Archive for January, 2007

January 30, 2007

A 10a Comes Next

What do you do after a perfect ten? How about a 10-a?! Although that might sound a bit like "my amp goes to eleven" what it really designates the difficulty of a particular rock climbing route.

It seems appropriate that after a terrific ten mile run, that I’d head to the gym for some climbing – and after a few warmup climbs – I tacked a pair of 10-a’s in a row.

I fared pretty well – rock climbing is a sport to which I’m moderately well suited – you can’t really be good at it with muscle or endurance alone – although they help. Technique matters a lot – and while I’m not a natural climber – I can pay attention. Being skinny helps, too – so – balance, pivot point, relaxation – all of those things add up – and if they don’t – you find yourself clinging to a wall by your fingers – not a great way to maximize your effort!

In any case – it was a good day – I managed both of those climbs in under 3 minutes (I’ve noticed that if it takes longer than that – I’m probably missing something) and without falling or having to cheat – not a bad way to follow up a perfect 10!

January 28, 2007

A Perfect Ten

Miles, that is. And my first from home. I moved to a new neighborhood more than a year ago, and while I’ve run several half marathons since then, and an 8k, and have kept up my running (okay – I’ve kept running – am just not clocking 40 mile weeks any more – but hope to again!) – but haven’t managed a long run, door to door.
It’s funny  – becauseat my old apartment – it was all downhill to start, and all uphill coming home. And at my new place – it’s about the same. It’ a tad steeper, I think, from my new place – but not that much steeper. The big difference is that my old place was my old place for more than 10 years – so every run was familiar. I probably ran 5,000 miles while I lived there – so it was hard to discover a new run that started and ended at the same spot.
Here – since I’m on a ridge – my options are a bit more limited – so I’ve been reluctant to head out for that long run, not knowing for sure where I was going, how I’d get back, and how long it would take (It doesn’t help that I have two lakes and two highways to navigate – if I’m careless – I’ll gain all of the altitude, and then drop back down because I can’t cross the highway!
But today – it was a perfect day for a run. Home made pizza the night before, a crisp sunny 35 degrees when I left, and a lunch date with an old friend to keep me moving along – and move along I did. I popped down the hill to the Burke-Gilman trail, ran the flats for about 7 miles, and then made the climb back home. It wasn’t as tough as I’d thought – I took it easy on the way down (an 8 minute pace), ran a 7.30 pace along the flats, and ran about 8’s on the way back up.
I’ve run 10 miles about 60 times since I started keeping an electronic journal, from a slower run with friends (10.29 pace) to a speedy 6.31 race where I was out to get my running revenge on 5 high school kids who consistently waxed me at the track. So today’s 7.45 pace falls just about in the middle – not too fast, not too slow – a perfect 10!

January 23, 2007

A Little Spare Change

I suppose that if I had to settle on if I enjoy change or if I don’t – I’d have to settle on neither! The truth is – the actual changing part isn’t so much fun – but generally the stuff that comes after, at the other end – that’s pretty good.
This last little while for me has been one series of changes after the other – and just about when I feel like I’ve assimilated the newest change – something new comes along to rattle my cage a bit, to let me know that the game isn’t over until that lady sings the last note, if you get what I mean.
In hindsight – it’s a lot easier to digest. When it’s happening – well – sometimes it’s hard to know that it is happening.
When I moved in with my girl – that was a lot of change all at the same time – leaving my apartment after a long time, donating most of my things (I kept the music stuff!) and so on – that was surprisingly easy. Getting used to a new commute, a new grocery store, sharing living space all of the time – those took a little more time.
And when my dad passed away – there was a lot all at once, too – there were the easier changes of before and after, and the planning for a service, having a service, and then – the after. It was the after part that was harder than I expected – the free time from not doing tech support for dad, talking to mom and not getting a phone hand off and so on.
Turning 43 was pretty easy, too – again -there was the day when I was 42, and then I was 43 – that seems pretty easy. But then the change of that – hmm – running that race more slowly this year, having to warm up before I go out to rake leaves (okay, that’s not true – I borrowed that from a real life neighbor – but you get what I mean) – the change goes on. And after awhile (just like writing 2007 instead of 2007, I’m 43, I have a new address that includes a terrific girl and a black dog, and a new commute and a new place to look for crisp apples. And dad doesn’t answer the phone and so it goes.
I’ve got another one right now – some additional responsibility at work. I’m excited about it – it means that I’ll be able to help the local nonprofit community be a bit better. Mostly, it means I’ll get to help my team do that – they’ll do all of the heavy lifting. I’m looking forward to the work and the new – but also thinking about what that change will look like this next little while. I don’t know yet, exactly what it will look like. Hopefully, not more hours, just better planned ones -but we shall see.
In the meantime – I also keep track of the stuff that doesn’t change. I run about 20-30 miles a week (10 on a hard week). I play my guitar when I can, mostly because it makes me happy. I read a lot. I meet friends for pints and for coffee, I sip scotch, I catch up with my friends – and while there is change in all of those things – some of the essence of them don’t change much at all.
So I’ll see you at the next 10k, at the next Scotch Club, on my way to work, or on my way home. Or online – send a note to let me know how it is with you!
January 15, 2007

