2020 Chilly Hilly: A brotherly ride with a bit of sun

The sun is out as we ride along Grand Avenue in the first five miles

The sun is out as we ride along Grand Avenue in the first five miles

Hardcore bicycle riders, for some odd reason, seem attracted to rides featuring tough hills and rotten weather. That’s got to be the reason why rides such as the 7 Hills of Kirkland, the Stinky Spoke, and the Worst Day of the Year Ride in Portland are popular with year-round riders.

These cut middle-school jump-ropers entertained us near the rest stop

These middle-school jump-ropers entertained us near the halfway rest stop (click to enlarge)

The annual Chilly Hilly ride, a 33-mile jaunt around Bainbridge Island, fits this genre of rides. I’m not a hardcore, year-round rider, so I can’t explain why I do it. But last Sunday (February 23), I conned my brother Mark Enbysk to travel up from Portland to ride it with me in what was my seventh Chilly Hilly (his first). Thanks again, Mark; hope your soreness lasted only a day or so.

We were challenged by the hills, as usual, as the course features a half-dozen or so long, steep, and/or annoying hills. We rode together and finished in around four hours, counting stops for food and pictures, which is around my usual course time. What was different than usual was — hooray! — some sunbreaks during the ride. For the most part, this ride was in dry weather, unlike many of the others, especially 2017 and 2016.

Mark (right) and I make it to the finish line

Mark (right) and I make it to the finish line

A drop in turnout, due to the much ballyhooed threat of rain, was noticeable. Now in its 48th year, this featured Cascade Bicycle Club ride around a scenic island in the Puget Sound often gets up to 5,000 riders or more. Sunday’s weather was forecasted as a full day of heavy rains. Participation, as a result, seemed closer to 500 than 5,000; these, of course, are the hardcore riders.

The ride was not totally dry; a few sprinkles disrupted the good vibe. Also, winds picked up in stretches along the water (especially along Rockaway Beach Road in the southeast end) and slowed us down in the last 10 miles. But, thankfully, we did not finish soaking wet and shivering during the wait for the ferry back to Seattle.

Climbed all but two major hills 

Getting ready to ride off the ferry to start the ride

Getting ready to ride off the ferry to start the ride

The course, with an elevation gain of 2,173 feet, is a counter-clockwise spin around the Bainbridge Island perimeter. You ride off the ferry boat and head north along the island’s scenic eastern edge, with beaches along the Sound on one side and view homes on the other. At the north end, you turn west and ride along Madison Bay, through residential and commercial centers. After you reach the west edge and turn south, you face some of the toughest hills.

I continue to not be able to conquer the course’s first two major hills — Peterson Hill Road and Arrow Point Drive — and needed to walk my bike up parts of each. I believe 2015 is the only year I have successfully climbed Peterson Hill Road. These hills are about 12 miles into the course.

The courseHowever, I again made it up what might be the toughest hill, Baker Hill Road in the island’s southwest corner. It comes a short distance after the halfway-point rest stop at Battle Point Park (where we each ate a free hot potato). Since I have been able to climb this hill six of seven times, maybe it isn’t so difficult. At nearly a mile in length, it certainly is the longest steep hill.

The largest concentration of (more moderate) hills is in the last eight miles, once you get past the Lynwood Center on the south end. However, the five-mile stretch prior to the Lynwood Center was picturesque — winding roads along the water with awesome views — although we battled temperamental winds and intermittent showers in between sunbreaks.

At some point, these last hills become more tedious than difficult, although it helps knowing you are getting close to finishing the ride. I climbed them all, including the final hill, Wyatt Way, which is arduous because by that time you are spent.

“That was enough hills for me,” my brother said after the ride. For his first time riding in the Chilly Hilly, he did great. Congrats, bro! We completed the ride in serious need of a shower, but otherwise in fine shape. No crashes, no spills, no injuries, no flat tires, and no running out of chili at the post-ride chili feed — my criteria for a successful ride.

Valentine’s Day Dash is canceled (for good?)

A guy named Danny slapped hands of riders as they rode past the Lynwood Center

A guy named Danny slapped hands of riders as they rode past the Lynwood Center

This was my 40th organized bicycle event since 2011 (nowhere near my 238 road runs since 2001). I decided to ride it in part because my original February event, the Love ’em or Leave ’em Valentine’s Day Dash 5K (website taken down) at Seattle’s Green Lake Park, was canceled just days before the Feb. 8 race was to take place.

I decided not to do a separate post about this cancellation because, well, stuff happens. It appears that the race organizers, Pro-Motion Events, ran out of money.

It is with deep regret that we have to announce the cancellation of the 2020 Love ’em or Leave ’em Valentines Day Dash …,” the organizers said in an email to those who had registered and paid for it. “Scheduling, insurance and permitting issues have forced us to make this difficult decision. We’re very sorry about this and look forward to seeing you at next year’s event.”

The wait for the ferry back

The wait for the ferry back

This cancellation came after Pro-Motion Events announced in October 2019 the addition of a new half-marathon race to the 10K and 5K events (the 10K had been added in 2017). I questioned the move because of the costs involved; for example, the 13.1-mile race meant the event had to be extended outside of the Green Lake area, requiring police to be hired to patrol people running on those streets.

However, the organizers do pledge to resume the event in 2021 and include the half-marathon. Though I have run this event 11 times (the 5K 10 times and the 10K once), I am dubious it will ever return. We’ll see. I asked them for a full refund rather than taking the option of transferring my 2020 registration to 2021.

