Sunday, June 29, 2008

Why We Run

Why We Run

I was going to title this post "Seafair Hotf Marathon" or "Seafair Half Not-Cool Marathon" but then I realized there's really more to it.

This year they changed the course up a bit. This is the 3rd different course in the 4 years they've run it. I ran the last two halfs on the same course that started and finished in Downtown Bellevue. This year it started at Husky Stadium and ended in Bellevue. As soon as I heard this I thought, "why that's stupid...why not start in Bellevue and end in the stadium?" I thought it would be nice to finish out over the lake instead of starting. Also this route resulted in an overall gain of about 100 feet over the course of the race. 

They claimed that the best option was to take their shuttle buses from Bellevue to the stadium. I figured out that if I arrived by 6 that should give me plenty of time to warm up before the race. Well, if you've been reading this, you'll know that my race mornings never go well. There's always the inevitable (and endless) stomach issues. It's getting to the point where I think maybe I shouldn't eat the day before a race. I get there a little before 6, but of course it's run-to-the-portajohn time. By the time I get back to my car and get all my stuff ready, the line for the buses is a couple blocks long and...there are no buses. 

Long story short the buses arrive slowly. I don't get on 'til about 6:40, 20 mins before the start of the race. The last race I took a bus for, I arrived ~20 mins after the start of the race. I figured that if that happened today that would be fine since I planned to start at the back anyways. I arrive about 5 mins beforer 7, but they announced that they're delaying the start 15 mins. Good. Time for a quick stretch and one last potty break.

For some reason they moved this race a couple weekends earlier than the last few years. Maybe people had complained, maybe this is the only day they could do it. There was another race today that I wanted to do, and part of me wishes I had run it instead. Anyways, the weather had predicted 90's for today, and it didn't disappoint. I knew I was in trouble when the temp was 67 at 4:45 am. I had pulled out my lightest running shirt, something that's not more than a thin mesh. It was around 70 at the start and I was already sweating. I started in the back, and finally the race started.

This year's race crossed the infamous 520 bridge. This hellish piece of civil engineer passed its "useful lifespan" about ten years ago. The best thing to happen to I-90 was when it sunk in a storm, and I hope the same thing happens to 520 soon so we can improve it. But it was a nice clear day, only a little hazy but you could see the mountains and Bellevue skyline and Mt. Rainier in the distance. A very light breeze blew along the bridge at times.

My first mile went well, just cruising from the stadium down a ramp onto 520. I somehow managed a 10:01 mile but I think my GPS got confused from the was more like 11. Second mile went well at 11:08. I felt good, didn't have much heel pain, tried to find the groove in the road that made my feet feel good. This mile brought us out over the water, through a clustering of marshes and lily pads. There also a big hill where boats can pass under the bridge.

Mile 3 in 11:05 contained a water stop which I passed since I had carried a bottle of water up until then. Still feeling good but starting to feel a little thirsty as the sun started beating down. Mile 4 in 11:46 was up off the bridge and onto dry land where the temperature increased noticeably. This split was +75 feet up.

The next three miles in 11:35, 11:27, and 11:19 were all either flat or gentle hills. I took some extra time at the water stops to make sure I had enough hydration. I still felt fine. I had a split of ~1:13 which wasn't bad given that I had estimated a finish of around 2:25 and I had run my last couple halfs with declining splits. 

Then came mile 8, and the wheels fell off the wagon. Someone put a huge hill, I mean 170 feet in 1/2 mile hill in the middle of the course. My heel was aching, my HR was way up, and I tried for a little bit but I just couldn't do it. Me and almost everyone around me wound up walking the hill. I've never walked in a half before, not even for water. According to my GPS I think I climbed that hill for almost 8 minutes. 8 mins for .5 mile is not good. I couldn't make the time up going back down either. Mile 8 finished in 13:56

From then on, the course was mostly up down up down endlessly. Fortunately a few people came out and hosed down the runners but it didn't help. I started eating my Sport Beans, drinking the Gleukos water, but nothing helped. My feet hurt and felt blistered (they weren't), my knees started aching (which they almost never do), my hip hurt, and I had very little energy left.

Mile 9 was back to 12:00, but I followed that with miles of 12:19, 12:27, and 13:41. My long run from last weekend I ran 12:00 miles, but today I had nothing at the end. Fortunately the last mile was all downhill and I did it in 11:48 but too little too late.

No PR, no course record, nothing.

So then why? Why do I do this to myself? I can barely walk from one side of the room to the other. 

All I know is that for the last few hundred meters, I had a grin ear-to-ear as I completed what was possibly the toughest race I had ever been in (or at least  2nd to 2006 Seattle Half Rainathon). But today was tough. At least 80 at the finish (I'm used to running in the 50's), leg-sapping hills, nagging injuries, it all comes down to that moment when I know I've done it and I survived to tell the tale. I know when I can push myself and today just wasn't the day. 

Well I've got a 5K later this to keep up the training (and the icing). Maybe this ordeal has made me stronger. We'll see. Somehow it all seems worth it in the end.

Saturday, June 28, 2008

Dawn's Rise II Wordle!

