Monthly Archives: November 2017

My legs are still hurting so much from Sunday.  I can’t remember the last time I pushed myself hard enough to put myself in this amount of pain. It’s been a while.  H is out of town which means there’s no one else to climb the stairs when it needs to be done.  OMG.  Thankfully, I’m feeling a bit better today than yesterday, so I’m optimistic about tomorrow.

I have been thinking about the race a lot.  I think about what it means I can accomplish if I keep working and race a flat course.  Sub-1:45 definitely.  How much faster?  Who knows.  I think about the value of spending hour after hour trying to be a faster runner when I’m not talented enough to ever truly be “fast,” whatever that means.  Is it a waste of my time? I have a friend who ran a hilly half marathon in the 1:40s with little or no training.  My sister runs about a third as much as I do and ran 1:30 or so recently.  But that logic is pointless.  There’s always someone faster.  For most of us, there are A LOT of people faster.  So it’s really a personal thing.  And I know that running 1:47 felt great, and I want to run faster.

I probably averaged 30 miles a week or so over the last two and a half months, so the obvious next step would be to bump that up a little bit, and try to run maybe 35 miles a week, perhaps a bit more.  My next race is 12/17, the 12Ks of Christmas, which I’ve run twice, and I’m not putting any pressure on myself for that race.  I’m not sure I’ll be recovered.  I plan to do maybe a little running this week (perhaps 10 mi total), then low mileage with some speed the following, and low mileage the next week.  Then the race, and then no running for the rest of the year.

Next year, I don’t have any planned races before the end of April, but there’s a number of options I’m considering.  There’s a 5K race series I’ve done in past, so I could try and go for a new PR at that distance.  There’s a half marathon in early March which should be relatively flat.  In addition, I’d like to start cycling at least once a week, weather permitting, next year, indoors or out, but preferably out.  I’m strongly considering doing the 200 mile Seattle to Portland ride, and I’d like to improve my cycling.

Anyway, we’ll see.

Seattle Half Marathon – 2017

This morning, not surprisingly, when I woke up at 5:30 am, I wasn’t thrilled with the baseline plan of running a half marathon today.  I went alone as the race started at 7:30, and that’s too early to be dragging the girls out without a very good reason.  I was able to find parking close to the start, albeit for $15, which was great since it was raining, and I was able to stand under cover at the parking garage waiting for the race to start.

I wore shorts, short sleeves, a water-resistant vest, a visor (to keep rain off my face), two LS throwaway old race shirts, and a disposable plastic poncho from the race goodie bag.  With all the layers, I was comfortable in the 50-degree weather, breeze and drizzle waiting for the start.  My anxiety peaked when I pulled up at the parking garage, and once I got to the starting line and resigned myself to my fate, I started to feel better.  I spotted the 1:50 pacers and made the decision to stick with them until Mile 5 at least, assuming I wasn’t feeling too terrible.

Finally, we were off.

The course is a tour of Seattle, not that I paid much attention.  I have gotten to know the city a bit better with the cycling I’ve been doing, but still, most of it passed in a blur.  The main reason I didn’t want to run this was was because it’s a rather hilly course, with 1000 feet of elevation gain.

We started out, and I didn’t feel great, but also not that bad.  At first, it was quite crowded, especially near the pace setters.  I ditched the plastic poncho and the first throwaway shirt after the first mile or so.  I took off the second throwaway shirt but kept it in case it started pouring and I started freezing.  The pacers kept a very steady pace, and the first few miles ticked by.

  • 1: 8:25
  • 2: 7:59
  • 3: 8:30

I tried not to think about how fast or slow I was going.  It was tremendously helpful to have the pacers.  It relieved the mental burden of trying to decide if I was going to fast or too slow.  All I had to do was follow them.  This was mostly easy, but since there were so many people on the course, it was tricky from time to time staying with them.

