A Broken Four Miler

I have to remember that I am not a performance runner. I enjoy running it’s good for me and it feels great to go fast and to get some good times now and again, but not at the expense of being content. There’s probably some sort of philosophy in there, about how being mostly content ids better than being only occasionally happy. I dunno.

I hadn’t run in several days, and things kept piling up to keep me off the road. The wife said I had a window, and so I dashed out for a quick 4 miler. The problem there is I thought I had to be “quick.” I didn’t. If I had run slower, I might have finished faster.

I’ll try, for sake of readability, be a little less descriptive of every road and every turn and every mile., We’ll see how that goes. Today’s run started off north on 1st Ave. Shoes were very loose on my feet, which felt kind of good. Achilles tendon was a little sore for now reason I can think of.

Mile one was a smooth 9:13, cause I like the downhill from 145th to 155th. It’s my jam. Right turn on 155th, and starting to climb– every time I take this bit, it looks less steep. Had to stop and retire my shoes at one point, but otherwise, it was fine. However, the music on the iPod was a little too awesome, because I pushed it.

Pushed it? Yes. Mile two was right after the right turn onto 15th Ave, an 8:42, and I was not feeling well, even though it was more downhill after that. Mile 3 ended right at the lowest point, 9:12, and I knew I was spent. I made a few hundred yards into the climb before I gave up and walked for three minutes.

I chalked it up to not only going too fast too early, but also not eating much that day. Once I got my legs back, I ran some more, starting with a right on 125th, which drops, then climbs as it turns and becomes 130th. I prayed for do-not-cross signals. Mile 4, 12:26.

Zipped the rest of the way home, another third of a mile. Final time was 42:18, which works out to 9:48 per mile. Aren’t averages funny? If I had run every mile more slowly, and not walked– well, I already said that, didn’t I.

Oh well. Going to try and take my own advice, and not let it get to me. I hope to get in one more good long run before my hernia surgery next week, and then, alas, no running for a while. Maybe I can still; keep blogging, though, about how much I miss it. That should be some scintillating reading.

The 5 Miler, Extended to 10k

I unceremoniously took out the xpand-laces from my shoes and relaced ’em very loosely for this run. Goal for today was to take it easy. Isn’t that always my goal?

Donned my one running tank-top and stepped out into unseasonably cold air. Actually, it was the usual Seattle temperature, a break from the heat wave we’d been having. But I didn’t go back and change shirts. It wasn’t *that* cold.

Walked up to 1st avenue and Roosevelt before starting, heading north. My shoes kind of flopped on my heals, and I purposefully allowed my feet to roll with some exaggerated pronation, all to avoid cramps. Spoiler alert: it worked.

Crossed 145th street, with a small pause waiting for the light, and then the drop towards 155th. Mile one a little before the left turn, next to Twin Ponds Park; 9:26 although moving pace was obviously faster.
155th street is flat until Meridian, and then really jumps up at Wallingford. The next two block, before the right turn on Ashworth, are very steep, but having run Maple Leaf four times in a row, it was a piece of cake. A stale piece of cake, but cake nonetheless. Paced stayed in the slow 9s.

Ashworth keeps going up, but just barely. Mile 2 was a little before 165th street, a 9:21. “Faster” (if you count the pause) than mile 1, how about that? The “climb” levelled off, and then a left turn on 175th where it jumps up again a bit. Passed the new Trader Joe’s, then a left onto the Interurban Trail and a long descent. Mile 3 ahead of 167th street, next to the cemetery. 9:04, and no leg pain at all.

There’s a short “segment” between 167th and 165th, and I was feeling good, so I went for it, getting my pace up and peaking at a 5:44. Achieved my 4th best time ever, 46 seconds; (my best is 39 seconds).

Continued on the Interurban. There’s a portion where it goes up to a pedestrian walkway across Aurora, then down, the up again for another walkway across 155th. I think the GPS gets a little confused here, because although it traces the route accurately, I think it fudges on the moving distance. It has me dropping to a low speed of 11:02 per mile on a downhill portion. I’m being too picky, I now– over the long run (pun!) I’m sure the reported average pace is close to correct.

