Get lost!

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My new job combined with my couch-surfing lifestyle has really gotten in the way of my training. I’ve been trying to at least keep running so I can hold onto some of my hard-won fitness, and so far I’ve managed to do two runs per week for the last two weeks. That’s okay, but I’d like to get it up to 3 or 4 per week, because I think the frequency will really help me. So, in the spirit of this I went out for a run right when I got home from work.

I’m staying with M & J, who live in the Queen Anne neighborhood – an area where I used to live and spent a great deal of time the first time we lived in Seattle. So, I headed out on a loop I’ve done a few times and started sort of zoning out, listening to my I-pod and enjoying the pretty houses and smells of flowers and people cooking dinner. Suddenly, I realized that I wasn’t where I thought I was and that nothing looked really familiar. D’oh! So, I wound my way around the twisty-turny streets and finally managed to climb up some crazy hills to get to Kerry Park and back onto familiar territory.

So my half hour run turned into a 45 minute run/walk/hike, but it was a lovely evening and I knew I wasn’t REALLY lost, just taking a little detour. All in all, a lovely adventure. Then when I returned to my temporary home, J had homemade bread baking for a yummy antipasto dinner of prosciutto, mozzerella, tomatoes, cucumbers, some sort of marinated artichoke salad and of course the aforementioned homemade bread. You really can’t ask for better fare on a summer evening…

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Quality time

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My sister was in Portland visiting my parents this past week, but unfortunately I was up in Seattle with my new job. (I love how things time out in my world… ) Since her flight home was very early on Sunday morning, I really only had Saturday to see her. Initially, we had loose plans to go to the Saturday Market for her to buy some thank-you presents for some folks back in NYC and she was going to call when they were up and ready to head out the door.

T and I spent a leisurely morning watching Le Tour and generally being too lazy to make anything for breakfast. We had decided to get yummy breakfast sandwiches from a local cafe, when my sister called. They hadn’t eaten so we made plans to meet there. As T and I walked up to put our names in, (since the wait at this place tends to be long) we noticed people sitting on the side of the street in lawn chairs and a sign that said “parade route”. Hmmmm… this isn’t going to be good. Being a veteran of Junior High Marching Band, I assured T that the “parade wouldn’t start for hours and that it would be fine.”

We got to the place and helped ourselves to some coffee while we waited (I love the Pacific Northwest, so civilized… ) and as we were sitting there, we notice policemen shutting down the streets. So much for my parade expertise! The parade started with the usual motley crew of local politicians and strangely dressed people. Up the block a marching band starts to play that I of course make fun of, until they get closer and I see that it’s a band comprised of people in their 40’s through 60’s (complete with drum majorettes and baton twirlers) and they are having a GREAT time, wearing shirts that say things like “we eat better than we play” and “we are in shape – round!” I only managed to get a few pictures of them going by:

They are followed by the goth drum corps The Last Regiment (couldn’t make that up if I tried):

Finally, our table was ready and my mom and sister showed up. We had a nice chat while we waited, followed by some delicious food. If you’re ever in S.E. Portland, hit up Detour Cafe – very good food, well worth the wait.

Well-nourished, we headed over to the Saturday Market. This isn’t usually my cup of tea, but I was just along for the ride, so it was fine. I amused myself by snapping a few pictures. The general ambience:

My sister:

My mom scowling at my camera for no good reason:

My mom after I’ve made fun of her scowling at my camera for no good reason:

(much better, right?) I sadly missed getting a picture of the “street performer” deep-throating one of those long-skinny balloons that balloon animals are made out of. It was deeply disturbing… We wandered around the various arts and craft booths, admiring the ones that were good and making fun of the ones that were crappy.

We headed back to our place to walk the dogs before going over to my parents to hang out for a bit. We’d been wanting to try this new place in the neighborhood called the Waffle Window, that has the stupidest hours in the history of the world – only open on weekends until 5:00 p.m. (Last week, T and I got there at 5:05 and they were closed!) So we decided to walk the dogs there, with my mom and sister driving over since it was hot and they weren’t feeling the walking.

The Waffle Window turned out to be well worth the wait. Their waffles have a very different texture than the other waffles I’ve had – I can’t really describe it, less eggy/yeasty, almost like a poundcake’s consistency and had lots of fresh fruit options. Very, very yummy. My sister in front of Waffle Window:

Poor Smokey Joe and Wally did not get any waffles. They’re so mistreated…

On the way home, I noticed someone had put some cartoon eyes over the electrical wire, which I thought was amusing enough to photograph:

We finished up the day by going to Pok Pok for dinner, which everyone really liked. It was fun to have a nice evening out with the family, eating good food outside and enjoying each other’s company. It wasn’t a long visit, but a very high quality one.

