Sunday, April 30, 2006


Okay, so it was supposed to be 22 miles, but I seem to have this habit of getting lost on my long runs. I guess now if I got lost in a marathon, it wouldn't be too much stress for me. (or it'd be like running the Chicago Lakefront marathon ~ 27 miles, courtesy of a mismarked course.)

The first half I was on course. It was fun to see the city waking up, and there were surprisingly more people out and about than I thought. When I got to the bridge I needed to get up onto, I couldn't really figure out where to get off the trail to get to it. Finally I saw some stairs up ahead that went up to the bridge. However, between myself and the stairs was 4-5 sets of Burlington-Northern tracks. The big signs that said, 'No Trespassing' were a little intimidating, but I figured it was just tracks. And yet, there was a rather large freight train that had been humming about 75 yards down the track. It's chug-chug suddenly churned up about 50 notches to a roar and it slowly lurched forward. Great. I looked and saw the length of at least 70-80 cars. What are you gonna do? I bolted across the tracks and headed up the stairs.

The bridge went up a huge hill and wound through neighborhoods with breathtaking views of the Sound - truly amazing. Eventually I made it to Disco Park where I actually ran on the trails a week or so ago to familiarize myself with them specifically so I wouldn't get lost today. No such luck. I got turned around somehow and had to backtrack, adding an extra mile. Oh, well. I saw a white rabbit - unusual for out in the wild - they're usually grey or brown. I made it out of the park and across the locks just before the bells went off to open the gates. The locks are a canal-like gateway to allow boats to travel from the saltwater to the freshwater. There are several walkway networks that cross over for pedestrians.

I continued on, and around mile 15 or16 discovered a sign that said 'Trail Closed Ahead - Construction'. Fabulous when I wasn't really familiar with the neighborhood. Not too bad - I followed the detour signs until I found the trail again, only to find another sign: 'Trail Closed - Sidewalk Closed'. I could see the construction area, and I could see the trail on the other side. I said - like hell it's closed. I climbed over the barricade, squeezed through the fence, and continued merrily on my way.

I stopped at a park at mile 18 for my 3rd gel and some water. I didn't bring water, but planned a route through enough parks with restrooms and drinking fountains. I don't like packing water with me, and I have a sensitive stomach for other replacement drinks en route. Sometimes I get away with it, but water worked well today. The last couple miles were through a scenic area with a lot of marshy trails. I don't know what I was thinking when I headed out across a bridge to the marshy area. I should've clued in when the only people out there were tons of birdwatchers with binoculars. They were nice soft trails. I got to the other side of the marsh and realized there was lots more water and no way across. I had to go back to the bridge. Such a lovely thing to add another half mile when you've already added one, and you're currently 21 miles out. But it was really beautiful running by the water. (Pretty much my entire course was along waterways.) So, made it to the end of my point to point course at 23.47 miles, and ran the whole thing with an 8:52 average pace. Sweet. I ran my 19 miler at 9:30 pace, and used that pace to predict when my husband should pick me up. It's a good thing I ended up running an extra mile and a half, 'cause he had just gotten to the parking lot before I did. I paced the parking lot - not quite wanting to sit for fear I might not get up again - with a bottle of ultima in one hand and my latest recovery discovery in the other hand - chocolate soymilk. I've always had a really tough time recovering after long runs - to the point where I usually crashed on the couch most of the day. My husband recommended trying some recovery drinks - not hydrating stuff like gatorade, etc., but actual recovery stuff with a lot more in it. I did some research and ended up calling one of the local running stores. I compared the labels of what the store carried - (I think gu's recovery drink) and chocolate soymilk. I read about a lot of people drinking chocolate milk and saying it works. ( I don't drink milk.) So, I've been doing the chocolate soymilk thing and it seems to work - no more laying around all day feeling sick. I seem to recover much quicker. I walked around a bit and ate some food. A couple of teeny tiny blisters and some sore muscles, but all in all, a pretty good run.

So, now with that done, I need to do some more thinking about marathon pace. I know I can run faster than my long runs, but how much faster to attempt without burning out the first 10 miles and having a really miserable marathon . . .

Friday, April 28, 2006

Low Tide

It was really funny to upload my gps to motionbased when I got through with my run, and discover a whole new meaning for the term 'water running'. I didn't run in the water, really, but I must've been below sea level. I guess it makes more sense now, when they calculate the low tide at -2.4. You can see where I was zigzagging to stay out of the tide pools, and where I ran higher up on the beach.

