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).

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