I remember feeling rather demoralized on that big hill you can see on the elevation map around mile 4/5.  Before that, I’d been feeling pretty good and happy about my progress, but I started to doubt myself at that point.  If I’d known it was the biggest hill of the day, I might have felt better.  I really struggled to stay with the pacers and lost some ground.

  • 4: 8:16
  • 5: 8:53

I broke the course mentally into three parts – the first 5 miles, miles 6 through 9, and the last 4 miles.  I felt like the first 5 miles should feel pretty easy, the next 4 would be a little harder, and the last 4 would hurt, but I’d know things were nearly done.   I took the same approach on my long runs, always breaking them into three parts and trying to pick up the pace a little as i went on.  It was a great mental boost to finish the first five miles, and an even bigger boost to cruise down that hill.  At that point, I caught back up with the pacers, and felt very comfortable for a while.

  • 6: 7:58
  • 7: 8:36
  • 8: 8:34
  • 9: 8:27

Between miles 6 and 9, things definitely got harder mentally, but I was still feeling very good overall.  The hills were tough, but the downhills were blissful.  The pacers, who were obviously capable of running much faster than 1:50, were two women a bit younger than me, probably early 30s or even late 20s.  They chit-chatted the whole way, which i actually liked because I enjoyed the distraction.  They kept a fairly steady pace, meaning they didn’t slow up much on the uphills and didn’t speed up much on the downhills.  That made the uphills absolutely brutal, but the downhills felt easy.

A bit past mile 9, I started feeling like I was waiting for the pacers.  Adrenaline was kicking in because I knew I had only 4 miles left, and I knew I was on 1:50 and PR pace.  And of course, the adrenaline was speeding me up a bit.  So, around mile 9.5, I decided to go.  I missed the distraction of the pacers immediately.  It felt quiet without them, and I started worrying about pace.  Was I going too fast?  Too flow?   I was surprised to see Mile 10 was only 8:33 since I’d left the pacers behind.  Maybe they’d slowed a bit?  Who knows.  I start to push at Mile 11, and it started to hurt.

  • 10: 8:33
  • 11: 8:09

By the time I got through Mile 11, I was definitely hurting.  I was rejoicing that I had only 2 miles left, but 2 miles felt like a very long way.  I was going all the self-talk.  My mantra during the biggest part of the race was “You can do it, yes you can.”  So inane, but that was in my head, and at least it was positive.  When i felt myself wanting and needing to slow down, I reminded myself that slowing was a choice, and I could choose to keep going and accept the discomfort.

12: 7:41

13: 7:51

The small hill at the very end was just torture, and then finally we went into the Seahawks stadium, and I ran across the finish line, and found H and the kids waiting for me.  I had some trouble breathing for a minute or two, and then i was elated and exhilarated, and then I just wanted to be home flat on my back.  I’m absolutely thrilled and excited with how my race went.  I’m trying to bask in it.  You never know what the future may hold, and therefore, i want to savor the high points when they happen.  This was definitely a high point.

marathon eve

I’m busy trying to psych myself up for running 13 miles tomorrow.  It’s definitely time to run after two false alarms, but the weather is wind and rain, and I won’t run if it’s pouring.  But I really want to run and just get it over with, for better or for worse.  I’m ready to close out the running season and move on to a rest and then maybe some swimming, maybe some cycling.  I’ve run 1000 miles this year, and I’ve also cycled 1000 years.  I’m in shape to run fast, or fast for me anyway, but the weather conditions are hard.  I’m also carrying a few more pounds than I’d like for running.

