Saturday, December 27, 2008

Race Report: Winter Grand Prix-2-Mile Road Race / Magnuson Park/Sand Point

I am awake.

I just woke up from a nap. 

A nap that I really needed after racing for two miles and slogging to and from the race through snow, over ice, and in slush over a very big hill, hoovering oatmeal and drinking a large bowl of Hot Chocolate (Frans). Good thing that The Met was broadcasting the family version of The Magic Flute or I may have fallen asleep sooner. 

Great race!

The short version:
The Blow-By-Blow:

My alarm jolted me out of sleep at 6:00 and I spent about 30 minutes lying in bed reading and NOT wanting to look out the window to see what was happening out there. The forecast was for wind and rain which, on top of all the snow and ice, would just make for miserable conditions. By 6:40 or so I was out walking the dog to the library, slipping and avoiding puddles as we went. It was warm out, only after a spell of weather in the teens and twenties would I call temps in the forties warm, and there was a light mist everywhere. The darkness did not stop a neighbor from being out and shoveling his walkway at that hour. Got home, fed the pets, geared up, and at 8:10 headed out the door to run down 2.87 miles from my house down to the start line in Magnuson Park. 

The run out there was slow going because of all the melting snow and ice which was warm enough to be really slippery in the paths that people walking through had worn. I ran along side in the snow that had not been much disturbed with the consequence that I had to lift my legs higher than I would have on a flat terrain. Going downhill was a challenge too. 

Didn't seem many people out this morning, surprising for a Saturday morning, but there was a couple that came towards me as I was running along the Burke Gilman trail. I was wearing my race number and one of them remarked that I must be winning my race because there was nobody ahead of me, or behind me. I also met Trevor the Poodle (TtP) who was goofing off on 55th. He came over to me and I stopped to pet him and also to find out where he lived. I think he was lost but couldn't really read his tag as it was very faded and TtP himself was quite wiggly. He was going to run with me but I told him to go home an he stopped, looking for all the world as if I had hurt his feelings.  Still a lighthearted way to start all of this off. I did start seeing more runners as I got down into the park and arrived at the start area with 13-minutes to go before the official start. It took me 35 minutes to run 2.87 miles. 

Spent some time doing some active stretching, high kicks and something not so fluid I like to call "striders". The wind was kicking off the lack from the south and, of course, we'd re running into the wind for the start and the finish. 

An air horn blew and it was time to line up at the start. I was up near the front this time and looked behind to see a fairly small crowd of people. A guy in front of me said to his wife and daughter that he was going to run nines, they said something to him and headed to the back of the pack. There were three really large (tall and wide) guys behind me cracking wise with the RD too (seemed a happy family). A woman in a kind of braids with dreadlock hairstyle (it was pretty distinctive so I'll call her BDH) told her friend that she would be drafting off of her. The air horn blew again and we were off. Nine minute guy dropped behind and BDH woman took off with her friend only to blow up half-way through the first turn (at .11 miles!!). I passed her and kept going. The pack, thin as it was at the start, thinned out even more and I found myself running basically alone, although I could hear heavy breathing behind me. 

I passed a man in grey running, he tried to speed up as I went past him, but couldn't. Actually I thought he was going to die. His breathing sounded really, really bad. Asthma attack bad. But he had a friend who was looking out for him and so I just kept on. There was a little girl all clad in pink running up ahead too and we soon caught her and passed on the second turn at .61 miles, then one of the big guys behind me passed me. 

I was amazed at how fast this first loop went. As I went through the mile-marker the timekeeper said "8:16". That is when I knew that people were close behind me, he counted another runner one-second behind me. I was not about to look behind me cause you never know WHAT might be gaining on you. 

The second loop was interesting both for how fast it went but also for what I saw. 

First, I came up on a really young, tall, skinny kid. Kind of knock-kneed with a body that he had yet to grow into. Big feet and brand, spanking, new shoes. He was plonking along and threw his gloves to his dad. His dad started haranguing him about going so slowly—"Come On! You can do better than this! This is you walking! Pick it up!" I thought, "Leave him alone will ya!" and could hear him wheezing heavily as I went past too. 

Question: Why would you race if you cannot breathe? 

Second, as I kicked it into sub-8 gear for the final sprint into the finish one of the tall guys (a guy wearing a rooster shirt with a bon mot on it) is standing there yelling at his friend (might have been me too): "You can do it. Kick it dude! There is a girl about to pass you!" I hear this and think "WTF!?" Why is it at all necessary to yell such a thing in this day-and-age? (No, I am not being PC here, merely considerate. How would I feel if someone else yelled at a runner in front of me, hey speed up you are going to caught by a Wildebeast? How would you feel?)