Here's the first 10K of Dawn's Rise as a Wordle.
See if you can figure out the names of my main
characters. Be careful...some of the names are
actually place names.
(Click on it to see something a little more readable)

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

How I Write Part II

How I Write Part II

So I've decided to start out this new effort by abusing my characters. I'm not sure they really appreciate that. I think what I'm doing is laying out the challenges they are going to face during the course of the book. Also they had it coming for so cleverly escaping death in Book 1.

So the whole theme of
Dawn's Rise is all about disasters. I literally wrote up a whole listing of disasters. I called them Plagues. I then categorized them into 29 different sets of disasters.

Here is some of the list:
15. no clean water/thirst/desert
Evil Robots
No more oxygen

In Book 2, I used so many disasters up that I'm being forced to come up with new, novel ones. Whereas in the first book, society was basically a Utopia, the pinacle of man's acheivement, in this book I want to come full circle and create the worst society man has ever known. I want to create a society that makes the Nazi's look tame, although I think I need to skip on the genocide since there aren't enough people left.

I'm up to 10K words now and I still don't really know what the book is about. I'm 10% done but barely even started. The thing with me is that I'm terrible at planning, or thinking ahead. I'm starting out the characters at point X, pushing them to point Y where I'd like the story to end, but in between they're going to go every which way.

I don't really know why there are so many religious overtones to this book. It's not intentional, but the first book seems to be a little like the story of Noah, this current book is more like Moses.

What will the 3rd book be? If it's the culmination of a disaster chronical, then mankind must face the ultimate disaster. I have no idea what that is, but I probably have a year or two to think about it.

Well now I've lost the whole point of this post, which is something about writing. And how to write. First of all, don't start off sentences with 'And'. And Secondly...well you get the point. Just write. It's like running. I could spend all day planning my run, figuring out where to go and what to wear, or I could just throw on the old shoes and go and figure it out along the way, and get a good workout Just get in your mileage and soon enough you'll be running like a pro. And maybe doing some writing along the way.

Saturday, June 21, 2008

Racing/Whining Post

Racing/Whining Post

OK, I don't know what's wrong with me anymore. I just can't run. Last year I did great, setting personal records for every race. This year, every race is a struggle. I just don't feel good. Take today for example. Me and the Mrs. headed out for the Race For The Cure Seattle, me running the 5K race and she doing the 1 mile walk (go Mrs!).

There's this little ditty that we sang as kids that goes something like this:
Get up in the morning, put my feet on the floor;
50 yard dash to the bathroom door.
I woke up at 5:50 and basically spent the next 2 hours and 40 mins on the crapper. I somehow survived the drive downtown (no traffic thankfully) but ran out of the car looking for a place. This shit is getting old. It happens every race day like clockwork. On top of that I forgot to take my inhaler so my lungs weren't clean. So basically about half way through the race, I'm wheezing and I feel like puking. And my pace isn't anywhere close to what I did last year. I did set a personal course record but I wasn't even close to my best time of this year.

Next week I'm running a half marathon. 13.1 miles. Ten miles farther than today. I'm really nervous about may be my worst HM ever.

I don't know if I have what it takes anymore...too many nagging injuries and resurgent asthma is really killing me, not to mention my IBS.

Once I'm done with the races in my race calendar I'm really going to start rethinking this whole thing. Right now it's not very enjoyable, I'm not getting a sense of achievement from running, just a lot of pain and disappointment.

A few years ago I trained for climbing Mt. Rainier, and that gave me a lot of purpose and satisfaction. It's probably too late to train for a major climb this year but I'd like to get into it again.

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

I'm on a Writing Rampage!

I'm on a Writing Rampage!

You've better look out! (Yes is this Rampage from the original Transformers series).

Actually I don't know how well I'm doing.
Here's the thing: for some reason, all my characters are in cramped quarters. All of them. And it's like, how do you make a compelling story about sardines?

"Hey, whatcha doing?"

"Nuttin. How bout you?"

"Nuttin. Just sittin here in this here sardine can. Waiting to be eaten."


I mean writing just doesn't get better than that folks.

Oh yeah, a lot of my characters are sick or dying. That's really fun. Basically they're sardines who are dying in their little cans. So I don't know where this is going. I guess they'll all go stark raving mad or they'll be dead by the halfway point. Wish me luck.

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

100th Post!!

100th Post!


It's a party! OK to be fair, a lot these posts are part of my NaNoWriMo blogvel but still...

Now to follow up on a couple topics from yesterday's post:

This weeks BSG had a kind of surprise e
nding (spoiler if you haven't seen it):

They reach Earth... and "surprise" it's a post-apocalyptic dead zone. It appears that Earth has been destroyed far worse than Caprica was. Now was this really a surprise? No not really.

What would have been surprising?
Well I can think of a few things:
  • Earth was the home of the "advanced" Cylons. Or some super-advanced cylons that leave the current ones in the dust.
  • BSG meets the Federation. Or the Borg.
  • WALL-E world!
Anyways, predictability = bad m'kay?

Okay so now that my rant is out of the way, how would everyone like some delicious Ten Fidy Imperial Stout...the best beer to ever come out of a can.

