Archive for February, 2008

February 24, 2008

16 And Change Along The Burke – and Ice!

Just a week ago, I ran the Los Gatos trail in the company of my sister, my girl, my brother-in-law, and my nephew. At the same time, my brother Frank was running in Seattle on his own.

This week- Frank tagged his 16 miles in Munich, a day or two early, while I ran from Phinney Ridge down to the Burke, and out and then back and up.

  • Did I mention up?
  • Did I mention the lack of good company?
  • Did I mention the lack of food and water?
  • Did I mention the 15 minutes in the ice bath? Ouch!

All in all – a pretty good run. Turns out it is just a tad more than 2.5 miles from my house to Gas Works Park – there’s 5. So I just had to head out another 5.5 miles before turning around. It went okay – it was a bit windy in spots – but the way back was fine up until I hit Fremont and had to run up the hill. It’s not an awful hill – but arriving at 14.5 miles isn’t exceptionally pleasant – and there are a LOT of lights – so it is start and stop.

I made it home, hobbled over the the 7-11 to buy a pair of bags of ice, and settled into my first ice bath since I ran the Boston Marathon in 2005.

Ice bath’s start ugly, get better, and then finish ugly. You might think that it’s the, ahem, tenderest part of your body that suffers the most, but it’s not – it’s your feet! And your feet (achilles, calf muscles) really need to be in the ice water. As do your quads, hamstrings, glutes . . .

I managed a not so pleasant 15 minutes before I cried uncle – but I have to say – 8 hours later – muscles feel much better for the ice!

Next week – 17!

February 22, 2008

Running From Work

I’ve taken a tip from my brother Frank and am leaving my car at the office on Friday evenings and am packing my stuff in my backpack and jogging home. Emphasis on the jog – I don’t really want to try and run fast with an extra 5-10 pounds!

Today was the second time – and there is a certain kind of zen that I get when Im running TO a certain spot and not having to run BACK. The focus is all on moving forward – commuting. It’s nice – and I get my miles in and don’t really drive. Goodness!

February 19, 2008

Los Gatos Trail, Redux

So – off we went, 9:00 AM. Me, my nephew Steve, my brother in law Gary, my sister Kathleen, and my girl, Puja – all on bikes, and me in running gear. A bit chilly but not too much, foggy, but not too much, and far, but not too much!

We headed towards the park from Kathleen’s house, on the streets. The first two miles were okay – trying to warm up, trying to get a sense of pace, and trying to not run over one of my cycling comrades! I couldn’t tell for sure how fast I was going – but I felt pretty good – so I just checked my heart rate, noticed that I wasn’t in trouble, and kept going. I shucked my long sleeve tee before mile one and ran in my tank and shorts – which was fun and funny – all of the ohter runners were in tights and jackets!

When we turned towards the park, I remembered this part of the race – somewhere around mile 15 or so. My sister and her kids were waiting, and I was hurting – and I already knew that I wasn’t going to bust that three hour mark. Still – seeing them was so reassuring – and – today – I had some of them along, plus Puja – so I knew I was going to have a good day.

And a good day was exactly what happened – I hit the zone when we entered the park, that sweet, sweet level of effort that is just hard enough that the rest of the world fades away, but not so hard that anything hurts, if you get what I mean. It seemed like every minute or so another half mile had passed – and while I wasn’t running that fast – it felt like I was.

And I was both running alone and with company – I could focus on snippets of conversation behind or in front of me, or I could have a quick chat when someone pulled up – and I could also just cruise along – me, the trail, memories of the marathon.

Of course, at this point – I was running down hill – down past the lake, past the freeway, past the park where my dad snapped a couple of pictures. At the same time, I was runnign UP – remembering the race three years ago – the guy with the headphones that couldn’t hold a pace, the rookie from Stanford who ran a great race, the headwind, the track at Los Gatos High School, the brutal hill before the turnaround.

But I was going down – and pretty fast for an old guy. My splits were in the 7:30 – 7:40 range – a nice and comfortable pace, too – although I WAS going downhill.

We hit the park in Campbell, Gary gave me water, Kathleen a gel pack, Steve and Puja smiles – and back up the hill I ran. I was a tad nervous that the uphill would spoil the mood – but I dropped right back into the zone – the miles slid by, even though some were uphill and the headwind had picked up a bit.

My legs were a bit tired – but not so tired that I slowed much. I kept moving, past the park, the freeway, the lake, and back out to the highway – home was a mile or two away. The sun was out, I had great company – and a 15 mile run was almost in the bag. The final hill over Hwy. 17 was a bit no fun, but it was over quickly – and then it was just the waiting at the stop lights before the final few turns.

I finished in just under 2 hours, and probably covered 15.2 miles – and better yet – save for an ache here and there – felt really good. Snacks helped, water helped, a beer helped, a coffee helped, a Mexican lunch helped, walking around Santana Row helped, and dinner most certainly helped.

Next weekend –  16 miles!

February 16, 2008

Just A Little Faster

I’m in the Bay Area visting my mom and sister (and some of my favorite dogs, too!) and am getting ready for my first long run down here since the Silicon Valley Marathon 3 years ago.

