Thursday, October 30, 2008

What's that wet stuff?

It seems that our winter weather has finally arrived. I'm trying very hard not to whine about rain since we need it so badly. My lawn is brown, my shrubs are brown, my perennials are almost dead, my citrus trees have lost most of their fruit. I'm taking short showers (except when I'm frozen after a run), not letting water run while I wash dishes or brush or wash anything. We need the rain. That doesn't mean I'm happy about running in it.

The last time I had checked the weather forecast it was for rain on Friday. Friday, not today! I packed my running gear last night, thinking it would be the same warmish, dry weather. All day long it was gloomy and overcast and getting dark. At about 3 pm I realized it was raining. Just a light drizzle to drippier rain, but water from the sky. We were scheduled to meet at 5:00 pm and decide then whether it was raining too much to run.

There were a couple of heavier moments, but it mostly just dripped on my drive to the trail. Olivia and I decided we were good to go and set off down the rapidly darkening trail. I had left Mr. Garmin in my pack, just in case it started pouring. I wore my watch but we didn't know how fast we were going. Unlike Tuesday this was an eye popping, pushing to the edge run. I didn't understand it; I felt like we were running slowly, running through mud or soup or sand.

After our walk at the turnaround we took off, possibly faster than the first half. I was out of breath almost the entire way and for the last mile was only able to grunt a reply when Olivia talked. She didn't say anything the last couple of blocks, we were running that hard. We zipped in the last part, figuring that since we were done it didn't matter how hard we ran.

Turns out this was the fastest run the two of us have run since we started running together. Tuesday's just-beyond-comfortable average of 12:07 was smashed. We averaged 11:38 tonight. No wonder I felt like my heart would explode, like my lungs weren't working, like my legs were cement. Quite simply, I was running too fast. Amazingly I recovered very quickly and I feel great now. I couldn't have kept up that pace for even a quarter mile more, but at least now I know what I can do at a 5k.

The rain held off. There was some drizzle and some tree dripping but that felt good while we were speeding along. I'm not looking forward to rainy night runs, but I am looking forward to long showers again!

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

I smell like chlorine again

Swimming feels new again, as if I didn't swim three times each week for several months this summer. Phil and I met at the pool tonight, thinking it would be our last swim until December. Our pool is being closed for maintenance and we all thought we'd just take the month off. We discovered that the other city pool will be taking on the lap swim for November only, so it looks like we can keep swimming.

Last week, when I ended up not swimming, I had a workout and a plan. This week my only plan was just to swim a few sets of 400 yards. Boring, so I changed it a bit once I was in the water. I did a 200 yard warm-up with half of it kicking only, then a 400 yard set of comfortable pace. After a 30 second break I swam a 500 yard set at race pace. My last length was at level 8 or 9, or as I called it, a Phil sprint. He was going the same direction at the same time and I just swam as hard as I could to keep up. I repeated that set once more, including the sprint. By then I was tired, but feeling energetic at the same time. I did a 200 yard cool-down, decreasing from race pace to about level 3, and called it a night with 1800 yards. I felt really good when I finished and was incredibly glad that I had hauled myself out of my house, despite wanting to just sit inside and knit.

As it gets darker earlier I find it harder and harder to do anything except work and hibernate. For the past six or seven years I've had Pam to meet up with after work for running; no excuse worked to keep me home. In a couple of weeks I'll be on my own and will have to find some way to run by myself. Since it'll be dark in the morning and evening, I'm not sure what I'll do. I'm very uncomfortable running on my own, even on the streets and trails that are so familiar to me. I know it's safe but there's that little teeny part of me that is paranoid. I'm so very not looking forward to running all winter on my treadmill!

For this week, at least, I'm running and swimming. I'll take next week as it comes!

Monday, October 27, 2008

Starting the week right

After work today Olivia and I went for a short run. It's hard to believe that next week it'll be dark if we run after work. I'm still thinking that it's the middle of the summer (except for a short time at work today when I was convinced it was the end of November -- yeah, I don't know where that came from). I didn't need sunglasses when we ran but at least we didn't need head lamps either.

By slowing down a little bit we had a great run. Our overall average was 12:07, only about 15 seconds slower than we've been running (except when Claudia joined us, then we were much faster). Those few seconds made the difference between my eyeballs almost popping out of my head or just pushing hard. Talking was only possible for me as blurts between breaths but at least I was blurtable. The cooler weather helped too. A thoroughly enjoyable run.

Today I registered not only for the marathon, but for a race that we'll use as a training run. I'm a little nervous that now I'll get injured, now I'll trip or fall or drop something on my foot or do something that will eliminate any chance of running either race. Not that I'm superstitious or anything, it's just been one of those years. I think before I fall asleep each night I'll need to find a new visualization mantra. Something like "stay healthy, stay strong" or "don't hurt yourself, don't trip" or "you're not a klutz, you're graceful" or ... no, even repeating that last one every night couldn't convince me. I think I'll stick with my first try!

Sunday, October 26, 2008

I'm going to run a marathon this year!

Saturday morning dark and early I met Bree at the Lafayette-Moraga Trail for our run. It was very cool, lowest 50s or so, but forecast to become much warmer, possibly 70s before we finished. I decided to wear shorts and a short sleeved top, but added throwaway gloves (which was good since I wore them on and off for the greater part of the run). The sun rose as we started out along the trail, both feeling pretty good.

Sixteen miles later I wasn't feeling quite as good. Don't get me wrong; nothing hurt. Even after several hours out on the trail, moving along, nothing hurt. That was astounding in itself. But I was very tired again, maybe just a little less than after the half last weekend. We stopped a few times along the way to refill bottles and potty but otherwise kept moving along.

Since the entire trail from the start at Reliez Station Road to the far end at Canyon Road is only about 7.5 miles, we had to do a bit of looping. We found a flat, shady area and turned around for some distance, then repeated it. We had been doing a good (slow) job of run:walking my normal 9:1 but when we got to about mile 14 or so we switched to 4:1. That only lasted minutes before I begged for 2:2 - I was really tired and my lungs just didn't want to keep up with my legs any longer. My legs again seemed to have more energy than the rest of me.