Next is more running and bicycling

4.2 miles to go! A welcome sign

4.2 miles to go! A welcome sign

After a two-month break from road races, I will get back to them with the St. Patrick’s Day Dash 5K on March 15. This has long been one of the biggest and sometimes wackiest Seattle races of the year. I’m glad to do it again as the course is once again up and down Aurora Avenue North (Highway 99), after several years of having it run on the other side (west) of Seattle Center.

I’ve done this race about a dozen times since 2003 — I’d have to count how many green, white, or black event shirts I have in closet or cabinets to know how many.

Ready to roll off the ferry!

Bundled up and ready to roll off the ferry

The following month, I’m happy to get back to bicycling with the Emerald City Ride on April 19. This popular 20-mile ride is without long, steep hills. Its attraction is being able to ride through the new Highway 99 Tunnel and on the Interstate 5 express lanes, when both are closed to automobile traffic.

Another fun Cascade Bicycle Club ride, the Seattle Bike-n-Brews, follows on May 3. I’m looking forward to great riding weather by then!

Before I go, a shout-out to my Fluke colleague Frederic Baudart — good luck to you and your wife Joy in the New York City Half-Marathon on March 15! He’ll be running with thousands of others through Times Square, Central Park, and Brooklyn; sounds like a fun time!

Thanks for reading. Go Ducks (men and women), Sounders, and Mariners!

Posted in 10K, 5K, 7 Hills of Kirkland, Bicycling, Cascade Bicycle Club, Chilly Hilly, Fluke, Green Lake, Running, St. Patrick's Day Dash, Valentine's Day Dash | Tagged , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

2020 Resolution Run 5K: 2020s off to a Rosy start!

Jen goaded me before the race, not so much for being a Duck but for not jumping in the lake

Wisconsin alum Jen Gaudette goaded me before the Rose Bowl Day race, not so much for being a Duck but for not jumping in the lake

The best way for me to start off a new year — or even a new decade — is to get up and do the Resolution Run 5K and Polar Bear Dive at Seattle’s Magnuson Park on January 1. That’s what I did this past Wednesday (the dry version) with 1,000 others. It was followed the same day by watching my Oregon Ducks take on Wisconsin in the Rose Bowl.

Two-thirds of all participants do the plunge into Lake Washington

Two-thirds of all participants do the plunge into Lake Washington (click to enlarge any picture)

I sweated 10 times harder viewing the Ducks’ 28-27 nail-biter of a win against the Big Ten Badgers than I did during the run. I was truly glad to hit the finish line of that game and de-stress. Great job, especially the defense, Ducks! Thanks for making the outcome of that game worth the trauma of getting there — although I’m extremely glad we are done with Ducks football until next fall.

Me heading to the finish line of the dry 5K

Me heading to the finish line of the dry 5K


One of my resolutions every year for the last several years has been to not get so emotionally involved in Ducks football and basketball games. This resolution remains a work in progress. We had an excellent 12-2 football season; beat the Huskies in Seattle; won the Pac-12 championship, and now are victors in the Rose Bowl. A lot was accomplished. But many of the wins were not heart-healthy, especially the one in Pasadena.

And the basketball season should also bring a similar amount of triumphs and drama. I hope to get through it better than I did the football season. Go Ducks, but please avoid having so many close games! (Seahawks, you do the same!)

Call me a wuss; I can take it

Wet 5K runners finish at right, dry side at left

Wet 5K runners finish at right, dry side at left

Back to the run. I wore my long, loose-fitting Oregon Duck running shirt to the race. Just after I parked not far from the starting line, I ran into a woman in a Wisconsin Badger red shirt. Turns out, it was Jen Gaudette, a runner friend who I used to work with in the Office group at Microsoft.

Jen has been featured in many of my posts and it was great to see her again. It was Jen who urged me in 2010 to get my ankle pain checked out by a doctor, ultimately leading to my first surgery. For that, I will always be grateful to her, even if she is a diehard Badger.

The 5K courseWhen I asked her about the game, she expressed confidence her team would be victorious, while I admitted being nervous. But Jen was more adamant about something else — that I needed to dive into the lake to really appreciate the Resolution Run experience.

I’ve done the Resolution Run 13 times now — the dry version 12 times and the Polar Bear Dive (where you plunge into Lake Washington near the end) once. I have been accused over the years of being a wuss. It’s true. I am a wuss. I prefer the dry run not so much because of the cold water, but because it is a hassle changing wet clothes afterwards, in your car, or in a tent that is often without chairs.

Some runners take their dogs through the water

Some runners take their dogs through the water

The way the course works is that everyone does a three-mile loop around Magnuson Park that includes time on asphalt roads, a soccer field, gravel trails, dirt trails, and paved trails. Again this year, there were mud puddles galore, but thankfully no stretches of ice. In the last tenth of a mile, those doing the Polar Bear Dive run straight off a boat launch into the water and back out, while those doing the dry run veer right to the finish line.

Runners at the starting line, many ready to get wet

Runners at the starting line, many ready to get wet

When I did jump into the lake in 2016, it was … OK. But nothing I felt I really needed to do again. I prefer to finish my run dry and then rush over to take pictures of all the others romping through the water.

However, I am clearly in the minority. This year’s event, run in 40-degree temperatures but dry weather, had 1,020 finishers — 688 who plunged into the lake and 332 who stayed dry. Since I first did this race in 2005, about two-thirds of the participants have preferred the Polar Bear Dive.

