Thursday, December 29, 2011

Make Me Laugh Thursday!

Something big and scary and will be happening this weekend!  I will be running 3 marathons in 3 days. I'll post about my war stories here, but first, I wanted to share some of my favorite videos, the ones that make me laugh with a snort and spit out whatever is in my mouth.  I need some comedic relief before the next running adventure.  Some are just entertaining.  Enjoy! 

Saturday, December 24, 2011

Christmas Wish List for a Runner

It's that time of year when the world falls in love...or, you know, goes all crazy-postal at the mall to buy the hottest new toy or gadget for little Johnny and Sarah for Christmas.  

If you are a runner or have one in your life, don't fret because the lines are not long for the perfect gift.  

In honor of the 12 days of Christmas, here is my list of 12 must-haves for the runner in your life:

Encouragement from Coach Bart

  1. Race entry to a bucket-list marathon, like London, New York, Sau Paulo Brazil, etc.
  2. Garmin or other gadget that can track heart rate, pace, mileage, temperature, maps the run, gives audible encouragement on the run, tells you if there are any dogs, bears other predators nearby, etc.
  3. Unlimited massages for a year (not from you unless you are a sports massage therapist).
  4. An on-call nutritionist.
  5. A running coach (like Bart Yasso, Dan Salazer; not someone you would find at the local track).
  6. $10,000 to spend on running shoes and apparel.
  7. Vroom!
  8. Acquire sponsorship for your runner from a running store.
  9. Personalized signs to display for encouragement during their races (e.g.: "You are a Running Machine, ______________!"
  10. A gift certificate to a Whole Foods store for a year's supply of organic food.
  11. A fast car with their name and image to lead them in their races (even if they're not first).
  12. Fully-loaded RV for race weekends.
  13. Access to a private plane to take them to destination races.

Interior of learjet.  Enough room to bring the family or friends!

Interior of Runner's RV

So maybe these are not the most practical gifts.  That's okay. Most runners would be happy if you set aside a day to listen to their running stories.  Really listen.

What?  Is the list more doable now?

Whatever you get them (or yourself), have a blessed and merry Christmas!  

Sunday, December 18, 2011

Ugly Sweater 5k

Ugly Christmas sweaters are in short supply this year. I searched multiple stores and finally settled on a Bolivian sweater with a pear design and wooden buttons down the front. Not Christmasy, but it was ugly. $2 from Goodwill.

The race started at 9:00 and was within a 30 minute drive from my house.  Unlike the Grinch 10k the day before, I arrived with plenty of time to spare and no one was in line for the portapotty.  Ugly sweaters were in abundance for this small, local race. We voted on the ugliest sweater:

The long blue sweater won the ugly contest

Kathy Ballew and I lined up at the front of the line as the other runners timidly followed.  We started on an open field and soon were on a single/double-wide trail with some roots to run over with caution. I was passed fairly quickly on the field and settled in to a comfortably hard pace.  The trail is wide enough to pass or be passed without difficulty.  The first mile went past the playground and soccer field at Sehmel Park.  From the picture below, we started above the baseballs fields, ran to the left and down around the soccer field, and to the right and back toward the top, doing this loop twice for the 5k.

Here's an overhead view of this newer park in Gig Harbor:
Sehmel Park aerial view

Mile one:  8:03.  I didn't look at my Garmin at all during the race.  Why make myself feel bad?  My eyes blurred the moment I started running and it was hard to focus.  Kathy Ballew stayed in front of me and I tried to keep her in my sights.  Quads were tight from yesterday's run.

Mile two: 8:13.  Hot!  Stupid, heavy sweater.  We got to run up some hills through the woods.  There were some sections with boardwalks and they looked slick but weren't.  My brain kept telling me to put on the brakes and my quads were screaming all the way down hills.  We ran past the start line and the clock was at 13:30.

Mile three:  Wow, last mile!  My races usually last so much longer.  I was so close to catching Kathy in the last half mile but on a big downhill, I couldn't push myself any faster.

