Category Archives: Running

running documentary

This is a fabulous documentary on the lives of Kenyan runners trying to make it in Europe.  I don’t have much insight into the lives of the poor around the world, but for me, running is a small connection.  American distance runners are far, far from rich.  Well, perhaps the best make good money, but the vast majority are either dependent on spouse or parents, or more often, making a living at the local running store.

The comparison, though, to the extreme poverty of these African runners is extreme.  American runners have good coaching, sponsorship that provides gear and the like.   They train carefully for target races and rest.  These African runners are so driven by the need to earn winnings at races that they have to make training and racing decisions based on payouts and short-term needs.

This documentary is a bit heart-breaking, but I loved it.  I love that it makes a real person out of two of the many African runners I always see at the front of the various marathons.

last week’s workouts

  • M: 4 mi / 10:45 mpm
  • T: Rest
  • W: 7.4 mi / 9:29 mpm (hilly neighborhood run)
  • R: 4.0 mi / 10:38 mpm
  • F: 4.0 mi / 9:28 mpm with two tempo sections, one on Newcastle Elementary loop and the other on up the first hill coming back home
  • S: 15.0 mi bike ride / 13.1 mph on Cedar River Trail
  • S: 11.0 mi / 8:53 mpm

I was pleased with my effort at a tempo run on Friday, and Sunday’s long run went well.  The air was smoky and nasty on Saturday, but it cleared up by Sunday.  I had a terrible time motivating myself for my long run, and it felt harder than last week, but I maintained the same pace at the same heart rate, so I think it was just mental.  11 miles feels like a very long way.

Next weekend, I’m planning on running the Orca Half Marathon as a training run.  i haven’t actually registered yet, so I may still chicken out, of course.  It’s supposed to be flat, and I think it would be good practice to run a race, even if I don’t actually race it.

Briony started preschool today, and I cried.  She is so grown up.

last week’s workouts

  • M: 6.9 mi / 9:54 mpm
  • T: 5.1 mi with 6 x 12 s hill sprint
  • W: Rest
  • R: 3.2 mi / 10:39 mpm
  • F: 5K fun run at work
  • S: 10.4 mi bike ride
  • S: 10 mi / 8:53 mpm

Forest fires in Washington and Oregon made running miserable on Tuesday.  Ash was literally falling on me from the skies.  I probably shouldn’t have run at all.

The only other run of interest was my long run on Saturday.  I’ve now more or less decided to run a half marathon this fall, preferably sooner rather than later to avoid running it in the rain, and so I’m trying to go for longer runs at the weekend.  Saturday’s run was flat, and I wanted to run at about 9 minute pace, starting slower, then increasing.  I felt quite comfortable the whole way, so I was pleased with it.

a 5K at work

I ran the inaugural company 5K at work last Friday.  The race was at 3:30 pm, and I headed down to the locker room at about 2:45.  I was surprised to find it empty.  A few minutes later, another women named Andrea came in, who, it turns out, used to work with Sarah and Becca.  Very cool!  After changing, we headed out to the paved trail, and gradually some other people began to show up.  In the end, I think there were maybe 100 people there, probably 85% men, but I’m terrible at estimating numbers, so take that with a grain of salt.

It was hot and humid by my standards, given that I usually run in the morning when it’s in the mid 50s, and the sun is still coming up.  Friday afternoon it was around 70 and humid, not terrible but not awesome either.  The event was totally informal, and eventually the women who’d organized it stood up on a table and said, “go!” and off we went.

We started out WAY too fast.  I tend to start out a bit fast usually, but this was nuts.  I was trying to stick with a guy who’d told me he ran a 24 minute 5K.  As the lead woman disappeared into the distance, I glanced down at my watch, and even though I’d already slowed down, saw that I was running 6:15 pace.  Ouch!  No wonder it felt to hard.  My GPS watch informed me afterwards that I’d gotten a “best 400m effort,” not want you want in a 3 mile race!  I let the lead woman go and tried to stabilize at a reasonable speed that I felt I could sustain.  I ended up running 6:52 for the first mile, which is a bit fast for me, but not crazy.  Still, I wasn’t feeling awesome.  The course was almost completely flat, just out and back.  The turnaround seemed to take forever to come.  I passed one guy at the turnaround, and then ended up running with another guy all the way back, until the very end when I couldn’t keep up.

It was kind of cool on the way back running past so many people I knew.  I probably knew 25% of the people there (which is kind of crazy, considering I used to know 100% of the people at my company), and they were all cheering for me or giving me high fives as I past.  The guy I was running with seemed to know a completely different group of people who in turn cheered for him.

