Thursday, August 30, 2007

Northgate 5.25 miles

Current Mile total: 1077.5 miles

I ran tonight for a couple reasons. I really want to push my mile total a little higher up. So I felt that adding a slow Thursday would be best. I also wanted to get Penny out more than just once a week. She's getting stronger but she'll never be ready if all I ever to is run once a week with her. I decided just to run out of the condo and head north for about twenty minutes and then turn around. Penny was absolutely terrified of course. Too much going on. Cars, and buses and motorcycles and people and everything scary in this world. So I pulled he for a couple miles and then she pulled me back for a few. It was a much quicker run back than out.

Wednesday, August 29, 2007

Discovery Park 7.25 miles

Current Mile total: 1072.25 miles

I usually run with the Redmond Footzone club on Wednesday's but I'm taking my training for the 50 miler very seriously and Scott has requested that for my 4 weeks of peak training I run with them on for workout night. I'll miss my friends over in Redmond but I have to be focused for this race.

I head on over and meet everyone at the park. We meet up and its Brian and Micheal(another SRC employee) leading the bunch today. We do some stretches and head out. One 4.2 mile loop of easy running and a second smaller 2.8 mile loop at half marathon pace. I don't know about everyone else, but I felt they were all going a little fast. I felt justified in my pace, hanging out in the back because i was joined by Brian. Seems he was just taking it easy too. We chatted it up and it was cool to have a conversation with him, although it was about nothing significant, it was cool just to have that time. Brian is just a real nice guy. I've said this over and over already in my blog. Its kinda odd, cause imagine if you liked to play basketball and you got to on a regular basis play one on one with LeBron James. In some ways you're a bit start stuck that you get to play against him. But on another level, he becomes just another guy, who's out there sweating and aching and even walking up the huge flight on stairs that is so steep and long that we all fall victim to its mighty grade. Brian says humbly with a smile, "its funny, no matter how strong you think you are, sometimes..." I actually can't remember the exact quote so I'll not put words in his mouth but needless to say, he was saying that sometimes he gets tired too. So here I am, running with a young runner LeBron James(he wouldn't say so) and he's becoming human and real and just another person. Running is such a great sport. What other sport allows you this luxury? Or might I add, where else could I have the luxury of doing this? Seattle is absolutely one of the best places to be a runner. Scott has a great community of runners at the SRC.

So we were running, yeah, and then the second loop comes up. I thought we had entered the second loop but I thought we'd stop and give ourselves a little breather before we did our tempo portion. So we were probably three quarters through the first mile, maybe more, before I decided that we must be on the second loop and that I had to pick up the pace. And then of course I was behind everyone and felt the need to catch up. So I ended up running faster than I wanted. And I ended up burning out faster than I wanted. Burning out? I shouldn't be burning out, I should just be doing a moderate pace. And that's the funny thing. Everyone else was running strong. I think they were going a bit fast for a half marathon pace. These are people that Kathleen and I run faster than every weekend and they were running faster than us now. Maybe they're stronger on the flat stuff, maybe they're more recovered cause they didn't run on Sunday? I don't know. At any rate. My legs felt heavy and I had no speed that night. Kathleen played it a little better I think. Sounded like she had heavy legs too.

We finished up and did more stretching exercises and that was it. I have to say that the Footzone club actually has a stronger Wednesday workout. We'll see next week what they have in store for us. One thing I did prefer was the stretching before and after, and the hilly workout course of Discovery Park.

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Capitol Hill 6.25 miles

Current Mile total: 1065 miles

Ran with Penny again, still trying to work her up to good health and perhaps some trail running. I'm skeptical that she'll be able to trail run. She just doesn't have the fire that Cody does when it comes to running. For her it has to have a purpose. Like so many people who say, "Yeah I run, when I need to catch something, or I'm running away from something." But Cody ran cause he liked being beside me and would have gladly ran until his legs fell off. Penny runs to chase squirrels or at bicycles that pass the park.

