Monday, July 27, 2009

Ragnar Relay Race Report

Thursday after work I headed down to Bellingham to meet up with 12 women and 1 guy I’d never met before in order to run 189 miles from Blaine to Langley in Washington State for the Ragnar Relay’s Northwest Passage. The race/run is set up for 12 runners, each with 3 legs, however at the last minute, we had 2 of our runners drop out. Thanks to a facebook update saying we needed 2 more runners, and a runner with a lot of frequent flier miles, we have a runner fly in from North Carolina with only a couple hours notice. This left us one short, but that’s a lot better than 2 short!

After a nice dinner at Chukanut Brew Pub in Bellingham Thursday evening, where we got introduced to everyone, we had an early night for the 5:30 wake up call on Friday. Our team was scheduled to depart at 8am from Blaine and we needed to get checked in before that.

I was runner 3 and my legs went like this.

Leg 3 – 8.2mi very hard

After Shannon’s first leg, she passed the slap bracelet to me. This leg started with a long hill running directly into the sun. And it was hot out. I tried to tell myself to stay light on my feet and did my best to ignore the sun beating down on the blacktop. I had a new pain in the back of my right knee (my popliteal tendon I think) but it wasn’t getting worse so I kept on moving. I had hoped the run would take me about 75 mins not really knowing what the hill was going to be like. I was pretty much right on and was happy with that. I finished strong, slapped the bracelet onto Elly and got into the van, pouring with sweat.

Leg 7 – 4.4 mi hard

As we were down a runner, I volunteered to take on an extra leg. It would end up that all extra legs would be run by Van 1, meaning we were out on the course a lot longer then Van 2. But we were having fun, if not exhausted.

I had finished my first leg around 11:30 and then started leg 7 just before 1:00. The first half mile was through the streets of Bellingham and I lost at least 5 minutes waiting at stoplights. Once I was through the city portion, the hill started. And it didn’t stop. 3.9 miles of unshaded uphill on an unseasonably hot Washington day. My van mates pulled over part way though and threw water on me. I think I would have overheated without that little shower. I was thrilled when I got to the exchange and was able to pass on the bracelet to Becky. Of course that also meant climbing into the van again, even sweatier than the first time. I didn’t stop my watch at the lights, so averaged about 11 min miles including all the stopping.

After leg 7, we had a break while Van 2 ran. We ate at a cute restaurant in Bellingham before making our way down to the major exchange at exchange 12. We lay around in the shade for a couple hours waiting for the second van to arrive. By this time it was starting to get darker and so the reflective vests and flashing lights had to be brought out.

Leg 15 – 3.5mi easy

The sun had set when I started running. I twisted my way through Ferndale, going as fast as I could. It was still hot and humid, but now the sweat wasn’t evaporating. Not only that, but a lightning storm had started. Nothing like running towards lightning in the dark! It was far enough away that we were safe, but it was still an interesting experience. I passed a fish cannery which made me feel extremely nauseous but tried to not think about it and instead focused on catching the runners in front of me who’s flashing lights I could see. I ended up passing 4 runners on this segment. I also have to say thank you to a very nice Skagit County policeman who stopped traffic for me when I hit a red light. I could have used some of that in Bellingham! Overall time was just about 29 mins for this leg, Getting faster as I go along!

After this leg I napped a little in the van. After our legs, and picking up the vacant leg 7, our van headed to a hotel in Oak Harbor. We managed to get about 2 hours sleep before the wake up call came at 5:15am. Of course it turned out there was a miscommunication and we arrived at the exchange an hour earlier then we needed to be there. Our driver (Shannon’s husband – who was awesome) was in need of coffee as much, if not more than, the rest of us and we detoured out of the way to the closest Starbucks we could find. That iced latte was really good!

Leg 27 - 2.8 mi easy

As this was my last leg, I decided to go as hard as I could. My legs were a bit tired unsurprisingly, as was the rest of me. The downhill start was nice and I passed 2 girls on this stretch. As I passed the first, she said nice running. I told her I didn’t know if I could keep it up, but once I passed her, I knew I couldn’t let her catch me. At the start of the hill, I thought I might fall over. I wanted to lay down in the ditch in some shade, or at least walk. But I didn’t. I pushed through though the second mile was almost a minute slower than the first. Total time was just under 22 mins for a pace of about 7:45. I have never run that fast for that distance before, and after having run over 16 miles in the previous 24 hours plus having little sleep, I was more than pleased.

That was the end of my race. More piling into the van and when our van finished its legs (plus of course the unassigned leg which Marian ran less than an hour after running her own leg!) we headed on to the finish line. After a shower (which felt awesome), we grabbed lunch at a diner and then headed back to the finish line to wait for our teammates. It was blazing hot and the beer I drank (stealthily hiding it from the police officer) was really good. Over the course of the weekend I had 6 new beers (I had a sampler at the brew pub which made up most of them).

Graeme drove down to Langley to meet me and then we were heading to Seattle for the night. The ferry line up was long, so we turned around and went back to Langley for dinner at a cute restaurant. I don’t think I’ve ever been so underdressed for a restaurant, but at least there were other people there who had obviously been running that day too!

Saturday was some shopping in Seattle before heading home.