Strong races for Jamin and Sally 

Chris and Sally Norred did the wet 5K, with Chris showing off Sally's medal for first in her age group

Chris and Sally Norred did the wet 5K, with Chris showing off Sally’s prize for first in her age group

My dry 5K finishing time was 39:36 (12:45 per mile), a minute slower than my time of 38:35 a year ago. It was good for 241st place out of 332 finishers. I will blame the extra puddle-jumping I had to do this year; a lame excuse but the best one I’ve got. My best time for this race was 24:59 (8:02 per mile) in pre-surgery 2007, and my 5K PR is 24:32 in 2005. Full results are here.

It was awesome to see a fellow diehard Duck fan, Chris Norred, and to high-five with him during the race (he passed me in the first mile). Chris, his wife Sally and sons Louie and Ollie regularly do the Polar Bear Dive and I always look for them near the line for free chili afterwards. This is a family that does numerous runs together.

Rebecca Rader, who I work with at Fluke, heads to the finish line

Rebecca Rader (center), who I work with at Fluke, heads to the finish line

A big congrats to Sally Norred for finishing first in her age group, in an impressive time of 23:55 (7:43 per mile). Nice job, Sally!

Congrats also to former Allytics teammate Jamin King, an elite runner who finished second overall in the dry 5K in 15:34 (5:01 per mile). Club Northwest, a Seattle running club, is a sponsor and beneficiary of the Resolution Run, and Jamin is one of the club’s top runners.

Shout-outs to Jen Gaudette and to other friends who I didn’t see at this popular annual race: Becky Lymberis, a former Microsoft Small Business Center teammate (doing her first Boston Marathon in April); Rebecca Rader, a public relations consultant who I now work with at Fluke, and Barbara Clements, a former fellow reporter at the Bellevue Journal American (defunct daily newspaper), all finished strong. Sorry I missed you ladies!

Valentine’s Day Dash and Chilly Hilly next month

Great picture of mom and daughter coming out of the water together

Great picture of mom and daughter coming out of the water together

I’ve now finished 238 consecutive races without injury (knock on wood) since 2001. Run No. 239 will be the Valentine’s Day Dash 5K on February 8. This event at Seattle’s Green Lake Park has a half-marathon race as well as a 5K and 10K this year, which is interesting. I’m curious about the half-marathon route, but the event website doesn’t show a course map yet.

I’m hoping to get to 250 races by the end of this year, but also seeking to do more bicycling in 2020 than I did last year (four organized rides and and only 208.2 miles total). First up is the Chilly Hilly on February 23; I hope to ride it again after skipping it in 2018 (after my second ankle surgery) and 2019, but must get some training rides in first.

Thanks for reading, and I hope your 2020 is off to a roaring start as well.

Posted in 10K, 5K, ankle surgery, Bicycling, Chilly Hilly, Fluke, Green Lake, Resolution Run 5K, Running, Valentine's Day Dash | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

2019 Jingle Bell Run 5K: Runners wearing red light up downtown Seattle

Starting line

This event is for people-watching as you run, or even waiting at the starting line

The event organizers chose bright red long-sleeve shirts as the race shirts for the 2019 Jingle Bell Run 12K/5K. I should have worn mine. Almost everyone else wore theirs, resulting in a festive sea of red (and some green) for the 35th annual event last Sunday (December 8) in downtown Seattle.

Finishers pose with the snowman after the race

Finishers pose with the snowman after the race

I’ve only done this race five times (out of 19 years of doing races), but decided to run it this year instead of this weekend’s 12Ks of Christmas, the Kirkland event I usually run in December. Actually, the four previous times I did the Jingle Bell Run, I also ran the 12Ks of Christmas, but this year I am not. Call me a slacker; I’ve decided to shut down until January 1.

Back to the bright red shirts. I really like mine, but decided to save it for wearing during the week. For the race, I wore my lemon-and-green “O” shirt, in honor of the Pac-12 champion Oregon Ducks — we blew out a favored Utah team in the league championship game two days earlier (how ’bout them Ducks!) for a berth in the Rose Bowl.

Just had to get a picture of this colorful red suit

Just had to get a picture of this colorful red suit

Regardless of what I wore, the neon red shirts — plus the Santa hats, Christmas tutus, red tree lights, and even a couple of people in full-length red Christmas suits — provided a good look for the downtown. About 1,000 people did the timed 12K and 5K races, and several hundred more ran or walked the untimed 5K and 1-mile races. The downtown seemed lively and spirited for a mild but overcast Sunday morning.


Congestion, hills, eye-catching costumes

It's all about getting to the finish line

It’s all about getting to the finish line

I had low expectations going into this race, because I’ve never done well on this 5K course. The starting line is at Fifth Avenue and Pike Street near Westlake Center, and the first mile is going south up Fifth to the I-5 express lanes tunnel. It’s only the first mile, but I labored going up the hill; it was the most challenging part of the run.

Once you get up the hill, a wide swath of people must really narrow to fit into the entrance to the tunnel, and there is always congestion (from the people; the express lanes are closed to all cars). Inside the tunnel, you can spread out and find running room as you head north up I-5. But that’s when the people watching begins. Runners are dressed in Christmas lights, Santa outfits, ugly sweaters, and tree ornaments, and you have to look around, take it in, and enjoy the moment.

