Monday, March 18, 2013

Hiking and running in Seward

Oh,oh, oh!

 MM and I went back "home" to Seward this past weekend, so I could sign copies of Dolls Behaving Badly at Cover to Cover bookstore.

The weather was perfect, sunny and in the 30s. We walked the beach and Two Lakes trail with the dog and then tackled Mount Marathon Bowl on Saturday and Lost Lake on Sunday. So. Much. Fun.

I am totally homesick for Seward right now. Odd how I consider it home, even when I only lived there for two years. But the place has captured a piece of my soul. MM and I even looked a cute little house to possibly buy for a summer home over the next couple of years but it unfortunately wasn't right for us.

Enough words. Time to share some pics from our weekend.

View of Resurrection Bay from Fourth Avenue.

View of Mt. Benson from downtown Seward.

Part of downtown Seward.

View of Resurrection Bay from Mount Marathon Bowl.

View from halfway up Mount Marathon.

Looking down from Mount Marathon.

Heading up the stairs to check out the new Seward Library.

Shiny new library. Isn't it cool? The outside changes colors depending on the angle of the sunlight.

View from one of the Seward Library windows.

I'm totally ready to move back to Seward. (Come on, MM. Quit your job and let's move down to Seward. We'll be aging hippies and do nothing but run, hike, visit the library, drink coffee at the Sea Bean and walk the beach, okay?)

Friday, March 8, 2013

12 miles on my sister's birthday

Today was my sister Cathie's birthday, so to celebrate her life I took a 12-mile run over the Chester Creek and Coastal Trail.

It was an overcast day and grey, temps hovering in the upper 30s, with a slight breeze that smelled of spring, even though spring is at least a month away. Still, that damp, cool breeze against my face felt so hopeful, so almost endearing, as if a testament that winter is almost over, that the snow will melt, the ground thaw. That the green will soon return.

I saw this right around the five mile mark, isn't it odd? Christmas ornaments hanging unexpectedly from the trees, almost as if they were hanging from the heavens.

The trails are still snow covered, of course, though the footing is packed so that it's similar to running on soft, squishy pavement.

One of the things I enjoyed about this run was that because my Garmin temporarily died, I wasn't able to gauge my pace. It was refreshing; I hadn't realized how tied I am to my electronic wristwatch. It's almost scary, actually.

But mostly this run was a prayer to my sister, who died almost twelve years ago but still is remembered, still is missed. I love you, Cathie girl. Wish you could have read my novel, but maybe you have, somewhere. Maybe you are reading it now and laughing that low, sardonic laugh of yours. Hugs to you and Barney.

Cathie and Barney, years ago

Hope everyone has a chance to run in memory of someone they love. It makes every mile a little bit more intense, a little bit more bittersweet, a little bit more true.

Tuesday, March 5, 2013

Ghost runner, and shoe dilemma

Anyone read The Ghost Runner: Epic Journey of the Man They Couldn't Stop? It popped up under my Amazon reads and looks odd, which means it looks good, at least in my eyes.

Other news: Ran eight solid miles Sunday, took yesterday off just 'cause I wanted to. Today: Either 12 miles average pace or 8 miles speedwork.

Guess which one I shall pick?

Normally I'd take the 12 miler; the longer the distance, the better. But I have an urge to push myself fast so probably it will be speedwork. (I love to push myself, love that moment when I can't stand it and want to stop but miraculously keep going. I'm kind of addicted to that moment.)

And yet more news: Shoes. I need new shoes. I've transitioned to a mid-foot strike while running and want something lighter, with less of a heel and a wider toe box. I'm thinking of Nike Flex. I love how they feel on my feet.

Yet they aren't a high end shoe, and this worries me (or am I simply a snob?). I've been running in Asics for five years and have had NO writing related injuries, which given my age and the fact that I've been logging 1200-1600 miles a year, is almost miraculous.

Yet the Asics (Gel Nimbus) has been getting narrower and narrower in the toe with each new model, and my feet feel squished. It's time for something new. I like the Flex more than anything I've tried so far.

I always wear low-end shoes on trails, usually Adidas Kanadia, which is super flexible, has great traction and very little cushioning.

But trails are softer, and the constantly changing terrain means constantly changing foot strike. You don't need a cushioned shoe. Mainly, you need protection from roots and scree and damned good footing, which the Kanadia delivers.

Pavement is a different animal. And I do a lot of summer running on the paved bike trail system, which is why I'm considering Nike Flex. I have over 700 miles on my Asics and they're still going strong, but soon I'll have to replace them. It feels sad to replace them. They've been so good to me.

Usually I go by feel, not features, but I think this time I'll need to try on more options, just to be certain. I see this is my future:

Oh, be still thy heart: Shoes!!!

Shoe shopping at Skinny Raven, my favorite running store in Anchorage. Okay, it's the only running store in Anchorage, but it's still great. What I love is that the running shoe salesperson are mostly hunky young runners, and they spend a lot of time with you, take you seriously and really work hard to find the best shoe. They'll even analyze your gait on the computer (I'm a neutral runner, with almost perfect form, according to the good looking dark-haired dude. When he informed me of this I wanted to say, "Then why the hell can't I run faster?" but I kept my mouth shut.)

I doubt that Skinny Raven carries Nike Flex, of course; they aren't considered a "true" running shoe. The pair I tried on was at Sports Authority because I'm cheap and love a bargain (Sorry, Skinny Raven). Heck, I'd buy my shoes at Costco if they carried them.

Question: What's your financial limit for races? I just saw the Her Tern, a woman's half-marathon co-sponsored by Skinny Raven, and the entry fee is $110 if you register now, $120 after May 1 and $150 race day. Yikes! I won't even spend that much on a marathon. Am I cheap or is this ridiculously expensive, even by Alaska standards?

Happy running and cheapo shoe shopping, everyone.

Saturday, March 2, 2013

News Flash! Cinthia runs double digits again (finally)

Okay, okay, I got my lazy butt up out of my writing chair and ran (yes, actually ran!) 12 miles on Thursday.

It was the first double-digit run in a month. Surprisingly, it was easier than expected.

I've been working out for 60-90 minutes four-six days a week, mostly zeroing in on building up my thighs, which are embarrassingly wimpy. All of that indoor sweating has paid off, too. My stride was so much stronger on uphills, and I noticed it on the downhills, too.

I'm starting to think that there is something to this cross training, no?

Hopefully I will build up awesome muscles, so that when I line up at summer races, people will gasp and stare and move aside to give me more room: "She must be someone," they'll think. "Look at those legs."

Dream on, right?

Today I'm attempting 14-15 miles. Love me my distance and missed it terribly this past month. Six to eight milers just don't do it for me, not enough time to get in the groove.

Pics of Thursday's run over the Coastal Trail, right around sunset. No moose were sited but it was a damned good run.

I'm also reading the most marvelous and incredible book: Ru, by Kim Thuy. Anyone who loves lyrical writing must pick this up. I can read it only in pieces, to make it last longer-- it is that good.

Happy running, reading and everything else.