Sunday, November 17, 2013


This morning I ran the Big Sur Half Marathon for the third time (2006, 2008, and 2013). It was my thirteenth half and the '08 race holds my PR. It was pretty much as I remembered it--a beautiful course with only one big hill, the one heading onto Lighthouse Rd, taking us through the village of Pacific Grove. It wasn't as bad a hill as I remembered and I was able to run all the way up it. The temperature was the best yet--50F at the start, with no wind. I ran in short sleeves and running skirt, with arm warmers for the first few miles.

Some girlfriends were also running this race, but I didn't see them before the start. SD dropped me off and I used the portapotty a couple of times and warmed up with some sprints and plyometrics. Then I took off my warm gear, dropped off the sweats bag and lined up in Corral I (for Incredible, I told myself ;-) )Of course, we had to wait for corrals A-H to cross the start. Twenty-two minutes later, I crossed the starting line.

At the expo the day before I had picked up a pace band for a 2:30 finish and spoke to the pace leader. In the corral I saw the 2:30 balloons on a stick. She was pretty far up from where I was but I thought I could catch up when she took the walking break. She had told me she would take a one minute walk every mile, which is what I had been doing on my training runs. I never caught up and the pace band fell off my arm somewhere. But I had my trusty Garmin!

I kept a steady pace and felt good, walking through the water stops but otherwise running. As we were leaving Pacific Grove and heading back to the shore, I saw a man running while using a walker! I said "Good Job" as I passed him and dedicated the next mile to him. "God bless him," I thought, at least he's out there. Well, this man didn't need my sympathy because we kept leapfrogging along the way! I'd pass him on the uphill and he'd pass me when I'd stop for water. At one point he passed and I told some women alongside me about dedicating a mile to him. "Now you can dedicate another one for him," said one of them. I told her he didn't need me dedicating any more miles, that he could dedicate one to me! Later I looked up his bib number; he's 70 years old and finished in 02:49:19. 'Atta boy, Charles!

The course is an out and back with the turnaround being around mile 7, so you can see the runners ahead of you as they head back. I kept an eye out for my friends and saw Sandi around Mile 8. She ran the NYC Marathon two weeks ago and was suffering from Plantar Fasciitis and looked like she was hurting. I dedicated a mile to her; she finished in around 2:22 which is pretty darn fast all things considered. Her twin sister, who also ran New York 2 short weeks ago, finished under 2 hours! These amazing women are only a few years younger than me and started running around 6 years ago. Here's a picture of us at the expo.

Mile 10 is when I started to fatigue. I had developed the attitude that a half-marathon isn't too difficult, but that's because I ran them in the middle of marathon training. This time, my longest training run had been 12 miles and I haven't raced a half marathon in 18 months. I slowed down and did some high-knees and butt kicks, just to kind of stretch while still moving forward. I dedicated that mile to my friend Nancy, who was widowed a year ago. Then just before mile 11 I texted SD so that he would know when to expect me at the finish--he wanted me to alert him so that he could take my picture crossing the finish line. I also stopped and stretched and dedicated Mile 11 to my mother.

I was able to pick up the pace in the last mile and started to pick off the runners in front of me. Somewhere along the way a stranger said, "Come on, we can do this!" We introduced ourselves and she told me her name was Therese. She was on her way to a 30 minute PR and was very happy. We pushed the pace and I stuck to her like glue. My heart rate felt like it was around 1,000,000 bpm and I started groaning. But Therese encouraged me and I continued on. "Where the hell is the finish line?" "Over there--pink house." I got an opening and went for it. "Go, Dori!," I heard Therese yell. I felt bad that she was behind me, because I wanted her to cross before me, since I was only there because of her. Then a rocket named Therese flew by and if I had any breath I would have shouted encouragement. I looked up her results: Therese Marchetti, 50, 02:35:27. My time was 02:42:37, a 12:24 pace overall.

When I crossed the finish line I felt like I would die! Therese called my name and I went and gave her a big hug and thanked her for running me in. She said I helped her, too, and that, my friends, is what running is all about.

Monday, October 07, 2013

Hills, Heat, and Headwinds

My last post mentioned that I ran a 10K, then on the run back (making it a 20K), my foot swelled up like a balloon. The swelling took a while to go down, to the point that I visited the Urgent Care. They took an x-ray and thankfully, nothing was broken. Then the following week I went to the orthopedist and he recommended that I not run for 6 weeks. What! He warned that I might re-injure myself while the foot was healing. I complied, but there went my marathon training.

Since I turned 60 a few months ago, I planned to run the Harvest Marathon in October to commemorate that milestone birthday. My schedule wouldn't allow for a marathon later this year, so I thought I would do a Century ride instead. That's a 100 mile bicycle ride. It's been on my bucket list. But when I checked training schedules, I realized I didn't have the time to train for one, so I signed up for a Metric Century instead, 100K or 62 miles.

My bicycle is an Orbea Diva, a road bike I bought 4 years ago. Lightweight and loaded, it was love at first ride. There are a lot of hills in the North County and I knew my old Sterling mountain bike (which I loved) would not be practical for this locale. I gave it to my friend's college attending daughter when I moved from Minneapolis.

So I signed up for the Templeton Wine and Roses ride, which occurred yesterday. I was supposed to ride with a couple of women friends, but they were unable to ride at the last minute, so I was on my own. It was just as well as I was undertrained, due to travel and other issues. My longest training ride was 24 miles. It should have been 50.

