line that was still getting set up, on the road right out in front of the building:

The Parliament building (top, where the race started/finished) and the ivy-covered Empress Hotel

The Parliament building (top, where the race started/finished) and the ivy-covered Empress Hotel

See you tomorrow, finish line.

See you tomorrow, finish line.

I was up at the miserably early hour of 5:30am and promptly chugged coffee and got dressed. One advantage of having a hotel so close to the race start was that I didn’t have to use the portapotties, but rather the warm hotel bathroom… yesssssss. It was FRIGID and I decided to keep my long-sleeved running top on, even though I know I’m my own little furnace and odds were good that I’d be tying it around my waist at some point. After a rousing rendition of “O, Canada” (ha it had never occurred to me up until that point that other countries might, you know, sing their own anthems before sporting events) we were off!

It’s been kind of a trend now with my last few halfs (halves?) that I feel really stiff and awkward for the first mile or so and wonder what I’ve gotten myself into, but this is probably more because I don’t usually run at 7:30 in the morning. This race was no different and as we looped around the parliament buildings and up by the harbor I felt like I was running through jello, but I was still passing people pretty consistently. I remember glancing down at the Garmin somewhere around here and seeing a sub-9-min-mile pace. Oops!

I was yanking my overshirt off by mile 2. I should have known I wouldn’t need it! It became my awkward waist buddy from that point on, flapping against the back of my legs for the remainder of the race. You’d think I would have learned my lesson after last year, but noooooooo…

Somewhere in the first few miles, as we were going up a hill, I passed a guy in a wheelchair who was wearing a racing bib. This wasn’t a sport wheelchair though, this was a regular old standard wheelchair, and he was wheeling himself along the course. I couldn’t help but be impressed by how hardcore that was. I can’t imagine propelling myself through 13.1 miles with my arms!

The course takes its first real uphill jaunt into a few loops around a pretty big park right about mile 3.5 or 4. I only really remember this because I took my first Gu at mile 3.5 and also because I hit the 5k mark in the park at a number not far off from my PR, which was a little scary, but I was feeling good so I just went with it. The uphill sections were a little slow but I just kept putting my feet to the ground and trying to take quick, short steps.

Coming out of the park we hit the long section of road that travels right along the coast of the Strait of Juan de Fuca:

A good section of the course is out along the water like this - it's beauuuuuuutiful. And you can see my hometown across the way!

A good section of the course is out along the water like this – it’s beauuuuuuutiful. And you can see my hometown across the way!

This part is all fairly downhill/flat (but is part of an out and back, so what goes down must go up in this case) and easy to just plow through. The sun was in our faces a bit and I kind of wished I’d brought along my runglasses. Also, the signs that said “water stop ahead” along this part might as well have said “slip and slide zone ahead” in my Pureflows… man I love those shoes, but they do not grip a wet road at all! This part of the race went really quickly though and before I knew it we were curving up a slight hill into the residential part of the race, which winds through some neighborhoods before looping around at a turnaround point shortly before mile 8. I vaguely remembered this part from last year but couldn’t remember exactly where the turnaround was and kept hoping to see it just around the next bend (which is always annoying when it ISN’T). I kept looking at my watch here as well and seeing numbers I totally did not expect, not to mention the fact that I was way ahead of pace to hit my goal of 2:10. But I still felt good and just kept going with it!

At mile 7 I took Gu #2 and shortly after that hit the turnaround. I have a memory from this part of the course with Laurel last year – she wanted to take an extra long walk break as we ate GUs, so we walked and enjoyed knowing we were more than halfway done. This year I rolled on through and back through the residential part of the course. I remembered at this point last year Laurel and I started to see the super-fast elite full marathoners (and the guy in a business suit) and realized I wasn’t seeing any this year yet… probably because I was running quite a bit faster this year!

I popped back out onto the road running by the water for the “back” portion and set myself down for the uphills I knew were coming. On one of them a guy was standing outside his house with cups on a tray, and as runners would reach for them he’d yell “it’s not water!” At that point I saw his sign – FREE BEER! Haha. I allllllmost went for it, but you know, nothing new on race day and all that.

I saw the guy in the wheelchair again around this point going the other way – still chugging along! SO HARDCORE. Huge props for that guy, I was tired and his arms must have been killing him.

At mile 10 I took my final GU (I didn’t do a 3rd one at NODM or Seattle RnR and felt pretty dead in the last few miles, so figured I should go ahead with it this time) and chugged up the gradual uphills back in the direction of the park (which thankfully we would run by instead of looping around again).

Heading up one of the longish moderate hills in mile 11

Heading up one of the longish moderate hills in mile 11, on the “back” part of the out and back

I kept seeing faster times than I expected on my watch and going holy crap, well, ok! The race had seemed to go by pretty fast up to this point but I was starting to get tired (the complete lack of walk breaks probably also contributed to this) and time began to drag. We hit a long downhill in mile 12 (see my Garmin’s clocking above) and I tried to use it to my advantage and just blitzed it, passing a bunch of people in the process. I knew once I got through this mile we’d twist through a few windy streets and then be heading straight for the finish, which was a part I remember being really fun last year, but last year I wasn’t racing faster than I ever have before for the distance. I tried to distract myself and cranked my music as I came off the bottom of the hill and headed into the final mile, just trying to keep my feet chugging. (sorry to the spectators who saw me dancing like a dork!)

