Writing, Running, Being.

The finish line is a shifty Thing and what is life, but reckoning?
Ani DiFranco

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Rehashing the Rabbit

Run Rabbit Run was an awesome race! The scenery was epic and the volunteers were super energetic and the race was run perfectly. Steamboat is gorgeous and everyone should run this race. I had some issues going into the race. Mostly fear, but also injuries. The entire day was mentally exhausting. I had a really hard time getting into it. My left knee started tightening early on and I honestly didn't think I would make it past the first aid station. This attitude would be my downfall. I shifted my focus to running aid station to aid station, thinking I would drop out at each one. But when you come into an aid station, the volunteers don't assume you're there to drop out. They are there with cowbells and smiles that tell you to keep going. So you just do.

The first climb was 6.4 miles and 3,400+ feet of elevation gain. It started at the bottom of the ski resort and went all the way up on a winding dirt road. It was really hard! Most people power-hiked up, but I ran as much of it as I could because I walk so slow. It took about 1:50 to get to the top. The first aid station was there. Then the singletrack stared. We rolled south east along the Mountain View trail and had some spectacular views that included miles of yellow Aspens and Evergreens. There was a lot of downhill on this section and my knee was not taking it well. I tried as best I could to loosen up and relax, but my knee remained at a barely tolerable pain threshold.

The next aid station was Long Lake and it was 13.2 miles in. Having completed a quarter of the race put my mind at ease a little, and I focused on getting to mile 22 where I would see my family. If my knee was completely blown-up by then (and I was sure it would be) I would stop. I had a drop bag at Long Lake so I refilled my Perpetuem and a few gels. The next aid station, Base Camp was only 4 miles away so that perked me up a little. This section was fairly flat and ran through some pretty meadows and mountain lakes. The scenery was too good. How could anyone feel bad in a place like that?

I don't really remember the next aid station much. My knee was doing better because I hadn't
been doing much downhill, so I think I just rolled through this one. It was mile 19 or so. Leaving this station, we began the Continental Divide Trail. The next section included a few creek crossings and provided more lovely scenery, with more lakes. It was really sunny by now and we weren't running through trees anymore so I was getting pretty hot. I saw a guy on a bike off in the distance and hoped it was Brian. It was! He took some pictures and cheered me on, then rode off to meet me at the Rabbit Ears turnaround. He told me Erin and Jonas were waiting for me at the Dumont aid station less than 1 mile away. I picked up the pace to get there.

It was so great to see my family at Dumont. It was the biggest aid station so there were lots of spectators hanging out. There were drop bags here as well and I sat down to refill. When I stood up, I got dizzy and realized how hot I was. I took some Endurolytes for the heat and some Tylenol for the knee. The next section was a steep, and I mean steep 2.5ish mile climb up to the Rabbit Ears rocks. I alternated jogging and hiking for the first mile of this road, then resorted to a slow crawl as it got steeper and steeper. For those of you in CO Springs, I'm talking Incline-steep, but without the steps! I noticed Brian's bike in the bushes and laughed because I realized it was too steep to ride any further. I wondered how he had even gotten that far on his bike and how the hell he hiked to the top in bike shoes!

Finally I started hearing cheers and more cowbell and saw Brian sitting on a rock laughing and cheering. We took a few pictures next to the Rabbit Ears rocks, then slid down together, marveling at the steepness of this road. The hard part was supposedly over. Brian got back on his bike and rode back to the aid station and I started running again. The steep descent aggravated the knee again. And some other parts, but I don't remember details. I made it back to the aid station and was completely wiped out and unmotivated to keep going. I said goodbye to the family and a drunk dude in a bunny suit walked with me out of the aid station. We walked and talked for a couple minutes, then I told him I was ok to start running again.

I don't remember much of the next section. I was trying to catch up to a guy who was walking way ahead of me. It was really hard to keep running at this point. I was losing focus and had no motivation left. The next aid station was mile 32. When I came in for water, one of the volunteers gave me a hug. That did me in emotionally, and I completely lost it. Started crying and shaking and couldn't stop. A man told me I was running really hot and forced me to sit. He put some ice in the back of my shirt and said not to get up until I take 1 gel and finish the cup of water he had given me. The ladies surrounded me and gave me hugs and told me it was going to be ok. One woman asked what I was thinking about and I said "I still have such a long way to go." She told me I couldn't think about it that way and I should break it down. The next station was 5 miles away, take it a half mile at a time. Once I cooled down and stopped sobbing I hopped up, thanked them and took off. I looked at my watch and realized I had been there for ten minutes!! Oops! Oh well, it's better than breaking down between aid stations I guess.