The race starts at 7:30, which means getting up at 5:30.  It’s a big race, much bigger than I usually run, but it’s nice that it’s only 30 minutes away.  I’m searching the internet for inspiration, then it’s off to bed.  Wish me luck!

musings on talent and running

I’m all signed up for the Seattle Half Marathon this weekend.  I know what day it’s on.  What could possibly go wrong, other than getting sick, of course?  (I’m healthy as a horse right now.  In fact, our entire family has been ridiculously healthy lately.  We’re due for something nasty.)  Well, the current weather prediction is 60% chance of rain from 7 to 10 am.  (It starts at 7:30 and should take me about two hours.)  Um, eek?  I will not run 13 miles in the pouring rain.  I would instead kiss my entry fee goodbye and just decide a fall half was not meant to be.  However, I will run a half in light rain.  Even light to moderate rain.  And the forecast calls for 44 F at 7 am, climbing to 46 by 9 am, which is not bad.  The worst part of rain, for me, is being cold and not able to warm up.  So, we’ll see.  I’m kind of depressed about the whole thing.  Seattle weather just sucks in the winter for exercise.

Meanwhile, my sister ran the Berkeley Half Marathon this morning 1:31.  That’s 7-flat pace folks, and the course was a bit hilly.  She came in 14th out of 1800 women.  Meanwhile, she barely trained.  Most of the time, I’m just really proud of my sister, but sometimes, I’m jealous.  This is one of those times.  My half PR, from ages ago, is 8:29 pace.  I REALLY want to beat that, and I am not feeling optimistic.  At all.  And sis is running 7-flat pace!  Obviously, we are all given differing abilities in all manner of pursuits, but having your little sister be so much more athletically gifted than you can be challenging.  What I really need to do is take heart.  If Maeve, who usually runs about a minute faster than me, can run 7-flat pace on a hilly course without training, surely I can run 8:20 pace with lots of training, right?  If the weather isn’t too brutal?  I guess we’ll see.

The Blues – Aerial Grove Quilt

The aerial grove design is by Carolyn Friedlander, undoubtedly my favorite quilt designer.  I’d had my eye on doing a version of this quilt ever since I got a copy of her book, Savor Each Stitch (not surprisingly, my favorite quilting book.)  Finally, I decided to give it a go.

The primary motif in the quilt is a series of columns of appliqued circles of different fabrics.  I did fewer circles than she’d recommended for a full-size quilt, since I was planning a baby quilt, though I wasn’t originally sure of the recipient.



For the appliqued circles, I used essentially every piece of blue fabric I owned.  For the rest of the quilt, I used predominantly neutral fabrics, with a few light blueish pieces thrown in for interest.  Most of the neutrals were Friedlander fabrics, as I think she makes the best neutrals in the business, while the blues were a wide assortment of fabrics.  I didn’t buy any new fabric for this quilt (a first, I think), and you can see scraps of nearly every quilt I’ve made somewhere in this one.


For the back, I used primarily a couple of Lotta Jansdotter fabrics.  (She is another of my favorite designers.)


The binding is a pink print from Carolyn’s Carkai collection.


Once again I used my favorite batting, 100% wool from Quilter’s Dream.  As always, it’s a bit harder to work with, but I love how light and warm the resulting quilt is.  For this particular quilt, it does a nice job showcasing the free-motion quilting.



I did the entire quilt in Aurifil Make 50 Wt in White (2024).  This includes both the machine piecing, hand-applique of the circles, hand-sewing the binding, and the quilting.


I copied the quilting that Carolyn did on her Aerial Grove quilt.  She did entirely straight-line quilting, vertical and horizontal, mostly alternating in direction and width from block to block.  The piecing beyond the middle is improvised, and I was definitely a little intimidated in try this approach for the first time, but I’m happy with how it worked out.  While this in theory could be done with a regular foot, I think you’d be mad with the turning by the time you were done, so I FMQed the entire thing.  The biggest challenge was going around the appliqued circles.



I did my usual double-fold binding hand-sewn to the back.  I also did a hand-appliqued label.


Right around the time I started this quilt, my brother and his wife became pregnant, after much waiting.  I can’t think of anyone I more wanted to make a quilt for than my brother’s first baby, Rita.  Anyway, hopefully the quilt will be well-beaten up by the next time I see it.