As we moved into the final winding streets I spotted a photographer – right after I coughed in front of him, which he so kindly preserved on film for me:

I noticed him right after this and was like oh great..

I noticed him right after this and was like oh great.. also, charming sweat mark there!

After a final annoying hill there was the 800m to go sign (of course all I could think was agh, that’s half a mile!) and further down I could see the row of flags over the course! I tried to pick up the pace but my feet felt like rocks. And there was the finish, so close and yet so far away – but I could see the clock counting down and knew that unless I totally biffed it I was going to shatter my goal of hitting 2:10. I tried to give it all I had and crossed the finish with pretty much nothing left to spare.

Apparently it took me 3+ min to cross the start line!

Apparently it took me 3 min to cross the start line!

I found Laurel on the sidelines shortly after and showed her the frozen face of my Garmin with my shiny new PR plastered across it:

I just noticed you can see Gu on my arm from where I wiped my mouth. Hot

I just noticed you can see Gu on my arm from where I wiped my mouth. Hot

She wasn’t allowed into the immediate recovery area so I collected my medal, grabbed the free milk and bananas and etc, and worked my way through the masses to reunite with her and gimp-walk up to the same waffle place we hit up after the race last year for the best recovery breakfast evaaaa.

We've done this twice, it's now a tradition.

We’ve done this twice, it’s now a tradition.

Afterward we walked back to the hotel (well she walked and I shuffled) where she rubbed my legs down (having massage therapist friends = bonus!) and I had a nice soak with a Lush bath bomb, which unfortunately had the side effect of giving me a raging migraine for a few hours (memo to self, drink more water and don’t immediately suck all the moisture out of your body with hot water next time) but I recovered in time for us to go out for a dericious recovery meal and drinks later that afternoon. We spent an additional day in Victoria just being touristy and enjoying not having to rush back home… and in all it was a great weekend, a fantastic PR race (I’d probably call this my favorite course ever at this point), and full of all the fattening delicious carbs my stomach could ever desire!

Women of Wonder 5k – 9/8/13

I’m only a month late on posting this, but I ran this inaugural 5k  earlier this month with my friend Laura, who ran it as her first 5k ever. Yay Laura! This race was created as a replacement for the very girly, very newbie-friendly Iron Girl 5k that has since become a triathlon (and which I ran as my own first 5k back in 2010). So everyone got a medal (I think this is the only 5k around here that gives out medals), you got a free brownie right after finishing the race (YESSSS), there was a wine garden, and plenty of girly vendors and free samples. It’s honestly a pretty fun race to run and due to the high percentage of new runners the average finishing time was around 40 minutes (meaning I somehow placed 10th in my age group even though there were around 1500 participants).

Since it’s such a lady-oriented race I broke out the ol’ running skirt I haven’t worn in about a year and which I feel kind of dumb running around my neighborhood in, but which I feel a little more comfortable in at a race like this. I also wore compression socks (which I normally wouldn’t for a 5k) because I hadn’t shaved in…. a little too long. Laura and I took a photo at the WOW backdrop that had been setup:

I tried out the Wave Sayonaras for this race (which I've only worn on the dreadmill thus far)

I tried out the Wave Sayonaras for this race (which I’ve only worn on the dreadmill thus far). I think I also need to get another running tank in a different color since I wear this one at practically EVERY RACE

The race actually went pretty well – I decided to go for it, and after the first mile of weaving around a thick mob of other runners and walkers (I’d started the race with Laura at the back of the field) I was able to let my feet fly a bit. I have kind of a problem holding a steady effort over the course of a 5k – I don’t know if it’s my own unwillingness to feel uncomfortable or a lack of training, or lack of speedwork, or all of the above – though I’m pretty sure 5ks (if you’re trying to race them) aren’t supposed to feel good, but are supposed to feel like PAIN and MISERY. Regardless I was definitely feeling all of those things since I rarely ever hold an effort-pace longer than about a half mile, and I tried to keep it going all the way through the finish.

I hate this photographer's watermarks. Srsly, ugliest evar

The look of death. Also, I hate this photographer’s watermarks. Srsly, ugliest evar

I did end up running the fastest 3+ miles I’ve ever strung together in sequence, though it wasn’t a PR:

I need to work on speed, methinks

I need to work on speed, methinks

I want to get faster. It’s been 3 years since I started running, dangit – a 9 min mile should be my easy pace by now, right? (Maybe not if you’re a lazy bum like I am?) Guess I need to do a little research and maybe start running hills? (NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO)

One of the photographers hailed us right after the race, in our sweaty, red-faced glory:

once again with the crap-crap-crappy watermarks. They could at least make them a little more transparent

once again with the crap-crap-crappy watermarks. They could at least make them a little more transparent

Our friend Rachel caught up to us afterward (she’d come out to watch us run and juuuust caught sight us leaving the starting chute):

apparently when told to "make a face" I revert back to my days in Japan

apparently when told to be silly I revert back to my days in Japan

And of course, what better way to celebrate your first 5k than BOOZE:

NOT BEER.

NOT BEER.

Afterward we moseyed to a Starbucks across the street (fully packed with ladies in running gear) and went up to the roof to hang out for a bit, and upon which I actually got SUNBURNED from sitting with my back to the sun for about 15 min. Clearly I need to drag my pasty white self out into the elements more often.