I had a great run, though, and actually got to put in a few miles on the beach - it's usually covered up. The sand was pretty wet - sorta soppy/mucky to run through, but worth it. My shoes are drying off in the sun. I love this time of year.

A day off tomorrow before my long run Sunday. I have a scenic 22-mile course planned out. I finally registered for the upcoming marathon I'm running in a few weeks. It makes me nervous to think about it, and I got butterflies registering. I've run marathons - 5 to be exact, but it's been a couple of years, and I'm not sure what pace I want to run. I'm trying to figure out a pace without having any recent road races to predict from - just the times from my training runs. Thinking about it all is gonna make me crazy. I've got my long run Sunday, my relay the next weekend, a weekend off, the marathon the next weekend, then a 10-mile race in Chicago that I truly think I'm going to run slow and take my camera and be a tourist. We'll see. I'm taking the trip for fun, the race was just an added benefit. (Okay, I confess, when I planned the trip, I made sure there was a race that weekend.) But the race isn't the focus of the trip - there isn't a focus - just to have fun.

Okay, I need coffee.

Thursday, April 27, 2006

Underwear on the Run

I had a huge laugh session with my husband last night about underwear. I mean, seriously, I just don't get the stuff. And now after seeing iliketoast's lovely photo post, I just have to laugh some more. I can't say much for men - I'm not one, and they're built - hmmm - a little differently. To be honest, day to day, I don't really care what kind of underwear I pull outta my drawer, but when I go running, it's a completely different story.

As far as I know, there are several different types of underwear choices out there: there's the all-encompassing grandma style, the briefs, the bikini briefs, no-panty line briefs, french cut, the low-rise, the boy shorts, the thong, boxers, and I suppose commando - which I really learned about from male cyclists and the need to frequently launder bike shorts, and I'll spare you the details. So, which ones are you supposed to wear running? I swear I've tried them all. And none of them work right.

The grandma style - well, when you're a runner and concerned about carrying extra ounces in running shoes, ultrathin socks, lightweight snacks, water that is portable . . . that extra amount of fabric in those undies is truly going to amount to a whole extra tech fabric singlet. Forget it.

Briefs that are french cut, inevitably have to have the extra underwear parts displaced somewhere, so they end up sticking out the back of your shorts, which is not so appealing when you've got a fitted running shirt on that slides up your back when you bend over to stretch. Pretty soon you're very popular at the Saturday morning club run if you know what I mean. Or maybe not so popular.

Regular underwear - briefs I guess would be the technical term - ride up no matter what. You can get a smaller size, but then they just fit tighter. They still ride up, they just hug tighter - after they've ridden half-way up. Not so comfy. Makes it challenging to hit your split timer when you become so obsessed with yanking at your pants so they stay in place. And they chafe. I suppose you could shave frequently . . . that's another subject entirely that I don't feel so comfortable discussing. But I will add, then when my brother, in the process of training for a half-ironman, jokingly said he was gonna shave his whole body so he could be extra fast, I promptly reminded him that he'd get awfully itchy when it grew back.

Boy shorts - well, they have that name for a reason. They were modeled after boys. And as I stated earlier, boys are built differently. If they wanted to make shorts for girls to wear, they should make some designed to fit a girl and call them girl shorts. These things truly just don't fit right. The low-rise, well, they have that name for a reason. They barely cover the back of you, and when you move they slide down . . . they truly weren't designed for runners. You end up feelin' like the plumber you had out at your place last month.

So, the thong. Seems to be the one that is most frequented in joke circles. You'd think, there is no fabric there to ride up, so it'd be the perfect choice for a runner. However, the designers don't seem to be in agreement about how much fabric to leave for the rest of the garment. You often end up with a pair that gleefully doesn't ride up where all that other underwear did, but doesn't have enough fabric to be considered underwear, and finds other places to ride up mid-stride. You can try to alleviate this problem by purchasing a larger size. You then, however, develop a bigger issue. If you can imagine a toddler at the beach, who has been in the water and tries to walk with a seriously waterlogged diaper, you'll know what I mean. You kinda get a hang-too-low syndrome. Troublesome when you're out running on a public sidewalk.

I'll admit, I haven't tried boxers, but then I'd have to go back to the grandma syndrome with way too much fabric. And then back to borrowing commando-style from the cyclists - but most running shorts have a liner, and then your problems start all over again.

