Monday, March 26, 2012

March 18 - March 24

Weekly Totals ~ Time: 6:23:30 Distance: 45.46 mi. Vertical: 4,203 ft.
Weekly Averages ~ Time: 0:54:47 Distance: 6.49 mi. Vertical: 700 ft.

I'm feeling good. Really good. Maybe in part because the sky has been Smurf blue for a couple of days.. Last week's weather was tough. I laid the hammer down on my track workout, this week. Unfortunately, the Garmin 610 threw a fit and didn't save the workout. My fault for not fully charging it. Immediately afterward I felt like the run didn't count. It was crazy sad. It brings me up to a good point, "It's not about the watch." I hear a lot of people at the end of races saying, "My GPS says this course is short/long." or "I kept running for .03, so I would make the scheduled mileage." Really? First off, I'm a big fan of GPS enabled watches. Why? Just because. I enjoy analyzing data, numbers, routes, etc., but to get so caught up in the accuracy of the numbers displayed on a watch is a fruitless adventure. This goes for pedometers, foot-pods (accelerometer), and GPS, by the way. Not to mention training plans based solely on mileage. There are inaccuracies in everything. Technology has flaws. That's why new products keep coming out. The bottom-line, if you want to be truly accurate in your training, train only by time. An hour run is an hour run, regardless of whether you run uphill or downhill, it's still an hour. If you, or a loved one, is GPS/Foot-pod obsessed there's an easy way to get help. Take off the watch, and just go run. Enable yourself to revert back to the anti-establishment movements by taking off the technology once a month. Go run a course you're familiar with sans music, and watches. Trust me, you'll thank me.

Daylight breaking through the clouds:

Sunday, March 18 ~ Time: 1:25:46 Distance: 7.20 mi. Vertical: 2,106 ft.
Base Run. Started driving toward some flat trails and then got sucked into the ominous fog resting atop Cougar Mtn. There's just something motivating about hidden summits. Took things very easy and had a great run. Hill repeats tomorrow!

Monday, March 19 ~ Time: 0:50:41 Distance: 6.35 mi. Vertical: 1,050 ft.
Hill Repeats. Towards the end I felt like I could probably walk faster. Legs were tired at the start, but loosened up around 5th repeat. The "rest"was basically a race to get down the hill and back to the start within the 2 minutes. Staying on the road allowed for a lot of concentration on form, so I'm happy to have been humbled.
1.5mi Warm-up; 8 X 1:30 Hill (10% grade) with 2:00 active recovery; 1.46mi Cool-down.

Tuesday, March 20 ~ Time: 0:18:59 Distance: 2.70 mi. Vertical: 32 ft.
Base Run. Quick descent to work, because car battery is dead. Oh well, I have two feet.

Tuesday, March 20 ~ Time: 0:19:01 Distance: 2.48 mi. Vertical: 31 ft.   
Recovery Run. I lead a group run, now, every Tuesday night at my work. Lots of vendors, lots of free gear. If you're in the Renton, WA area Tuesday evenings around 6:00 might want to join.

Wednesday, March 21 ~ Time: 1:10:00 Distance: 10.50 mi. Vertical: -
Short Interval. Watch battery died as workout was finishing, and for some reason it erased the workout. Workout: 8 X (.875 mi @ 7:10 min./mi. + 1:30 @ 5:30 min./mi.) + 1.5 mi. cool-down. I felt really good. Didn't start until 9 PM, but after I got warm it was a great workout. Too bad it got erased on the watch I love seeing data numbers.

Thursday, March 22 ~ Time: 0:41:52 Distance: 5.84 mi. Vertical: 118 ft. 
Recovery Run. Ran an easy road (blah) miles before work. Grabbed the commute running pack and ran to work. Nice to have a glaring sun in the eyes and wear shorts, short sleeves, and gloves. Legs are tired from last night's workout.

