Friday, December 23, 2011

Running, swimming, push brooms, and a personal appeal from the author of 177 blog posts

With my last trip around the Bridle Trails I'm over 1400 miles for the year and I'll probably be able to get in 4 or 5 more runs before the year is over. The last two years I've gone to run at the Crescent Valley Forest trails on New Year's Eve. I think I'll try that again depending on what else the family and I have planned for the week. (my company gives the week between Xmas and New Years off to all non-essential employees). I don't love the Crescent Valley trails but I've only run them twice so far (the last 2 NYEs.) I've needed a map to find my way around and will probably want to grab one again. The trails have a couple of very mild climbs, not hilly at all. A good alternative to McCormack Forrest or Pt. Defiance I guess.

Going back to that last trip around the Bridle Trails, I pushed a little too hard the first mile and then hung on for a few miles trying to get my strength back before pushing the last two miles and barely breaking an hour for the route. It's great that I'm under an hour for the first time since hurting my knee after Pt. Defiance but I'm still 4+ min off of my PR for the route. Given the muddy winter conditions I think I'll be able to take maybe 2 minutes off of that time by spring.  I've started uploading the GPS files from my runs to Strava. (you need a free account on the site to look at them or search for me.) The site lets users create segments (routes) and then every time you upload a GPS file from a run it looks for any segments (created by you or other users) that you ran and compares your time for those segments to the times of all other Strava users who've done those segments. It was initially created for cycling and in the SF Bay Area the popular cycling hills are super-competitive. For running in the Seattle, Redmond, and Gig Harbor areas, not so much. I love pouring over my stats though...

Swimming has been a form of cross training and a good way to burn calories when I couldn't run but now that I'm healed, I find that I'm enjoying swimming more than I thought I would and sticking with it a bit longer. I've just recently gotten my pacing under control and yesterday I bumped up the distance that I swim at lunch from 1mi to 1.4mi. (1800 yds -> 2500 yds). I didn't think I'd be able to go that far as my shoulders were pretty sore from the start due to weight lifting earlier in the week (shoulder press to failure) but I just slowed down and kept counting down the laps. As I warmed up the pain went away (or I got used to it). I was averaging around 1:50 - 1:55 per 100yds which included stopping between my 800 yd sets to drink water or put on / take off hand paddles etc... I'm not fast yet and I'm interested to see what difference (if any) a pair of jammers will make over swimming in my board shorts. Shaving off the Movember moustache won't hurt either.

That pool skimmer might be slowing me down.

Now for a slight bit of promotion that I'm doing completely on my own based on past experience...

I think I'm going to enter the 10.4mi Bridle Trails race at the end of January as I did last year. I like the race, it's my home course and held on the trails that I run the most and know best. The people putting the run on, Northwest Trail Runs are great people, they put on several trail races (20 events in 2012! most of them with multiple distances available ranging from 4KM - 50KM) in the area with very reasonable entry fees and a good value for money in terms of course, support, swag, atmosphere, and attitude. They don't seem like their goal is to maximize revenue, but to maximize runner enjoyment. This isn't to take anything away from (previous Bridle Trails RDs) Scott and Leslie McCoubrey who were/are excellent race directors in their own right and a pleasure to volunteer for.

In any case, these are the type of events that you (as a runner) should be supporting. The Competitor Group doesn't need your money for their expensive Rock-N-Roll events. ($90 - $140 for the Seattle Marathon, $80 - $130 for the half-marathon!?! Ouch!). NW Trail Runs does deserve your money and they ask for much less of it.  So if you're in the area and want to run on some great (muddy) trails, come check out the Bridle Trails Winter Running Festival on 1/28/12. They don't even start until 3pm so it doesn't take over your whole day. (bring your most aggressive trail-running shoes).

Sunday, December 18, 2011

busy busy

When I'm injured the blogging slows down. It's easy when I know that my readership isn't even double digits and I find other things to occupy my time. Take this weekend for instance:

Saturday: Slept in until 7:30am (quite late for me), ate, got dressed and took both kids to a 1K Kids Dash in Tacoma. The race scheduled events backwards and held the kids race after the 5K/10K events. It was a really well executed event and in a great location but Parking was nearly a mile away. This wouldn't normally be a hassle but part of the walk to the start line included about 100 stairs that I had to carry the BOB jog stroller (and it's rider) down.