Finish line ahead and I finished with an 8:15 average.  My Garmin had us at 3.39 and others also recorded it a little long.  Kathy was second female and I was third.  Apparently the first place woman is a rock star runner and we were told "not to feel bad" that she won.  Nope, not at all.  I wonder what her time was?

No fanfare at this small race.  Kathy and I strolled through another loop for a cool down.  It was nice to run the loop without racing it.  We snuck off the course before the finish line as there were still people running. This was a fun little race for our community.  Hopefully we'll get to do it again and I will start searching for an ugly sweater sooner.

One of the boardwalks through the trails of Sehmel Park


The Grinch 10k

Santa Runs Tacoma Website

"You don't have your number?" Michelle DeNully asked as I stood in the portapotty line, imploring her to rescue me from my impossible situation. It was 8:50ish and the race would start in 10 minutes.  How I get myself in these predicaments is...because I sleep in too long!

I left my house by 7:35 a.m. and figured I'd be parked and to the start line by 8:15.  What really happened was I parked, started walking and realized I wasn't exactly sure where the start line was from where I was.  I've been to the start, but the surrounding area didn't look familiar and I had gotten turned around while searching for a spot.  I walked down toward the water and soon I found the Piercy brothers and ran to catch up with them.  I somehow parked about a mile away from the start. We arrived at the colorful and crowded start area and I made a beeline for the portapotty line.  It was 8:35 and my stomach was flip-flopping.  I had to choose between that and getting my race packet.  Priorities!

The line was taking so long and then an angel appeared in the form of an elderly elf-woman who stated that the there was no line down below for the other toilets.  I jumped out of the line, found the portapotties and quickly discovered she was either playing an evil trick on me or she had not noticed the anxious runners trying to find the end of the line.  Rookie mistake.

Scott Gaines and Michelle DeNully saw me and I pleaded my desperate case with them.  They were indeed angels and got my race packet for me while I waited in line. Michelle helped me get ready and with 2 minutes to spare, I ran to the gear check (I had been wearing a winter coat) and lucky for me, the woman checking things grabbed my bag and said to go, she knew who I was!

I arrived and climbed the metal barrier just in time to hear the National Anthem, completely not warmed up to race. Lori Matthews Moriarity was next to me, a friend and master runner, aka competition. Well, maybe. The holidays have deposited some evidence on my hips.  My muscles were cold and I haven't done any speed work other than racing.  These clues point to an obvious outcome of the race.

The first mile began at Dock Street Landing in Tacoma and headed out along Schuster Parkway. It began with an uphill and followed the same route as the St. Patty's Day Dash 5k. The 10k will do the route two times.  I only remembered the hill at the beginning of the course and the one as we approached the end of the 5k. I apologized to Lori for "implying" that the only hill was the one we could see from the start line.  My mistake.

Mile one:  6:53.  I stayed in front of Lori for one mile.  The air was crisp and the sun was making appearance through the fog. My lungs hurt from the cold and my toes were freezing. Did I mention I was wearing a Santa lingerie top over my running shirt?

Mile two: 7:01  Flat and potentially fast mile.  We run around a cone and head back toward the start and we see the super fast runners coming at us.  Legs feel like they're moving but can't pick up the pace any faster.  Disappointed but realize I need to earn my fast times. And I know I didn't earn it today.  Wearing lingerie makes me smile during this mile.

Mile three:  7:22.  Up the hill and back to the start line.  I don't like this hill.  I see the frontrunners heading back out along with leg two of the relay 10k.

Mile four: 7:17  Lori was within view on the long stretch of road.  Fog surrounded a ship, making for an eerie picture.  I made an effort to keep pace with a guy in front of me.

Mile five:  7:11.  The sun blinded me as I headed back toward the start. Lori was just a pink speck in the distance at this point. I'm still toward the "front" of the runners, sort of.  I made my way through groups of walkers from her to the finish.

