Author Archives: admin

Tenacious 10

I ran the Tenacious 10 yesterday in North Seattle.  It’s a 10-mile and a 10K race sponsored by Oiselle.  Oiselle is a running clothes company based in Seattle founded and run primarily by women, including famous former elite runners Lauren Fleshman and Kara Goucher.  I own a few Oiselle articles of clothing, but to be honest I haven’t loved it as much as the Sugoi and Nike stuff I own.  Nevertheless, I like what they stand for and always wish them well.   I’d been thinking about running this race, but there are a lot of race options in late April and early May, so I’d been on the fence.  After not actually finishing the 5K last weekend, however, I decided to sign up, and I’m glad I did.

The race started at 8 am in Gas Works Park, so it was a solid 30 minute drive from my house.  I nearly missed the start of the race last weekend, and I was worried about parking, so I got up at 5:30 and arrived at the race about about 6:55, and I got a rock-awesome parking spot near the start.  As I was leaving the parking lot, Kara Goucher walked by me.  I though, was that Kara Goucher?  She works for Oiselle, right?  Then I thought, no, you’re just dreaming it.  But no, I saw her later, and it was DEFINITELY Kara Goucher.  So cool!  I picked up my number (no line) and jogged a mile warmup, and hit the portapotties (no line).  Then I met up with a couple friends who were also running the race, before going out for another half mile or so of jogging.

At the start line, there were four pace groups, 7:00, 7:30, 8:00 and 9:40 mpm.  (9:40 works out to a sub-60 10K.)  I had been thinking I’d start out at 7:45 and then speed up, but I couldn’t resist going out with the 7:30 pace group, led by Ali.soune Lee.  Initially, there was a large group following the pacer, but by the end of the first mile, the group had thinned dramatically, and I’d say by the end of the second mile, we were down to 4 or 5 people.  The pace felt hard to me fairly quickly, but I told myself to stick with it anyway.  I resisted looking at my watch and just stuck to the pacer’s back.  I find this approach works really well for me.  I knew the second mile would be the hilliest section, and there was in fact an incline at the end of the first mile, but I powered up it.  (The one disadvantage of a pace group is they tend to go faster up hills and slower down hills than you would naturally.)  From the hill on, I was definitely significantly uncomfortable, and at times it felt really hard to stay with the pacer.  Still, I just stuck with it, and the second mile mark came surprisingly quicker.

  • 7:24
  • 7:28

One thing I loved about this race was how many fast women were participating.  Lauren Fleshman (NCAA champion 5K and former professional runner) led the 7 mpm pace group.  Kara Goucher won the 10 mile.  During the race itself, 90% of the participants were women, and in the early miles, as far as I could see there were women booking it in front of me, women in my pace group, and of course, lots of women behind me.  Normally in races I find myself surrounded by mostly men.  It was inspiring to participate in an event with so many fast women runners, and women runners in general.

Miles three and four passed in a blur of discomfort but not pain.  At the third mile mark, I noted that the pace was a little hot; we were actually going faster than 7:30 pace, more like 7:20.  I tried not to panic that I was going too fast and reminded myself that all things considered, I was feeling pretty good.  I worried that the endurance lost of the last month of slacking would come back to bite me in the last mile or so, but so far so good.  In fact, halfway through, I felt better than I did during the first mile.  Mile four came, and I now was pretty committed to hanging on as long as I possibly could.

  • 7:14
  • 7:22

At mile 5, the 10-mile (as opposed to 10K) runners split off and I thanked my lucky stars that I was running 10K.  We had to run up a short hill, but the pacer told me it would be downhill from there.  At this point, there were only three of us running together, me, the pacer, and another woman.  We’d caught up with the other woman, and I was the only one left of the original pace group, other than the pacer herself.  She started trying to chat to me, and I basically just did not have the air to speak.  -Where are you from? Gasp, puff, new – puff – castle  She talked a bit about the weather and the scenery, and I just really could not respond.  She also was really encouraging and letting me know what the course looked like, and I greatly appreciated it.  I honestly, in retrospect, feel like I could have gone a bit faster that last mile, but maybe not.  I was checking my watch every couple tenths of a mile, and the smallest upward incline felt like a mountain.  The woman we’d caught up with pulled away again, we headed back into the park, and I upped the pace a fraction across the line.

  • 7:20
  • 7:16
  • 7:06 (0.15)

My watch measured 6.15, short of 0.2, and the course isn’t USATF certified, so I’m going with that distance, though many other runners did clock 6.2 or more on Strava.  6.15 miles / 45:11 / 6:20 mpm.  Honestly, I’m thrilled.  After my half, I’d wondered if I could break 45, but after two colds, some kind of flu bug, and a pulled calf muscle over the last 6 weeks, I’m delighted with how fast I was able to go.  Going in, I really had no confidence I could even hold 7:30.  Of course, I kind of wish I could have gone just a fraction faster and dipped under 45, but that’s a goal for next time.  I actually have a 10K planned for a couple weeks from now, and now I know what to aim for.