Next up for me is the Victoria BC half marathon on Oct 13th – and while I’m definitely training better for this race than I did last year, I’m a little worried that the 2-month cough I endured this summer took more out of my fitness than I wanted it to (since I had to cut mileage down and couldn’t train as hard). I’m hitting 90% of my training at this point but I’m going to have to face some rain this weekend on my first 10-miler of this training cycle (NOT RAIN! I’m such a wuss)… which may be a good test for how the race may or may not go, if this current weather holds up… though the forecast is looking a little promising!

My worst race photos

For every somewhat flattering photo I post in public, there at least 5 others in which I resemble a lumbering rhinoceros. Obviously running isn’t about looking good,but those race photographers have a way to catch me at my worst…

yeaah pretty much

yeaah pretty much

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Busted!

Busted! (Seattle RnR 2012)

ARE WE THERE YET (Seattle RnR 2013)

ARE WE THERE YET (Seattle RnR 2013)

DYING (Green Lake Gobble 2012)

DYING (Green Lake Gobble 2012)

Herpa derp (Iron Girl 5k 2012)

Herpa derp (Iron Girl 5k 2012)

I have a lot of stumpy-legged pics like this. (NODM 2011)

I have a lot of stumpy-legged pics like this. (NODM 2011)

I get this look of death often, seems like (See Jane Run 5k 2012)

I get this look of death often, seems like (See Jane Run 5k 2012)

Bahahahahha. This pic is the reason I don't wave at photographers anymore. I was also 20 pounds heavier here (See Jane Run half 2011)

Bahahahahha. This pic is the reason I don’t wave at photographers anymore. I was also 30 pounds heavier here (See Jane Run half 2011)

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I looks like a dude in this one. An ugly dude. (Victoria BC half 2012)

I looks like a dude in this one. An ugly dude. With floppy arms. (Victoria BC half 2012)

Yeesh, I feel like I need to go look at cute pictures of cats after all that fugliness!

They say it (was) my birthday

Geez, I haven’t updated in about 10 years. But I’ve been doing things!

- I turned 34 in late August! (GAH! and aside from contemplating mortality and the thought of 40 looming in front of me, it was a pretty good day.) My best friends and I went to a newish restaurant in ye ole hometown and ordered a bottle of wine for the table, which was a first for me. We polished it off in no time…

My friends and I on my birthday (top) and 10 years ago in Japan.

My friends and I on my birthday (top) and 10 years ago in Japan, before I discovered the wonders of bangs. Now you know I color my hair.

- I went on a real vacation (for the first time in what feels like eons) with my best buddies in Ocean Shores. It was mostly overcast and 60 degrees and I skipped 5 days of workouts, but at least I got to ride horses on the beach. (Butt was SO SORE afterward)

My assigned horse was named Silver and liked to be on the outside of the group away from the others. Fine by me, I got to ride right by the surf!

My assigned horse was named Silver and liked to be on the outside of the group away from the others. Fine by me, I got to ride right by the surf!

Laurel and her horse Chester who was super competitive and wanted to pass the other horses.

Laurel and her horse Chester who was super competitive and wanted to pass all the other horses.

On the one sunny day we got, we did the obligatory beach shadows:

Hooo rahhh

Hooo rahhh! The creepy alien shadow to the right is my friend Maureen and her 1 year old.

- My friends and I met up with a girl we met in Japan almost 10 years ago on our missions trips – Chihiro, who happened to be in Seattle. It was so awesome to see her again. Amongst many other conversations we asked her what her least favorite food in America was and she said teriyaki, since we “make it so sweet!” Go figure!

the Japanese gardens are awesome!

the Japanese gardens in the arboretum are awesome!

- I saw Sir Paul McCartney in concert at Safeco Field!! I’m a huge Beatles fan so this was AWESOME. I’ve seen him a few times, and I swear he never seems to age… he has more energy than I do.

Sir Paul!!

Sir Paul!!

- I also picked up an annoying cough sometime shortly after the 4th of July that lasted for about 2 frakking months. (Can you tell I’ve been watching Battlestar Galactica?) I’m even now just in the very final tiny throes of it, but for awhile I was like a phlegm machine and coughing up stuff out of my chest constantly. The weird thing was there was no pain or other symptoms associated with it, and when I ran (after the first few minutes clearing my lungs) I would feel great for a few hours afterward. Just when I was convinced I was DYING OF CANCER or something, it started to go away. I have no idea what caused it, but at least I’m getting over it!

During coughing-horrible-phlegm time, though, I ran the Lake Union 10k, and while I’d originally planned to try to PR in this race, the cough made that kind of impossible, and I ended up running my slowest 10k ever. Ah well, there’s always next year… though to be honest I kind of hate the course. (SO MANY HILLS) The Portage Bay Cafe catered breakfast afterward makes it worth it… almost.

I think I need to switch up my race outfits, I've worn kind of the same thing since NODM. heh

Oo, thigh muscle definition, that’s a first. Also, I think I need to switch up my race outfits, I’ve worn kind of the same thing since NODM. heh

Tomorrow I’m running the new Women of Wonder 5k (kind of a replacement for the Iron Girl 5k which is now a triathlon) and I think I’ll bust out the old Running Skirt to switch things up a bit. I don’t plan on wearing anything with pink in it, though :P (save my shoes, but that can’t really be helped). I was always that girl that avoided the flaming pink Barbie toy aisle like the plague and went for the Breyer model horses instead. It’s true, I have never owned a Barbie, and that’s alright with me!