Mile six:  7:12.  My quads were on fire for much of the second half of the race, a sure sign I have been lollygagging in my regular training runs.

The clock was heading toward 45 minutes and I finished with an official time of 44:56.  7:15 average. Garmin read 6.3 but it's difficult to rely on Garmin for precise accuracy.   Bob Martin who is down with a foot injury, was at the finish line helping remove race chips. I received a coffee mug for finishing, caught up with some running friends and found out I was first in my age group.  Blue ribbon!

Post-race food, awards, and soon I was headed out to the mall to get some Christmas shopping done.

bib number:2109

overall place:31 out of 283
division place:1 out of 32
gender place:9

Another glamorous race photo

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Drive-by Coaching and Other Stupid Driver Moments

If you've been running on the roads for training, I would bet 3 packets of Gu that you have had drive-by coaching from complete strangers.  You're out for a run minding your own business when you hear, "Pick it up!" by an old man chomping on a burger as he cruises by in his pickup truck.  

Seriously, you know what I'm talking about!  If you don't, run more!

Without further adieu, I present:

Weird comments
Sounds (this may apply more to women)
Coaching "advice" 
Other drive-by incidents that freaked me out 


"What you really need to do is run UP the hill, not down it."  Mile 8 of 22 and I will have LOTS of uphills on my run, but thanks anyway.

"Get those knees up!" Mile 24.  Shut up.

"Run faster!"

"Who's chasing you?"

"Keep going!"

"You're going to ruin your knees!"

"Get off the road!" Really? I have no sidewalk and enough room to run like I'm on a tightwire. Where shall I run?  Meanwhile, you have the lane and no one is coming toward you so you can move over.  It's not that complicated!


Revving of engine as creeper drives by.

Horn honking and woo-hooing.  I don't know about you, but when I'm running on the road and a horn honks from behind me, I'm thinking that I'm about to get hit by a car.

Man hanging out driver's window gawking at me while driving very slowly.  Seriously?  I need a gun.
Man gawking out car window
But he looked like this

Beer bottle thrown at us as car full of young idiots drove by.

Car veering directly toward us showing no signs of getting back in their lane.

Driver turning right out of driveway or street without looking right.  Hello!  I'm running here.  I'm running toward traffic like I'm supposed to.  I could have been a child walking.  Jeff did an over-the-hood somersault/cartwheel on one of our runs when the old woman nearly took him out.  

Car passing another car right next to me.  Hate this!!  They have an entire stretch of road to pass a car and they choose to pass right next to me.  What if I had taken one step to the right?  I'm already on a road without a sidewalk and trying to stay just to the left of the white line.  Stupid hybrids make it so I don't know what's happening until they are right next to me.  

These are just a few comments/incidents over many years of running.  

If you have received coaching advice on the run or other irritating driver moments, share it in the comments.  I'd love to hear I'm not alone in this.   

Sunday, December 4, 2011

Jingle Bell 5k

Now this is my kind of race!  A 2:00 pm start guarantees I can sleep in and take my time choosing my outfit depending on the weather.  And I did all of these things! The air was crisp but there was no rain predicted so I chose to wear shorts, a tank with arm warmers and long red and green socks.  I had a huge jingle bell attached to my shoe but quickly discarded it as I couldn't stand the thud-jingle-thud on my foot.

JB The Elf chilin'
After paralleling parking my SUV (I totally rock at squeezing my monster into parking spaces!), I made my way a couple of blocks down to city hall to pick up my bib.  The 5k race start began in the bustling downtown waterfront area of Port Orchard.  I may be exaggerating a  smidgen by calling it bustling.  Christmas music echoed through the air and JB the Elf was getting his/her groove on with some kids.  The race would start in 90 minutes so I made my way back to my vehicle and pinned my bib before heading out for a warmup run.  First I walked a half mile as I didn't want to run up any hills on my warmup - go ahead, call me a wimp.  I can take it!  Here's the hill I didn't want to run UP (this is just the bottom of it!):
Sidney hell...I mean hill with Bay Street below

Port Orchard City Hall - Start and Finish location
Running with my green/red socks was bothering me so I pushed them down, noting that my toes and fingers were frozen.  After 2 miles I finally dethawed and busted out another one and half miles before returning to my vehicle.  Alright, busting and bustling...both exaggerated words.  I wondered how I would run fast today as my warmup was about a 9:30 pace.