In any case, I was really dying by the third mile, due to having gone out too fast.  My second and third miles were 7:15 and 7:35.  I sprinted a bit across the line and then tried to regain my composure before the rest of my co-workers finished.  The woman who beat me actually was only 1 minute exactly in front (thank you Strava for telling me this), so I guess she started too fast, too.

Afterward, they served beer and Gatorade, and I must say, I think there is a lot to be said to post-race drinking.  (My last race they served Cosmos, also nice.)  All in all, it was a good time, and I’d do it again.  My run was good but not great, but you can’t have a PR every race.

a week of running

It’s funny how quickly my interests can flip.  After thinking of nothing but triathlon and cycling all summer, now that the tri is over, I’m ready to run.   In theory, I’m planning to run the company 5K Friday afternoon, but apparently it won’t be timed, so my interest in it has waned a bit.  I’m also considering a few other upcoming races:

  • 9/16: Rave Gre.en Run 5k / 9k
  • 9/24: Orca Half Marathon (possibly / probably as a training run)
  • 10/7: Fall City 10K / Half Marathon

I’m using Faster Road Racing as a training guide.  It’s written by Pete Pfitzinger, who is generally accepted as one of the better coaches in history.  I’m following the lowest mileage 8K to 10K plan.  In general, my plan is to take a mile off any runs that I do around my neighborhood, since it’s so hilly.

Last week, I did the following:

  • M 6 mi
  • T rest
  • W 5.5 mi
  • R 4 mi
  • F 3 mi
  • S 9 mi (8:46 mpm)
  • S 1600 yd swim

The long run went really well.  I drove out to a flat trail, and I felt quite comfortable at 8:46 pace.

So, yeah, we’ll see how long the inspiration lasts.  Tomorrow will be a tough, early morning.

Cosmo 7K Seattle 2017

I ran the Cosmo 7K this morning.  It appealed to me for two reasons.  First, it’s a women’s race.  Second, it’s an odd distance . . . guaranteed PR!  From the start, the day went well.  The race didn’t start until 9:30 am, so I had a leisurely morning at home before heading to the race and arriving at maybe 8:45.  I picked up my shirt and free “Tito’s Vodka Cosmo 7K” glass – yes, the race was sponsored by a liquor company – lined up for the potty, and then warmed up.  I ran maybe 3/4 of a mile warm-up, nice and easy, and a few strides.

We all lined up for the race, and then they announced the race would be starting in the other direct.  I figured I’d be one of the faster runners and had been near the front but now found myself before a large contingent of people who obviously did not plan to run quickly.  I carefully elbowed my way closer to the front, at which point a women informed me that she and her friends had been lined up for some time and would be starting at the front.  I was polite and friendly, but mostly mystified as to why these obviously slow runners wanted to start at the front.

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Anyway, finally, the race was off, maybe 10 minutes later than projected gun time, not bad.  I quickly found myself in third place, and then a young girl passed me, putting me in fourth.  I had glanced at my watch and noted  pace in the low 6s, so I was worried I was going to fast, but I didn’t want to lose any more places.  The first mile went by in 6:53.  I was feeling OK, but not great.  Half a mile later, we passed the 5K turnaround, and two of the three people in front of me peeled off, leaving me in 2nd place in the 7K.  This was pretty cool.  They’d closed the street, and ahead of me I could see the bike escort and the leader.  She was pretty far ahead, so I didn’t think I could catch her, but I really wanted to keep 2nd place.

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I passed two miles in 7:06, and then it was time for the turnaround.  At the turnaround, I could see that I wasn’t that far ahead of 3rd place, less than a minute, certainly, so I really focused on keeping my pace.  It was cool when we started passing the main pack and people started cheering for me – you know the way people do for race leaders?  I’m not sure I’ve ever experienced that before.  Usually there are so many men ahead of me, I’m pretty far back even if I’m doing well relative to the other women.  I was definitely hurting, though, and it was getting hotter.  I passed the 3-mile marker, and it seemed like the race was going on forever, and THEN my watched beeped 3 miles.  Ack!  The marker was in the wrong place.  Mile 3 was in 7:23.  At this point, I could see the finish area.  I started glancing at my watch periodically, and the tenths of miles were just ticking by excruciatingly slowly.  Mile 4 was in 7:22, so I was doing a good job of maintaining my pace.  Finally, I crossed the finish line – in 2nd place!

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(No smiles at this point.  The runners around me are 5K runners.)

Except at the awards, they called me out in 3rd.  Was I passed and didn’t notice?  I think this is unlikely.  I met the woman who had won – we both though she had won, and she had a bicycle escort, so it seems very unlikely she was passed.  I think most likely the woman called out as the winner had signed up for the 7K and run the 5K.  I just wish I knew!  Oh well.  One way or another, it was a great race for me.

