Friday, June 29, 2012

A Pleasant Run and . . .

The other day GVB and I went out for a bit of romp on Tiger Mtn. A brilliantly sunny day with forecast highs in the mid-70's and a bit humid.

GVB wasn't feeling all that well but turned up anyway and off we went to I-90 Exit 20 to the High Point. I wanted 5 miles, GVB wanted 8 and I figured we'd split the difference. The plan was to run some of the easier trails around the plateau and then, depending upon how we both felt, get some climbing in.

These are some of my favorite trails.

This is what we came up with. Some nice "flatish" though technical running (rocks and roots if you know what I mean) followed by a nice climb up Nook Trail with a traverse to Talus Rocks.

As it has been a few years since my last run up there I had to rely on my sense memory. The trail up at the top has been washed out in places and there were a lot of trees down and was, in places, not recognizable. Pretty slippery too as it has been raining quite a bit.

Of course I had forgotten just how steep it was too. As in . . .

Let's just say that there was a lot of sweat expended.

The trails were surprisingly busy. Trail crews were repairing sections of the trail and adding drainage, quite a few hikers, and a Wounded Warrior was being escorted around the Plateau Loop. I was so happy to be out there and I was greeting everyone as we passed. The vet was particularly inspiring, moving slowly using a cane with a look of intense conversation. I was (and am) glad to see him out there instead of being hidden away like so many earlier generations of wounded. Americans really need to SEE the results of their foreign policy which, as I point out to my students, is always written on the real bodies of real people. Personally, I wonder at the impact such sights (such reminders) will have on how people think about foreign policy and, via Beinart, how soon we will "forget"?

So a beautiful run with a tinge of the bittersweet.

GVB commented that the Nettles were really out, especially since, unlike Cougar, the trails are not cleared. No worries except for one thing, the pollen.


I was already sneezing quite a bit and as we bashed through the undergrowth in section this got much worse.

By the evening my head was completely clogged and drippy (if such a thing is possible) necessitating what has turned out to be a two-day lay-off from training. At least I know that I am not alone. My doctor told me that he has been seeing the most extreme allergy symptoms even from people who aren't normally sensitive. What a pain . . .

So, a wonderfully pleasant run, a perspective reminding encounter, and a lot of sneezing.

Sounds about right.

Sunday, June 24, 2012

Green Lake Open Water Swim 2012

I had been quite worried about my open water fitness going into this race and was more than a bit nervous (OWS Issues) but had actually had a strong workout week (a steady and strong track workout on Thursday and a longish brick (bike to run) on Saturday).

Woke up at 5 (of course) but forced myself to stay in bed. It just looked cold out there. The pets had other ideas, breakfast. Got out of bed about 7 and went into the kitchen. Ke had puked all over the place in the night and I hadn't heard anything. GOOD MORNING!!! (More on him later as I was ready to kill that bloody cat.)

Walked Te, ate some breakfast, got my gear together and the headed out to GL about 8:20. Checked in, #514, and then walked over to one end of the gym to get some coffee. D was already there and it was nice to catch up with him. Another woman started talking with us too, she had gotten there too early as well and had just been hanging around. Saw E, TT, and M too. TT asked if I had ever swum competitively. I told her only in junior high. She saw my time from last year and was impressed. Hunh! That's pretty cool.

Pretty soon it was time to get out there as the half milers were going to start. I was the first swimmer into the water to warm-up. It was cloudy and only about 52 and the water was kind of chilly. Nobody wanted to be the first so I went. Then all kinds of people were warming up. I watched as a mother duck swam through all of this with 8 ducklings behind her. There was a collective "awww" and someone said "she makes it look so easy!" As so she did. 

Pretty soon the lead half-miler came in, IN ABOUT NINE MINUTES!!! The next swimmers were about half a block behind, just about 2 minutes behind. Wow! Stunning performance. Then it was a steady stream of swimmers until about 9:30 when we were lined up. Still one half-miler to finish though and we had to wait for them to finish. 

I lined up on the outside right and thought I was surrounded by fast fish. The start horn went off and I immediately crashed into someone. It took a bit for me to work myself free from the tangle of arms and legs and get into open swimming room. I ended up to the outside angling in towards the buoy line. The sun was starting to come up but the water remained fairly dark (I remember from last year how bright and bubbly it was). The outbound swim felt like it took forever but it was just over 12 minutes and then back. 

I was swimming strongly by this time and felt like I had something left to give at the end. My stomach, however, was getting really uncomfortable. Turns out that it was full of air. About .75 miles in I belched rather impressively while under water and then I felt much better. 

This finish was both harder and easier than last time. I had trouble sighting the finish. Even though the lake was flat calm all of the chop from the other swimmers was making seeing things harder. But I swam all the way until my hands touch the stairs at the edge of the lake, stood up, climbed up, someone yelled my name (M maybe?), and then I ran into the finish chute without being dizzy. My watch said something like 26:xx, 2 minutes slower than last year. 

I was taking off my suit and drying off when D came up. He had had a rough start too and said he didn't get his rhythm until the half-mile turn around. Personally I felt pretty "maytaged" with my core muscles kind of sore (they were after this week's track session as well). Mostly I was out of fuel and went to Sunflower for breakfast once I finished showering. Coffee with some sugar started restoring me. So it was interesting to feel how depleted I was after my track and brick workouts over the past few days. 

