I worked this weekend some, but all in all, it felt a lot more like heaven than it did work.
Friday: writing projects during the day (work on my trail running stories for Outdoors NW, green smoothie blogging for a website I'm doing some writing for), beaches and sushi and magic with good people in the evening
Work or Heaven?
Saturday: 3rd Annual Running Shoe Expo, i.e. spending the day outside geeking out about running shoes with vendors and customers, then driving up to Deception Pass State Park with Lauren to meet up with friends and camp by the beach
Lauren and me at Deception Pass
Sunday: Running the Whidbey Island Half Marathon, relaxing afternoon back in Seattle, potluck dinner up north with many wonderful people
Today, the sun is out, and I get to spend my day: in my PJ's, eating good food, interviewing trail runners I admire, writing for work, and meeting Ruth for dinner in Wallingford tonight instead of going to class. After much deliberation over the matter, I decided to let go of my web databases classes this semester, and drop down to halftime school, rather than doing another full time quarter.
I'm still taking a few classes I'm pretty pumped about - user experience design (creating e-commerce websites) and writing for the web (would like to teach this in the future!) - but there was no way I could keep my life balanced and thriving with any more schoolwork on my plate. While many people in the web design program I'm in are there to make a 180 career shift and get a full time design job, I will maintain that writing is, and probably always will be, my primary passion. Web design and development, while very exciting to me, are merely hobbies with which I hope to supplement and support a career path of writing and creating.
But enough of the overarching life reflections I tend to litter my blog with..let's talk about running! (...because that is something I never talk enough about on my blog...) The Whidbey Island Half was my second half marathon I've ever done. The first was the Cleveland Half nearly two years ago, and I thought I'd never be able to beat that race: the weather was perfect, my body was humming, my friend Aseem was a rockin support crew, I ran faster than expected despite it being the longest race I'd ever run, and I loved every moment of it. Whether consciously or subconsciously, I think I've avoided running any more halfs because I was scared I'd never run one as great as the race that day.
Aseem and I enjoying brewskis after my first Half.
But! Yesterday reminded me how much I love the 13.1-mile distance, when it comes to road running. It's long enough to get in a groove, but not so long that the finish line is ever impossibly out of sight. The weather was everything that Washington state is known for this time of year: gray, overcast, icy cold, brutally windy, and on the verge of pouring rain the whole time. On a clear day, the Whidbey course features spectacular mountain views (earning it its title from Lonely Planet as one of the top ten most scenic marathon courses in the WORLD) - but even with the mountains in hiding and the sky resembling a slate blanket, it was an unbelievably gorgeous course.
The ladies at the finish line
It was fun to run it with friends, too. I'd never run a road race with a friend before. We all ran at slightly different paces, but because of certain out and back sections of the course, we passed each other often and were able to exchange cheers and high fives at points. Several boyfriends came along, too, to cheer us on along the course and at the finish line. (Boyfriends were also responsible for helping put together the rockstar carbo-load dinner at camp the night before: grilled salmon with pesto pasta, zucchini squash, and portobello mushrooms...who knew camp food could be so gourmet?)
The course was pretty hilly, and I realized how much I have grown as a runner since coming to Seattle; hills used to terrify me, but these days, I embrace them. They make me feel hardcore. It's admittedly very empowering to cruise up them when others are slowing down, because of all the mountains and hills (thank you, Queen Anne!) that I've run in training; my muscles were all, "Hey now, we know what to do here!" Uphills generally mean downhills, too, which are pretty much like free periods of rest for my legs and heart while clocking sub-7-minute miles: awesome.
Overall, I finished with a chip time of 1:49:23 . I maintained an 8:21 average pace, which was an improvement over my 8:33 pace at Cleveland two years ago, but still with a big window for future improvement and PR's - the best of both worlds. Also placed 7th in my age division, woohoo!
Here's me approaching the finish line at close to a full-out sprint: so much energy still left in the tank!
Lauren also had energy left in the tank...here's her prancing around on rocks a couple hours after running her first half-marathon.
Running is delightful. It is a framework for me to understand, interpret, and process my life. I love trail running for the scenery and laidback nature and solitude and more intense mental challenge...but there's still a place in my heart for a good road race with cheering crowds, camaraderie, and course support. Really looking forward to a solid running schedule in 2011. Also, big thumbs up for camping out the night before at the world's most beautiful campground!
Next up for me: Eugene full marathon in three weeks!