Back to the grind, and Firecracker 5000 5k recap

Midnight 5ks are kind of awesome. Tearing through the streets of Seattle under the cover of night with glowsticks and many, many costumed runners while drunk patrons stand outside bars to cheer you on is just kind of hilarious and surreal. I wore the foam Statue of Liberty crown-hat-thing I got in NYC back in 2009, which somehow managed to stay firmly on my head the entire time.

Unfortunately the course had to be altered this year due to road construction and it felt like it was about 75% uphill (including the same loathed death hill from the end of Seattle RnR… both ways!). In spite of that I managed to come within a second of my existing 5k PR, though I think the bit of a downhill during the last mile had something to do with that (I can’t help but shift into TURBO MODE on downhills… they are my favorite thing about running).

Ugliest watermark evar.

Ugliest watermark evar.

I was shooting for red white and blue with my shoes, socks, and shirt, but it didn't really come off that way.

I was shooting for red white and blue with my shoes, socks, and shirt, but it didn’t really come off that way.

The next day I traveled back to my hometown to hang out with friends and family for the 4th and the ensuing weekend. I then proceeded to EAT ALL THE THINGS while I was there and packed on what I can only imagine was 5 pounds of bloat/sodium/water/carb weight (I’ve since dropped it since returning to a healthy diet this week). But the donuts/popcorn/meat and cheese platters/steak/corn on the cob/potato salad/flag cake were so delicious… so, so delicious *_*

Get in mah belleh.

Get in mah belleh.

I hung out with my 2 best friends and we looked through old photos from our summers spent in Japan in 2004 and 2005 (teaching English and working with a church over there) and had a lot of laughs. During the 2004 trip we went to a theme park in Yamagata called Lina World which was clearly not designed for giant gaijin (foreigners) such as ourselves. The rides were weirdly small and occasionally terrifying. There was a roller coaster that was comprised of one small car that would rocket around the track. It seated two people, one of whom was supposed to sit in front of the other and both of which were held in by one giant seatbelt that looped around them both. We immediately discovered that our huge gaijin arses would not fit on the seat together if two of us were in the cart, and the person in front ended up sitting on the other person’s lap. Due to the rules, however, we weren’t allowed to ride with only one person in a cart… so we had the death-defying experience of bouncing around the roller coaster track on the knees of each other, held in by one tiny seatbelt, which was both terrifying and exhilarating.

My friends Jeri and Laurel riding the most terrifying roller coaster (for big Americans anyway) known to man

My friends Jeri and Laurel riding the most terrifying roller coaster (for big Americans anyway) known to man

So we looked at all the pictures from Lina World and of a bunch of the other ridiculous and awesome things we did while in Japan (that could be a post of its own!), and stayed up super late watching episodes of Sherlock and wolfing down popcorn (see: 5 pound weight gain mentioned above). All in all a great holiday weekend for me!

This week I’m officially starting training for the Victoria BC half marathon; I’m bumping up to Hal Higdon’s Intermediate plan and introducing real speedwork for the first time ever. My ankle (rolled during Seattle RnR) feels a lot better though still twinges at certain angles – thankfully not while I’m running, so I’m hoping for the best. I did 4 miles on the dreadmill last night (to another episode of Battlestar Galactica, which is both insanely frustrating and awesome) and felt pretty good… I’m ready to ramp it up again!

Seattle RnR recovery… and what’s next?

This was me the first few days after the Seattle RnR half:

My personal TMI of suckiness: getting on and off the toilet. I felt like an 89-year-old woman!

I was actually pretty jazzed up after the race and looking forward to my next half, the Victoria BC half on Oct 13, since I remember it being overall fairly flat and fun when I ran it with my friend Laurel last year. (It also might have been more “fun” since it was her first half and I ran it with her at her slower pace, but there’s nothing like a first impression!) I’m even considering bumping up to the Intermediate training plan (gasp!) and adding SPEEDWORK (gasp!) and maaaaaaybe seeing if I can inch toward a 2-hour half!

Then I saw this awesome deal posted by Gametiime on twitter:

Now, I have avoided Seattle’s hometown race up until this point, for several reasons – it’s December 1st (winter in Seattle is typically a never-ending foggy cloud of rain, slush, drizzles, more rain, and some showers to go with it), I always hear it’s a ridiculously hilly course (me and hills are like cats and bathtubs full of water), and I’m poor and can’t afford to run ALL THE RACES, so I pick ones I know I (should) enjoy. But I guess you can’t really judge a race till you’ve run it yourself, and this deal was too good to pass up. So – I’m now registered for the Seattle half on 12/1! (At least there should be Christmas lights up by then and I can throw some Christmas tunes on my playlist? Yeah, I said it.)

Why not the full, you ask? Because reasons. I just don’t know if I could run a full. The amount of training time involved is substantially more than that required for a half… and I’m tired enough after 13.1 miles… why double that?! Then again, running a full is one of those bucket-list-type accomplishments that it seems every runner has to check off at least once, and there is a tiny part of me that kind of wants to see if I could do it. I don’t know. Maybe someday, I guess.

Until then, I’m nursing my sore ankle (it was feeling ok so I tried 3 miles on the treadmill last night, which felt fine, but I woke up this morning and it was more sore than it had been, so I probably need to back off) and easing back into training. I’m scheduled to run a midnight 4th of July 5k next week; I might just take a break from running until then and try to run it easy.. perhaps in costume?

