Eat Drink Run Woman

Musings from a Seattle personal chef with a fitness problem

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March 2nd, 2010

Goodbye sweet girl

The past few weeks I’ve been an emotional wreck so blogging has been the last thing on my mind.  As I hinted in my last post, our poor kitty had been ailing (chronic renal failure) and we were having to give her subcutaneous fluids.  While we knew we wouldn’t have her for long, I had hoped it would be a matter of months — not weeks or days — before we had to make the difficult decision to say goodbye.

Unfortunately that day came on February 19.

It’s so tough to know when a pet is ready to go.  She certainly was giving us SOME signs — she had pretty much stopped eating and grooming, plus she spent most of the day burrowed under the covers of our bed — but she still would purr when we pet her and would occasionally venture out to hop up on her kitty tree in the front room.  But our once talkative, Rubanesque cat was down to a mere seven pounds and meowed nary peep.  Things came to a head on the 18th when she awoke in our bed disoriented and proceeded to pee on my darling’s foot.

The next morning we discussed whether it was time, but we decided we’d wait until after the weekend.  Thing was, while I wanted to spend one more weekend with her, we had races on both Saturday and Sunday and therefore we’d be gone much of the time.  Besides, I had been having nightmares about her having seizures and being in pain; I couldn’t live with myself if I had waited until it got to that point.

As my darling headed off to work I started reading stories about people having to make that agonizingly painful decision to put a dear pet down, and one of them really spoke to me.  The woman said she too was unsure if the time was right considering her kitty would still purr.  But she said that’s what cats often will do to calm themselves down; it didn’t mean they were happy nor comfortable.  I texted my darling, asking if we should make the appointment that day.

It was a gloriously sunny day (as was the rest of the weekend), so when my darling came home we took Xanthe outside for one last taste of freedom.  Our neighbor and one of my good friends — both of whom had kitty-sat for us — were there to say goodbye.  In looking through the pictures from that day it’s clear the spark had left her.  She didn’t even protest during the ride to the vet (my darling held her tight in his coat; we didn’t want her to suffer the trauma of carrying case).

The end was peaceful, and we were there petting and comforting her the entire time.  We now have her ashes back home with us, which brings us some comfort.  However, it’s still very, very painful.  We will eventually bring another kitty (or two) into our lives, but we’re not ready yet.

We miss you, sweet girl.

February 16th, 2010

And in the beginning…

If Sunday’s race portends what’s to come in my “13 in 12” streak I’ve got a LONG road (and sometimes trail) ahead of me.

As I was putting together my list of 13 races (marathon distance or farther) I gravitated toward the free ones.  After all, I’ve already shelled out a bunch of money for Boston and Big Sur (not to mention the Goofy Challenge), so free or almost-free were ideal.  So when I saw the Poulsbo Running Club was hosting the free Fishline 50K on Valentine’s Day, I knew it was the race for me.  How better to celebrate the Hallmark holiday than running the trails with my sweetie?

The race is held on a privately owned tree farm in Port Gamble on the Kitsap Peninsula.  We had run a similar course in August for the Port Gamble half marathon, however, this race started at a different point.  It’s moderately challenging with a mix of single track and forest service roads, with a few hills thrown in (most are fairly runnable).

While we’ve been having some great weather of late, the week leading up the race was quite damp.  In fact, I got caught in a squall while running around Green Lake two days prior (at one point the wind and rain were so strong I could barely move forward).  In addition, my work week was particularly busy (regular clients Monday-Friday, Valentine’s dinner Saturday evening) so I wasn’t as well-rested as I would have liked.   Still, I was looking forward to hitting the trail.

The morning got off to an interesting start.  We’ve been having to give our kitty subcutaneous fluids — not an easy task by any means — but by doing it ourselves we eliminate the traumatic trip to the vet.  While I wrapped her in a towel to keep her from squirming too much, my darling readied the 18-gauge hypodermic needle.  Just as he was about to stick it into her she managed to free her front paws from the towel.  As we once again attempted to get her confined I felt a sharp pin-prick on my left forefinger.  Yee-ouch!  (My darling hadn’t placed the cap back on the needle while I was re-wrapping kitty).  As I fished through our first-aid kit for the antibiotic ointment and a bandage, I noticed two spots of blood on my finger.  Turns out the needle had gone clean through!  (Medical professionals, we are not).

We took that as a sign to abandon the task until we returned from the race and got to packing our race gear.  I also packed a cooler with the fixings for chicken Caesar salad wraps to share afterwards (along with a couple of beers, natch).  I also tossed in a 1-pound box of Sees nuts & chews and a bag of salt & vinegar potato chips (we figured we’d burn our fair share of calories on the trail).

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January 31st, 2010

The PYS Run

Ever since I’ve become a Marathon Maniac I’ve heard grumblings from the more traditional, old school marathoners about our group: we care more about quantity than quality, running not to perform at our best or even for the love of the sport, but to simply add another notch in our marathon belts.  This argument even circled among our ranks, as the group’s founders proposed tightening the rules on what counts as a marathon to eliminate what appeared to be glorified training runs that are merely used to pad ones stats.

While there may be a few Maniacs who are guilty of such behavior, I never considered myself one of them.  Sure, I’ve run marathons as training runs, but I’ve always set some sort of goal for myself, whether it be to run all the hills, hone my fueling strategy, run a negative split, etc.  Sometimes my goal was simply to have fun with my friends — both during the race and while mingling afterwards.

I must confess: last Sunday’s 50K was a PYS (pad your stats) run.

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January 20th, 2010

I’m not dead yet!

Has it REALLY been six weeks since my last post?  Criminy!  I knew I’ve been wasting FAR too much time on Facebook and other online forums, but hadn’t realized how much of a time suck they’ve been.  But with the new year comes a new resolve to devote more time to my blog (let’s see how long it lasts).

Although I’m overdue with many race reports, I figured it best to start anew.  So rather than bore you with the typical lengthy EDRW race report blather, I’ll simply catch you up with a year in review.

When it comes to running, 2009 was a fabulous year for me (heck, it was pretty darn good for other aspects of my life as well).  I accomplished so many things I never thought possible and truly grew as a runner.  Sure, I neither BQ’d nor PR’d, although I came close in both respects.  I ran more miles than I ever have (2,010 for the year) and finished 24 races of marathon distance or longer (five of these were ultras — three 50Ks and two “mini-ultras” of 27-28 miles).

In addition to running my first ultra, I had hoped to earn four Marathon Maniac stars by running a “double” (two marathons in two days).  Once I stated this goal to a couple of fellow Maniacs it didn’t take much for them to talk me into a “double-double” — doubles on consecutive weekends — earning me five Maniac stars.  At the end of November I ran the tough but rewarding Seattle triple — the Wishbone 27.8-mile trail marathon, the Ghost of Seattle Marathon and the Seattle Marathon (the latter being my fastest of the three).

In December I once again braved the cold and wind during the Ghost of Birch Bay Marathon (it wasn’t nearly as frigid as last year) and ran a snow & icicle-free Pigtails Flat Ass, this time opting for the 50K.  While many runners pick a 5K race for their Jan. 1 resolution run, we Maniacs aren’t content with such a short distance and therefore turned out in droves for the First Call to Run marathon and 50K (I had intended to run the 50K but opted for the marathon at the last minute).  Finally, the ice we managed to avoid at Pigtails emerged — in of all places — Orlando.  We made our third (and final) trek to run the Goofy Challenge, where temperatures hovered in the low-30s and upper 20s; BRRRR.  But the frigid temperatures translated in great race times, as I ran the half in 1:57 and the full in 4:22.

While the running was certainly great in 2009, even better were all the friends I met while running.  Because the Marathon Maniacs are based in the area, it’s very easy to meet others when wearing one’s “colors.”  I believe it can be difficult to meet people as one gets older — life often gets in the way — but I’ve formed some terrific friendships over the past year with both women and men who inspire and motivate me.

So what’s in store for 2010?  Although I was hesitant to have a mileage goal for the year, I decided I’d try for 2,100 miles.  I’d also like to beat my current mileage PR for the month of 205 miles.  But my two biggest goals are race related: I want to run my first 50-miler (Rainier to Ruston), as well as earn seven Maniac stars by running 13 marathons/50Ks in 12 weeks.  I’ll kick off the latter on Feb. 14 with hopes of finishing up at the Maniac reunion at the Tacoma Marathon on May 2 (if all goes as planned it will also be my 50th race of marathon distance or longer).  I’ll be documenting my progress on my blog, so if you’re interested, be sure to stop by!  (I promise to be more forthcoming with my posts).

December 6th, 2009

2009 Carkeek 12-hour

Considering I returned to the scene of the crime yesterday for the first time since the race, I figured it’s about time I write up my report.  The Carkeek 12-hour is advertised as “The hardest 12-hour out there.  Period.”  Boy howdy, they ain’t kidding.  Actually, I have nothing else to base that on — after all I haven’t run another 12-hour — but given how much this race whipped my patootie I’m going to take them at their word.

The race is held in Carkeek Park just northwest of Seattle.  Although it’s a trail run, it’s not particularly technical.  However, the elevation gain/loss for each 1.93-mile loop is 430 feet.  You run as many loops as you can within a 12-hour period.  Many folks opt to stop after they reach a certain distance (14 loops for just over a marathon, 16 loops for a 50K), although a couple of diehards go the full 12 hours.  Me?  I wanted to run at least a marathon distance, although I was hoping for a 50K depending on how I felt.

Given the dire warnings, I decided I needed to get some practice on the trail before race day.  After signing up in early August my darling and I ran it a couple of times.  But when we saw so many of our friends were signed up we decided to meet every Wednesday evening for as many laps as people wanted to run.  We even met on our 9-year wedding anniversary where we celebrated afterwards with snacks and champagne (shhh… don’t tell the Seattle Parks Department).

I typically could get in 2-3 loops before it got too dark, however, I found some days the trail would chew me up and spit me out, especially if I had had a particularly long cook day.  (One day I couldn’t even finish an entire loop).  I averaged 26-27 minutes for most loops; my best time was 23:46, my worst was 28:13.  I had hoped to run at least 7 laps at once before the race, but only managed to get in 5 before I cried “uncle.”

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November 14th, 2009

2009 Nike Women’s Marathon

Nike

 

I’m no girly-girl, yet when one of my Maniac friends asked if I wanted to put my name in the Nike Women’s Marathon lottery hat, I jumped at the chance.  After all, who can pass up the opportunity to get a Tiffany necklace handed out by a hunky firefighter?  My darling also needed little convincing; while the necklace held no sway, the chance to run with 25,000 women was trés appealing (he’ll give his necklace to his mom).

In an “all for one, one for all” move, we registered as a group under a friend’s email address.  If that got chosen, we were all in (there were at least six of us in our group).  As with my Boston registration, I started checking my online credit card statement daily to see if it had been charged, and sure enough, on March 21 I saw it go through.  Woo hoo!

While this would be yet another big-ticket item (we already had the Goofy Challenge and Boston scheduled for the year), since it’s a west coast race we figured we could make do with a whirlwind trip — fly down Saturday morning, fly out Sunday evening after the race.  I found an extremely cheap hotel just blocks from the start in Union Square through Hotels.com; while I would never want to stay there on vacation, it was fine for a basic place to crash.

Given my time goal for Portland, I was quite regimented with my nutrition.  I laid off the hooch and made sure I ate healthy lean protein and carbs in the days leading up to the race.  But with Nike?  Hell — I was running for fun!  There was no way I was going to miss out on the culinary delights San Francisco has to offer.

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October 7th, 2009

2009 Portland Marathon

I knew when I became a Marathon Maniac and embraced multiple marathoning my times would suffer. Yes, there are a few freakishly talented Maniacs who can log fast marathons one after the other, but I’m not one of them. So even though I was already qualified for Boston 2010, I thought I’d try to run at least one fast race during 2009 (and by fast I mean in the 4-hour range). I had heard great things about the Portland Marathon, so I figured that would be the one to target.

I briefly toyed with trying for a 3:50 or at least a PR, beating my Light at the End of the Tunnel time of 3:54:34. But considering Portland would be my 26th marathon overall — 17th for the year — I knew that would be a stretch. My plan to run five marathons in June further put my goal into question. Even if I were to survive such a stunt it would only leave me 14 weeks until Portland (two weeks of recovery, 12 weeks of training). But with nothing to lose I decided to give it a shot. (I settled for a more realistic goal of a sub 4-hour).

While I made it through my “monster month” injury-free, I did have a few niggling aches and pains I’d have to baby for several weeks. Therefore, I basically put the kibosh on any type of speed-work and instead focused on incorporating hills into my runs whenever possible. But by early August I was ready to gauge my fitness level and raced a half marathon on the 8th. My 1:55 finish was a minute and a half off of my PR, but at least it told me I was on track. I got in a couple of 20-milers in August, as well as raced the Hood-to-Coast relay (I was on a competitive women’s masters team). I ran a couple of marathons in September as training runs, and also raced a 10K three weeks before Portland. Once again it wasn’t a PR (it was a hot day), but my 51:47 finish placed me third in my age group.

For sh!tz & giggles I plugged my times into the McMillan calculator, which predicted a 4:02:43 finish based upon my half marathon, and a 4:03:01 based upon my 10K time. I realize you can’t rely on these calculators, especially if you’re not putting in at least 70 mpw (I averaged 45-55), but I felt it at least proved I wasn’t smoking crack rock for thinking I could pull off a sub 4-hour. It certainly was no guarantee, but was in the realm of possibility.

One thing in my favor was the fact I have run several marathons. Sure, I didn’t race most of them, but I knew how to pace myself. I’ve very good at holding back in the beginning, even when getting passed by several runners (typically I catch up with — and pass — them in the latter miles). I also knew that just because you feel great at mile 13, 14, 15+, it doesn’t mean you’ll continue to feel great at mile 20, 21, 22+ (cue foreshadowing music).

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September 30th, 2009

What I did over my summer vacation

While the calendar may have claimed summer ended a week ago, we continued to be blessed with some absolutely glorious weather.  Sure, the morning’s were a tad nippy, but the afternoons have been clear and cool — perfect for running.  That said, I knew it couldn’t last, and indeed today there’s a storm a brewin’.  I’m not quite ready to bring out my winter running clothes, but I did appreciate my long-sleeved tech tee during this morning’s run.  (Edit — I wrote the previous paragraph last night.  Tonight — to guard against the whipping wind and horizontal rain — I did indeed break out the long pants.  Summer’s over.)

As we watched the clouds come rolling in my darling commented how much he’ll miss this past summer.  While many folks think Seattle is all rain and gloom, those of us who live here know better.  Yes, we’ve had years where our summer was merely a week or two.  But this summer?  Couldn’t have asked for anything better.

Not surprisingly, we were running fools.  Here are some of the highlights:

Wild Thing Summer Fling
Marathons are serious affairs.  The word “fun” has no place when discussing the marathon.  Yeah, right.

Granted, only a Maniac could appreciate a race such as this — 10 loops around a 2.6-mile trail, each runner MUST wear a dress for at least the first loop (as well as red lipstick), then perform a designated task after each loop.  Runners not possessing a sense of humor or silliness need not apply.  This wasn’t my fastest marathon, but I know I had the most fun. I’ll let the pictures tell the tale:
wt3

wt4

wt9

wt5

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September 7th, 2009

WRIGHTSOCK wrap-up

With the WRIGHTSOCK Challenge in its fourth and final week, I decided I needed to put at least one pair of socks to the ultimate test.  I already tried my new socks on two 20-mile runs, a half marathon race, the Hood-to-Coast relay (where I wore a different pair on each of three legs) and various short runs ranging from 4 to 10 miles.  While each performed fabulously, I still questioned whether they could hold up to the rigors of the marathon.

Yesterday I had my answer.

For Michelle’s Grande Ass Marathon — a point-to-point race hitting six different Starbucks along the course — I turned to my SLXs as they had treated me well for one of my 20 milers.  I threw caution to the wind and decided not to lube up my feet, although I did carry some moleskin in my pack just in case.  Although we awoke to a downpour, the rain tapered off by the time of the race.  In fact, the first part was perfect for running — cool and cloudy.  But as we left the fourth Starbucks at around the 14- to 15-mile mark, the skies opened up again.  UGH!

The final 11-12 miles were a sopping wet slog (toward the end I questioned why I was even dodging the puddles — I couldn’t possibly get any more wet), but fortunately I felt nary a blister nor hot spot on my feet.  They were completely soaked, but stayed warm during the run.  Can’t ask for anything more.

Of the six pairs sent by WRIGHTSOCK, my favorites are the SLXs and the SLRs.  Both hug my arches and are extremely comfortable.  My next favorites are the Running IIs and the Cool Mesh.  They’re both double-layered, however, I find they crease easily when putting them on.  But once I smooth them out they stay that way.

Because we’ve had such hot weather, I only tried out the Cushioned DLXs once.  They too are quite comfortable, and I’m sure they’ll be one of my go-to pairs come winter.  As for the ultra-thin SLTs, I probably won’t wear them for running as they’re just TOO thin.  But they’ll be great for gym or for slipping on aprés race.

I’d like to thank WRIGHTSOCK and the Runner’s Lounge for letting me participate in the challenge.  My feet really appreciate it!

August 17th, 2009

WRIGHTSOCK Challenge, test 2

Socks have it tough.  When they work well, there’s not much to say about ’em.  When they don’t?  Well, you can bet there’ll be a LOT of gripin’ going on.  Fortunately I’ve been experiencing the former with my WRIGHTSOCKS, but that means this post will be brief.

Last Thursday I tested the SLXs on a 20-mile long run.  While I normally lube up the ol’ feet with Body Glide, I decided to forego it in order to truly test the WRIGHTSOCK mettle.  Thank goodness I had absolutely no issues — no blisters, not even any hot spots.  Like a few of the other pairs, these socks “hug” your arches, which I really like.  They’re medium weight, which are good for both warm and cool climates.

Next up were the SLRs.  Frankly, I didn’t see much of a difference between them and the SLXs, other than they’re all white whereas the SLXs are grey and white with a red stripe.  The SLRs are touted as having more cushion, but I didn’t really notice.  I wore these for my half marathon run on Saturday and really liked them.  Again, I’d wear them year-round.

For my 7-mile trail run on Sunday I tried out the Running IIs.  Whereas the SLRs and SLXs are single-layered, the Running IIs are double-layered.  By the time I hit the trail the temp was in the 70s and my feet did get pretty hot and sweaty.  However, that was due more to the trail running shoes I was testing, which are coated in Goretex.  Once I switched to my regular, breathable trail shoes my feet were quite comfortable.  That said, I probably will save these for cooler weather.

So there  you have it — another successful test.  I have one more pair to try, then I’ll be wearing each pair several more times.  My tootsies are lovin’ it!