The Metric riders were supposed to leave at 8 but I left at 8:15 to let the weather warm up. It was 47 degrees at the start and I had on arm-warmers and a jacket. At the rest stop at Mile 17 I peeled off the arm warmers. I saw some people I knew there and we chatted. I mentioned that I was under-trained for this ride and someone said with that bike I could do it. I guess it's all about the bike.

After the rest stop the route went through the town of Creston, along Hwy 229. It was freshly paved and flat. A dream! Then it turned into a wooded, curvy, canyon. I stopped at one shady spot and took the sleeves off my jacket, converting it into a vest. I didn't really need the vest but it's a bright color and I wanted to be visible to motorists, although there were only a few. A women came up and stopped as well, also to peel off some layers, and we chatted briefly. Her name was Irene and she invited me to sit with her group at the post-ride barbecue. Here's a somewhat blurry picture of the oak studded highway.

As I continued riding, the road narrowed and winded downhill. I heard a deep honk, which sounded like a truck, and I moved to the side but continued riding. When it passed I saw that it was a fire truck with lights flashing! Oops. I would have stopped had I known it was an emergency vehicle.

It didn't take long to learn where the "fire" was--cyclist down! He was laying in the middle of the road. From what I could learn, his bike slipped and he landed on his shoulder. I'm sure he was in a lot of pain. There was a steep descent and I held my hands on the brake for the entire coast down. I could easily have gone 30 mph if I let gravity have its way but tried to keep it under 20.

At the end of 229, the course led NE on Hwy 58 for eleven miserable miles. It was hot (high 80s); it was hilly; and I was battling a headwind of 18-24 mph! It was also lonely--I never saw another cyclist. I had to dig deep to get through it. I thought about my local bicycle vendor, Scott, who was riding the Furnace Creek 509 that very day. The race starts in the mountains and finishes in the desert. I figured if he could ride over 350 some miles, I could suck it up for my little metric century. But I did wonder what sadistic person came up with that route!

It got a little better when I turned off 58 onto La Panza Road. At least I was out of the wind. There was a turn off earlier, at O'Donovan Rd., which is where the Century riders went. But it would have cut 10 miles off my route so although I desperately wanted to take it, I made myself go past. I was really getting tired by this point (38 miles) but told myself I could rest when I got to the rest stop. It's really what kept me going. I was looking forward to sitting down, taking off my shoes and massaging my burning toes.
Ten miles later, I finally made it to the rest stop just as they were dismantling it. Huh? I didn't think I was the last one on the road. This is like running a marathon: at my first marathon I found myself following the garbage trucks from water station to water station so that I could stay on the route. They pulled out some orange slices and freeze-dried pineapples and filled one water bottle. I should tell you that this course was out in the middle of nowhere, so it's not like I could pull into a mini-market and load up. I still had 14 miles to go but they were out of water so I had to make the one bottle last.

I was so tired of hills! At one point, I stopped in the shade then decided to just walk the rest of the hill. It wasn't even much of a hill--I've passed people on that hill before. But I was spent. Then finally I got to the park; five hours after I started. There was a barbecue, but all I wanted was water. I parked my bike, took off my helmet and shoes, and sat down. My face was encrusted with salt and I felt filthy.

Eventually I got some chicken, pasta salad, and garlic bread. I saw Irene and sat with her for a little while. Her friend Ann was still on the road. Then I saw some other people I knew and sat with them. After a while I just wanted to go home so I got my stuff and headed out. The "Wine and Roses" ride gives a commemorative wine glass to each participant and also a long stemmed rose to all the women cyclists. :-)

There are two things that I credit with getting me to the finish. One is training with Coach Mike, not a real coach but a guy from the Sunday ride group who was kind enough to work with me. He took me out on Tuesday's and Friday's and taught me how to climb. I used to think I had to power up them, but he taught me to spin and when to shift gears. The other thing is the personal training I've been doing twice a week for the past year. And of course, I approached it like a marathoner, which to me means you don't quit and keep moving forward.

Too many of my endurance efforts seem to unnecessarily painful due to undertraining. My hope as a sexagenarian is to finally get smart about training and put in the time before the event. I have a couple of half marathons coming up and I am registered for the L.A. Marathon on March 9. I told SD not to schedule any vacations until after then so that I can dedicate my time to training.