Overall I had a fantastic time and I would definitely do another relay. My legs are a bit tired, but fine. I had some quad soreness on Sunday, but it’s gone already. And now I need a new goal!

Monday, July 20, 2009

Technical Difficulties

We're having some technical difficulties with our computers, or well, our single one now and so I haven't been able to post. I will be back online soon. I know you are all 4 of my readers are dying for an update. Ha.

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Three years ago today

I got married to the greatest guy.

He has had a great week. First, at the Vancouver HIM, he had an almost 20 min PR, with a time of 4:45. This includes a run of under 1:28 and he has missed a lot of running due to a hip injury. I am very happy for him and proud of him. He also started a new job which he is excited about.

Thanks for making the last 3 years, so much fun!

Thursday, July 9, 2009

Maybe I can actually swim?

For the last few months my swim (or lack there of) has been pretty consistent. Consistently bad. Not that I haven’t been swimming, but I really haven’t been swimming with any purpose and likely because of that, I haven’t gotten anywhere. After yet another crappy a swim a few weeks ago I asked Graeme when I just give up. I am and have always been comfortable in the water, did all my Red Cross levels and even taught kids to swim in high school, but I have never swam laps. Handstands, flips, pretending to synchronized swim, that’s how I spent my time in the water. And anytime there was a pool or water around, I was in it. I was always wrinkly on vacations.
So for the last while, I have been trying to learn or relearn to swim. And I am sure I have not gone about it very well! No plan, no planned workouts, just getting in the pool and doing what I could.
It hasn't worked well so that is stopping.

I asked Graeme if he would help me. He said yes, but that it would be hard. I asked him if I would cry. He said maybe.

So the plan is for more sessions with the swim coach. I did a few earlier this year and they really helped and then to do whatever workout Graeme tells me. I’m about 2 weeks in and I already feel like there has been a huge difference. I did my longest swim ever on Sunday. 2475m or 2700yds. Yes, I know, short for most people, but it’s a really good step in the right direction for me. Every workout so far I have thought I wouldn’t be able to do, but I actually haven’t had any difficulty in doing them. Yes, they are slow meters, but I’m swimming!

My confidence is building as well, which I think is huge. When I get in the water now, I try my best not to think negative thoughts. Its a lot easier to do swimming on a sunny day at Kits Pool, but I'm hoping to transfer over those good feelings to the local pool too (though I'm not quite there yet). I keep telling myself I can do this. I have to believe I can and I will keep working at it until that is true. At least as long as Graeme will make workouts for me. And its not that I can't make them myself, but when we makes them for me, I feel like I have to get through it or I'll let him down. When really, he doesn't care. Well that's not really true of course. He wants me to succeed and he's knows I want to get better so he does care. But its not going to change how he feels about me if I can swim or not.

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Canada Day Weekend

Yes, Canada Day was on Wednesday, and no, we don't get the whole weekend off, but I made a last minute decision and took the Thursday and Friday off to create a 5 day long weekend/mini-vacation break.

After sleeping in we headed down to the pool. Me to swim and Graeme to run. Of course I had forgotten that the pool didn't open until 10am because it was a holiday. So I sat around for 35 mins before it opened. It was a lovely but blustery morning so it wasn't the worst thing in the world to sit around at Kits Beach and watch the ocean and people. Because we had other plans for the day, I was only able to get in 30 mins in the pool and I was sorry because it felt great!

We got home, fueled and went for a quick Horseshoe Bay bike ride. We've only lived in this area for just over a year and really didn't know anyone when we first moved here. Today all we could talk about was how that's changed. We say 10 people out riding/running etc. Following the bike ride we headed downtown for the Yaletown Grand Prix. There aren't too many bike races left in Vancouver anymore, but this is one of the best. We met some friends and had some patio drinks while watching some of the racing, before meeting up with people from the tri club and then having another patio drink. A lovely way to spend Canada Day.

Friends on Canada Day. My girlfriend J is doing the Seattle to Portland ride this weekend. Good luck!

Bike racing.

Thursday was a very lazy day, but it was mentally needed. I even got dressed for a run, ran 20 mins and then called it a rest day instead. I just was not into it and decided instead to sit in the sun and read while Graeme finished the rest of his 2 hour run. It was the right decision.

Friday was another ride day. I met up with a girl from the club and her fiance and we headed out to Horseshoe Bay again. This time we headed out to the end of the old highway. I haven't ridden out that way yet and the views don't get much better. It was a beautiful day and a great way to spend a few morning hours.

Saturday I decided to ride on my own instead of with the club. I headed out towards UBC and enjoyed another summer day. 3 hours of perfect summer morning riding. And I noticed that the hills which before had seemed long all seem much easier since last weekends mountain climbing. After a short trail run in the evening, I spent the rest of the evening on my sofa watching the Tour. I have already talked about how I'm a huge sports fan and this extends to the Tour. I have been watching and looking forward to July for the Tour for years longer then I have been riding. I was in Paris in 2004 for the final stage of the Tour when Lance won his 6th. Watching that bike race is a little different then a local bike race! They ride by SO quickly its all a blur. My attempt at photos on that day did not result in any shots where you could tell what was actually going on. The photos from Yaletown turned out a lot better. Of course I also have a lot better camera now then I did then.