Tuesday, May 31, 2005

Trail Note: "I took the one less traveled by, and that has made all the difference" (Robert Frost)

I've been running all of my longer runs on the Burke Gilman Trail this spring. This is the same trail that I take to school on my bike, which means that I'm on it at least 4 days a week. It's a nice trail, but I knew that I needed a break from it if I were to make it through my run today, so I ventured over to West Seattle. It was fantastic. Every time I go to Alki Beach I wonder why I don't go more often. For those not familiar, it's a real beachy beach, with waves and sandy shores and everything. There are fish and chips shops and water taxis and lots of restrooms (great for a long run). The views are absolutely amazing: mountains (well, not today) and water and islands and downtown Seattle. The weather was perfect running weather in the upper 50's with overcast skies and only a couple of drops of rain. And the people were friendly; I think that more people said "good morning" to me today than in the last month. I'm definitely going back soon.

Monday, May 30, 2005

Trail Note: How Bad Can It Be?

Altitude + one late & sodden night + second late & sodden night - healthy food = painful run

Friday, May 27, 2005

When You Wish Upon A Star($)

We're having a few days of summer here in Seattle. The temperatures are warm (hot, even; I'm so glad for the new fan!!), the skies are blue, and Mt. Rainier looks like a painted backdrop from an old Hollywood movie. Days like these are why Frappuccinos were invented.

Probably most folks know by now about the new minty mocha concoction in Starbucks near you. I'm holding out hope that they'll bring the matcha frap that I enjoyed in Japan to the US. Nothing beats a green drink on a hot day.

Note: Jamba Juice is now selling a matcha smoothie, so I guess I'll have to get my green tea kick there for now.

Tuesday, May 24, 2005

Hey Hey, Ho Ho, Recruiter Protesters Have Got to Go

Yesterday students protested the presense of military recruiters on school campuses. I heard them on the UW campus yesterday, but wasn't close enough to hear what they were objecting to. Probably a good thing, because while I respect their right to peaceful protest, I think that their energies are misdirected.

I share their objections to the war and understand their sentiment about not wanting their fellow students or themselves to risk their lives on a cause they don't believe in. And some recruiters have used pretty slimy tactics to meet (or try to meet) their quotas; not something that I respect. I can't count the number of stories I heard about Navy Airmen recruited because of some story about being like Tom Cruise in Top Gun. These airmen saw a lot of F-14's and flight deck action, alright, but the closest they would get to a cockpit was if they were cleaning it. But in a time of voluntary service, everyone makes his or her own choice about entering the military. As much as people may not enjoy their time in service, they signed on the dotted line, and must fulfill upon their commitment. And the military is still a good option for a lot of people. It is a way to pay for increasingly expensive education, and for many it is a way out of the inner city, or their depressed factory or farm town. Without recruiters, the other option to staff a military is a draft, where people don't have the option of serving, and I don't think these students want that.

My advice to these students is to protest the war, write their congressmen, and vote against those elected officials who commit our troops to battle. Warn your friends about the risks of military service, and then let them make up their own minds.

Tuesday, May 17, 2005

Taking Charge of our Health

There's an updated "Our Bodies, Ourselves" just out, along with a website with all kinds of companion links, 'cause one book can't have absolutely everything in it. I have the version updated in the early 1990's; I'll have to check out how much has changed since then (I'm pretty sure that it didn't contain any url's).


Please, ladies (and guys), get those preventative screenings done regularly. If you don't know what that includes, the American Cancer Society has a nifty quiz you can take online. Early detection makes all the difference.

The Honeymoon is Over

The first couple of weeks of my marathon training felt a little too good to be true. The miles came fast and easy; I couldn't believe I was running 30 miles a week without pain. I felt hungry all the time, and despite how much I ate, I still lost a pound or two. I looked forward to my runs, and felt odd urges on my days off to get a few more miles in.

Running energy and motivation, like anything else in life, is cyclical, and valleys follow peaks. Late last week into the weekend I was clearly in the trough. I had that tough bike ride on Thursday, my easy 'round-the-block run on Saturday was not at all easy, and I completely punted on my long run on Sunday, opting instead to do a slow 4 miler with Jeff along the ship canal. My appetite and weight have stabilized, too, and I realize that higher mileage alone is not going to get me to my goal race weight. I'm actually going to have to watch my diet.

Nothing worthwhile really comes easily, I realize, and if this training weren't hard, then it wouldn't be an accomplishment to run a sub 3:40 marathon. So, I managed to get out on the road early yesterday and finish my long run for the week. It was slower than weeks before (8:50 miles going out and 8:40 miles coming back), and my knees started to feel it around the 10 mile point, but I finished the 13 miles. One more tough week, and then it's a break in mileage just in time for the holiday weekend.

Sunday, May 15, 2005

Relax, Have a Homebrew

Friday night was the first taste of my latest homebrew: the first I've made in over 5 years. I used Northern Brewer's "Tongue Splitter" kit: a hoppy American style pale ale. The brewing process went well with only a couple minor hiccups (yeast mistreatment and foam overflow through the airlock). When I transferred the beer to a bucket for the dry-hopping portion (in the midst of packing for our trip a couple hours before we left for Japan), however, I discovered that the bucket's spout wasn't screwed in tightly and the bucket leaked. I placed the bucket in the deep sink and hoped for the best.

Well, the guys at the brew supply store were right: as long as all mishaps were "going out, not in" (they were) and I sterilized well (I did), the hops would take care of the rest. The beer tastes great: plenty of hops with a fragrant, citrus (mmm, grapefruit) overtone. There is not as much body as I'd like; next time I'm using twice the malt as the kit calls for (a tip from Charlie Papazian).

