Sunday, November 26, 2006

Seattle Marathon, Part III: Mile 20.7

When we left the house this morning, there was a dusting of wet snow on the ground, and it had begun to rain, at a nice, balmy 33°. Perfect marathon weather.

~running tights
~silk long-sleeved running shirt
~long sleeved cotton shirt
~long sleeved thermal Patagonia ski shirt
~polar fleece top
~canvas-type cargo pants
~smartwool socks
~insulated waterproof boots
~goretex coat
~ski hat
~goretex insulated ski gloves
~second goretex goat
~second pair of insulated ski gloves

Did I run the marathon? Hell no! In that weather? I thought it'd be much more fun to stand on the side of the road for 6 hours with a neon vest on.

Ahhh, yes . . Course Marshal, Mile 20.7. And I got to choose the location. Last year we were one block up at 20.8. Either way it's along mile 20, in the middle of the most grueling hill on the Seattle Marathon Course. And I honestly used all of those clothes. Goretex works until it gets saturated enough to drip onto your pants that aren't goretex, then you need to switch to coat #2. It rained nearly the whole time the runners and walkers were out there - there were two short breaks, and once it hailed or snowed, I'm not sure which. I'm just amazed at the ability of all of those participants to withstand the elements. One of my friends that ran the half passed out at the finish line and was put in the med. tent for a while. I can just imagine how chilled to the bone all of those people were at the finish, and how stressed it made the medical personnel. What saved me, was my daughter joining me for the duration (in and out of the warm parked car) to keep me company, and my husband bringing me warm soup and coffee and relieving me for a short break.
It's actually a pretty cool thing to be able to stand there and watch the looks on all of those faces as they run by. Some are seasoned Seattle-ites and could care less if it's cold and rainy; some are seasoned marathoners and don't need your assistance or advice - they're in the 'zone'; some are complete newbies and have a horrific look on their face as they come up that hill. The real job there is to keep vehicular cross-traffic off the race course, but some runners are so grateful to have someone standing there telling them something - anything - positive to help get them up and over that hill. Their ability to experience what they were going through and continue on was truly inspiring - and I'll keep them all in mind next time I think I feel tired when I'm running a marathon.
Lucky for me, I love a sport where I can spectate free for six hours on the best part of the course!
I took the day off from running. I'm home and warm and dry. It's snowing again outside and my husband went for a run in it. Time for me to get out decorations for this big green tree we cut down yesterday and brought into the living room. 'Tis the season!

Saturday, November 25, 2006

Seattle Marathon, Part II: Kids Marathon

  • No rain in Seattle today
  • Three thousand kids and all of their support crews
  • Awesome finish into Memorial Stadium under the Space Needle
  • Today is our 13th wedding anniversary - we were actually married on Thanksgiving Day like Katy & Mark (the toast people - Happy Anniversary guys!)

Friday, November 24, 2006

Seattle Marathon, Part I: The Expo

Seattle Marathon weekend got off to a great start, handing out goodie bags and shirts at the race expo. The kids actually looked forward to this after doing it last year. It's a great way to teach them to give back to the sport a little bit. (And they have a blast taking work breaks to peruse the expo and score lots of swag.) We followed that up with a downtown day of: peppermint cocoas at Starbucks, a ride on the holiday carousel, peeking at Santa through the big glass windows, and viewing the gingerbread houses created by top executive chefs. They were so amazing! The highlights of the day were the downtown tree lighting complete with christmas choirs and fireworks, and watching it snow indoors (they might only use bubbles, but the show is fantastic - you should've seen the kids) in a 5+story shopping center with a glass roof. What a day, I'm exhausted! Downtown in the city is so much fun during the holidays. Tomorrow is the Seattle Kids Marathon. The children are to have accumulated 25 miles on their own over the course of the last couple of months, and then they all come together to run the last 1.2 miles on the marathon course. It's a blast - they've done it several years now. And - it's supposed to 'not rain' for a couple of hours in the morning - maybe we'll be lucky. The full Seattle Marathon in Sunday - the current forecast is 36° and rain/snow mixed with a 10-15 mph wind. Lovely. Four to six hours into the marathon it's supposed to be just snow and 37°. Maybe I oughtta stand on the side of the road and hand out hot chocolate . . .

