Sunday, May 30, 2010

Running West

In Portland, OR. Had a very nice run with my nephew who claimed he didn't mind running 11 minute miles and I decided to believe him. He lives on a pretty little lake with a second similar lake to the south. We ran around both lakes for 33 minutes which I figured was about 3 miles. Great running area this is! Cool and low humidity. Felt great with a little stiffness in my right ankle as usual. Got to take it easy and yet run this week as Saturday is the 10k in South Bend. Want to look good in my home town.

Trip to Portland on the Empire Builder

Chicago to Portland - 46 hours on Amtrak

What? This is a running blog. But train rhymes with pain which is all about running so here's a brief report on our trip to Portland on the Empire Builder.

We easily picked up the tickets we had reserved on line at Union Station, Chicago and were directed to the Empire Lounge since we had reserved a sleeper. Nice area with comfy seats and free coffee and pop. We look around and quickly realize that we are the youngest people in the lounge! By a LOT. Oh well, I guess it’s retired folks who have the time to ride the rails.

We walked out on the platform got on the train and were directed to our little room. No nasty guards, no x-ray, no security checks. You get to keep your shoes and belts on. Very nice. Two seats facing each other with a table between if you want to pull it out and a nice big window. Our conductor, Charles, asks us if we’d be interested in a complimentary bottle of champagne. We were very interested.

We sipped our champagne as we slipped out of Chicago. A little later the dinning room steward came around asking us which seating we’d like for dinner. We took 7 PM, the last one.

Now the observation car and the bar are open and we are THERE! The observation car itself is awesome. Windows go up and part way over the roof. There are tables for 4 in one part and seats facing outward with small tables in between in the other part. A couple of bloodies, a game of gin and it’s our dinner time.

We are seated with another couple and they were nice to talk to. They were returning out west as that’s where they’re from. Dinner consisted of steak, baked potato, green beans, cheese cake, and coffee. All the meals are included when you take a sleeper and I think it’s a pretty good deal.

After dinner we sat some more in the observation lounge, had a glass of wine and then returned to our room. Charles made up our beds (upper and a lower) and we turned in with our books. I took the upper and it’s fine. I’m used to confined spaces from living on the boat but it didn’t have a window. Oh well, my turn to take the lower tomorrow night.

Slept pretty good. I tended to wake up when the train made its stops along the way but the gentle rocking under way is pretty sweet. I woke up when I sensed the sun shining below my bunk. We’re somewhere in North Dakota which looks a lot like Indiana. Lots of rain last night as these fields are all very flooded to the delight of the ducks. I head to the observation lounge and find that there is a fresh pot of free coffee in our sleeping car. Nice!

Breakfast was good. We sat with a young couple who were on their honeymoon. Eggs, potatoes, sausage, coffee, and a biscuit. Now we camp out in the observation car with books, computer, and playing cards. Still pretty flat but some bumps starting to appear. We might just stay here all day!

We just about did and although there isn’t much to see in North Dakota nor Montana this far north, it’s just so pleasant to have these giant windows and to watch the land slip by. Maybe I’ve been missing watching the water slip under my keel. This is a pretty good substitute.

We had a couple of cocktails and then a 7 pm dinner. Our table mates were a lady Chicago cop and her husband. She was really un-cop like and pretty fun. We enjoyed sharing Chicago stories. Great to find that a Chicago cop loves the city. I would think that would be important and not sure they all do. The best part of dinner was that we were going right through Glacier National park area with snow on the mountains. This is SO civilized. Cruising smoothly through the mountains, a glass of wine, and good conversation. Very special.

An after dinner cocktail and Charles turns down our bunks around 9 and we’re ready to hit the rack and read a little. My turn for the bottom bunk and the window that goes with. Around 2 AM I awake realizing they we’ve been stopped for quite a while. Oh yeah, this is Spokane where we split the train. The front part goes to Seattle and our back part goes to Portland. I go outside and walk around a little and watch them couple the engine to our lounge car. Small entertainments. I thought about staying up but instead hit the bunk and slept solid to about 5.

I like getting up early and having the quiet in the lounge and the early morning sun. Even better with coffee but Charles hadn’t made any yet. When he did Sue brought me a cup which was great. We’ve lost our dinner car - it went to Seattle! So we only get a cold prepared meal and coffee but still free.

We’re following the Columbia River now and it is just gorgeous. I guess this leads us right to Portland. We should be there in about an hour. We’ve been on time or ahead for the whole trip. I didn’t expect that!

Would I do this again? YES! I wish I had rigged it for us to return on the California Zephyr. Next time I’d:

Bring a pillow
Bring some snacks - they don’t mind you eating them in your room.
Bring detailed maps to monitor your trip. The ones on board are pretty small.

Actually, that’s it! Great trip. Great way to travel. This is going to make me hate the airplane ride even more on Monday.