Thanks to Jeff for another amazing label!

Thursday, May 12, 2005

When Being Young at Heart Just Isn't Enough

For my marathon training, I'm trying to stick close to the AM plan that has a weekly speed / tempo run, a long run, 1 - 2 recovery runs (before the long and after the speed run), and a run which is mostly to make up the weekly mileage. Today was my "getting the mileage in" run day, which means that it's the perfect day for me to substitute a bike ride. For the first time in a couple of years, we did "the Redhook loop." It's about 20 miles from our home to the Redhook brewery in Woodenville, where they not only brew beer, but have a lovely pub with great food. It's a great, mostly flat ride there, we have lunch and a pitcher of Redhook's finest, and then bike home. The same loop reversed is actually a Redhook sponsored annual ride, except they stop in Freemont rather than our house. The original Redhook brewery was in Freemont, less than a mile from home, so it was a Redhook to Redhook out and back.

We've done this loop several times in past years, and I don't remember ever feeling quite this bad. My legs were tired from the get-go, probably because of a harder than usual tempo run on Tuesday, and a short run and bike ride (up the hill) yesterday. And then those pints and big lunch were not happy in my stomach for the ride home. Perhaps I didn't eat quite so much last time, or we didn't ride as fast, or I rode my hybrid and the upright position didn't cramp my stomach as much, or I just forgot that I felt this bad on previous trips. I have a feeling that it's the last reason, so this note is a reminder to myself and to anyone else who mistakenly thinks that she has a stomach of steel.
But is He Fast?

The Yeti just posted a photo gallery of my around-the-lake loop run at the Morning News. Okay, so it's not just my route, although mine's a little longer (I live a little over 1/2 a mile away from the lake, so I call the loop 7 miles). I think he's taken a couple of liberties with the route (no way he's climbing the hill to visit the troll or taking the steep staircase down to see the bench every run), but otherwise I share a lot of the same (albiet not as funny) observations.

Wednesday, May 11, 2005

So who's going to play with the kitties all day?

Congratulations to Jeff, soon-to-be-full-time-worker-with-benefits, on his new job!

'Cause I can't be one-upped, starting this week, I'll be working here on this.

So if you run into us this weekend, first round's on me.

Sunday, May 08, 2005

Trail Note

I ran 12 miles yesterday, bringing the weekly total to 30, and when I add in my "bike equivalent miles" I hit my goal of 33 for the week.

Friday, we hit the REI anniversary sale, and I bought lots 'o running stuff including what I'm calling the "granny pack." I'm getting to the point where my long runs are long enough to require water and snacks, and it's always a good idea to carry phone, ID, etc. too big to fit into that tiny little key pocket. When I started running with it on, I felt like ol' lady runner: a little weighed down but ready for anything.

I'm feeling quite comfortable still with the mileage that I'm doing. It's a little eerie, actually; I keep waiting for injury or burnout to hit. I'm still running my long runs faster than the book tells me, which either means that I'm running way too fast and I'm not getting in quality mid-week workouts, or I'm setting myself up for a faster marathon time. Next step is to run a 10K and/or half marathon to see what my time is there, so I can better judge my fitness (VO2 max / lactate threshold).
Happy Mother's Day!

I knit these sachets for my mom and grandma for Mother's Day. Unfortunately, I outsmarted myself and posted the pic on Flickr yesterday afternoon - right before my mom showed her mom (whom she was visiting for the weekend) my online photos. So, not a big surprise, but a big hit all the same.

Thursday, May 05, 2005

Happy Cinco de Mayo!

Margarita, blended not stirred: ingredients include salt,lime, and water, making it the perfect post-run refresher.

Monday, May 02, 2005

Trail Note

Saturday I ran over 11 miles for my longest run in over a year. I didn't really feel up to it when I woke up, but got out on the trail anyway. It was cool and rainy, but not actually raining, so perfect long run weather. I did not bring water; this should be the last long run where I don't. I'm going to have to figure out the optimal water/food carrying system very soon. Jeff ran the beginning of the run with me, turning around at the 3.5 mile point. It was helpful having him on the run to get me going. By the time he turned around for home, I was into a great groove. I timed a lot of the miles and found that my pace was pretty consistent, between 8:40 and 8:30 minute miles, slightly faster on the way back. I felt tired, but good when I finished. My biggest issue now are the sore spots where clothing rubbed; I need to remember Body Glide for the next long run.

So, if I count my biking miles (4 miles of biking equaling 1 mile of running), I exceeded my 30 miles for the week!
Life on the Dole

As anyone who has ever been out of work might guess, it's much more fun when you're accompanied by a friend. The first few weeks after my layoff were pretty slow: a little boring and lonely; much cake was eaten, guilt ensued. But then I started classes, we went to Japan, and since our return, Jeff has been around the house, making it much more fun. The reading for my 2 public affairs classes is quite time consuming, I'm actually starting on the organizing tasks that I put off for the first month-after-job, and every now and then I help Jeff with house projects, so I'm pretty well occupied. Just having him around the house makes me more productive (read: less likely to turn on the television and watch Gilmore Girls or ER reruns). And then we have fun field trips, like the mid-week trip to see tulips two weeks ago, or Friday's trip to the dump followed by brunch and a matinee. A girl could get used to this.

(Note for concerned family members who might be reading: both of us are making progress in our respective searches for salaried positions).