Still, when I hit mile 4 as I climbed up from 155th toward 145th, and my watch said 9:11, it was a little deflating. That pace is a good one for me, but considering the little fartlek I’d had, and that mile 4 was mostly downhill anyway, I think my real pace was faster.

Anyway, moving on (another pun. Sort of). Crossed 145th, almost got hit by a car that thought the red octagon sign said “slow down but keep moving” instead of “stop,” and kept on going. A left turn on 137th, a nice and clear Aurora to cross, and a big drop down and climb back up– feeling fine, no worries at all. Mile 5 at Interlake, 9:26, but really more like 9:06 because of the pause for the jerk who almost hit me.

A right on Ashworth, and that sweet descent. A left into the school parking lot, cutting behind the swimming pool to emerge onto 133rd. Across Meridian, a drop and a jump, across 1st avenue, and I decided to go until I hit 10k. So a left on 3rd avenue, and a final left on 135th, and then done.

Walked a few blocks and was home again. 57:04, 9:11 overall pace, and best of all: no foot pain.

Maple Leaf, South on 8th Ave Attack

Fourth run in a row up Maple Leaf, ending the series with whimper, not a bang. Short version: laces too tight, foot and calf cramps, had to walk bits. The irony: running up hill was more pain-free than running down. That horror: ran the whole thing shirtless.

Started off in the evening, around 8:30 PM, and walked to 5th avenue and 130th street. Used two crosswalks, and then started, south on 5th. The way my bluetooth headphones and hat sat on ym head my my sunglasses bounced funny, so I took them off. Didn’t need em. A left on 127th, a right on 8th, in anticipation of returning on a loop- for some reason, I eschew running any street twice in one run, if I can avoid it.

8th avenue is a nice, gentle drop, and I took it easy, mile one right before Northgate at a 9:16 pace. My feet were already starting to hurt. A little more descent after that, and then the lowest point, crossing 105th street, next to a bog called the Beaver Pond Natural Area.

And then, up. Of all the ways up Maple Leaf from the North, 8th avenue has the steepest portions. My speed dropped to 11:30 or so for a few blocks, but came back up to 10:00 or so. Having running up hills for the last three runs was paying off: steep as it was, it was very doable.

Mile two right at the left turn onto 92nd Street, 9:46, are you kidding me. A little more climbing to Roosevelt, crossed that, and then descending to 15th Avenue and the left turn.

And now the big descent, and the return of that bad foot cramping. Low point at 105th street again, and I told myself I would try to walk it off at mile 3– glanced at my watch, and I was right at mile 3. 9:04. I started walking.

Walked for about a 3rd of a mile, then picked it up again. Then a pause crossing Northgate, and I managed to keep going, climbing, albeit gently, all the way to 125th. Mile 4 right at the left turn, 10:21, not bad considering a third of that was walking.,

125th drops down and the goes up as it curves right to turn into 130th street, and I had another much appreciated pause waiting for the light at 5th avenue. And then, to stretch the run to 5 miles, I continued past 3rd Avenue to 1st Avenue, the right turn, and finished the run in the dark by turning right on 133rd, stopping when the watch said 5 miles on the nose. 9:34.

Final moving average was 9:36, and that’s okay by me considering the hill, the pain, the lateness of the day. Got a PR for a segment, that part from the lowest point at 15th Avenue and 105th street up to 117th street, .6 miles, 150 feet up, a 6% grade. Strava tells me I’ve run this once before, back in May. This time I did it in 6:27, nine seconds faster.

So that’s that. Lesson learned: looser laces.

Maple Leaf Hill, West 92nd Street Attack

I had every intention of going for a run on Saturday, and when that didn’t happen, I was supposed to go on Sunday. That didn’t happen either. And so I made it out there this morning; but that was on three days’ rest, so I don’t know if today’s run was better or worse for that. I mean, as I write this, my left leg is sore, my left knee is sore. I’m going to blame the shoes.