Tonight she ran well again aside from slowing down when we were trailed by another runner. She kept looking back and slowing us down. Then the other runner would pass us. Once they passes, Penny would speed back up and we'd pass the other runner. This cycle went on a while until the other runner noticed the pattern and stopped to let us get ahead of her. Penny than ran well for the rest of the run and actually pulled toward the end. It seems Penny completely recognizes that for the first half of the run we're running away from a place that she considers safe. So for half the run she drags and I have to occasionally pull on her leash to get her to keep up with me. But as soon as we start heading back, I mean the moment we are physically starting to get closer to her safe place, she knows. Maybe its from smell, maybe its from the big calculating bean that's rolling around in her big pit skull. Its not like we go straight out and back. Its a very organic route but Penny can tell when we start heading back and when we do she picks up the pace and now that she's getting healthy, she pulls me. I know she's getting ready to run more, but I'm still cautious not to take her on a workout night.

So that was our run, we took it fairly slow, which is good cause its not about speed on Tuesday nights, just the time and mileage. On a side note, Kiwi was at the SRC shop. Kiwi is Brian's dog who we run with on the weekends. She's this little spastic border collie mix that never seems to get tired. I didn't see Brian but I was happy to get to introduce Penny to Kiwi as I hope that in a couple weeks Penny might be out running with her on Cougar Mt.

Sunday, August 26, 2007

Cougar Mountain 14 miles

Current Mile total: 1058.75 miles

Well, its another Sunday and so that must mean we're out at Cougar Mountain. But things have changed. I'm a new man and I have confidence out here now. The dreaded Cougar Mt. can't discourage me anymore. I've conquered it and I will forever be the victor. And all that blah blah stuff.

Kathleen decided to join me this week with her new found confidence from the day before. Seems she's just one week behind me. We get there and its just Brian Kathleen and me. Small group. And I believe this is why Kathleen and I are the strongest. We show up nearly every week and put the necessary miles in. So Brian heads out. We're going to do the reverse course today to break things up. I let Kathleen lead the way. And Brian is almost immediately gone from our sight. There will be no sight of him for the rest of the day. Seems he wants to run his own pace today and remind us just how superior he really is to everyone else. We really are lucky to get to run with this guy on the weekends.

Kathleen's pace is good. And I'm encouraged by it. Glad to see her having a good run out here. After about 7-8 miles I loosen up and could probably go a little faster than her pace but its not necessary and probably the wrong thing to do anyway. I remind myself that today is about recovery and I should take it easy. The run goes by fast and I'm recognizing the trail, even as we go in reverse I see that I'm becoming familiar with the trails, where to turn, when to hold back and when to open up. Earlier on in the training I had begun to dread Cougar because I thought it was boring and I feared becoming too familiar with it. But I find its actually more exciting knowing the trail. Almost like when I used to mountain bike. Trying to have the perfect bike ride without touching my foot down on the run. Well now I'm trying to have that perfect run. One where I feel strong the whole way through. One where I feel like a wild animal running skillfully and effortlessly through the trees. My lungs relaxed, my legs light and my feet quick.

Lately I've begun to notice the physical changes to my body. My calves are thick. So thick I can't touch index finger to index finger, thumb to thumb. My ankles no longer show the definition of bone, but rather go straight down to the foot. All muscle. And my feet are muscular too. Is that possible? There's muscle on top of my feet. Its all a bit surreal to me as I've always been a bit of a skinny punk. So to see this much muscle mass on my tiny frame is hysterical. But its cool in the sense that its the by-product of being a good animal, out there running through the wild. This is what legs should look like. I swear I'm not bragging, its just freaky, I've run for years but never have I had this much muscle. Trail running sure does have its benefits.

