I ran a double yesterday! Amazing!

It wasn’t planned. My car broke down on Tuesday night, and I needed to take it in to the shop. I had no one to drive me, so I either had to take a bus or run home. So I ran. It was just a little over a mile, and almost entirely downhill, so it wasn’t bad. I don’t normally run so early in the morning (it was 9:00, that’s early for me), other than races. I hadn’t eaten anything yet, and I felt like my energy was flagging even on a short run, so I know I’m probably not one of those people who can do their long runs at like 5 am without a single morsel of food in their bellies. I’m sure for a short run I’d only need a little snack. My quadriceps weren’t quite ready for the pounding they took, but they can just suck it up.

My planned run was another set of 4 hill repeats at Chester Bowl, followed by a descent along the trail by the creek. Instead of trying to run parts of the ascent, I power-hiked all 4 reps, doing my best to try to keep my breathing under control. I only lost 5 seconds off my overall pace for the workout, and since I didn’t stop to take a picture during the run this time, I didn’t have any recovery before I started on the trail. That’s a pretty good argument in favor of the efficiency of power hiking. Small sample size, yes, but still relevant.

I like the idea of incorporating a morning run to add a little volume to my weekly mileage. I don’t like to get up early, and I’m slow, so I doubt these runs would get over 3 miles, but I think that’s good. I felt great after the run, and energized for the day, and I didn’t feel any negative effects during the evening’s hard workout. Once school starts and my schedule and workload will be all over the place, doubles might be the only way to ensure I’m getting in the mileage I need.

Bunny Hills

The heat broke yesterday, and I’m not sure it even got above 80. There was a beautiful breeze blowing in my window in the morning, and I didn’t wake up sweaty and gross from another hot July night. The timing was perfect because I tried out my new amped-up version of a hill workout after work.

I ran up the Chester Bowl ski hill 4 times today. It’s a tough climb, although as ski hills go it is not that frightening.

I warmed up with a nice uphill run because that’s how one gets to Chester Bowl, and then started at the base of the hill. The first pass, I went out rather aggressively, and I was breathing pretty heavily halfway up when I slowed to a hike. I took it easy on the way down, and on the second pass, began at a very slow run, then slowed to a walk again about halfway up. I made the third pass a “sustainable” effort, meaning closer to what I would actually do in a race, and hiked the whole way up, still huffing and puffing. On the way down, my quads were a little shaky. I mixed up running and walking on the fourth pass, running about a quarter of the way, hiking, running, hiking, and running to finish. Then snapping the photo and heading back down, again on uneasy legs.

I realize this workout is like, the opposite of what is metabolically efficient, as I am giving an anaerobic effort on the climbs. I don’t need a heart rate monitor to tell me my heart’s about to explode. I don’t even really know if this workout is a good idea, although I think it is, for whatever that’s worth. I think it’s going to make my legs stronger on uphills AND downhills. I definitely need to mix in some more practice power hiking, since that’s what I’m actually going to do in the race, and I need to practice getting my arms involved more. I’m barely pumping them at all. The handheld is throwing me off, so I think I need to bring both for my next hill workout (in 2 weeks), as bringing none is not an option. I plan on doing 5 more repeats of this workout between now and the race date, and doing intervals or tempo runs on the alternating weeks. The more hills I can do, one after another, the better I think it will be come race day. I don’t have a way to quantify any improvements, but I hope I’ll be able to feel a difference in effort between this week and week 11, when I do the final set of hill repeats.

After the hills, I ran down to the 9th St. bridge using the Chester Creek trail and then cruised home. I actually felt pretty good, and my legs felt strong. I wanted to do a yoga video when I got home, but Chromecast wasn’t cooperating, so I just did a little freestyle yoga that lasted maybe 5 minutes. It doesn’t count. Today is another rest day, and I am getting a massage. This week will practically count as another recovery week. Two rest days (so far), a break in the heat wave, and some pampering!

The Peace of Wild Things

When despair for the world grows in me
and I wake in the night at the least sound
in fear of what my life and my children’s lives may be,
I go and lie down where the wood drake
rests in his beauty on the water, and the great heron feeds.
I come into the peace of wild things
who do not tax their lives with forethought
of grief. I come into the presence of still water.
And I feel above me the day-blind stars
waiting with their light. For a time
I rest in the grace of the world, and am free.