Or, if not the shoes, the laces specifically. I got me some of them Xpand laces, the kind that you put in and lock-down and then there’s no tyying or untying: you just slip on your kicks and off you go. I need to adjust them a bit through a few runs, I think– one foot felt loose, the other tight. Or maybe I’m a lopsided person.

Today’s run was yet another hill attack. Started up a Roosevelt to 1st Avenue, a left turn and heading south, to Corliss, a right-ish turn, around Haller Lake to Meridian, and a left to turn to continue south. Mile 1 was just past 120th street, 8:41. I would have preferred 9:15; one of these days I’m going to learn how to warm up slowly.

After Northgate, Meridian is called College Way, and I continued, all descent until 103rd street (where I used to live, back in the day), then a short sharp rise up to and past North Seattle Community College. At this mini crest, mile 2, 8:34, and a total for the run of 135 feet below where I started.

At 92nd street I turned left, and this is where the climbing began. Up and up, over Highway 5, and mile 3 was just as I passed 8th Avenue, a 9:20. I peaked at Roosevelt, turned left, dropped a bit to 94th, another left, and a right on 5th avenue to start descending again. Mile 4 was right after the lowest point, a 9:14. (Running downhill is tough. When I was doing the Ragnar, I had one drop that was so long and steep I had to make a conscious effort to change my gait every ten steps or so to avoid getting a stitch.

And then climbing again, continuing up 5th avenue. A minute of waiting at the crosswalk at Northgate, and then up some more. By now I was feeling really heavy. But I have to say, that these multiple days of climbing hills– I was able to kind of zone-out and just trudge up. Foot numb, leg kind of achy, lungs near to bursting, but I didn’t have that emotional fatigue that sometimes gets the best of me.

Mile 5 just past 125th street, a 9:47. Then a left on 130th, a right on 3rd Avenue, Roosevelt and home. 5 and half miles, 50 minutes or so, 9:04 average (when moving). 382 feet of climbing. I had it in my head that dropping to College way and 92nd was not as low as the other attack points for Maple Leaf, but it turns out it’s more or less the same. All told, an okay run.

Maple Leaf, 15th Avenue North Attack

The plan was to wake up with a 5-Hour Energy drink, and then go for a run at some point. But I got busy and forgot about my “vitamins.” Didn’t realize it till I got back. Don’t know if I would have had a better run if I’d had the 5HED. Probably not. I was just sore from yesterday’s hills.

But so what. More hills today. Same hill as yesterday, but a different approach. Roosevelt to 3rd Avenue to 130th which turns into 125th to 15th Avenue. Nothing much to say about that. Mile one was done right afterI made the right onto 15th Avenue, 9:04. Normally I’d say “too fast!” but my GAP (Grade Adjusted Pace, which accounts for hills) was 9:28 which seems good to me. This, despite some aches and pains in hy right foot.

Down 15th Avenue, across Northgate, and the lowest point at 105th street. Right after that, before the hill really kicked in, mile 2, in 8:56 (GAP 8:53). And then a half mile of climbing. At 95th I made the right turn to keep on climbing, up to Roosevelt. I read on Wikipedia yesterday that 95th and Roosevelt was the 3rd highest point in Seattle.

It dropped after that, and mile 3 was done when I passed 5th Avenue: 9:43 (GAP 8:51). Now that’s what I’m talking about. My legs felt very heavy. But the foot pain was mostly gone.

Down to 1st Avenue, and the right turn. This descent bottomed out as I passed the Northgate Transit Center. The rest was a gentle rise. Mile 4 just passed Northgate Way, 9:25. And more rise as 1st Avenue goes North, swinging left to cross Highway 5, and a right turn to stay on 1st rather than continue on 117th. Mile 5 between 128th and 130th. My legs were lead at this point. 9:37. GAP was 8:39. I’ll take it.

And finish by taking 1st Avenue to Roosevelt, a right turn, left into my driveway. Sweaty and out of breath, but happy I did it. 51:15, 9:18 average pace for my moving time. I’ll rest tomorrow, see if I can get in a less hilly run Saturday after the wife comes home.