The next section went ok. I walked up the steeper hills and ran everything else. Long Lake was up next and I didn't spend much time there. Grabbed some stuff from my drop bag and then left. Only 13 miles to go! Then next section was really hard. It was six miles and I had to climb back up to the top of the ski resort. At first, I focused on getting to mile 40, a half mile at a time. Then the battery on my Garmin died and I was left with no concept of time or distance and no one around to keep pace with. Ughhh. If this was the only part of the race I remembered, I would never do another one. I must have slowed down considerably here. I couldn't even remember to run. I was barely mozying along. And I felt like I was stopping every quarter mile to pee. Not kidding! Maybe I overhydrated? But then I ran out of all fluids and was without them for a long time. I was ok physically because I was in the shade and the air was cooling anyway.

After what felt like an hour, I came up on another runner and asked if he knew how far to the aid station. He thought it was 3 miles away. I started running again and passed him. I kept thinking aid was right around the corner. He had to be off on that estimation, but who knows? It did feel like an eternity when I finally got there and I was barely moving that whole time. I was getting pissed when each turn provided no aid station and I knew I was at the top of the mountain and it should be there. The mental battle that took place here is something I never want to experience again. Since I didn't have Garmin to tell me where the hell I was, I relied on the pink flags that marked the course. I focused on run/walking flag to flag and tried to be happy that I was on the course and not lost. If I stayed on the course, I would eventually reach the aid station...and the finish line.

<-- This is what The Rabbit became between miles 40 and 45.

Eventually I got there. I have never been so happy to see another human being. This was the top of the resort and it was 6.4 steep miles down to the finish. I walked/slid the first part. Then I took Tylenol again and let gravity carry me down. There wasn't much I actually had to do here. Just try to relax and absorb all the pain, especially in my knee. I had to tell myself that I could tolerate that pain for about an hour. It would all be over after that. Making peace with that hour was really hard though. After about 30 minutes, (I think...still no concept of time) I saw my shining beacon of light in the distance. Not the finish line, but something almost as good....my sister, Erin! She was dressed to run, and wearing a watch! Hooray! I had company and the time. I picked up the pace and enjoyed the scenery again. We even passed a couple more people on the way down. My ears were radars scanning for cowbell. Finally it came and that was my cue to sprint. I saw Brian and Jonas and Fred, the race director. All waving and cheering and blowing horns. I kicked it in and got a huge hug from Fred. I told him I would see him next year for sure. Then hugs from my people, beer, and pizza. I have never been so happy to finish a race. Official time was 12:59:52. And I was not DFL. Next year I want to be around 11:30. I think I can do that.

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Run Rabbit Run this Saturday. Some pre-race thoughts.

"Can we go to the hotel, Mom?"
"Are we going to the hotel today?"
"Is it time to go to the hotel?"
"I want to go the the hotel NOW!"
"Please can we please go to the hotel?"


Apparently I'm not the only one excited about this trip. Jonas and I are excited for different reasons, obviously. He is obsessed with hotels! The pool, the waffles, the TV, the freedom to jump from bed to bed without getting in trouble because Mom just wants you exhausted at the end of the day....what's not to love about a hotel? Brian, Jonas, Zeke, Erin (my sister) and I are leaving for Steamboat Springs on Friday morning. I'm running Run Rabbit Run, a 50 mile trail race on Saturday. I'm getting really excited about this race. I have never been to Steamboat and the course sounds beautiful. Brian is bringing his mountain bike so he will get to enjoy all of the awesome singletrack as well.

Body-wise, I'm not 100%. Pretty sure I have PF in both feet (tape helps) and my hips are having their usual issues. It's so annoying. They get tight after about 2 hrs of standing around at work. Not sure they're going to like 12 hrs of running in the mountains, but somehow it will work out. It always does.

Things I am looking forward to:
Experiencing new singletrack
Seeing the mountain lakes
Finishing another 50
The beer at the finish line

The first climb (3,450 feet in 6.4 miles...Ouch!)
That I will start to hurt too early and have to shuffle the whole thing
That I will not make the time cut off due to this problem

I guess I am as ready as can be. I am more happy than nervous (for once!) and I just can't wait to get out there!

