A Case of the Mondays … Or Post-20 Miler Fatigue?

Okay, I can’t necessarily blame the exhaustion I feel right now on running 20 miles.  I had a jam-packed weekend.  Dinner out with friends after working late on Friday, baby shower and family dinner on Saturday, house chores and 20 miles running on Sunday… Not enough sleep, and I am starting to feel the effects.  I am going to be grateful for the next two weeks of “taper”.  Fewer miles to run = more time to sleep! Today my legs are exhibiting some signs of use in the form of that “ugh” stiffness that you feel after sitting for too long, and mild soreness.  No limping or hopping around, just a slow start after a complete stop.  🙂 Okay, yesterday, I did not consume a normal amount of nourishment – I had consumed about 1.5 meals by 2:30pm and then went out to run 20 miles.  Hard to keep the pace when your energy is low.  Overall, I was not consistent.  I was thrown by the heat, and was slow and fast alternately (probably depending on when I hit shady spots!).  I averaged somewhere between a pace of 10:45 – 11 minutes/mile.  Not exactly what I was thinking I would do, but hey, I ran 20 miles in 70 degree heat!  (Yes, that is hot compared to the usual 45-50 degrees of six o’clock in the morning). I was pleased to get to go to dinner tonight and take it easy with a friend at one of my favorite restaurants in Portland – The Sweet Hereafter.  Nice atmosphere (before it gets crowded – this place can get a little noisy on those Thursday/Friday/Saturday nights), tasty food, and great drinks.  And all Vegan (if you’re into that – I just happen to love the Jamaican Bowl.  SO delicious!)

Beautiful long stems and candles…. all about the atmosphere!

It is so refreshing to know that summer is on her way bringing blooms of all kinds – and I will just have to remember to run before the sun takes over the sky and heats up the black, city pavement.

Such a pretty array of flowers.

As I write this I am fighting a losing a battle with my eyelids, so I shall bid you all good night! Happy Running! ~Alaina

The Last Long Run – 20 miles, Done!

My plan for this weekend was to run 20 miles on Saturday and take it easy on Sunday… and, due to baby shower madness, I delayed my run to Sunday (Mother’s Day).  This was my last long training run before the Newport Marathon – I needed to get these miles in no matter what, and I was not sure when I would be seeing my mother who is in from out-of-state.  So just as I started to worry that I was either going to have to sacrifice the run, or sacrifice seeing Mom, everything fell into place.

I hit the road at about 3:15pm, knowing I would be running for about three and a half hours.  Fortunately for me, my Mom is also a runner, and she was game to meet me for the last 8.5-9 miles and spend some quality time together.  We planned a meeting place, time, and ran into each other on the South Waterfront a little after 5:20pm to complete finish the back-half of the 20 miles together.

On normal run days, I run in the morning, and today was bright and sunny – and warm!  I have not run in such warm weather in about a year, and I noticed a marked difference in how my body reacted.  I was thirsty every half mile, sweating after only a half mile, had sausage fingers starting around three miles, and overall just felt a little hot, especially when there was no shade to help me out!  Obviously, it was a beautiful day!!!

I am so lucky to have such a wonderful person to spend time with running (and incredibly grateful for the genetics she has passed on to me!).  Supportive, realistic, fun, strong, encouraging, and everything that Moms are supposed to be.  We finished the evening with a great dinner at Dick’s Kitchen.  … and dessert, Yum!!!

Thank you, Mom, for spending your evening with me.  I really enjoyed our time together.

until tomorrow… Happy Running, and Happy Mother’s Day to all you Moms, Aunts, Grandmas and Great-Grandmas!!!
~Alaina

Fair Weather Runner No More! … Or Not

On Tuesday last week, after my first weekday run, I decided I had finally succeeded as a runner: I no longer shy away from running in uncomfortable weather!   Tuesday morning was cold and wet … very wet.  I felt proud of myself for getting out, completing five miles in heavy rain, and rather enjoying myself.

Puddle jumping with the Geese!

I was ready to declare to the world: I am no longer a fair weather runner!