Maple Leaf, 5th Avenue North Attack

The idea here is that I’ll write about attacking the various hills in the city and I’ll come up with some kind of consistent nomenclature to describe these runs. So for now “attack” means “run up a hill” and I’ll indicate the direction from which I ran: in this case, I was north of Maple Leaf, meaning I ran towards the south.

Ragnar was last Friday/Saturday, and I figured if I wasn’t recovered by now, I’d just get more sloppy. So I went out for a run, with a goal of 5 miles. And since some of the latter hills on the Ragnar treated me poorly, I got this idea that I’d do more hills for the next year, starting today.

We’ll see how long THAT lasts.

Went up the small bit of Roosevelt towards 1st Avenue, and south. Crossed 130th, waiting for the light. Then down 1st ave to the Highway 5 cutover, finishing mile one in 8:50– too fast, but it was mostly downhill, and I did have those three days’ rest.

The cutover leads to 3rd Avenue, so I went south, cutting across to 5th Avenue behind Target along 112th Street. A right turn at 5th Avenue, and downhill some more, until 103rd Street, the low point. The climb started, and mile 2 happened a block later, an 8:48. Don’t worry, it gets slower after that.

Climbed up Maple Leaf to 95th Street, which is where 5th ave peaks, but on 95th it keeps climbing to an apex at Roosevelt. I turned left there, and started dropping. Mile three was at 104th Street, 9:28 this time.

More dropping, all the way down to what would be 107th street if it crossed Roosevelt. And then it starts to go back up again. I crossed 105th, waiting for the light first. Mile 4 was where 124th Street would be, and this mile was a 9:18.

Roosevelt continued, still going up, and then a left turn on 125th street, which is angled at this point and eventually turns into 130th. I made a right on 3rd Avenue, and since I wanted to get in 5 miles, stayed on 3rd up to 135th street, a last bit of climbing to 1st Avenue, and the south again to Roosevelt and where I started.

5 miles, 46:28, 9:07 average per mile, 381 feet of climbing.

Another 10K

Final run before Ragnar next Friday. Wanted to get in a good long hill, but life conspired to constrain my time. I thought I’d bus towards downtown and run back, but instead I did a loop and tried to make the last half go up. Mission sort of accomplished.

Began as I’ve begun: Roosevelt, 3rd Ave, 130th. Thought I might dash across the road and through the park, past the leash free dog area, and the emerge somewhere onto 1st Ave. But traffic was busy that I didn’t make the cross until I got to 1st Ave anyway.

1st Avenue, Corliss, 125th street-old hat. But then this time I made the left onto Meridian. Mile 1 was a nice and slow 9:32. Dropped towards 105th, where everybody gets a name change: 105th becomes Northgate and Meridian itself becomes College Way. Caught the green light after only a few seconds.

Stayed on College way, and it finally went up a bit at 103rd, although not much; at the top mile 2 was done, 9:10, but that was mostly downhill running. Down some more toward 92nd. I jigged, took the pedestrian cut-through, and Burke for a few blocks south to 90th.

A right turn, up a short bump and then down to the lowest point of the run at 90th and Stone. And then the climbing began. But I was feeling really good, hit mile 3, a 9:24, which was more or less perfect.

Stone leveled out and I took the left on 100th, ran to Aurora, and a right turn until I got to a pedestrian overpass at 102nd. On the east side of the road it spirals up; on the other side of the road it’s a few flights of stairs. And then 102nd itself is sort of steep up to Fremont. A right turn, and some gentle climbing to 105th. I didn’t feel like waiting for traffic, so I turned left, and cross when I got the opportunity. That was mile 4, 9:52, which I’m okay with considering the steepnesses.

That put me at Evenston, and a right turn. Straight as a string, a hundred feet of climbing over a mile or so, and just one song on my ipod the entire time (“Pass It” by Papa Knows Funk). Mile 5 was a 9:41. If I can do that on my first leg of Ragnar, I’ll be happy.

A right turn onto 130, cross Aurora on the pedestrian bridge, feeling just fine. Left on Stone. Right on 131st. Left on Ashworth. A right turn to cut through the highschool and emerge on 133rd. Mile 6 was a 9:10, and when I hot exactly one hour, I stopped. Total distance: 6.3.

