Tuesday, October 28, 2008

I'm broken, but race anyway ...

In my effort to make my yard look more like a mountain lake paradise than a yard, I injured myself lugging around big rocks, loads of dirt and trying to roll boulders. It's also pretty apparent from those that know me that I'm EXTREMELY competitive. In a game of basketball after work (required fun/exercise), I made things worse by trying to annihilate the opposing team. This is why I have to avoid these group activities. Now I have a terribly painful groin muscle (aductor longus or something like that ... who cares what it is ... it hurts). My quad and hamstring are being pretty unruly and my knee, feet, back, arms and neck are angry and let me know it. This prompted me to visit the chiropractor where I was tempted to circle the entire body when asked where the problem area was. The plus side is that the yard is to a point that I won't have any heavy lifting to do until spring when we work on the side of the house and under the deck by the lake. Perhaps now I can get back to training hard instead of limping around my run courses in pain.
This is on the third lap as I surged on Evan. I'm trying to look relaxed, but that's hard to do when there's only a little blood in my lactic acid!

Speaking of pain, I think that's Evan Sims in a word. He showed up to Seven Mile, which was just a day after I moved a half dump truck of dirt via wheel barrow. Lucky for me, he was out for blood after finishing a combined total of 10 seconds back in three races over 29.33 miles. He took off so fast that I was completely unable to respond. Fortunately, there were hills, which I run well and he doesn't like. At the top of the hill on the third lap, I managed to eat up the 27 seconds he put on me in the first kilometer. I did my best to try to look relaxed as I surged past him, but was really suffering. I don't know how he did it, but he hung with me all the way to the finish. The gap this time was just 2 seconds. This guy is faster than I am, but unfortunately ends up going too hard in the first part of our races. It just goes to show that a good strategy can go a long way. I work a race from every angle, which is necessary to have any chance at beating someone faster than I am. I was still second on the day and continued my streak of umpteen consecutive losses at BRRC CC races (aka never won one). Chris Morlan was first in 17:14, I was 17:30 and Evan at 17:32.
This was Amanda's pic. I liked it better than the ones I took. I've been creating a daily picture journal of the progress of our yard (about 15 per day). In the process, I've missed out on taking pics for the natural beauty on several occasions. We just had our yard hydro seeded, the neighbors too, so it's almost green like a lawn. The trees are changing colors and the geese are back again. It's nice to have such a great view in the back yard, but have a quiet neighborhood and small city on the other side of the house.

The days following the race have been pretty tough, but I've continued to train and race. We had a race at Fairchild on Friday, which was the first annual Freaky Friday 5K fun run at 7PM. We ran around the survival training school area with glow sticks lining the path, which was really cool. I spent the entire run calling out "I can see you" or "I know you're there." Allegedly people were hiding along the course dressed in costumes to scare the runners, so I wanted to avoid a scare and injuring myself any more. As it turns out, there wasn't anyone hiding out there, so I was just talking my paranoia to the empty darkness. I was really working hard, but only managed an 18:12. Perhaps if my legs worked or I'd rest and recover. It's just a thought. The next morning was the Oktober Fest 5K (was it with a K?) at Mead. I was tempted to go race Josh Hadway, but the 2-hour round-trip drive proved to be more of a deterrent than having trouble walking. Sorry Josh. I would have been worthless competition anyway, but certainly would have tried.

I'm still running outdoors, but haven't ridden in a couple weeks. It's times like this that I need a coach! I still swim and run, but find myself fixating on the Birthday Challenge and losing sight of my overall plan for next year.

Monday, October 13, 2008

Yard Phase 2 Complete & Spokane Half Marathon

I never put any thought into how it would look at night, but this is spectacular. Four underwater lights for each fall, one for each of the seven trees and seven path lights. It's like Christmas! The goal was to have a yard we could actually use, so having something spectacular to look at night and day feels really great.

Ironically, I put more pressure on myself to achieve my Birthday Challenge PR than I do for nearly all races. That helps get my training up to speed and consistent. It also helps me focus on the goal rather than trying to peak for a training race. The Spokane Half Marathon was a training race, but important for range. All the yard work has left me with a strained lower back and strained inner thigh. With this being a major training element, I couldn’t opt out of it in favor of more recovery time.

This gives a pretty good perspective of the yard, but especially the deck. It's over 10 feet above the water. The clear view railing isn't in yet, but the view is still great. Instead of having a cliff, we have a great deck where an unusable section of yard once was. We've also moved boulders and dirt around for a usable place under the deck. The path on the right is pretty steep and will be an even grade from beginning to end and covered with a red rubber brick. That's the final project I have for next spring to have it ready for the summer.

My goal for the race was simply to get a hard 13.1. That made seeing Evan Sims a relief. He’s a sub 42 in Bloomsday, which I haven’t run for years. Although I’ve edged him out twice this year, by 4 and 3 seconds respectively, he’s made me suffer greatly. My hope was to get more of the same.

