I hate you hill! I’ve hated you for ten years and today I’m making you my BITCH!

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My plan to make my triumphant return to the Seattle Marathon, ten years later didn’t happen.

Seattle was my first full marathon. I ran it to celebrate turning 40 as well as the five year anniversary of learning how to walk again after the accident that fractured my spine and pelvis.

Little did I know when I signed up that it was a bad first marathon; the combination of almost the entire course being joint pounding concrete (versus asphalt which believe it or not is much easier on the body) the hills, the worst of which come in the 2nd have of the race when glycogen stores are depleted, legs are wobbly and lactic acid is built up and foul weather (snow, ice, rain, freezing rain, sleet, hail, frigid wind whipped waves crashing over the I-90 floating bridge) make this one of the most difficult marathons in the country (even the Kenyans don’t generally run it)

Since that first painful marathon, I have done two other fulls, and have returned to the Seattle to do the half many times over the last ten years (it’s a hard half, but lovely and fun) but have avoided doing it as a full for the sake of avoiding injury.

Despite that, I couldn’t think of a better way to celebrate turning 50, not having cancer and taking huge risks to rebuild my life back to the way I wanted it than returning to the “scene of the crime” ten years later to run the full again (the pain/memory does fade eventually)

A combination of injury taking me off training and not being able to take time off work to prep and rest made it impossible for me to consider it without risking serious injury, so I decided to bag it. I might have tried to waddle an easier course like Portland or Victoria, but not this course. (DNS = Did Not Start = Did Nothing Stupid)

Then my friend Lynne who was also off training for various reasons decided to go ahead and do the half marathon as a walk/run without pushing. I told her I’d do it with her. Then my friend Julie who was getting ready to sell her registration because she hadn’t been training, decided to join us for a fun day of acting silly and hanging out with our running friends.

This was perhaps the best weather I’ve had for a Seattle Marathon (full or half) in the ten years I’ve been doing these. No snow, ice, freezing rain, hail, sleet or icy crashing waves. Yes, it was cold, but quite bearable.

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very Unlike in 2006 when Knut and I stood in the snow, shivering in black trashbags at the start…


Since it was going to be more walking than running, Julie and I decided to go in costume. Seriously, there are just not enough good opportunities for grown women to wear tutus and tiaras, so we create our own.

In our colorful costumes, including a pink wig for Julie and my green/black “green fairy” wig, we hit the streets of downtown Seattle for some no stress, no injury fun.

This is the first race where I had absolutely no worries about time. I didn’t care, I was just there to see friends and have fun. I’m lucky I was with folks who wanted/need to walk part of it, as I would have pushed myself too hard had I been alone (that’s how I ended up injured in the first place)

When we saw the traffic control folks holding the sign that said “SLOW” we knew it was the perfect photo op for us so we stopped.

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Kevin put his bike in his truck and drove us down the hill from Julie’s house to drop us off at the start line. He was going to go for a nice long ride, but decided to hang with us on the parts of the course he could get away with riding on and take photos for us.

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Here’s a shot of me getting a shot of Kevin getting a shot of us…

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When we were on the express lanes of I-90, the marathon runners caught up to us. Julie was like a cheerleader on speed yelling and cheering them on as they went past.

I had been lamenting about not bringing a fleece vest and instead having a really uncomfortable, non breathable jacket, when there it was… sitting on the Jersey barrier along the interstate express lanes, a nice windblock fleece vest, in a color that matched my outfit no less (runners often bring old or thrift store sweatshirts/jackets/vests to start out in and then ditch when they get warmed up. Julie picked it up and said, “Do you want it?” I asked her what size it was, certain that it would be an extra large (I can’t stand wearing stuff that flops around when I’m running or biking) and lo and behold, it was an X-Small L.L. Bean windblock vest, and a perfect fit. SCORE!

By the time we got down to the lake and up to Leschi Beach we couldn’t feel our fingers (and my tushie was freezing as well) so we stopped off at Starbucks (how typical Seattle was this move eh?) We had lots of fun chatting up the cyclists that were in there, getting caffeinated and warming up. This whole not running for time thing was pretty fun.