Sunday, July 14, 2013

Run for the Buzz

OMG--I'm 60! That means a new age group. To start things off, I ran a 10K yesterday. It's been a while since I've raced that distance. Truth be told, I haven't even done much running beyond 5 miles until the last two weeks. I've only raced 5ks so far this year, so it was time to set a record for my new AG. The Brian Waterbury Memorial Rock to Pier is a point to point run on the beach, from Morro Bay to neighboring Cayucos. There's also a half marathon, which loops back to Morro Bay. Although two of my friends were running the half, I knew I wasn't in any shape to race that distance. We started out together, but they were soon ahead of me. I thought I was doing pretty well, and although I started to tire, I never stopped for a walking break. I was pretty focused and didn't do much chit-chatting along the way. I looked for people who I thought I could keep pace with, but didn't find any. I also looked for runners that I could pick off. So I was vaguely aware of my fellow runners but focused on finishing. One woman started to pass me and I spend up. As I neared the pier, which was the finish line, I heard someone say, "I'm coming in with you." I don't know who she was talking to, but my thought was, "Oh no, you're not!" I may be slow, but I'm still competitive. Mostly we ran on hard packed sand, but you had to run on soft sand to cross the finish. I was steps behind a woman, and then I realized I could cross before her so went for it. Hey, it means one number lower in the overall place. I got my comeuppance though. The results gave us the exact same time, and put her name in first! My marathon training plan called for me to run 9 miles, which means I had 3 miles to make up. So instead of taking the bus back to the start in Morro Bay, where food awaited, I decided it would be smarter to run the six miles back. I figured I'd jog 3 miles then walk the rest. Except I forgot how much I hate walking--it's so slow! I also forgot that I had run hard the first 6 miles and that maybe I should take that into consideration. It occurred to me about two miles out, but by then I didn't want to turn around. I tell you, that was the longest 6 miles I've run in awhile. I doubt that I even ran 3 miles. I was sore and tired, after having only 5 hours of sleep the night before. And I was alone. Although there were plenty of runners and walkers who were heading towards the pier, no one seemed to be running back to the rock at Morro Bay. It was brutal. Kind of like the last 10 miles of a marathon. I had re-filled my water bottles prior to turning back, which helped me wash down the 2 GUs I took. Yes, 2 gels in 6 miles. They didn't help much, except maybe psychologically. My Garmin watch is set to vibrate so I would force myself to run until I felt the watch buzz. Then I would walk. As long as I was running on the beach, I tried to appreciate where I was. Dogs were playing on the beach, young lovers were kissing passionately, and surfers were riding the waves. The race started at low tide which was good for runners but bad for sand crabs. I avoided one but I'm sure someone else behind me got it. Poor sand crabs were trampled under the hordes of running feet and I saw evidence of that as I ran back to Morro Bay. I saw a few interesting birds. Here's a sandpiper. I love their long beaks, designed for digging deep in the sand for tasty sand crabs.
And here's a pretty white egret. At least, I think that's what it is. I'm not much of a birder.
You don't have to be a birder to know a mile marker. This sign for the half marathoners meant I only had one more mile to go. Hallelujah!
After arriving at the staging area, I was rewarded with scrambled eggs, hash browns, bread and delicious strawberries from nearby Santa Maria. Then I looked up my results--1:13:40, 15th place in my age group. And to add insult to injury, my left foot is swollen and I've got it wrapped. Hopefully with a little TLC I'll be able to keep on my marathon schedule, since my next run isn't until Tuesday. I'll keep you posted.

Friday, July 05, 2013

End of a Decade

Tomorrow I turn 60. Right now I'm not too excited about that, but I'll get over it. Birthday's haven't bothered me since I turned 30, but 60 is hitting me hard. Oh, well. I started running 10 years ago, so that I could run a marathon to celebrate turning 50. I never anticipated where that would take me. Of course I have to run a marathon as a 60 year old! I once saw a woman at the Twin Cities Marathon who was in the 75-79 age group. What a pair of legs she had. She is my inspiration for continuing to run marathons. Her name is Joy and she's from Los Gatos. There was a mention about her in Runners World last fall. I've decided to run the Paso Robles Marathon, which is at the end of October. Now I just need to register, ha, ha. I started training this week. My girlfriends are running New York, which is the week after Paso, so we'll be training together. We have a three day a week plan, with cross training on three other days. The race is in 17 weeks. The highest mileage is 33 miles per week, which is low, but I'm hoping with the strength training and cycling I'll be fine. Yesterday I ran a 5K, finishing in 33:18 (Garmin time). I wasn't too thrilled with that finish, but looking back at 2005 and 2006 5Ks, I'm about 3 minutes faster. Of course, I would prefer to be running sub-30 minutes. But this was my last race in this age group. (Did I mention I'm turning 60 tomorrow?) While cleaning up the other day, I found an old receipt and realized I've been doing Personal Training for a year now. I did it to make me a better runner, but my mileage has been so low that it didn't seem to have much of an impact. Hopefully I'll see the payoff during my marathon training. Tomorrow is my first long run--8 miles. We're heading out at 6 a.m. I'm having a birthday party tomorrow night, so I'm going to have to take a nap in order to stay awake past 8 p.m.! Have a great weekend, everybody!

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Plan your Run; Run your Plan

So I got a nudge from Peter the other day, asking me to return to the blogging world. I've wanted to, but just kept procrastinating. Actually, I talk to you all the time, just in my head. It's hard to get feedback that way. :-) So last year was the first year since I started running, that I didn't run a marathon. Injuries and time interfered with my training. I plan to run a marathon this year, just not sure which one. My friends are running New York and want me to try to get in. I don't have much hope of that happening, but I'll throw my hat in. However, there's a new marathon coming to Ventura in September and I'm thinking of that one. That's if I don't get in to New York. Yes, I'm still running, though my weekly mileage is less than a single long run. I'm working on fixing that. The past two Saturdays I've run 8 miles. I'm kind of wiped out by mile 6, but I finish. In addition to running 3 days a week, I go to personal twice a week. I'll call him Creeper, not because he's creepy but because his workouts seem easy but soreness "creeps in" for a couple of days afterwards. Once a week I take a spin class for an aerobic challenge and once a week I go out for an easy group ride. My racing has mostly been 5Ks and 10Ks. I ran a Valentine's 5K at Cal Poly and came in 3rd for my AG. Not bad, since it was 50-59. There were 10 runners in that category. That's been my only race this year, but last October I ran a 5K at the Paso Robles Marathon and won my age group! That's the nice thing about small-town races; you get to taste success even if you're not exceptional. :-) SD and I had a heavy travel schedule, which is why I didn't run any of the races I normally do. We're going on a cruise and when I return I intend to buckle down and race. I'm signed up for the Big Sur Half in November and am looking forward to others races up to then. And of course, I'll work on increasing my distance so that I can start training for another marathon.