-Wendell Berry

I love that poem so much. Never mind that I came across it because Alan Alda quoted (and misattributed) it on an episode of ER and I… well I would say I Googled it but I don’t think I used Google in 1999.

Friday and Saturday I got out for shorter runs, proving that it only takes one day to get back into the habit of running, even after taking several days off.

Friday I rewarded myself after a crappy day at school with a run through Hartley Nature Center. It was precisely what I needed mentally. Since it has been warm here and we’ve had some rain, the trails were starting to come alive. Little shoots and buds of green were everywhere, and it smelled lovely. The sun was shining but it wasn’t too hot (I didn’t start until early evening). More trails are open now, so I got to take a different route this time around. The only downside was hiking up the back side of Rock Knob and looking up to see a couple of guys peeing. I mean, the trail was right there, guys. Come on.

Saturday my plan was to head out and do some controlled hill repeats, instead of my usual “run as fast as you can stand” hill repeats. It was early evening again when I ran (6:30 or so), but still plenty light out. I did two repeats and held back a bit each time, then jogged back down. I made sure my heart rate was under the requisite 142 by the time I got back to the bottom, which in the past had sometimes required walking back down.

I was halfway up the hill for the third try and I saw a deer. Then two more. I see deer all the time when I am running, and they just go on their merry way when they see me. If they don’t, I usually say something like “Hello, deer” and sort of wave my arms a bit and they trot away. Two of the deer edged away, but this other deer wasn’t bothered.

The deer was closer than it looks in this photo, in which it is almost indistinguishable from the background. I paused my watch for a bit while I took a picture and thought about what I was going to do. The deer started to slowly move toward me and that’s when I turned around for good and got the hell out of there. (I started my watch again, because I had my wits about me!) I got across the street and the deer was still following me and looked like it might consider crossing the street, so I booked it up the hill, looking over my shoulder every so often to see if the deer was trying to catch up. It wasn’t, so that was good, but it was still a weird experience. I also saw some kind of dead, half-eaten bird and a dead raccoon, so that was nice.

I really do enjoy seeing (live) animals while I am running. I saw a bear last summer about two blocks from my house, a very exciting occurrence. It was the middle of summer, so I wasn’t really that concerned and ran right by it. This lady in her truck was yelling at me to warn me, but a bear by itself that has been chowing down on garbage and pick-a-nick baskets all summer isn’t going to eat me. A bear in early spring or a bear with cubs would frighten me. I also found a cat on the Lakewalk last fall, which I didn’t enjoy because it was clearly domesticated and had no claws (which I know because I carried it 2 miles) and had obviously been dumped there by the dregs of humanity. Other than the poor cat, the flora and fauna of the northland are part of what makes running up here so pleasant.

Race Report: Fitger’s 5K 2015

I finished!

Official Results:
Time: 37:00
Pace: 11:55
Overall: 1330/1680
Division (F 30-34): 145/190
Gender: 811/1076

Watch Results:
Time: 37:04
Pace: 11:39
Distance: 3.18 mi
Heart rate: 173 bpm

A: 36:00
B: 40:00

What I ate the night before: Chipotle burrito bowl
What I ate on race morning: nothing
What I carried with me: nothing

What I wore: Running tights, tank top, long-sleeved hoodie, gloves, headband.
Gadgets: GPS watch

Since this is my first official attempt at a race recap, this format is experimental.

I set my alarm for 6:30 this morning, then hit snooze and slept for another hour (not really since I had to get up and feed my cats to shut them up). I puttered around the house until about 8:10 and then headed out. I probably could have walked to the race, as it started only a mile or so away from my house, but that would have meant an annoying uphill walk home.

I left everything except my keys in my car. At first that included my bib. I didn’t get very far before I was like oh yeah, bib, that’s important. The race packet even said “no bib, no time.” A nice reminder for absent-minded morons like me. I probably should have stayed at my car a little longer, since I had like 30 minutes to kill until race time. It would have been a good idea to take a few more sips of water. I don’t say that ominously, nothing horrible happened, but I was really worried about that once I got there.

There were people all over the place and I was really intimidated. I was also sort of rolling my eyes because people were doing all kinds of super serious warm-up stuff. I’m not sure if running hill repeats as a warm-up is even a good idea, but maybe this guy was trying to psych everyone else out. For all I know, hill repeat guy was the winner.

I didn’t know when to put my bib on. I ended up going inside the Fitger’s complex to put it on, which was stupid because it was jammed full of people. I don’t know why, it wasn’t that cold out, and most of the people inside were dressed similarly to me. Obviously some people were just in line for the bathroom. There was also a huge porta-potty line outside. Since I didn’t need either, I just observed.

I ran into my co-worker, whose son was running, and we had a nice chat. Then I did a tiny warm-up jog. Then I stood around feeling like a loser. I didn’t have my phone with me and I didn’t have anyone to talk to, so I was kind of stuck standing there feeling nervous. I don’t know why I was so nervous for the stupid race but I was. People started filling the street to line up for the race, so I followed suit, and then I got my watch ready, making sure it would pick up my heart rate monitor and GPS and would be ready to start when I crossed the timing mats.

I lined up near the back, because I am not stupid. I may have almost forgotten my bib, but I am not such an idiot that I put myself in a position to get trampled or in everyone’s way. Starting at the back of the race is kind of great, because it meant I passed more people than I was passed by, according to the race results thingy.

I was so nervous my resting heart rate was in the high 110s. I was nervous about not having much water pre-race, I was nervous about getting lost, I was nervous about… I don’t know. I just wanted the race to start so I could run and enjoy myself. It was sunny and warm enough.

I’m not 100% certain when the race started. I heard an air horn, but then nobody moved, so I am not sure if there was an “elite” start or what the deal was. Eventually we started going. I had no idea when I crossed the timing mat relative to the gun time (+1:31 according to the race results), but that was nice because then I wasn’t doing mental math the whole time trying to figure out if I was on pace for my goal times.

The first quarter mile or so was spent jockeying for position. Since I was at the back, I was intermingled with walkers and groups of slower runners. Groups are tough. I understand that some people are doing this for fun and camaraderie with their friends, and they want to stick together. I do not understand why that means walking four abreast. There were lots of people who were cognizant of their surroundings and only went two-by-two, but I am sure at any race there will always be people who are in their own world. I can’t complain too much because those folks kept me from going out way way way too hard, but they also forced me to speed up a bit to get past them when I saw a window of opportunity.

When we crossed the freeway, I was so so so so so thankful for every hill run I had done. It slowed a lot of people down but I kept on keeping on. I finished the first mile in 11:38. When we were turning around onto Lake Avenue, there was a short line of cars. This woman in the first car got out and approached the police officer guarding the turnaround. Clearly annoyed, she asked if they ever stopped to let cars through, and the officer answered “not for a race, no.” She was not happy about it. Sorry, lady, you’ll have to wait another 10 minutes or so to get your meth.

I was trying not to be competitive with anyone other than myself. I imagine most people show up at races and slowly size up the competition, eyeing who they think they can beat. I assumed every person I saw was faster than me. Young, old, big, small, clad in expensive running gear, wearing beat up workout stuff from the ’80s (those are the real hardcore runners), they all had the potential to beat me. Once out on the course, I really wanted to beat these two women who were loudly talking the whole time and who kept passing me, slowing down to walk, and then passing me again. Unfortunately their run-walk strategy paid off and I lost them somewhere before the second mile marker. I wonder if a run-walk strategy would pay off for me. I don’t think it’s worth it in a 5K. I’d rather run the whole time.

The turnaround on Railroad St seemed to stretch farther and farther into the distance, and I kind of thought I would never get there. I mean, not really, I wasn’t that melodramatic, but I kept thinking I was close to it and I wasn’t. I didn’t mind because that just meant I had a shorter “home stretch.” I hit the second mile in 11:49. I am pretty sure the race photographer took a picture of me just as I was wiping my nose on my glove.

As we crossed the freeway I was once again pumped to have done all those hill repeats and hilly running routes, because I think it was a killer for some people. Either that or they strategically chose to walk. I kind of expected to pass more people on the hill but I really didn’t. Once over the freeway there were only like 6 blocks to go, and the inflatable yellow finish line sign was in sight. I got a little bitty bit excited and kicked it into high gear (sub 10 minute pace) a little too soon and had to back myself off. The race finishes on a slight uphill, which I had not considered when I was running the slight downhill at the beginning. It wasn’t horrible, but it just meant I needed to start my kick later in order to not die.

