Category Archives: Running

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.


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.)

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.

Lake Sammamish Half Marathon

I ran my half marathon this morning.  I was in a bad place leading up to the race.  It just seemed like 13 miles at 8 minutes wasn’t something that I was capable of, and the prospect of running 13 miles is always intimidating no matter what the pace.  Leading up to a race, my mood generally descends until hits a nadir the morning of, when I’d rather get a root canal whether than run the race, at least in the case of long races.  This race was true-to-form.  I was not a happy camper when I got up this morning at 5:30 to get ready.

The weather was predicted to be mid-30s at the start and low to mid-40s at the end.  Fortunately, parking was easy, and so about 20 minutes before the start, I was pacing back and forth, trying to stay warm without actually expending energy (obviously impossible).  I had expected there to be a 1:45 pacer, and I’d been planning to tuck in behind them and ignore my watch.  However, at the start, I found out there would be a 1:35 pacer and a 1:50 pacer, and I was asking myself what to do.  Stick with the 1:50 pacer and just accept that a 1:45 wasn’t going to happen today?  Try to pace my own race by eyeballing my watch?  Starting at 1:35 pace would obviously be suicidal.  I decided to just try and run my own race.

Finally, we were off.  Things were quite crowded at the start, and I did a bit of weaving around, trying to settle in.  I wanted to go faster, but I couldn’t get around people without expending a ton of energy, and when the 1 mile marker came at 8:01, I was shocked and happy.  A 1:45 half marathon is exactly 8 mpm pace, so I was right on schedule.  I noticed, however, that the mile marker came a bit after my watch thought it should be – a significant bit.

Entering the second mile, I was glancing at my watch, but I don’t know if GPS coverage was bad or what, but my pace was all over the place.  I picked a couple women to follow, guessing that they were probably shooting for 1:45 if they’d gone through mile 1 at 8:00.  That was basically my strategy for the rest of the race – to try and pace off others who looked like they were running steadily.  Miles 2 and 3 came quickly, and I was delighted to continue to be on pace.

  • 1: 8:00
  • 2: 7:56
  • 3: 755

At this point, my effort level was very low.  I was feeling great.  I always find it amazing how big of a difference race-day adrenaline makes.  On a random day by myself, I would find it borderline torturous to attempt to run 3 miles at that pace, but during a race?  It felt easy.  Miles 4 and 5 took a bit longer to come, but I was still feeling good.

  • 4: 7:54
  • 5: 7:52

Before the race, I decided to break the distance mentally into three sections – the first five miles, the next four miles, and the final four miles.  I was determined if nothing else to run the first five miles at 8 minute pace.  Hitting mile 5, I was delighted to have met my goal and also to have a mere 8 miles left.

Meanwhile, the mile markers had “drifted” with respect to my watch.  By this point, they were about 0.3 miles off.  This is a huge differential, and it was the difference between being spot on for meeting by goal time and being 2 to 3 minutes over.  I was pretty demoralized, but hoped that perhaps the mile markers were off and/or I could make up the time.   I started picking up the pace a little, and at the same time, this thing started getting painful.  The mile markers took longer to come, and my pace stopped feeling comfortable and easy, and began to drift towards painful.

  • 6: 7:41
  • 7: 7:39
  • 8: 7:40

No doubt the reason things started getting uncomfortable had a lot to do with the fact that I’d sped up.  Despite speeding up, though, I was pretty sure the discrepancy between the mile markers and my watch would put me over my goal time.  Mile 9 took a while to come, and I was just telling myself to make it through the second section.

  • Mile 9: 7:54

Throughout the race, I was just trying to hang onto other runners around me.  I’d pick someone or a better yet, a couple of people, who looked like they were going well and just try to stick with them.  By mile 9, I stopped looking at my watch and stopped thinking about pace, and just tried to hang on.  I started really taking things one mile at a time.  At mile 9, I just kept thinking, get to mile 10!  Get to Mile 10!  Then you can slow down if you want.  Similarly with mile 11.  My pace slowed a little, which reflects how I was feeling.

  • 10: 7:53
  • 11: 7:52

The consistency of my splits overall kind of amazes me.  Anyway, miles 12 and 13 were, as expected, very tough.  During mile 12, I just couldn’t stop thinking about the now 0.35 mile discrepancy between my watch and the race and how I wouldn’t meet my goal time and, more importantly, how I really had an extra 0.35 miles to go beyond what I thought I did.  The thought of running that extra 0.35 miles was really disheartening.  Mile 12 came, and I focused on getting to Mile 12.5.  The course in general had little or no crowd support, but there were some people cheering about a mile from the end, and that definitely helped.  At mile 12.5 I could basically see the finish, and I started thinking maybe I wouldn’t have to run an extra 0.35 after all.  Mile 13 was only about 0.05 off my watch, and I finally ran through and it was over.

  • 12: 7:50
  • 13: 7:49
  • 0.14: 7:20 mpm

As I ran through the finish I saw the clock said 1:43 and change, and I knew I’d done it.  My chip time was 1:43:04, and I came in thirtieth in my age group and eighty-first woman.  Obviously, a lot of people show up at this race wanting to run fast times.

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.