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It was beautiful down on mist shrouded Lake Washington, very reminiscent of the way to Avalon. As a lone kayaked paddled by through the mists, I wonder what he was thinking when he saw two tutu and tiara clad women running past. “We are the fairies of the lake!” I shouted. At least no one tired to hand him a sword ;)

All lovely runs along the lake must end as we approached my (and pretty much everyone else’s) “huckleberry” frikking Galer St.

For those not from here this area was carved by glaciers and volcanoes; there is no flat ground and many of the hills are crazy steep.

Galer is a brutal, vomit worthy hill that comes at the worst possible point in the course for physical performance/recovery. I have always hated that hill which turns more runners into walkers than not. (note, I’ve never walked it, but have slowed way down and felt like crap)

Julie had already been running the downhills, which my injured hip and hamstring were not going to tolerate, so I decided that the best way to stay together was to run the uphills, starting with this, my nemesis. The hill I hate more than just about any hill anywhere else (yes, even worse than biking up the 25th St hill in Tacoma)

So there I was, in my tutu and tiara, yelling, “I hate you hill! I’ve hated you for ten years and today I’m making you my BITCH!”

Off I went, full speed ahead, no break in stride, no giving into the angry quads, burning lungs (frigid air and fireplace smoke don’t help) up that hill passing people right and left to the sound of cheers from bystanders until I was to the top where I turned around defiantly and soaked it all in. Yes, I’d made Galer my bitch (whilst dressed like a fairy princess).

Lynne said as the crowd at the bottom was watching me attack this thing, one woman turned to her and said, “Wow, she was really angry.” Lynne had fun with that one for the rest of the day.

The arboretum was another opportunity to stretch out my legs and get some actual running in. My favorite part of this course is running across the top of Interlaken Drive

Is this not a gorgeous marathon course?

as if the road its self wasn’t stunning, check out the view…

Fall colours in Interlaken Park.

As we came down the other side, downtown came into view (for those who are not local, the Space Needle is at the Seattle Center where the race ends, so the goal is to head towards it)

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At the last water stop before the drop downtown, I got a nice surprise hug from my Tacoma Runners friend Doug who was working the water stop.

an amazing thing happened as we headed back down the other side… the SUN came out (seriously folks, this is BIG news up here in November)

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At mile 25 for the full marathon (around mile 12 for the half) we had to stop for the obligatory “God Save The Queen” shot… for those who aren’t aware of this tradition and that the original marathon wasn’t 26.2 miles, you can click here for the real story of how modern marathon distance came to be and why we yell “God Save The Queen” at mile 25

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We had a warm, sunny finish at Memorial Stadium (which I am so glad has not been torn down yet, the marathon finish will never be the same once it is)

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Just after this photo was taken by Kevin, we had to sprint the rest of the way across the field to hit the actual finish line. We may not have been running this for time, but by golly, you make a show with a big sprint to the finish for the crowds. It was a bit like being in a parade as everyone loved the costumes so Julie and I were doing our prom queen waves for the crowds.

Then, I saw her…

About 100 yards before the finish, Lynne decided to open up the throttle, and was gone like a shot. “OH HELL NO!” I yelled and sprinted after her as hard as I could, catching her just as we crossed the final timing mat together. I’m sure that was a hilarious sight in the tutu. I can’t wait to see those photos.

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We all got our shiny things and I got the best thing I ever spent money on, a sports recovery massage. Then we headed back up to Queen Anne and enjoyed some well deserved pizza and beer.

~L



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Runnin’ of the Green (part one)

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Today was the 2nd annual Tacoma St Patty’s (yes, that’s the way we spell it in Grit City) Day Run.

Since I haven’t been running much, this is a good excuse to get out there and get back to weight bearing exercise (which swimming and cycling aren’t and my bones need it)

Unlike last year, it was gorgeous this morning; sunny and not too cold.

It was a fine day for the running of the green.