I signed up for the Sacramento Run on Dec 2nd today. This is a race that I've been wanting to do for 4 years now. Fastest race in the US. If I can qualify for Boston, this is the race to do it. I think I have a good chance. better than good. With all this trail running I've built up a lot of strength and endurance. When the race is over I'll take a couple weeks off to recover and then I'll do speed workouts. Boston will be mine before the end of the year.

I hope.

Saturday, August 25, 2007

Stampede Pass 20 miles

Current Mile total: 1044.75 miles

It was the best of times, it was the worst of times.

It was a small group today. We all met up at the west summit parking at Snoqualmie Pass. There we were told quickly by Scott that we'd all car-pool up ten more miles to the Stampede Pass Trail head where we'd begin our 20 miles run for the day. So Kathleen and I jumped into Kevin's nice Land Rover and got to actually hang for a few with our fellow trainees. I never hear a thing anybody says once we start running so I feel like I'm a little out of touch with my fellow runners. It was nice to chat it up and even though I haven't spoken much to them there was a strong sense of family in the group. Everybody is punishing themselves out there every weekend and I think with that comes immediate respect for one another.

So we get to the trail head as Scott goes through his speech about micro-managing the trail. Run when you can run, walk when its steep, counter rotating through the switchbacks and always use electrolyte tablets. It sounds simple but each week he tells us it sinks in more and becomes more intuitive. I find myself flying through the switchback turns like I'm riding a roller coster, a product of the counter rotation. I find I stay hydrated and my legs don't lock up, a product of proper hydration mixed with taking the tablets every hour. I find the hills aren't so bad when I break it down into little sections, this portion walk, this portion run, instead of wearing out trying to run the first straight mile up and locking up the legs. So each week I listen intentively even though I've heard the same speech 11 times now. Scott has been a great coach. He's really the first coach I've ever had. All for just $40. NorthFace really gave us a invaluable bargain.

Anyways, as we all begin to head out, I am humbled that everyone kinda looks to me to lead the pack. Besides Brian of course. But yeah, go figure. It seems I'm getting a reputation amongst my group as one of the stronger runners. Hell Kathleen and I have been refered to as the Dynamic Duo. Jim said I was "inspiring last week." That's a lot of pressure to live up to. But really, I haven't been pushing myself terribly out there, I just do what's asked of me and its really paying off. On my road running nights I always seem to kill myself trying to go fast and it never does me any good. But out here I slow down and just try to enjoy the run and maintain. So I guess I'm the leader of the bunch. Of course it feels great to be the strong runner. It makes me think that maybe I can compete at a higher level. And then I come back to reality once a big hill comes up. What was I thinking.

Throughout the run I stayed right on the heels of Brian. Catching up to him every time he made a marker for the Cascade 100 mile Ultra. Every time Brian stopped to lay down a marker we would all eventually catch up. Then we'd move on and people would spread out. It was this way for a while until we got to more technical stuff and Brian and I lost everyone. I got to a marker that was kinda hard to see so I decided to wait for people to catch up to me, to be sure they saw the way too. I waited for at least two minutes before they showed up. At that point, Travis, who I call "The Viking" passed us. He had started a little later than us. Usually he's out in front with Brian. Well, today, I kept catching him. I don't know if he was injured, taking it easy or what. He said that I was blazing. And Kathleen was right on him too. I ended up falling back a little and finishing with Kathleen. We actually finished just a couple minutes behind. So that amounts to the "it was the best of times." And the reason why I fell behind, well, that was the worst of times.