It's really a humorous topic. I can go around and around with it, and I still have no solution. It makes me laugh - underwear. Everytime I hear the song 'Pinch Me' I crack up at the underwear part just stuck in the middle of the song. The song has some great lyrics that just make you laugh at life and relax a little. You can follow the link to the words to the song.

I could hide out under thereI just made you say 'underwear' - lyrics from 'Pinch Me' by the Barenaked Ladies (

Happy running!

Wednesday, April 26, 2006

Cougar Mtn. Trail Running

I gotta say, I am so humbled. I'm in pretty good shape, really. Enough to lay down 15+ for my long runs on weekends, and enough that I thought a 10-miler on the trails really wasn't gonna phase me. Even still, I was really nervous for this run. I think it was because I was going by myself. I don't know if that's really okay to do there, but I thought that if I died out there, at least I was doing something I loved. I kept joking about being eaten by a cougar. I was nervous like before race nervous - to the point that I couldn't eat breakfast. I get that way before all of my long runs. Before my last one, my husband and I were going over what time I would reach the destination point, and what he was bringing for me, etc. and he kept asking me if I was okay. Finally I just had to go - I'm fine when I start, it's just weird anxiety. But this wasn't even a long run - distance-wise - it wasn't marathon distance or anything.

So, I took the kids to school, and drove 25 minutes from urban life to mountain trails. I familiarized myself with my maps and where the port-a-pottys weren't gonna be. I managed to swallow half of a clif bar in the car, so I took the other half out of it's krinkly wrapper and shoved it into the pocket of my shirt. Aren't running clothes with pockets great? I found a gel pack in the car. It has been in there a really long time - some off brand that we got as a sample at some race expo or in a goody bag. I checked the expiration date - April - 2005 - and shoved that in my pocket too. I had a bottle of gatorade, and left it in the car, thinking 90 minutes for 10 miles - maybe 100 minutes tops, and I wouldn't need water. I grabbed the map and off I went. This map, by the way, was crucial. There is a trail race series that a local running store puts out, and the 10-mile course map was on their website, complete with directions at every turn in the trail. I had a blast the first couple of miles with all the twists and turns and hopping over roots, bounding over logs, thinking I was some kind of wild animal. I heard several deer run off through the bushes once, and I saw a couple of hikers with their dogs, but other than that it was pretty quiet. Every now and then you could hear a breeze blow through the top of the trees.

I realized after a while that my garmin wasn't picking up very many satellites under the tree cover, but I could guess how far I was running by the mileage on the trail map. There were a couple of tough uphills, but I was still doing okay until about half-way. Then there was a huge downhill - roughly a mile. I was really focused on the downhills because I have a trail relay coming up with a very steep downhill. So, I blazed through there, but somehow was suprised to see that I then had to go back up the mountain. This part of the trail system I'd actually been through a couple of years ago, geocaching, and had carried one of the kids, so I thought, no problem! Wrong. I had to walk a good portion - to the point that I got cold, so I made myself run some more. After that mammoth hill, it was ups and downs for a while, and my quads just didn't have the strength. I really don't get it, I can do the endurance . . . I'm gonna have to quit skipping yoga class, lift some weights and get out on my bike. I'd get back to the flats and I'd be fine, but then I'd come to even the slightest hill and need to walk. Somewhere along the half-way point I found that half-eaten clif bar in my pocket, complete with blue pocket fuzz now, and it gave me a little boost. When that boost wore off, I had the banana peach flavored gel - and I'm really more of a chocolate or espresso flavor fan, but I appreciated it. I'm not sure what to think of the expiration date, but I'm not sick yet. I'm usually pretty strict about my rule that anything less than 10 miles doesn't require a gel - oh, well. That map was great. It became like a mantra while I was running: "Right on Klondike Swamp . . . Right on Shy Bear . . " I still had to stop at every trail turn (there were 21, I just counted), and check to make sure I wasn't going the wrong way. There was no way I was gonna make a wrong turn and have to double back over some steep hill. So, I got to the last couple of miles and felt like I could cruise a bit without so many hills. I got back to the car and looked at my watch - 2:10. Lovely. Next time I'll bring water. Truly, though, I had a great time. I did it. I have so much more respect for people who run trails on a regular basis - I mean, I've run trails, but more like trails in big parks and trails that are really wide for the casual stroll. This was nothing but 10 miles of single-track through the woods. I've wanted to get out there for a long time and work on trails a little. I'm still really intimidated by the relay I have coming up. This is a description of my leg:
"Leg 6 5.1 miles, very difficult, extreme downhill sections."
I go from 2200-2300 to 1600 feet in the last two miles. But that's the downhill, and I seemed to have a lot more trouble with the uphill. (my brother got nominated for that leg :) I'm not saying that the downhill will be a piece of cake - I think I'll be hurtin' pretty good. All in a day's work . . . why worry about it now, I'll have enough worries when I get there. Where should I run tomorrow . .