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Lots of folks were out to enjoy the day, including Steffi (aka “the other Steph” aka DeRosa)

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I met up with Debi before the start.

This photo is evidence that triathlon has forever changed my life. I’ll never have my “runners legs” back; I now have cycling thighs. Strong and big. (that’s OK, remember the Bond Girl that crushed men to death with her thighs? those strong thighs seemed to have worked out well for her ;)

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We had our typical up and over the bridge start

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I didn’t want to “race” this one. I didn’t even wear my garmin or a watch lest I be tempted to push and injure myself before tomorrow’s race (yeah, brilliant move, don’t run for a month and a half and schedule back to back races)

I stopped and took a few pictures, including this one of the leaders following the pilot car coming back after the turn around.

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and this guy (a true Irishman) running with his flask.

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I felt pretty good in the new shoes; I had one minor hot spot under my right arch which I’ll put body glide on tomorrow and wear some different socks.

It was also my first run with the new Moving Comfort sports bra. “The girls” are very happy.

I ran into Vornita at the finish

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We waited for Cherie and her friends, but never found them, so we just headed over to the beer garden.

All they had was Bud Light (oh no, Oh HELL no) so we headed into the Dock and bellied up to the bar for real beer. (I had a Black Butte Porter and Debi had a Mac & Jack)

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I got CARDED. This guy is the first person to card me since I turned 47. I almost kissed him. He settled for a high five.

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There are some pictures of some of the other interesting characters I saw today here:

After my Tacoma adventure, I hopped the ST express bus to head up to Seattle to pick up my race stuff for tomorrow’s St Paddy’s Day Dash in Seattle (which is basically a big street party)

I also stopped and picked up some shiny and blinky bling for tomorrow (which I already posted a picture of)

Now I need to get to bed.

Tomorrow will be a long day including the race, breakfast with friends, bike expo, lunch with more friends,etc….

~L

Mood: Gotta Squee



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Tacoma Half Marathon

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“It’s Steep, It’s Concrete, and it will Kick Your Butt”

And yet, I did it again…

I did it under trained again, but at least I got a ten mile training run in last weekend. (unfortunately, I came down sick with the cold from hell the next day)

My plan was to just take it easy and finish upright & uninjured.

I even shot some video of the route to show folks my town and neighborhood.

We had a violent thunderstorm last night and torrential downpours and high winds. Luckily, it all blew through. It was clear and sunny in the morning. (at first, that big orange ball in the sky and those dark figures following us on the street attached to us at the feet freaked us out a bit)

I removed a small tree branch from my truck (no damage) and headed out towards the start line. I didn’t think that I could park near the finish even if I could get there through the street closures, so I figured I’d just take the light rail back.

I had plenty of time to stretch out, warm up and chat with some friends. I found Knut/Robert/Tradarcher not far from the portapotties and we got to visit a bit.

He was wearing his “Team Lizzy” shirt; you can see that on the video.

I was field testing a running shirt that had monky paws; I just LOVE monkey paws. I discovered that I could slip a couple of packages of Cliff Shot Blocks up the sleeves, hook them around my thumb and they wouldn’t fall out. That way, the only thing I had to carry was my camera.

Why yes, that bulge in my sleeve IS a packet of shot blocks and I am happy to see you…

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The race actually started right on time, so we were off like a herd of turtles at 7:30 AM (the full marathon took off at 7:00 AM)

We have a lot of concrete and chip seal over concrete and asphalt over bricks and cobbles here in Tacoma, so most of the course is on extremely hard and unforgiving surfaces; the event always kills my knees and angers other parts of my body.

The race course takes a short break from the hard surfaces for a partial loop around Wright Park where I run frequently because it’s in my neighborhood.

Then we actually make a loop around my North End home passing within two blocks of it on the West and East sides.

We run through Stadium High School (where the Movie Ten Things I Hate About You was filmed).

This is where it got interesting… We ran past the volunteers from the school who were cheering and handing out water, ran between the stadium and the new parking garage where we turned into an alley to avoid the main street. Just before we left the school campus we passed two more volunteers who were cheering. One of them said, “Watch out for the cranky man in the alley”.