In other news, Jonas and I went to the Happy Apple Pumpkin Festival last weekend. We picked apples and went on tractor rides. It was really fun. Turns out Jonas doesn't like apple pie. He'd rather just eat the apples....fine with me!

Also, Jonas started riding a 2-wheeler. He rode all the way around Memorial Lake (1 mile) on Sunday. I am one proud mama! And another first... his first soccer game last Saturday. Watching 3-4 year olds play soccer is equal parts frustrating and hilarious. Four of the children on our team refused to play in the first game, so we had to borrow kids from the opposing team. For the second game (yeah, it was a double-header. Who does that to 3 year olds? More importantly, who does that to parents of 3 year olds?) it took a large amount of bribery to get him out on the field, and then there was nothing I could do to get him to participate or even pay attention to the game. He waddled around, picked some grass, picked some buggers, stole a practice ball and brought it onto the field to play with and spent the rest of the time whining and clinging to my legs. Oh well. I expected as much. He's 3. I'm ok with calling this season "exposure" (expensive exposure) and if he doesn't want to play in the games that will be fine. I'm not too worried about this behavior lasting long because once he's in high school there will be girls around. Surely that kind of incentive will trump my waffles.

I will be sure to update with a race report next week. Send me positive vibes on Saturday. Hope you all have a great weekend!

Thursday, September 2, 2010

Xterra Lory

I did the Xterra Lory off-road triathlon last Sunday. I was sort of dreading it. I agreed to do it only because my friend Natalie wanted someone familiar to suffer with during her first triathlon. I was not thrilled about doing a triathlon I had not (even a little) trained for. BUT... I knew I would be glad I did it once it was over so I sucked it up and got in the water.

Natalie and I before the race.

I haven't been in the pool in months and I haven't consistently swum in years so I didn't expect much more than just finishing the swim. Once I got going it felt really good and I decided to race this race rather than just finish it. I finished the swim (1/2 mi) in 13:48, 10th-ish out of the water.

I was super nervous for the mountain bike ride because when Natalie, Brian and I rode the course a few weeks ago I had a really off day. Certain technical spots that I knew I could ride were really getting in my head and I took the descent like a wuss! I never got over that ride until the bike part of race day. Turns out triathletes (the ones on my end of the pack) don't ride the technical spots anyway. That was actually really frustrating and exhausting. The first 1.8 mi was a pretty steep climb. I pushed hard up since I planned to get passed like crazy on the switchbacky downhill. Occasionally I would get behind someone I wanted to pass, but lacked the guts to do so until someone came up behind me and wanted to pass. Then I would just follow those people around the guy I wanted to pass. This method proved pretty destructive as I lost a lot of time and places to my hesitation. Gotta work on that.

The downhill section was about 1.5 mi and whatever was chewing away at my brain when I practiced the course was gone. I rode it well and only got passed a few times. I was so relieved when it was over though. That's when all my nerves and bad vibes about this race finally melted away. The rest of the course was pretty flat and fast. That doesn't mean I didn't get passed a lot though! Haha! My excuse is that I don't have a mountain bike of my own right now and have only gone on 4 rides this summer. Again, it's been years since I have ridden regularly. I just feel like I need to include that little disclaimer. I finished the 10.5 mi bike in 1:14, no idea what my rank among women was.

Next up was the run. It was hot! I didn't hydrate properly on the bike. I blame my poor coordination and lack of bike handling skills. They left me high and dry for the run. We ran up the same climb that we rode up. It felt much steeper this time though. I shuffled up, but did not walk. I slowly picked off other competitors and got passed by one. On the downhill I passed several more people. My goal was to pass everyone I could see on the downhill and I did! Then it flattened out and I held my place. I had no idea if the course was 4 or 5 miles (it was 5), so I was freaking out a little. I drank about 16 oz of water on that short course. It was hot! I felt a little wobbly like I was going to pass out so I took a gel. Before I knew it I was off the singletrack and it was downhill on the road to the finish. I caught another woman about 100 yards from the finish and 2 men. Run time was 47:20. Then there was a 40 foot slip and slide with a blow up pool at the end. I dove onto the slide but it wasn't very silppery. I bounced. Decided that was enough humiliation for one day and climbed around the muddy pool at the end of the slide. Done!