Crossed the finish line running a 6:20 and kept going until the end of the chute where I collected my card (61st place) and turned around to see what had been gaining on me. It was "a girl" wearing some kind of salmon colored jacket, at least a second behind. Recorded my information on the card, very carefully and clearly this time so there could be no mistake, drank some water, stretched bit, clapped for the runners coming in: both BDH and Asthma Attack Guy came in looking thrashed as did wife and daughter. I was feeling pretty done in too and still had to get myself home. 

Started to trot home, south along the promenade, and all I could really manage was something of a shuffle. My knees and feet were really sore and the wind was coming up. This was going to be a long 2.5 miles climbing up 65th and the View Ridge Hill. But even here there were things to lighten my day: a number of other runners had the same idea and we chatted a bit as we went along, and another racer stopped his car and waited for me to clear a puddle so as not to splash me as he went past. We waved to each other.

The sidewalks on the hill were quite slippery, more so than when I went out earlier as the temperature was much warmer, and running on the road was not really an option given the amount of traffic coming along (was everyone in Seattle out driving today?). It took me 36-minutes of slogging to get the 2.31 miles to my street. Another person who lives on my street (but whom I have never actually seen until today) was out clearing his walks and asked me if there was a race today. I stopped and told him a bit about the race and the series. He said, "Don't let me stop you!" (Too late. :-P ) I waved and trotted the last block to the corner where I started my running, thus closing the loop. 

DW opened the door as I mounted the steps and told me I looked like Hell. "Hot Chocolate" I rasped and started stretching . . .

  • I didn't think I had much power in reserve though and, even though I crossed the finish line running a 6:30. Hey, maybe I have more in reserve than I thought. Time to start pushing Wednesday night runs I think!
  • I need a goal race/event. Something interesting to focus my training around and to get me sharper than I am now
  • I ran in tights and that was a mistake as they restricted my movement a bit—shorts would have been more free-ing. Why tights? It was cold running on the snow and I have been feeling rather wimpy of late. Warm top should be OK in future but shorts are definitely the way to go in temps of upper-thirties
  • I need new shoes. There is a story to this involving mis-ordered sizes and snowstorms but I'll leave that for another day
  • Walking and running on ice and snow for week really takes it out of your legs
  • It takes more time to write up race reports than it does to actually run the races!

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Candy Cane Lane (2008)

A yearly happening in Ravenna made all the more special this year because of actual snow on the ground. 

Candy Cane Lane (2008)

Monday, December 22, 2008

Sunday, December 21, 2008

Shovel Party on 34th

Even though the Puget Sound is an all-year outside kind of place (don't be fooled by that "Rains all the Time" rhetoric out there) in my neighborhood we tend not to see very much of each other during the winter months, an observation made one early spring day several years ago to me by one of my neighborhood "old-timers". 

Today was different. Quite a bit of snow fell last night and this morning it was topped by an eighth or quarter-inch of rather crunchy ice with more coming in today and possibly for the remainder of the week. Despite the massive inconvenience, I really feel for those stuck at SeaTac right now, our garbage pick-up is now scheduled for next weekend, and I am unsure when I'll be able to finish my Christmas shopping, the snow storms of the past week have turned us all into little kids, a little bit—sledding and skiing down Queen Anne Avenue looks like tons of fun. 

So what did we do in my neighborhood? 

We shoveled snow together until it was time for the kids to go sledding down the nearest big hill, 60th east of 35th. And what a thorough job we did too. 

Step 1: clear the snow with a motley assortment of shovels and spades (no snow shovels in evidence)

Step 2: melt the snow with a weed torch (quite a warm job)

Step 3: build a snow bank so that the kids can sled down a micro-hill and onto the street w/o going under a parked car

Step 4: follow the weed torcher with a broom to clear away excess water and scrape off icy bits

Step 5: salt liberally

Step 6: drink a beer (well, not me, I prefer hot chocolate on days like these)

Step 7: Enjoy watching the people gliding by on their cross country skis

Step 8: look up and see that it has begun snowing (again) and that, soon, all this work will be obliterated

Step 9: go inside to actually drink hot chocolate. :-)

Step 10: consult Cliff Mass's Weather Blog to see what will happen next . . .

The Sun? In Seattle? During a snowstorm?

You bet!

And here it is. Brave little sun trying its best to bring light to the world on the Solstice.

Friday, December 19, 2008

See Sam Run (for the libraries)

While I was struggling to get home from the airport yesterday Sam was attempting to visit all 27 branches of the Seattle Public Library. He made it to 13, it took me 5.5 hours to get home.

My day:

The 196 was jammed and we were lucky enough to get seats in the articulated section. I have no idea how long it took us to get to the bus tunnel, it seemed to take forever. The bus tunnel was so cold too and we had a good 25 minutes or so for the 71 which was on snow route and not going up 65th to 35th as it normally does. So, we waited for the 65 at campus parkway, freezing, which was also on snow routing and was not going to climb 35th (it ended up going up very slowly). 
Started at 10:30 am from SEATAC and got home just before 3:00 pm. 
<---- My view in the bus.