Man, there's nothing like having to take a two-sy on a run. Ugg, my stomach started hurting around 10 miles. I contemplated pulling over and taking care of business but I just could never find a place suitable. Well at 14 miles I found that place and exorcised the devil. It sucked cause my legs felt great and I was positive but my stomach just keep getting worse. I was hot on the heels of Travis and Brian and not even trying. It's like Karma was telling me that with leadership comes humility and I needed to remain humble. Well I was humbled. So with my little squat-fest, I felt revitalized but had lost a few minutes in the process. Even still, only Kathleen had passed me. At 14 miles out, Brian, Travis and I had about 1 minute on Kathleen and over 4 or 5 minutes on everyone else. So I did my best to catch back up. I tried not to go too fast, just picked up the pace a little. I then fell and slid a little. Marked up my hand and right leg. I got up and continued. After probably a mile and a half to two miles I got back to everyone. Kathleen had managed to catch Brian and Travis too. She was having a great day. Which is good cause last weekend she was very discouraged. Travis headed out first while Brian made markers and we snacked. We eventually caught Travis again and then we were all a group for a while. Then slowly Travis and Brian picked up the speed and I couldn't hang with them as my stomach started flip flopping again. I backed off and eventually Kathleen caught back up again and we finished as a team about two minutes behind them.

Man. If I had just had a strong stomach that day I'd have finished with the leaders. Oh well, it's still great to know I'm improving and catching up.

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

Powerline Trail 6.25

Current Mile total: 1024.75 miles

Tonights run was out on the Powerline Trail. Its my course as I've said in the past. I didn't feel very strong and Andre provided a good challenge but I still managed to finish first again. Andre beat me up all the hills and pulled ahead a couple times to stopping points where the others could catch up. So if he hadn't stopped I might not have finished first. But on the down hill portion of the course I always go much faster and gained a minute on him. I took it really easy on the downhill as I'm beginning to get shin splints. Even then I was still the fastest downhill. I'm not entirely sure why no one else in the group is able to run downhill fast. It's not like I go extraordinarily fast. Maybe they don't want shin splints? Anyways, got through another workout. Looking forward to another spectacular weekend.

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

Capitol Hill 6.25 miles

Current Mile total: 1018.5 miles

Tonight I ran with Penny. Its the second time I've brought her with me on my Tuesday night run. I've been concerned about her health and lack of exercise lately as I can see cellulite all over her body. Since Cody got hit by the car she has got very little exercise. Cody can't go on long walks and I've been just too busy to make the necessary time to get her to the park. We a two weeks ago I thought I'd try taking her to run with me and she did great up to the half way point when she decided she had enough of it. She put the brakes on and when I stopped trying to drag her, she lay down in the grass. It was a long run that night in which I had to walk run at a very slow pace to allow Penny to avoid a heart attack. It was the first time I came in last in that group and there are some slow runners there.

Well, since then I've forced myself to take Penny out running a couple times(short runs) and to the park a few times. And last night on her second appearance at the SRC club she was ready for the challenge. She pulled me for the first half mile before she settled down. Then she ran happily next to me for the rest of the run. With any luck Penny might turn out to be a good trail dog. At this point I'm going to try to work her up to as many miles as I can on the urban runs and if she can handle 10 then maybe I'll take her out on the trails. If Cody was still capable he'd most definitely be up to it but Penny is not as interested in running.

Well, aside from that, last night was uneventful. Just a slow pace run to start the week. I felt a little sluggish from my strong weekend runs. Tomorrow night will be a workout and I'm still not sure if I'll bring Penny to this one. I think she needs a day to recover.

Sunday, August 19, 2007

Cougar Mountain 14 miles

Current Mile total: 1012.25 miles

Although yesterday's run provided better scenery, today's was more inspiring for me. First, it must be mentioned if you hadn't noticed, I crossed the 1000 mile marker. Now I long ago crossed that marker, but in the blog as I mentioned at the beginning a few months ago, I only accounted for the miles that were tracked in my GPS when I did use it. I started this blog just over 4 months ago and in that time I ran over 500 miles. I've tracked every mile since and I can now officially say I've run 1000 miles. Yup, I could run 500 miles and I did run 500 more.