After the race, I picked up a doughnut, and I stood and cheered for people until my friend came in 15 minutes later at about 60 minutes.  I usually am too tired to cheer after a race, but I wanted to catch my friend and wasn’t exactly sure how fast she was going, and I actually really enjoyed standing on the line cheering for people.  People cheering me on really helps me, so it was fun to do some cheering for once.  I also saw Kara Goucher charge through and win the 10-miler.

All in all, it was a great race and worth the steep last-minute entry fee ($75!).  I’ll do it again next year if I possibly can.

democracy and burying one’s head in the sand

We owe 25K in taxes this year.  I don’t mean that we owe 25K in total.  (Obviously, we pay a lot more than that.)  I mean we will be writing a check for 25K in a few days.  Typically, it’s been between 10 and 20, so this is a new high.  No interest, no penalties.  H pays estimated tax three or four times a year (whatever you’re supposed to; he deals with this all on his own.  I’m not sure I appreciate him as much as I should).  Anyway, I’m just curious if my friends write huge checks in April, or if you have your withholdings set such that you break even or get a refund, or at least pay a lot less.  I kind of like the annual reminder that I pay the federal government a hell of a lot in taxes.

I’ve had three days of short, slow runs in a row.  Hopefully I can keep the streak going.  To get in my planned 4 mile run tomorrow, I’ll need to get up at around 5:30.  I am not morning person, but if you want to be a parent and a running person, there aren’t a lot of options.  At least it’s been beautifully light recently.  I love the spring and summer so much in Seattle.

I enjoyed this article from the NYT about a man who’s chosen to bow out of awareness.  The thing is, as a society, participating in our democracy is so critical.  Writing letters, discussing things with your friends, participating in demonstrations, donating to groups that represent your interests; I believe in all these things.  However, as an individual, the impact you can have is negligible and unlikely to impact your life.  The most liked comment said the following:

I’m jealous of Mr Hagerman because he can afford to ignore the news. It seems that he has accumulated enough wealth and does not have an immediate family to care for where any of the current decisions directly affect him. On the other hand I have to continue to work at my right to work (fire you for any reason) workplace, pray my 401k won’t take another 2008 hit because of regulation roll back, and hope I don’t die in an emergency room of a totally treatable disease because of American healthcare or af an AR-15 wound from an at school parent teacher meeting because of the NRA-GOP party policies.

The thing is, this one man’s choice to read the news, write letters, donate money, demonstrate, whatever, probably has zero impact on his 401K, healthcare, and gun rights.  He would probably be happier if he buried his head in the sand.  If EVERYONE did this, it would be catastrophic.  But for an individual, participating in the national “conversation” provides virtually zero benefit and for those of us who care, lots of tooth-gnashing.

I personally made a choice when our esteemed president was elected not to open articles with “Trump” in the title.  I’ve probably read fewer than ten articles since Trump was elected.  I’m not bragging.  I feel vaguely guilty, but not too much.  As someone who’s been struggling with anxiety, I view it as my prerogative to make choices that help me get through the day without panic attacks, and not thinking about what Trump has done today definitely helps.  The guy in the article takes it to an unreasonable extreme, but I think I can safely say that I’m happier not knowing what Mr. T is up to.   I think a lot of other people would probably happier if they spent less time reading the news, but I guess we’d be worse off as a democracy as a result.

I just finished reading (well, listening) to a fascinating book: Secondhand Time: The Last of the Soviets.  It’s all about the fall of the Soviet Union, with a significant secondary focus also on living under Stalin, or living having lived under Stalin.  I loved the way it made me reflect on the pros and cons of democracy and socialism and of course, communism.  It’s easy for us to be a bit laissez faire about the incredible gift we have to live in a free country, and I like to be reminded of that from time to time.  On the flip side, the chaos that occurred when the USSR fell was horrible for minority groups – Russians living outside Russia, Belarussians living in Russia, Chechens, etc.  When people took on national identities instead of Soviet identities, everything went to hell.  Reading about this made the appeal of Putin obvious.  I would want Putin in charge, too.  Trump or no, I feel we, as US citizens, are incredibly blessed to live where we do with the opportunities we have.

plans

It’s been about a month since my half marathon, and I’ve now been sick three times.  First, I caught a cold from L.  NBD.  Then, she got the flu, and I came down with something way more mild but similar – low grade fever, body aches, and chills.  What was it?  Who knows.  But it was something.  And then, last week, I had sore throat, low grade fever and chills for a couple days, with a bit of lingering congestion and malaise.

