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.

high heels

Fun with shoes.  I think the ones B is wearing look the most dramatic, but I can’t walk in them, so I’m leaning towards the ones L is wearing.  I’m not a huge fan of the slingbacks, though they, too, are a lot easier to walk in than the sky high heels.  I don’t understand how some women (lawyers) can walk in shoes like that day in and day out.  (Becca?)  I guess practice makes perfect.

All shoes are Sam Edelman and courtesy of Amazon’s Prime shipping and free returns.

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.