What about you, fair reader – have you ever run a full marathon? If you have, were you terrified of tackling it, and how did you overcome that? If you haven’t run one, is it on your running bucket list?

Onward and upward!

Rock n Roll Seattle half marathon recap

My morning started (after a slightly sleepless night due to a lapse of judgment in letting my cats sleep in my room) with my “Runnin down a dream” alarm at 4:15 and my coffeemaker gurgling to life. I tottered out to my kitchen and grabbed a cup, and gulped it down (with a banana) while I got ready. I decided to go ahead with my Pureflow 2‘s and Pro-compression knee socks, and made sure not to tie the Pureflows too tight to try to avoid the foot achies I endured on my last 10 miler.  I also setup my lemon-lime Nuun (which I probably should have done later since my handheld water bottle tends not to seal all the way if I don’t jam it down real tight…)

The race had offered an Uber promo code for runners, and I was seriously nervous about it (you don’t pre-schedule it – you basically ask for a ride when you want it, and I was worried they’d be busy with other runners, or take forever to get to my neighborhood and make me late, etc) but it was great! The car showed up within 10 minutes of my request and I hopped in and was shuttled downtown. On the way I realized my Nuun had leaked inside my bag, doh… I knew I should have waited on filling that bottle.

The Uber car dropped me on Mercer around 6am (free of charge with the promo code!) and I walked past the finish line and into Seattle Center where sleepy runners were shuffling in the same direction like zombies. My peoples!

Good morning Seattle!

Good morning Seattle!

I scooted straight to the loo indoors (a much shorter line than the portapotties) and did that glorious pre-run thing runners do, then sat down for a bit at a table to apply another layer of sunscreen, eat my vanilla Powercrunch bar (my favorite protein bars, nomm), and turn Henry the Garmin on briefly to make sure he was in the mood to get satellites.  Around 6:30 I moseyed toward bag check, where the sun was already beating down mercilessly. I applied more sunscreen (seriously, I am practically translucent, I need all the protection I can get from that death orb in the sky), checked my bag (always a “here we go, gulp” moment), and walked toward the corrals.

As I was making my way back (back, back, back) to corral 21 the announcers called for a moment of silence with peace signs for Boston. Everyone raised their hands in the air and a chilled silence fell over the crowd. I prayed everyone would be safe today.

I found my place in corral 21 and we slowly shuffled toward the start as corrals started to go off around 7am. They seemed to be releasing every 2 minutes so I guessed I’d take off around 7:30ish.

Corral shot, pre-sweat!

Corral shot, pre-sweat!

And finally, just after 7:35, my corral was off and running!

I tried to fall into a groove. I am not much of a morning runner (well, ever, except on race days) so it always takes a few minutes to get my road legs going. Mile 1 had a bit of an uphill heading down 5th ave under the Monorail tracks (it went by overhead as we ran, that was kind of cool) and through the core of the city heading south. I was feeling a little awkward and stiff and gut-rumbly at first but hoped that was just my body going “what the crap are you doing, you should be in bed right now!”

looks like I'm speedwalking!

looks like I’m speedwalking!

what is going on in this picture? am I dancing?

what is going on in this picture? am I dancing?

But then as we headed out of the downtown area there was a looooooong awesome downhill I picked up some speed on. Downhills are my jam, I looooooove them.

weeee!

weeee! (what am I doing with my hand?)

stompin' downhill

stompin’ downhill

As we (sadly) hit the bottom of the downhill part I tried to run evenly and focus on keeping my shoulders back, and my breathing in my belly. As hills approached I kept picturing the hills on my neighborhood loop in my mind and telling myself they were no worse than my usual hills, and just to chug it out and keep moving, that it was OK to go slow as long as I kept my feet going.

We turned onto Rainier Ave, which I remembered from last year as being mostly downhill. There was a fun water stop with volunteers in blow-up airplane hats. (I avoided all the water stops; I just ran down the middle of them and took a gulp of my Nuun at every mile marker… avoided most of the cup grenades this way but the ground was still pretty sticky, yeech) At this part of the course I really fell into an awesome groove at a sub 10-min pace with quick strides and even breathing and I just went for it and tried to hold that groove.

At mile 3.5 –  I ate a choco mint Gu, NOM

Alright with Me, my usual late-race pace-picker-upper, came on my playlist somewhere around here and I realized I was running faster than the beat and it was hard to run in time with the song. Made a memo to myself to move it to the end of the playlist for my next half.

I actually literally zoned out at some point along this part of the course and was one with whatever song was playing though I don’t remember what it was… fail.

A little past mile 4 (maybe 4.4 ish) two ladies screeched to a walk right in front of me; I hopped to the right to avoid them but ended up tripping on one and tumbling to the ground, twisting my right ankle – I popped right back up and said “sorry” (not sure why I was apologizing actually) and kept running, but my ankle was definitely not happy and I gimped a bit for about a mile. (It eventually felt ok for the latter half of the race but it’s pretty sore now… not bruised or anything, thankfully.) I noticed if I kept my foot somewhat flexed (which I’ve been trying to focus on anyway) it lessened the ache as I ran, so I tried to keep that up as well.

We hit a little out and back dogleg which thankfully wasn’t very long.. out and backs are mentally kind of grating for me. Gangnam Style came on my ipod right about here (don’t judge) and I have such a hard time not dancing when I hear that song, I had to keep reminding myself not to flail wildly. On the “back” portion of the dogleg I saw a dude running on 2 artificial legs! Hardcore!