Snobby for a reason

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Last week my friend M called me a “snobby triathlete” because I had told her about this teeny little running track at a park near my work in downtown Bellevue that later proved to be 1/2 mile around. In my defense, it does NOT look like it is even the size of a conventional running track, but since I literally tease M all of the time, I let her enjoy the mocking opportunity.

Today I really wanted to see if I could do lunchtime runs at the new job, since I enjoyed them so much in Portland. (Not to mention they were the key to getting my run training in, period.) So, I set out to check out the possibilities. Now, my office is located right in downtown Bellevue (to the East, across Lake Washington from Seattle) which is great for lunch and shopping options, but sucky for having someplace to run where you don’t have to worry about getting hit by a Lexus or wait for a light to cross busy streets, so I knew that running track was a very real possibility and headed in that direction.

The park that contains this running path is actually really nice. It’s a big expanse of lawn, with scupltures and the aforementioned path, which is a big circle with a water feature next to it that looks like a little canal. There are nice benches to sit on and it’s a great spot to have lunch, but as I learned today I was right to be snobby about the running path – it sucks!

I think the half a mile length refers to the dodging, weaving and path veering that you have to do in order to make it around without killing someone. I lasted exactly one time around before I took my chances and headed into the neighboring sub-division. I saw signs for another beach park and headed for it, in the hopes that there would be a path to run along Lake Washington, but alas was thwarted again.

Fully discouraged, I headed back to work in the most direct fashion, shopping mall people be damned. As I ran between stopping for lights, I found that it was actually a pretty fun interval workout. I would run as fast as I could between stoplights and then have a rest interval. Because I couldn’t anticipate how long the run intervals would be, it became a really good pacing challenge. (Plus, it’s fun to run fast even if it’s only for a few blocks.) So, in the end it actually had an up-side but I think I’ll plan to do my run training after work. So heads up Seattle friends, I’m going to need running buddies to keep me on track!

Curse you!

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I know I can’t really blame others for my short-attention span and inability to not engage in the many distractions I come across on-line, but isn’t unsubstantiated finger-pointing what the internet is all about? Today’s example is Wordle, which I discovered courtesy of Erika’s blog (which she got from Ariel’s blog – gotta love the infinite loop that is the internet… ) Warning: it is way too much fun to play with, so do not open unless you have some time to waste, but once you do you can make stuff like this:

This is all of the text in my blog, made into a “word cloud.”  It’s pretty amusing to see what words I over use (really?) and it looks pretty cool. You can play with the colors and the fonts and geek out on it pretty hard-core, so don’t say I didn’t warn you!

My farewell tour

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Sorry I’ve neglected the blog for a while. This last week was a whirlwind of social activity as I prepared to leave Portland for the new job in Seattle. Because I’m a sap, I’d agreed to work pretty much every day this week, including night shifts on Monday and Tuesday nights and an Illustrator class on Monday/Tuesday and Thursday/Friday. It made for a very busy week at work.

In addition to all of that, we had quite the social calendar. This was somewhat ironic, given that one of my biggest grievances about our life here in Portland was our lack of friends. But apparently, we just needed to leave. Here’s the breakdown:

Tuesday: I had coffee in the afternoon with my friend Hat from school and got caught up with her doings.

Wednesday: The evening was spent finally doing something social with some of my friends from work. We went to a really cool place in SW Portland called the Goose Hollow Tavern. It has a great porch/outdoor area, so we had beer and food and lots of great conversation. The subtitle for the evening was “why didn’t we do this sooner?”

Thursday: That night was spent seeing Wall-E with my co-workers for a Graphics Department tradition of Movie Nights. (We did these every so often, in memory of a former co-worker who died of a heart attack last year.) It ended up being most of my favorite people in the department (and more importantly, my least favorite – the idiot boss wasn’t able to attend.) T joined us for the festivities and we had a good time. I wasn’t planning to run out and see this movie in the theatre, but I really enjoyed it.

Friday: We had a graphics department farewell lunch in my honor with everyone, including the head of our department. We had a really nice lunch with some lively conversation. The gang made me an awesome card, (complete with haiku’s about life at our job) a gift card for a bunch of different restaurants and some cash – all wrapped in Tour de France ‘wrapping paper’. I was very touched, but managed not to cry. After work, it was off to Pok Pok to meet T’s former co-worker/friend of ours, Luke. I love this restaurant so much, it’s a must visit when you’re in Portland. We sat outdoors, had delicious food (and cocktails) and talked for hours, it was a great way to end the week.