See Sam Run's day? So much cooler than mine!



Some of us have a wonderful life don't we?

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Race Report: Winter Grand Prix-3000-meter Cross Country Race Magnuson Park/Sand Point

Catching up on some race reports and other random entries. This one is long overdue.

On 12/6/08 I ran my first Cross-Country race down, a 3000 meter jaunt along the promenade at Magnuson Park put on by Club Northwest

OK, short story:
Time: 15:41.0
Overall Place: 114 out of 152 runners (Yay! A 75% or 2.0, I am "average-ish" if you are generous)
Sex Change: Yup. I seem to have been listed in the F40-50 gender/age group (I contacted them a while ago as per the rules but have yet to hear back from them). 
Name Change: Yup. I really have to be better at filling out post-race cards when I am tired and cold.

The longer story:

PuddleThumper did this series last year and had a blast and since I am looking for new experiences this year I thought that is would be a neat thing to do as well. 

Busy time at the Learning Factory, stressful too as we were all waiting for the Governor's budget shoe to drop AND trying to finish out the quarter (papers, exams, class wrap-up, student conferences, tenure committees, etc..) so I hadn't done too much running the week before. I was nervous, especially as this would be my first CC race and I don't know simple things like which side do you pass. Turns out that this was really different than a trail race. 

I ran down to Magnuson as a warm-up and boy was it a pleasant morning. I had my running pack (water and a jacket) and just trotted along taking my time. There were quite a few people out on the BG trail, more than I normally see—it must have been the sun that brought them out. My legs were a bit sluggish and my stomach was kind of problematic though and the nearer to the park, and the start of the race, the more I had to go. Nerves I guess. I went.

The scene down at the waterfront was surprisingly chaotic. There were so many runners down there doing all kinds of  warming up, stretching, and socializing. I could hear the "scritch, scritch, scritch" of cross country spikes on the pavement as people trotted by doing their warm-ups. The finish chute was being set up but I could not find the start line/area. I dropped my pack off at the registration desk and wandered around looking to see if I knew anyone (as is normal for this type of thing, I didn't). A race official eventually started sending people out to the start, "Just follow the other runners down towards the start." I did and ended up in a knot of people down by the bathroom/observation tower area. The same official came down with an air horn. We thanked all the course volunteers and sponsors, the horn blew, and the Cheetahs were away in an heartbeat.  

I had decided not to run all out on this race,  I would run hard but not race hard instead and just feel my way through everything because this was my first time, I had not done any kind of real speed work since August, and I was coming into this race fairly stressed. So off I went and . . . Running on slippery grass in trail shoes is a pretty interesting experience. My shoes were slipping in a way that they don't on the trails (the pair I was wearing are fairly new and grippy) so I just ran more on my toes and that calmed things down a bit. 

Experiencing the different surfaces was pretty interesting too—grass, a little bit of concrete, more grass, really spongy wood chips through the Sub Fins, a little more concrete, the grass of Kite Hill, jumping a ditch, a little more concrete, grass, a little more concrete, grass, a bigger ditch to jump on the uphill, a little concrete, grass, and a little more concrete, and grass (repeat this twice)—all the while running between tape marked chutes and flags. The Kite Hill climb wasn't too bad and I passed a few people there before pulling away at the summit and passing more folks on the down hill. At about 4:40 into the race the leaders came through on their second lap and I marveled for a second or two at how effortlessly they were moving. Not a lot of time for reverie though as I had to contend with some uneven ground as I passed some more people. Moreover, my shorts were bunching rather uncomfortably around my right thigh. Why, I found later that there is a long vertical tear in the fabric on the inside of the leg and this caused them to rise uncomfortably. Lesson, check your shorts before racing in them. 

Now, here is a question for you you. If you look at the map and locate the fish hook at the SE corner of the course. It is a pretty tight corner and I was coming up close behind another runner as we hit the corner. I dove to the inside and passed as we turned. Is this cricket? Should I have waited or passed on the right? There were no collisions. 

And then it was time for my second loop to begin after 7:26 of running. The second loop was slower (8:22 or so) and I could tell I was getting tired (you were right PT) but I still pushed on, using Kite Hill to gain position on both the uphill and downhill. Another runner was 1 second behind me, I had passed her on the downhill, and she poured it on as we came to the finish and passed me just before the chutes. Way to finish a race! :-)

Filling out a finish card when tired and dripping with sweat is not something I recommend (it is why my finish record is garbled I'll bet) but I did so despite fogging glasses. Collected my pack and went to stretch a little bit and drink some water before trotting home. Took the most direct way home but also the hilliest, up 65th, so I could have a loop (I hate out and back courses). Just trotted though and felt pretty strong. 