I ran that one after a LOT of training – pretty hard work. I’d wake up early  during the week, drive to Lake Washington, run a mile and a half to get warmed up, and then run a lot of fast miles – 3 miles at a 6.30 pace, followed by some half mile increments at well below a 6 minute pace, another 3 mile increment at a 6.30 pace and then I’d head back home and on to work.

A lot has changed since then – I have more responsibility at work, I moved in with my girl, and lots more.  But lately, I’ve been training for another marathon (Vancouver, in May) and my brother and I are going to run it together. And while we aren’t looking to break any records – I’ve found myself back at Lake Washington (this time during my lunch hour) to run some speedy miles again.

At three years remove from those last speed sessions  -things are different!

  • The mile markers have all worn off! The trail and street have been paved and painted – so I’m relying on memory for where those markers are!
  • The warmup really matters. Even three years ago – I could go from zero to fast without much of a warmup – but now, not so much.
  • I don’t recover as quickly – a hard effort still feels great (maybe not in the moment, mind you) but I can’t do it every day.

And some things are the same:

  • There is a particular focus and clarity that comes with hard effort that I’ve missed. It’s heated, like sun through a magnifying glass. And it happens when I run near my top effort.
  • When I run hard and then later, run at a more relaxed pace – I feel great. It’s like revving a car engine and then settling into cruise. The hard effort makes the medium effort and the easy effort easier. So I run those faster, too – but only because my perception of hard has changed.

So tomorrow I’ll get up early (but not too early) and I’ll run along the Los Gatos Creek Trail. three years ago, I did my best there, to try and break the 3 hour mark in the marathon, and I missed. So I’ll get to revisit that trail, rememeber that race, get in a nice long run (15 miles, in case you want to know) and I’ll have the good company of my sister and my girl and maybe my nephew along the way. And perhaps a great cup of coffee after – or a pint!

February 9, 2008

Precinct 1342 Goes 4 to Obama and 1 To Clinton

That was pretty exciting to be a part of – tons of energy around Obama. Can’t wait to see the state wide tally!
February 9, 2008

Precinct 1342 – moving the votes around

Wow – the Clinton speaker was terrible! The Barack guy was great! Undecided – who cares!
Just waiting for the undecided people to change their mind to see if Obama pucks up another one here in 1342
February 9, 2008

Caucus Part Two – Final Count – Precint 1342

Just waiting to here the proportions so we can move alng, discuss the merits, convince people to change – but it is looking like a huge day for Obama in my neighborhood.

And ONE for Clinton
THREE for Obama
ONE for Undecided!

February 9, 2008

Caucus Day Precint 1342 Seattle WA

Wow – crazy here. We have five delegates and they are working out the ratio now. But the prelim is that Obama has 82 peoe here, Clinton 22 and the rest dont’t matter, number wise.
February 4, 2008

Whidbey Island Gravity

How’s this for an adventure: helping with a music video shoot for Vienna Teng just a few miles north of where I live in Seattle?!

Here’s the deal – I heard one of her tunes on NPR a few years ago, heard another on the local radio station, and bought the disc. And then have been lucky enough to have seen her and her band play twice here in town – including in May, when Puja and I enjoyed a great dinner and show at the Triple Door on our anniversary!

So – I subscribed to the "when will Vienna be in Seattle next" feed – and when Vienna sent a note out to the Seattle dwellers asking for help with the music video – we signed up!

Puja wasn’t feeling well, so I headed out to Whidbey Island early on Saturday, not really knowing what to expect. I’ve played a lot of music, done a bit of video work and so on – so I was a little worried that the minute I started talking I’d be branded as a whack job – signing up to volunteer just to see if I could curry favor for a record deal or something.

But the truth was even better – I got to help with the video shoot, meet Vienna, the Whidbey Island hosts, the production crew – it was a really fun day.

(Production Crew really means the team at Fat Monster, the Director of Photography, and the Talent!)

We started with makeup (not for me, mind you) – had to make sure that Vienna looked the way she did the day before. So we had a couple of hours to talk, which was really nice – great to find out that the way she comes across on stage and through her music are quite like what she’s like in person – smart, fun to talk with, very well developed sense of humor, gracious. Nice. Reinforces my sense that most people on this planet are pretty good – no matter where they live, what kind of work they do, and so on.

We headed back to the house where we were staying, and I met Norm (the actor for the video) and the rest of the crew. We spent a few hours shooting footage, where my primary job was to hold and carry things. My day job keeps my pretty busy – so it was really nice to be in an environment where all I had to do was follow direction. And make a joke or two now and then!

We took a break for lunch, and then went down to the beach for more camera work. Also very fun – really neat watching a film crew get what they need, do it in the most orderly fashion they could and so on.

It reminded my of my time in musical theatre and rock bands – plenty of time to crack jokes, tease your friends, and then get on with the work at hand for a few minutes before getting back to the joking and all.

We finished up, went back to the house, had a beer and warmed up, chatted . . . All in all – a great way to spend a day. I can’t wait to see the final footage – and hope that I managed to keep my fingers and toes out of the frame!