The 5K courseDespite the lingering smell of spilled oil and car exhaust inside, I actually enjoy running on the express lanes. Besides the running room, you have a steady decline for more than a mile to the turnaround point, where it gets busy again. I saw numerous runners cheat by turning around early, just to avoid the crowd (I didn’t).

The jaunt back south on the express lanes to Pike Street at Ninth Avenue includes a bit of a climb as you leave the tunnel. There’s congestion again, plus strollers and dogs, as many people start walking to get up the hill. You then take a right up Ninth to Pine, then a quick left for a three-block sprint to the finish line at Sixth and Pine.

I felt great in that final stretch and passed a few people, including a guy I wanted to beat because he took a shortcut by not going all the way to the turnaround cones.

Better time than I expected

Elite runners start at the front

Elite runners start at the front (click to enlarge any picture)

All things considered, including my history on this course, I was pleasantly surprised to finish in 38:56 (12:33 per mile), my fourth-best time out of nine 5Ks this year. Though it meant only 583rd place out of 797 5K runners who chose to be timed, I still beat my not-so-good 40:27 time (13:02 per mile) in 2016, the last year I ran this race (and the year before my second left-ankle surgery). I didn’t expect to beat 40 minutes. Full results are here.

My best time for this event is only 28:48 (9:16 per mile) in 2007, when I was completely healthy. It was one of my poorer 5K times; my 5K PR is 24:32 in 2005. 2007 was my peak year for running — three marathons, four half-marathons, 22 races total, and more than 1,800 miles logged that year. This year, I am expecting to log 310 miles (500K).

Finishers' medals

Only 12K finishers got medals, and this runner was happy with hers

This was my 13th race of the year and 237th overall, as I get closer to 250. It was good to see such a healthy turnout for this event, part of a nationwide series that benefits the Arthritis Foundation (I know arthritis; I have it in my ankle). The public address announcer called this Jingle Bell Run in Seattle “the largest Jingle Bell Run in the country.”

While I did not see any fellow runners I knew, I came across some familiar names in the results. These women all beat me: renowned philanthropist and New York Times bestselling author Melinda Gates; fellow philanthropist and former Microsoft executive Charlotte Guyman (who I interviewed and profiled for a 2012 Microsoft Alumni Foundation article); and recently retired King County Superior Court Judge Laura Inveen (who had me in a couple of jury pools). Nice job, ladies!

Resolution Run on New Year’s Day

The angels who sang

These angels sang afterwards but also walked the race and made people run around them

Good luck to my former Allytics teammates R.J. Taylor and Hayley Halstead in the 12Ks of Christmas run this Sunday. I’d join you but I really need to get my Christmas shopping and a lot of end-of-year Fluke work done.

Also, I didn’t think much of the makeshift 5K course thrown together last year and, since I don’t see any course maps on the event website, believe this year’s course is again largely on the Kirkland hillside north of the downtown. I’d love to see more of it on the Cross Kirkland Corridor, as it is for other Kirkland road runs.

More finishers in colorful outfits

More finishers in colorful outfits

I’ll be back running the Club Northwest Resolution Run 5K at Seattle’s Magnuson Park on New Year’s Day, just before watching the Ducks take on Wisconsin in the Rose Bowl. I’ve missed this race only twice since 2007 — in 2018 because of my second ankle surgery and in 2010 to attend the Rose Bowl where the Ducks lost to Ohio State.

Unless someone happens to give us great tickets as Christmas presents, I won’t be at the game this January 1. But I certainly hope we have a huge turnout of Ducks there, even if my wife and I can’t make it.

Go Ducks (and Seahawks)! Merry Christmas and Happy New Year, everyone! See you all in 2020.

Posted in 12Ks of Christmas, 5K, ankle surgery, Fluke, Jingle Bell Run, Marathons, Resolution Run 5K, Running, Walking | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

2019 Green Lake Gobble 5K: Over the jet lag and into the holiday spirit

The rain stopped just before the run, allowing for some post-race fun

The rain stopped just before the run, allowing for some post-race fun

Two days after a cross-country flight back home, I joined 1,000-plus other runners and walkers for the Green Lake Gobble 5K/10K at Seattle’s Green Lake Park last Sunday (November 17). It was good to put thoughts of airports and airplanes behind me and get into the Thanksgiving spirit with this run.

Some 10K and 5K participants finish at the same time

I spent last week in Fort Myers, Fla., helping drive social media coverage of the Fluke Corporation’s annual Xcelerate conference for customers. The trip was interesting, invigorating, and memorable; I met some great people and learned a lot. But the plane rides to and from — well, they weren’t as much fun, though they were safe and uneventful. I got my fill of flying for awhile, after six long flights total over the last two months.

So I was ready to log time on the ground. Plus, I always enjoy the holiday season. Football  is heading into its most important games, basketball is cranking up, and time off is just ahead, which means our girls will be coming home soon for several days.

All finishers got a medal

All finishers got a medal from this cheery lady

Running in the Green Lake Gobble 5K helped jumpstart the holiday mood, with people wearing pilgrim outfits or turkey hats, and lots of good cheer everywhere. (There is a Mashed Potato Munch-Off as part of this event, but I didn’t partake and really didn’t see where it was.)

Wet weather may have affected the turnout — there were 1,064 finishers for the 5K and 10K this year, compared to more than 1,500 a year ago on a cool but sunny day. But despite the sprinkles and threatening skies beforehand, not a drop fell after starting gun sounded. It was an exhilarating run on a flat course.