… and then I woke up Wednesday morning to a sunrise blackened by heavy cloud-cover and the sound of hail hitting my windows…  And the only thought going through my mind was: “I can run at work today”.
On the treadmill.

Immediately I was upset with myself.  It felt like I was cheating!  And that was not the end of it… when I decided to do my run – on the treadmill – the sun broke through the black sky and taunted me as I looked out the window from my stationary running machine.  I nearly got off the track and got outside, but the threat of hail and heavy rain kept me sequestered indoors.

I run in the rain all the time!  It seems rather silly (or dare I say, shameful!) that I would avoid the outdoors simply due to the threat of inclement weather.

Do you find yourself avoiding your outdoor workouts when the conditions are less than favorable?  

Fortunately, this week the weather has turned and given a nod to Summer… into the eighties, beyond my wildest imaginations for end-of-April in Oregon.  Unbelievable.  I ran at sunrise without a hat for the first time this week, and in a t-shirt this morning!  (I like to stay warm, generally that means long sleeves, hat and gloves in the wee hours of sun-rising).

And it has been so Beautiful!

I am loving the early sunrise, heavy foot traffic on the waterfront, and reflections in the river I have come to know so well in the last six months.

This weekend, we return to rain, and I resolve to get out and run!

Happy running!
~Alaina

Snow Day on Repeat; More Snow, More Miles

Last night, as I went to bed, I decided to let myself sleep in as long as my body would let me, regardless of the fact that Saturday is traditionally the group long run day.  Of course, I woke up promptly at 7am and decided at twenty after I would throw my clothes on and run out the door to meet my friends on foot at 8am… two miles away, for an eight mile run.  In the snow.

Fortunately, I made it on time, and I am so happy I got out of bed to meet them – It had snowed again overnight, there was hardly any traffic, and it was gorgeous.

The Hawthorne Bridge
Hidden track of Duniway.
Up the hill on Terwilliger.
View from the hill.

City view from the top deck of the Steel.
On the Eastbank.

Toward the end of our run, it really started snowing heavily.  I had a wonderful time walking home through all the white flakes of fluff.

We were lucky to have one more day of glorious snow; we are currently experiencing freezing rain, and it seems the conditions tomorrow will be best suited for staying indoors.

What are your favorite snow-day adventures?

Be safe and stay warm, everyone!

with joy,
~Alaina

A Snow Day Run

Over the past few days it has snowed.  It snowed a little on Monday and again on Tuesday, and while it looked pretty floating in large white balls of fluff, the air was warm enough that it all melted away moments after it hit the ground.  Then, on Thursday, after a very cold, dry Wednesday, the weather reports were all over the board, as is usual when there is a potential for “winter weather” in Portland.

And then… at about ten in the morning… tiny, white flakes began falling from the sky.
The snow did not necessarily stick, but was blown around by incredible gusts of wind. 

When I decided to leave work at twelve thirty in the early afternoon, snow was piling up, the wind was crazy, and the temperature was around 20 degrees (with a ‘feels like’ six degrees!).  Needless to say, in a location where drivers are inexperienced with the white stuff falling from the sky, a half hour commute turned into nearly three hours, much of that spent waiting for a bus in ‘blizzard’ conditions.  I rewarded myself with a hot chocolate at one of my favorite coffee shops close to home, and on my walk after the fortifying hot beverage, snow-covered the ground.

Snow was predicted for varying amounts of accumulation, and to my delight – there were measurable inches by the end of the day!  Which of course meant that today I was probably going to skip the commute to the office and work remotely.

And I did – delighted to sit at home at my desk, and gaze out my single-pane window at the snow-covered city.

After a few hours of sitting, staring, and finishing some work, my legs could not sit still any longer, and I had to get out and run!

I layered up (three wool shirts!), headed out the door and quickly learned that running on lightly compacted, powdery snow is very much like running on dry sand.  Challenging and so much fun; I found myself giggling every two minutes as I would slip or slide.  And of course, I took pictures!