Saturday: We spent the morning out at Hagg Lake cheering on our friend Luke (yes, the same one as last night) who was doing the bike leg of a relay for a sprint triathlon. He was riding his sweet new Vanilla bike. (I’ll post pictures of it later – beautiful bike.) Luke’s a bike guy (if you didn’t guess from the fancy custom bike) and this was his first foray into triathlon. I gave him pointers last night and it was fun to cheer him on. My friend Erika was manning her booth at the event, so we got to chat with her for a bit. It was really hot, so I didn’t envy her for having to be out working in that weather.

Then it was time to head to work for my official last day. It was really hard to say good-bye to everyone, especially the small group of folks I work with on Saturdays. They were very sweet and brought in sparkling cider and baked goods. I spent most of my day socializing and wrapping up my last projects. It was hard to remember that I wouldn’t be coming back on Tuesday and that I had to clean out my desk and make sure I had everything. By the end of the evening, I was a bit of a mess emotionally – sad at saying good-bye, excited and nervous about my upcoming job, etc. So, T and I decided to take in a silly summer movie – Hancock. We invited my mom along and had a nice time. The movie was just okay, but I really like Will Smith and Jason Bateman and it was funny and entertaining, definitely a rental.

The big downside to my week of being a social butterfly is that I had absolutely no time to help with packing and sorting, so I felt really guilty on Sunday when it was time to hit the road and leave T behind. But it was time to start the next chapter of our lives: Seattle, Part Two.

The new kid

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So, this week I started the new job. It’s always hard to know how to act on the first day of a new job. Everyone else has stuff to do and knows what’s going on, while I’m trying to figure out how to turn on my computer. Okay, maybe I figured out turning on my computer right away and then just set about trying to figure out what I was supposed to be doing.

It’s a start-up, so it’s fairly disorganized with not a lot of structure in place. So, this week has been sort of crazy, just doing ad hoc projects and getting a handle on how to get them headed in the direction they need to go, design-wise.  It’s been a big adjustment shifting from my cushy part-time schedule at the paper (11-6, with a night shift and a Saturday thrown in there) to a full-time 7:30 – 4:30 schedule (YIKES!) I’m hoping that it will get easier as I go along, because this week of work was pretty much brought to you by caffeine and force of will.

But on the whole, I’m excited to be in Seattle. It was fun to hang out with friends after work and explore new running routes and all that. My friend M took her first step in getting back to being my awesome running partner by SUGGESTING a run with me after work and I did a great solo run on the path that goes past the Sculpture Park. Both of these runs took place on gorgeously beautiful evenings with amazing scenery, it was pretty hard to beat. I think I’m going to like it here…

Race Report- Lake Stevens 70.3

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I would subhead this post “Rolling with the punches” because that’s really the underlying theme of the day. I apologize in advance for the lack of photos – T had to go back and pack up the campground so he wasn’t able to be my race photographer. If my official race photos aren’t too awful, I’ll link to them later. To those who don’t wish to read a really long report – scroll down to the bottom to see my times.

I usually like to be at the transition area super early, but with a 6:30 start time it was really hard to make the call to leave at 4:00 am, so I decided to suck it up and cut my pre-race time shorter in favor of some more sleep. Not a good idea, I arrived at the transition area at 5:45, about a half an hour before it was supposed to close. I frantically set up my transition area and pumped up my tires. I just felt completely flustered and unfocused. T had dropped me off and gone to look for parking, so by the time I found him back in the throngs of people, I was in quite a state. He calmed me down and reminded me that I had another 40 minutes before my wave started, which helped a lot. I got into my wetsuit and started feeling better. Then it was time to bid T good-bye and line up for my swim start.

The way the swim start works for this race is a little different, there’s a long permanent dock that they attach a floating dock to for the swimmers to get into the water and float next to for a few minutes while they wait for their wave to start. The various groups line up before hand in order of their start times, which gives you more time to get nervous, but also time to chat with your fellow age-group members which was nice. I found Jennifer to wish her luck, since her group left approx. 10 minutes before mine (plus she’s a really fast swimmer, so I knew she’d be way ahead of me by the end of my swim… ) Then I went and found my group of fellow 35-39 year old ladies.

I always enjoy having a ladies only wave, mostly because the vibe pre-race is usually so supportive. There were a number of first-timers for this distance, so I got to assure them they were going to do great. Most of them just wanted to finish in under 8 hours (and probably did it way faster than that) and were generally unsure if they were going to be able to do it at all. Before we knew it, the wave before us was off and it was our turn to get in the water. Usually, I do a little swim warm-up before hand, but that wasn’t really an option at this race, so I was hoping that wouldn’t be a big problem. But no time to worry about that, it was time to swim.