I thought I was about two minutes slower than last year I guess and I was feeling a bit bummed about that. Overheard two guys talking about their swim. One guy was agonizing that he was 15 seconds slower than last year. Still, I had a great time and a good reminder about mass swim starts—let the whacking begin! 

And what about the cat?

Stopped at WF to pick up some things for dinner. Also some chocolate almond milk. Put everything away except for the almond milk. Went to answer the door. Came back and there was almond milk all over the counter and dripping on the floor. Did I split the carton? Was it damaged in transit? No. I picked it up. There were four, perfectly placed, fang holes. Damn cat! 


Update (6/29/12): 

Official times are out and I swam an 25:59. I looked up my time from last year, 25:15. 44 seconds off and I know that I was not working as hard as I did last year. Very cool!!!

The first place half-miler finished in 9:39, second place came in at 11:16. Very impressive. 

Friday, June 22, 2012

Legs and Ladders

29 more days until Chelan.

Last night I had my first "ladder" workout at the track—1 mile WU, 2X400's, 1X800, 1X1200, 1X800, 2X400, 1 mile CD.

Met PuddleThumper, who has sort of been grumbling about the rain of late (but not really), in the parking lot and we took off for our warm-up. She didn't tell me that it was pretty much up-hill almost immediately and I was huffing and puffing pretty soon after starting (better earlier than later I suppose)—I am on summer break now and, somehow, my body thinks it should be too.

Got to the track and just started in on my workout on an amazingly uncrowded track (there are a number of big races going on this weekend which I am sure contributed to the relative emptiness of the scene. Fine by me, no dodging lacrosse players as they wander aimlessly and cluelessly around.

Great workout, very consistent and also hard.

PuddleThumper had a short workout, she is one of those running one of those big races this weekend, and started taking pictures. This is one (above) that she got of me and I am both impressed and not.

My legs are pretty big but I guess I didn't really know how big as this is a view I generally don't see.

My form? It would be nice to be leaning more forward and landing more on my forefoot. Something to work on.

And what am I doing this weekend?

Saturday I'll be barreling up the BG Trail and then bricking to a run. On Sunday, I'll be G. L. O. W. S.-ing.

Of course, rain is forecast for both days . . .

Monday, June 18, 2012

OWS Issues

Kind of a rainy June morning here in Seattle. 53 degrees at 6 am. No wind.

I woke up early to join Sj, Les, and K2 for a 40-minute swim in Green Lake. According to the West Green Lake monitoring station the water is currently 64 degrees. 

Two other guys were down there as we were getting ready, one training for August's Swim for Life and the other for a Iron Man (not Canada). 

Putting my face into the water was kind of hard but Linsey Corbin put it well: 

Anyone can race on the easy day. Champions rise in adverse conditions. Be a warrior and let's go all-in. 
(Originally from:

So I went all in, put my head down and swam. And swam. And swam. 

It went OK. 

No, actually, this swim was a bit frustrating (as was the swim before) and I am not sure what is going on. 

Just not feeling speedy through the water compared to last year. Running out of energy as well.  I have noticed that I tend to swim faster than the people I am with during the first half of the swim and then slow down on the way back. I am not sure it is a matter of going out too fast as much as it is the ability to sustain and increase energy output. Looking back to last year's records it looks like during training I was swimming the mile in about 30 minutes. This year I've been doing it in between 35-38 minutes. 

Today I noticed the head thing that Les pointed out during my last swim with her. When I get tired my head comes out of the water and I start flailing around a bit. Good to know what happens when I get tired in the water.  OK, gotta get me head down and also kick. I'll try that. 

The other issue is energy coupled with seasonal stress (the end of the school year is always a challenge). 

Yet another thing to suss out. 

GLOWS is this Sunday and I registered this morning. :-) 

Something of a fitness test I think. 

Sunday, June 17, 2012


It's June around here which generally means the "June Gloom" is upon us after some rather spectacular weather in May. A friend of mine from Santa Barbara called the other day and asked if I remembered June Gloom in SB as well. Oh yes.

But the weather has been rather interesting too. Very humid and warmish (not hot) with occasional flashes of blue sky. Yesterday's run out at Tiger Mountain was on the cool side with a little drippiness and a whole lot of humidity.

Last night a front went through and put on a spectacular show. We we treated to one of the most vivid rainbows I have ever seen.

Double Rainbow

Clouds and Sun
See how far that big Cedar tree is bending? Very windy.

Saturday, June 9, 2012

Hooligan Machines

So, last week a friend of mine, who shall remain nameless until such time as he identifies himself, finally picked up his motorized bicycle. I didn't mind hanging on to it as every time I opened my garage someone walking by would say something like "cool bike, man." Yep, I am not above basking in such admiration—sort of like "Bad Boy Georgie." Anyway, said friend took said bike to the shop for a tune-up and got to ride an even more powerful version which he described as a "hooligan machine." Black on black 800cc machine that looked a bit like something a berserker might ride. Very cool!

Today we got to see some even cooler hooligan machines. To wit . . .

And . .

Now, how is that for snarly?

Oh, and I ran a race this week too. It was very rainy, quite chilly, and very much a blast.