I started my real kick right at the 3 mile mark according to my GPS (I only know this after the fact, at that point I wasn’t looking at my watch). My third mile split was 11:44, and the final 0.18 I ran at a 10:10 pace. No one passed me once I kicked it in, and I passed a few people, so that was nice. I picked up my nice green race shirt and considered getting in line for food and water, but I felt really claustrophobic so I decided to just leave. I had water in my car, I didn’t need to wait for a tiny cup or for a banana or whatever. I went to Caribou and had a blueberry muffin and enormous latte instead!

This is a longer race recap than some people write for 100 mile races, but I guess I had a lot of thoughts about the race. I enjoyed running it, I didn’t get lost (that was a stupid fear. It was so obvious where the course was), and I hit my goal pace! I didn’t hit my A Standard time, but I don’t really mind. I ran sub-12 minutes, which was really what I intended my A Standard to be. I sort of blew off that extra 0.1 miles and rounded the race distance to 3 miles when setting my goal, without realizing that at a 12:00 pace, 0.1 miles takes about 1:12. It’s not insignificant! What’s silly is I did take it into account when setting my B Standard time. I thought hey, 13:00 pace is 39 minutes, but there’s an extra tenth, so tack on another minute, etc etc. It doesn’t matter, I slaughtered that B Standard and I will crush 36 minutes next time around!

I’m surprised my GPS only added 0.08 mi to the distance. I felt like I was going all over the place, and I made zero effort to run tangents. I guess mentally it seemed like a lot more sideways/diagonal running and dodging than it actually was. Or maybe I accidentally ran some tangents.

Overall I ran a nice, consistent race, had enough left at the end to finish strong, smiled the whole time, and didn’t embarrass myself, get hurt, crap myself, vomit, die, or get lost. I have a brand spanking new PR of 37:00 that I can’t wait to beat!


I question whether it is necessary to do hill repeats when one lives in a hilly city.

It probably isn’t. I mean, I could probably get a similar benefit from powering through the hills I encounter on my normal routes. I do wonder if one can run too many hills and if I’m not getting enough time on flat terrain, but it’s not like I am bounding up the side of Mt. Everest as my sole form of exercise.

The hill I chose for my hill repeats Tuesday is ideal in some ways and horrible in others. It’s about 3/4 mi into my route, but I have to reach it by going up hill. (This is why I question the wisdom of adding extra hills.) I also have to continue going up a hill once I’m done with the repeats in order to finish my route. Its good points outweigh the bad, I believe. The hill is about 200m, which is what the training plan suggested, it’s not too steep, it goes to a dead end, and the pavement isn’t uneven or cracked.

I wasn’t looking forward to this workout because I really don’t like running uphill. I also don’t like running up ramps or stairs. When I was in college the first time around, I was planning on being a Naval officer, and occasionally we would do our physical training in the football stadium. We would run the stairs of the bleachers and the access ramps and I would feel like dying even more than usual. (The sad part about that is I was still faster than I am now, and if I’d just tried harder I could have been a decent runner.)

I only had to do 4 hill repeats, and I have to say, they didn’t suck as much as I thought they would, and I didn’t suck as much as I thought I would. I hit 9:56 pace at the top of the hill on my last two repeats, which is surprising. Who knew I had that in me? I took the downhills slowly to try to recover my heart rate as best as I could. I wasn’t really looking at my watch much, but I think next week when I do more of these I will try to look at my heart rate and try to make sure I’m bringing it back down below 142 during my descent. (It goes without saying that I did not stay below my target heart rate for this run.)

At first, I didn’t feel too badly after I finished the repeats and started back on my normal route. I took it really slow, but then I had to speed up to get across a sidestreet when a driver waved me through, and then I thought my legs might give out on me for a few minutes, but I recovered, thanks to a timely traffic light and the choice to walk up a short hill.

I wrote this Tuesday night but scheduled it for Wednesday, so by the time this is published, I could be stiff, sore, and unable to walk. I hope not, because Wednesday has a 5 mile run on the docket, as well as some unknown form of precipitation, so I could be in for pain and suffering.