So it was a rainy day. Rainy day at Cougar could set one up for a depressing run. But I showed up thinking I was going to have a good day. I felt my legs were still fairly fresh despite yesterday's 5 hour run. Kathleen decided it was best to take the day off from running so I was on my own. Only 3 other guys showed up and then of course there was Brian, the only other runner who ran the day before. He decides he wants to take a short cut to the trail head instead of taking the usual boring access road. the short cut is very steep and there's absolutely no warm up. After about a half a mile I'm nearly hyperventilating and decide i need to take it my own speed. So I let them go. I probably would not have cared much but we met up with some County workers who said that there had been a lot of bear sightings that weekend and to be aware. YAY!! So I'm running alone on a wet, technical course. Aside from being a little nervous I manage to find my stride and relax. My breathing got good and I began to really enjoy myself. It been a long time since I ran alone, and felt alone. When I do run solo its on the Burke-Gilman Trail and you're never alone out there. So I felt great running with my thoughts and then the greatest thing happen. I caught the others. They stopped to lay down a marker at the next intersection and took a moment to let Brian take off his jacket. They claimed that they "had just stopped" and "were about to talk smack about me", "no, no," Brian said, "I was about to tell these guys that this is your recovery run, that you ran yesterday for 5 hours." "5 HOURS?!!" , "This is your recovery?!" and "Cool."
That's what I needed to make the rest of the run easy. You see, Cougar has kicked my ass nearly every time I've gone out there. And its the location of my race, the 50 miler. So its been very discouraging. How can I run 50 out there if I can't run 20? Course I know I'm running fatigued but it still wears down on you and makes you doubt yourself. Well, here I was running with three strong runners who had not run the day before and I was holding my own. And it felt great. For the rest of the run the 4 others would get ahead of me and then I'd catch them as they were making the trail marker(this is usually done by laying three fern leaves down in an arrow shape). So I was never more than one minute behind the group. By the end of the run, I actually caught up to them and finished the last half mile with them.

I left feeling great. I had finally run Cougar strong. I didn't always feel great but I always felt positive. I can see I'm getting stronger and that all the training is finally paying off, which is good cause the race is just a month and a half away. Just 48 days.

Saturday, August 18, 2007

Kendell's Katwalk, Pacific Crest Trail 22 miles

Current Mile total: 998.25 miles

Hey, I'm back. Yeah, it's been a few weeks since I've been able to jot down my thoughts on running. I went on a running hiatus for a week and when I got back work was super busy and I just never could seem to get around to writing about it. Besides, it seems there's only so much you can write about running before it all sounds the same. Well, today's run was extraordinary so it deserves a post, with pictures no less.

So the day started out the same, met Kathleen at her place and she drove up to the trail head. We get there and Scott runs through a few items worth mentioning like running technique and hydration. Then we all head out, Brian in lead of course. Scott wanted all of the 50 milers to run somewhere in between 4-5 hours. It was an out and back course so we figured we'd run about 2:40 out and that would get us approximately 5 hours. We headed up and immediately I could tell that finally i was feeling strong. After weeks of feeling sluggish with fatigue, I was back to feeling fresh. Unfortunately Kathleen was not feeling as good. But she's a trooper and she stuck with it the full distance. I had only run a half marathon the week before, she ran a full. And she was out the very next week running a very difficult course for 5 hours. The girl has guts. After a few miles I can see that I'm going a little fast for her though so I slowed up and ask her if she wants to take the lead so she can set the pace and not feel dragged along. She then shows me that within 5 minutes she was stung by a bee. "Are you allergic?", "yeah, but it won't hurt my running.", "you sure?" , "yeah." OK,... so we head out, she wants me to go ahead and run my own speed, doesn't want to hold me up. I do but I feel like crap. How can I leave her behind. Fortunately two things happen at this point. The first is the course levels out a bit which allows Kathleen a break from the climb and she can keep the same pace now and then when the hill does come back the tree cover clears and I'm able to pull out the camera and take pictures. This allows me to stop take pictures and let's her catch up. This was the mode of operations for the rest of the day. I'd run my own speed and then I'd find a good place to take a pic and she's catch up. She was never far behind, maybe 20 secs. And I wasn't disappointed at all because this place as you can see from the pictures was absolutely heaven on earth.