Friday, March 23 ~ Time: 1:37:10 Distance: 10.39 mi. Vertical: 866 ft. 
Recovery Run. The sky has turned into a giant Smurf, no clouds. The views of the surrounding mountain ranges, Cascades, Issaquah Alps, and Olympics, can make being in the Sound seem claustrophobic, but in a positive way. Friday Recovery Runs with Debbie O., this morning went really well. Legs feel like I worked 'em this week.

Saturday, March 24 ~ Rock-Climbing, no run.

Monday, March 19, 2012

Redmond Watershed Half Marathon (Trail) Race Review

The Hilton Head Half Marathon became the catalyst to change my original plan for this year, "just train, no racing." It took about 9 miles in South Carolina to figure out that racing requires two things to be successful, training and racing. That may seem like a lame, "trying to be philosophical" statement, but it's the simplicity of the statement that makes it philosophically functional. Too much training and you can't fully race. Too much racing and you can't fully train.

The week of the race had a great start and then a cold...thanks, SQ. Only true friends share, so I'm honored... Thursday through Saturday, I felt awful. Awful enough to not run.

Race Day,
At 6:30 AM my watch alarm started its annoying beep, vibrate pattern. I got up, turned on the computer to check out the radar, and was about to head for the coffee pot when I realized my mistake. <Thanks, Ben.> It was actually 7:30 AM. I glanced out the window and saw a stream of water.

This quickly changed my shoe selection. NB 101's out and SCOTT eGrip2's in. The shoe is a winner. I've put in a good number amount of hill repeats (Video 1, Video 2, Video 3) and ascents up Cougar Mtn. and Squak Mtn, so I know I feel comfortable running fast through rain, sleet, snow, and mud in them...they're kind of like the postal service, in a strange juxtaposition kind of way. Always on time, however.

I'm very pleased to report that the Redmond Watershed Preserve has fantastic bathrooms. Although, the horse stable theme is demoralizing. Ok, only one more critique about the place...if you don't allow pets in the preserve, why can people ride horses on the trails? Other than that, I'm very impressed with the place. The Douglas Firs stand ominously over the forest floor. It's a surreal feeling to be so small...okay, no short jokes following that sentence. I set it up perfectly, mind you. At 5'6'' on tall days, I'm fully aware that, yes, I am short.
Douglas Fir
Start line view

Beneath the Canopy...
<That should be a song title>

As everyone lined up at the start line we got some last minute directions from Eric Bone, race director, and we were off. I bolted out of the gates to get away from the crowd. No offense to anyone that raced. I hate racing in a pack on trails. I either want to be in the lead (or at least close) from the start or in the back and pick runners off one-by-one. Today, I went with the former. The only issue, with four races going on at one time, I had no idea of who I was racing. not an issue if you're running the shortest distance, but the half-marathon was firmly situated between the 5-mile, 10-mile, and Marathon.

Start/Finish line. High-tech, no. But it gets the point across.
Eric Bone, race director, and I after the race
Because it's not just about the race. High five, Northwest Trail Runs 
At the first right turn I asked the lady standing there, decorated in a very visible yellow jacket if this was the half-marathon course. She said, yes. I kept running. At this point I was 2nd overall (5mi,10mi, 13.1mi, 26.2mi...again I had no idea who I was racing) The 1st place guy turned around and yelled back asking if this was also a turn for the 5 mile race. Bingo. Now I knew at least one person in sight that I wasn't racing. As we started on the first "hill" I sped past and never looked back. One tip about racing, only look in the direction you want to go.
Mitch P. 2nd Overall

Photo courtesy:  Takao Suzuki 
As the first true 5mi/10mi & 13.1/26.2 split in the courses came-up I began to realize that I was feeling really good. That the three days of sickness and no running hadn't taken too much of a toll on me and that the warmer I got the better I felt. What a relief. My nose was running quite far still, but my chest was clear, no headache, and my legs eventually gave in to my mind. Forcing them to turn-over faster than they originally were willing.

