Eat Drink Run Woman

Musings from a Seattle personal chef with a fitness problem

Archive for August, 2008

Published August 27th, 2008

Hood-to-Coast 2008

When last we left our intrepid runner she was suffering from a mild case of vertigo as she readied herself for her first leg.  We now turn to her official race report.

Dubbed the “mother of all relays,” Hood-to-Coast stretches 197 miles from Mt. Hood to Seaside, Oregon.  More than 12,000 runners participate; each team has 12 runners in two vans who run three 5-mile legs (give or take a couple of miles).  I ran it in the mid 90s with a corporate team and have been eager to run it again ever since.  It’s become so popular, race organizers instituted a lottery system a few years ago.

When I saw a couple of my fellow Tapirs were running the race I emailed them in January to let them know I was available (teams often have openings as people drop out due to injury).  The Femme Fatale women’s masters team (age 40 and over) had an opening since several members started a supermasters team (age 50 and over).  I didn’t realize at the time they were a competitive team that placed every year, guaranteeing entry into the next year’s race.

During our team meeting the night before, our captain Kris handed out our estimated time/paces for each leg based upon the 10K times we provided.  I had based mine on my speedy Arlington race, but as I looked at the sheet I thought there was no way I’d be hitting those paces given my vertigo.  My first leg (leg 8 of the relay) was an easy 4.55 miles with an estimated 7:53 over pace.  Yikes!  My second leg (leg 20) was ranked “very hard” as it included 800 feet of elevation gain over five miles, finishing with a 3/4 mile downhill.  The estimated pace for that leg was a much more reasonable 9:46.  My final leg (leg 32) was a moderate one — 4.1 miles over rolling hills with an estimated overall pace of 8:52.

Because we were a faster team, our start time wasn’t until 4:15 p.m.  Since I was in Van 2, I wouldn’t run my first leg until almost 10 p.m.  However, that would be the only leg in the dark, so it was good to get it over with.  We took off from Kris’ house at 5:30 p.m. for the hour+ drive to the Fred Meyer in Sandy, OR, where Van 1 would hand off to our van.  My van mates were a great group of women: Lynnette, an Ironman triathlete running her first Hood-to-Coast (and her first relay); Rebecca, Alicia and Cindy, long-time Femme Fatales; and Kris, our team captain.


Published August 26th, 2008

Hood to Coast 2008 — Prelude

Uno, dos, tres… catorce!
Hello, hello… ¡Hola!
I’m at a place called Vertigo.

What, pray tell, do the lyrics of a U2 song have to do with running the Hood-to-Coast relay?  Nothing, however, the song title is the same as the condition that plagued me during the race.

Let me back up a bit.

Remember the dizziness of which I spoke during North Olympic?  While I suspect it was due to dehydration, my internal gyroscopes had been off for about a month prior.  It never felt like full-on vertigo; rather, I would often feel light-headed when moving my head around quickly.  The sensation would come and go, but it started to get progressively worse the middle of July.

To my surprise, it did not affect my running, not even during a particularly tough BUAL™ workout.  The next morning, however, I felt like I was on a roller coaster ride.  I still made it to my yoga session, but during one position where I lifted my arm and turned my head toward it, I experienced a violent jolt of vertigo.  I left class immediately, canceled my cook date, booked an appointment with my doctor and stayed in bed for most of the day.

The next morning my symptoms were gone; I didn’t even feel the slightest bit dizzy.  My doctor did a preliminary check, then recommended I make an appointment with an audiologist.  (She didn’t think I required an MRI just yet, as most likely it’s a condition called benign paroxysmal positioning vertigo, or BPPV).  I saw the audiologist August 1, and unfortunately (or perhaps fortunately, depending on how you look at it), the results were inconclusive.  Considering I no longer felt any dizziness, I wasn’t concerned.

But then I went off the wagon.


Published August 19th, 2008

Tunnel Marathon, part 2

A few weeks ago a fellow runner and I were talking up the Tunnel Marathon on a runner’s forum.  After reading the course description, another forumite commented, “Arrrggh, my quads!”  I assured him while there’s a 2200 foot elevation loss, the decline was gradual.  I’ve run the final five miles of the course several times, and felt it “wasn’t the quad-killer I anticipated.”