Final time was 2:19:03. 4th in my age group and 25th female. I'm actually pretty happy with that and would love to train for it and do it again next year to try to beat my time. But past that, I think I'll just stick to my 2-3 running events per year. I will always like the simplicity of running best. Fewer things to remember to pack!

Sorry for the lack of pictures, but no one needs to see me in my tri-tard uniform! Not. Flattering.

Saturday, August 21, 2010


Wow, it's been a long time since I've blogged! I'm making myself sit down and write for 20 mintues. Annnnd, GO!

I started running again in July after taking some time off for a knee injury. I have gotten some decent long runs in since, but they are hurting. I think it's because I didn't have a great base going into this because of those injuries. I'm sort of cramming now. Besides rest and ice, I have discovered two things that seem to help keep my injuries at bay. One is KT tape (kinesiotape) which I've been using on my feet and achilles tendons because they get really sore on long trail runs. The other is Hammer Tissue Rejuvenator, which is a pill that contains glucosomine and some other good stuff for joints. Maybe these things are placebos, but I don't care! My injuries might have all been mental (sometimes I really think I'm going crazy) but I still need a cure for them!

I have had 2 good long runs at altitude so far to prepare for Run Rabbit Run. One was a couple weeks ago, I ran up and down Pikes Peak. That was one of the coolest experiences ever! I had never been on top of a mountain before and it felt really good to get up my first by running. The run was a little over 26 miles and took 6 1/2 hours! I can't wait to do that run some more in the future so I can get faster. I want to do the Pikes Peak Marathon next year.

This is Barr Camp, 1/2 way up Pike's Peak.

My other noteworthy long run was yesterday. I ran 2 laps of Rampart Reservoir, then added a little for a 30 miler. I did the first lap over 30 minutes faster than the second lap. Oops! Went out too fast I guess. I was in a ton of pain after that run, but now I am feeling good again. My hips are really sore and tight but my legs and feet seemed to miraculously heal overnight.

Blue sky and green grass at Rampart Reservoir.

I haven't really talked about this at all, but I'm doing an Xterra next weekend. I got roped into it by a friend and I'm going to do it because it's her first triathlon, but I don't think I will race hard. It don't want to push my luck with injuries that I just got under control and my race is only 3 weeks later. I'm sort of dreading it, but whatever. I'll get through it and it will be over soon enough.

In non-running related news:
Jonas turned 3!
My husband got a new job as the service manager at the bicycle shop I work for.
I'm going to the Heartland 100 in October to pace Tara (Ok, that's running-related)
I signed Jonas up for soccer. It starts the first week of September and it will be his first sport.

My 20 minutes is up and I'm glad I finally got around to blogging!

Happy Leadville and Pike's Peak Marathon weekend everyone!

Saturday, July 3, 2010

a backyard and a hammock and a paid-off student loan

To make up for depressing posts, I will list some happy/funny things. I love lists. Especially bulleted ones.
  • Kimya Dawson is awesome. Jonas and I saw her about a year ago at an art gallery here in CO Springs and she played her children's album, "Alphabutt" which included this song, "Happy Home (Keep on Writing)" which I fell in love with. She wrote it for her favorite teacher.
  • Brian has given me the go-ahead to go back to school for a Master's. In whatever I want! Well, not really. It has to eventually be profitable in some way. Still thinking...
  • On a whim, I decided to embroider a flower on my living room curtain yesterday. It took about 6 hours!
  • Jonas loves the Black Eyed Peas. Especially "Imma Be". I've exposed him to a wide variety of music that I consider important, but the kind that spoke to him was something we accidentally listened to in the car! Oh well, whatever floats his boat!
  • The tubes that Brian is using to make my hardtail were one of three sets that were custom drawn for Pinarello's daughter. I can't wait til it's done and ready to ride.
  • I remember the day Brian and I admitted to each other that we were Croc-curious. We were riding cruisers downtown at night and we passed a shoe store with a Croc poster in the window. "They do look sort of comfortable, I guess." "Yeah but I would never buy them." "I'll buy you a pair if you buy me a pair." "Sure. Size seven. Pink."
  • I bought a 4 pound bag of chocolate chips at Costco right after I decided to cut sugar out of my diet. I wasn't going to eat them. I was going to bake things for the guys at work and Brian's work too. I figured if I did end up eating them accidentally, what's the worst that could happen? I gain 4 pounds? Worst case scenario. Anyway, there is about one pound remaining and after that, I'm back on the wagon.
  • My friend Paula just finished her first Ironman. She's amazing.
  • We went on a hike with some of Brian's friends who were visiting from Cleveland and when I was helping Jonas pee, he peed all over my feet in front of everybody.
  • When my sister Erin was a kid and couldn't find anyone to play with, my other sister Teresa would charge Erin money to let her in her room to watch Teresa play with her friends. Erin wasn't allowed to participate or touch anything, but she still paid to get in. This is on the happy list because it's a measure of desperation that I'm thankful I haven't reached!
I hope you all have a fun 4th of July. I'll be working and then hopefully watching some fireworks with the family!

