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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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.

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

The Adventure Zone

My basic running routine is running on the treadmill 2 or 3 days a week at my local YMCA, with one long outdoor run on the weekend. This is basically for child care reasons. The Y has free child care but I have to stay inside the building, therefore, the majority of running has to be done indoors. They have a big indoor jungle gym called the Adventure Zone where my younger son Oleg plays while I work out. Therefore, we call going to workout “going to the Adventure Zone,” which makes it all sound fun and exciting (and less like I am pawning him off on the nice ladies so I can run).

This arrangement works out pretty well, even if it is slightly less thrilling than the title of this post would suggest. Oleg has a good time there, makes friends and gets some energy out. I get a little time alone (albeit around a bunch of other people) and get my run on. I still would prefer being outside most days, but this time of year it takes the sting out of being stuck on the treadmill when I look out the window and see heavy grey clouds, and rain, and wind. Although today was actually pretty nice – windy and cool, but sunny. But for most of the last couple of weeks the weather has been crap, which makes being a hamster on a wheel seem less tedious.

I usually try to do various things to keep my interest level up while I am on the treadmill. Sometimes I try to work on speed a bit, other times I might focus on form, and sometimes I just do a boring run where I hold the same pace the whole time. Zzzzzz…anyway, I usually try to keep my brain engaged somehow.

Today I worked a bit on form, wearing the Merrell barefoot glove shoes that I have, and also ran some tempo pace pick ups. I can’t hold any kind of pace for a very long time in these shoes – my feet get too tired. You are supposed to land more forward on the balls of your feet rather than pounding down on your heels, which is what I typically do. Since I am hoping to work up to the half and then full marathon distance within a year, I am hoping doing some runs in these a couple times a week will help me to get a bit lighter on my feet and improve form so I can stay injury free.

I like the barefoot shoes a lot, I like how they make me feel more engaged with what my body is doing. But I don’t think I would try to run very far in them – it would probably take years to improve my foot strike enough to where that wouldn’t be colossally stupid. But, I figure I can run a few miles a week in them to sort of change things up and maybe get some incremental form improvement out of it. And that would be a good thing.

I also worked a bit on keeping my legs a bit wider apart, so between the two, it was actually quite difficult to do at the pace I was running. I am definitely feeling it now in my feet and ankles, as well as my hips. No pain, just that feeling when your body lets you know you were doing something different.

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Do you run on the treadmill? What do you do to keep it interesting?

Wednesday and Thursday Workouts

Wednesday was a cross training day. I’m slowly building my mileage back up, and this time trying to do it safely so as not to injure myself again, so I only run 3 or 4 days a week. On days when I don’t run I usually do 30 minutes of some kind of low impact cardio, followed by strength training and exercises to strengthen my hips.

So yesterday’s workout was 30 minutes of stairclimber, followed by weights for the upper arms and shoulders, and a workout for core and hips using the Swiss ball and resistance band. And planks. Which I hate because they hurt, which probably means I need to do more of them.

Today was a treadmill workout. What I usually do on Thursday is start out walking, and then speed up gradually until I am basically running at my usual moderate tempo, then add in a couple of intervals to work on speed. When that is over I do some strength training. Today was leg machines, core and hips.

I work on core and hip strength every day because my belief is that weak hips caused my injury last spring. The stabilizing muscles were too tight in the front and inside of the hip (hip flexors and adductors) and too weak in the rear and outside (the hip abductors and external rotators).

You can actually see the problem in pictures of me running from last spring – my knees cross the midline while my hip is sort of poking out to the side – I.e., the left hip is dropping down when the right bears the load, and vice versa. I also overpronate and heel strike, so pretty much I have/had the trifecta of running gait flaws going on. A hot mess. So I’ve been working on strengthening these muscle groups and actually focusing on pushing off more to the rear and outside when I run. Turns out that even though running is a natural exercise that the human body is built to do, there’s still a lot of stuff to work on and think about if you want to actually improve. Or at least, go long distances without hurting yourself.

So anyway, yesterday was stairs and strength training. Today was treadmill and strength training. And tomorrow will be running and elliptical and strength training. Then comes Saturday, a rest day before I do my long(ish) run on Sunday. Good times.

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The First Mile

As I was logging my miles on the treadmill today, I was thinking that I completely understand people who say they hate running. Even though I have personally come to love it, if all I had to judge by was how I feel when I first started out, back when just running a mile was a struggle, I would hate it too. One of the things I am grateful for in my life is my time in the Air Force, many years ago, when I discovered running longer distances could actually be enjoyable (I ran cross country in junior high, but never enjoyed it).

Since leaving the Air Force, running (and cycling to a lesser degree) has always been my go-to sport, due to the fact you can do it anywhere and don’t need special equipment. During the period earlier this year when I started back to running, I at least knew that if I put in the miles, eventually things would get easier and I would hopefully enjoy it as much as I used to. So that helped me stick with it when things sucked. There was the hope that the suckage would give way to enjoyment, and the memory of it having happened in the past. So I stuck with it and sure enough it got better.

But even now, the first mile of any run is always a bear. During that first mile is when my body likes to weigh in and let my brain know how unhappy it is to once again be doing this running thing. It does its best during that first mile to convince me to quit, usually with a little pain here and there. Today it was my shins complaining first, then a twinge in the hip, then a little ache in the foot.

Then miraculously after the first mile, the pain went away and things got easier. As I knew it would.

My typical strategy for dealing with the first mile is just to go as slow as I need to until things loosen up. I find this is particularly true on the treadmill since I do not have the distraction of scenery to keep my mind off any discomfort I may be experiencing. Once I am warmed up, I can pick up the pace and go. But I need to give myself plenty of leeway during the first mile to get both brain and body in gear.

What do you do to overcome that little voice that tells you to give up or quit?

Today’s workout

TREADMILL 5 min. warmup walking, 3 miles running, 5 min. cool down.

TOTAL Distance: 3.54mi, time: 43:08, pace: 12:11min/mi, speed: 4.92mi/hr

Strength Training: Legs, hips, back