At 1:40, 20 minutes before the start, I bravely took off my coat and made my way to the start area and lined up for a porta-potty.  The wait was making me impatient.  There was one porta-pottty and the park bathrooms.  I knew I could run up to another bathrooom about 1/2 mile away as it might be faster but stood my ground.  At least we had toilet paper. About 1:58, I finally had my turn and then made my way to the starting line.  An elf informed me the race hadn't started yet as I ran past him from the back of the crowd.  

I lined up behind the front line, nervous about being crushed by runners and noted the little children and other people near me who maybe shouldn't be lined up so close to the front.  After some pictures, the countdown for the start began and soon we were sprinting down Bay Street, photographers running for their lives as the crowd was not going to run AROUND them.  

Mile One:  6:24.  We ran along Bay Street the entire course, an out and back.  The first mile is downtown which is along the waterfront.  Downtown Bay Street is home to many small businesses.  After more than half a mile, I finally caught up to Kathy Ballew, the only other woman in front that I could see.  I wasn't sure I was going to be able to catch her and if I did, stay in front of her.  She is a fast runner and fast-pitch coach of our local high school.  We did some speed week together this past year and I never could catch her!  I pulled up even to her and she said, "I knew it was you, Ginger!" and I could barely utter a good job to her.  

I pushed on and quickly realized I was the first woman.  If you have never had this experience, I will tell you from my own viewpoint what I felt:  terrified, elated, scared, paranoid, thrilled, shocked.  The view from the front is awesome and I challenge you to get there at least once.  If you can't be first in a road race then do this:  get your family into a race at your next holiday gathering (make sure they are filled with holiday goodies first) and race them.  Tell them it's a new tradition. You must experience this feeling of being first at least once.

Mile 2:  6:26.  I was still holding first place for women and not that many men are in front of me, either.  We made our way to the turnaround at the Annapolis ferry dock and return toward the start.  I see Kathy Ballew and Becky Santos behind me.  As we head back to the start, the crowds are rushing toward me and thankfully I didn't have to do much dodging of other runners and walkers. I saw some friends along the way and kept hearing that I was first woman.  

Mile 3:  6:30.  Into the home stretch and I was trying to keep up my pace.  I didn't feel like I had slowed but I did a little.  I didn't look behind me but kept assuming the women were clipping my heels so I wouldn't slow.  The course is flat the entire way and the turns are nice and easy except for the turnaround.  I rounded the last corner and saw the finish line and the clock was in the 19's!  I haven't seen that since 2008!  I tuck under the finish line clock at exactly 20 minutes!  

It turned out that the top three women were all master runners.  That means we are all 40 and older. How cool is that!  We stayed for our awards and I headed back home to go back to being a mom.  I realized this is the 4th race I have won, and noted that at each win, my family has not been at the finish line.  My family has never seen me win a race.  I will need to keep trying in hopes they will see it one day.  

 History of Port Orchard in case you are interested.  Why are there so many Sidneys in Port Orchard?  You might find your answer here.

Bay Street

Top 3 women - blurry!  All masters!
Jingle Bell bib and first place medal

Newspaper article and pictures about the race.

Avg Pace

Go THAT way!  Thanks, Ed Santos!
The secret to my speed:  Wings!