I wasn't really surprised that I was exhausted since I'd spent the past 2 days with undertheweatheritis. In fact, I was surprised that I managed to stay on my feet for that long. At one point I was a bit dizzy and almost stepped (tripped) off the edge of the trail and we were joking about how Bree would have to run quick quick back to her car to come pick me up. Then we decided a cab would be easier. It never came to that, I don't think we ever seriously thought there was a chance I couldn't finish. Too much "mind over matter" training, I guess. I did find that Bree was able to run much faster than I was, so she tried to hang behind my shoulder and not "rabbit."

Once I caught my breath, sat on my bumper and took off my shoes, had a drink, I realized I felt better after that run than I had after a run since -- well -- since all year, I think. It was the longest I've run this year and mentally it was a major step. Physically it was major too. I didn't even get a blister!

The rest of the day, through my afternoon of pampering, my massage (ahhhhhh) and facial/massage (ahhhhh) I waited for my back to start aching. Or for my knee to hurt. Or for my neck to get stiff. Or something to go wrong. It didn't. Finally, in the middle of dinner (and after a nice cold beer) I made the decision I'd been waiting for. Sunday, December 14 I'm going to run the full Dallas White Rock Marathon. Run, I tell ya. My plan is to stick with my normal 9:1 for the entire 26.2 miles and finish feeling strong. We have 2 more long runs and hopefully a bunch of shorter runs (and maybe a swim or two and a bike ride here and there) to keep building strength and endurance.

I'm so excited about planning a marathon that I'm ready to do the happy dance. Except I don't want to risk injuring my back!

Friday, October 24, 2008

Finally finished object

Since I was already suffering from feellikecrapitis I decided to make it a bit worse and weave in the ends of the project I've been working on since late July. Yeah, it's taken me almost three months to knit one thing. And a couple of weeks to weave the ends, my least favorite part of knitting. Back in July I gave a sneak preview of the yarn from the Knit Picks Sunset Picnic Lace Yarn Sampler:Each color was a 50 gram skein (440 yards) of lace weight yarn. In the order I used them, left to right,
Gloss Lace Mango
70% Merino Wool, 30% Silk
Shimmer Sunkissed
70% Baby Alpaca, 30% Silk

Alpaca Cloud Papaya Heather
100% Baby Alpaca
Gloss Lace Chipotle
70% Merino Wool, 30% Silk

Shadow Sunset Heather
100% Merino Wool
Shadow Hot Rod Heather
100% Merino Wool
The pattern is the Spectrum Scarf by Eunny Jang in Interweave Knits Magazine. The pattern was a free download from Knitting Daily (and if you're a knitter and not on their list, you should be). It's rated with a skill level of easy and yes, it certainly was.

The first thing was winding the yarn. The pattern calls for 4 strands of yarn from each color so I guestimated half the skein, wound two separate balls and used both the center and outside pulls of each. I wouldn't have wanted to take this project traveling because there were often 3 balls of yarn in play, but doing it in a big chair or on the sofa while letting the balls roam free was simple. The worst that happened was when I knocked over all the yarn, used one color twice and had to rip back many inches.

I tried several different size needles and number of cast on stitches and ended up using size 10 Options needles and 33 stitches. Since I normally do it too tightly I went up a size for the bind-off; I think it may still be a bit tighter than it should be. It ended up about 54" x 8", shorter than my normal scarves but still a good size. I like how the pattern is open without having to block it - something that I may do some day in the future but I like blocking almost as little as I like weaving in ends. I'm very happy how it turned out (the true colors are somewhere between these two pictures):

Thursday, October 23, 2008


I woke up this morning with a bad case of feellikecrapitis (undertheweatheritis?). Actually, I came down with it after work yesterday. If I didn't know better and hadn't checked it out, I'd blame it on the flu shot I got a couple of nights ago. I'm feeling a light version of all the classic flu symptoms but you just don't get that from immunizations, or so the articles I read reported. Whatevs, when my alarm went off nice and early today so that I could get up and run I reset it for my normal time. When it went off again I turned it off.

I made it up early yesterday and actually ran on my treadmill, yay for me. Since I went out to dinner with my running buds on Monday and got the flu shot on Tuesday, I needed to do something. My legs were still feeling a bit stiff and sore from the race, but nothing unusual. After my run, only 3 miles, I felt great and at the same time worn out. I'm just not that into exercise or activity before work.

Although I had every intention of swimming last night with Phil, up to and including making up a workout, I never made it off my sofa (I'm sorry Phil! Next week!). Well, that's not entirely true. I made it as far as my yarn stash and my pattern books. I'm feeling the need for some instant knitting gratification and decided to knit a hat, or mitts, or leggings, or something faster than the enormous wraps and shawls I've been involved with. I'd forgotten how much I love my yarn - heh - the wonderful colors and fibers and smells and feels! I wish I knit faster so I could start a new project every week.

Excuse me. I need to go back to the sofa and knit now.

Monday, October 20, 2008

Nike Women's Half Marathon Report

Nike likes to do things differently. Instead of a standard marathon expo with lots of vendors selling useful things like gels and body glide, they put on an "Expotique" with things like manicures and iPod engraving for the ladies. While I find this a bit condescending (I'm perfectly ok with the normal unisex expos and don't need my very own girly one), many of the women doing the race like it. On Thursday night I went to Union Square with Olivia and Jeanette to pick up our race packets. I didn't take any pictures of the expo(tique) and really, it was exactly like the one last year so you can read about it and see it here.

The goodie bag doubles as the sweat check bag, with an attached label showing bib number. Inside the bag were the bib, chip, ties, safety pins and instructions, a branded mirror, shampoo and conditioner, sunscreen, chapstick, lotion, granola and Luna bites. Outside the expo we collected a reusable bag and more granola from Bear Naked and a mini Luna bar.
The biggest difference from last year was at the Nike store where this year the merchandise actually fit me, in addition to being very cute. I'm not sure it was good for me though, I managed to drop a big hunk of change there (somebody's got to stimulate the economy!) on too many things. I ended up buying the long sleeved, zipped running shirt that I had seen, in black. I have one other black long-sleeved running shirt and it's getting worn out. I also bought a short sleeved tee shirt with the logo on it - the one that was for the marathon, not the one explicitly for the half (since I ran the full in 2004 I don't have a problem with wearing the full marathon shirt). I also loved the running cap and couldn't decide between the blue one with the reflective design or the white one. Then I discovered that if Olivia and I put our stuff together, and I got both hats, we'd each get a free shopping bag. Oh dear, that's what I did!Sunday morning my alarm went off at 3:55 am. I didn't manage to fall asleep until after 1:30 am so I was very groggy and tired. After hitting the snooze once, I got up and did all the normal morning things and then headed out of the house. I was very glad I had set out everything the night before and I just had to fill my bottles and grab everything on my counter. I had had some difficulty attaching the chip to my shoe; it was a new-fangled rectangular thingie that didn't fit well on my shoe. Every way I tried made it dig into my foot when flexed. Good thing I didn't wait until the morning to find that out.