Thursday, November 23, 2006

Wednesday, November 22, 2006


A funny thing happened yesterday. There was a comment on my post that suggested I had reached burnout. And I got mad. (no offense to Anne's comment - it was a good thing, and exactly what I needed) I had to ask myself, "Am I burnt out?" and "why?" Part of it is sick kids - I love having them home, but when they were all home sick it was a real drag, and I lacked room to breathe. But beyond that . . .

I got mad and went for a run. It was a great run in the dark in absolutely pouring rain. (It''s November in Seattle, where - as of yesterday - we just hit the record of the highest rainfall on record for a single month - and there are still 9 days left in the month.) It's always dark and always wet, but it was kinda cool last night 'cause I couldn't see the puddles, which made for a nice surprise quite frequently. And when I stopped for a drink of water from the fountain I didn't have to wipe my face off because I was already drenched and dripping.

While I was out there stewing about why I'm burnt out, and what my problem is . . . I finally realized something. I'm not injured, I have available time, and I love my dirty running shoes and grubby clothes to workout in. Instead of wondering what my problem is, and how do I fix it, I decided to consider what my strengths are and how I'm going to embrace them.

I really thought about all of the comments on my post yesterday - people are amazing when they share their thoughts. Thanks.

Monday, November 20, 2006

An Open Box

I've been in a questioning sort of mode lately. Trying to figure out what I want out of running - out of life, what I wanna do next week, next month, next year. Thinking about what I want to be when I grow up. The truth is, there are just so many choices, how do you pick and choose? I think it all got overwhelming to me, so I took a break from it - all of it.

It's like I've spent the last couple of weeks in a box. (I've had really sick kids at home for a few weeks, so that skews all normal perspectives to begin with.) But I've been avoiding really dealing with my thoughts. Not like depression - my friend described it more like a cocoon where you go into waiting in preparation for something. I think I've been really fortunate to accomplish the things I've done in life, and to learn from the experiences I've had. But now what? Some people plan and have goals and become so focused on the road ahead that they miss all of the side streets. Some people spend so much time browsing the side streets that they never reach their destination. I guess I'm not into browsing, but I'm not ready to form a new destination, either. So one would think that you should carry on and let life lead you. But I have an itch for so much more right now. An itch for what, I don't know. I have so many passions and my inner spirit seems to transform and change and grow exponentially by the day. The idea of what I want to do next is starting to consume my thoughts.

But then there's always today to think about. The present. I started my training for Boston last week. And if it's not Boston, it'll be Eugene. It always seems it's the easy training goals that I can't meet, and the harder ones that come easy. I really want to focus on my cross-training. The gym is about a quarter mile from my house - it's faster to walk than drive and park. Pool. Weights. Cardio stuff. Indoor Track. Yoga. Childcare. Open early. Open late. My job is my family, and although it's very busy, it's very very flexible. So why aren't I meeting my cross-training goals? I've met all of my running workout and mileage goals even though my legs hurt because I need new shoes and haven't bought any. You'd think I'd cross-train. Of course, there is a newly surfaced track also a quarter mile from my house, and the beach is down the street. Go figure. Inside? Outside? Outside. I do have a bike, but it's very wet out there and I'd simply rather run. I think I need to start an incentive plan. (There's also a new drive-thru Starbucks being built less than a quarter mile from my house. Incentives . . hmmm)

Thanksgiving is coming up. I boycotted it this year. I'm thankful for that. We're going to play at the beach for the day. And I don't mean the beach. I mean THE beach. We're going to take the day and drive to the mighty Pacific Ocean to play. I'm so excited. I really need to get out and play. We went to the cabin over the weekend, and the snow was most excellent, but it just wasn't enough outside time. I think maybe we'll have pizza for dinner and watch a movie on Thanksgiving. I'm thankful for our little family, and that's exactly who I want to spend the day with. This weekend is also our wedding anniversary and the Seattle Marathon weekend. I'm not running, but it's a weekend event for us. Maybe that'll give me something to write about later this week.