Monday, November 28, 2011

Seattle Marathon - #40

6:45 a.m!  The race would start in 1 1/2 hours and I was just leaving my house.  The morning went quickly and the hour I gave myself to get ready wasn't enough time.  I couldn't seem to get everything together and my body wasn't cooperating with the idea of an hour long drive without a bathroom break.  I planned on leaving no later than 6:30.  

I headed out of the house and couldn't find my phone.  Back into my house and searched and then thought to call my cell and finally found it in the car in my purse.  Doh!  

I had a change of dry clothes for after the race but didn't have any alternate race clothes packed which I regretted.  I had chosen an underarmour long sleeve shirt and black capris.  I also had arm warmers on underneath the underarmour.  Predicted rain and wind had me dressing conservatively.  As I drove to the race, the temperature was in the mid-50s, much warmer than I anticipated.  I would normally not wear long sleeves at that temperature.  I also could only find my double-thick layered gloves.

I downed a Clif bar on the drive and quickly started feeling nauseous and anxious to get to Seattle.  My stomach was flipping out!  I decided to take the Qwest field exit and avoid the exits closer to the Seattle Center in case they were backed up.  I searched high and low for street parking near the start but my luck seemed to be missing.  I turned onto 5th and saw the start area up ahead.  A right turn onto Roy brought a welcome sight, empty parking spaces in a small lot.  $5 all day parking and very close to the start.  It was 8:05 and the race started at 8:15!  I had exactly five one dollar bills and it didn't accept credit cards.  I tied my key onto my shoe, grabbed my gloves, Itouch and headphones, bib number and timing chip.  I had NO time to go back for any last minute changes.  Impatiently I folded my dollar bills into the smallest size I could to get them into the little holes and prayed each one would go in as the "key" to push them in was missing.  Finally I got the last one in and I jogged to the nearest porta-potties, which at this point was painful.  

8:09.  Pinned my bib on my shirt while waiting in line and headed to the start after a quick porta-potty turnaround.  My headphones were in a tangled mess and as I tried to get through the maze, I saw that the ear buds were missing.  Oh well, nothing I can do about it.  I also hadn't turned on my Garmin, which is notorious for not locating satellites while I'm moving.  It does locate when I get to the start.  

This officially has not been my best race morning.  I had to climb over a metal barrier and saw the 3:30 pace group to the my left.  I quickly drink a 5 hour energy and take off a fashionable garbage bag that I didn't need.  One minute to go and I decide it's enough time to get my ankle timing chip tied into my shoe laces.  I am shaking as I don't like the idea of being trampled as I'm squatted down to do this last minute preparation.  I finished with about 5 seconds to spare.

Mile 1-2:  Lots of energy in the air.  The start was next to the Experience Music Project at the Seattle Center.  We run under the monorail along 5th Avenue and continue along this road until we head onto the  I-90 express lanes.  Somewhere between mile one and two my Garmin had a glitch and gave me a 6 minute mile.  

Miles 2-4:  We continue along the expressway and head into the tunnel leading to the I-90 floating bridge to Mercer Island.  I am HOT in the tunnel but I don't have a tank on under my long sleeved shirt and my gloves would just annoy me if I stuffed them in my capris.  If I have to, I'll take them off but decide it's easier to keep them on.  I have a headband on but no hat.  With the winds during the race, my hat may have blown away anyway.

Miles 4-6:   We head out of the tunnel, half-marathoners turning right to head to Lake Washington Boulevard while the marathoners continue across the bridge.  I stay just in front of the 3:20 pace group and feel comfortable at that pace.  This is the first time we see the front-runners on the out-and-back across the bridge.  I saw Trisha Steidl near the front for the women and she will go on to win the marathon.  The men's race looked pretty even in the front.  One of the men, well..I'll just show you and you decide (Thanks Takao Suzuki):   

Is this a Body Glide scientific experiment?   He was fast!  This is leaving the tunnel heading to the bridge.
Miles 6-8:  The turnaround at the end of the bridge had an aid station and my stomach finally settled enough for me to take in fluid.  I had felt sick most of the morning after the Clif bar and couldn't eat or drink.  As I ran back across the bridge, I saw a deluge of runners which always gives me a boost of energy.  I stopped to give my friend, Jessica, a hug but mostly went unnoticed by my fellow Marathon Maniacs.  Not wearing my Maniac gear left me feeling lost in the crowd.  I don't think there are any unofficial pictures of me in this race.  The bridge was windy but I didn't feel it affected my pace.  It did push me sideways a couple of times, though.