This was the first year that I was going over to the race by myself; the past couple of years I've been with my buddies who didn't get into the race this year. (I didn't get into the race this year either, but that's another story.) The drive took a bit longer than I had anticipated since I was followed by a (bored, apparently) CHP officer for about 10 miles and had to drive the speed limit. Oh please, it was 5:00 am on a Sunday, the road was empty, you would have tried speeding too.

I managed not to get lost, which had been a worry to me because I'm not great at reading street signs in the dark and I'm directionally dyslexic. Parking at AT&T Park this year was $5.00 and the buses were lined up to haul runners and their family members over to Union Square. I arrived nice and early which afforded me the chance to walk around and see where things were before thousands of people arrived. It was cool out, lower 50's or upper 40's, with a breeze and a cold -- well, not really a mist, but more humidity than we're used to. I checked my sweats and put on my disposable gloves and plastic poncho which kept me warmer than otherwise, but I was still shivering by the time the race started.

While the anthem was being sung I found Claudia and Olivia and lined up with them; Rocky joined us although he could have gone in the earlier wave. This year I was in the corral before the walkers, the limit was 11:59/mile. Since I knew I'd start out that fast I wasn't worried. I think it was 15 minutes after the gun before we even compacted the corral, and longer than that before we crossed the line and started running. Yay, we were off! I felt good, strong, healthy.

It was no problem running along or just behind them (and at the same pace as the rest of the crowd; faster than some, slower than others) and I figured I was being speedy, even though I didn't feel I was pushing it too hard. It was incredibly crowded and people were walking off the bat. In the middle of the street. Lined up and blocking things. I won't rant about it again this year but it seems nobody took etiquette lessons again.

Olivia and Claudia split off after about a mile to hit the line of porta potties and I continued on. I was surprised, and a little concerned, when I saw my first mile split was slower than 12:30. I thought for sure it would be no more than 12:00 because I was pushing. Granted I was zigging and zagging around others, but I should have been faster. That turned out to be my fastest split of the day too. Obviously my effort wasn't anywhere near where my perceived exertion was. I zigged around people at the coat check area and continued on.

A new unwelcome feature this year was caused by a detour around Aquatic Park. The (flat) trail there is closed off for renovations to the museum and concrete bleachers so we had to head up the steep hill toward Ghiradelli. We then ran along one block, and headed up another steep hill! Another turn, a flat block, then a downhill leading back to where we should have been. I have no idea where they removed distance from the past route to make up for this detour, but I have a feeling it was just added on. The next mile marker seemed to be where it's been in the past and the marks on the pavement seemed to be old ones.

Seeing how I wasn't running as well as I'd thought I'd be, I decided to just go with it and walk up the real hills. Most of them I power walked, the very steepest I trudged. I was amazed this year that NOBODY seemed to be running the hills. In the past there's been a steady stream of runners threading their way up between walkers, but this year I either saw no runners at all on the hills, or maybe just 1 runner. Looking ahead and behind me, I doubt if 1 in 100 people ran the hills.

I'm not even going to say I ran this half marathon. I probably only ran about 60%, walking or power walking the rest of it. I never stopped, never had to even pause to refill bottles; relentless forward motion. The water stations this year were well equipped with water, some electrolyte drink (I never pay attention since I drink my own Ultima), cups and volunteers. At one point there were orange wedges (and the area smelled delightful with all the trodden peels) being handed out. I never saw the pedicure station (really, in the middle of a marathon) but afterward I saw that they had handed out new pink and white Nike socks to people stopping. I also didn't see the oxygen station but wouldn't have stopped if I had. Instead of gels there was one stop that passed out cups containing a few Luna Bites and the mini Luna Bars. I had my own fuel and didn't stop there either.

I took a gel right before the start, one after about 50 minutes and one about an hour later. I drank about 4 ounces of water at most of the stations and drank my Ultima the rest of the time. I didn't drink enough of the Ultima since I had some left when I finished, but I never felt dehydrated or electrolyte-challenged.

Along the way I saw some people I knew, either from the various TnT marathon teams I've been on or the tri team from last season. Mostly I ran alone, checking out the scenery. Although it was hazy we still had a fantastic view of the Bay, the Golden Gate Bridge, Alcatraz and Angel Island (although I couldn't tell that it was blackened from the recent fire).

When we finally got to Golden Gate Park, just after 10 miles, I was cooked. Nothing really hurt, I was just tired and worn out. Every once in a while I'd get a warning twinge from my knee or my back and I'd change my gait to something that felt better. I took downhills very easily and slowly so as not to jar anything. It felt better to run very slowly than to walk, so that's mostly what I ended up doing in the park. It was fun seeing the bison, more fun to see people's reactions to them.

After a couple of miles the full marathon split off from the half and we turned the corner to where I knew they had the chocolate station. "Had" was correct. The table was folded up, the volunteers picking up empty chocolate packets. Oh poo! I was looking forward to my chocolate. This is the second race that made a big deal out of providing chocolate and then they ran out. Bad planning! Bad organizers! Bad sponsors! Bad! (And in case you think it was because I was so far back in the pack, there were thousands of people behind me who didn't get chocolate either.)

The crowd never thinned out. I'm used to being a back-of-the-packer where there aren't as many people, even in the huge musical marathon races. Even when we had both sides of a road (which was most of the time) there were big crowds. Great for people watching, not for trying to move in a straight line or cutting tangents or finding the flattest part of the street.

The weather the entire time stayed cool and overcast. I kept repeating that it was a perfect day for a long run. I kept my gloves on until after mile 11 and only removed them because the cheap things were cutting off my circulation. I tossed them because I really didn't have a way to carry them, and they were damp and sweaty anyway. I was very happy with the shorts and short sleeved top I had on, I didn't feel over warm or over cool at any time while I was moving.