On top of this, Monday night I sprained / pulled a muscle in my calf while Irish dancing with the kids.  Yup, I’m definitely getting old.  I can’t help but wonder if the stretching I’ve been doing has weakened my muscles at all.  Or maybe I was just a bit weakened from my half marathon.

I had been planning to make a real go at a 10K at the beginning of May.  At this point, though, I’ve only run sporadically for four weeks.  I’ll still run it, but I feel my chances of doing well are mostly shot.  Still, since I’ve never raced a 10K before, it’s a guaranteed PR.  I’d hoped I could do well, as it’s a women’s race and not super competitive, but I guess I’ll just try and have fun.  I had also planned to run a 5K next weekend, and I guess I’ll probably go ahead and do that since it’s very close to my house.  I definitely need to keep my expectations low, though.

In the more distant future, I’m contemplating running in the Vancouver Marathon.  It takes place in early May, so I’d basically have a year to prepare.  I think training for a marathon would take my half marathon to the next level.  Maybe.  (Maybe I’m too old.)  Running a marathon has long been a bucket list item for me, and I’ve just never really wanted to commit.  However, I know that running and training brings me a lot of happiness, and I think i wouldn’t have to do THAT much more to successfully finish a marathon.  I’d want to train so I could have a decent run with no death march at the end, but I wouldn’t be trying to run to my full capability as I think that would require more miles than I care to train.

The training plan I’m looking at maxes out at a 20 mile long run.  I ran up to 14 training for my half marathon, so it’s not that much farther.  The midweek runs are longer as well, and that would actually probably be the tough part.  It’s very doable to set aside time to slog through a tough run on the weekend.  It’s a lot harder to get up at the crack of dawn and run 10+ miles, often in the dark or the rain.

According to Hanson’s race equivalency calculator, a 1:43:04 half marathon is equivalent to a 3:34:53 marathon, or 8:12 minutes per mile.  If I threw 30 seconds per mile on that and targeted 8:42 minutes per mile, that works out to a 3:48 marathon.  That seems achievable to me and a good time to pace to aim for, assuming excellent conditions.

Anyway, this is just a percolating idea right now.  If I keep getting sick, I might have to take up basket weaving.  (Or, you know, one of my other hobbies that I’ve been neglecting like knitting or quilting.)

rape trial

A rape trial just concluded in Belfast with the accused being rugby players, more or less the brit equivalent of American football players.  I found it interesting to read the account.  Of course the young woman took actions that put her in the situation, and as always, it’s nearly impossible to prove rape. Personally, I don’t think men should be put away for rape unless the evidence is conclusive.  Since the evidence is rarely conclusive, this suggests that most men who date rape can get away with it.  The solution, in my mind, is to make the penalty so severe that no one wants to risk the unlikely chance they’ll get caught.  I propose life in prison for attempted rape.

There was an event in Seattle recently in which a man attempted to assault and rape a runner.  She fought him off, posted on insta, and became an internet celebrity.  He recently went on trial and is going to prison for less than 5 years.  Really???  Have we learned nothing from Brock?  Just because he’s not a young, handsome, privileged rich kid it’s ok for him to rape women?  There is a major differentiater between Brock and this rapist.  I can with 100% confidence avoid a brock rape by not drinking to the point of unconsciousness.  Perhaps because I run often, and run often in the dark, and always alone, I feel very angry that people don’t take this other type of rape equally seriously.  I feel it’s actually much worse.

Anyway, in terms of the Belfast incident, there are so many young women that take actions that put themselves in terribly vulnerable positions.  I always think about the many times I put myself in similar situations as a young woman – falling down drunk, sometimes with friends not around, strange men pawing at me.  So incredibly stupid!  I was lucky enough never to experience any kind of sexual assault.  But it really could happen to anyone.  One night, and only one, at GT, I drank until I passed out.  It wasn’t my intention.  I hadn’t drank all semester – literally at all – and I drank like I had the tolerance I’d had in Ireland when I drank all the time.  And I passed out and nothing happened to me.  The guy I was with took care of me.  Thank goodness there was no brock around.  Anyway, to me the formula for not getting date raped = no alcohol + no athletes.  Virtually all date rapes include at least one of the two and a huge percentage include both.  But everyone has to go through that phase where they throw caution to the winds, right?  It’s just a question of being lucky enough to get through (relatively) unscathed.

this and that

We have had an almost miraculous stretch of good health in our family this fall.  I think L has missed one day of school, and she probably could have gone if she’d really wanted to.  The kids had one cold, and H and I have been perfectly healthy.  This is unexpected since L started school, and we thought perhaps she might start getting sick more often.  H and I have been reluctant to even mention it lest we jinx ourselves.