Miles 8-11:  We headed out along Lake Washington Boulevard, basically flat the entire way.  I kept a consistent pace and was anxious to get to Seward Park.

Miles 11-13.1:  The 3:20 group passed me somewhere in these two miles and I didn't have the zip in my step to keep pace.  I hit the halfway at 1:42.  

Miles 13.1-17:  Maintained a fairly even pace through these miles.  The rain was coming and going with winds picking up and dying down.  Gold leaves were flying off trees in almost a magical way that I didn't appreciate.  

Miles 17-20:  We run under the I-90 bridge and buckle down for the most challenging part of the course.  My pace was slowing and suddenly the sky loomed ominously dark bringing a drenching rainfall in moments.  "Liquid Sunshine" as one spectator Pollyanna'd to the runners.  Anything that WAS dry lost the battle.  A long row of American flags followed pictures of soldiers who died in service to our country.   Here is an opportunity to put life into perspective when you see these pictures.  The 3:30 group has passed me and I later saw that Maniac Terry Sentinella was helping to pace it.  I may have rallied had I known he was there because it's just a little easier to push yourself when you have someone else working with you.

Miles 20-22:  "I hate you, Galer!" a guy shouted as we approached a short but steep hill that leads to a less steep but longer incline. I admit that I did walk about 30 seconds on the less steep hill just to get some of my energy back.  Mile 21 is near the top which leads us toward Interlaken Blvd., a windy, slightly up and down section.  Once Galer and Madison are behind us, I know the biggest hills are gone.  

Miles 22-24:  These miles are sluggish, I'll admit.  I didn't even realize I had slowed so much.  Lost focus can do that.  I love getting to mile 23 and knowing that only a 5k is remaining.  We are treated to a Space Needle sighting and the finish is within view!

Miles 24-25:  Steady pace, distracted by the woman who apparently didn't rinse her compression shorts thoroughly as there are bubbles frothing all along her clothing and running down her legs.  

Mile 25-26.2:  The downhill pounds my legs and I was relieved to get to the bottom of the hill.  I'm passing some people who can't get out of low gear and my stomach growls in hunger as I turn from Republican onto Dexter.  As fast as I felt hungry, I felt nauseous again as a pungent smell of food filled the air.  Left turn onto Mercer and I push my pace up the hill and know the left turn to the stadium is just ahead.  I turn left and shift gears and race to the finish.  I started to pass a guy who, of course, picks his pace up (coincidentally) and I get a little tripped up on his foot while simultaneously pulling my headphones out of my Itouch, which flipped up and cut my lip. 3:34:39!  

Betsy Rogers and Bill Barmore welcomed me in and gave me my medal.  I had been feeling dizzy at various points in the race and really felt it hit me at the finish.   I think the wind may have affected my equilibrium.  After getting my finisher's blanket, I made my way to the recovery area where I had to sit for about 10 minutes before getting up to get some fuel.  A quick (this is relative!) trip through the food and drink, I head out as I was beginning to shiver.  

I'll be getting a pretty piece of plastic in the mail since I finished in the top 10 of my age group!

My 40th marathon is done with not much fanfare but a great day nonetheless.  I'm looking forward to number 41 on December 31st!  I've heard rumors there ma be an opportunity for a triple marathon threat.  Do I dare?

GINGER GRUBER 43 6/105 41 3:34:39  3:35:04 1:42:18 1:52:47 


Avg Pace
52:48.9 (I am a running phenom!)1.002:48.9