Monthly Archives: October 2012

Running smack into autumn

Autumn has arrived, overnight and with a vengence. We’ve had rain seven out of the last eight days. We’ve had high winds. We’ve had a thunderstorm (highly unusual in this part of the world). And the mountains have had their first snow.

It was just a dusting the other day, but the forecast calls for 4-8 inches, down to 3000 feet, over the next couple of days. It looks like those long high-altitude hikes that I’d planned will have to wait until next summer. The lower trails should still be good for several more weeks before winter really sets in, and I do hope to get out there before ALL the leaves are down.

But I’m still feeling tired and a little sore after the Victoria half marathon. I’ve realized that two half marathons in two weeks is a REALLY big deal for a middle-aged body, and that I’m going to need some time to fully recover. I’m not injured… just tired and sore. The setting-in of autumn is the perfect time to slow down and rest a bit.

I went out to run the other day for the first time since Victoria. Right out of the parking lot I ran smack into autumn! Leaves were down on the trail, a couple of inches thick in some places. Running through the wet, slippery leaves forced me to slow down and alter my stride. My short, choppy steps weren’t feeling fluid or graceful at all, and I quickly realized that I wasn’t having much fun running. Therefore I prudently decided to stop and take some photos instead. I think I made a good choice!

I know that the fire in my belly for running will return. Meanwhile, I’m thinking about another long, slow bike ride or a hike in low country to enjoy the last of the autumn leaves. Something easy on the knees and soothing for the mind.

At this moment, however, until I’m fully in sync with the change of seasons, I’m happy to let the autumn winds swirl around outside while I put my feet up and read a book.

How about you? Has autumn arrived in your part of the world? When it does, do you find yourself needing to pause and hit the “reset” button?

Just a reminder, I’m now putting all of my blog posts about things other than running over at “Slow Happy Living.” If you haven’t yet followed me over there, here is a taste of what you are missing…


Slow Happy Living

It seemed the day would never come, but we tasted our first homebrew on October 5! This was 23 days after we thought we’d set the place on fire while attempting to boil our wort on September 12. We racked our proto amber ale to the secondary fermenter on September 19 and bottled on the 26th.

As befitted the momentous occasion of bottling, I took a lot of photos.

The first step of the process was to thoroughly clean and then sanitize 48 used beer bottles. Well, even before that we had to (1) consume all that beer and (2) find room to store all those empty beer bottles. Suffice it to say that we have been preparing for our homebrewing operation for a while, quietly in the background of our busy lives.

CFL has done most of the reading about and researching of homebrewing techniques, and has developed an appreciation for the…

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2:14:29 and still smiling!

I had a great day at the Victoria half marathon yesterday! The day started early with a mile-plus walk from my motel at 6:30 AM. The dawn streets were deserted except for a gradually growing crowd of other runners approaching the start. On the street near the starting line, a throng of runners made further movement difficult as we jostled for space. As approximately 5,000 half marathoners lined up to go, I was thrilled to claim my spot behind the sign for those expecting to finish in 2:15 or so. Last year I’d lined up with the 2:45ers.

It was chilly (mid-40s) at the start, but I decided to go out in short sleeves and no gloves.

Even with this position farther forward in the pack, it still took me 3+ minutes after the gun to reach the starting line and activate my chip. I’d planned to run the first five miles on a 10:20 pace, pick up to a cumulative 10:15 pace by mile 10, and then go for it with whatever energy I might have left.

There was so much traffic at the start that I ran that first mile in 10:41. People were running eight or more abreast (we completely covered the wide streets in downtown Victoria) and passing was extremely difficult. I told myself to relax and wait for the crowd to thin out. The spectator support was wonderful here, with crowds lining the sidewalks and lots of happy noise.

My fingers and toes went numb from the chill in the first two miles but then thawed out once we got to Beacon Hill Park, where there was a bit more room to maneuver and pick up speed. The race here takes a series of loops through the heavily wooded park. There are some gentle hills, and my confidence grew as I began to pass runners on the hills. I flew through miles 2 through 5, each mile faster than my planned 10:20, and got myself back on the cumulative time I wanted. But I felt a bit more tired than I wanted to be at that point.

Miles 6-10, then, were about settling down, conserving effort, and staying focused. This part of the course is a long out-and-back along the waterfront and through a residential area. I took in the views across the water to the Olympic Mountains. I thought about places I’d hiked in those mountains. Coming back from the turnaround point, I kept my eyes peeled for the full marathoners who’d started an hour after us. There are few sights more inspiring for me as a runner than seeing Kenyans flying toward me! I was also thrilled to see a local attorney on his way to a new Guinness World Record for the fastest marathon run in a business suit (he ended up running an astonishing 2:35:something for a full marathon!).

By the time I hit mile 10 I was exactly on my planned 10:15 cumulative pace and feeling good. I did the next three miles at a sub-10 pace and was passing lots of people (while still being passed by others).

Then came the longest ever last “10th of a mile.” I’d already passed signs that said “1 mile to go,” “1 kilometer to go,” and “500 meters to go.” The course workers, who thickly lined the course at this point, kept shouting that we were almost there. More signs: “400 meters,” “200 meters,” “100 meters.”

