Monday, May 20, 2013

SIFF, So Far

One of my resolutions for the year was to do more cultural things and one of the biggest things on my list was to make sure that I took advantage of the offerings at the Seattle International Film Festival this year. SIFF runs for 25 days in May-June and it kicked off last Thursday. To force myself to commit to choosing and going to movies, I bought a six-pack of tickets. They work out to $9.50 each, as opposed to the usual single ticket price of $12. I LOVE that you can buy tickets in advance and I've loved the energy of the festival. (I've only ever been to one other film festival, when I happened to be visiting my sister during the Telluride Festival - I think it cost $25/movie if there were even any empty seats after the passholders were admitted. I didn't do much of the festival between spending my time with my adorable nephews and niece, rather than standing in lines, and the price. It was all very industry and the crowd was pretty old, so it just didn't feel all that exciting.)
Film #1: Much Ado About Nothing
This is Joss Whedon's new film, filmed in 12 days right after he finished The Avengers. I really liked it, although there's a full blog post coming about it as soon as I finish re-watching the Kenneth Branagh version. It is absolutely hilarious - Whedon's actors are fantastic comedians, although both roommate and I struggled to understand them. I think this is the film's fault, rather than our ears, since I'm really not having any problem with the Branagh version. More to come, but it was pretty cool that there was a Q&A afterwards with the stars! My friends were super nerdy jealous.
Film #2: Five Dances
I'm a sucker for a dance film. The dancing was incredible. But, you know, I really like structured narratives.  This film didn't have that, although it did have wonderful characters who I enjoyed getting to know. It was very film festival and I did enjoy it. I also enjoyed the Q&A afterwards with the director (BEST thing about film festivals is that people come to talk about their work). I wasn't displeased with my choice, but it wasn't the best thing ever, either.
Film #3: Our Nixon
I LOVED, LOVED, LOVED this one. Yes, I know. Only I would choose to spend my Sunday afternoon with a documentary about Nixon, but I've really enjoyed Nixon/Watergate history ever since I wrote my IB Extended Essay on Watergate press coverage back in high school. (And, frankly, although the details are a bit fuzzier now than they once were, it was really helpful to have some background knowledge going into the film).

Apparently, three of the men who were most important in the Nixon White House and who all ultimately served time for their role in the Watergate cover-up (H.R. Haldeman, John Ehrlichman and Dwight Chapin), obsessively took home movies on their Super 8 video cameras throughout their time on the campaign and in the White House. The tapes were seized by the FBI as part of the Watergate investigation and the producers of this film paid for the restoration and preservation of those films after they were unclassified a few years ago (yay for historical preservation!). All of the footage and all of the dialogue in the film was archival, a combination of the Super 8 tapes, news reports and other television footage, and recordings from the secret taping system. Most, but not all, of the music was also archival.

This was incredible. I loved the stories that it was telling - about life in the West Wing (and it was very reminiscent of The West Wing), the personalities and relationships that made something like Watergate possible, and the rise and fall of the Nixon presidency. I loved seeing the footage: this made the 1970s and Watergate feel so much more real than it ever had before (the footage of the trip to China is absolutely fascinating, in particular). And, frankly, it humanized the three "characters" who were at the heart of the Administration and Watergate in a way that was actually quite tragic. We're so used to these men being the villans that I was quite surprised to feel sorry for them by the end of it. And, finally, it was actually a rather funny film, as well: if the opening credits don't have you giggling, then there might be something wrong with you. A fair warning, however: YOU WILL SEE HENRY KISSINGER IN A BATHING SUIT. BE PREPARED.

Luckily, CNN will be showing Our Nixon sometime in August. Don't forget to watch!

Beat the Bridge

My trainer talked me into running the Beat the Bridge 8K at the last minute. I know 8K isn't very long (in the grand scheme of, say, marathon training - it's a HUGE victory for others and I don't mean to discount that), but it would be longer than I've run since Eugene. To say that I've been very cautious/lazy about my recovery and amping back up the miles would be...generous.

After stopping by Safeway for a bagel, I hopped the bus over to the University District from my house, although the bus was diverted, so we actually ended up walking quite a ways. I didn't mind, but I was glad that I'd left with plenty of time and, after seeing the traffic back-ups, I was pretty darn glad that I'd opted for taking the bus - even with the detours! I had no problem signing up and getting my (large) bib. I even managed to find some SGLRG'ers for a pre-race photo!
Then I raced over to the start line for another photo with the peeps from the gym, before squeezing somewhere into the corrals. When asked about my game plan, I think I said that I was aiming for 10:30s the first two miles, then to drop down to 10:00 for miles three and four, before laying it all out there for the last mile.

I went off with the third wave, but I have no idea what pace that was meant to be - the people with the signs had long-since disappeared. I wasn't super slow or super fast for the people I ended up running with, so it must have been ok?

The theory with Beat the Bridge is that you're trying to get to University Bridge before they raise it (it's a drawbridge), approximately 20 minutes after the last person crosses the start line. I knew this probably wouldn't be an issue for me, but I really, really felt like my pride would be hurt if I didn't beat the bridge. Silly, I know! I heard from other people later (ok, twitter and facebook) that they thought the bridge was raised way early, but I definitely did beat it and was long gone before it was raised. I did think it was amusing to see just how many people clearly burned up a ton of energy getting to the bridge - there was a pretty big "walk break" brigade just on the other side of the bridge!

I enjoyed this route, too. I run a lot of those streets or their adjacent trails pretty regularly, so I felt like I was familiar territory (although I'm usually on the sidewalk, not running down the middle of the street). I mean, it probably isn't going to win any awards for beauty, but they're places that I enjoy running, so I liked it. I liked that there were a few little rolling hills, because I like forcing myself to keep pushing up them and I enjoy feeling strong when I do! One of my favorites is the long ascent up the far side of University Bridge - I've run that a lot and have felt pretty pathetic doing so at times, so it was awesome to keep chugging past all the people walking it.