Tuesday, June 29, 2010


I'm a little down. My knee isn't healing. I can't seem to get past 3 miles before it blows up. I need to go see the Healer again for some Active Release. I hope I can work that into the budget for next month. You know what really grinds my gears? The term "overuse injury." I don't overuse my body. I run, sure. But I was under the assumption running is included the Knee's job description. Or maybe I am so highly evolved that my body is meant to perform nothing more than the movements required to log into Facebook and drive a car. Maybe Jonas's kids will be born without functional knees. Just pre-bent legs (for aesthetic purposes) and chairs glued to their butts.

I'm trying not to be a Negative Nancy but I'm getting really frustrated with running. Or lack thereof. I'm even going through the proper stages of grief to cope with the loss of running in my life. First denial, where I ran through knee pain, convincing myself it was nothing. Then anger. Fuck you knees, I'm not aqua jogging. I
hate aqua jogging. Do what I tell you to do, you bastards! And now I'm in stage 3. Bargaining. I've invented a running god to whom I've prayed, "I promise I'll never sign up for another race as long as I live, just please give my knees back for the sake of my sanity!"

I've been getting conflicting messages about the perceived length of life. Cathy keeps telling me that life is short. Life is short. Life is short. Life is short. You always hear that, you know? Like you'd better hurry the hell up and figure out what it is you're meant to do and who you're supposed to be. And then in the same breath they'll tell you how young you are. So which is it? I met a couple in their 80's at the bike shop. Both triathletes who outlived their spouses and found each other in their late 60's. There I was talking to a woman who is eighty about her race last weekend. One I couldn't do because my knees are shot. That was too ironic. What do I even have left? Is it wrong to aspire to run the rest of my life? How do people do that?

I woke up early to run but walked back with a lump in my throat after less than 3 miles. Though my eyes were busy containing tears of frustration, they still noticed the other runners on the trail. Jealousy is an evil bitch. She told me not to smile at them. She told me they were all assholes and that I should stick a foot out and trip them as they ran by (I didn't). I wanted to hate everyone because my knee was stiff and swollen without a valid excuse (aside from overuse). But how can I be angry when I'm on a beautiful trail in Cheyenne Canyon? And I live in Colorado. A place where people don't just live to 80, but they run there. How can I be angry this early in the morning, when the sun has barely risen and the day hasn't been given a fair chance? How can I be sure my knee will crap out the next time I try? And how can I be sure I won't get to be 80 and running someday too?

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

picking up chicks

My Jonas is an only child and will most likely remain one. Socializing him has been hard because I'm shy. I've really been making an effort to find friends for him and it's not been easy. The ones we have are great, and he's very comfortable with them, but I feel I need to expose him to more people and kids. Not just expose him to them, but allow him to develop relationships. So we go to playgrounds and storytime and pretty much any event I come across that is for kids. My mission is always to find friends, and we do find cool people to play with while we're there, but I've yet to leave with anybody's phone number.

I think I am the only mom in Colorado Springs who has only one kid over the age of two, and who is not planning to have any more children. Most of the families around here seem to have three or four kids (which seems excessive to me but more power them) and they all play happily together at the park. They don't need any outsiders like my kid does. I'm really intimidated by the moms with several children. I want to ask them out on a playdate or something but I feel like they already have everyone they need right there in their family. Why would they need to hang out with us?

Then there are the cliques. The friends that already know each other from church, school, or their subdivisions. How is a non-church goer with a younger-than-school-aged child supposed to break into that scene? I need some tips from dudes on how to pick up chicks. I've come to sympathize with guys at bars who are there to get phone numbers and dates (and laid). I want to give my number to every single one of those boozy-breathed assholes along with a great big hug that says "I know what you're going through, man." Is this really what it's like? Women are so unapproachable, especially when they're in groups. No wonder males are so strongly led by their libidos. It has to be that way because properly approaching women is pretty freaking perilous and no other force on this earth is strong enough to face the kind of degradation that is risked. Except maybe the love of one's offspring.

