Thursday, June 30, 2011

Bellevue Ghost Half Marathon

After running a half marathon on Saturday, I signed up for a second half marathon on Sunday.  I must be a crazy person (or at least run and travel with a convincing one).

At 6:30, or so, we showed up for the Bellevue Ghost Half/Marathon.  After a briefing about the course, we were given a little piece of paper with the directions for the course. 
So, where do we go?

Good-lookin' group of runners
I normally don't like posting unflattering pictures of myself, but this one cracks me up.  It pretty much covers how I felt about attempting a second half marathon in one weekend.  

The race started just after 7:00, and the other racers left me in the dust by 7:05.  That was JUST FINE by me, though.  My legs were already hurting, and I was planning to walk the majority of the 13.1 miles anyway.  I put on my headphones and looked to the sidewalk for course markers.

Truth be told, I got lost a couple of times despite the yellow and silver arrows and the directions in my pocket.  Regardless, I got a walking tour of Bellevue, and I even met a marathoner who pulled over next to me after noticing my shirt.  We chatted for a bit, and then she directed me to the street that I was supposed to be on.
A little creepy

Mt. Rainier peaking over the trees

Shopping possibilities for after the race

Nice little run

Didn't love running alongside so many cars

Hilly Bellevue
When I made it to the finish, my Garmin said I had gone 13.2 miles in 3:58:38.  I didn't care that I was slow; I had just finished TWO half marathons!  And, I finished first in my division. ;)

Pretty cool.


Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Rock 'N' Rock Half - Seattle 2011

What a weekend!  I completed TWO half marathons in two days and PR'ed on the first one.  Woo Hoo!  This is my race report for the first one.

The first race was the Rock and Roll Half Marathon in Seattle, WA.  The day before the race, we hit the expo, which is one of the coolest I've seen.  There were free Brooks products, a few games, and, as always, lot of gear.
Yay Brooks!

Rockin' at the Rock N Roll

"You will totally kick butt tomorrow..."

We got a hotel in Tukwila, so we walked 1.2 miles to the race.  On our little walk, I felt like my legs were nearly energized nor heavy, so I felt okay about the race at 7.

But even though the race was supposed to start at 7:00 (which it did), my corral - 32 - didn't get to the starting line until nearly 8:00.  That meant that I had an hour to people-watch, eavesdrop on other runner's conversations about injuries and gear, do some stretching, hit the beach balls flying over the crowd, and mouth-breathe (as to avoid the ever-growing stench of the porta-potties). 

The race start was pretty funny now that I look back on it.  The announcers counted down from ten, and I crossed the starting mat and clicked my Garmin at the same time.  Solid start.  But not fifteen steps down the course, I step wrong, and my right foot and ankle just didn't feel right; they didn't hurt necessarily, but they felt funny, and I immediately worried that the next 13.05 miles were gonna be rough.

I decided to keep my pace, however, and after the first mile, I could barely tell I had ever stepped funny.  My first 4 miles or so went really well.  In fact, I got it in my head at some point that I was going to run the whole 13.1 miles without walking.  But then came our first big hill, and I actually chuckled out loud at my silly optimism.  I slowed to a walk and ascended the hill.

Miles 6-9 were also pretty good.  I remember that I wanted to cry during mile 8 of my first half marathon - last July.  It was nice to pass mile 8 this year and not feel that urge.  Sure, my legs were tired, but I felt so much more confident this year than I did last.  I had confidence in my mind and body.  I knew I was going to finish strong.

Around mile 10 there was a great tunnel that we got to run through.  My Garmin lost satellite recepton, so it couldn't keep my pace, but the clock kept ticking away.  I ran the whole way, listening to the whoops and hollers echoing around me.  I felt the sweat run down the sides of my face, and I tried my best to ignore the soreness on my thighs.  (I remembered the sign I had seen a few miles back: "Chafe now; brag later!")

Once out of the tunnel, I looked at my time and realized that I had a very good chance of getting a PR.  I would have to keep up my sub-12-minute pace, but I saw that I had a nice downhill up ahead, and that gave me extra confidence and energy.  I ran down the freeway toward the city with a new spring in my step.

Miles 11-13 run together in my mind.  (I'm so punny!)  I just remember reminding myself that I am stronger now than I ever have been, that I am capable of more than I had once imagined, and that I was going to be proud of pushing myself.

I ran as hard as I could after the Mile 13 marker.  I knew I was going to get a PR, but I wanted to finish as strong as my body could.  I crossed at 2:36:56 (one minute and one second faster than my half in July of 2010).  I had a pace of 11:58/mile.

After the race, I was doing okay for a little while.  I collected my medal, and got my bottle of water.  However, as I started to wait in line for the official Finisher's Picture, I started feeling dizzy and my vision started going wonky.  I blinked hard to get the black in my vision to disappear, but no amount of blinking helped.  I knew I was about to pass out, so I leaned over to a runner next to me and asked her where the nearest medical tent was.  She said it was a long way away, and I grabbed onto her shirt for balance.  She and a gal in a medical staff T-shirt took me over to the sidewalk and had me lay back on the cool cement.  Before I knew it, I had multiple people helping me and giving me fluids.  I started to feel better.

I got up to walk with the medical gal named Beth, and we started to walk slowly over to the medical tent.  I learned about her daughters at WSU, and everything was going great... until my vision went all tunnel-y again, and my legs felt too weak to hold me up.  Thankfully we were at the medical tent's door, and they got me right in (ahead of the line).  I laid down on a cot, and they had me drink some electrolyte mixture and a big salt packet.  Then they put a cool cloth on my forehead.

I felt like an idiot.