SO. I have to say that I was SO PLEASED with my run, which was faster and stronger than I could have imagined. My splits were 10:03, 10:00, 10:03, 9:28, and 9:04 (or it would have been, if it were a full mile), for an average of 9:44. CAN WE SAY "NEGATIVE SPLIT?!" It was a huge confidence booster to be able to drop my pace like that after a not-even-super-conservative first three miles. I mean, if I can work on my endurance, I think the speed is definitely there for a great end of summer half marathon! I think I'm absolutely guilty of underestimating my own abilities, so to run a race where I didn't get intimated by the paces and where I had the confidence to tell myself to just keep going, rather than backing off, is really, really exciting.

Although, my official time was 48:13 and 9:42 pace.
Clearly, I couldn't figure out which timing mat was the start line.
Afterwards, I met back up with the gym crowd, briefly, before fighting my way out of there, grabbing my gear, and finding the bus home. The whole post-race thing was super badly organized and a complete mess. Plus, there was hardly any food. I had to fight for a water and then, were were given a reusable shopping bag (very nice!) with a single mini Clif bar. And there were bananas. But, nothing else. I was so grateful that I still had a third of a bottle of nuun and an extra bagel in my checked bag, because there definitely wasn't enough post-race fuel for a race of this length. I don't know that I'd run it again, but, since I'll be in NJ this time next year, that really isn't much of an issue.

Oh! And it was a rather huge PR (even though it's hardly a fair comparison - I ran my only other 8K purely for fun, the day before a half marathon) by 6:24. I would have won my age group, instead of placing third, if I'd run this fast at that race! 

Monday, May 13, 2013

An update on the tendinitis

After I ran the Eugene Half, one of my friends on FB commented: “blog post or it didn’t happen.” For her sake, I apologize for the fact that this isn’t that recap, but I’ll get to that soon. I suppose, instead, it’s everything else that’s happened lately and since the last time I bothered writing about my running!

The good news is that for the first time since April 1, I was cleared to start running again for reals (and not just because I refused not to run races for which I had registered before the injury). I’m only supposed to do 2-3 miles at a time, on dirt wherever I can, and take things easy. I’ve only done one run so far and I felt super sluggish, but my leg felt perfectly fine. Hurrah! Run #2 will be tonight – I’ll be the first to admit that I’ve almost been a little scared to run, because I didn’t want to find out that I wasn’t all better.

The PT has been fantastic. I mean, it hurt, but it gave me a near-weekly excuse to start my day with Seattle’s best lattes (Vivace, if you wondered), so I didn’t mind so much. There were plungers involved, which, if you’ve never experienced that particular joy – hurts a heck of a lot. ESPECIALLY WHEN THEY USE THE MINI, IT’S ACTUALLY A BEE STING KIT, PLUNGER ON YOU. It was nice to “feel” my leg healing, by which I mean that I would think to myself “hmmm, this doesn’t hurt as much as it did last week…WINNING!”

I’ve continued to do a lot of work to strengthen the back of my legs and hips. I do a lot of ball raises for my hamstrings, monster walks for my hips and glutes, and one foot/one arm raises with a 10lb. weight for my lower leg stabilization muscles. I haven’t particularly noticed whether that’s all made a difference to my running, but I can tell you that the evil ART machine definitely did get easier with repeated use. AND, a magical thing happened at skating on Saturday. Before I got hurt, I was having the hardest time with my jumps. I could take off and do the rotation, but when I landed, I would just collapse. Like, literally, my leg would give out and I’d end up on the ice. This week, for the first time since the tendinitis started, I tried jumping and OMG, I CAN LAND THEM!!! Like, all of them – at least all of the ones that I could ever do (so…singles only and no axel). It was really exciting and, to think, all I needed to do was strengthen my hamstrings and backside!

So, I guess the big question is “what’s next?” I’ve got a goal half marathon for the end of the August that I need to start working towards, but first, I need to work on building my endurance back up. I’ve made a schedule and everything, because schedules are key for me – telling myself that I can run when I feel like it simply doesn’t work. I’ll start with 2-3 miles several times this week, before launching back into an official plan at the beginning of June. I’ve also got two more halves planned for June – I’m going back to North Olympic Discovery and I’m pacing the 2:30 group for Rock ‘n’ Roll Seattle. Wow – those two races could not be more different!

If all goes to plan, I’ll have qualified for the Half Fanatics with 6 halves in 6 months – Princess, Lake Sammamish, Mercer Island, Eugene, NODM, and RnR Seattle! I swear, it’s a disease. grin

And, THEN, sometime in late September or early October, I should be moving to New Jersey for a new job!

This week...

I need to write down this week's activity plan, so that I HAVE to commit to it. Mmmkay? All three people who read this blog should feel free to keep me accountable, too.

Monday - After coffee with friend, I need to run 3 miles and do a strength session at the gym.
Tuesday - Skating
Wednesday - Session with trainer, 2-3 miles on the ART.
Thursday - SIFF Opening Night with Joss Whedon and Captain Tightpants himself!!
Friday - Get in 2-3 miles before SIFF Movie at 7.
Saturday - Skating, then volunteering for Girls on the Run. Then go to the gym?
Sunday - Get in 3-4 miles. SIFF Movie.

I'm trying not to run two days in a row right now, but I'd dearly love to hit 15 miles for the week. And my goal for the month is 9 trips to the gym, by which I mean doing a strength routine (trainer sessions count). Clearly, this is going to be a busy week, though, so I'm glad I have a plan. :-)