In Solidarity

It's been a while since I've posted but I'm horrified by what happened at the Boston Marathon this morning. Bomb blasts at a road race? That's just crazy. Three deaths, with 144 injuries, so far. Still don't know why. I'm surprised and touched by the friends and acquaintances who were concerned for my safety, thinking I may have been there. I'm too slow to qualify for Boston. I never expect to qualify for Boston. But many people are wearing a race shirt tomorrow to show their support for the runners, volunteers, spectators, and first responders. I will be, too. Because I'm a marathoner. I'm a runner.

Saturday, April 07, 2012

A Run in the Park

Hola from Madrid! Una ciudad muy bonito!

SD and I arrived on Tuesday night. After the flight from L.A. on Monday was delayed by 2 hours (!), we rebooked another flight, which left 2.5 hours after our originally scheduled flight. A long trip to Paris, where we were taking a connecting flight to Madrid. We exited customs only to find our connecting flight from Paris to Madrid was cancelled. Madre Dios! They booked us on the next one, then we took a bus from the airport to the main train station. Then we walked to the flat that we are renting for the week (good thing I packed light), finally checking in with our patient landlord at around 10 p.m. on Tuesday.  I lost a day and a half, for a trip that was only supposed to take nine hours!

By the way, Eliza, the rain in Spain does not stay mainly in the plain. It followed us around Madrid, consequently, we got to see three really great museums. This was our first time to Madrid, and we explored on Wednesday, after getting our lazy bones out of bed at around noon. The Prado museum is everything you've heard it was--amazing! We went there on Thursday, then to a contemporary art museum on Friday the highlight of which was Picasso's Guernica, which moved me to tears. Saturday we went to another museum, a private collection which included little-known works by famous artists, such as Salvador Dali before he started melting clocks and Georgia O'Keefe before she began painting the floral equivolent of pole dancers.

Since the weather was cold and wet, and I was jet-lagged, today was the first day I actually went for a run. Running is a great way to see a city, but I prefer parks because then I can avoid cars. Europe has some beautiful parks and Madrid's Retiro is no exception. Lucky for me it was close to our apartment and I got a nice 6 miles in, without even getting lost. At first I ran around the perimeter, just to get my bearings, then I started taking paths that looked interesting, stopping occasionally for a picture to share with you. The Retiro has monuments everywhere, water fountains and lakes, and lovely old buildings. I even took a delightful path that turned into a spiral as it climbed; at the top were three Cypress trees and a view of the park.

We're off tomorrow for more culinary delights in the Rioja region, spending three nights out in the country, where I hope to get a few more runs in among the vineyards. I'll post more if I have an internet connection. Adios for now.

Monday, March 26, 2012

Blow and Go

Minneapolis is a city of runners, and when I lived there it seemed like there was one a month. Because of that, I got to participate in a lot of races. There aren't as many here in the north county, although that's starting to change. Yesterday I ran the Wine Country 5K and remembered how much I enjoy the short races.

Wine Country also produces a half-marathon, which I've run a couple of times. I intended to run the half this year, but my piriformis was still sore and I didn't think I could manage the distance. So I signed up for the 5K with some friends, two of whom also ran the New Orleans Half marathon with me a couple of weeks ago.

With 5Ks, the distance isn't the challenge and having been in half-marathon training, it was almost a piece of cake. Almost. You run faster in a 5K, of course, hence the title for this post. A running friend describes 5K races as, "blow and go" cuz you're out of breath most of the way. That was certainly the case with me--I ran so hard I thought my heart would jump out of my body. My maximum heart rate was 192; talk about anaerobic.

Rain threatened and I wore a rain jacket just in case. At the last minute, I decided to ditch the jacket and I'm so glad I did. I wore my short-sleeved New Orleans race shirt with arm sleeves and tights. Also gloves and headband. After about a mile, I pulled the sleeves down, stashed the gloves in my waistband and wore the headband around my neck. That look really makes for some cute pictures, let me tell ya.

After mile 2, we ran through the vineyard on a dirt road. Since it rained the night before, the ground was firm but cushiony and made a nice surface to run on. We climbed a hill and I wheezed like a charging rhino. A woman caught up to me and gave me encouragement as she passed me on the uphill. I passed her on the downhill, then we ran in together.

As I crossed the finish line, I was spent. My friends had beat me in and cheered me on. A volunteer removed my race chip and I went to grab some grub with the girls. Egg burritos never tasted so good.

One of the nice things about this race is that it has a small field. I say that because I got 3rd place in my age group (55-59)! There were 10 of us in that category and my finish time was 32:05, a 10:20 pace. My friend SS is 55 and won our AG in 28:14 and my other friend Blossom won hers (60-64) in 30:51. The other woman in our group PRd with a 30:57, but was 5th in her AG.

We were given a tile coaster with our respective places written on it, which is what I'm holding in the above picture. A nice souvenir of a fun race.

Sunday, March 25, 2012

NOLA Half Marathon

This will be a short report, but I wanted to let you know that I ran the New Orleans Half Marathon a few weeks ago. My running friends wanted to do it and since SD and I had always wanted to visit N'awlins, we decided to go.

We had so much fun in New Orleans, that the race was almost an afterthought. But not quite. :-) I had actually signed up for the marathon, but never got the training in. I barely had enough training for the half. I don't know why--December parties, traveling, injuries. It all adds up.

The expo was small, but fun. I went on Friday to get my stuff and wandered around while it was uncrowded, but went back on Saturday with my friends. So glad I did, because running legend Frank Shorter was speaking. You know me, I couldn't pass up an opportunity to get my picture taken with him!