Last week I thought I caught a break. A woman approached me. She struck up a conversation and I found it easy to talk to her. She was funny, nice, attractive and had only one child. "This is the one," I thought. "It's now or never....don't lose her." And then her true intentions floated to the surface as she too-casually mentioned the dreaded name of the multi-level marketing cosmetic company that claims to empower women but really shoves them back into hose and heels where they are brainwashed then scammed....Mary Kay. "Ohhh...crap. She sells Mary Kay. I know where this is going...." Ya win some, ya lose some.

So I've been putting myself out there every morning. Out there at the playground, among the ever-judging faces of the moms who already have good-enough friends. Just trying to choke down bits of pride until I work up the courage to ask for some digits.

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

running break

I haven't been running. I plan to start on Monday, when all of my nagging injuries will magically disappear. I've been doing a pretty good job of not going crazy. I've been working, playing guitar, crossfitting, and riding a lot! Well, a lot for me anyway. I went on a really fun mountain bike ride on Sunday with people from work. It caused a fight with my husband who had plans that I ruined, but I have to say it was damn worth it! I've been going to the new Criterium ride center on Fridays (when my husband is there working) and riding the Santa Fe Trail with Jonas in the Chariot. It's fun but man, I'm so out of shape on the bike! We stopped to play at the playground at Palmer Lake last Friday. It is quite the scenic playground!

We had a schizophrenic, crack-head neighbor ( I know, what a combination, right?!) who was finally "escorted" out of the neighborhood by the police because his girlfriend had had enough. Now there is a permanent restraining order and all the neighbors are free to come outside and socialize without their lives being threatened. It is nice to see people on their porches smiling again. That's how summer should be. There are a few things I will miss about Schizophrenic Crack-Head Jerry. The way he used to cumpulsively hose down his driveway for an hour every afternoon. The police siren noises he would make, amplified by a megaphone while my kid was napping. The narrating of the neighborhood happenings in his auctioneer voice, also amplified by said megaphone. The random threats and accusations. The way he would call the police on you if he caught you looking in his general direction. Those are things I just don't think I'll ever get with any other neighbor. Oh well.

I wish I could write about running or training for something. Some positive things about a running break: My guitar is getting daily workouts. It's amazing, the things you realize you've neglected when you can't run. My house is clean. I'm painting the living room and kitchen tomorrow. I'm very close to getting around to painting the dragon/castle mural in Jonas' room, which I drew about 6 months ago. I might not be happy, but I'm productive! Breaks can be good.

Sunday, May 23, 2010

Paintbrush hairs and temper-tantrums

Sometimes all I can think about is how far I have to go. Then again, sometimes I can't see the big picture at all, but ironically, I can see tiny hairs that the brush left behind. I get caught up in them and obsess over them. Such a sad brave thing to be a brush hair that gets stuck in a painting. Those little bristles sacrificed themselves for art. Like suicide bombers. I remember when I sacrificed myself for art. And now I stay within the lines or do nothing at all. I wonder about the rest of the brush. What it's been up to, what its strokes are like these days and if it's different without the missing hair. I wonder if that hair is proud of where it ended up or if it longs to be moving again. It will never be a part of another piece. It is stuck.

I've lost too many friends since becoming a mom. I got stuck in a picture I painted and they all kept moving. Or maybe I'm just bad at keeping in touch. There are a lot of redneck-grandma cliches that swarm my brain when I think about where my life is going. "You made your bed, now lie in it" is one. I know how lame that sounds, but it won't go away. I keep thinking all it takes is strength, which is good, because that's something I have. But how long can a person expect to live believing their entire life is punishment?

No one ever mentioned all the guilt involved in marriage and mothering. Maybe because no one else has anything to be guilty about? Sometimes I pull myself aside for a performance evaluation: Are you doing it right? No. Do you know which areas need improvement? Yes. Ok, can you try harder? Meh.

The passion in a child's temper-tantrum is so intense and so real. He may be pissed about something completely stupid, but the emotions are undeniably alive. Jonas threw a fit when we had to leave. That always makes my heart ache. I know how much it hurts to leave when you're having fun. I didn't want to leave either.