We cut through some residential areas and I kept expecting the huge 2-part nasty killer hill from last year that precedes the Lake Washington part of the run. As I was watching for it an older lady suddenly tripped and fell about 10 feet ahead of me and sat up with blood dripping down the side of her face. She was immediately surrounded by other runners and many called “MEDIC!” – I hope she’s ok :(

Suddenly we turned a corner and were on Lake Washington – needless to say I was super happy with the course revision that eliminated the nasty, two-tiered, pooptacular hill. I had been planning to walk it, but decided since it had not made an appearance and I was still in a groove and feeling good, I would just keep running until I hit the other nasty hill I knew was coming – the trail leading up to the I-90 tunnel at the end of the lake portion of the course.

They had a huge blow-up rocker dude over the course right about at this point but what I remember most about that was the LOUD machines keeping him puffed up that blew hot air on me as I ran by, blehh.

About halfway through the race! Pretty sure they superimposed the blue on the road...

About halfway through the race. Pretty sure they superimposed the blue on the road…

I noticed as I crossed the 10k timing mat that I’d just broken my 10k PR, ha (both by my Garmin – which was timing me about .15 further than the course at this point, around 58:35 or something for the 10k – and by the actual timing mat, which I crossed in exactly 1:00). It actually didn’t worry me that I was running so “fast” (clearly a relative term for me) at this point, since my 10k PR was set when I was seriously out of shape and is one of only two 10k’s I’ve ever run.

I like the lake part of the course – the gently rolling hills, the sun blinding me, er, glistening off the water, and the tribute to fallen soldiers that always cuts to the heart. I was passing a lot of people here – I felt like I was constantly weaving around slower runners and 3-abreast walkers. I was in the groove and didn’t want to slow down and felt good, so I just let my legs go and kept passing people. (The past two years I’ve felt pretty tired at this point of the course so I figured I should go with it while I was feeling sprightly.)

I took my second Gu, delicious chocolate flavor (tastes like a packet of frosting!), @ mile 7, and shortly afterward accidentally hit the lap button on my Garmin, which threw off my mile splits for awhile – I didn’t realize it was now timing miles based off my new created laps and not the actual miles, and I didn’t correct this until mile 10.

I walked the nasty B of a hill up into the I-90 tunnel between miles 7 and 8 – my first walk break of the race! – and walked for about 30 more seconds inside the tunnel, then made myself pick it up again. My Garmin lost satellites but I noticed I was definitely on pace to break 2:10 – except for the fact I was already “behind” the official mile markers by almost 2 tenths of a mile, blargh. I was running the fastest mile splits of these distances that I ever had, all at a sub 10-min-mile pace (which has been a challenge for me in runs of 8 miles or longer).

Inside the tunnel everyone screams of course which makes you feel like you’re in a post-apocalyptic movie. Midway down the tunnel I heard car horns and engines coming down the right side of the road, which was roped off for full marathoners. Suddenly the lead truck and motorcycles went by and then came the lead male for the full marathon hauling arse past all of us. Everyone cheered as he went by; it was so amazing to think he was running almost twice as fast as me!

I was still in a great groove coming out of the tunnel and the blast of cool air as you exit made me throw my arms out (thankfully didn’t clothesline anyone, ha ha). We were running on the freeway now, curving around to the section that heads toward downtown Seattle. There are a few hills here too but I kept using the same mental trick from earlier in the race and picturing the hills on my home route, and just chugging up them. You turn a corner and it’s a looong curving downhill stretch into downtown, which I tried to let my legs free on and pick up some speed, but I was starting to feel it at this point, especially in my quads. I was still below a 10-min overall average pace and going faster than I ever had before for the distance.. and still losing more and more ground on the mile markers, arg!

Usually it’s my wind/cardio getting tired before my legs, but it was the other way around here – my breathing seemed fine but the legs were definitely feeling it, especially in my thighs.

I hit “lap” again on my Garmin as it hit mile 10 to try to correct the offset miles I’d messed up back around mile 7. I crossed the official mile 10 timing mat in 1:39:09 (though I’d gone that distance even faster by my Garmin’s mile 10 measurement) but both were PRs for the distance.  I was supposed to take another Gu here but I forgot! Maybe that would have helped me finish a little faster, maybe not…

lurching past the stadiums!

lurching past the stadiums

The course swept into downtown past the stadiums and train station, and then up onto 2nd ave, which is a slight, but long, uphill. I was curious to see what route we’d take onto the viaduct – last year we were routed up a steeeeep horrible offramp which was one of the worst hills of the race for me. I watched the runners up ahead and it looked like they were turning down Seneca, which is a road I’m on every work morning on my way to the office, so it was a little strange to careen onto it with thousands of other sweaty, puffing people. There’s kind of a steep downhill going down Seneca (which I briefly heel-stomped) and then a bit of an uphill to the actual viaduct itself but I didn’t allow myself to walk and just kept running. (Mile 11 – entering the viaduct)

My legs were feeling dead dead dead and at this point the mantras came out in full force. “Just keep running” – “don’t quit” – “you made it this far” – “you can maybe PR if you keep going” – “you don’t get to the last mile and stop, you keep going!” (thanks Jillian Michaels for that last one) I prayed for endurance and energy and the will to finish, no matter how slow. Running on the Viaduct is not my favorite part (and I always forget to look around at the scenery from up there!) though I was definitely feeling better here than I ever have in previous years. I guess putting in all the training really does help, huh, fancy that?!