Go on, help yourself, just crash here if you start getting loopy. :)

Monday, June 16, 2008

How I Write Part 1

How I Write Part 1

You may be asking how I write. Actually you weren't but I'm about to tell you. I've giving some hints in some other posts, but let it lay it out for you.

First I get a good idea. Usually this idea comes from reading science magazines or books. I haven't done much of this lately...I really need to start doing this again. But I'm always thinking of

A) What is the future going to be like
B) What would it be like to travel to the past (with modern tech)
C) Why the M's can't win a game

So I get an what would this or that kind of disaster be like?
My first set of novels was set in a post-apocalyptic future where people fought for survival. I wrote them during college. Now it turns out that I've lost the ability to read those files. I may never work on those again, but it's kind of fun to look back. In those days I wrote non-stop during winter break and complete an entire draft in a matter of weeks.

Now it's much different. I write now and then when I get time. I have no idea what I would do if I tried to write full time. I think I'd go crazy. But the concept keeps becoming more appealing as the years pass.

So I start with just a rough outline of where I want the book to go. I come up with a couple interesting characters, and then introduce more as needed. I don't really plan things out. It's too daunting. The problem is that writing the whole plot first takes the fun out of it. I don't want to know how the book ends until I write the end. I want to have a bunch of ideas and then figure out which one works the best. The spaceship will either land or blow up trying. Which one works the best? I wound up changing Dawn's Rise's ending from what I had originally intended. It's the best twist of the whole book. Maybe the best thing is to write out a plot...then figure out the best way to create another plot that's completely unpredictable. Even your characters should be surprised. "What? The spaceship didn't land, it's hovering right behind me?"

Characterization is tough. A lot of my characters share my traits. I find it hard to write about people who are a lot different. I think I purposely made Dawn about as opposite from me as I could. Or maybe I gave her traits I wish I had. I think bad guys are even harder. I'm beginning to realize that I really need to put more bad guys in my books...and really make them bad and not annoying or whiny or anything.

Ok more about this at another time. Gotta watch BSG on my DVR.

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

I'm Back!

I'm Back!

I started writing the sequel to Dawn's Rise. It's pretty exciting. I'm working on developing some interesting characters. I don't really have any villains yet, but I'm working on it. I'm just trying to establish the heroes at this point.
They've been brawling up to this point of the book, but soon they will be forced to work together.
It's a brother/sister vs twin brother/sister and an adopted sister.
I'm up to ~3400 words so far.
It takes up the story 20 years after the end of the first book.
I'll try to post updates as I go.
What does WALL-E have to do with anything?
Nothing...just like the image.

Sunday, June 1, 2008

Finally...some kind of record this year

Finally...some kind of record this year

Well this hasn't been the greatest year for me running. I've been beset by nagging injuries and maladies, and I just can't seem to return to the great progress I had last year.

I've been lagging in my race reports, so consider this a kind of catch-up post.

Kirkland 5K, May 11, 2008
This is the 3rd time I've run this race, and it's along streets near my office that I run almost every week so I'm familiar with the course. The course starts out flat then climbs pretty steep for half a mile or so before dropping down for a mile, then it's flat again to the end.
I ran it in 30:27 which is off my course record of 30:18 and far off my 5K PR of 28:42.

Beat the Bridge, May 18, 2008
In this race you have 20 minutes to run 2+ miles before a bridge opens and you get caught. For me that means a 2 mile dead sprint at maximum heart rate. The first time I wasn't close, the second time I beat it handily, and this year...well the bridge was right in front of me, I saw that 19:50 had elapsed so I had 10 seconds to go. I sprinted but a bunch of people jumped up to block the way. I could have bullied my way through since the bridge wasn't opening yet...but I knew I had been beat...probably by no more than 10 seconds. According to my chart I stopped at 19:58 on my watch (which was a couple secs behind the "real" time and at mile 2.10. So I ran a 9:32 pace but it wasn't good enough :(
The whole race is 8K so not including the stop I finished in 52:03 which is off my course record of 51:20 (when I beat the bridge and kept running for time)

Issaquah Tri 5K, May 31, 2008
So now we come to the sole bright spot of the year so far. This is the fourth time I've run the 5K associated with the Issaquah Triathlon. It's one of my favorite runs of the year but it's also historically the slowest. It's one of the only runs that's most this case actually fields. So basically you run through grass fields with a lot of windy twists and turns.
I think the soft surface must slow me down or something. However, I can tell I'm still not in great shape, because my splits ran:
  1. 9:25
  2. 10:08
  3. 10:12
.1 1:02
Which is opposite what I want. I really tried to take it easy for the first mile so this wouldn't happen, but my heart rate shot up and this is all I could do. For the 2nd half of the race I kept trading leads with a triathlete, and she seemed to get frustrated every time I passed her, but she really put it on at the end and cooked me (with some encouragement from me since I didn't have much left for a final sprint.
So I finished in 30:48...not even my best time of the year but at least I set a course record on this hard previous best was 31:30.
Hopefully this means I'm back on track and I'm about to rev things up. With a half marathon in a couple weeks...I really need to start pushing things.