I ran the race pushing the boy in said jogger while my daughter ran beside me.  It's funny that she loves doing the kids races and asks often when I can sign her up for another one but when we get there, she quietly runs them at about the same pace as the other kids that start around us. She never speeds up to pass people or slows down. She runs much slower than I've seen her run when it's just her and I without the crowd. I think she either doesn't get that it's okay to pass people and run fast or that she's happy just jogging. Either way as long as she keeps asking to go run races with me, I'll keep signing us up for them. I love running with her.

After the race and the post-race donut & coffee / chocolate milk we came back home where the kids either went down for a nap or some quiet crafting time while I took over laying down wood floors in our kitchen from my wife. It's a been a long remodeling project so far (going on 4 months??) and it's a major step that we're starting to put the flooring down. I only had 3 hours to work on the floors which didn't get us very far because of the precision required when floating a wooden floor, cutting almost every single piece of flooring so that the joints are in a semi-random pattern yet wasting as little wood as possible.

I gave up the flooring to shower and get dressed up for my daughters first every ballet recital. It was a big recital where 6 or 7 different ballet classes did numbers, ages ranging from 3 up to 17. The youngest kids were just as fun to watch as the older kids. I've never had any appreciation for ballet, even when dating a girl who used to dance and was somewhat passionate about it. Seeing my daughter do her short choreographed routine was wonderful and I looked at it differently. With some of the older kids' performances I noticed how angular the dancers were and the lines that they create with their arms and legs. I was kind of an eye-opener for me.

After Ballet we went to our favorite Thai restaurant (which happens to be 5 doors down from the recital hall) for a great meal. We let my daughter choose whatever she wanted and that ended up being two full appetizer plates of Crab Rangoon, her favorite thing on the menu. That's not something I can ever remember my parents letting me do. It felt good to let go.

Sunday (today) E and I got ready and left the house at 9:30 for our day of shopping. Typically E's parents will take the kids all day for one day leading up to Xmas so that we can embrace consumerism and do all of our shopping. We made it to REI, the Ballard Market, two Waldorf-friendly toy stores, a tiny bed/mattress store, and Bellevue Square (plus Serious Biscuit for lunch) before heading home with a car full of commerce.

It's been one of the busiest weekends in months for us (I didn't even mention the two kids birthday parties scheduled this weekend, one we could attend and one we sadly couldn't) and next week will be really busy for me at work. The powers at work decided that everyone was going to switch cubes so I moved my stuff to a new cube Friday afternoon. It'll be a while before I get a network connection in my new cube so I'll have to be nomadic with my laptop until the network folks light up my new digs with the sweet Ethernet juice.

Exercise? Yeah, I've been doing some of that. I'm getting back to running a little more but still lifting weights twice a week and swimming once a week. I'm making decent progress with the weights doing my one set to failure routine. I'm also finally starting to 'get' swimming. Rather than swimming a mile as 18 x 100yds with a short rest between each 100, I just figured out my pacing and effort levels to do it as 3 x 500yds + 1 x 300 with a few seconds between each bigger set. I've always found it odd that my whole life I've been heavily skewed toward endurance over speed in things like running and cycling yet when it comes to swimming, I get pooped after 2 - 3 min of swimming and just can't catch my breath after 8 lengths of the pool. Maybe always swimming in board shorts is the problem. I know they slow you down noticeably over a speedo but maybe they're good for the training effect of dragging a parachute through the water with you.  I like swimming more as I improve but as my knee is healed, I really like the ability to get back to running whicih I missed so much when I was injured. If only I had more free time. :-)

So the running lately... My knee feels good and I've been running the Bridle Trails at night after work lately. Friday night's run felt pretty good and I had power in my stride for the first time since hurting my knee after Point Defiance 50K but I'm still 4+ min off of an average time for the loop (comparing against daytime runs in warmer weather anyway). I've lost a good bit of fitness and I don't know what I'll be up for by the end of January at the Bridle Trails 10.4 mi racebut it would be a stretch for me to come close to last year's 1:14.

I've run 50 miles this month so far and only need 11 more to break 1400 for the year. My goal was  1600 miles, but I'm happy with 1400 given the injury and number of days I've been sick. Now I need to focus on getting back to a good racing weight, hopefully I can find a way that doesn't rely solely on a Tim Ferris diet.