Monthly Archives: February 2018

a night on the town

There are two weeks until my half marathon.  I’m not really nervous yet.  Part of me thinks the idea of running 13 miles at 8 minute pace is ridiculous, and another, hopefully bigger, part of me realizes that it doesn’t really matter.  I can go out, and it’ll either go well, or it won’t.

H and I have a chance to really get dressed up this Friday to go to L’s school “gala.”  The theme is Night at the Oscars, and it seems a bit like prom for grownups.  I dug the one full-length formal dress I own out of the back of my closet.  I’ve been hanging onto it for years and years and thought of getting rid of it many times.  The last time I wore it was in undergrad!  However, I’m glad I didn’t, because it was a beautiful dress 18 years ago when I bought it, and it’s still beautiful.  The wearer has, ahem, faded a bit and is a little worse for the wear, but it still fits.  I even noticed that all the push-ups I did built a little muscle in my back, which you can kind of see.

However, since I never get out, I literally own one pair of earrings, no formal shoes of any kind whatsoever, and only one purse, which I wear to work every day.  I’m planning to wear the earrings, and hopefully I can find some ultra-cheap clutch on Amazon prime tomorrow, and I decided to splurge on a pair of black pumps, since I figure they’d probably come in handy.  Pictures to come!


running update

I’ve been dealing with knee pain (left) and foot pain (right).  Neither are severe, and I’ve been able to run through both without might trouble.  It’s only on my longest runs that it’s truly bothersome.  I did 14 miles in the snow on Sunday, and it really took something out of me, both physically and mentally.  Training is a balance between running and hard and needing to recover quickly.  If you run a half marathon at race pace, or at least if I do, it takes me a couple weeks easily to recover.  That obviously isn’t good in the middle of a training cycle.  My long runs, while they might be as long or longer than a race, are done at 9:00 to 9:15 pace, which in theory shouldn’t tax me too much; I should be able to recover in a day or two.  However, last week’s long run was problematic for a few reasons.  First, as a I mentioned, my knee and foot have been bothering me, and 14 miles put a lot of stress on them.  Second, that long run came at the end of a 42-mile week, a weekly distance record for me.  Finally, I’m pretty sure my body had been fighting off the cold both girls and H had come down with.  I started showing symptoms the next day, and I ended up taking Monday, Tuesday AND Wednesday off to let my body rest and to get over the cold.

After three days off, it wasn’t easy to get out this morning.  It was 26 degrees, and the roads were covered with snow and ice.  Thankfully, the sun was out, but still.  I would much rather have curled up in front of the fire.  Now that it’s over, of course, I feel much better, and I just wish I’d brought a camera, as the world was absolutely beautiful this morning, all covered in snow.  There’s no doubt that running around Newcastle in the mornings shows me scenes of beauty on quiet back roads that I’d otherwise never see.  I think it’s calming to my soul to see these things, all alone in the quiet.  (I see maybe one car every 10 minutes, typically, on my runs, except when I cross a parkway midway through my run.)

I’m taking today off as we’re heading on a minivay this afternoon, and there’s something wonderful about reclining on the couch with the fire on gazing out the window at our snowy and (amazingly) sunny backyard while the kids play.

olympics fever

Ah, Olympics, how much do I love thee?  Let me count the ways . . . Favorite moments so far:

1.) Random snowboarder winning the women’s Super-G

2.) The unbelievable skate by Zagitova of OAR in the team competition.  I can’t wait to see her in the singles competition.

3.) Watching Shaun White ace his second run.  I didn’t think he had it in him, and midway through, my heart just started pounding.  (I wasn’t thrilled to learn about his sketchy behavior, but I didn’t hear about that until afterwards.)

4.) Watching the South Korean women come back from a fall and a large deficit to win their heat and make it through to the finals of one of the short-track relays

Gotta love the knitting snowboard coach!

I love the Olympics for giving moments of pure wonder and emotion.  These people work so hard, and you can debate whether devoting your life to performing spins on ice is a worthwhile endeavor, but their dedication and fortitude inspires me.

I’m heading towards a record-high week of mileage, and since I’m not exactly heading towards the Olympics anytime soon, I can’t help but ask myself why.  My left knee is bothering me, and I’m not exactly sure what to do about it.  Nevertheless, I want a new PR, so I’ll keep on.  This weekend, I’m planning a 14 mile run (though it’s supposed to snow, so I may end up re-scheduling for early next week), and after that it’s taper time, with a gradual reduction in miles until my race on March 10th.

We are heading to Whidbey Island for a few days next week.  It’s our first trip in quite some time, and I can’t wait.  We rent a house right on the water.  It’s quite close, so the trip will be easy, and the house we stay in has tons of random games and stuff for the kids to explore if the weather isn’t good.  (Chances of the weather being sketchy: excellent.)

Renton 5K

I ran the Renton Parkrun this morning and ran a post-college PR by about 25 seconds.  I’m delighted to dip under 22 minutes, and I’m obviously happy with a new PR.  The conditions were close to ideal, and the course was quite flat.  I’d tapered a bit this week, per my half marathon schedule, and so I was feeling fresh.

I showed up about 40 minutes early, and straightaway I ran into one of the race directors.  She was quite friendly and came bearing cakes.  I helped her carry the cakes in, and then I did a 2 mile warmup.  This put me at about 8:45, with the race start at 9 am.  It was in the low 30s, and I’d been wearing quite a few layers to warmup, so I jogged back to my car and stripped down to what I was planning in racing in – capri tights, long-sleeve half-zip top, and an ear-warmer headband.  Surprisingly, I didn’t really feel cold, so I guess I was well warmed up.  I jogged back to the start with ten minutes to spare, and I ended up standing around in the frigid cold for about 15 minutes (as it started a few minutes late), which wasn’t ideal.  Next time, I’ll cut it a little closer.