I made the first U-turn (five total on the course) and checked my watch immediately. U-turns are like rear-view mirrors. In terms of racing, they allow easy checkpoints to check on the competition. 20 secs ahead. Some breathing room but nothing to ease up over.

Photo courtesy:  Takao Suzuki 
Back on to the 5mi/10mi course with a 20 second lead and I ran into my first dilemma. Where did all of these people come from? The trail narrowed and the crowds running the shorter distances had flooded the course. Passing people on the trail is stuff as it is, but passing people going much slower than you while you're racing is tedious. I didn't want to be rude, but I also realized that I only had 20 seconds of breathing room. I was Moses parting the Red Sea. Not a big task, especially because all of the other runners were aware of their surroundings, but by being the first through the sea I had to slow a bit. My worry was that when I passed someone they were going to make an effort to stay on the opposite side from where I passed creating an easy lane for my competition. That's part of the race, though. When I found gaps between the 5mi/10mi racers I made sure to speed up to hopefully make up any lost ground from passing others.

Photo courtesy:  Takao Suzuki 
As I approached the 2nd course split, I weaved my way through a wooden gate, dodging a puddle and was stoked for who I saw! My good friend Jamey was directing traffic. This gave me such a boost of confidence. He started hootin' and hollerin' and just really made me feel refreshed. I loved enthusiasm. I probably didn't show it on my face, but it meant a lot. His wife Heather was at the end of the U-turn working hard to have fresh nutrition for any runner that needed it. If you don't know already, their band Ravinwolf will rock your trail shoes off...maybe even some mud on your legs. Check 'em out at the bottom of this post, buy their CDs and support their musical talent:

After the 2nd U-turn I put in a 1 minute plus lead. Awesome. At the start/finish line U-turn a solid 3:24 gap. Two lap courses are great...when it's dry. The saturated ground was beat-up and the mud wasn't taking any prisoners. With the number of people on the course it was only getting worse and I still had another lap to run. I wanted to negative split, but it just wasn't possible with the footing. Nonetheless, I crossed the line in 1:26:53 and felt great. I can't wait to come back and, hopefully, improve my time on a much drier course.

Big congratulations to some friends that also raced that morning:
Daniel C., 2 half-marathons in 2 days. One on Saturday and one on Sunday...unbelievable!
Photo courtesy:  Takao Suzuki
Sheila F., Daniel's beautiful wife. Ran the 10-miler, smiling in every picture...awesome!
Photo by Louise Lakier Photography
Used with permission of Sheila F.  
Justin D. 2nd Overall for the 5-miler in a blazing time for a soggy course, great job!
Photo courtesy:  Takao Suzuki 
Danielle H. Smiling as well, and gave some great words of encouragement on my 2nd lap...thanks!
Photo courtesy:  Takao Suzuki 


March 11 - March 17

Weekly Totals ~ Time: 6:26:13 Distance: 39.44 mi. Vertical: 5,056 ft.
Weekly Averages ~ Time: 1:04:22 Distance: 6.57 mi. Vertical: 843 ft.

Anytime you start a week off with a first place finish, you know it's going to be a great week. Redmond Watershed Half-Marathon went great. This week's weather, however, was on the side of annoying and un-motivating. It was wet, cold, and everything you just want to not run in. Aside from the snow globe like run on Monday, I really didn't want to get out. But if I've learned anything about the Pac-Northwest, just get outside because it's really not that bad. My legs took a little longer to feel fully recovered from the race, but no love lost. Hope to get the race review up this week. The more into my training I get the less I write. Sucks because I have a lot of great thoughts while I run. We need someone to invent a device that could record thoughts and play it back when you're ready. I'd have novels of random thoughts, all sticky pad worthy, on bookshelves. Of course, sometimes I'm glad my thoughts come and go like shapes in clouds. Somethings are definitely better left inside my cranium. I'd also like a contact lens camera. I don't wear contacts but I would if I could just blink have the picture recorded. I can't even begin to recall how many times I'm meandering through the woods and all of the sudden a spectacular view rest in front of me. The light is perfect, the shadows are bold, and I'm left thinking, "Damn. My camera is in the car." Ok, get to work on these things people.
The inside of a snow globe...