I finally exited the park and powered along the finish, passing several people who were walking. Hey, it's the end of a race (whether you raced it or not) and at least make it look good! Right when I crossed the finish line I had to come to a complete and sudden stop (not so good for a pounding heart from the sprint). It wasn't because of the tuxedo'd San Francisco Fire Fighters handing out the Tiffany's boxes, they were numerous and quick. The logjam was because of the people marking our bibs to show we had received the box. I think there were only 2 of them. Once past, I was handed a bottle of water, had my chip removed, got a space blanket. I got a banana and a half bagel and a mini Luna bar. Then I got to the shirt distribution place and my disappointment went through the roof.
Since the for-sale clothing was normally sized and in wonderful, vibrant, lively colors we expected the same for the race shirt. Nope. The sizing was maybe a teeny bit bigger than last year (or I'm a teeny bit smaller than last year); narrow and long. The fabric is supposed to be technical but it's 60% cotton and not only doesn't wick, it holds moisture tightly. The design is very cute. The color -- ughh. Dirt brown. Seriously, dirt. I managed to drop my shirt and step on it before realizing I had done so and when I picked it up the fresh dirt blended in. While I'm sure some people were happy with it, it's not a feminine color (and this race is all about the feminine) or even a stylish color (brown is so last year). I'm glad I bought the shirts that fit, in colors I liked, that I can wear while running.Next we were routed along by the people handing out jamba juice smoothies, then past the tables filled with bowls of yogurt and Bear Naked granola. Since the chocolate station disappointed me I grabbed a bowl with chocolate granola and moved on to the last freebie both where they were handing out Luna chapstick. I'm not kidding, lemon zest chapstick.

I may as well mention here that everywhere I've talked about "people" or "person" or "runners" or "walkers" I mostly meant women. Or girls. Men were such a vast minority that I often went more than a mile without seeing a male participant.

I was tired, cranky and getting cold so I retrieved my sweats from the bus and headed over to what I knew would be a long line waiting for the bus back to AT&T Park. I tossed away the smoothie since it had a very odd undertaste and nibbled my granola as I walked. The wait wasn't nearly as bad as I had feared, since I got there relatively early. After only about 40 minutes I was seated on the bus. I saw walkers still coming down the Cliff House hill, meaning that more than 4 hours after the race started they were only at mile 10. Ouch. I could see way up the hills, pockets of people slowly walking along.

The bus ride took another hour and by that time I was thoroughly chilled. It was still only in the mid-50s and overcast. I had to sit in my car with the heat blasting and my seat heater on for at least 10 minutes before I could feel my fingers enough to drive. Once again I didn't get lost going back to the freeway (despite contradictory signs all over the place) and crossed back over the Bay. When I got into Oakland the sun finally started coming out.

After I got home I stood forever in a hot shower, telling myself over and over again to get out, there's a drought! I didn't listen, I was too tired and cold to care about how big my bill would be. I was shocked at how wasted I felt, how wiped out. I was also shocked that nothing really hurt. I had no need or desire for any analgesic. My back was fine, my knee was fine. I was just exhausted.

It's now a day after the race and I'm still tired and still have no pain. Oh, of course I'm stiff, my quads and hamstrings and IT bands are sore, but it's a transient thing and expected from all the hills. I'm very glad I did the race; despite all the aggravation it's a lovely course and a beautiful city (and the Tiffany necklace isn't too shabby). I realized that although I thought my 3:02 finish was slug slow it was only 1 minute slower than 2 years ago. Still slug slow, but not unusual for me on that course. I loved being out there, loved the running I did (and even loved the walking). I'm almost ready to just declare I'm going to train for the December marathon. Almost!

Sunday, October 19, 2008

I need a decision

I finished the Nike Women's Marathon, or rather the half marathon (the race report is coming -- soon). My back doesn't hurt, my knee doesn't hurt. Neither hurt too much while I was on the course. But I was slow. Very slow. I had intended to walk the worst of the hills, intended to carefully and slowly run down the hills. But I hadn't intended to exert full effort and have only a 12:28 to show for my fastest (and first!) mile. I thought I was going much faster than it turned out I was running. And I was completely, totally, fully exhausted when I finished.

So, do I register for a full marathon in December? Although the profile shows lots of hills, the course is easier than the Nike course. It's open for 6.5 hours, longer than even my worst marathon. But I don't have a hecka lot of time to train. Sure, I can run a 16 miler, an 18 miler, a 20 miler. I could actually exercise during the week (what a concept!). I could eat and drink in a healthy manner and sleep like a normal person.

But life has a way of getting complicated when we least expect it. I very badly want to run a marathon this year. I want to run a marathon this year, not hobble or shuffle for 13 miles. I need to make this decision before the race sells out, before airfare gets so expensive that it would be ridiculous to travel.

Decisions, decisions!

Friday, October 17, 2008

End of an era

As if mornings aren't bad enough, after mid-December they'll become infinitely worse. In a stunning (to me, anyway) announcement KFOG's Dave Morey said he's moving on, retiring from the radio biz and moving back to Michigan. Michigan? Really!?! Nooooo!!

I've been listening to Dave for more years than either of us would care to admit. The best part of being stuck in my car for the morning commute has been listening to him. His knowledge and love of music is unparalleled; his professionalism is unique; his humor infectious. He's technically part of the morning group but he's been the heart and leader in the A.M.

Although I've never met him, I'll miss him. Good luck Dave!

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Whether I feel like it or not

I envisioned this week being a total wash when it came to any kind of healthy workout. Going into the City 2 nights, staying up late, recovering the next day. Now that it's dark in the morning I don't want to get out of bed, even if I'm awake. Last night I made a bargain with myself that I could do nothing Wednesday night, but I'd have to get up and do something today. Knowing full well how hard it would be to live up to that part of the bargain.

My alarm went off an hour early today and I had to pause a moment to try to figure out where I was, what day it was and why I had set the alarm for so early. I slapped the snooze and prepared to sleep for another hour. Then I dragged myself out of bed and put on the exercise clothes I had set out the night before. Everything was ready, everything was convenient to shuffle to my exercise room and do something.