Carkeek Cooler 5K Trail Run – my first trail race in 20 years

I’d been planning to run the Lake Washington Half Marathon this weekend, but I’d put off signing up because temperatures were predicted to be in the low 30s, and I didn’t want to run if it was also raining. Unfortunately, it ended up selling out! I’ve actually never had that happen to me before. I’ve been taking it easy for the last week and a half, so I wanted to race, but there aren’t a whole heck of a lot of races in November, and it’s predicted to be low 30s and pouring rain Sunday morning, so it had to be Saturday. I ended up deciding to try a trail run. I haven’t done one since high school cross country. The Carkeek Cooler is a 5K/10K (where the 10K just does two loops), and it features 500 feet of elevation gain. To put that in perspective, my normal neighborhood run, which feels pretty darn hilly to me, has only about 300 feet of elevation gain.

This morning, waking up to 33 degree overcast weather (after cold, clouds and snow yesterday) did not make me super-enthused to go out and race, but I persevered. I’d gone for a training run yesterday in about the same temperatures, though it was snowing, in long sleeves, a light GTX jacket, and tights, and I’d felt a bit overheated. Therefore, I decided to wear tights, long sleeves, a hat, and gloves today. When I went to sign up for the race, I just felt freezing. There was no sun whatsoever to warm us up, just that cold, damp, gray air so typical of Seattle at this time of year. I got my number, dropped off my stuff in the car, used the bathroom (which was surprisingly clean), and started warming up. I didn’t used to be a fan of warming up, but since I’ve gotten old(er), I’ve begun to appreciate it. This morning, I just ran until I got warm wearing a cycling jacket over my race outfit. After about a mile (forgot to turn on my watch initially), I was warmed up, just like usual. It was about 20 after, with the race starting at half past, so I headed to the start and stood there jogging in place waiting for the race to start.

The people at the race looked more athletic and serious than your typical 5K clientele. I saw lots of trail shoes and lots of thin people without a lot of clothes on, given the temperatures. I’m not saying they looked like pros or anything, just not like they were running their first 5K. Finally, the race director told us about the course, warning us about the steep hill at the midpoint, and assured us the course was well-marked. My biggest worry was getting lost. That would definitely suck, but he turned out to be right; the course was very well-marked, and it would have been hard to make a wrong turn.

When we finally started out, I started at a very cautious pace. Between the cold, the hills, and the rough footing, I wanted to start cautiously and pick up the pace later if I felt good. This turned out to be an OK strategy. While it meant I felt pretty good throughout the race, I got stuck behind slower runners, and it was very hard to pass on the narrow trail. We ran up a slow gradual hill to the first mile marker, and I felt great. At the turnaround, I was ready to run fast, but passing just wasn’t safe, so I had to maintain a slower pace. I gradually picked off a few ponytails, though. I’m still waiting on results, but I was near the front as far as women went.

At maybe 1.5 or 1.7 miles, we hit a short but very steep hill and gained about 150 feet of elevation. My pace slowed to as much as 16 minutes per miles, per my GPS. (I take the GPS with a bit of a grain of salt due to all the tree cover.) I actually walked up a couple sets of very steep steps. Then there was a flattish section, sort of slight rolling hills, a little more unphill and a steep downhill. Apparently I hit 5:50 mpm at the end of the downhill, but it many places, it was difficult to pick up any real speed due to narrow, steep steps. The race finished with a nice flat stretch, and I hammered it in feeling pretty good. Unfortunately, the HR monitor on my watch didn’t work properly, so I don’t have that data point, but I’d classify this as a hard effort, but not really all out.

Overall, I’m proud of myself for trekking across the city at o’dark thirty (forty minute drive) and getting out to run up hills in the cold. The race director assured us that he measured the course with the wheel, and it was in fact 5K. (My watch read 2.97, not shocking given the tree cover.) Therefore, my pace was 8:35 per mile overall – not bad given all the hills. I’ll take it. On to the next!