Monday, April 24, 2006

Sunny Daze

It's amazing what a little bit of sunshine does to people who have been cooped up for months during the rainy dreary months of winter. It seems people came out of the woodwork this weekend to spend time outdoors.
I did something on Saturday that I've always wanted to do - orienteering - with my 10-yr-old daughter. We did the U-District Street Scramble - what a blast. I have a couple of more tradtitional orienteering events on the calendar, but an urban-style one was a lot of fun. The map you're given is more of a traditional topo map, with city streets on them, but no names listed for most of them. We actually got in 4 and a half miles just rambling through the city streets looking for all of the checkpoints in 90 minutes. Now that I saw how fun it was, I have this huge competitive itch to do it some more.

On Sunday I went for a run from home in the afternoon, planning to run at a leisurely pace because it was warm out. I forgot how much more warmed up your muscles are late in the afternoon. I ran a lot speedier pace than I had intended. What was really funny was how many cars I got to beat. I ran a route along a beach nearby, that attracts lots of toursity types from around the city on sunny days. So, the traffic was crawling. I ran out and back and actually beat the traffic considerably. The route I run has a bike/wheeled things path, a separate path for walkers and runners, and even an additional well-worn little dirt lane. On an average weekday, there are others about, but you almost feel like you have all of the space to yourself. There were so many people out on Sunday - walking, biking, strolling, rolling - you name it, that it was like entering a multi-event road race. That probably helped contribute to my speed. I think I treated it like an event and had fun weaving in and out of the crowd at a blistering pace.

My route today overlapped my beach route from yesterday, but without all of the cars and people, and I actually got to run on the sand today while the tide was low.

I am a huge believer of the interconnectedness of things in the universe. I feel like I got a little message today - some atom of energy bumped another and another until they all hit me in the head. I've been thinking for a long time about charging my ipod - knowing that it's overdue, and assuming it's gonna die in the middle of a hard run when I really want it. But the light still blinked green today. Then I decided to grab my camera to take a few sunny shots of the day before my run. I checked the batteries and seeing that they were low, I brought an extra set. I always grab my phone (to take in the car, not on my run) - batteries were fine. And I grabbed my garmin. I didn't measure the course I was gonna run - thinking my toy would take care of that for me. I actually took off my timex, so trusting of my garmin. And I am usually so addicted to all of my tech gear that I wear my watch and my garmin. (My husband is an IT Director so I really can't help it with all of the techno toys.) I drove down and parked where I like to start from and took some photos of the baby geese that were sunning themselves (it's not just the humans around here, it seems everyone likes the sun). It's kinda weird that the geese were here - I know that they are nesting at the next park over this year where it's really quiet and there aren't many people around. It was interesting that the seagulls, the pigeons and the geese were all hanging out together in harmony. When my camera batteries wore out, I changed them and headed out for my run. About 3 minutes into my run I stopped when I saw a huge bird. It was sorta like the geese had been planted for me to stop and take notice of birds. This one was an eagle that lives in a nearby nest way up high. You see her flying every now and then, or in her nest, but not this close. I thought about going back to get my camera, but figured she'd be gone by then. It was amazing to watch her. She must've been about 50 meters out - not that close, but standing on top of a piling out in the water, eating what looked like a crab or some type of fish that she kept picking at. It was funny when waves would come in and rock the piling to and fro - she just stood there and rode them out, and then continued eating. When I was ready to continue on, I went to hit the start button on my garmin, and lo and behold, dead battery. Why, when I was so intent on checking my camera batteries and my ipod, did I neglect to think about charging my garmin? And now, without stopwatch, I had to condsider going back to get a watch, or continuing on. I was so in awe of the bird and life itself, I decided it was some message to myself to slow down and just enjoy the run. I hate not having a watch. I wasn't going to run hard, but I just like to know. I had already swapped my intended 10 mile for a 5 and a half to the end of the beach, simply because my legs needed some more recovery. I think I was just meant to run without a watch and to stop and enjoy nature along the way. What will tomorrow bring . . .

Friday, April 21, 2006

Oh, The Places You'll Go . .

I often think that I should devote an entire blog with this title to Ted Giesel. I have huge revelations about life everytime I go running, and it's largely related to where I get to go, and what I get to see. I have the hugest highs when I run. I think it's the one time in my life when I feel at true peace with myself and my world. It's as if I feel the true essence of life. When I'm not running, I spend so much time mapping out the courses I'm going to run, looking at race results, reading training schedules, perusing running articles, and uploading my courses from my garmin to Motion Based, so then I can watch where I've run and geek out at the elevation, the pace, the ratios of everything possible. I really love running.

Yesterday I had so much fun running. I paid for my run - literally. I paid to park in the parking lot where I started, because I had plans to hang out there when I was through and do some writing. (That was before I finished my run and found that I had 2 voicemails from my children's school - one from the nurse about child #2 who'd been in twice, and one from child #1 who needed her science fair project immediately.) But anyhow, I paid because it was at the Ballard Locks - I guess I could've looked harder for street parking. I started my run there, and headed out to disco park for some trail running ups and downs. I even got to play tag with the waves at the beach when I reached a bulkhead where the tide wasn't out far enough. I had to wait several times for the waves to come in, then go out so I could run past without soaking my feet. I ran along an empty beach toward a lighthouse without a soul in sight - really peaceful. I saw a couple people on the south beach - parents with kids actually, and I thought - 'wow, how cool that they trekked all the way down here with their kids. When I ran back through the locks it amazed me to see the different kinds of sights there: people with cameras, people cutting the grass, people going down the the observation room, tourists explaining to each other how it all worked, a boat ready to come through, the fish ladder, a train on the nearby trestle across the water . . I mean - here it is this amazing scientific creation, almost like a cool natural phenomenon that tourists come to see, and it's just the playground I go running in. How lucky is that? I could go here everyday and not get bored.

I often wonder about people who have homes on the water, or live with a view of the sea or the city - do they get bored of it? Do they take it for granted? I pass large condos when I run by the local beach often and I always wonder if the people in there come out on their balconies to enjoy the sunset or have a morning cup of coffee and read the paper. Do they come out just to watch life go by? I was running on the track recently early in the morning and there is an apartment building with a view of the track. As I rounded the corner one lap, I looked up to see an early riser with a bathrobe and a mug of something hot looking out the glass door, watching the day come alive. She was watching me and I was watching her watching me. Sort of an interesting thing.

The reason I was out running on the trails yesterday is because that specific location is part of a long run I have planned in a week. Like I said, I love to map out my courses. I don't usually drive them ahead of time, because I have some pretty amazingly accurate map software, but I was unsure of a couple of transistional areas of my route, and which trails I wanted to run through the park. I also wanted a back-up plan is case the locks are open when I'm there and I can't run across. The first several miles of my run go through downtown city streets along the water. As I drove along them yesterday, seeing people, cars, boats, traffic, etc. I got excited thinking how much quieter it will be when I run it, and how I'll get to see the city wake-up.

My long run last weekend was amazing. I ran from the SW area of the city to the NE area of the city. It was a 19 mile course, so I really got to see a lot. What really amazed me was the diversity I ran through in just one morning. If you think about it, every city has it's different districts, and mine is no different. From the industrial areas, to the historic downtown neighborhood, to the international areas, to the inner city, to the Lakefront with the manicured lawns and mansions, through a beautiful park with Japanese gardens, to the university area, to the trail where there were other people out running and biking - it really opens your eyes to the world out there. I got lost once and found a major hill - thought I was heading north when I was really going east, all because I got excited and detoured down a nature trail. When I got home and mapped out my course, it was fun to see the hills. I've always been afraid of a big hill on the local marathon course. I ran that hill during the run, and was able to see it compared to the other three monsters I ran up, and am no longer afraid of the marathon hill - piece of cake. I finished my run up at the track where kids #2 and #3 were just finishing track practice and hitched a ride home. It's always great when you can fit a long run into the family schedule and not impact the entire day.

I don't get to run long this weekend. It'll probably be good for my legs to have a rest. My husband has an organized group bike ride in a small town near where we used to live. So, at least we get to get out. There's a pretty trail along the river - the kids and I will have fun. I thought about ridin', but I'm not ready to go that far on my bike yet. Sometimes it's just as fun to be the spectator.