We thought they were teasing with another volunteer.

But there WAS a cranky man (who lived in a building virtually across the street from me on North 2nd) screaming and swearing at the poor volunteers (it was two of them, not a large screaming horde) because they were waking him up (at nearly 9:00 AM)

He had a mag light stuffed in his back pocket in an effort to be threatening.

*this was a permitted event, not making unreasonable noise and not during quiet hours. It is also an event that has been happening for three years. If he had a problem, he should have taken it up with the organizers or called the police (who would have told him to get stuffed) I wonder how he handles Friday night football games?

As we went through the alley, I shouted back, “Nice language on a high school campus!”

We stopped at the police car who was directing traffic when we came out of the alley and told her that he was harassing, threatening and swearing at the volunteers. When we headed down Stadium Way, we saw another officer light up and head that way.

I wonder how that guy liked the police response?

What an Asshat!

Other than that, everyone was wonderful. The volunteers, spectators and residents. Even the people in traffic being stopped were polite.

We made a short loop through downtown and then headed down Schuster Parkway down to the waterfront. There are a couple of steep overpasses to navigate, so it’s not flat, and it’s work both directions.

The turn around point was just shy of mile 9. One of the volunteers yelled “Mile 8” which I thought was odd because we practically tripped over the mile 9 sign with in a few yards of completing the turn around.

I had to make a brief stop to answer the call of nature (at least I wasn’t running this one for time) and got back on the road. It was quite the slog up and over those overpasses and then back up the hill to downtown.

Once downtown, the real hills begin.

There is no flat ground in Tacoma.

The course to the finish like was a bit more direct than last year, which was nice.

I waddled in with a ridiculously slow time of just under 3 hours. (in all fairness, this course had nearly 1,600 feet of elevation gain on it)

My IT bands were fine and I didn’t have any of the aches or other issues I did after my 10 miler last weekend. All of those terrible aches and pains were from being sick.

My right Achilles was a bit sore and felt kinda crackly when I walked after sitting still for a long time (not uncommon on long runs on steep hills on hard surfaces when not trained up because I tore it back in the mid 90s teaching skiing) but a bit of ice, ibuprofen and stretching took care of it.

My knees are a bit cranky due to the road surface, but my muscles feel pretty good. I’m stiff if I sit too long, but once I’m up and moving I’m fine.

Tomorrow will be a rest day. (luckily, it’s supposed to rain which will keep me from getting tempted)

I was slow, but I met my goal of finishing upright and uninjured.

Oh, and I got a shiny thing. I just love shiny things.

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BadKitty likes them too

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And now I need to get to bed. 4:20 AM comes early.

~L

Mood: Tired



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Triathlon report Survivor Elma or “Holy Crap! That water was cold!!!

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It was a dark and stormy night afternoon…

Being seriously insane I drove down to Elma (West of Olympia heading towards the coast) to do a triathlon, uh yeah… in the rain and wind and cold…

A triathlon in mid April, in Washington State.

Where the water is butt cold until July/August.

When no sane person would go there.

The good news is, I survived and every triathlon I do after this one will be better.

The weather sucked pond water.

The water was butt cold, 51 degrees (F) at the shore, likely less than that where it was deeper.

Here is all my stuff in my transition area… I wore the wetsuit, gap & gogglese for the swim and the bike jacket , bike shoes & Recoverite mix for after the race were placed under plastic because it was raining and that water bottle was used to mix my Heed)

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I thought that maybe I’d stand a chance at a trophy since obviously, no sane person would go out on a day like that, get in water that cold, then get on a bike in a cold wet trisuit, then go run in said cold wet trisuit…

I was wrong. Well over 80 people showed up for the tri.

Getting into the water was tricky. We got into our wet suits and stared at each other waiting to see who would be first.