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Five Trails Half Marathon: Leavenworth, KS

On Sunday, I ran the inaugural Five Trails Half Marathon in Leavenworth, KS. This is my home town and it was exciting to be a part of their very first half marathon. The race went really well for a first-time event. It was well organized and had a great turnout. About 260 people showed up to run the crazy-steep hills in the rain in little ol' Leavenworth. That was exciting.

Although I lived in Leavenworth from ages 12-18, I never bothered to learn about its history. I remember bits of it from school, but didn't retain anything. I knew that it was a small town and I was bored there and that was it! When I came back to do this race, I wondered why it was called the "Five Trails" Half, even though the course didn't include a single trail. It was run entirely on streets and I didn't even know of any trails in Leavenworth. Then my mom told me they were historic trails: The Oregon Trial, The Leavenworth-Pikes Peak Express, Mormon Pioneer Trail, California Trail and Santa Fe Trail. Pretty cool!

Kansas has a reputation for being flat. In 2003, three geographers did a study that compared the flatness of an IHOP pancake to Kansas. The result was that Kansas is in fact flatter than a pancake! But if you've ever ventured off the interstate and gone running in the rolling plains of eastern Kansas, you'd beg to differ. This course was hilly!

That's one voluptuous pancake!

The weather was perfect for running. It was overcast and lightly raining. My mom, younger sister Teresa and I all ran. My youngest sister Erin would have, but she is out with a stress fracture in her foot. Teresa thinks of herself as the non-athletic, non-competitive one, but I knew she had been training pretty hard for this race. I had only a week and a half of running between my rest period after the 50 and this race. I decided I would try to stick with Teresa. That lasted about 2.5 miles. I kept her in sight for about 7 miles, then she completely dropped me and went on be the 2nd female finisher! Her time was 1:41, which was a PR by 10+ minutes!! I think she's doping (shhhh).
There's Teresa making it look easy.

I finished 6th with a time of 1:47 which wasn't a PR, but I did get my first age group award that was not by default. I was 2nd in my age group and got a pint glass from the High Noon Saloon and a complimentary entry into next year's race. My mom got a PR (by 8 minutes) and finished in 2:28 and was 3rd in her age group (but I won't tell you what age group that is since I know she reads my blog). We forgot to get a picture of us all together with our pint glasses.

We made Erin get out of the car and run the last 1.5 miles with my mom on her injured foot. Don't feel sorry for her, she was happy for the "permission" to run!

It was really neat to run in my home town. Every road brought back a ton of memories. I didn't remember the hills being quite so steep...guess I blocked those out. There was a water station at every single mile! I don't think I've ever seen that much aid in a race, but better to have too much than too little. I couldn't believe how many volunteers and spectators came out in the rain to watch the race and cheer on the runners. There was cheering along the entire course. That really surprised me since it was small race in a small town. Tracey from Midwest Running Mom came out to cheer because she lives nearby. Unfortunately she is injured as well, otherwise she would have been out there running. It was really great to see her again. Especially at the top of a long, steep climb!

I passed someone in the last mile. Yay!

I will definitely be using my complimentary entry to next year's race. It was just too fun to pass up and was even worth the 10 hour night drive.

The finish was on the track. NOT my favorite place to run!

Saturday, May 1, 2010

Run Rabbit Run

Thanks to my generous investor, Aunt Maryann, I am now officially registered for the Run Rabbit Run 50 miler in Steamboat Springs, CO on September 18th. It's going to be higher, steeper and tree-ier than the Fruita 50. Don't worry, I'll train harder this time. The time limit is 2 hours more gracious than Fruita to accommodate the tougher course.

This course description is taken from the website:

Course Description
The course is a spectacular 50 mile run through the beautiful mountains and fall colors of the Routt National Forest of northern Colorado. The race starts bright and early at the Steamboat Springs ski area (elevation, 6,900 feet) and proceeds up, up, up to Mount Werner (elevation, 10,568 feet) then goes up and down and up and down some more and then across the Continental Divide to Rabbit Ears Mountain (elevation, 10,500 feet) before heading back and way down to the ski area.

The course will have nearly 9,000 feet of climbing. This course will test the endurance and spirit of any runner, whether you’re a tortoise or a hare.

Elevation Profile & Course Map
The Run Rabbit Run course is very much like life, in that there are many, many little and not so little ups and downs in between the obvious highs and lows. Be prepared. Any resemblance between the course profile and rabbit ears is purely coincidental.

