Whiter whites and a little training.
Whiter whites and the opportunity to get in a little training run.

flickr photo by Darwin Bell

Laundry night. I’ve got to suck it up and get through it, but it’s such a waste of time. Since we don’t have laundry in the building, I’ve got to haul all our dirties to the closest lavanderia. And once I’ve crammed practically all the clothes we own into one giant washer, I’ve got nothing but time to kill. What to do?

I think you know where I’m going with this. How about a little post-marathon recovery run? Just a shorty. Not too fast. Don’t want to put undue strain on the legs. Sounds like a good idea, no?

While our collection of shirts, socks, and unmentionables went through the soak, wash, and spin cycles, I went on a little 30 minute run through the Mission. I felt pretty good, but I’ll tell you, I think my mind is ahead of my body right now. I might have felt ready to get back out there, but there’s no denying I’m still a bit stiff from Saturday. It was a bit like having the aerobic strength of the beginning of a long run combined with the stiffening legs of the end of one. A little odd, but overall I’m going to deem this effort a success, and I’ll probably put in a couple of miles on Thursday after another day of recovery.

Just please don’t anyone tell the honey, though. She thinks I always take a week off after running a marathon, and this might get her steamed at me. I’ve got to get out there, though, and train up quickly (but intelligently) for the upcoming San Francisco Marathon at the end of July.

Oh, and I haven’t yet told her I’m running that either.


Seattle Rock ‘n’ Roll Marathon Race Report

Thankfully this wasn't the bathroom line.
Thankfully this wasn't the bathroom line.

It’s hard to start writing a report about last Saturday’s Rock ‘n’ Roll Marathon in Seattle without sounding like I’m on the payroll of the Convention and Visitors Bureau. The city is well known for it’s grey and wet Pacific Northwest weather, but this weekend Seattle was primed and ready for us runners offering gorgeous, sunny skies and tourist-crowded streets downtown humming with energy and activity. The city and us runners were ready for a great racing experience and the good people at Elite Racing delivered.

For an inaugural race I thought the Rock ‘n’ Rollers did a superb job organizing the event. From the energetic crew helping out at the expo to the transportation coordinators piling about 25,000 of us into busses everything was well managed and proceeded smoothly. Ample port-a-potties, UPS trucks to accommodate gear check, and long water stations on both sides of the course for right and left-handed runners were just some of the details the race organizers handled well.

The race turned out to be another mostly positive very long learning experience for me punctuated by a couple of “wow!” moments. Based on my predicted finish time I was placed in Corral 2, so I hit the course shortly after the gun went off to send the elite runners on their way. I situated myself with the 3:20 pace group with the intention of drifting back if their pace got to be too much for me to handle. For most of the first half of the race I stayed with the 3:20s propelled partially by the upbeat pacer’s one-man Michael Jackson tribute. Wearing a single white glove to honor the recently departed entertainer he exhorted us to sing along even if we, or more likely he, didn’t know the lyrics to the King of Pop’s songs.

Almost immediately after setting off, it became clear this race was going to have tremendous spectator support. Certainly many of the folks lining the route were friends or relatives of the runners cheering them toward the finish, but as we entered a normally quiet residential area I could tell many of the high-fiving, cowbell shaking spectators were native Seattleites offering full-throated support and encouragement for us tech shirt clad visitors.

And, as if cheering families, motivating cheer squads, and enthusiastic volunteers handing out water weren’t enough to lift my spirits, my first “wow!” moment sure was. Running through Seward Park around mile 6 the course turned to hug the shore of Lake Washington. Truly a beautiful sight with the sun-dappled water gently lapping against the shoreline. For a few moments I forgot about running and thought more about water skiing even as I saw the Lake Washington Bridge which we would cross in about three miles off in the distance.

My mind back on running I kept on to the bridge where those running the half sped off into the city, while the full marathon crowd put in a couple of out and back miles. There under a now very warming sun I saw the 3:20s drift farther out in front of me, and I made my way off the sun-baked bridge and into the cool shade of a tunnel leading downtown. One of the many bands lining the route had set up at the other end of the tunnel, and the echoes of their music boomed down the tunnel toward us runners creating a surreal, slightly disorienting atmosphere.