However, all good things must come to an end.  H was out of town, but the kids and I suffered through a cold last week.  Then, before she’d even really gotten better, L got a second bug of some sort.  She’s on day 4 of high fever, congestion and coughing.  She’s been sleeping with H and I.  This morning, I woke up feeling lousy, and I can’t decide if it’s because I was up half the night with L or because I’m going down with the creeping crud as well.

I’ve been working a lot, definitely 40 hours a week plus, which is a lot considering I’m only the office four days.  I feel like I have something to prove and doing well over the next few months will (a) be good for the group and (b) good for me.   However, the extra hours are making it hard to find time to run and nearly impossible to find time for anything else.

motivation check

I’ve been resting on my laurels for a week and a half, and it’s definitely time to run again.  I’ve got goals, and I’m just so excited about the way hard work has been paying off for me lately.  In so many parts of life, hard work really does pay off – running, any kind of musical instrument, quilting, work, and so on.  The relationship between work and payoff is never linear or guaranteed, but obviously I love the way it’s been working out for me for the last six months.

Work has gotten more intense lately.  A LOT more intense.  I’m the lead of a group – a NEW group.  Basically, the group was formed a few weeks before I got the job.  We’re in what I’d describe as a resource and schedule crisis, and we have goals that I desperately want to mee.  I’m averaging maybe 7 hours of meetings a day, and I feel like I’m just not getting done what needs to get done.  So far there’s a clear line between work stress and the beast of anxiety.  The former is what I have dealt with all my life in preparing for tests and exams and deadlines at work, and it really doesn’t bother me.  As long as it stays that way and never crosses the line into irrational anxiety, it’s all good.  In any case, I’ve been having to get to work earlier, and if I want to meet my running goals, that means getting up earlier.  I am NOT in any way, shape, or form a morning person.  Ug.  But it has to be done.  I really need to get up by 5 or 5:30 consistently to get my runs in.  The question is, do I have the motivation to do it?   The weather’s good tomorrow, and there’s no time like the present to get out there.

on running and life and anxiety

Happy St. Paddy’s Day, friends.

H is out of town for the second week in a row.  The good news is that I felt zero stress last week and very little stress this week.  He normally goes out of town during the week, for work, but in March he gets together with his college friends for March madness, so he’s out of town for the weekend.  I was a bit worried about how to entertain the kids all day long on a weekend day.  Last week, his trip didn’t affect me in any way in terms of anxiety.  This week, I was feeling some stress from my new job, which in combination with his departure, was making me a bit anxious, but I never felt that panic attack sensation, or anything close to it.  Which is good, obviously.

This morning, I found out my sister is likely getting married on Harbour Island, the Bahamas.  I feel like I’ve mostly kicked the H is traveling so I’m going to freak out thing, but plane travel still makes me nervous.  The two things that triggered horrible, death-wish inducing panic attacks were H’s trips and plane travel.  I’ve had plenty of time to more or less get over the former, but I just haven’t had much need to travel by plane.  And going to foreign countries always stresses me out a bit.  Anyway, I was pretty upset because obviously I want to be at her wedding, but my preliminary servey of travel options indicated it would be AT LEAST a 14 hours journey with a red eye included.

Then, I headed out for a run.  Within half a mile, I was already feeling infinitely better and capable of handling what life throws at me.  It was incredible.  I haven’t been running all week as I wanted to give myself a break after the half marathon, but I didn’t feel like biking today (cold) and just felt like I needed to get out and do something.  It was like the best drug ever.  I was running along thinking of how we’d get to the Bahamas and just feeling fine and I realized how much better I felt and was kind of blown away.  And so I kept running.  4.5 miles at 9:30 or so pace, which in my neighborhood is a moderately hard run (due to hills).  I’m pretty sure it’s more effective than Xanax, for me, anyway.

I have never thrown my hands up at the end of a race before, but the woman who finished in front of me did, and I impulsively did the same.  (It seems the woman behind me also felt inspired by the two of us.)  This picture definitely reflects the way I was feeling – exhausted but victorious.  You can see the spare tire around my waist through my shirt, but that doesn’t actually bother me.  When I’m looking back on this day years in the future, I’d like to remember that I accomplished this time without being perfectly svelte.  I was so happy to finish in 1:43, and now I just want to run faster.

We may travel to NY in April.  Depending on schedule, I may compete in a duathlon that month as well as a 5K.  (The 5K also has a 12K option, so we’ll see.)  Then, in May, comes my next major goal race, the Snohomish Women’s Run.  It has a 10K and half marathon, and I’m planning to run the 10K.  My goal is sub-45.  I’ve never raced a 10K before, but I’m pretty sure it’s a tough race.  The 5K is brutally painful, but it’s over quick.  The half is long and agonizing, but the intensity isn’t the same.  It’s only the last couple miles that really kill you.  The 10K seems like the worst of all worlds, but it’s good to have goals, right?  I’ll start running easy next week, and I’ll start training in earnest the following week.