When they asked me how much I had fueled up during my race, I felt even worse.  I had only stopped at one water station and one electrolyte drink station in the entire 13.1 miles.  I purposefully didn't eat my chocolate GU that I carried with me.  Not smart.

Wonderful people
After getting all fixed up by the sympathetic and knowledgeable medical staff, they finally let me go, and I made my way to the gear trucks.  On my way I saw Scott, who had already finished his marathon, and I told him about my race and medical fiasco.

After a few minutes of taking pictures and getting warmed up, we headed across the street to get some more fuel and hydration. :)

Tired but happy to hydrate
Well-deserved mac 'n' cheese

It was a great day!


Thursday, June 23, 2011

Palouse Double 2011

Scott and I organized the Palouse Double again this year, except instead of running the Headwaters Loop on Moscow Mountain and the loop on Kamiak Butte like last year, we ran on another part of Moscow Mountain and on a trail in beautiful Colfax, WA.

The event was a success, and we had fun running.  On Day 1, I put in 8.1 miles, and on Day 2, I ran 10 miles.  I felt pretty good about that (since I have my half marathon this weekend), but I have to admit that I took it really slow.  Between the climbing and the rainy, cold weather, I didn't feel very strong and fast.  I did, however, get some pretty great shots of the events...

Day 1:
Wet but beautiful
Great trail
Evidence of moose on Moscow Mountain (and of toe-lifting...)

Day 2:
Along the Colfax River

Nice trail

At the turnaround
View as I headed back to the car
18.1 miles later, I am a little sore, but I am glad I put in the miles.  I hope it'll help me in Seattle on Saturday!


Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Worth Writing About

I've had some pretty incredible runs lately, and I wish that I had written about them sooner than this...when the feeling was still fresh and acute.  I mean, how am I supposed to write about a run on Moscow Mountain where I stepped out of my comfort zone and ran up logging roads alone and found a beautiful little meadow, surrounded on all sides by pine trees? 

Or how do I describe the feeling I got when I ran down a steep little trail, saw a large boulder sunning itself at the bottom, and decided that it would be a crime to not stop for a moment, climb on top of it, and study how blue the cloudless sky was in contrast to the greenest treetops I had ever seen?

I should have written earlier.

So even though I am at work right now and have other things that I should be doing right now, I thought I should spend two minutes and write about my run yesterday by Jack in the Box.

This "Jack in the Box" run is nothing new to me.  It is one of the first places that I ever ran, in fact.  It is almost completely flat and is a pretty heavily-run path in Pullman.  We normally park behind the fast-food joint, and then I run along the railroad tracks a mile out and then take the paved path back to the car.  It is a nice little weekday run for me, especially since I know the exact distances by heart and don't typically use my Garmin.  (It is almost .25 miles to the end of the chain-link fence, .40 miles to the bridge, .80 miles to the underpass, and 1 mile to the road.  This knowledge is especailly useful when I am playing mental games with myself during races; at the end of races I often hear myself say, "Annie, you only have from the bridge to the car to go" or something similar.)

Anyway, I knew that yesterday's run wasn't going to be long, but I wanted it to be good.  I had some energy in my legs, and it had been a few days since I had worn my Racers.  (I have been wearing my Cascadias, Launches, and my newly-purchased Vibram FiveFingers.)

My first mile wasn't especially fast (about a 12-minute pace), but my legs were feeling strong, so I decided to see what I could do on my second mile. Right when my Garmin told me that I had finished Mile 1, I picked up the pace.  After a couple of minutes, my curiosity got the better of me and I checked my watch: under an 8-minute pace!  "NICE!" I thought.  "I didn't even know I could run this fast, even for a short distance."

Even though I knew I was slowing down some, I decided to just keep running as hard as I could until I heard my Garmin beep that I had completed another mile.  I ran beneath the overpass, by the bridge, past the end of the chain-link fence, and beyond the car.  My Garmin beeped, and my grateful legs slowed to a walk.  I looked down at my Garmin, and saw something that brought a big smile to my face: 8:37!!

Yep, my previous record for a mile (set in August of last year) was 9:12.  And yesterday I beat it by 35 seconds!  I may be about five pounds heavier than I was last year when I set that record, but this year I am stronger in both body and mind.  I felt really proud of myself yesterday and may have even experienced a "runner's high" as I walked my third mile and drove home. 

It was a run worth writing about.


Thursday, June 2, 2011

Windermere and Memorial Day

It has been a while since I've posted anything.  I'm sure that has disappointed hundreds of loyal readers, so I'm sorry.

What have I been up to?  Well, I signed up for the Windermere 5K a while back and planned to run it with a friend.  Unfortunately, after only a half-mile or so, volunteers directed us back to the starting line, and at 1.1 miles we crossed the finish line.  The race was over, and we walked (half angry/half disappointed) back to a pub to have lunch with our friends. 
I signed up for the Windermere 5K, and all I got was this stupid tech shirt.
Since then, I have been working on increasing my miles for my half-marathon in a few weeks.  My longest run since Bloomsday has been a 6.5-miler along the Spokane River.  I'm going to get at least one good long run in during the Palouse Double on June 18-19.  I know that the half will be tough, but I am not worried about it.

On Memorial Day, I went on a run near Asotin, WA in some truly beautiful country.  Unfortunately, the grey skies quickly produced rain, and then small hail, and then hail large enough to hurt me as I struggled to run/hike up the mountain.  Eventually I had to take cover.  Here are some pictures of my 2.75-mile run:

Romantic-looking meadow along the trail

Dark clouds rolling in

Running to the car

I am sure looking forward to sunny skies.  Enough of this winter running already! :)