After (thankfully) making an exit off the viaduct we puttered into the battery street tunnel which kind of sucks (cambered, mostly uphill, narrow, dark, blah) but I kept pushing through the pain, reminding myself of how I ran out the last 3 miles at NODM, and how I knew if I started walking I’d totally lose my running groove and walk a lot more than I wanted, and regret it later. Fleetwood Mac’s the Chain came on my playlist (it’s a weird mix… I know) and I knew I had maybe 2 or 3 more songs until I’d hit the finish, at 3 or 4 min per song. I was so ready to be done and felt like I was doing a death chug, but would not allow myself to walk.

We popped out of the tunnel and there was a slight downhill, yay! I picked up a little speed. I could see runners up ahead making a right turn. By my watch we had maybe a half mile to go though I knew I was behind the markers so it would be a little longer than that. Everlong by the Foo Fighters came on my playlist.

I like that the guy to the left looks like he's talking on his phone!

I like that the guy to the left looks like he’s talking on his phone.

I rounded the corner and up ahead I saw another left turn happening onto Mercer so I knew we were going to face the same last killer of a hill that we did last year (SO CRUEL right before the finish!)

my arm looks weirdly kind of muscley? smoke and mirrors, I tell ya

my arm looks weirdly kind of muscley? smoke and mirrors, I tell ya

I walked that poopy hill last year but I was DETERMINED to chug my way up it and defeat it this year no matter how slow I ended up going. I hit the hill and just crawled up that stupid thing but I did not stop running!

At the top of the hill I pretty much had nooooothing left and was just putzing forward on fumes and visions of recovery foods dancing in my head. I could see the finish line was still maybe .2 miles away. My watch had already hit 13.1 (probably before the hill) so I knew I wasn’t going to PR (stupid swerving, or long course, not sure which) but I was determined to finish at a run, or a shuffle, or anything not technically a walk.

I don't remember throwing peace signs...?

I don’t remember throwing peace signs…?

I had nothing left for a sprint so I just tried to keep my feet moving. I scanned the rows of spectators looking for my friends who were supposed to meet me and just chugged my way across the finish line in an official time of 2:13:59.

more peace signs. I was apparently feeling very peaceful in my moments of leg-crushing agony

more peace signs. I was apparently feeling very peaceful in my moments of leg-crushing agony

YAY! I was immediately handed a Gatorade, got medal’d, picked up some chocolate milk, and walked headlong into a fleet of photographers.

yay sweaty tired photo

yay sweaty tired photos!

I staggered toward the exit to the family area in a lurchy daze. My quads were already starting to stiffen and get SOOOORE, and my right ankle was reminding me I rolled it earlier and then ran 9 more miles on it.

Right outside the exit to the family meetup area I heard my name being yelled through the delirious fog in my brain; I turned to the right and there were my friends with a sign for me!! YAY!

Spotting my friends right after the finish - with the armfuls of crap you pick up right after the race

Spotting my friends right after the finish – with the armfuls of crap you pick up right after the race

the awesome sign they made me!

I didn’t pants my poop!

We staggered… well, they walked and I staggered over to the bag check to pick up my crap, and then over to the merch booth so I could buy a finisher’s shirt (I’m a sucker, I know). We then moseyed to a nearby Starbux, where I had a delicious iced caramel macchiato and sat for awhile, feeling my legs get nice and stiff. (Probably would have been best to stretch at some point…)

Later, after the most awesome-feeling shower ever, I ate my weight in recovery sushi with my friends (YUM) and we watched The Island with Ewan MacGregor… pretty interesting movie if you haven’t seen it.

Stairs are now my mortal enemy. So is getting out of bed, and sitting on the toilet. TMI!

I’m proud of this race: technically it was my fastest for the total distance I actually ran per my Garmin, ever (a sub 10 min mile) – I pushed through the heat, the ankle rolling, the hills I made myself run, I only took one walk break (a first in a half marathon for me!), hit an awesome groove for a good portion of the race, outran my running playlist – overall, this was technically my best half performance ever, even though it wasn’t a PR.

Mile 9 in this list included the nasty hill I walked before the I-90 tunnel

Mile 9 in this list included the nasty hill I walked before the I-90 tunnel

My Brooks Pureflows and the Pro-compression socks did great. My poor toe that got trashed in Newtons at the NODM half seemed fine, and I didn’t get any new blisters (also a first in a half). I also didn’t get a sunburn, so even though I was covered in crusty sunscreen sweat-off by the end of the race it did its job.

I forgot to take any running pics but did jumble together a Vine, which wordpress won’t let me embed, but apparently adding a twitter link works?

Clothes I wore:
Nike G87 tank – so soft and comfy
Brooks Ephiphany 2-in-1 shorts – love the coverage
Brooks Glycerin 2 bra – love the uh, “help” and modesty ;)
One More Mile 13.1 visor – probably could have tightened it a bit, it was down over my eyes by the end!
Oakley 26.2 runglasses – they don’t slip!! and they don’t squeeze my giant melon head
Pro-compression marathon socks many fun colors!
Brooks PureFlow 2 shoes were awesome in this race!
Runderwear I bought off backcountry.com awhile ago, don’t remember the brand.