I decided that rather than treadmill or exercycle I'd do one of my millions of tapes, specifically a lower body workout. This time I also made myself do the entire workout. Heck, even if my legs and butt are sore afterward I have until Sunday for them to feel better so go for it. I did the whole tape, stretched and then did my back exercises. Judging from my balance and wobbling I think I'll have to start doing some of the exercises I had for my knee too; my left side feels like a wet dishrag.

Maybe this is a start of a new trend, getting up early. Maybe it isn't, but at least it worked for today!

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Dress like a lady, run like a girl

My normal routine is work, exercise, sleep. Rinse and repeat, day after day. I do well with routine and don't necessarily need something new and fresh to keep my life exciting. But every once in a while there's a change, something new to do instead of workexercisesleep. This week is one of those weeks.

Last night was a fancy almost-black-tie Gala for a nonprofit that my boss supports. He gets a table and fills it full of employees. This year not too many employees were able to attend so those who did were able to bring friends. We all fussed with nails and hair and make-up, put on our prettiest black dresses and heels and went to town. Since we arrived early we had a cocktail beforehand (peartini anyone?), then headed to the party. There were appetizers (including the best little tiny crabcakes), champagne and wine aplenty. It wasn't even dinner yet and I was getting full.

After being seated there were speeches and presentations and a film, then the meal. A delicious salad was followed by braised short ribs. Since I don't eat cow, I got the vegetarian entree and boy howdy, I was glad I did. It was a squash and pomegranate risotto. The tart-sweetness of the pomegranate seeds cut the rich cheesy creaminess and it was an incredible combination. I should have left half of it in the bowl but I just kept scooping it into my mouth, it was that good. Then, as if I hadn't eaten more than enough for a week, I had the dessert, an apple-raisin concoction in pastry. Again, I should have left most of that on the plate but I consumed every bite.

Along with that was wine, lots of it. After the meal was the charity-benefited auction so pouring an endless stream of wine only makes sense. I was very careful about drinking mostly water, but I truly have no idea of how much wine I drank because the glass was never empty. I certainly didn't have enough wine to bid on the multi-thousand dollar auction items and I was still walking straight (even in the heels) so I don't think I drank too much.

Tomorrow night will be back to the City for the Nike expo(tique). We're all heading across the Bay to pick up our race packets and see what kind of trouble we can get at the Nike store. I seriously doubt that we'll wait in line for hours for their complimentary pedicures (especially since we all pedi'd for the Gala), nor will we be buying any Nike iPods, but it's very possible that we'll come home with new running attire.

I'm getting excited about the race. My knee is feeling perfectly normal, even after walking around last night in heels. My back is ok, could be better, could be worse. Right now the forecast is for good weather, maybe a little warmer than perfect but that could change. I'm just itching to do this and determine whether I can get back to my real enjoyment, a full marathon!

Sunday, October 12, 2008

Crispy clear

Saturday morning Anita and I went for a short run. Although I had set out shorts and a long sleeved shirt the night before, in the pre-dawn cold I put on capris. And grabbed a pair of gloves. Driving to Danville I noticed it was 47 degrees. Ouch! I'm not much of a lover of cold mornings, except when I'm going to be running long distances (and even then under 45 is too cold for me).

We shivered our way along the streets and noticed how beautifully clear the day was. It's what should be a typical fall day (but these days nothing is quite typical). The hills on the horizon were sharp and defined, the air smelled good, the sky was blue, the leaves were falling in the strong breeze. What a fantastic day to run!

We ended up with just under 7 miles and when we finished Anita beat my shoes off on her trademarked sprint. I tried to beat her, didn't even tell her we were almost done until I had gotten up some speed. It didn't help, that woman has a wonderful finish. I realized when I was done that although we had been running for almost an hour and a half, I had never removed my gloves. That told me just how cold it was. We averaged 12:27/mile and that included some irregular walk breaks, about 15 minutes apart, none lasting more than a minute. I felt strong and ready for Nike next week.

To celebrate (and just because) we went to the Rising Loafer for breakfast. It was strange not having the gang with us but we were prepared to eat our scrambles anyway. I think they have a new cook there. The Loafer Scramble with eggwhites was runny, overly tomatoed and unimpressive. We've been eating that for years but it looks like it might be time to move along the street to the new Chow.

Afterward we headed down the street to Forward Motion to check out the new Nike Women's Marathon race clothing items. I'd been told by a reliable source that it looked like they were back to sizing the clothes normally. Last year all of their racewear was teensy. I'm sure all the size 0-10 women loved it, enjoyed the fitted, tight running clothes (and leisure wear). But anyone who wears a large or extra large, or godforbid an xxlarge or likes loose clothes was out of luck. Even the finishers shirts were very small. I just didn't understand this, seeing their customers. Nike puts on the race for Team in Training. TnT is there to train beginners, runners and walkers in this case. Many women entering this race are doing their first athletic endeavor ever and are -- how do I put this nicely - plus size. Heck, some of us are doing this race as runners running their 30+ half marathon and are plus size. Making clothes that a large portion of the women have no hope of squeezing into is just mean. So seeing their history of sizing down I wasn't feeling too lucky.

Fortunately for me and unfortunately for my wallet the clothes are indeed bigger. The running shirts are in deep rose pink, powder blue and a strange-but-pretty not-quite-teal blue. Most of them are also in white, some in black. Long sleeved, short sleeved, vests, jackets, sweatshirts. I could have bought one of each and any of them would have fit. And no, it's not because I've lost weight this year. Last years' clothes wouldn't fit me now any better than they did then. I ended up with only a sweatshirt in the darker blue color. The race name and date are on the shoulder and the two-women-running-together-with-all-the-flowers is on the lower back. Now I just have to NOT buy anything else at the expo(tique).

I went to see a movie Saturday night. This is stranger than it sounds, I can't remember the last time I was in a theater to see a movie. I haven't even rented a dvd lately. I joined my bro's family and a few of my nephew's 10-11 year old friends to see the City of Ember. I had, at my bro's urging, read the book -- and the second one in the series -- and the third one. I'm a fan of well-written children's literature, especially fantasy or science fiction. An apocalyptic children's book sounded intriguing and so it was. All of them are a fast read and well written. Definitely geared for an adolescent, but that doesn't bother me. The movie, like most movies, wasn't as good as the book. Unfortunately they pumped up the action and gore, quiet unnecessarily in my opinion. But the two teenage stars were incredible and true to the book. The boys highly enjoyed it and all sat tight during almost the entire movie.