March 11, Redmond Watershed Half-Marathon (trail)
Time: 1:26:56 Distance: 13.10 mi. Vertical: 859 ft. Place: 1st Overall

March 12, Cougar Mtn., Time: 1:34:47 Distance: 6.05 mi. Vertical: 1,742 ft.

Recovery Hike+Run. After yesterday's solid performance today needed to be on the relaxed side of things. Brad D. and I set out for an easy six miles. Hiked the first mile exploring old trails, well off the beaten path. Scraped my knee. Finished with a hilly, but doable 5 mile run.

March 13, Commute to Work, Time: 0:22:22 Distance: 2.72 mi. Vertical: 13 ft. 

Recovery Run. I now know what the inside of a snow globe looks like. That kind of revelation doesn't happen often, so I decided to run to work. Crisp, snowy, and cold. Loved every moment of the 400+ ft. descent to work.

March 14, Downtown Renton, Time: 0:29:09 Distance: 4.01 mi. Vertical: 29 ft.

Base Run. Not my favorite weather (cool and rainy), but my legs are starting to come around to feeling recovered. Negative split the run just for fun. It was short and easy, but a good gauge of recovery. Slid on a new pair of Hattori's. Not because my others are worn, but because that's what I wore to work. Felt great, as always.

March 15, Off Day

March 16, Squak Mtn., Time: 1:35:16 Distance: 5.56 mi. Vertical: 1,965 ft.

Recovery Run. Debbie O. and I ventured off of our routine sojourn and took the snowy inclines of Squak. Great time. Taken it easy on the trail gives me so much more time to look around and really take in nature.

March 17, S. Quinn Loop, Time: 0:57:43 Distance: 8.01 mi. Vertical: 449 ft.

Base Run. Snow this morning and full sunshine this evening. I had all intentions of hitting the mountains and trails, but the sun was shining so I stayed on the pavement. Lacked some motivation when I got home, but I got out the door, planned to do 3 miles and wound up with 8 miles. 7:12 min./mi. pace felt surprisingly easy considering the low starting motivation. Smile at consistency, and Saucony Hattori comfort.

Sunday, March 11, 2012

March 04 - March 10

Weekly Totals ~ Time: 4:58:11 Distance: 24.22 mi. Vertical: 6,995 ft.
Weekly Averages ~ Time: 1:14:33 Distance: 6.06 mi. Vertical: 1,739 ft.

For the little bit that I was able to run this week, it was great running. The mountains have been just a solid training ground the past couple of weeks and it was disappointing that I decided to take on a nasty chest/head cold on Tuesday. Typically, I'll feel a little under the weather, but nothing comes out of it except I feel a little more tired than usual on the runs. This cold, however, left me run-less from Wednesday to Saturday. I just did feel like getting out on the road, or trail, would be remotely beneficial. Plus, Thursday I made things much worse by neglecting to drink any water through-out the day. In fact, my fluid intake looked like this: two cups of coffee in the morning, three beers (not sure what I was thinking there) in the evening. I lifted a finger at 6:00 AM Friday and the most hideous headache secured itself above my eyes and behind my skull. My chest cold came back, my sore throat and that night I just decided to stay in and drink water...lots of water, and repeat on Saturday. Sunday I decided to race, and really wasn't super confident on my ability because of the cold. Life is life, though, no hard feelings on the missed days. I did get in the two quality workouts in the beginning of the week. The hills and intervals felt really really good, by the way. Redmond Watershed Half-Marathon, up next (March 11)

Sunday ~ Squak Mtn. ~ Time: 1:37:55 Distance: 6.82 mi. Vertical: 2,355 ft.