Back running the inner loop again

Waiting for the start

Waiting for the start

Green Lake is a race venue that I need to experience at least once a year. Usually, it’s the Valentine’s Day Dash in February, which I’ve run 11 times. But I skipped that event in 2019 after running the Tunnel to Viaduct 8K run on February 2 (and riding in the Highway 99 Tunnel bicycle ride the next day) the week prior. If there is another Tunnel Run in 2020, I probably will skip the Valentine’s Day run again, because the Green Lake Gobble is a nice alternative.

When writing about any Green Lake run these days, I always seem to digress into the inner loop vs. outer loop discussion. That’s because the Valentine’s Day Dash for many years ran on the 2.8-mile inner loop course immediately rimming the lake. To make the course a full 3.1 miles, a 0.3-mile spur is added just after Mile 2. The out-and-back spur is narrow and crowded with runners. In 2008, I tripped trying to avoid a dog, landed on someone’s foot, came down awkwardly and tore my left hamstring. I limped to the finish line in pain.

The next time that I ran this race (2010), it was, thankfully, on the 3.1-mile outer loop that mostly involves the streets surrounding Green Lake Park. There was no spur.

Well, the Green Lake Gobble course is run on the inner loop (as it was last year). On Sunday, I was extremely careful running the spur again, though being near the back of the pack meant less congestion (and only one or two dogs).

Speed-walker runs past me at the end

The Seattle Union Gospel Mission was an event sponsor, and numerous runners wore shirts reading, “Running With a Mission”

My lingering memory of this 2019 run will be the gray-haired woman in the red coat speed-walking fast enough to stay on my tail. I first noticed her after Mile 1. Hard as I tried, I couldn’t shake her — me running and her speed-walking, and staying relentlessly right behind me. It appeared that she was using me as her rabbit.

As we got to Mile 3, I attempted to kick to the finish line to leave her in the dust. However, she took off running to my surprise and then passed me in the home stretch. I passed her back and thought it was over. But then she turned on the jets and passed me again right before the finish line. I conceded defeat — if she wanted to beat me so bad that she turned her excellent speed-walking into running, I said no mas.

More 5K finishers

More 5K finishers

I don’t know what her name or time was, but I finished in 39:05 (12:36 per mile). That was good for 486th place out of 822 finishers. I was unable to improve on my 38:20 time of a year ago, but was glad to go as fast as I did with limited preparation and just getting over jet lag. (Also, tee-hee, it beat my 2008 time of 39:27 when I limped through the last mile.) Full results are here. (My best 5K time for a Green Lake race is 25:48 in 2007, and my 5K PR is 24:32 in 2005.)

While the Green Lake inner loop is flat and relatively straight, racers end up sharing it with recreational runners and walkers doing their daily exercises. Many run the opposite way as the race is going and don’t really care if they interfere with those wearing race bibs.

It is especially bad for running the 10K, which means two loops around the lake. With the second leg, there are a lot fewer racers, so recreational runners start filling up the trail. It can seem like roller derby at times, but it is what it is. Those folks have a right to the trail too.

Jingle Bell Run is next

C'mon, we're ready to run!

Restless runners at the starting line

This was my 12th race this year and 236th overall. My plan is to do one more in 2019, the Jingle Bell Run 5K in downtown Seattle on December 8, and then the Resolution Run 5K at Magnuson Park on January 1. I’ve decided not to run the Seattle Half-Marathon on December 1, even though I like the new course. I’m just unable to train for a longer run this month.

Some shout-outs: To my former Allytics colleague RJ Taylor, for signing up for her first marathon, the Vancouver (B.C.) Marathon in May; to Hayley Halstead, another Allytics colleague, for signing up for the Vancouver Half-Marathon, and to Fluke technology guru Frederic Baudart and his wife Joy, for nabbing spots in the New York City Half-Marathon in March. Good luck to all of you!

I ran the Vancouver Marathon in 2006; it was cold and rainy for parts of the run, and I didn’t have one of my better performances. But it was a scenic course through the downtown and Stanley Park and I wished I’d done it a second time. The 2006 results are still posted on the event’s website.

Happy Thanksgiving, everyone!

Posted in 10K, 5K, Bicycling, Fluke, Green Lake, Jingle Bell Run, Marathons, Resolution Run 5K, Running, Seattle Marathon, Vancouver Marathon | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

2019 Dawg Dash 5K: Gearing up for Ducks-Huskies with a run with the dawgs

Dawg fans and their dogs cross the finish line in Red Square on the UW campus

Dawg fans and their dogs cross the finish line in Red Square on the UW campus

It’s a stressful week for many of us Ducks in the Seattle area. We play the Washington Huskies this Saturday at Husky Stadium with the Pac-12 North title likely on the line.

Selfie at the starting line

Selfie at the starting line

I began this week by infiltrating enemy territory. I ran the Alaska Airlines Dawg Dash 5K last Sunday (Oct. 13), racing in and around the University of Washington campus with more than 3,000 other runners and walkers. Most were dressed in purple and many were running with their dogs. This is an event I’ve done seven times previously, and it is always spirited and dog-friendly.

I chose this race for my October run (and my 235th road run overall) mainly because it was the most convenient weekend for me — not because I wanted to talk trash with Husky fans (I didn’t). It was a hilly and challenging course, running room was tight in spots, and I recorded my worst 5K time of the year.