Today I did the usual weekend mom stuff. After taking care of her paperwork I had a quandary. She's finally gotten bookcases to hold her dozen or so boxes of books and all her tchatchkes unique pieces of folk art collected from around the world. A friend of hers packed the books, trying to be helpful. But she crammed dozens of books in very large boxes and of course my mom couldn't move them. The boxes have mostly been piled in her bedroom since she moved in April. My choice was let my aged fragile apt-to-fall-and-break-a-limb mother schlep the books from room to room, or do it myself and risk re-injuring my back. Guess what I did? Oh please, I'm not a cretin. I moved the boxes, unloaded them, moved the books from shelf to shelf so that they'd fit. And of course aggravated my back. Better me than her, at least I know I'll heal.

Good thing I have until Sunday before I need to run for any time or distance. This week will be busy and my only running will or may be on the treadmill. Very little cross-training either, so I can rest up. Maybe catch up on my knitting!

Oh! Congratulations to Phil for his big half marathon PR! You ROCK!

Friday, October 10, 2008

Hold up there!

I was going to run by myself after work yesterday. Really, I was. But in the mid-afternoon someone held up a local WaMu. First of all, a WaMu? Why rob a place that doesn't have money? Hey, if one of the robbers was a depositor, didn't he know about FDIC? Were they just trying to find out whether all those new commercials about WaMu's financial stability were correct? Geez bud, try a 7-11, they probably have more cash on hand.

Anyway. Because the robbers took off in that direction, the high school was in lock-down for a few hours. The report was that one of the robbers was last seen heading out on a bicycle. In the direction of the trail upon which I intended to run. I thought that was a valid excuse for me not to go running by myself. Be safe, rather than sorry. Or, be lazy rather than active. I chose to pick the first excuse reason.

Instead I napped did a bit of cross training and all of my back exercises. Not the level of workout that I had anticipated, but I really am tired this week. Wednesday night Phil and I swam again. When we arrived at the pool we found that a polo game was in process; half the pool was taken up with the game and the excess players warming up. Luckily the other end emptied out and not too many people are lap swimming these days. We each got our own lane and proceeded with the workout I had copied from early in the tri training.

We're trying to swim about 2000 yards each week and trying to vary the workout so that we're not just swimming back and forth. I hadn't taken a really good look at what I printed out. It was about 2000 yards, so it must be ok, right? No. It was the most boring workout ever. The warmup never got above level 2 and was 1050 yards. For just the warmup. Level 2 200, kick 200, level 2 200, rest. Then more 2/kick/2. I shortened the second batch and ended my warmup with 900 yards. The main set was sets of drills surrounded by sets of 200 yards level 4. Phil and I changed that since zzzzzzzzzzzz. I did two sets of 500 and one of 100, all at race pace and above.

Phil is a much faster swimmer (and runner) (and cyclist) than I am. At one point I decided to see if I could keep up with him: almost. We were going in the same direction at the same time and I flat out sprinted to see if I could get to the end of the lane (that's lane, not lap) at the same time as he did. I was right next to him for most of it and just a second behind at the wall, but I was whooped. Ooooh, a big 25 yard sprint and it almost did me in. I was ok after a recovery lap and that speedwork will probably help in the long run. Or long swim, as it were.

After the cool down I ended up with a total of 2000 yards in somewhere around 57 minutes (I forgot to turn off my watch, so I'm guessing). We decided that I'll make up our workouts from now on, with a warmup of no more than 400-500 yards, containing all the drills, and the main workout at race pace or above. I also think I'll change the intensity levels from the 1-10 we've been using to 1-5. I don't have 10 intensity levels! I have very slow, less slow and a little faster than slow. Ok, my levels are very slow, comfortable, race pace, passing race pace and sprint. But I won't have to create too many workouts right away. Because of other commitments, we'll only swim (at the most) twice more this month, then the pool is closed for "maintenance" for the entire month of November. In December we may find it's just too darn cold to swim outside, but maybe if all 3 of us show up we'll tough it out.

Good luck to speedy Phil this weekend at the Long Beach Half - I know you'll do great!

On the knitting front, last night I bound off my project. Since my bind-offs are always tight I went up 2 needle sizes and that worked very well. What's left is weaving in the ends. Weaving in the 48 ends. Weaving in the 48 ends on a 4-strand lace pattern. Yuck. That might take a while, just to get started. Maybe this weekend?

Thursday, October 9, 2008

Medal bears

As long-time readers know, I have a rather distinct way of displaying my full marathon medals: around the neck of a teddy bear. The bear has to have some sort of relationship (however distant) to either the race or what's going on in my life at the time I run the race. It started with my first race, the (then) Suzuki Rock 'n' Roll Marathon. I bought a lovely race-branded bear at their expo who now has 5 medals around her neck. After the New York Marathon I bought a Statue of Liberty Bear; an Elvis bear for the Memphis Marathon; surfer girl bear for Maui; Holstein bear for Cowtown; etc. After 30 marathons I have lots (and lots) of bears. I've made a couple of exceptions. For the Flying Pig Marathon I got a flying pig, for Leading Ladies Marathon I have a black footed ferret, for Disney I have Mickey.

When I was getting set for the triathlon I couldn't decide if the finishers medal would warrant a bear. Since I had troubles the entire training season I wasn't sure I'd want to remember this race (and space on the bear table is at a premium). But after kicking ass on the course I decided that definitely yes, I needed a bear for my (possibly one and only) triathlon medal. I thought it would be easy as pie to get a bear in a Pacific Grove shirt. Or a Monterey Bay shirt. Or something that would be reminiscent of Monterey. No. Apparently the only type of stuffie allowed in that area is a sea otter. Big ones, little ones, standing ones, floating ones, otters otters otters. And all of them look like rats with flatter faces. I finally decided to just get the cutest one I could find (which is still pretty ugly and creepy looking) and call it a day.

After I got home I rushed to the internet to my favorite bear purveyor, the Vermont Teddy Bear Company. I was hoping they'd have some sort of bear I could use, some way I could justify buying (another) of their bears. But although they have a special marathon bear for the Vermont City Marathon (and I'm so going to run that next year), there isn't a bear that fit a triathlon. I really don't like the ugly ratty otter, so I decided to use their on-line form to submit a suggestion that they produce a triathlon bear. This is the reply you get after submission:

Thank you, your submission has been sent.