And now, the part of run-training I am best at: tapering.

A 10 Mile Run

I need to get more creative with these titles. Then again, with this one, I don’t want to bury the lead.

Set the alarm for 2:45 AM but woke up at 2:42. A cup of iced coffee, running clothes, a visit to the restroom, and I’m on the road by 3:07. Goal: 10 miles. Running in the middle of the night to practice for Ragnar in 2 weeks, and because the wife is working this holiday, and I want to be back, showered, and napped before the nanny arrives. I don’t know if “napped” is word… well now it is, I guess.

I’ve got my phone with me, Runkeeper is going, and an app that reports my location to a website in case the wife wants to know where I am. I have a headlamp on and a buttlamp as well. New shorts, new tank top, and new socks from a Going Out of Business sale the day before at Sports Authority.

A little bit of Roosevelt, a little bit of 3rd ave, and then 130th, west, for the next mile. On the headphones: a bunch of songs that are each longer than a mile apiece, starting with Tool. There’s something satisfying about getting to the end of a song and knowing you’ve finished another mile or so.

Up an over the pedestrian overpass at Aurora. This time of day there’s no traffic, and I could avoid the stairs, but I use the overpass on principal. In the day-time I see people standing at the crosswalk, waiting for the light instead of taking the overpass. Lazy! And I should never be running so close to exhaustion that a few stairs ruin the rest of the run.

Pace is about 9:45 per mile. Perfect. That leg/foot ache again, and now I’m wondering if it’s because of some bruising on the outside of my foot, keeping me from striking there like I usually do. I exaggerate some pronation and that seems to help a bit.

Right turn on Linden, which is also the Interurban trail, which will be my route for the next 3 miles. Another 9:45; at 145th the Interurban is no longer on a street, but just a trail. A nice drop to 155th, and then the next mile and a half is slightly uphill. A couple of 9:20s. A right turn on 185th street.

The Interurban continues up Midvale but I eschew that to take Ashworth instead. Ashworth is one of my favorite streets to run on. The incline is fast both ways; going north it goes up, but not noticeably. By now Tool is done playing and it’s some long slow surf by Daikaiju and Dick Dale. Mile 5 is a 9:24.

A right at 200th, up a short steep hill, right on Meridian, left on a trail that cuts across to 1st Ave where I hit mile 6. A little slower, but not too bad. 195th street now, heading to a pedestrian overpass that goes across highway 5. On the other side I stop for a pee. I mean it’s pitch dark, so why not.

195th to 10th ave, where I’ll be for another 2 miles. I am feeling really good. There’s aches and pains, but I’ve got the right endorphins along with them. After a climb to 185th street, it’s downhill all the way to 155th, and my pace goes up. At 155th, a right turn, at 8th ave a left, and more downhill to 145th. 9 miles down, one to go.

During the day, 145th back up to 1st is a pain, because of heavy traffic getting on and off highway 5 right there. But at 4 in the morning I’ve got the road to myself. Climbing, though, after 90 minutes of running, is a chore, so this last mile is slow. Also, I realize that if I make the turn at 1st ave I won’t hit 10 miles before I get back home, so I chug up even more, and turn left on Corliss.

Mile 10 happens, and the rest is frosting. Another .2 miles (at 8:39, ha!) and I’m done.

9:29 pace overall. All things considered, I am very pleased. And, according to Strava, I picked up a few medals: 2nd fastest time on “Stairs to 180” and 3rd fastest time on “10 Ave Sprint.” Not too shabby for a chubby dude running before the crack of dawn!

A 3 Mile Run

Yesterday’s run followed (mostly) a 5K route I traced back when we first moved into this house six years or so ago. I say mostly because this time I added a littler spur. Usually I start on 1st and head south; today I trotted down Roosevelt to 3rd, and then 130th back to 1st and then south.

The goal was to run slow, again, and monitor that foot ache. This route has two places to stop and wait for traffic, when I across Aurora, twice. As soon as I started down Roosevelt I realized my error: another convenient stop is after only a quarter mile, crossing 130th itself. A quarter mile and then 30 seconds of standing is not a bad little wake up. Oh well.