I needed a nap afterwards and fell asleep on the couch listening to the Met Opera Broadast of Tristan und Isolde, a fitting end to a grand morning. 

Such a cool experience, a good 7.6 miles with some speed work thrown in. I can't wait until the next run, a two-mile road race, on 12/20/08!

You know they want to. . .

make everyone strip don't they.

Welcome to the land of the free . . .

I know, I know, DW says "that is the way it is. Just over it."

The civil libertarian in me never will.

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Friday, December 12, 2008

More Cowbell

Headin out to the land of cowbells. Yep. You betcha.

Friday, December 5, 2008

Field Observations

This evening DW and I had the pleasure of attending Roosevelt High School's Jazz presentation of "The Nutcracker Suite" as arranged by Duke Ellington and Billy Strayhorn. 

Very impressive and quite a treat too. Everyone onstage and the better part of the audience was having a blast. There are reasons why this band is one of the top HS bands in the US and why they have won the Essentially Ellington competition two years running (not that I really know much about this). They were unlike any other high school band performance I've ever heard, a very professional sound and, well, they just all looked like adults up there who obviously loved what they were doing. Refreshing to see and hear.

Time to borrow a recording of Ellington's band doing this from the library. It is such a fun set of arrangements. Or, I could just buy the RHS recording

On a lighter note. Aside from attending the Learning Factory's graduation ceremony at the local VeryLargeHS (don't ask) tonight was the first time I have actually been inside a high school since, well, since I was in high school. DW and I took a bit of walk and almost got lost. Though generally larger college and uni campuses seem easy to navigate by comparison (are they trying to confuse everyone?). Pretty amazing building but permit the following:

Here is a statement of the obvious:

What would happen if I called this a "hallway"? Is there any mistaking this "Corridor" for a room? Or is this actually some post-Columbine labeling system for emergency personnel. The thought just occurred as I was writing this. If so, then this is deeply sad.

This explains a lot:

Every once in a while I notice many of the kids in the neighborhood going to school wearing pajamas. Indeed, sometimes students show up to the Learning Factory so attired. So now I know, Monday is Pajama Day. Do the teachers wear PJ's too? What would happen if I turned up to class wearing PJ's? Wait, I don't have any PJ's . . . 

I don't get Tuesday but I think I've got that covered as my normal teaching attire is some variation on jeans, t-shirt, and fleece. Got no school spirit though. I am just confused as there are too many schools in my past—bolts of lightning, the losing team in The Illiad, a former circus bear, a blue chicken,  some sinister Zorro-like guy peering out through the bushes of text, and now some old guy with a very large fork. 

Wednesday is a little scary. Kids. One day you are going to get old, have to live on something of a fixed income (especially if the economy continues as it is), and will probably resent being mocked for the purposes of fostering school spirit. But then again, what is more mockable than some old fuddy-duddy mockingly blogging about your mockery. “It's a travesty of a mockery of a sham of a mockery of a travesty of two mockeries of a sham" I tell ya!

I am all for Superhero Thursday though. Nothing like a little fantasy but let's rethink the capes shall we. Edna Mode had it right I think, tiz a safety issue:

Class Color Friday is actually a little scary too. What happens if a Freshman decides to wear Orange on a Friday? Do the Juniors beat them up? What if someone decides to wear all of the colors? Are they then out of class? Sigh, we spend so much time differentiating ourselves why do we need to practice this in the name of class or school spirit. 

As you can probably tell, I didn't really fit in during my own HS years. To wit, my favorite sign in any High School! :-P

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Winter Grand Prix

Signed up for the New Balance/Super Jock 'N Jill Winter Grand Prix Series this evening. 

Six short, speedy races, the first is a Cross Country Race this coming Saturday, my first such race. 

How do XC races work? Not sure.

Although most cross-country competitors also run distance events in track and field, the two are separate sports. The cross-country season is still the fall and events are run through open country, often over rather rude trails, not on roads or tracks (although major races often begin and end on a track inside a stadium). []

Hmm. "Rude trails" eh? I quite like the sound of that. 

No way in H am I even competitive over 3000 meters but this just might be the speed work I am after. 

Oh yes, got a spiffy new t-shirt too. Can never have enough of those. 

Monday, December 1, 2008

An Interesting Sports Ceremony

Now, what would YOU do if confronted by this?

The All Blacks perform the Haka during the Investec Challenge match between England and New Zealand at Twickenham in London, England. (Photo by Richard Heathcote/Getty Images)

(December 01, 2008, SeattlePI)

Looks like they won. 

But what does this really look and sound like?

Great fun. Nothing like very large men (slabs of meat really) doing a war dance at ya. 

Perhaps it is time to  

without soiling one's armor?