Vermont Teddy Bear Company shall have an irrevocable, perpetual, universe-wide, fully paid-up and royalty-free license to copy, excerpt, edit and repurpose all bear concepts submitted through this form (including, without limitation, by means of digitizing or otherwise encoding all submitted teddy bear designs), and to use, re-use, publish, re-publish and otherwise exploit such teddy bear designs in whole or in part, individually or in conjunction with other photographs or images, in any and all media now known or hereafter devised and for any purpose whatsoever, including, without limitation, for use in advertising, promotion and trade and on merchandise, throughout the universe and to use the name, likeness and photograph of each Participant in connection therewith if Vermont Teddy Bear Company so chooses in its sole discretion without any additional compensation to Participant. Each Participant agrees that they will not be compensated for submitting any bear concept.

We also reserve the right to use the design in applications that include, but are not limited to: tattoos, wigs, blimps, matchbook covers, hedge sculptures, skyscrapers, and nanoscale vehicles for navigating through the cardiopulmonary system. Participant agrees that he or she will not attempt to invent a time machine for the purposes of travelling back in time either to claim ownership of the design or to prevent our parents from ever having met.

I was pretty amused, especially at the last paragraph. "... not limited to: tattoos" Hah! If only they knew!

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

Beyond PT

Monday was my final physical therapy appointment for my back. Not because my back is completely better, but because my insurance company is tired of paying for therapy. Since the clinic bills $300 for an hour appointment I won't be paying for it myself. I feel like I've been in therapy all year and -- oh wait, I actually have been in therapy almost all year. I started in February and spent a few months trying to rehab my knee. By June I ran out of appointments but in late July I returned to try to fix my back.

My knee is apparently healed. If I were superstitious I'd knock on wood and throw salt over my shoulder and take back those words, but I really think it's better. My back is still hurting me, but not all the time and not even close to as badly as it did a few months ago. But I'm afraid to do lots of things and I move gingerly and I'm completely paranoid of further damage.

To celebrate the end of PT I was going to run on Monday night. Olivia wasn't able to meet me so I decided I'd go home and run on the treadmill. Bad decision, I ended up doing only my therapy exercises (which I'll continue until my back is perfect). I decided to run after work yesterday with exactly the same results. I'm not sure if I'm just burned out from the hard training this summer, or if I'm being lazy. I think it's a combination of those along with earlier darkness and a good book and enjoyable knitting.

Tonight I'll swim with Phil, but that will probably be the only exercise I get during this week unless I get up early tomorrow morning. I don't know why I even said that, it's completely unlikely that I'll get out of bed early enough to exercise or run. I really have to find someone my speed to run with after work a couple of days a week or I think I'll be in trouble.

I've almost finished my knitting project; I just need to bind off and weave in all the ends. Since there are about 50 ends to weave, and it's my least favorite part of knitting, it may take me a while. I have to decide whether to block it, as the pattern says to block before weaving. I'll have to take a good look at it tonight, while it's still light enough out to see it in natural light. I'm anxious to actually complete something, it feels like months since I've made anything.

I can't use weaving in ends as an excuse to not run!

Sunday, October 5, 2008


It was great seeing Mary Ann again! Since she was in town visiting her family, on Saturday she joined Anita and me for a 10 miler on the Lafayette-Moraga Trail. We met up early, fearing that the forecast rain would drench us. We lucked out with the weather, it was warmer than expected and drier than expected and just as humid as expected. Although we had a couple of very mild sprinkles while we were out there, we stayed dry (from the outside, I was still sweaty and wet from the inside). Except for the times we got tree'd. The lovely trees that normally provide our shade also dripped on us when the wind blew.

We intended to run 10 miles and we ended up with just over 11. A necessary bathroom break added the extra mileage. I was tired when we started and my breathing was bad the entire time, even when we slowed down. Even when we stopped entirely. I almost asked if we could just do 8 miles but decided to keep my whiny mouth closed. I knew Anita and Mary Ann would do whatever I wanted to so I just went along with the plan. My plan.

We were running along at a pretty good clip, doing a 9:1 run:walk. Mary Ann was able to hear the watch beeping so it kept us on track. We never made it under a 12 minute mile, except for the very last quarter mile or so where we averaged just over 11. We ran the first 10 miles at a 12:28 average which made me happy. After hitting 10 we walked for almost a half mile but our 11 mile average was still 12:32. Slow to some but good for me for 11 miles. I'm hoping that translates to a decent average at Nike but I have a feeling I'll be doing a lot of walking on the hills there.

My knee held up beautifully during the run. Not a twinge, not a twist, nada. It just felt plain old normal. My back wasn't quite as cooperative, giving the occasional twist and twinge. It didn't exactly hurt during the run, didn't even quite hurt right afterward. We hung out chatting for a long time after we finished running and I stretched everything that I needed to stretch. My back felt fine then. But then I walked around Sports Basement for a while and that must have been just the breaking point. My back hurt whenever I stood or walked for the rest of the day.

I thought that after this run I could make a decision about whether I can run a full marathon or not. I'm still up in the air. My body felt great while I was running but there was too much pain afterward. I think I'll have to defer the decision until after Nike. I'm hoping beyond hope that the race doesn't sell out before I can make that decision.

Saturday night Claudia and I got pedicures and margaritas. Great combination! No, not at the same time. First we pedi'd (and I mani'd) then we went to Amaranta in Danville. The food was fabulous (and since both of us ran and neither of us had eaten all day, we had big appetites). We had guacamole prepared freshly at our table, fresh muddled-fruit margaritas (I had blackberry) and then way too much more food. I enjoyed my stuffed cauliflower and just loved the frijoles. I liked it as leftovers too. What we didn't enjoy was the service. Our waitress was MIA most of the evening and left it to the different service staff to help us out.

Today was mom day again. I had to finish up all the paperwork I started last week and take care of things that had come in during the week. Then, since it was lunchtime and mom was starving we went out for sushi to Oishi in Walnut Creek. We tried 3 rolls that we hadn't tried before and they were all very tasty. I'm not fond of fake crab, which they use in all their "crab" rolls, but the rolls were still good. It took a few more hours than I had planned and I had to scurry to finish the other things that needed doing.