Update: The results came out, and I looked up the women who won on Athlinks.  Given that her fastest 5k ever was 27:xx, I think it’s pretty certain she didn’t run a 7K in 28 minutes.  Therefore, I’d say she ran the 5K, and consider myself 2nd.

4.2 miles, 30:14, 7:11 mpm

I’ve never run a 7K before, but my fastest post-college 5K was at 7:09 pace, so I’m pretty frikking happy with the time.   On to the next!

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The Lake Meri.dian Triathlon

I completed my first triathlon last weekend, and hence I can finally say, I am a triathlete.  It gives me great satisfaction, honestly.  Triathlons are not easy.  I picked the shortest, easiest tri locally, and it featured a 400 m open water swim, 16 mile bike, and 3 mile run.

I had to get up at 4:45 the morning of, way earlier than I prefer, and even still, I was hustling to get to transition.  I set up my bike and put out my stuff on a towel.  I was happy to see many of my co-workers had snagged spots nearby in transition.  There were no less than seven of us from my company doing the race, including five from my group – awesome!  Naturally, I was extremely nervous.  I was resigned to my fate but also swore I would never. ever. do this again.

We had unusually high temperatures in Seattle the two weeks before the race, leaving the water in the high 70s, so I decided not to wear my wetsuit, given that I was only swimming 400 m.  I’d practiced once sans wetsuit, so I felt it should be fine.  About ten minutes before the race, I joined some of my friends in the water, and stood there absolutely freezing waiting for the race to start.  The water was in the high 70s, but it was 60 degrees, and I was shivering.  The 400 m swim was clockwise square, beginning by swimming along the shoreline before turning right out into the lake.  It was a “deep water” start, but you could stay in shallow water until a minute or two before it was time to go, so I didn’t have to tread water for a long time.

I competed in the super sprint, and I was immensely glad I didn’t have to swim 1500 m like the Olympic competitors or even 800 m like the “sprinters.”  They let everyone else go first, and then we Super Sprinters started.  The only difference between the sprint and the super sprint was the swim being 800 m rather than 400 m, so I think the Super Sprint was mainly composed of people like myself not wild about open water swimming.

When the race finally started, I found myself quite uncomfortable in the water.  I had a hard time getting into a rhythm and getting my breath, and I was freaking out a little.  However, I just told myself that 400 m isn’t very far and kept going.  I started breathing every other stroke rather than my usual every third stroke and tried not to zig-zag too much.  By about halfway through, I finally caught my breath and started feeling better, but I was still extremely happy when the swim was over.  According to my watch, I swam 425 yards at something like 2:12 per hundred yards.  That’s a bit slower than usual, but I’m happy with it, given that it was my first open water race.

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At this point I should note that I had to lay out a lot of money to get ready for this tri, between race fees and bike gear and swim practice sessions and a wetsuit (required for the open water practices).  So, I decided to save money on the tri suit and bought it for $15 or so on eBay.  Note to self: don’t buy white for anything you plan to swim in!  OMG it looks horrid in the photos.

I got through transition relatively quickly.  I decided to put on a long-sleeve jersey as it was still in the low 60s, and I was cold and wet.  I hurried out and got onto my bike, and I was off.  I did really well on the bike, completing the 16 miles at 17.7 mph.  I just tried to keep my effort even and my cadence high.  I actually think I overdid it, as my average heart rate was 155 (max 171) which is quite high for me considering I still had to run 3 miles afterwards.  I really pushed hard, and my bike time was good as a result, but I paid the price on the run.

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When I got off the bike and put on my running shoes, and start off, I felt LOUSY.  The run was not exactly flat.  I mean, it wasn’t what you’d call hilly, but it had small rolling hills, about 250 ft of total elevation gain.  My run splits were 8:46 / 8:29 / 8:18, so I did start to feel better as I went along, but I was suffering.  I was highly motivated to stay in front of my co-workers, which I did manage to do.  (My two fastest co-workers did other races, but I managed to beat the others – all men – in the super sprint.  Yippee.)

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I was happy to find out I won my age group, though it turns out there were only two of us!  I also got 4th overall and was happy with that, though I actually had faster times in the combined sports and lost out to third on the second transition.  I guess I should work on that!  Though it’s brutal enough switching from bike to run as it is.

Now that the memory of the pain is starting to fade, I’m enthused about doing it again next year and improving my swim, bike and run times.  Relative to everyone else, my best sport is run (surprise surprise), second best is swim, and worst is bike.  This is striking given that I killed myself on the bike, leaving myself totally exhausted for the run, and still ran faster relative to others than I biked.  I just kind of suck at biking for some reason, though I am getting better.