Obviously I was smoking crack rock when I wrote that statement.  (Actually, perhaps I should smoke it now; it may alleviate the INTENSE PAIN I’m feeling!!!)

Anyhoo, on to the report.

With North Olympic, my one and only goal was to BQ.  Looking back I wish I had come up with a couple of secondary goals as that may have spurred me on when the going got rough.  With the Tunnel Marathon, my bottom tier goal was to beat my North Olympic time, my middle tier was to BQ, and my top level goal was to run a sub 4-hour marathon. As previously mentioned, I didn’t feel my training was adequate in the weeks leading up to the race.  But during my taper a serene calm descended over me, and I KNEW I’d BQ.  Sounds crazy, but it just felt right (even though I probably broke every cardinal running rule).

As most marathoners do, I started checking the weather forecast 10 days out.  Seattle was hit with a record-breaking heat wave, and each day the projected race day temperature rose higher and higher.  Three days out they projected a high of 90 by noon; RASSENFRASSEN!  However, this ensured I took in enough fluids.  I probably drank about two gallons of water on Saturday, proudly updating my darling on the clarity of my pee.

Saturday night we dined on turkey burgers and spinach fettuccine with feta while watching the women’s Olympic marathon.  While the event inspired us, we were heartbroken to see Deena pull out and Paula run a less-than-stellar race.  But we were in awe of Constantina Tomescu-Dita; I thought there was no way she could hold on to the lead for so long.

After a relatively restful night, we awoke at 4:45 a.m. to the sound of thunder and the pitter-patter of raindrops.  Normally that wouldn’t be a welcome sound, but we knew that would mean cooler temperatures.  We ate our standard breakfast of steel cut oats and berries, each downing a couple cups o’ joe to get things moving through our systems.  I had hoped to be on the road by 5:45 in order to catch the 6:30 bus to the start, but we dawdled too long.  We pulled in to the parking lot at the finish just as the bus was heading out.  No worries — another bus was scheduled to leave at 7.

I had just enough time to visit the port-o-potty to see the next bus pull up.  It filled within minutes and we were heading out at 6:50 for Snoqualmie Summit.  Approximately one mile from the summit (and three miles from the start at Hyak) we started hearing a beeping noise.  By now the bus was moving at a crawl and we all started looking at each other nervously.  Mind you, should the bus break down what better group to handle the trek than a busload of marathoners, but I personally wasn’t looking forward to a forced 3-mile warmup run.  However, we soon crested the summit and the beeping stopped (I think the bus had started overheating).

By the time we arrived the early starters had taken off, but there was still a group of at least 100 runners milling about, several wearing Marathon Maniac gear.  We picked up our bib numbers and drop bags for our headlamps/extra clothing for the tunnel (a volunteer was stationed at the end of the tunnel to collect our bags and bring them to the finish) and took one more bio break.  My darling thought it funny he was bib #13 (queue foreshadowing music).  At 8 a.m. the race director called us to the start line, reminding us about the self-serve water stations at roughly three-mile intervals, as well as the staffed aid stations at miles 13 and 21.  At 8:06 we were off.


Published August 18th, 2008

Tunnel Marathon, part 1

Okay, so where is everyone?  Given yesterday’s major news I expected a deluge of comments.  Don’t tell me you actually HAVE a life.  Obviously you failed to comprehend what I was slyly telling you.  But I’ll give you one more chance.  Go on — go back and reread yesterday’s post, paying particular attention to the last line.  Take your time; I’ll wait.

Oh for heaven’s sake.  Here you go:

P.S.  Oh my goodness; I almost forgot to mention!  Based on my performance today, I’ll also be running a race back East the third Monday in April.

So now you’re probably asking yourself, “What’s the significance of the third Monday in April?”  Could it be… Groundhog’s Day?  No, that’s usually in early February.  Easter?  No, that’s on a Sunday.  Taxes due?  No, that’s April 15.  Solstice?  Come on, that’s June 21!  No, the third Monday in April is an obscure holiday called Patriot’s Day celebrated in the commonwealth of Massachusetts.  As part of the celebration they hold a marathon starting in the tiny town of Hopkinton.  I know, I know — seems crazy for me to travel 3,000 miles just to race in such a tiny town, but I’ve heard it’s fun.

Okay — I’ll stop with the coyness.

My final time: 3:54:34.

(Gold stars to K80K, Angie, Leana and Running from 30 for figuring it out.  Nitmos receives only a silver star since he didn’t have a clue what the third Monday in April is).


Published August 17th, 2008

One more to a capital “M”

I confess: I’ve been holding back on you.

After pouring my heart out week after week, sharing the minutiae of my training for North Olympic, I decided to operate in stealth mode for a bit.  (Pretty funny coming from someone who has no problem sharing the intimate details of her biological functions).

However, it’s not that I haven’t hinted at my shenanigans.  After North Olympic my darling and I started thinking of other marathon goals to have besides Boston.  Given the Marathon Maniacs are based here, it seemed a natural.  We originally thought we’d try for membership after Disney (it falls 91 days after Royal Victoria; as long as we had run a marathon between the two we’d qualify).

But one thing led to another and we signed ourselves up for Skagit Flats on September 7.  We figured we’d run a November marathon, thus qualifying for MM status.  But once again, one thing led to another and we soon were signing up for the Tunnel Marathon, which was… TODAY!  A quick look at the calendar confirmed we’d be eligible for MM status after Skagit Flats, as that race is 91 day past North Olympic (their website states you need to run 3 marathons within 90 days, but I confirmed they’d allow 91).

I’ll post my race report soon, but we had a fabulous race today.  It was primarily downhill, going along an old railroad grade from Snoqualmie Pass to the town of North Bend.  We ran through a 2-mile long tunnel within the first three miles, hence the name (we had to wear headlamps which they collected at the end).  I was familiar with the final five miles of the race, as it ran along the same trail as the Mt. Si Relay.  It’s a wonderfully wide, compact dirt trail that’s easy on the knees.

So there you have it — I can soon officially call myself a “Marathon Maniac” (capital M).  Here’s my list of upcoming races:

Sept. 7: Skagit Flats
Oct. 12: Royal Victoria
Jan. 10-11: Goofy Challenge
June 29: Seattle Rock ‘n Roll Marathon

Knees don’t fail me now!

P.S.  Oh my goodness; I almost forgot to mention!  Based on my performance today, I’ll also be running a race back East the third Monday in April.

Published August 10th, 2008

I can’t believe I 8 the whole thing

Oh that Nancy — she’s at it again, making us run.  Inspired by her trip to China, she once again held a virtual 8 on the 8th race on — you guessed it — 8/8/08 to coincide with the opening of the Beijing Olympics.

Originally scheduled to run nine miles with seven at marathon race pace, I decided to up it to 10 with 8 @ MRP.  However, given my late start I cut it back to 15K in order to make our dinner appointment with a friend.  But I’m no slacker — I ran my heart out for those eight miles.

My goal was to run a 1-mile warm up, then run two miles @ 9:10 pace (MRP for a 4-hour marathon, my BQ time), the next two miles @ 9:00, the next @ 8:50 and the final two @ 8:40.  If I felt good I could run faster, but I wouldn’t allow myself to run slower.

The first of the MRP miles was downhill, so I managed to run it in 8:42.  The next one was at 8:49, followed by an 8:48.  Fearing I wouldn’t be able to keep up that pace, I purposefully slowed for the 4th mile, running it in 8:57 (still faster than my goal).  The next two miles were at 8:48 and 8:49 respectively, but by now I was beginning to tire and questioned my ability to run the final two MRP miles at 8:40.  However, I must have channeled my inner Deena, as I managed to run them at 8:20 and 8:15.

Final time: 1:09:27.

Thank you Nancy for another fun race!

Published August 7th, 2008

Six word running memoir

The folks at Runner’s Lounge are keeping it succinct for today’s Take it and Run Thursday. The theme? Write your running memoir in six words. Here’s mine:

From 200 pounder to Maniac contender.

Published August 5th, 2008

Ever the bargain hunter

I get home from work today, logged onto one of my running forums and saw the following announcement:

The newest Rock n Roll marathon is in Seattle on June 27, 2009. If you go to today August 5, you can register for half price! You must register before midnight today.

How could we pass up a deal like that?  The course isn’t published yet, but based on the brief description it appears it’ll be quite flat, save for the hill leading up to Greenlake (I’m assuming they’ll take us on Stone Way, which is .9 miles long, but very gradual).

So who’s with us?  Come on; it’ll be fun!  And since part of the course runs within 2 blocks of our house, we could always take a quick beer break 🙂