On the headphones: The Sound Defects, mellow tunes for a mellow run. I turned left at 1st ave and down towards Corliss. This goes down to 122nd, and past Burke to hit mile 1. My watch said 9:07 at this point, which was too fast. I did have that foot ache, but it wasn’t as bad, maybe since I’d had more movement earlier in the day, maybe because I loosened my shoes a bit.

Continuing on 122nd to Densmore and back up to 125th, which completes the lower half of Haller Lake. And then up to Aurora- up in the sense that it’s a couple blocks of 3% grade and one at 5%. But like I said, there’s the traffic stop at the top. 30 seconds later I was running past Krispy Kreme.

A right turn onto the Interurban trail, another sharp but short uphill section, and then I crossed 130th where the trail is now on Linden Ave. Here’s the end of mile 2, and if we adjust for the Aurora pause, I’m still running below 9:10. So much for my “mellow” music.

Up Linden- climbs to the highest point of the run at about 14st street. I made the right turn onto 143rd, and then another pause at Aurora– but traffic was light, and the pause was all of four seconds.

Across, down, and Roosevelt, a right turn. The three mile mark is just past Ashworth, 9:09 for this mile. But I was feeling perky. El Chupacabra was on my headphones, so I just went with it. Up and down Roosevelt, across 1st, and home.

3.6 miles when all was said and done, which is not a 5k at all, is it. Close enough.

A 4 Mile Run

Went for a run today, starting off heading north on 1st ave. This is not an uncommon road for me; it starts with the most miniscule rise, then drops a bit to 145th, and then a lot to 155th, where I hit the one mile mark. 145th is a bit of a busy road, and depending on time of day and how long my run is going to be, I’ll either stop and wait for the walk signal, or run up 145th a bit until there’s a gap in traffic. Today I did the latter.

Bluetooth bone-conducting headphones playing Emancipator (moody DJ type music), to encourage a slower run. Phone on my arm, using Runkeeper, so I can get those 5-minute updates. These are useful if I’m trying to run “slow” because if I don’t check in I tend to speed up.

Relatively, of course. I realize running 9 minute miles instead of 9:30s is hardly “speeding” up. But if I run too fast, my feet start to slide around in my shoes, and it takes longer for my legs to recover. I need to log some miles for the next 7 days, since Ragnar is in two weeks.

At 155th I made the left turn, to Meridian, and the up to Ashworth. And I do mean “up.” That’s a 7% grade over almost a quarter mile. On a very good day I can trot up it and lose only about 15 seconds per mile. Today was not a very good day. But it wasn’t terrible– I’ve had worse.

At Ashworth I went right, to 160th. Lots of huffing and puffing. By this point my feet were hurting pretty bad, something that’s been happening more lately. I want to blame my shoes–andI will– but it’s also that I am spending WAY too much time sitting in my office these days. Also, I could stand to lose ten or twenty pounds. I’ll rationalize it like this: fighting through the pain is good training for future runs where said fight will yield a more triumphant finish.

Yeah. Sure. Anyway. To the Interurban trail, and south on that. Feet and legs feeling better as I finished mile two. Over those bridges, and then the one-third uphill part back to 145th. This is one of those uphill stretches that isn’t so bad, if you don’t let it get to you and don’t attack it too hard. Summer is here, and with it, the various homeless people who hang out along the stretch. I think there’s some kind of social service nearby. And a McDonald’s. But they’ve every right to sit outside and enjoy the sun, and I’ve never known them to be anything but regular people.

At 145th, a left to Aurora, wait for a gap in traffic, then cross. That’s 3 miles done. Drop down to Roosevelt, and the “last hill” of the run. I don’t know where my head was at this time– thinking about my shoes, maybe– but I didn’t even notice it. Down to Meridian, and up again, but this up part really is one of those rises that never feels like one.

And back at 1st ave, 4 miles done. A beer, a shower, some yogurt. Given the aches and pains in my legs and feet, I’ll give this two stars out of five.