However, the UW is a beautiful green, tree-lined campus to run through, and fellow runners were pleasant and accommodating, even if we all got elbowed or bumped on narrow turns. Fortunately, I avoided tripping on any dogs.

The lead Husky gets ready to run

The lead Husky gets ready to run

It might have helped that I wore no University of Oregon gear or colors. Instead, I dressed neutrally, wearing my nifty 2019 Hot Chocolate Run fleece top and a Microsoft hat.

However, when I did this run in 2013 in a UO shirt and cap, nobody really gave a damn. On Sunday, I focused just on doing the run and not trying to make a statement. And good thing, because this game may not go the Ducks’ way. I also didn’t display any serious running talent. Yet, it was fun.

Pushing myself downhill to offset slow uphill climbs

Finisher poses above the big dog

Finisher poses in front of the big dog

When I first ran this race in 2002, much of the course was in and around Husky Stadium to the south. Today, neither the 10K nor the 5K crosses Montlake Boulevard to the stadium side. The 5K covers a circuitous loop around the UW campus north of Montlake (see course map below), and the 10K does the same loop plus an additional jaunt around Ravenna Park further north.

I’ve run the 10K five times (the last time being 2015), and the 5K twice prior to Sunday. I got my best 5K time for this race (26:24) in 2007, prior to my ankle surgeries, and clocked 39:46 in running it again in 2013. Those courses were similar to what I ran on Sunday, except that I remember climbing a set of stairs in the two earlier races and did not have to do that again.

The 5K course

The 5K course

The latest course was again hilly, as I said, with both downhills and inclines. The major downhill came in the first mile in running down 15th Avenue N.E. on the west edge of campus. I tried to push myself hard down this hill because I knew I’d be pretty darn slow running uphill in the later stages of the run. After navigating course twists and turns and narrow passages, and working to sidestep the dogs and strollers passing me, I certainly did labor to make it up those myriad inclines in the last mile.

Naja Ferjan Ramirez, the 5K female race winner

Naja Ferjan Ramirez, the 5K female race winner

It felt the course ran longer than a 5K when I finally crossed the finish line in 41:02 (13:14 per mile). Sure enough, my MapMyRun app said I’d run 3.32 miles (not just 3.1). Can I use that as an excuse — that the course was marked incorrectly and we all ran too long? It’d be nice if I could, as I was striving to beat 40 minutes. Full results are here.

As it was, I finished 1,219th out of 2,185 runners and walkers who did the 5K. Another 883 ran the 10K, for an impressive turnout of more than 3,000 participants. The event is for a good cause: raising money for University of Washington scholarships (hopefully, not football scholarships).

Lots of friends and former co-workers I didn’t see

A kids' dash was held after the runs

A kids’ dash was held after the 10K/5K

With that many folks doing these races, I figured there would be runners I knew. Sure enough, friends such as Barbara Clements, Jonathan Stutz, and Kate Landry all posted race pictures on Facebook or Instagram (Barbara and Kate with their dogs).

Barbara is a former Bellevue Journal-American colleague who is now media relations manager at UW Medicine. I got to know Jonathan on a project team at Microsoft; he’s now a senior manager at Amazon. UW alum Kate is one of my favorite recruiters and is a client relationship executive at Kforce.

All finishers got medals

All finishers got medals

Congrats on your run, you guys! Sorry I missed you all.

I must mention a disturbing scene after finishing the run. A runner or spectator was laying flat on stretcher about 20 yards short of the finish line, being tended to by medics and others. It was serious, because a medical vehicle with flashing lights had just pulled up to this person, presumably to take him or her to a hospital. I am hoping this person survived and recovered.

What’s next for me?

The scene at the finsh line, with medics working in the background

The scene at the finsh line, with medics working in the background (click to enlarge)

Not sure about my running plans for the remainder of 2019. I am debating running the Seattle Half-Marathon again this year on Dec. 1, but have a business trip to a Fluke conference in Florida in November and am worried about having enough time to train. I may pick a shorter race. (In fact, I just signed up for the Green Lake Gobble 5K on Nov. 17.)


Posing with the dogs

Posing with the dogs

In December, I usually do the Jingle Bell Run in Seattle or the 12Ks of Christmas in Kirkland.

What I am doing this Saturday? I will be back on the UW campus at Husky Stadium, rooting against the home team. Go Ducks!

Posted in 10K, 12Ks of Christmas, 5K, ankle surgery, Fluke, Hot Chocolate 15K/5K, Jingle Bell Run, Running, Seattle Marathon, Walking | Tagged , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

2019 Overlake Labor Day Half-Marathon and 5K: Classy event brings out 1,150+ runners on a holiday

Elite half-marathon runners crowd the starting line (photo by Alika Jenner)

Elite half-marathon runners crowd the starting line (photo by Alika Jenner)

Post-Labor Day greetings! It’s amazing how fast 2019 is zipping by us.

Labor Day is a good day to meet a friend and do a road race together. The weather is warm but not too hot, and you can get a good workout in early and then spend the rest of the day relaxing, eating, and watching sports.

Friend Jackie Soo is looking strong as she heads into the last mile (photo by Alika Jenner)

Friend Jackie Soo is looking strong as she heads into the last mile (photo by Alika Jenner)

This is also the day of the annual Overlake Labor Day Half-Marathon and 5K in Redmond, which more than a decade ago was known as the Super Jock ‘n’ Jill Labor Day Half-Marathon. I’m not exactly sure what year Super Jock ‘n’ Jill discontinued its ownership of this event and Overlake Hospital Medical Center took over as the main sponsor and beneficiary. It had to be between 2010 and 2012.