Monday, May 24, 2010

On it again

Back out there today after a pretty disappointing Sunday and much better today. I ran north again all the way to Montrose. I walked up to the water fountain then farther north and than ran around the hill and back to Montrose. From there I ran/walked back on the lake side. I LOVE that path. you're running between the lake and Waveland golf course. The course looks great for all you golfers out there. Hardly anyone out there too. When I played the course back in the 80's it was OK but they had mats to tee off from as they would get so worn. Nice grass now and very well kept up.

I was jogging along then by Belmont Harbor when a guy passed me. Jeez HE looked slow. That ain't right. So, I tailed him for a bit and passed him back. Pretty sure I didn't slow after that but he passed me again. Oh this is getting fun. Again I laid in behind him but could see him slipping away. I accelerated again and went way too fast for me and put some distance between us. Then I stopped and turned around. He was laughing and so was I. We high fived and he said, "Come on! Don't stop"! but I was done. Good way to finish.

I'm off to Portland OR. tomorrow by TRAIN! Hope they don't mind me running up and down the aisles for 30 minutes or so. I'm expecting the trails in Portland to be not as flat as Chicago but we'll see.

Sunday, May 23, 2010

Minor Setback

I really look forward to my Sunday runs with my coach. Supposed to be 5.5 today and we had a new route. After about a half mile I said, "I feel really bad". I did. I stopped. We walked some, jogged some but I just didn't have it today. We turned back. Pisses me off too because on Saturday I was really good. Drank tons of water. Only have 2 beers (and more water). Ate spaghetti for dinner and went to bed early.

You never know. Well, since I barely ran at all I'll try this one again tomorrow morning. I will run a little later (I'm NEVER much good at 6 AM) and see how it goes.

Boy, this is hard!

Friday, May 21, 2010

Another 2.5

Got my 2.5 in today on a misty cloudy day. No real problems. I started to feel a little stiff and bad with about 3/4 mile to go and what song pops up on the shuffle?


Yeah! You GOT to get going when you hear that one.

Coach and I are running 5.5 on Sunday and picking a new route to the north and around the sledding hill by Montrose. Looking forward to that.

Thursday, May 20, 2010

I live. . .

. . . through another Wednesday speed workout! I didn't want to run yesterday. I just didn't. My coach 'encouraged' me to run anyway. She has a way. So we ran an easy mile at my usual pace around 11 minutes and then we ran 'fast' mile at what turned out to be just over a 9 minute pace and then a mile jogging/walking/running. That middle mile is tough but in retrospect it is mostly tough mentally. Brain is saying, "you're running too fast!" but in fact a little check of how body is doing, brain finds out that body isn't actually breathing all that hard. Speed is staying up. Legs are not too stiff. It is only the panicky baby brain that tells us to slow down!

Big baby!

Thanks coach! I think these speed workouts (and anyone out there who is sniggering at a 9 minute pace being called speed work can just spend a day in my 59 year old body!) are doing the most for helping me get in better condition and run farther on Sundays.

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Back on the Path

Wow, missed the weekend run as I was 'busy' sailing! Back on it today with 3 miles in the morning. That's not far but it is at 5:45 AM! Nice day though and lots of other runner out. It's 1.5 miles from my starting line in the park by the play lot to Grant's statue just north of the pedestrian walkway over LSD. There's a fountain there too so makes a good turn around spot.

I want to get a decent watch now. I don't have a very good sense of my pace and feel like I keep adjusting my speed when I run without my coach. Any suggestions?

Hi Lisa

Sunday, May 9, 2010

Sunday Five

What a beautiful day in Chicago. Not a cloud. About 50 degrees and no wind. Coach and I took the EL downtown and walked over to Buckingham Fountain. From there to near Belmont Harbor is 5 miles. Great run along the lake. No stopping. No pain in my right foot. We ran in 55 minutes with the last mile being 10:47. This is similar to times from the Shuffle several weeks ago. Seems like a good pace and I think the Wednesday "speed work" ( or, let's see if I can kill Dad) is really helping with overall fitness and endurance.

10k in South Bend is coming up! Only 4 weeks from yesterday. That distance will be no problem but running in less than an hour might be un-realistic. Either way should be a fun race.

Monday, May 3, 2010

Making Big Strides

Exactly. On Sunday (my favorite running day) I ran with my 'college of coaches' (Leah AND Jason) for what turned out to be about 4 miles. We ran south to the pedestrian bridge over LSD and then turned back north along the lake. At this point I just tried to open my stride some. Of course this makes you go faster but it also made me feel more balanced, in tune, and relaxed. Brief stop for water at Fullerton and then on back to the start line.

This is good but I've learned to not get too high nor too low. I'll try this again with my weekday runs and see how it goes. Certainly makes sense that with less up and down movement the run might be smoother and more energy efficient. We'll see.

As usual the ice bath was awesome.