My friends didn't want to go to the start until 7:30 (we stayed near the start), but the race started at 7. I was concerned the bag check would be closed, so I went on ahead of them. Not that I'd run with them, anyhow, since they're all faster than me. The race field was 22,000 for both races and I was in a back corral, so I actually had time for one last stop in the portapotty (no lines!) before we started moving. I'm glad I did, because they I didn't lose any race time stopping for a toilet.

We ran through the Garden District (see photo above), which was beautiful but I hardly noticed it. I was focusing on my running. Then we ran along the Mississippi River and turned up Esplanade to City Park, which is where the race ended. Esplanade was new to me, and I enjoyed looking at the houses. City Park is an incredible park--it even has a track! Here's a picture of a typical Treme house.

My finish time was better than I expected, but not a PR. I had been nursing a sore piriformis, which cut into my training. No matter; I had fun and have a unique medal to show for it. Two of the girls went back to the hotel, but three of us waited for SJ to come in. She's a new runner--fast--but she did one too many races and had to walk this race. She really wanted that medal! Since this is a Rock n Roll race, there was a concert and we enjoyed the post race concert. The only drawback was we had to wait in line to board a shuttle bus to get back to the start.

That night we all celebrated with a dinner at Emeril's. Here's a picture of all of us, including the mother and mother in law of one of my younger running partners (the tall beauty in the back). They are the women on either end and they walked the half. They are both in their mid-late 60s and are slow but I'm proud of them for participating. Our medals have a multi-colored beaded necklace and the medallion has a fleur-de-lis on it.

I'm glad I ran this race, but I don't have to do it again. I hope to go back to New Orleans someday, though. I absolutely loved that town, especially the French Quarter. If you've never been to New Orleans, I highly recommend you visit it--even if you have to run a race to do it.  


I didn't get lost in Paris, even though that was the last time I posted anything. We continued our vacation and I ran through some lovely towns in the Alsace region and also in Belgium. It was a fabulous vacation!

Since April I've been running and racing and recently completed my 8th marathon -- Portland, Oregon. One of my running friends read about the Portland Marathon in Runner's World and said, "It's well-organized and flat. Let's do the half." I was game but told her if I'm going to go to Portland, I'm doing the full.

I trained all summer and increased my total weekly mileage to 40-50 during peak time. I had a small setback (dog bite in the leg), which kept me from doing more than one 20 miler, but I still felt strong and confident.

SD and I flew into Portland on the Tuesday prior to the race. It turns out we know quite a few people in Oregon, so we rented a car and drove down to Eugene to see a friend of mine whom I've known since high school. We had a great visit and she asked me what I wanted to see in Eugene. I sheepishly said I wanted to see Hayward Field, even though I sounded like a running geek. She didn't mind and the three of us drove over there.

The track is open to the public during certain hours, but not when we got there. It didn't matter, because I wasn't planning to run, but once I got there I wished that I could run a few laps just to say that I did. What a gorgeous track! I'm used to the local high school track, but this one was in prime condition. I felt a rush of emotion as I remembered watching the Women's Olympic Trials on TV. That was when high-schooler Jordan Hasay ran and the crowd chanted, "Come to Oregon." And she did!

My friend asked if I wanted to go to Pre's Rock. This girl knows me! I did want to go, but I didn't want to ask. I wasn't a runner back in Pre's day, but of course I know of him and had read about his memorial in--where else--Runner's World. We were able to find it without too much difficulty.

We headed to Corvallis to visit some other friends who moved there a year ago. Had a nice reunion and then drove up to Portland, via the Willamette Valley Wine Country. SD is fond of Oregon pinots, so we stopped at a few wineries.

We arrived in Portland, smack in the middle of Occupy Portland. There was some concern they would disrupt the marathon, but it was all good. SD got us a great hotel room in Downtown and close to the start and finish. We had a great time visiting with friends who live in Portland and exploring the city.

There's not much to report about the race. I was running strong for about the first 15 miles, around a 12:30 pace. Years ago I read a race report from Naomi (No Ames) about her Portland Marathon. I thought about her as I ran, especially through the industrial area. I've lost touch with her after she moved to Africa. We spent a long time in the industrial area, but I barely noticed the surroundings. I felt good and felt I could maintain that pace, which would have been a 5:30 finish. I was wrong. About the time I got to the bridge, around mile 15, I hit the wall and from then on I was mostly walking.

There went my hopes for a marathon PR. I finished in about 6:37, which is my second worst finish time. The worst was Grandma's, but at least there I could blame the heat. But hey, I finished and got some cool swag, including a finisher's shirt, a participants shirt, a medallion, and a way cool medal. This was the 40th anniversary and they went all out. I'll try to figure out what I'm doing wrong, training wise, and look forward to my next marathon.

Saturday, April 30, 2011

Free Woman in Paris

Bonjour from the City of Light! SD and I are in France for our European vacation. We arrived in Paris on Tuesday morning and were able to check into our room at 10:30. Such a blessing when you've been traveling for 19 hours. First order of business--a bath! Then we explored for a little while until we could no longer keep our eyes open and returned to our room for a long nap. 

Somewhat refreshed, we headed to L'epi Dupin,l our favorite Paris restaurant where we had a 21:00 reservation. The food was as good as ever and we waddled happily to our hotel.

We were staying near the Arc d' Triumphe and had a weeklong metro pass so getting around was easy. The next morning (Wednesday) I got up around 6:30 to go for a run. I remembered to pack everything but a sports bra--Mon Dieu! I had to make do with what I had and made sure to keep my jacket zipped. 

I ran down the Champs Élysées to Georges V then crossed the river and turned right to the Eiffel Tower. There's a small park there and I got passed by other runners as I jogged along. I had run there years ago so it felt familiar. I headed back to the hotel and joined my husband for breakfast. Total run was about 5 miles.

After that, SD had the bright idea to walk up the Champs Élysées to Notre Dame. It was a pleasant walk but then he dragged me to the Isle St. Louis and to who knows where until by the end of the day I had shin splints! And that was before we went to visit the Louvre, which is open until 22:00 on Wednesday. My dogs were barking!

There was no way I was going running on Thursday and we spent the day shopping in the swanky Madeleine district. We had a wonderful lunch under the stained glass dome at Printemps, a department store that carries every designer you've ever heard of. 

There were plenty of chic Parisians and I don't know how they can walk on stone pavers in high heels all day. I was wearing sensible walking shoes(Merrell's) and was in pain. I searched in vain for a pair of canvas skimmers. No matter, I survived and went to a cute little bistro that SD read about in the NY Times. The food was again fabulous and it was a perfect last night in Paris.

Since we weren't leaving till after noon on Friday, I had time for one more run. First, breakfast in the hotel consisting of oatmeal and brioche and, of course, cafe latte. Then I ran along the Seine from the Arc d'Triumphe to Notre Dame, with a short detour through the Tuilleries and around Pei's infamous pyramid. It was wonderful and I felt so free!

On the way back to the hotel it started to rain, so I took the metro from the Place d'Concorde. I had intended to run through the Arc d'Triumphe but it was too confusing so I just ran back to the hotel for a total of 7 miles. 

You can get really get to know a place when you run through it. Maybe someday I'll run the Paris Marathon although I'm not sure my legs can handle the cobblestone streets. Regardless, I have some more wonderful running related memories as I run the world!

Monday, April 11, 2011

Wine Country Half #2

The Wine Country Half Marathon was yesterday in Paso Robles. It was the second time I ran it; the first time was two years ago and I placed 3rd in my AG, running 11:15 mpm. This time, not even close! I did run hard, though, and pulled in 9 out of 11. The top three in my age group all ran under 2:15, including one woman who was two years older than me! My time was 2:36:48; 11:58 minutes per mile overall.

The heavy rains and recent traveling put a dent in my training schedule and I knew I wasn't in my best shape. I did run 12 miles on the course a couple of weeks ago, and that was my longest training run. At least I knew I could do that distance. But how fast could I go?

It was butt-cold in the morning and I had all my cold weather gear on while waiting for the race to start. My friends were also running this race, but they car-pooled and I arrived before them. I ran a little to warm up and then went to the portapotty. This is a pretty small race (665 finishers) so the line was non-existent. I saw my girlfriends on my way to the toilet, but then didn't see them when I got out. I headed over to the gear drop and reluctantly took off my warm clothes. I kept the jacket on though, even though I was wearing arm warmers with my ss shirt. Of course, half-way through I had to wrap it around my waist. Sigh.

One more stop at the portalet and I headed to the starting line. I still didn't see my friends, so ran by myself. I figured they were ahead of me, but later learned that they were staying warm in their truck and didn't hear the starting buzzer!

Crossing the starting line, I started my Garmin. I was running at a pretty good clip, but many people were passing me. Turning around, it looked like I was going to be the last one. And I hadn't even gone 1/2 mile yet. What a fast field! But experience had taught me not to go out too fast, so I watched my speed and tried to enjoy the scenery. We passed a pasture and a horse was running around, stirred up by the crowd I guess. That was fun.

Between miles 2 and 3, the Huer Huero Creek crosses Buena Vista Rd. Normally there isn't any water in it, but lately the road had been closed because the creek flooded it. Race directors were worried that they'd have to change the route, but it was bone dry by Sunday.

Remembering the San Francisco Half last July, I looked for a runner to keep pace with. I found a young woman and we ran along together for a few miles. I never got her name, but she was from Santa Monica. Being familiar with the route, I gave her a few pointers. I warned her about Airport Rd. which is downright hazardous because it's so torn up. In fact, I got a twinge in my left knee running there and I was afraid I was done, but I was able to work through it. Whew!

There was a water stop at J. Lohr Winery, but no portapotty. Dang! I had passed up the first one because the line was too long, but an hour into the run I wasn't sure how much longer I could hold it. There weren't any bushes where a girl could discreetly relieve herself. Turning onto Wellsona Rd. a half mile later, I saw two portapotties. There was a short line and I debated about passing it up. I opted for comfort rather than speed and stayed. The line moved pretty fast, but still, I lost a few minutes. That was just before mile 7, so imagine my chagrin when I saw a lone portapotty just before mile 10 with no one using it.

Wellsona has some rolling hills and horse farms and then turns into River Rd. On my training runs I headed south on River Rd. but the course first headed north and uphill before looping back and heading south. Grrr. As the southbound runners passed me, I looked for my friends but didn't see them. I did see an elderly couple who I had talked to at the packet pickup. They were probably in their 70s and had run the Portland Marathon. I was a little daunted to see them ahead of me, but I cheered them on.

As I looped back southbound I finally saw my friends heading northbound. They were running in a pack and taking walking breaks. I try to only walk at the water stations, so that I can consume my drink. Since I was wearing a belt, I was usually able to run past the water stations.

Between miles 9 and 10, I started to get run down. Up until mile 10, I had been running between 11:30 and 12 mpm, but after mile 10 it went over 12. My legs were tired and I was surrounded by walkers. I so wanted to walk too, but I made myself run faster--surprisingly, that relieves the fatigue. I remembered another Dori--the fish from Finding Nemo--and kept repeating, "just keep running; just keep running." As I did I passed several people, including the elderly couple I mentioned earlier.

A friend of mine's sister passed away recently from colon cancer and I dedicated my race to her. As the going got tough, I thought about Nancy and how well she handled her struggle with cancer these last three years. I was wearing a LiveStrong bracelet which reminded me why I run.

After mile 12 the course veers onto private property and up a, "You've got to be f-ing kidding me!" hill. It was short but very steep and I made myself "run" up it, although my pace was over 18 mpm. I was so close to the finish that I didn't want to break form and start walking. At the top I caught my breath and then picked up the pace to the finish line. The announcer called my name and I raised my arms in victory.

I got my medal and a bottle of water, then walked back to cheer my friends in. A friend of ours, the woman who introduced me to everyone when I first moved here, was there and we waited together. Once they were all in, we took pictures and got some egg burritos--post race food. I drank a couple of cups of coffee and it was so good! Here we all are:

North County Sole Sisters

So, another race. It was a good test and shows me areas that I have to work on. My main race is the Portland Marathon on October 9, so that will be the focus from now on. If I do another half, it will only be to see where I'm at fitness-wise. I've got all summer to work on my speed and endurance, in my never-ending quest for a 5-hour marathon!

Photos by T. Howland.

Monday, March 21, 2011

Three Showers

Hurray, spring is here! The hills are lush with all the rain we've had. I got home on Saturday night from my trip to the other wine country and woke up to my beautiful view. It was storming, so I slept in instead of doing my scheduled 45 minutes of drills.

I only ran twice in the week I was gone. Partly because of the heavy rains and partly because we were traveling with another couple. I did run across the GG Bridge as I had posted I would and am so glad that I did. We stayed in Sausalito, so it was interesting to start in the opposite direction than I'm used to. The weather was beautiful, but I couldn't take any pictures because my cell phone battery was dead, even though I thought it had been charging overnight. Sigh.

Back on schedule today, though--I have a half-marathon in three weeks! I woke up, showered, dressed, had breakfast and had SD drop me off on the highway. I ran towards town and met him at the bagel shop after the run. During the run, I saw bluebirds and red-tailed hawks, oaks and vineyards. The shoulder is wide and although there was some traffic, it wasn't horrible. Here's a picture I took a couple of weeks ago. It gives you an idea, even though the sky wasn't as clear today.

The temperature was 42 degrees when I started, but the sun was shining so it felt warm. I even took off my gloves. About two miles into the run, it started to shower. It was somewhat light, so didn't hamper my run any and I quickly dried.

When you're running point to point, there aren't any options, so when the second downpour came, all I could do was keep running. At least the bill of the cap keeps the water off my face, but I got plenty wet. That too passed, and as I neared the bagel shop I still had twenty minutes left in my two-hour workout, so I took a detour and ran up Kiler Canyon, past almond orchards and about twenty turkey vultures roosting in the trees. They kind of disgust me and clearly there was some tasty morsel that I was keeping them from. I was almost afraid they would swarm and attack me, but they were well behaved. Here's a picture of Kiler Canyon, taken a couple of weeks ago.

Tomorrow's workout: 90 minutes of speed training. Not sure it's going to help me in the half, but hopefully it will lead to a PR in Portland. Hmmm, that has a nice alliteration. I think I have a new mantra: PR in Portland!

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Irish Confessional

Happy St. Patrick's Day! I'm in San Francisco with my husband and some friends from Minneapolis and I plan to take them to the Buena Vista bar later for Irish Coffee. Of course, I'll be wearing a bit of green--my Shamrock pin from the old country.

First though (after some sleep!) I plan to run across the Golden Gate bridge. I brought my Human Race t-shirt from a previous year. The Human Race, you may remember, is an 8K St. Patrick's race that I used to run in St. Paul. I used to really enjoy that race and since there aren't any races in SLO to celebrate the holiday, I'll have to make due with past events.

And yes, I'm still running, although not blogging about it these days. There are lots of reasons--Facebook, SDs retirement, too many commitments--but I still like to pretend that I'm a blogger. And I've been saving a joke to share with you on St. Patrick's Day; after all, it's a tradition! Here it is:

An Irishman goes into the confessional box after years of being away from the Church. Along one wall he sees a fully equipped bar with Guinness on tap. On the other wall is a dazzling array of the finest cigars and chocolates.

Then the priest comes in. "Father, forgive me, for 'tis been a very long time since I've been to confession, but I must first admit that the confessional box is much more inviting than it used to be.

"Get out," says the priest. "You're on my side."

May you be fleet of feet, strong of heart, and always find your happy pace. :-)

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Chicago Blues

Temperature at the start: 61F. Temperature when I finished: 82F. Elapsed time from start line to finish: 6:34:17.


Are all marathoners as optimistic as I am? Every time race day approaches, I think, "This time, I'm going to PR." Then the marathon kicks my butt. But I'm not here to whine about the race. Chicago has a great course--you run through some great neighborhoods and the fall colors are gorgeous. And where else can you run among the skyscrapers of Louis Sullivan?

I had a different approach to my training this time. I was working with Coach Brian, and he had me training by heart rate rather than speed. My long runs were supposed to be in the 115 - 135 range and never exceeded four hours, although my final included a one hour fast walk after the 4 hour run. To keep my HR that low, I had to run slow, although I did speed sessions and drills on the track.