And my great reads for the week - The Alchemist by Paulo Coelo, The Extra Mile - an autobiography by ultrarunner Pam Reed, and Clearcut by Nina Shengold. (Told you I've been in a box for a while.) They're all vastly different and fascinatingly enlightening in different ways.

Tuesday, November 07, 2006

Water, water, everywhere - not a drop to spare

One can hope that maybe it's Noah's Ark, but in truth, this is someone's house taken away by the Cowlitz River. There are so many stories in the news, in the paper - flood warnings on 19 rivers, rivers cresting, community evacuations, levee breaks, shelter openings, road closures, school closures . . . so many photos of the damage and water filling streets and houses and cutting off towns with no roads in or out, but none that make the point so boldly as this particular photo.

Seattle . . called the Emerald City in the Evergreen State - I wonder what makes the plants so green?

Truths of the day:

~ during flooding, a river can carve a brand new route for itself - actually reroute itself - right through a neighborhood full of homes.
~ the rain is decreasing (actually it just went south to Oregon), but the rivers here are still rising and another weather front is expected later this week

I'm sitting here in fascination with the raw power of water. It's really amazing what it can do - just water - a couple of molecules thrown together. I'm always so fascinated by it - in awe of it's beauty and strength and the changes each new tide brings. I've never lived in fear of it and seen close-up how much energy lives within it.

"Till taught by pain, men know not water's worth"
-Lord Byron

Sunday, November 05, 2006

marathon dreams

I had some weird dreams last night. Maybe it was the Winterhook - 'tis the season. I dreamt I was at the NYC marathon. Somehow when I was running yesterday I started thinking about it. In my dream, there was a stopping point at the 17 mile mark - under some freeway interchange. We were asked to stop at the large water station that looked more like a concert venue. I figured I didn't need water, but the officials held me back, too. No one was allowed to continue, and water wasn't being served. It was unclear whether they were out of water, or simply making us wait. The officials all seemed to have no concern about the fact that no one was being given water, no one was getting water - and none of the runners seemed the least bit bothered by it. I remember being so annoyed at the ridiculous thought of waiting around 20 minutes at mile 17 for no reason. My dream fast-forwarded to after the race - in this part of the dream I wasn't a runner, but a volunteer. I was speaking with a man who had run. He was an older black man - probably around 75 - of the variety that has lived a little and has great stories to tell if you stay a while. This man told me he had run a 2:20, and he was waiting for water. The finishers were sitting in folding chairs near a stage area, and were being 'served' water. I went to ask one of the wait staff if I could take the man some water, but was told they were out at the moment. I convinced the staff that when water came in, to please take some to the older gentleman first. That's all I remember of my dream.

My run yesterday was in the rain - lots and lots of rain. Usually when one lives in the northwest, one looks forward to the rain this time of year, only to forget that once it starts, it will continue through next June. I had such a great run yesterday, though - I love the rain. Many streets and rivers in the area are forecast to flood later today and into tomorrow, and I relished in all the water. I love to get wet and muddy and puddle stomp. I was feeling so lucky to be able to live where I live and run where I run. Within a mere 9 mile run, I was able to add in muddy trail running in a wooded park all to myself, and 4 miles of saltwater beach with a little ways actually on the sand along Alki. I love beach runs. One day last week I was out running in the wee early morning hours and noticed the low tide. Really low tide = cookie runs on the sand. Once summer is over, it is a rare opportunity. There is always sand right on the main beach - less than a half mile to run on, but I'm talking tide low enough to add an extra 2.5 miles on the sand for an out and back. Pure solitude. Pristine untainted sand like a blank slate for my fresh footprints. Up close and personal with the herons out fishing and sometimes the eagles. Weaving through the section of barcacled rocks and seaweed. Chancing fate with the waves rushing toward my feet. It's all such a high for me. When I came back from running, I looked up the tide charts to see when my next opportunity would be, only to discover there isn't a tide low enough in my waking hours for the rest of the year. I just got lucky the other day.

Today I haven't run yet - just keeping tabs on NYC - and athlete tracker won't load for me - such a bummer. I'll have to check Josh and Steph's blogs later, or look up the results when it's all over. Or keep refreshing tracker, or keep refreshing for updated results or tune to NBC later and hope for the hour of late race coverage. There isn't anything else pressing to do on a Sunday morning.