Cold Weather Run

Frank and I ran from his office to his house today, a nice 10.5 mile run (would have been 11, but we elected for a cool-down for the last half mile – neither one of us has been clocking double digits lately).
And while we saw a few people out running in Frank’s neighborhood before we left for the Eastside – we didn’t see another runner until mile 9.5 or so. No runners in Bellevue. No runners in Mercer Island. No runners near Seward Park.
So – to be fair – it was a holiday for some – but still – I wasn’t expecting that. Sure – it was cold – below freezing when we started – but it was sunny, and, if you kept your wits about you and were careful on the ice – safe. After several days of bad weather, the end of football season for the Seahawks – I would have expected to see a lot more people out there, making good on their new years intentions.
When I think about it, though – I only have one other friend for whom running is a regular activity. (Sure, I have friends that run once in a while – but not that run because they love it, because it is their favorite way to exercise, get out and about and those sorts of things. They ride bikes, or they rock climb, or they surf). I seem to be in an odd category – most of my friends exercise in one form or the other – but they cherry pick. And while I totally understand – I also think they are missing something. Heading out in bad weather, when you don’t want to (at first!) when everyone tells you that you’re crazy, when you’re heading out because you want to, and because you need to, and because maybe, just maybe, you have a bigger plan, like for a race, or just because you told yourself that if you could get that run in – then the rest of the world wouldn’t be quite so challenging – I think – that’s what people are missing.
January 10, 2007

Don’t Worry Ma, It’s Just Snow

For the second time in just about a month, my city came to a near grinding halt. This time – luck was on my side – I left the office at the usual time, arrived home in about the same time (missed the speech by Mr. Bush – which would only have upset me anyway) and the headed out to the gym.
Quiet on the roads, pretty quiet at the gym, quiet at the Sushi place . . .
No snow on the roads – but everyone is worried about it – it made a nice evening!
January 7, 2007

The First Week of a New Year

And a pretty good one at that. I managed to end the year on a strong exercise kick – and so far – so good! This has been helped by getting to work an hour earlier – which means I have a little less time to read the paper and putter around in the mornings -but DOES mean that my commute is much more predictable. So – instead of leaving an hour early – I’ve been sneaking out for a run – it’s been a dual hit, too – I get to run in the middle of the day, which is a great stress relief AND I get to run in the daylight. Nice!
And my brother Frank and I continue our weekend tradition of running together – we clocked 8 miles last weekend – and although he’s out of town this weekend – I clocked 7 in his honor today. Probably easier since he’s in Vegas and I’m not – I think I have the better deal!
Along the way this weekend – I made a mad dash to Canada to watch my first professional hockey game. It was really great, even though my team lost. (The Edmonton Oilers, if you must know). But it was a sudden death overtime, both teams played really well, it was MUCH more fun to watch in real life than on television – and – Canadians are nicer, skinnier, and more polite than Americans. Probably smarter, too, although I didn’t measure.
I mean – Vancouver is a lot like Seattle in terms of its location in the Pacific NW, being a port town, blah, blah, blah. And my girl is from Canada, so I’m a bit biased.  And I know that there are some things about Canada that aren’t perfectly rosy. Healthcare comes to mind – although I’d venture to say that if you don’t have a lot of money in the U.S. or in Canada – you’re better off in Canada. Taxes are higher there, too – but – I think the value is tangible.
Not as many huge cars, either – maybe becuase the people aren’t so huge.
The other good thing about Canada? The border guards aren’t jerks like they are in the U.S. Oh, I know – Al Qaeda didn’t blow up a building in Montreal, blah, blah. But the American guards are mostly rude and maybe uneducated. (I take some of that back – they guy that let us back in was polite, seemed to enjoy his job, and asked us the questions he needed to without making us feel dirty). But when we cross IN to Canada – they NEVER make me feel like a crook.
Finally – you can make it from Canada to Mt. Baker for a snowboard trip in just about 2 and a half hours – which is exactly what we did! We got half a day on the slopes (great conditions) and still made it home at a decent hour.
And who knew that the Red Robin in Bellingham would have excellent customer service? Friendly, fast, not fake – on the way back we talked a bit about that – you can set corporate policy and enforce it – but there must be a really good manager at that location that makes it real. Hires the right people, keeps them, trains them. Maybe we were lucky – but – I don’t think so. I’ll go back. And the beer arrived fast and cold – just what you want after riding (and falling) down the mountain for a few hours!
January 2, 2007

Off to a Good Start

First day back at work, and the first real day of the new year – and I managed to get to work early, leave about on time, and make it to the gym -so"
Not driving in traffic!
I love my job – even after a long break!
To say the same things a lot in 2007! 
January 1, 2007

Let’s Run The Numbers

I love keeping track of things – maybe it’s because I earned so poorly right out of college that I was balancing my checkbook every day to make sure I didn’t bounce anything. Or maybe it’s because I helped a pair of struggling nonprofits manage their finances. Either way – keeping track makes me happy – and when I keep track of running – even better!

2006 wasn’t a great year for running, but did have its highlights:

  • I ran more than 700 miles
  • I hit the weight room for more than 26 hours
  • I cycled 130 miles (most to and from work)

 All of those are better than in 2005 – but when I sneak back to 2004:

  • I ran 1,600 miles
  • I lifted weights for more than 26 hours
  • I cycled for almost 400 miles!

 Wow – that’s quite a spread! I’m hoping to get a bit more exercise in 2007, and run a few more races than in 2006. There might be a marathon on my horizon – but we’ll see.

In the meantime – I DID have some good races in 2006, including a terrific time at the Mountains to Sound Relay (with teammates Frank, Leen, Joe and Whit, and the able support of Puja, Suzanne and Olivia), a half marathon with my friend Greg, the annual Super Jock and Jill Half Marathon, the annual Beat the Bridge Race, and a final half marathon in Victoria. My speediest race was the shortest (a 6.27/mile pace) and the slowest was during the relay – it was 100 degrees that day, slowing me to an 8.03/mile pace – but even running more slowly hurt!

So – here’s to 2007, a few more miles in the saddle and on my feet, with some weight training and rock climbing all thrown in!