Regardless, Super Jock ‘n’ Jill remains an event sponsor and provides gift certificates totaling $850 for the top three winners in the men’s and women’s divisions and top two of the masters’ division (half-marathon only).

At any rate, I feel Overlake has taken a decent two-race event and raised the bar even higher for it. Things I like about the Overlake version:

  • Food and water before and after the races
  • Race results right at the finish line
  • A Starbucks located near the finish line at Redmond Town Center
  • Medals for all finishers, even 5K participants
  • Race shirts that I actually like to wear
  • A flat course, as advertised, that regularly draws 1,000 or more runners and walkers
  • Ample free parking

“Flat-course” advertising sells well

Jackie got this shot of me crossing the finish line

Jackie got this shot of me crossing the finish line

I ran the 5K in the holiday event this past Monday (Sept. 2). Jackie Soo, a friend from my Microsoft days, also did the 5K and patiently waited for me at the finish line. Post-race, we caught up on things over coffee drinks at the Starbucks at center court at Redmond Town Center.

Unlike many road runs where the 5K is the bigger draw, half-marathon participants outnumber 5K competitors at this event by more than 2-to-1. That’s because the half-marathon course is, as advertised, “one of the flattest half-marathon courses in the Northwest … get your PR here!” More than eight of the 13.1 miles is on the flat, flat Sammamish River Trail.

A post-race photo with our medals

A post-race photo with our medals

To wit: On Labor Day in 2016, the last time I ran in this event, I did the half-marathon. It was my 38th half and race No. 200 overall for me, coming after my first left-ankle surgery, but a year before my second. The course was flat enough that I almost beat 3 hours, finishing in 3:00:30. That has been the closest I’ve come to beating 3 hours ever since that first surgery in 2011; times of my last two half-marathons were 3:22:35 and 3:24:37. (I’ve now run 40 half-marathons total, with my PR being 1:55:33 in 2004.)

I considered running the Labor Day half again this year, but opted for the 5K because I didn’t want to do a lot of training in hot August weather. I may do the Seattle Half-Marathon in November; I liked the new course last year. But I digress.

Deja vu from 2016 in the last stretch 

The courseThe half-marathon and 5K runners started at the same time on a main thoroughfare (166th Avenue N.E.) through the Redmond shopping center and ran almost two miles together before the courses separated. It was crowded for about the first mile or so, as we turned onto the Bear Creek Trail for a loop around the south end of the center.

Runners then turned north onto the Sammamish River Trail. The 5K runners did less than a mile on this trail before splitting off onto the Redmond Central Connector trail for an out and back to Redmond Town Center. When this trail ends, you’re running on curving sidewalks behind condos for a time before you’re back on 166th N.E. to the finish line.

Turner Wiley, far left, won the half-marathon and Brett Winegar, far right, won the 5K

Turner Wiley, far left, won the half-marathon and Brett Winegar, far right, won the 5K

This last stretch was memorable from three years ago, as I ran as hard as I could to try to beat 3 hours in the half-marathon. Couldn’t quite do it. I guess the good news in 2019 is that I ran this part just fast enough to beat 40 minutes, as I finished the 5K in 39:48 (12:48 per mile). I honestly felt I’d run faster than that, but the clock said otherwise.

It was good for 254th place out of 369 finishers. Full results are here. Jackie, an avid hockey player and fan, came in at 30:55 (9:58 per mile), so she waited about nine minutes for me to cross. She said it was only her 10th race overall; it was my 10th race this year and 234th overall (my 5K PR is 24:32).

Some 790 runners finished the half-marathon, led by the impressive 1:05:25 (5:00 per mile) run by Turner Wiley. (The course record is 1:01:01, set last year. The world half-marathon record is 58:18.)

Back in a familiar neighborhood

Medals were awarded to 1,159 finishers

Medals were awarded to 1,159 finishers

I miss the energy and vibe of the Sammamish River Trail, even though I raced on it only two months ago. When working at Allytics from the fall of 2014 through this May, I walked several times a week on this trail or on the Redmond Central Connector trail. These days, my weekday walks at the woodsy Fluke Park campus in Everett are quieter and safer — I’m never threatened by a speeding bicyclist — but I do miss the colorful mix of recreational runners, speedwalkers, skaters, and skateboarders on the trail.

Pre-race fun near center court at Redmond Town Center

Pre-race fun near center court at Redmond Town Center

My next run will come after a week of vacation in Austin and then a week of business travel for Fluke to our offices in Bonita Springs, Fla. And the run will be in enemy territory — the University of Washington campus. I’m doing the Dawg Dash 5K on Oct. 13, the weekend before the Huskies host my Oregon Ducks.

I’ve run the Dawg Dash 10K or 5K at least seven times, and continue to do it even though the course includes stretches of grass and even steps to run up on the UW campus. It’s a convenient weekend for me to do a run, so I will make do.

Thanks for reading! Go Ducks and Seahawks!

Posted in 10K, 5K, ankle surgery, Fluke, Running, Sammamish River Trail, Seattle Marathon, Walking | Tagged , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

2019 Fluke Day 5K*: Company-sponsored run adds nice touch to Fluke Day celebration

Lead organizer Kate French gets ready to start the Fluke Day 5K*

Race organizer Kate French gets ready to start the Fluke Day 5K* (Fluke photo)

For people who like to write about road runs, the Fluke Day 5K comes with an asterisk. That’s because the course ran short of the 3.1-mile distance. My MapMyRun app put it at 2.92 miles.