Playlist for this race (clearly I have odd taste in music):
Monument – the Frames (rockin’ beginning to the run)
Hopeless wanderer – Mumford & Sons (starts slow, gets awesome)
You told me – the Monkees (folky rock awesome)
Dreams – Fleetwood Mac
What wondrous love is this – Kenosis (proving Christian music isn’t all pansy)
Run the world – Beyonce (the actual song starts at :50 in that video.. also lol, her dancing)
My Sharona – the Knack
Are you gonna be my girl – Jet
No one knows – Queens of the Stone Age
Alright with me – Kris Allen (a fav running song)
1901 – Phoenix
Party rock anthem – LMFAO
Lotus flower – Radiohead
Gangnam style – PSY (don’t judge ;P)
All my tears – Kenosis
Wonderwall – Oasis
Mirror in the bathroom – the English Beat
Sunday Morning – Maroon 5
Electrify – Beastie Boys
Pleasant Valley Sunday – the Monkees
Missing – Beck
Hello it’s me – Todd Rundgren
The denial twist – the White Stripes
The national anthem – Radiohead
Tusk – Fleetwood Mac
Circle – Sarah McLachlan
Runnin’ down a dream – Tom Petty (one of my fav running songs, makes it on every playlist)
La caravane – Caravan Palace
Daily Nightly – the Monkees ;)
White blank page – Mumford & Sons (another one that builds to awesomeness)
Take me out – Franz Ferdinand – makes me dance while I run.
The chain – Fleetwood Mac (dang, had a lot of Fleetwood!)
Everlong – Foo Fighters (only song I have a perfect score to on Rock Band, heh)
Harder, better, faster, stronger – Daft Punk (and my favorite mesmerizing video of it)

Seattle RnR done!

I’ll post a full report soon, but just wanted to say I had a great race, in spite of heat, tripping over someone who screeched to a walk right in front of me around mile 4 and rolling my ankle a bit, and my legs feeling dead dead dead in the last 2 miles (the final hill in mile 12 is CRUEL!) – I only took one walk break, at the steep poopy hill before the I-90 tunnel, and for most of the race I hit an awesome groove and just cruised. My official final time was 2:13:59 but per Henry the Garmin I actually ran .37 over the course distance – which means for the ground I covered, I managed to finish in a sub-10 min mile (that’s a 9:56 pace!) for the first time ever in a race over 10k! (not officially of course, but I’ll take it!)

Some friends came out to see me and made an awesome sign :D

Spotting my friends right after the finish - with the armfuls of crap you pick up right after the race

Spotting my friends right after the finish – with the armfuls of crap you pick up right after the race

the awesome sign they made me!

the awesome sign they made me!

Gearing up for Seattle RnR

The forecast for the race this weekend is looking… well, not as bad as it could be, I guess, but not ideal for me:

could be 80 with no clouds... guess I should be thankful?

could be 80 with no clouds… guess I should be thankful?

I also heard that SkinnyRunner will be participating in the full – I’ll probably never see her since she’s about a million times faster than me, but kind of cool to have an awesome fast popular blogger up in my neck of the woods.

I got my final long run in last night – 10 miles 6 days before the race… I really wish I’d been able to do it Saturday, but I had 2 friends in town and just ran out of time (though it was a super fun day with my buddies so I REGRET NOTHING). I think it will work out ok with a fairly easy, relaxed taper this week. I wore my new pro-compression knee socks and Brooks Pureflow 2‘s to see if this combination might work for the race… aside from my feet absolutely KILLING me for the first 2 miles of the run (I took a walk break at mile 2 and every 2 miles after that… the foot achies oddly disappeared at that point) the combination worked OK, so I’m not sure if I tied my laces too tight or what. If I can solve that issue the Pureflows might actually work for the race and they didn’t annoy my poor toe that was demolished by my Newtons in the NODM half. My legs feel great today, though my quads and glutes are pretty sore, which might be due to the fact I haven’t worn the Pureflows past 7 miles before. Yes, trying new things days before the race… clearly, I am brilliant.

It was great to see my hometown buddies, though. We got sweet iron liege waffles for breakfast (SO amazing; if you ever visit Seattle you have to go there! Practically a donut waffle, that’s how thick and substantial they are), wandered around the U-village shops (I actually bought clothing at H&M for the first time ever – the shirts I got were super cheap and cute!), got our hairs cut (I wasn’t planning on getting a haircut, but it had been like 6 months since my last one [I fail at girl] and they had an opening, so I went for it… it’s a little shorter than I’m used to but I’m getting to like it), and went out for delicious sushis that I ate far too much of. My friend Maureen had the biggest bloody mary ever:

my worst nightmare

my worst nightmare

As we were sitting at the table after we ate I realized they had exactly 10 minutes to catch their ferry, so we paid and hauled arse back to the ferry terminal, where they were the last people to make it on. Success!

Though I magically managed to dip under 140 pounds this week, I’ve been eating WAYYYY too much since then (why do I always sabotage myself after I hit my goals?!) so I doubt I will toe the starting line this weekend at 139, but I still hope to have a decent race. My legs have been SUPER tired since my 10 miler for some reason… just lethargic and achey. Hopefully they will come back to life during my 2 rest days, but I need to lay off the calories or I’ll be packing 5 extra pounds around again. With the forecast of heat and the weight issue I’m not hoping for anything spectacular but I’d love to break 2:15 again!