I fit in a bit of gardening. My yard is a shambles. What isn't brown from the drought is overgrown from me ignoring it. I clipped and pulled and trimmed and tried to fix one of the sprinkler heads (not very efficiently, it turns out). The lemon tree still has fruit from last season and they're very strange. Huge lemons, bigger than grapefruits, odd shaped, freaky. I thought I should probably pick everything yellow since this years' fruit isn't ripe yet and the old ones are gross, but the tree started attacking me with thorns and I quit. I didn't need more blood dripping down my arm. I'll have to continue the gardening later.

And I finally washed my wetsuit since it's been 3 weeks since the tri and it's been sitting in the middle of my dining room table waiting for some attention. Ew yuck, of course I rinsed it right after the tri, got the sand and grass and dirt and sweat and salt and kelp off of it. I just needed to really wash it properly with wetsuit cleaner, get it ready to stick on a shelf somewhere for the next several years (forever?). It feels nice finally getting that accomplished and out of sight.

Now I'm going to go knit for a while and then go to bed.

Friday, October 3, 2008

Maybe I AM a bit faster

Since the tri I've been going on (and on) about how I just don't believe I run as fast as my times seem to indicate. When I've run with Anita I'm still at my 12:30+ mile, but with the shorter runs with Olivia have been more in the sub-12:00 range. With much faster miles thrown in. I've been denying that there's any way I ran that fast (fast is relative, ok?).

Last night's run was with Olivia and Claudia. I knew there was no way I could keep up with them. I can run Olivia's slowest speed, but Claudia is just way too fast for me. I figured I'd run to the stretch with them then let them go on their way while I moseyed along behind. In fact, I almost blew off the run entirely because I was in no mood to run alone. In no mood to run, actually, I just wanted to go home and veg. But I knew that if I waited until I felt like running, until I felt inspired to run, until I was motivated to run -- I wouldn't be running again until maybe spring. I showed up dressed and ready to go.

We ran starting from the other end of the trail. That meant that our outgoing leg was a strong downgrade, the return would be upgrade. I felt very comfortable as we ran along and mentally thanked them for being slow enough for me. We chatted and talked and blabbed until the stretch, then kept running at about the same pace. I thought that we'd been running about a 12:15 and was happy they were being so cooperative. At the turnaround, about 1-1/2 miles, I looked at my watch and was surprised at how fast we were going. We took a turnaround walk break, then started running again.

The return was tougher and felt like we were going faster and harder (and uphill). My breathing became ragged but I wanted to keep up so that I'd have company and could be part of the conversation. At the last block I let them edge ahead because I was concentrating on not blowing a gasket or passing out. Then I decided that I couldn't let them smoke me like that (where did that come from?) and went for the finish sprint. At that point I was certain I was toast but I finished right behind them.

It turned out that we ran our last mile at 11:18. Wait, I don't run that fast. Even funnier, we ran the final .2 at a 9:58 pace. Our overall average, including our walk break, was 11:36/mile. Faster than Olivia and I have been running. Granted, I felt like crap afterward and it took me quite a while to catch my breath and I was dripping sweat as if it were raining. But 11:36! That should translate to a long run of 12:30/mile, right? Obviously I can't redline for more than a couple of miles but I should be able to go a bit faster, longer.

I'm still in denial. Possibly Mr. Garmin is incorrect? Maybe the trail is really shorter than we thought? Maybe I'm reading the times wrong? Or maybe I'm in better condition that I'd thought and my times are getting faster.

The one odd thing is that after Tuesday's run I got a bad headache that woke me in the middle of the night and kept me from falling back asleep. The same thing happened last night. I don't know if they're even related to the runs but it's possible that something about the extreme effort is causing it. I think I could be a bit dehydrated although I've taken care to drink lots of water afterward. There will have to be some trial and error because this is unpleasant. Any suggestions?

Wednesday, October 1, 2008


Tuesday night I met up with Olivia for our usual run. It was hot again, and strangely smoggy. The air quality reports all showed the air as being normal, but the haze was hovering over the valley and the air wasn't easy to breathe. I considered bagging the run but thought better of it and decided I'd just take it easy.

Easy translated to our fastest run yet, averaging a whole second per mile faster than a week ago (oooh, a whole second!) (sarcasm off). Strangely enough, our perceived exertion was that we were running harder and going slower. Yes on the running harder part, no on the going slower. It was nice that we worked that hard and it had results. I really should make more of an effort to slow down, my breathing was gaspy and wheezy and I can't do that for a long run. The muscle memory in my legs will have them going faster than my lungs can get air for.

Tonight Phil and I restarted our swimming. Along with Claudia (who couldn't make it tonight) we're hoping to swim once weekly, just to keep up our conditioning. We worked very hard to get to the 3000+ yard level and don't want to lose it. Since it's been almost 3 weeks for me and 4 weeks for Phil we decided to start at a lower level. Ok, I decided to start at a lower level when I printed out our workout.

I was looking through our past training for about 2000 yards and found a 1900 yard workout from the early part of the season. There were a few drills and sets of level 5 and level 7 so it was a good test. After seeing how I swam during the tri, I've changed my form. In my previous training I didn't kick much, mostly just to keep my balance. During the tri I kicked most of the time, although lightly. So tonight I was kicking. Also, during training I was alternating breaths from left to right; during the tri I took a breath every left stroke and felt the extra oxygen helped. Tonight I only alternated my breathing during the level 3 sets; during the level 5 and level 7 sets I breathed every left stroke and it improved my performance.

I thought it was strange when I finished after 48 minutes; I didn't remember any of our early trainings being that short. I checked my log and the first time I did this workout it took me about 54 minutes. It's nice to see that I haven't lost any conditioning and that I definitely improved over the season.

Last night I fell asleep a bit earlier than usual. Then I awoke at 3:00 am and knew that my sleep for the night was over. I was still tired, didn't want to move or get out of bed, but I was no longer sleepy. My back was hurting and I had a headache. I tossed and turned and tossed and turned for another 3 hours before I gave it up. I spent the entire day at work with a wicked headache and my back hurting more than it's done for weeks. I didn't want to swim, wanted to just go home and sulk and pout and whine. But I had made the commitment to Phil and know how much I dislike it when someone cancels on me so I forced myself to show up. I'm glad I did. My headache is gone, my back feels fine.

Yay for swimming!