We got in, gasped, squealed , groaned and made lots of other strange noises, and waited as long as possible to let water into our suits to warm up. One poor woman looked horrified when I explained to her that water was supposed to go in her suit for her body to warm up when she said she was trying to keep it out. “If you were meant to stay dry in it, it would be a dry suit.” About three or four other people looked at her and said, “She’s right.” (I also advised her that she would do well to take her diamond wedding ring off in a lake that cold if she doesn’t want to lose it)

Our feet were instantly numb. The worst part was putting our hands in. There we were, hunkered down in the water (it was too cold to be in the water and too cold to be out of the water), all of us holding our hands up above it. I hope someone got a picture of that; it looked ridiculous.

Uh yeah, I thought the worst part was putting our hands in.

Until I put my head in. It wasn’t so much that my face was numb, it was the worse than an ice cream headache wrapping around our skulls that we got. Even with a neoprene cap (which admittedly was too large for me as it was Gene’s) My head pounded with a sharp blinding pain every time I took more than 4 strokes with my head in the water.

I ended up having to be creative and use some very odd strokes to keep my head above water, which means my swim time sucked pond water (and took way more energy than it should have) I looked around and discovered that pretty much everyone else was doing the same thing. It was just too cold to swim normally face down for more than a few strokes.

The combination of water that cold and my chest being compressed by the neoprene wetsuit made it difficult to relax and breathe properly. This was most definitely the worst swim I ever had… in my entire life…

At least I completed the swim. (no matter how ungainly and slow) One guy had to be pulled from the water due to hypothermia. (I heard about it after the race)

Of course, the joy of a Spring triathlon is spring weather…

According to Weather Underground the air temperature was about 50 degrees at 2:00 PM when the race started. Oh, it was windy too.

So I got on my bike already chilled, wearing a cold wet trisuit and rode 13 miles in the cold wind and rain. With wind chill from the speeds I hit, that would be 32-37 degrees (F) from just riding, not counting the wind that was blowing. (for those not from the US, 32 is freezing)

Here’s the run route. If you’re viewing this on LiveJournal (why won’t LJ allow iframe html code ?) or via RSS feed where the map and/or tracks don’t show up properly, you can just click on the button below

View Interactive Map on MapMyRide.com

I brought along my softshell bike jacket and took the extra time to put it on. It saved my bacon.

My transition from swim to bike went well (this is a manually timed race, so I don’t have transition time) The wetsuit came off easily, the bike shoes went on quickly with the speed laces and I didn’t have to worry about drinking because I had the aero bottle. I actually made up time getting out onto the bike. I could tell because I was out before people who exited the water well ahead of me.

I didn’t put anything on my legs to cover them (Steve is going to have a fit when he hears that) but luckily I didn’t cramp up.

I averaged 16-something miles per hour on the ride, which is not too bad considering that it starts up a long steady hill (on a rough chip sealed road), how cold it was, how cold I was and the wind. I actually passed about 10 people on the bike.

I was oh so thankful for the areobars; there is a lot of wind on this course, especially when weather is blowing in. Oh, did I mention that it was raining?

My transition from bike to run went well, as I had speed laces on both the bike and running shoes ,was hydrated from sipping on the areobottle the whole way and had Cliffshots in my pocket.

That’s when the cold started to get me. My right calf started cramping up. (it was most certainly not a lack of water or electrolytes, I loaded up knowing this race would be tough because of the weather) Luckily, it loosened up and I was able to finish the run in 33 minutes. I know that’s slow, but it was cold, it was after a swim and bike; sadly, it’s faster than I have been running.

Here’s the run route. If you’re viewing this on LiveJournal (why won’t LJ allow iframe html code ?) or via RSS feed where the map and/or tracks don’t show up properly, you can just click on the “view larger map” link


View Larger Map

I came in at 1:31:02 which is not as fast as my last triathlon was at the end of last season, which was 1:28:something. But it was faster than my first triathlon last year (or ever) which was also on the same course and was 1:36:06. (oh, much later in the season and in much better weather)

It wasn’t the time I wanted, but I survived and I’m way ahead of where I was at this time last year.

Oh, and I got a shiny thing. Here it is, with the frigid lake in the background…

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~L

Mood: holy crap I’m tired



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