Our first grand view is Kendall's Katwalk, a man-made path blown out of the mountain side with dynamite. The view is spectacular. By this time we have caught up to two other runners, Dan and Tim. We ran with them for a few miles but they decided to turn around at the 2 hour mark. At that point, aside from Brian(the elite), Travis(the viking-call him that cause he's tall built and blond) and some new girl(professional soccer player), it was just the two of us running out. It was kinda encouraging to know we were the strongest of the bunch that day heading out the furthest. When we get to the 2:35 mark, we meet up with Brian and company. I ask them how far they went and he says maybe another quarter mile up hill. This makes me very happy cause I've been stopping to take pictures and the strongest elite runners only got a half mile in front of me. Not bad. So we decide to turn around and its mostly downhill here on out. Oh, btw, Kathleen's hand is now HUGE. Its swelled up from the bee sting and she says its throbbing and very painful, no doubt it looked it. Again, she's quite the trooper. On the way down I fell twice, first one I hit my knee and had to take a moment to shake it off. Second time I fell in front of a group of hikers. I had just passed them and then turned around on a switch back when I fell and slid a few feet. This one didn't hurt and I got up immediately, brushed myself off only to look up above me to see the group all staring at me in horror. Hehe, nothing like an audience for a crash. We got down off the trail and I felt great. Sure I was a little tired but my legs still felt strong and I felt positive. Scott was waiting and told us that everyone else had headed off to go soak their legs in the river. So we did the same. Figured out this time that if you keep your socks on it doesn't hurt nearly as much. This has been by far the prettiest run I've been on so far but according to Scott, its only #3 in his book. He says we'll be running the others soon. I can't wait.

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

Sammamish River Trail 7 Miles

Current Mile total: 976.25 miles

Ran with Footzone club. We were supposed to do a 1 mile warm up, then 7 1 mile repeats with 1 minute of rest in between. It was hot and by break #2 the group decided they only wanted to do 5 repeats. I was a little disappointed because I was feeling good and was looking forward to the challenge. Everyone talks about this workout as being so difficult. You're suppose to run it at a 5k-10k race pace but due to the heat we all decided that the half marathon pace would be best. So I figured I'd run a 7 min mile. This is actually faster than my best half marathon pace but its been a while and my speed has improved. So I ran 7 min miles. And I realized immediately that it was a nice conservative speed for me. Heidi and Jim were naturally in front of me for the first 3 repeats but I could tell they were tiring fast. But I still felt great. By the 4th repeat I was running past them and the first to finish. Yet I was still doing my 7 min mile, not going faster. So on the last repeat I actually did try a little harder as we should have done 2 more and I finished with a 6:30 min mile and while my breath was short, my legs felt good. I was a good 30 secs ahead of Heidi and much more with the rest of the team. I don't know if it was that I've lived in warmer climates for the last 14 years or just all the endurance running I've been doing but I was able to run normally when all the others were having trouble. It did feel good at any rate to run so strongly. My legs have been heavy for weeks and I finally feel as though they're well rested and I'm ready to tackle more mountains. Good thing too as this weekend I'll be running on both Saturday and Sunday, Snoqualmie Pass and Cougar Mountain.
I should also finally reach the 1000 mile marker on my current mile total.

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

Capitol Hill 6.25 miles

Current Mile total: 969.25 miles

Sunday, August 12, 2007

Vancouver, BC 7 miles

Current Mile total: 963 miles

Saturday, August 11, 2007

Wednesday, August 8, 2007

Sammamish River Trail 9 miles

Current Mile total: 943 miles

Footzone workout 2, 1, .5, .5, 1, 2 plus warm up

Saturday, August 4, 2007

Cougar Mountain 17 miles

Current Mile total: 935 miles

Thursday, August 2, 2007

Victory Heights 3 miles

Current Mile total: 918 miles

with Penny