Victoria is the only half marathon that I’ve run in Canada, so I don’t know whether this course simply measures long or all Canadian races measure long (perhaps because they are measured in kilometers rather than miles)? In any case, last year my Garmin measured this course at 13.25 miles. This year it measured 13.27 miles. That extra 0.17 mile is more than a minute and a half when you’re running a 10-minute mile! And it seems like forever when you’re going as hard as you can, straight into the sun and a wall of noise, looking for the finish line that seems to never come.

I finally found the finish line and clicked the “stop” button on my watch. It read 2:14:30! (My official time was recorded as 2:14:29, and I’ll gladly use their numbers.) I walked forward in a bit of a daze. I remember being grateful that the person who handed me my medal called me by name. What a wonderful custom it is to put a runner’s name on a bib — hearing one’s name at the finish line quickly brings a tired runner back to the “real” world!

The Victoria finish line chute is well-planned, as runners are channeled directly through a long line of tables brimming with water, chocolate milk, bananas, orange sections, apples, cookies, donuts, muffins, and bagels! I think I had at least one of everything but the donuts and muffins.

I had to walk all the way to the far end of the chute before my friend and I spotted one another. He’d managed to find me three times on the course, but missed me at the finish in the crush of spectators. Here’s a photo that he got of me near the entry to the park:

We left the finish line area and walked to a waterfront brewpub where we enjoyed a couple of local Victoria beers on the sunny 60+ degree patio. Here I am relishing my finisher’s medal while relaxing and having a microbrew:

After leaving the brewpub, we had to walk quickly to catch the ferry to get back across the strait. Then another mile-plus walk from the ferry back to my house. In all, I figure I walked 5 miles yesterday in addition to running 13.27 miles at a pace I didn’t dare dream of a year ago.

I ran this race last year in 2:40:33 and thought I’d never, ever beat that. I was two minutes a mile faster this year. I ran a negative split (faster second half) by two full minutes. I was 87th out of 210 finishers in my age/gender division (last year I was 132nd out of 218). I executed the race almost exactly as I’d planned it — and my plan worked! It resulted in another PR by 59 seconds, preserving my streak of a new PR with every race. I continue to be amazed at what is possible if you just keep putting one foot in front of the other.

I was rather sore and very tired last night, but today I’m feeling better than I thought I would. However, it will be at least a week or two before I feel like running again. When I do it will be just for fun… no more races on my immediate horizon.

There are some trails that I am itching to hike before the weather turns rainy and cold.

One step at a time!

Post-race reflection, pre-race musing

I promised I’d share some photos and a few thoughts about the Rogue Run. Given that Victoria is now only a few days away I figure I’d better wrap up on the last race before it comes time to write about the next one!

This is me about four miles into the race.

It was still rather crowded at this point, with people running in packs. Although we all got more spread out as the miles passed, I did stay pretty much with the people around me. Even toward the end when many of us were taking walk breaks in the heat, we all seemed to stay on a consistent pace overall. I love that feeling of being on a train or a convoy, with lots of runners moving in sync. I didn’t get to have that shared experience in my first few races, back when I would fade badly in the later miles.

My “Will run for beer” shirt got lots of smiles and thumbs up from aid station volunteers. Near the end I especially appreciated their helpful reminders that there was indeed beer waiting for me at the finish line! I was, however, NOT tempted by the can of Coors Light that they waved at me as I passed the “Table of Temptation” at approximately 11.25 miles.

I was still smiling at the end!

No I don’t know why it looks like I was walking at the end — subjectively I was flying, and my faithful GPS watch confirms that I ran that last tenth of a mile at a 9:04 pace. Admittedly I have lousy running form, but I keep do shuffling just a little more not-so-slowly.

Looking back, I’m happy with the race, and very happy with it as the last long training run before Victoria. The fact that I shaved a few more seconds off my time without having to push myself to the max bodes well for Victoria, when I do plan to leave it all out there on Belleville Street, right in front of the Parliament Building.

I haven’t run since then, but I have kept active with the usual hiking, biking, and walks around town. I’ll probably run a few miles just for fun tomorrow — I’ll try to see how closely I can stick to the 10:20 pace that I plan for the first half of the race. That should leave me plenty of energy to turn it up in the last few miles!

Between now and race day, I’ll have a birthday to celebrate. As soon as I’ve picked up my race packet on Saturday, I’m treating myself to a whale watching trip. Both orcas and humpbacks are out there in abundance right now, so I’m hoping for a great afternoon out on the water before an early dinner and early lights out.

Race time on Sunday is 7:30 AM! The forecast says sunny and 63, but that early in the morning it will be in the mid 40s. Perfect running weather!

I’m not sure when my next race after this will be. I have a couple of things in mind for the spring, and I know I’ll run our local race again next June. But I’d kind of like to free up some time in my schedule for some really long (overnight) hikes next year. And what about all that “serious writing” I said I was going to do? I’m a bit baffled as to how I’m going to fit in all the things I want to do. I’m still completely mystified as to how I ever found time to work.

Major kudos to those of you who are still working AND doing as much as possible of all the other things you love to do. Sometimes you have to be superhuman just to keep putting one foot in front of the other.

One step at a time.