Base Run. Brad D. and I took some new trail runners out on Squak Mtn., today. Did a lot of out-n-back style running to keep track everyone on the ascent, so it was really nice to get some extra mileage and vertical. They all did really really well, by the way

Monday ~ Cougar Mtn. ~ Time: 1:19:24 Distance: 5.93 mi. Vertical: 2,255 ft.
Hill Repeats. Brenda Ann Spencer didn't like Mondays (look it up, if you're confused); however, I do. And to celebrate my idolization of the first day of the business week I run hill repeats. Love 'em. Today I followed the repeats with an easy ascent to Wilderness Peak and a longer descent back to the car. Workout:
1.3 mile Warm-up; 10 X :45 Hill w/2 min Active Recovery; 3 mile Cool-down.

Tuesday ~ Squak Mtn. ~ Time: 1:29:17 Distance: 6.78 mi. Vertical: 1,999 ft.

Base Run. Legs were tired from yesterday's hill repeats, but as the sun set last night snow clouds moved in and I just had to explore the mountains. I found three new trails, but only one wound up leading anywhere. It was spectacular. Days like today are needed in every training plan. It's too easy to become tunnel-visioned on goals, times, distances, and lose sight of your surroundings. I find it easier to incorporate these runs by taking my camera with me and stopping occasionally just to take in the view. Mount Baker, far far off on the horizon was painted with a pale pink as the sun hid itself beyond the Pacific Ocean. Lake Sammamish reflected the crystal clear atmosphere of the blue sky high above. The untouched snow on the hidden 'new' trail was soft and relaxed and the air was calm.

Wednesday ~ Home Area ~ Time: 0:31:36 Distance: 4.69 mi. Vertical: 376 ft.

Short Intervals. Late start to today's workout; 9:22 PM. Bottom-line, you can run at any time of the day, all you have to do is take the first step. Increased the time in each interval this week to :45 @ 5:15 min./mi. or lower. Everything felt really good. Surprisingly good, actually. Stayed on the sidewalk, still not a fan, but the full moon's light lit the way and there was hardly any traffic. Saucony Hattori, once again, performed flawlessly.

Thursday - Saturday


Thursday, March 8, 2012

February 26 - March 03

Weekly Totals ~ Time: 5:15:05 Distance: 32.89 mi. Vertical: 4,745 ft.
Weekly Averages ~ Time: 0:52:31 Distance: 5.48 mi. Vertical: 791 ft.

Mid-week 'oops' brought the mileage down. Tuesday's night-run was botched by some unforeseen circumstance. Wednesday was just a day of laziness. It's like I got out of my groove on Tuesday, not on  purpose, and on Wednesday I wasn't in any place to slide the shoes on before or after work. I'm not as disappointed, as much as I'm disappointed. -Yes, you read that correctly- I understand that some days don't go as planned, and life happens, but you have to wipe a clean slate at the end of each day and I just didn't do that mid-week. Oh well, over and done with now.

Now that I've bitched about two missed days, I'll talk about the positives (clean slate). See how I mentioned a previously mentioned idea. Comedians label that a 'call-back' joke. But there's no joke here. No funny ha ha, or funny queer (Sling Blade 'call-back'). Okay, the good stuff:

South Tiger Mtn. Feb. 27
Sunday's first summit up Central Peak is quite possible one of the most egotistically satisfying experiences that I've accomplished in recent months. It wasn't just the trackless snow identifying, unarguably, that indeed I was the first person to reach the top. It was the journey to the summit that fulfilled the overreaching joy. Ascending higher and higher from the West Access trail to Central Peak the snow was completely fresh, the sun shining through the trees, and the air bit hard when the wind blew. Intersecting the Central Peak Trail I noticed that large amounts of footsteps appeared. All pointed toward the peak. I thought, "Oh well, would've, in a strange way, been nice to be the first." Seriously, why does being the first on a sans view peak (excluding the large fortress of radio towers that the kid inside me screams to play on like a play-set) have more of precedence than being last, or in the middle, or...whatever? Regardless of the odd psychological satisfaction, about 1/8 mi. from the summit I see three lads, in full winter suits, trekking poles included, making their way to the top. They weren't just walking, they were on a mission. I skirted passed them, annoyingly and shyly coughing to let them know I was there and coming up on them quickly. Why I don't just say, "On your left." I have no idea. As I rounded the corner I looked down the uphill path ahead of me and realized, "This snow is completely fresh. I'm going to be the first on the summit." I arrived at Central Peak threw my arms in the air and solidified my 'win' with a smile that silently yelled, "Hell yeah!" I didn't stop long. Began the descent toward West Peak and passed the three summit searchers. They weren't moving as quickly as they were before I passed them. Defeated souls. I imagined their thoughts, "Here we are dressed in full back-country winter attire, and this hippie wearing short shorts, yellow shoes, a backwards ball cap, a thin long sleeve t-shirt, and skimpy gloves just stole our summit. We set out an hour ago and he jogged by us like he was on flat ground. What a punk." Winner, me. Every runner has these moment, they're good things. Be proud of the little victories.

Radio Towers at Central Peak

Feb. 26 ~ Squak Mtn. ~Time: 1:07:37 Distance: 6.17 mi. Vertical: 2,178 ft.

Base Run. Rain delay at Daytona 500 pushed me away from the tv and out into the white-washed mountains. Cold ascent up to Central Peak and then to West Peak. 1st summits on the mountain, today, according to the smooth snow laying on top of the trail.

Feb. 27 ~ South Tiger Mtn. ~ Time: 1:09:22 Distance: 5.48 mi. Vertical: 1,583 ft.

Hill Repeats. 45 and clear...welcomed weather in Washington. Awesomely the perfect weather lined up with my hill workout this week. Great workout. By the 8th repeat I was in a rhythmic pattern of struggle, rest, repeat. First few took some acclimatization. Legs took some time to warm-up, today. Took the camera, so another "fun" HD hill repeat video will be posted soon; this time, sunshine included.

Workout: 2 mile 'warm-up' (7% grade) to the hill. 8 X :30 uphill (18% grade) w/ 2min recovery. 2.5 mile cool-down.

Feb. 28 ~ Time: Distance: Vertical:


Feb. 29 ~ Time: Distance: Vertical:


Mar. 01 ~ Hazen High School ~Time: 54:50 Distance: 7.76 mi. Vertical: 0 ft.

Short Intervals. Track. Turn-over, turn-over, turn-over. Felt great to hit the soft rubber 400m oval for a solid workout in my favorite shoe of all time: Saucony Hattori. I felt coordinated, fluid, and most importantly, comfortable. Today's workout focused on adding in quick 30 second pick-ups every 3/4 mile at 4:40 min./mi. to 5:15 min./mi. pace with the 3/4mi at 7:00 min./mi. - 7:30 min./mi. pace. The important thing was to feel comfortable at the faster pace, work on form, stay relaxed, etc. Not to feel exhausted. And I can say I accomplished that tonight. Stoked. Workout: 1/2mi Warm-up; 8 X (3/4 mi. @ 7:15 pace + :30 @ 4:45 pace); 1/2 mile Cool-down. :30 split avg paces: 4:43, 4:45, 4:38, 4:32, 4:41, 4:29, 4:16, excited on #7 (oops)

Mar. 02 ~ Lake Youngs ~ Time: 1:39:25 Distance: 10.36 mi. Vertical: 855 ft.

Recovery Run. Back into my Recovery Run Friday with the ladies. Such a good time chatting and running around the 'not view-able' lake. The ground was wet, the skies gray, but spring is slowing creeping into the morning songs with baby bird melodies.

Mar. 03 ~ Home Loop ~ Time: 0:23:51 Distance: 3.13 mi.Vertical: 94 ft.

Recovery Run. Long day of work, and a quick run to shake out my unusually sore legs. First four minutes weren't the best, and last two minutes of tonight's run just not what I was looking for. Regardless, it was actually a relief to get back out for my evening recovery's been awhile.