Moments later I came off the expressway which hugs Safeco Field, turned to head downtown, and experienced my next “wow!” moment. The next few blocks were lined with spectators cheering, clapping, and exhorting us runners on. Briefly amidst the urban scene and the noise of the crowd, even though my pace didn’t warrant it, I felt like an elite runner nearing the finish line. I carried that mental image for another minute as I turned and headed north toward Lake Union and the hillier back portion of the course.

An elite no more I gradually began to slow down as the sun, the long inclines, and the lactic acid building up in my legs began to exact their toll. I found it important during this stretch to keep hydrated and fueled while quieting the voice in my head urging me to take it easy and perhaps stop running. Not quite a wall, but I definitely was feeling a little tired. However, I pressed forward through the remaining miles and the last cruel out and back located tantalizingly close to the finish at Qwest Field. Finally, after 3:30:56 worth of effort I crossed the finish line and accepted my medal.

At the race expo the day before I listened to author/runner John Bingham relate a lesson he had learned from elite runners. “They don’t think about pace,” he said. Instead they believe effort dictates pace, not the other way around. And that maxim held true for me. I had set out to run at a pace which would lead to a 3:20 to 3:25 finish, but the warm conditions of the day dictated my slower effort, and I am very happy with my ultimate finish time and pace. After a couple of recovery days, though, I’m going to get right back on the streets and get ready for the next race and perhaps another visit to Seattle.

Click here for more marathon photos.

Mmmm. Mondrian.

Cubism and calories at the SFMOMA
Cubism and calories at the SFMOMA

As if I needed any more reasons to love living in a city like San Francisco, along comes a story like this one from today’s SF Gate.

Caitlin Williams Freeman, a pastry chef at the Blue Bottle Coffee Bar at the SFMOMA uses works displayed in the museum as inspiration for some of her sweet creations. And, while you have to shell out the museum’s entrance fee just to have the pleasure of purchasing one of her treats, at least you’d have the pleasure of tasting her Mondrian-inspired cake.

Freeman makes one Mondrian cake per day. She bakes a big oblong white cake and smaller yellow, red and blue cakes, and cuts them into long thin shapes. She coats each of the pieces in ganache – a thick, rich covering of cream and dark chocolate – reassembles it all in a long loaf pan, lets it chill overnight, then ganaches the whole thing.

A culinary treat and art appreciation in one ganache covered delight. Just imagine what she could do with some of Jasper John’s paintings.

If you’d rather skip the museum entrance fee, head over to the Ferry Building and pick up something from Miette Patisserie and Confiserie. Freeman may no longer be involved in the day-to-day baking at the shop, but that doesn’t mean their Fresh Lemon Tart is any less delicious.

Rocking, Rolling, and Running

26.2 miles of fun. No really.
When Thursday dawns, I’m heading north to Seattle.

After months of training runs, multiple pairs of running shoes, and lots of GU, I’m ready to take to the streets of Seattle for its inaugural Rock ‘n’ Roll Marathon. Twenty-six miles starting in Tukwila before heading toward downtown , north to Lake Union and then back south to Qwest Field. Passing near the finish line twice (at about miles 13 and 24) before crossing it will be tough. But I know the energy of all the other runners, the enthusiasm of the volunteers and spectators, and, of course, the pulsing music of bands stationed along the route-a Rock ‘n’ Roll trademark-will help me across the finish line.

I’ve been fortunate to have had a great training period which I started shortly after finishing the Napa Valley Marathon in March. As race day approaches I’ve felt stronger and more confident as I run. I believe I’ve even gotten over my sun/heat aversion and have proven to myself I can run well in those conditions. And, perhaps most important, this has been the first time I’ve trained to run a marathon without sustaining any sidelining injury. No IT Band problems, hip issues, or foot ailments. Just weeks of relatively pain-free running, and now I’m ready to experience the all the rolling hills and lovely scenery Seattle has to offer.

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