Finally, the race started.  I found myself behind a wall of joggers on a narrow path, and it took me a little weaving through the first 100m to get around them.  After that, it was a nearly clear road ahead of me.  There were two women in front of me, and I picked them both off.  The first was obviously running slower than me, but I was a little nervous about passing the second so early.  She slowed quite a bit, though, in the end, as the next women who finished after me was about 4 minutes behind.

I haven’t run a 5K in ages, and I couldn’t believe how long the first mile seemed to last.  When my watch finally beeped I was thinking perhaps that I was at 2 miles, and that I’d missed the first mile.  No such luck!  My first split was 7:00.   I stuck with the pace through the second mile.  My second split was 6:55, and though I was feeling lousy, I think the fact I was able to run such even splits indicates that all the long runs I’ve been doing have improved my endurance.  The turnaround was at 2.25 miles and seemed ages in coming.  When I finally hit it, knowing I had less than a mile to go was a huge mental boost.

I tried hard to stick with the pace for the third mile, and even though I felt like I was working harder, my split was 7:03, so I guess I slowed a little.  I’d passed one of the guys in front of me at about 2.75 miles, and he blew by me with about a tenth of a mile to go.  He was going way to fast for me to keep up with, but I gave chase anyway in hopes that it’d help my time, and I did run the last 0.1 at 6:36 per mile.  My watch didn’t get good heartrate data, so I have no basis for comparison there.

My time was 21:45, or 7:01 per mile.  Oh, I really want to dip under 7 mpm!  So close, yet so far.

I left quickly as H wanted to go skiing with a friend, and I needed to get back to watch the kids.  It’s about four hours later, now, and I feel pretty good.  Now, I’m going to take the kids ice skating.  I’m sure it’ll be a blast and will go swimmingly, given that L hates to fall above all else.  She is quite insistent that we go, though, so we’ll give it a try.

Now, of course, I just want to go faster!  There are really four options:

1.) Stick with my higher mileage and hope that over time it’ll make me faster

2.) Add still more miles

3.) Add speed work.  I really haven’t done any dedicated speed work, and I do think I could improve a bit by doing this.

4.) Lose weight.  1 pound = 2-3 seconds per mile.  My body likes to be at my current weight, but even losing 5 pounds could make a difference.

The next obvious goal is sub-21:30.  I am confident that it’s achievable, despite my age.  I just have to work for it.

Great things:

Alternate blog title: Blogging, a great way to procrastinate from running and other productive activities.

So, if you’re a savvy Amazon shopper, no doubt you’ve noticed that Amazon reviews have serious issues these days.  I am a person who used to buy the product with the best reviews most of the time, unless it was significantly more expensive.  I’ve found that fake or paid for reviews are absolutely pervasive on Amazon.  I’ve found that my entire shopping approach has changed.  Nowadays, I look for name-brand products, because I’ve found that brands like Asics and Sony don’t pay for their reviews.  However, I miss the days when I could buy the no-name cheaper product because a bunch of people tried it, and it was awesome.  I got burned a few times on products that had hundreds or thousands of 5-star reviews and turned out to be absolute crap.  The solitary one-star reviews I left made no difference, I’m sure.  I’ve also mostly given up writing reviews these days, and I’ve found that when I do write reviews with less than 4 or 5 stars, they’re often rapidly down-voted.  There was a time when I used to watch my reviewer rating, and this kind of thing is a motivation not to write honest, negative reviews.

Nothing irritates me more than, “I received a free product in exchange for my fair, unbiased review.”  Ha.  I immediately mark such reviews as “not helpful.”

Enter  I’m sure you’ve noticed that it’s possible to spot fake reviews.  You can tell in various ways.  Sometimes, a whole bunch of 5 star reviews appear one after the other, during the same couple of weeks.  Other times, half the reviews are only one or two words.  The reviewer either has ONLY reviewed this product, or only leaves 5-star reviews on other random products.  And so on.   This is fine, but it’s a pain to do manually.  I don’t know what fakespot’s algorithm is, but in my spot checks, they are spot on, ha ha.

These days, I routinely run Amazon URLs through fakespot to determine whether a product is too-good-to-be-true or actually awesome.  It seems to work well for all categories, including books.  There’s nothing more annoying than spending 2 or 3 hours reading an entire book that received wildly positive reviews, think it’s horrible, and notice that it was self-published and, hmmm, who are all these reviewers anyway?

I decided to blog this after being just about to put Thru-Hiking Will Break Your Heart on my to-read list.  Now, I have not read this book.  It may be fabulous.  It has a rating of 4.5 stars with 998 reviews.  However, after reading the plot synopsis, I became suspicious.  Basically, women decides to hike PCT to escape pressures and distractions of modern world and meets lots of interesting and lovely people along the way.  Sound familiar?  I mean, it’s been written a few times before.  Why did so many people find this particular version of that plot line extraordinary?  Well, Fakespot gives the reviews an overall C, for a fairly high percentage of low-quality reviews, and provides an adjusted rating of 3.  Given my suspicions, I’m inclined to give this one a miss.

Try it for yourself.  I know I sound like a pitchman, but I assure you, *I’m* not getting compensated by anybody.  I just believe in reviews that are ACTUALLY fair and unbiased.