And they're off … except me in the pink shirt, getting my MapMyRun app started

And they’re off … except me in the pink shirt, getting my MapMyRun app started (Fluke photo)

Many of you will be thinking, “Close enough!” I am inclined to agree, even if my best 5K time this year was really not my best 5K time this year.

I enjoyed this run around (and around and around) the Fluke Park campus in Everett and am glad it was part of Fluke Day last Tuesday (August 6). By offering it, the Fluke Corporation is giving its fitness-minded employees more reason to be proud of this 71-year-old company and to participate in this annual event, which celebrates the Fluke history and legacy with product demonstrations, free food, an ice-cream truck, and more.

A couple showing off their finishers’ medals

There also were activities such as basketball shootarounds, ping-pong, cornhole, ladderball, miniature golf, and outdoor chess with the large pieces.

A lot of pride in the company comes out at Fluke Day, as evidenced by one employee dressed entirely in a bright yellow business suit with black shoes (the Fluke colors are gold and black). You see how many husbands and wives and other family units work there.

Samantha LeSesne (left), an FDS product marketing manager, gives a product demo

Samantha LeSesne (left), an FDS product marketing manager, gives a product demo for our wireless sensors

Let me put in a quick plug for the Fluke Digital Systems product booth, which I helped operate for the last half-hour of Fluke Day. It was educational; I learned a lot about our relatively new Fluke wireless sensors from demonstrations by teammate Samantha LeSesne — stuff I need to know. Thanks, Samantha!

Back to the run. Thanks to lead organizer Kate French and her team of volunteers for holding the 5K* for a fourth straight year as part of Fluke Day. It was unfortunate that only about 30 people (out of 1,000 or so who work for Fluke in Everett) took part, including Kate herself. Next year, I’d like to help with the marketing.

Great to do a race on work time

Fluke teams evangelize their products to employees from other units

Teams evangelize products to employees from other units (Fluke photo)

While working at Microsoft, I ran the Microsoft Giving Campaign 5K twice, in 2007 (when it was the Diversity Dash) and 2009. It became an annual event after 2009, and I could still enter it today as a Microsoft alumnus. Both runs were fun and I enjoyed the chance to do a race with employees on work time.

Ditto for the smaller Fluke run, which took place at 11 a.m. on a Tuesday.

I joined Fluke around mid-May, so I am just coming up on three months there, and hadn’t been to a Fluke Day before. It is celebrated on a vacant asphalt space the size of a football field just outside the Fluke headquarters building where I work. Three large tents hosting the food fest and product demos take over that asphalt field, which includes a basketball court and hoops in one corner.

Ping pong ... and ice cream

Ping pong … and ice cream (Fluke photo)

We began our run near the basketball court and did three laps around the western side of the campus, which was entirely behind our building and included a small pond in the center. We ran two-thirds of the race on an actual road through the woodsy park area that is closed to traffic. The remaining third was on the gravel trail behind the Fluke building that took us back to the asphalt space.

Official times were not tracked by anyone, but a race clock stationed at the finish line (which was the same place as the starting line) let us know how fast we ran. Even though I got lapped by several runners, my lap times (11-12 minutes) did not seem horrible for someone who has had two surgeries on his left ankle since 2011.

Thanks to all the volunteers, including Britta Jones who worked the registration table (and also ran)

Thanks to all the volunteers, including Britta Jones (left) who worked the registration table (and also ran)

I finished the run as the clock struck 35:34, which for 2.92 miles is a 12:10 per mile pace. Until I learned the course was under three miles, I was jazzed about bettering my previous 5K best this year of 36:43 in April (on a Marymoor Park course that seemed suspect). But not to be; oh well.

I beat five or six people, including walkers, but this was a friendly, good-natured bunch. The other participants seemed appreciative of the opportunity and many let me take random pictures of them.

Looking ahead to more running, less bicycling

My FDS teammates Sheri Smith and Hau Huynh pose for a Fluke Day shot

My FDS teammates Sheri Smith and Hau Huynh pose at Fluke Day

This was my ninth race of 2019 and my 233rd overall. (My 5K PR, by the way, is 24:32 in 2005.) I plan to do it again next year and, as I said, will lobby for a spot on Kate’s volunteer organizing team.

My next race is likely to be the 5K route of the Overlake Labor Day Half-Marathon and 5K. This half-marathon is one of the flattest around, but I think I’m going to bypass it for the shorter run. I did my 40th half-marathon in March and will probably wait until next year or do the Seattle Half-Marathon in November for No. 41.

Fluke logoMeanwhile, my bicycling riding season appears to be over. I haven’t been able to find anyone to ride the RSVP (Ride from Seattle to Vancouver, B.C., and Party) with me on Aug. 23-24. I decline to do it alone, even though I rode it with a friend in 2014 and it was by far my best bicycling experience. Maybe next year. I’m not really ready for such a ride now anyway.

Thanks, Fluke, for the celebration and the 5K*, and thanks, all, for reading this post.

Posted in 5K, ankle surgery, Bicycling, Fluke, Marathons, Marymoor Park, RSVP, Running, Seattle Marathon, Walking | Tagged , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment