Snohomish River Run – Race Recap

For two weeks our weather has been very foggy with no rain, and the weather report for today was supposed to call for clear skies this morning. So what do you suppose woke me up this morning at 6:45, two hours before race time?

That’s right – pouring rain.

I seriously considered rolling over and going back to bed but then I thought about my race fees, and how much I hate wasting money. And then I thought about how hard I had worked to get ready for the race and forced myself up and out of bed. Besides, I thought, if you are going to be a runner that lives in Seattle you simply cannot be the kind of person who backs out of races because of weather. And so, I got dressed, ate some oatmeal, drove through Starbucks for a latte, and arrived at my parking spot one minute before they closed the road.

Perfect timing.

Given the change in weather I had to make some last minute changes to my race day attire. Out with the lightweight capri tights and in with the UnderArmour cold gear long pants. I opted to add a second lightweight jacket under my soft shell, to keep warm before and after the race. I also swapped out my lightweight running socks for wool, since if my feet had to be wet, I wanted them to at least be warm. Under my two jackets I wore my official race shirt, a blue long sleeved tech shirt. It got a real test today and it passed – I felt warm enough and dry the whole time.

My parking spot was about a quarter mile from the start. Definitely worth the $10 to have guaranteed parking near the start and not have to ride the shuttle. On the other hand, I did have to arrive an hour before start time to use the parking spot. The best part was really after the race being able to go right to my warm car and straight home. I think the shuttle would have turned into a real hassle on the way home.

I parked the car, drank all the water in my bottle (decided to pre-hydrate and not carry – when it’s cool I don’t usually feel the need to drink on the run), and chugged the rest of my coffee. Next thing, time to scout out the porta-potties. An hour before race time there was already a line about 30 deep and the potties were running out of TP. Not a good sign for later, so I decided to get that taken care of sooner rather than later. I walked a little further and arrived at the start, where everyone was milling around in the rain.

I saw a friend from my gym who was going to run the half and wished her luck as they were calling half runners to the start, which began at 8:30. The 10k started at 8:45 and I was feeling chilly so I went to the coffee tent and got a cup just to hold on to.

While I was standing there, a woman approached me and asked, “so where do the runners start? At the start line?” I politely answered yes, but it did take some self discipline to avoid telling her that they actually would start at the finish line and run in reverse.

I considered taking a selfie but opted against. Did take a picture of runners standing around though.

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At 8:40, they called the 10k runners to the start. I wasn’t really sure whether I should be in the 10 minute or 9 minute pace corral. As I was training for the race, my big goal was just to finish in under an hour. That is about a 9:45 pace. I knew I could manage that pace – but I also thought of the advice I got from a friend on Saturday that said that if I wasn’t sore the day after, then I didn’t run hard enough. It is a race, after all. You’re supposed to go fast.

So I opted for the 9 minute corral but since I wasn’t sure I’d be able to pull off a race at that pace, I stood towards the back.

The gun went off and we all started running. I never bothered to turn on my gps and just ran by feel. I was surprised at how many people I seemed to be passing – I’ve never started that far forward before and expected to be getting passed a lot. I figured out why when we got to the first mile marker and the guy running next to me goes, “that’s 8.”

I asked him incredulously, “8 minute mile??”

He said yes, and I said, “holy cow, I’d better slow down!”

I did back off a bit after that but since I was feeling surprisingly okay, I didn’t back off too much – just enough to where I was breathing easy. At about mile 2 I started shedding layers, at which point I realized I had forgotten to take off the light jacket under my soft shell, which meant I would not have anything dry to put on at the finish. I was kind of bummed about that but decided to take it as a lesson for next time; I really need to write myself a note with things I need to do before the start since when I am excited I really can’t remember anything.

It was an out and back course along the Snohomish River, so we hit the turnaround just shy of 3 miles. As we were running I noticed I wasn’t seeing many people coming back from the turnaround. I figured out I was toward the front of the pack. I couldn’t help but feel pretty proud of myself for that, so as we hit the turn I made all the ladies standing there give me a high five. Yay me – I’m now a front of the pack runner!

After the turn, the pace started to affect me more – the tightness I’ve been feeling lately in my shoulder started really burning, and some new tightness in my hamstrings and hips reminded me that I was at the edge of what I really could handle. I pushed myself to maintain pace anyway though. I had a couple of people that I just stayed with most of the way back.

I enjoyed the course itself but I will say something that surprised me was the smell. It is riverbottom farmland that the course runs through and they must have had some cows around, because there was a definite odor of manure in the air. Didn’t bother me on the way out but on the return trip it did. I think I get more sensitive to smells when I am more tired.

As we made the final turn towards the finish we passed the photographer and I was feeling good so I made some crazy face. Apparently, that sapped the last of my energy because I could not get my body to cooperate when I tried to kick it in to the finish. But I held my pace. I looked up and saw my family right before the finish, and then I saw the clock and realized I had run my race a full 4 minutes faster than I had expected.

In spite of the rain, it was a pretty awesome race experience. I ended up 8th in my age group and was very happy with how everything went.

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I Escaped The Gaping Maw..

Well, we finally did it. We broke down and bought a Costco membership. We entered the gaping maw of consumerism and were converted. Because PEOPLE! You can get a two-pack of huge organic peanut butter jars for $10, and bread is half the price as it is at our regular grocery store. And we go through a ridiculous amount of just those two items. Stella Artois is less than a dollar a bottle. We typically don’t go through much of that, but we would like to. So forget everything I have ever said about Costco and the people that shop there – if you have peanut butter addicts for kids, the deals on peanut butter alone will save you a fortune.

So that was what we did this morning. It took a lot of word swallowing for us to get in the door because we swore when we let our membership lapse 8 years ago that we would never renew – back when it was just the two of us, we found the whole thing to be just over the top and unnecessary. Ten pound blocks of cheese, pallets full of toilet paper so abrasive you can use it to refinish furniture (yes, Kirkland Signature, I am talking to you), 12 packs of frozen pizza, 5 pound packages of peanut butter, and wine by the case – when there were only two of us, we had no use for these things. But now we have two little boys who can eat 10 pounds of cheese for a snack, and we are burning through peanut butter at an alarming rate. Things have changed.

I am also finally accepting that my regular grocery store doesn’t have very good selection or prices on organic produce. Costco doesn’t have a huge organic selection either, but the prices are good on what they do have.

But the main reason we finally went there was because it seems as though our regular grocery store is going to be affected by a strike and so I don’t want to cross the picket line. And since there aren’t any regular grocery stores for about 10 miles around that aren’t affected, we have to go out of our way to get food. Costco turns out to be one of the closest places.

I also ran today. I was feeling off – I had a side stitch, my shoulder was still bothering me, and I had a crampy calf, so I was probably dehydrated. But I put in the miles anyway.

Distance: 5.44mi, time: 56:55, pace: 10:28min/mi, speed: 5.73mi/h.

http://mapmyrun.com/workout/413589329

Applesauce

The other day on my personal Facebook, I posted that I had made applesauce but wasn’t sure if I would post a recipe because it’s so easy, basically just 2 ingredients. I do have a few tricks for making it though, so I decided just to go with it.

Like a kajillion other recipes, this is crockpot applesauce – I think by far the crockpot is the way to go, because there is no stirring necessary. So you don’t have to spend your day babysitting the applesauce, you just turn it on and go.

However, unlike a lot of recipes I have seen, this applesauce is just dirt simple. It has no added sugar, no lemon, no butter. All of which I have seen added to recipes for no good reason, because if you are starting from good apples, none of that other stuff is necessary. Nothing but apples and cinnamon are necessary, and the cinnamon is optional.

In the picture below, is everything you need to make applesauce – apples, cinnamon, an apple slicer or a knife, a crockpot and a food mill. Four year olds are good helpers, but are optional. The crockpot does the cooking, the food mill gets rid of the peels (I don’t pre-peel), and the slicer is just because I’m lazy and don’t like to slice apples with a knife (although I end up doing it anyway since some apples are too big for the slicer).

Applesauce!

4-5 lbs. apples (tart ones with strong apple flavor are best)
1 teaspoon cinnamon (optional, but highly recommended)

(This is for a 3 quart pot – if you have a bigger pot, scale up).

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Wash and cut up the apples, remove cores and seeds, and put the apple slices in the crockpot. Peels can stay on if you have a food mill. I use Honeycrisp apples and they are the bomb, but kind of expensive. You can use any kind of tart apples. Granny Smiths are also good and usually cheaper and easier to find.

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See? Peels on. Trust me, it will be okay.

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Sprinkle one teaspoon of ground cinnamon on top of the apples. Cover the crockpot and turn to high for at least 4 hours or until apples are soft. You could also put them on low for 6-7 hours.

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When the apples are done cooking, they look like the picture below. They will be completely soft, and the color from the peels will have leached out into into the juice. This, along with the cinnamon, gives kind of a rosy tint to the applesauce. Possibly green peels would be more green. Something to keep in mind.

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Now it is time to use the food mill. Place your food mill over a bowl. Mine has different size screens so I use the largest one because I like my applesauce a little bit chunky. If you like yours smoother, use a finer screen.

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Use a ladle to give the cooked apples a little stir, and then begin ladling the apples into the mill. Begin milling – the mill catches the peels and turns the apple flesh into sauce. Every so often, remove the peels from the screen, then continue milling until all apples are processed.

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The end result:

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Applesauce is good cold, but it is really a treat when still warm and served with ice cream. It’s like apple pie without the pie crust – delicious!

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Great Run For An Old Lady

I decided to mix it up today and run outdoors instead of doing the treadmill, which is what I usually do on weekdays. I had a short block of time right after I dropped Oleg off at preschool and before I had to pick Max up at the bus stop and decided to take advantage of it.

Although the weather really never warmed up for my run, it was still a good run, mostly because I decided to go pretty hard and prove to myself that my goal race pace really is possible. My goal, if I can make it happen, is to complete the 10k in under an hour. I would be pretty happy with that kind of performance at this point.

Distance : 4.42mi, time: 42:56, pace: 9:43min/mi, speed: 6.18mi/h.
http://mapmyrun.com/workout/410592793

Basically if I could hold that pace for the whole 6.2 miles I would finish in 59 minutes. The problem is that there is always a pileup at the start so that slows things down. On the other hand the course is flat so I may be able to make up time elsewhere. We’ll see.

Anyway, overall the run was good – my shoulder/back/ribs still hurt though. They stopped hurting about a half mile into the run, but started up again after I stopped. Wonder what I did? Stuff like this happens to me all the time – I end up with random bruises all over and no idea how I got them, and weird aches and pains crop up for no good reason.

Part of it is that I am clumsy – for instance on Monday I tripped over the vacuum cleaner because I was not looking where I was going and ended up with a huge purple bruise on my knee. But the other part is that I am getting older, and as you get older, stuff seems to hurt more and it takes longer to recover.

Not gonna complain though, because getting older beats the alternative.

Weekly Roundup and Marine Corps Marathon SHUTDOWN?

Once a week, I get an email from MapMyRun telling me my mileage for the week and some other statistics. I guess I added on a few miles more than I thought.

17.5 miles
4 workouts
3.2 hours
2445 calories burned (good, maybe this burned off some of that pie!)

So mileage wise, I am pretty much where I want to be for now. Sunday’s 7-miler went really well so I am feeling very confident about being ready for the distance on Oct. 27. In fact, it was funny, I expected to be sore on Monday morning, but I was not. I guess that means I should have tried harder…except I would feel pretty silly if I hurt myself again, so it was the smart thing to do to take it a little bit easy. I will just save my foolishness until the race itself.

One thing that is bothering me is that I may have twisted my upper back in my sleep on Sunday night – I feel a tightness from my right shoulder blade that sort of wraps around my ribs to the front of my chest. It’s uncomfortable but didn’t stop me from putting my 3 miles in on the treadmill and doing a core class, although it DID prevent me from enjoying them very much! It seems to feel better since I took a hot shower so I am hopeful that it will just resolve itself in a day or two. I will just take it a little bit easy and lay off the upper body strength work. Still planning to keep running and working on legs, hips and limited core though.

Looking past the Snohomish River Run, I haven’t seen any road races coming up between now and the end of the year that I am all that eager to do. There are a lot of 5Ks this time of year, but I don’t really care for the 5K distance. Not sure why…maybe because it is over too quickly. However, I am also not ready to take on more than a 10K or maybe a 12K. There isn’t a lot coming up at those distances. So I might just do a couple of those Ugly Sweater runs and call it good for 2013 (I’ll still be running, just not in any races).

In other news, I just saw THIS pop up on Facebook today. It will be a MAJOR bummer for the 30,000+ people who have been training all year to run this race if the organizers have to postpone due to the government shutdown, but it just goes to show how everyone will be feeling the pain if this shutdown doesn’t end soon. Though in other news, it also looks like Congress may have a deal put together this week, so maybe the race will still be able to go on – and more importantly, maybe the government can reopen, people can be paid, and our national debt ceiling lifted so that China doesn’t decide to “deAmericanize” us – yikes!

My Workout

Moments of joy from today’s run:
Running through crunchy leaves
Negative splits
A good post run stretch
Hot turkey chili after a long chilly run

I think summer will always be my favorite time to run because the weather here in the Seattle is near perfect, and the the views are spectacular, but fall definitely has its appeal too. There is something about those crunchy leaves and the smell of firewood burning that just can’t help but bring a smile to my face.

Today’s run was a milestone due to being my longest run since my injury, and the longest run I will do before the Snohomish River Run in two weeks. I wasn’t sure how it would go, so my plan was to hold back for the first 2 – 3 miles, then pick up the pace with each mile, which is pretty much what happened, except for the last mile. I started having a little twinge in my hip on an uphill push and had to back off until it went away.

What this tells me is that I can probably handle about a 10:15 pace on race week, maybe a little faster given that its basically a completely flat course (except for one b-word of a hill right before the finish line – damn race organizers, I’m sure that hill will be slowing me down quite a bit). That means a 1 hour finish is within reach, so we will see…

As for today, the rest of the day is going to be about a hot bath, hot chocolate, Market Spice Tea, and finishing up my recipe for Peach Cranberry Pie. Which is awesome, by the way.

I ran with MapMyRun! Distance: 7.15mi, time: 01:14:41, pace: 10:27min/mi, speed: 5.74mi/h.
http://mapmyrun.com/workout/408091919

Peach Cranberry Pie

This is a pie I made to get rid of some frozen fruit I had in my freezer, and I sort of made it up as I went. I didn’t decide until I tasted the finished product that I would share it here, so I didn’t take a lot of pictures.

When I was reading about how to make a peach pie, I learned that peaches (especially frozen ones) are a bit tricky – you either have to cook the water out, or add a lot thickeners such as corn starch or flour. Personally, I tend to prefer the cooking method as it also serves to concentrate the flavors. But I decided to still add some thickeners to keep it from weeping out water after cooking, which leads to a soggy crust.

I also added cranberries because I like their tartness and just to make this a little bit more of an Autumn flavor.

Anyway, it turned out stupid good, so I had to share (and also remember what I did!). Thank goodness I have two children with 0% body fat that I am always trying to fatten up to help me eat all this stuff or I would be in trouble.

And it’s good that I run for the same reason!

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Stupid Good Peach Cranberry Pie

The Crust

Make the Perfect Pie Crust from this recipe, and freeze half the recipe. Refrigerate the half you will use for at least 30 minutes prior to rolling out. You can refrigerate and roll out while the filling cooks.

Peach Cranberry Filling
2 quarts frozen peach slices
1 cup frozen or fresh cranberries
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1/4 cup packed brown sugar
1 Tablespoon ground cinnamon
1 Tablespoon corn starch
1/4 cup cold water

Defrost the frozen peach slices in the microwave, then place in a large cooking pot. Add sugars and cinnamon and bring to a slow rolling boil. Rinse cranberries and add to the boiling peaches. Boil until mixture starts to thicken – about 45 minutes to 1 hour.

While the filling cooks, and after the crust has refrigerated for about 30 minutes (or more), roll out the pie crust and place in the pie plate. Return to refrigerator until filling is ready.

After filling cooks for about 1 hour, dissolve corn starch in 1/4 cup cold water, add to the peaches and continue boiling on low heat about 5 more minutes. Turn off the heat and make the streusel topping.

Streusel Topping

3/4 cup brown sugar
3/4 cup flour
1/2 cup softened butter
1/2 cup rolled oats
1/4 teaspoon salt

Using a pastry cutter (or your fingers) combine the above ingredients until the butter is well distributed throughout and there is no longer a lot of dry flour in the mixture. The mixture should stick together and look sort of chunky.

Assembling and Baking

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Remove the pie plate and crust from the refrigerator, and pour in the peach filling. Filling should fill the plate to a level about 1/4″ below the top of the plate. Don’t overfill the plate.

Sprinkle the streusel topping over the entire pie, covering all the filling, but mounded up somewhat in the middle. (It kind of flattens as it cooks).

Place the pie on a baking sheet and place in the oven. Bake for 45 minutes to 1 hour, or until the pie crust and streusel topping are golden brown.

Cool on a wire rack for at least an hour before eating.

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Notice the small hole on the side of the pie? Some pie tasters had to pick a little bit off the side…

All Pie’d Out

Tonight was the annual Book Fair and also the Pie and Cider Fundraiser for my older son’s elementary school. It also happened that I made Chicken Pot Pie for dinner. Naturally, in addition to dinner I did have to sample the dessert pies (apple and pumpkin) at the fundraiser. And now, much as I love pie, I can officially say I am all pie’d out for the night.

Of all the pies, I will say mine had the best crust. Pie crust can be tricky to make, but over the last couple of years I have figured out a basically foolproof recipe. People argue over whether a butter crust or an oil or lard crust is better. Butter crusts are supposed to be more flavorful and flakier, while oil/lard is easier to work with and crispier. My pie crust secret is not to choose between the two types of crust, but to combine the benefits of both – I do this by using butter AND oil in my crust. It always turns out really well.

Here is the recipe.

Chicken Pot Pie with Perfect Pie Crust.

Perfect Pie Crust

2 cups flour
1 teaspoon salt
1 stick (1/2 cup) butter, chilled
4 Tablespoons oil
1/2 cup ice water

Chicken Filling

2 cups cubed cooked chicken
2 Tablespoons cooking oil
1 small onion, chopped small
2 small peeled potatoes cut in 1/2 inch cubes
Flour to make a roux
Chicken broth
1 cup frozen mixed vegetables
Salt, pepper and sage to taste
1/4 teaspoon thyme

Making the crust:

The crust must be made first and refrigerated for at least 30 minutes before rolling out.

To make the dough for the crust, combine the flour and salt in a bowl (such as the bowl of a large stand mixer). Stir well.

Slice chilled butter into 1/4″ cubes

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Add cubed butter to the flour and salt mixture.

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Use a pastry cutter to cut the butter into the flour, until the butter is in consistent pea-sized lumps.

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Use a mixer on slow speed to incorporate oil to the flour and butter mixture, then very slowly add chilled water. When dough balls up, turn off the mixer. It is very important not to overwork this dough. Visible chunks of butter are good – they will make the crust flaky.

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Remove dough to a floured board. With floured hands, lightly pat together the dough. Do not knead. Roll the dough ball into a cylindrical shape and cut in half. Roll both halves into a ball, sprinkle with flour, cover with plastic wrap and place in refrigerator for at least 30 minutes.

At this point you can also freeze this dough for future use.

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To make the filling:

Cube 2 cups of cooked chicken in 1/2″ cubes and set aside.

Finely chop a small onion. Heat 2 tablespoons of cooking oil in a large sauté pan on medium low heat, and sauté the onions until translucent. Do not allow to brown.

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Cube 2 small potatoes in 1/2 inch cubes, and sauté with the onions.

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When onions and potatoes start to soften sprinkle about 2 tablespoons of flour to make a paste (technically, this paste is a roux).

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To the roux, add broth over low heat to make a thick gravy.

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When gravy has thickened, add in frozen vegetables. Mix well and reduce heat to low as you assemble the pie.

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Assembling the pie:

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Remove one ball of pastry dough from the refrigerator and place on a floured board.

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Using a floured pastry roller, begin to roll out the dough ball until it is large enough to fit your pie plate (recipe easily fits a 9″ plate when rolled to about 1/8″).

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Drape the first crust over the pie plate. Roll out the second dough ball in the same way and set aside while you fill the pie.

Spread the cubed chicken evenly over the bottom crust in the pie plate. Over the top of that, pour and evenly spread the vegetable/gravy filling. Sprinkle with salt, pepper, sage and thyme to taste.

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Drape the top crust over the top of the filling. Fold back the crust 1/3 at a time to expose the bottom crust edge and brush it with water using a pastry brush. Fold the top crust back down to cover and repeat two more times, press the edges together to seal the pie.

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Cut off the excess crust – you can set this aside to roll out and make apple dumplings if you have enough left over. Use a fork to make a decorative edge. Poke some holes in the top and place in a 350 degree oven.

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Bake for 45 minutes or until crust is golden brown.

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Serves 4 – 6 people who like pie.

Slow and Steady…blah blah blah

According to MapMyRun, last week I ran 14.3 miles, which is the most mileage I’ve managed to run since I got hurt. I also hiked about 5 miles in Lord Hill Park with the hubby and kids so all told I put in quite a few miles last week. And there are a couple of mile runs I didn’t log, done mainly to warm up for strength training.

I’ve been pretty good since July about adding on miles slowly, and not worrying about speed. Taking things slow is actually pretty hard for me because I am a competitive person. Not saying I’m fast – but I am that person who normally runs a 10 minute mile, but if someone goes by me at a 9:30, I hustle it up just to pass, then I go hide behind a bush.

Oh, and I’m also sort of obsessive by nature. So doing the boring work of just building the base and putting in the miles, when I see people training for the distances I’d like to be able to run, running at speeds I wish I could achieve…it’s like torture sometimes. It takes discipline NOT to pile on more miles, not to sneak in the speed work, but just to keep it slow and steady and stick to the plan.

My goal right now is to get consistent 4 runs a week (3 treadmill, 1 road) and bring my mileage up to about 16 – 20 miles a week and stay there through the winter. I am mostly focusing on building my base, getting my body ready to handle the increased mileage I hope to add in the spring.

But now that I have said all that – I actually DID start doing a little speed work again. I think it’s okay – I’m only going to work on it one day a week and I do feel a lot stronger since I’ve been doing more strength training. I think it’s okay but I hope that is not just my pre-race ambition talking. Since I have the Snohomish River Run at the end of the month, I can already feel myself getting antsy about it, hating the feeling that I could run faster had I not gotten injured, and wanting to make a sort of last ditch effort to “pick up the plow” and run at a pace I may or may not be ready for. So I’m doing it a little bit, but being careful to pay attention to how I am feeling and dial back if necessary.

With these things in mind, yesterday was my first official speed workout. I did 4 miles on the treadmill, including 4×800 at a 10, 9:30, 9 and 8:30 pace with 200 meters walking/slow jogging between. I fell apart on the last one so I guess that is the threshold right now – I could run that fast if I was being chased by tigers, but otherwise, it is not a level of effort I can (or want to) sustain. As far as a potential race pace for Snohomish, I’d be happy if I could just get anywhere close to a 10 minute mile pace.

Could I finish 10k in an hour? I guess we’ll find out in 18 days.