It was a beautiful morning…

During this morning’s run, there was no precipitation, in fact the sun starting peeking out from behind some clouds.  At noon, it was snowing again… and it has not stopped!  I am looking forward to walking out into a dreamy, white winter wonderland to get my morning cup o’joe, and plan which direction my feet will take me on the Saturday long run…

Where do you like to run when the weather is … compromising?
How do you stay warm?  I thought about a scarf today to cover my nose, but decided against it as it could have been uncomfortable.

Keep warm, and have fun getting outside!

with joy in running (and the unexpected),
~Alaina

Thursday’s Run; Pre-Turkey Trot

Thanksgiving day, pre-family gathering, in the early afternoon, I decided to head out for my first run to the Esplanade from the Eastside of Portland.  Although it was chilly out, it felt warm with sunshine beaming down from bright, blue skies.  My route was simple, and enchantingly beautiful along the river.  Many couples were out for a stroll around the river, their to-go lattes in one hand while the other was held in their partner’s.  Families and fellow runners with their dogs were also enjoying the afternoon sun.  The day couldn’t have been better.

I hope everyone enjoyed Thanksgiving – with family, with friends, or simply spending quality time alone, enjoying yourself!  I give thanks that I am able to run, alone with my thoughts, in such a beautiful city.  I am so grateful for my friends, family, and for all of you reading this, for giving more purpose to my joyful hobbies of running and iPhoneography.

with many thanks,
~ Alaina

Superman and Angels; An Episode of the Morning Run

This summer during marathon training, mid-week was my medium length run; I was headed out the door to get in seven miles before work.  I had been reading Born to Run by Christopher McDougall the night before this run, and read of these runners “kicking up their feet” …  I started thinking about my stride and realized it is primarily a shuffle.  Not much lift in the back, slide forward to the next foot and keep movin’ along.  So, I decided to work on my “kick” just to see what it felt like, and boy… it makes a difference!  I found that I have more spring, when the leg goes back, there’s more momentum for it to swing forward, and I think that overall it increased my pace, or at least increased my turn-over.

I was about half a mile into my seven mile run in the city, and while passing a restaurant, decided to check my form in the window, and … Bam!  I found myself sliding down the sidewalk, six feet from where my right toe hit one of the infamous pieces of sidewalk lifted by a root of a beautiful Portland tree.  I was practicing my Superman, and once again learned that it is true, I do not have hidden wings, and I cannot fly.  Unfortunately, I found myself in a similar situation splayed out on the sidewalk only a few short months ago, and the memory of that injury had not totally faded.  On that occasion, I was laid up with a swollen knee-cap for a week, icing every night, and was not able to return to my regular running schedule for over a month.

I cautiously tested out my limbs, slowly stood up, and recalled that unlike my previous encounter with pavement, there was no loud “crack!” when I landed this time, as I had magically fallen on a downhill slope which somehow let me catch most of my weight with my arms, and slide on my side a little rather than hitting my knee directly. The only noise I heard was the “ssssssshhhhhhh” of my shoes catching on the cement as they slid down the sidewalk.  I took that as a good sign.  I was determined to finish the run I had just begun, so after a couple careful steps, I gingerly tested out a jog, found my legs to be fine (except the quarter-sized raspberry on my left knee), so I continued on toward my daily hill climb.

As I was nearing the turn off to head up the hill, I found myself pacing with a woman who was running in the middle of the street.  I gauged her to be in her fifties or early sixties, and she was keeping an outstanding clip. I decided to let her know I appreciated her pace and hollered “You’ve got a great pace going!”  She looked over, and immediately grinned – “Well thank you!  That’s quite a compliment for someone of my age!”  We got to talking, and it turns out she is from Texas, used to flat terrain, has been running every day for many years, and has recently started working out with a trainer to build muscle to keep her bones strong.  She was peppy, friendly, and just the person I needed to run into that morning after another fall to keep my spirits bright.  And what an inspiration!

We chatted, introduced ourselves, and went our separate ways mid-hill, I was turning around, and she was continuing on up to the top.  Pleasant, happy, and genuinely joyful was this woman from Texas.  Any morning I want to meet the day with some cheer, I know where to run to meet up with this lovely lady.