The house is well above the water, giving a good birds eye view of the yard. We used to have to be careful to not slip and fall on the steep terrain covered in rocks and weeds that would not die. Now there are cool looking paths along what looks like a mountain stream. That item on the Trex Deck is a 6hp Fastlane. It allegedly can simulate a 57 second 100m pace, which is faster than I can go. We'll hook that up next spring. We're still working on finding the right water heater that will allow us to swim in the bottom pond during the spring and fall and possibly capable of being turned up enough to be like a hot tub.

We started out too fast. Seeing a 5:27 on the GPS, I slowed down right away. I can’t run that fast when 100%, so I won’t try it in heavy training with a couple minor injuries. Two other guys were running with Evan and gradually pulling away until a turn. Lucky for me, they weren’t running the tangents well, which helped me catch back up. After a couple miles, we dropped one guy and I was able to stick to Evan and the other guy. This mystery runner looked very comfortable, but didn’t look like a fast guy. I thought he’d fade, but it didn’t matter. The first few miles, I found myself annoyed at the unusual frequency spectators would cheer “Run Forest” or some variation of that. Some spectators just aren’t enough of a fan to know how to cheer.

I'm not sure if it's just a guy thing, but I'm pretty pleased that the fire pit can crank out flames that get six to seven feet tall at times. That's too much for sitting around the fire, so it's good we can adjust it lower. I've discovered that it's fun to take pictures of fire. It changes so often and unpredictably that some are really cool.

Just after mile three, mystery runner pulled ahead and Evan went with him. It was too rich for my blood, so I let them go, sticking to what I could handle. Later, he appeared to comfortably pull away rather quickly. It was completely unexpected since I didn’t think he’d be able to hang with that pace. Pulling away looked like a bold and unwise move. He continued to pull away from Evan faster than Evan from me. At the marathon/half-marathon split, he was about 1:30 ahead and out of sight and Evan was about :35 ahead. A moment later, the lead motorcycle sped past, followed shortly after by the lead biker. They took place in front of Evan and I knew they led the leader off course. I looked back and saw him coming up behind us. Trying to take advantage of the opportunity, I picked it up with a shot at coming in first, but well before I could eat up Evan’s lead, he went cruising comfortably past. He quickly caught Evan and was soon out of sight.

We have a stone bridge over the water. It's green, orange, brown, grey, etc. It ties together the stone pathways at the top of the stone steps between a boulder corridor. This is just the top of the three-tier stairway, which takes you to the middle of the four falls. It's not visible from here, but to the left, we have a rock wall that extends the side of the yard and levels it out. This Thursday they'll hydro seed, which will make the sprinkler system usable. The trees are on an auto-drip timer.

Heading up Doomsday, the 10th mile, I decided to go conservative to save energy. My plan was to attack at the top with a little over three miles to go. I was losing a little ground, but got it back after Evan nearly broad-sided a van that turned in front of him. He had to slow to a walk and go around the van at the aid station at the top of the hill. I was probably more upset than he was, especially after that same van appeared to be turning out right in front of me. I wouldn’t have been as nice as I get pretty hostile when people put me in danger when nearly running me over.

This is the awesome crew from Alderwood Landscaping. I have to say that I'm very picky because I wanted something very specific for triathlon training. They had never built a water feature made for a Fastlane or designed a yard around triathlon-specific use. Skyler, Kevin, John and Jeff are standing on the stone bridge above the tallest fall, which is 3 feet. The three others are 2'4". At first I thought I was paying a heavy premium for high end landscaping, but in the end I feel like I got a really great deal.

At the top of the hill, I was down 27 seconds and began my attack. A mile later, I was still down 21 seconds. It appeared that he was going to win this battle, but I fought on. At mile 12, I was still down 17 seconds. Either he picked it up or my attack was about as useful as a rubber crutch. Convincing myself that I could run one hard mile, I dropped the hammer and surprised myself by catching him in about a half mile. After he surged a couple times, I settled into his pace rather than risking a melt down. When I was sure the course wouldn’t take an unexpected course-lengthening detour, I surged for the finish. I managed to edged him out by 3 second with a 1:19:03 (6:01.78/mile). It’s not a great time, but the course it tough and I got what I needed from the race. It would have been nice if it wasn’t 27 degrees at the start and not much warmer at the finish. It doesn’t take long in those temperatures for a sweaty person to cool off and nearly freeze.

The yard isn't done in this picture, but it gives a great perspective compared to the original photo I have before they started, which is below on another post. The deck on the house has since been changed to include stairs to the yard, which used to be accessible only from the driveway or basement door.

As it turns out, the winner was named Forest, which explains the Forest cheering. After some chatting after the race and some searching on Yahoo, I discovered that he’s a 13:45 5K runner and has apparently run a sub 29 10K. No wonder he had such an easy time destroying Evan and me. My guess is that he used our 5:45 pace for the first three miles to warm up. Despite losing about 2 minutes by going off course, he still beat us by over 4 minutes at the end. My bet is that he can run a lot faster than he did. The winning time for the marathon was 2:42:30 by Sean Meissner. I didn’t want to lose training time from a marathon, so it was a relief to see that it would have taken a hard effort to win. Josh Hadway won the 5-miler with a 26:34. He was 4 seconds behind Evan at Bloomsday, but if the 5-miler was accurate, he’s faster than both of us right now. I also discovered that Sheena and I have the same birthday.