Monday, July 09, 2007

An Urban Long Run

As with all of this summer, the last 2 weeks have been jam packed. The first thing I did after Yosemite was go for a run on one of my favorite sections of the Pacific Crest Trail and promptly sprained my ankle. Well, actually it wasn’t prompt. Unfortunately I didn’t do it until about 6 miles down the trail, which meant I had to “run” 6 miles back on a sprained ankle. Not so fun. This injury arrives uncomfortably close to an event that I have really been gearing for, the TRT 50M. The same thing happened last year about a month before AR50. Hmm…Stephanie’s doctor says it is no coincidence that injuries happen just before races because we have been training so hard or something like that. Some consolation. Although I can still run on it, I have had to cut back my mileage and I’m pretty disappointed about it. These were supposed to be my last two weeks of “big” training before tapering, and instead they were pretty mediocre. I also still have pain in my ankle and the bottom of my foot. I’m hoping that will disappear with the “extreme taper” I embarked upon starting yesterday. In case you don’t know, an extreme taper simply compacts the normal “step downs” of tapering into a shorter period of zero mileage. Okay, so I just made that up, but we’ll see how it goes. I will be doing mostly resting and yoga for the next 2 weeks. Aside from that triathlon next Sunday.

So, let’s talk about that triathlon. What was I thinking?? I haven’t done any swimming at all. Well, I did one 25 minute swim in Donner Lake last week, which was probably a bad idea because it put the fear of God into me. I think ignorance would have been bliss in this case, since I’m pretty sure 25 minutes of swimming did nothing to improve my chances of finishing well in the swim. As it is, I am hoping not to drown. The swim is 1.5K, which is .9 miles according to the website. There are two waves that start behind me, so if I’m lucky I won’t be dead last getting out of the water. The bike is 40K and the run a long 10K. Honestly, I’m not all that worried about either of those. I know I will at least survive them. But what made me think I could do a triathlon without training for the swim? Ultimately, I suppose it will be good for me. This event is going to require a change in my mindset. I need to decide what my real goal is, because finishing fast is not an option. Perhaps my goal is just getting out there and having fun? It will be my first international distance triathlon, so maybe my goal is just finishing. I guess, with TRT a week after, and a full race schedule planned after that, my biggest goal is to remain uninjured. Well, aside from the ankle thing.

The milkhouse, at "The Farm" where I am staying in Seattle

Currently I am in Seattle for two weeks (one week left) for a writing conference. The Puget Sound Writer’s Project is for teachers who want to work on both their own writing and how they teach writing. I have to say, it’s been incredible! I can’t remember the last time I was in an environment that fostered so much learning in me, and inspired me. I’m actually excited for school to start in the fall!

While in Seattle I have had some time to visit my friend Charlie. You may recall Charlie as my pacer last year at AR50. Charlie wasn’t available for any running or pacing duties this year, due to the birth of her baby girl Rian. However she and Rian did lend their experience to crew for Mike (Charlie’s husband) and me on an 18 mile run through the streets of Seattle on Saturday. It’s been a while since I had a partner for a long run, and it was wonderful. Although much of our route was on pavement, it was a beautiful tour through the city and various parks, and Mike’s company had our 9:00 minute pace feeling like a breeze. I also have to give my plug for Discovery Park in downtown Seattle. I have run in a few urban parks, like Golden Gate Park, Central Park, and even Hyde Park in London. Those are all great for running. They can’t hold a candle to Discovery though as far as placing a wilderness in the middle of an urban setting. When you’re in the canopy of those trees, running on soft beautiful trails, you have no idea that you’re not in the middle of some mountain wilderness. Then suddenly you pop out onto this beach on Puget Sound and you would swear you are closer to Alaska than Seattle. I loved it!

Charlie, Rian and me


  1. Hey Gretchen! great images and your picks are good ones indeed. Looks like I triathlon this weekend! awesome stuff!

    how do you like Truckee? is that close to Tahoe? is it pretty temperate there year round?



  2. hi, gretchen. thanks for swinging by my blog.

    oh no, not an injury. hope this extreme taper will work wonders for you. best of luck in the tri and trt.

  3. I hope your injury heals right quick -- it is no consolation that they are a reward for hard training. Who needs that kind of reward?

    The writing project sounds amazing, and it looks absolutely beautiful. Being in an environment that fosters learning in teachers is a blessing. Oftentimes, the role of teacher as lifelong learner is overlooked.

  4. Ahh, I like the saying "extreme taper". It's like screaming, "I'm taking an EXTREME nap!!!"

    Best wishes on a full recovery. And a swim in Donner Lake? Make sure that your family members are well-fed before tackling that endeavor. I've heard stories...

  5. wow, you're squeezing in a tri in your tapering - WHAT tapering ;-)

    Well, we got 9 days left...should give us time to heal!
    Have fun at the race.

  6. Thanks for the well wishes on the ankle!
    Renee- I totally appreciate your remark about teachers being life ling learners, it's so true!
    Wynn- Truckee is very close to Tahoe, about 15 minutes from the north shore of the lake. Summer is perfect--upper 70's and sunny every day. Winter is great for skiing--it's either dumping snow (30ft. per year average) or sunny. Tough to train through the winter, but many beautiful trails in Auburn are only 60 minutes away. I love it!

  7. Great pics, I'll be out in Seattle in 43 days or so.

    Happy trails,
    Bad Ben

    Check out the July 12 edition of Endurance Planet

  8. Extreme tapering. I like the sound of it.

  9. I'm sure with your "extreme taper" your injury will heal up real quick and you'll be able to get in some short runs to "loosen you up" before your big race. Who knows, maybe the extra rest will do you good?

    How cool that you're doing a course on how to teach writing! The hardest course I ever took before college was my sophomore year writing course. Mr. Skinner didn't let us get away with crappy 5 paragraph essays. I think it was the single most useful class I have ever taken in my life (not that it necessarily shows in my blog!), although I didn't realize how much it had helped me until I had the oportunity to grade some upper division papers in college - pitiful! Thank god there are teachers out there who are willing to work hard to teach GOOD writing!

  10. haha...I was totally buying your talk about the extreme tapering :) Still, sounds like it'll work! I'm excited to hear how that tri went for you. I'm sure you did great, and hopefully had a blast out there.

    Sounds like you had an amazing time in Seattle! I've only visited once, but it just seemed gorgeous, and I stayed in the urban parts! That park sounds just perfect for a lovely run :)

    Hows that ankle feeling this week? Can't believe the race is almost here. I'm up in tahoe already and am supremely jealous that you live so close to such an amazing place!

  11. I totally understand the logic behind the "extreme taper." The same mind that invented the extreme taper also came up with stunningly logical reasons why it was better to sit on the couch and watch 21 Jump Street instead of going to class. Made sense then, makes sense now. I do not understand how a triathalon constitutes "tapering," but whatevs.