I may have discovered I was not Superman, but that Wednesday morning, I met an Angel.

The people in the world that bring us joy make life that much more wonderful, and help us appreciate being on this planet.  Shine your joy, and help others find their light.

With joy in running, and in all things…
~Alaina

How I Met Olympic Runners (attending the G.O. H.A.R.D. Group Run)

Yesterday, a friend and I were able to attend a group run event at our local Fit Right Northwest store.  The activity was for G.O. H.A.R.D. (Globally Organized Hug A Runner Day) Organized by Adam Goucher and Tim Catalano (check out Run the Edge for more details and to learn more about these guys).

On the Facebook event page, it states:
“Every runner deserves a hug.  A real hug.  The kind of hug that says, ‘Even if I don’t understand why you do it, I appreciate and recognize your effort.’ ”  

While I did not realize until a couple of days before the run that there would be literal hugging and bead exchanging (and I needed to register), I knew I wanted to go to this event.  I replied to the Facebook invite very shortly after the event was created because I saw that Kara Goucher would be there, and  I immediately invited my good friend who sets out each run with the hope of running into Kara.  (Now was our chance!!)

So we went.  And with close to 200 runners in attendance, it was awesome!

Proper hugging technique demonstrations
Meeting Kara Goucher!
Meeting Adam Goucher!
The store packed with runners (and huggers)

It was quite the evening.  Besides meeting Kara and Adam Goucher (American Olympians), we saw KGW NewsChannel 8 celebrity, Brenda Braxton, out for the evening to enjoy the community run.  I even had the pleasure of exchanging a bead with her (and a hug!).

The evening was a success, and a blast.  I look forward to next year’s G.O. H.A.R.D event, and hope that even more of the community (come on out!) will join to celebrate and support each other in this habit in which we all find so much joy, the pursuit of running.

with joy,
~Alaina

Saturday’s Run: Sellwood to Springwater

Saturday’s long run was happily, for my lately less often used legs, slightly on the shorter side at 8 miles.  Mostly flat (with a nice bit of a hill at the beginning and end), we ran out of the neighborhood in Sellwood onto the Springwater Trail, traveling the opposite direction of our usual Springwater run that starts at OMSI.

The day was chilly, damp, and cloudy, yet it did not rain except to sprinkle mid-run as a cool off.  This run is one of our favorites: post-run, we go to the Portland Juice Press, grab some delicious, fresh juices, hydrate, and munch on home-made snacks before splitting up and going home.  I got my favorite juice, “the OM” (hazelnut milk, date, vanilla bean, sea salt), and “the GURU” (apple, beet, carrot).  Totally recommend this place if you haven’t tried them, yet!

This was the perfect re-initiation into regular running.  Just what I needed.

Getting back in the game, on new territory.

And it’s on.

Kicking off the commitments, I will run my second marathon in May: the Newport Marathon.
Officially registered tonight!

When is your next race?

First Run in the New ‘Hood

My legs were itching. The last adventure outside with my running shoes on my feet was on Saturday, and I was dying to get outside again.  Today, I had great intentions, taking my clothes to work, with the plan that I would go out for a 3-5 mile run around noon.  As it often does, life got in the way.  Circumstances at work prevented me from taking the time for myself.  I found myself glancing at the clock after three o’clock and wondering where the day had gone.

Still determined, I changed as quickly as I could and headed out my door with running shoes on and no specific desire to follow a route. As it was after dark, I chose to put on my reflective vest and headlamp and head out down busy streets where the streets were bathed in lamp-light, and plenty of people were driving by.

With the holidays coming, there are evidently decorations already enhancing many homes around town:

It was a lovely, chilly and clear night.  There was some fog, but otherwise no precipitation.  A great first run in the neighborhood.

Lunar Luster

I am already looking forward to my next opportunity for exploration.

How often do you find and try new routes?  Do you drive to new locations to shake up your routine and escape monotony?

as always, with Joy,
~Alaina