That all made me stronger, and I actually ran (or my version of running) the entire way, only walking through the water stations. So that was progress for me. And I made it all the way through without any sore knees or other injuries.

Before the race turned brutal, it was actually fun. My friend, Bunny, came to Chicago in pursuit of a BQ, and we hung out together before the race. The start and finish lines were in Grant Park and, ever the optimist, I lined up with the 5:30 group. Bunny was up ahead with the 4:00 group, her Boston qualifying time. I chatted with a couple of guys from England, who had seeded numbers, meaning they could start before the unwashed masses, but decided to move back because of their injuries.

Although the race started at 7:30, I knew it would be a while before I would start, so I sat on the curb to keep my legs rested. And then we started walking toward the start. Music blared from the loudspeakers: Sweet Home Chicago, Let's Get It Started, Start Me Up. It was fun and then we were off!

I don't know Chicago neighborhoods, so much of this is kind of a blur. We went through downtown, turned and headed down State Street. There's a great marquee there, for the Chicago theatre, and I wanted SD to take my picture with the marquee in the background. That was around mile 2 or 3. I made sure there was a lot of space around me so he wouldn't miss me, but he wasn't there. The Marathon Photo guy was there, but I think my head was turned. Oh, well. I'd figured my husband would be at the mile 12 cheer zone.

At first the crowd was sparse, but it got better in some of the neighborhoods. I high-fived a few spectators, mostly kids. I had written my name on the race bib, so alot of people were calling out, "Go Dori." At one spot there was a group of young guys and, pumping their arms they yelled out, "Dor REE, Dor REE, Dor REE." That was fun. :-)

In one of the neighborhoods, there were four guys on a stage, wearing white pants and white t-shirts that read "ROTC." There had white rifles and were doing rifle drills in unison. At first I thought they were like Chippendale dancers, but then I figured out that I was in the Chicago equivalent of the Castro. They were really good, though.

As I approached a bridge around mile 12, I saw SD siting on the rail. I waved to him and he took my picture, then I blew him a kiss as I went by. It wasn't until I passed him that I thought to worry about how he was going to get down. But of course, he was fine.

I talked to other racers along the way. There was a church group that trained runners for the race and I talked to one of the guys. I think his name was Calvin. It was his 7th marathon, too. That was around Lincoln Park, which was beautiful with the fall foliage.

The temperature got hotter and hotter, and I hydrated often. I was carrying sports drink with me, because I don't like the high-carb drinks they pass out at races. So I was replacing electrolytes and running on the shady side of the street whenever possible. I tried to run tangents, but the Garmin still read more mileage than the mile markers.

When the 5:45 pace group passed, I knew my dreams of a PR were shot. So I just focused on finishing. But when the "end car" came alongside, I kicked it into high gear. I wasn't about to be passed by the sweep bus! I managed to get ahead, then settled back into a plod.

It was reminiscent of Grandma's Marathon, my second marathon, which was stifling hot. Along the way, I'd see sponges on the ground, which had obviously been passed out to the faster runners. I had a small cloth with me, though, and I'd wet it at the water stops and wipe myself down with the cool water. Somewhere I got a cup of ice and put some under my cap and in my sports bra, which helped. I still felt light headed and slightly nauseous, though.

The only other neighborhood I remember was the Spanish neighborhood--I think it was called Pilsen. There was a lot of Latin music playing and one woman had a sign that read, "Si, se puede!" Yes, I can; thanks for the reminder.

As I neared mile 25, the end car tried to pass me again. Dammit! I ran faster, even on the uphill, to make sure I finished within the official 6:30 time. I wasn't going through all that misery to not have it count! I was still 4 minutes off, but I guess they took pity on us, because they included me, and people behind me, in the official results. As I approached the finish line, I was too tired to even look for SD. I just crossed and was happy to be done. He saw me, though, and got my picture.

I didn't want to walk any further than I had to, so I skipped the post-race party. I found my husband and we walked to the hotel. Everything ached, and I showered and tried to nap. I had forgotten about the cold tape I got at the expo--that would have felt really good.

The race broke more than a few hearts. Bunny tripped and fell early in the race and got very banged up. She was going to drop out, but found a woman who was also struggling and they walked/ran together, holding hands across the finish line, with a time around 5:40. AmyBee's hubby ran his first marathon that day, and had his own issues to deal with. I spoke to some racers at the restaurant at dinner that night and they were all bummed about their finish times.

So, a few days have passed. The soreness is gone and I'm thinking about where to run my next marathon. I've completed seven marathons, in six states--maybe I should try for a 50 states rank. I'm ready to go for a run again and work with my coach to get fitter and stronger. SD took a lot of pictures, and I'll post them when I get home.

Saturday, October 09, 2010

My Kind of Town

Greetings from Chicago. It's the night before the marathon and I thought I'd check in. Getting ready to go to bed, just need to double check that I have everything laid out. The hotel where I'm at is across the street from the start, so I have no worries about getting there on time. Race starts at 7:30, so I'm meeting my friend, Bunny, at 6 in the lobby and we'll head over. She's hoping for a BQ tomorrow and I think she can do it. I'm just hoping for a PR--any PR!

The expo was a lot of fun and that took care of Friday. Today I tried to stay off my feet, so SD and I took a boat tour of Chicago. The weather has been incredible, in the 80s, which is too hot for a marathon, but that's the way it is. At least I trained in heat, and there's no humidity.

Chicago is one of my favorite cities and I'm having a great time. Hopefully the marathon will be one of my favorites, too! I'll let you knwo how it goes.