For once, I was able to start in the group and not get stuck in the craziness. I started out with a nice relaxed stroke and just tried to find a nice smooth rhythm. I passed a few folks in my group and looked for someone to draft off of that was swimming a nice steady pace in a straight line. There was a small group that looked promising, but after I followed them for a bit, I realized they weren’t going in a straight line. So, after a little course correction, I found some open water and just tried to stay out of the way of the good swimmers from the other waves. The course is pretty narrow and got a little crowded toward the end, but I finished feeling good.

I headed into transition and changed into my bike gear. It felt like it took forever, but before I knew it I was out on the bike course. They’d changed the course, so the scouting ride I’d done a month ago was basically wasted. (I used to drive the course beforehand, and will do so in the future from now on… ) Luckily, it was pretty similar to the previous course start, so it wasn’t too big of a shock. I felt pretty good heading out and just focused on finding a nice comfortable pace to start with. About seven miles in, I noticed that one of my cleats felt loose and I realized that I was going to have to stop and deal with it. I debated the point for a while, then pulled to the side of the road – letting the folks I’d worked so hard to pass in the swim pass me by. I tightened my cleat and hit the road, only to have my chain jam up a little while later. Curse you, bike course!

Because the course is lots of hills – a lot of slow uphills and speedy downhills, I couldn’t calculate my average pace. I was trying to do the bike course in 3:30, but I couldn’t tell if that was going to be in the cards. As I reached the end of the first loop, I discovered the other surprises the course had in store – some stupid big hills. RUDE! When I saw the hills, I realized if I was going to make my time goal, it was going to be very, very close. At the half-way point, I saw that unless I could ride the second loop considerable faster than the first loop, 3:30 was not going to happen. Because my overall goal of 7:30 relied on a 3:30 bike or pretty close to it (or some sort of miraculously fast run) I was forced to consider that I might have to shift my goal and just do the best that I could.

I passed some folks going into the second lap, which was a nice confidence boost. I tried to focus on how much better I felt this year compared to last year. I felt much better on the bike this time, compared to last year where I just wanted it to be over with. The last four miles, after the second lap, were also pretty rolling – again RUDE! 🙂 I finally made it to the transition area and changed into my run stuff, a little on the slow side and headed out.

My legs were not happy to run after all of those hills, so I walked for a few minutes to let everything loosen up a bit (and it gave me a chance to eat my pancake with peanut butter I had left from breakfast) then I forced myself to run/shuffle. I stopped at aid stations for water to dump on myself to keep cool as the sun was coming out and it got a little toasty on some parts of the run course. The run course was a figure 8 shaped that you ran two times. Because of this, tons of spectators would gather in the middle so there was tons of support which was really nice. It also broke up the course into manageable sections so it wasn’t too disheartening. The second half wound along the lake which was not only scenic, but provided a nice breeze and folks would sit outside their houses and cheer for us, which rocked – especially spritzer girl.

Unfortunately, my legs just didn’t want to run as much of it as I wanted them to and they were winning the battle. I tried to find a zone and just get into it, but it was definitely a struggle. I calculated how fast I needed to run the various sections and it became pretty clear that I wasn’t going to make my 7:30 goal time, so I had to deal with it and try to come as close as I could, which wasn’t close at all. Finally, I was on the last part of my last lap and chugged it on in to the finish line. As always, it was so nice to be done and T was there to cheer me in.

Final times:

Overall: 7:49
Swim: 49:51
1st Transition: 4:44
Bike: 3:54
2nd Transition: 5:14
Run: 2:54

I’m trying to appreciate the positives and figure out how to learn from the negatives. The positives were:

  • I was faster on a tougher course than last year’s race.
  • I felt better overall than I did last year, in terms of both general fitness level and post-race recovery.
  • I was much better about my nutrition. Although I needed to drink more on the bike, I didn’t overeat on the bike so I didn’t feel bloated on the run.
  • I took all of the obstacles thrown at me in stride and handled them calmly.
  • I found a new favorite pre-race breakfast: cold pancakes with peanut butter and a banana. Also quite delicious after the bike…

The things I learned:

  • I need to step up my run training so that my run fitness is better and that it won’t be such a struggle.
  • I need to continue to work on my mental skills and have confidence that I can do more than I let myself believe that I can.
  • If your shoe feels weird on the pre-race ride, stop and check it out immediately!

Overall, I had a great experience and I would definitely do this race again. It’s a beautiful course and is very well organized (although they could stand to have someone announce the slower folks coming across the line, I thought that was pretty crappy… ) Sorry for the crazy long report, but that’s the price you pay for reading this long-winded girl’s blog. 🙂