My training plan will consist of more miles in the mountains and lots of time spent at high altitude on Pike's Peak. I will do back to back long runs to get my legs used to running tired. I also need to come up with an injury prevention plan. I have recently discovered ice baths for recovery. Not pleasant, but pretty effective. I have started strength/weight training which will hopefully make me stronger and help prevent injuries. I promise to be more proactive with my stretches, to not only do them when something is already bothering me. And I'm changing up my race nutrition plan to the liquid/gel diet. I'm going to try Hammer products first and see how my system handles it, then I'll go from there.

Can't wait to start training officially. Send healthy, injury-free vibes my way!

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Desert RATS Trail Running Festival 50 mile: Apparently there's crying in ultrarunning

When I first heard about ultra-running, I thought "Cool. Great way to combine my two passions: running and eating." Just running and running all day long. Going from aid station to aid station, all stocked with fruit, cookies, sandwiches, pizza, m&ms and chips. Sounds like a good time! Turns out, there's a bit more to it than that. First of all, there's nothing appealing about solid food when you've been running in the sun for hours on end. There's also the fatigue to be dealt with, both physical and mental, the blisters, the pumped-out, over-worked leg exhaustion, and...oh yeah, that pesky ENDLESSNESS. Still, I had the most awesome time doing it!

The days leading up to my race were filled with fretting about the weather, worrying about getting sick, repeatedly interrogating Brian (who rides Fruita frequently) about the Kokopelli trails until I had a complete description of the course. I anguished over every detail just to have something solid to occupy my brain until the race started. Needless to say, I was nervous! On race-day morning, my family and I ate breakfast at the hotel. I sat very quietly, trying to eat at least half of a banana, just listening to the other runners' conversations in the room. I quickly found that I was in a room full of genuine bad-asses. I overheard a woman talking about her fifth Leadville 100, and her third Wasatch 100, and the other runners all commiserated. "Oh yeah, I remember my fifth Leadville. My 10th Leadville was much better. Finally got that sub-24." Oy ve! I was hanging with the wrong crowd. So this is the conversation that took place in my brain during breakfast: "Hi guys, today is my first 50. Actually it's my first over-30. And it's also my first trail run over 16 miles." *wince*
*condescending looks* "Um, what are you doing here?"
Then I started to cry. Not in my head, but in real life. I cried at breakfast. Very subtly, I doubt anyone but Brian noticed, but still, grrr...what a freak!

After that, I pulled on my big-girl panties and got in the car. Brian drove to the race and accompanied me to the port-o-potty and the start. The race started, I said good-bye and started running. The race began with a long switchbacky climb up the Moore Fun trail. When the 2000 foot climb ended, I looked around and the scenery was amazing. All fears subsided. The descent was awesome. Super technical, but really fun. At the bottom was the first aid station and surprise! Brian and Jonas. The next section was amazing! We ran a section of Mary's Loop which is a high shelf above the Colorado River. The trails were smooth, fast and rolling. I felt great. I found a small group of women to run with and it made the time pass quickly. The next aid station was mile 9.2, the Pizza Overlook. I filled my 12 oz bottle and grabbed a couple banana slices and pressed on. The next section wound along the rim of the river and the view was awesome.

The sun was out in full force now. There wouldn't be another aid station for 7 miles. This leg proved to be long! It was rolling, but never very steep. I fell in with some slower people and told myself not to pass because it was so early in the race. In retrospect, I should have gone on ahead because I was feeling good and I could have gained ground during that section. I eventually passed them and came into the Troy Built aid station at 19.2 miles. My skin was really red so someone sprayed sunscreen on me, I grabbed more bananas, took an Endurolyte and trudged on up the hill. This was a bu-RUTAL climb. It was steep, long and on a jeep road, so the scenery was less than stellar here. I couldn't believe I was less
halfway there. I was feeling pretty discouraged. When I entered the singletrack again, Mack Ridge trail, I brightened a bit. The climb was more mellow and the incredible views returned. The Mack Ridge descent was really fun but my shins were beat. The next aid station would be the start/finish/turnaround. There were a ton of 25 mile runners around me that were really picking up the pace coming into the finish of their race. I kept holding back, knowing I still had a long way to go. I was surprised and elated to see Brian when I came out of Mack Ridge onto the road. He said to go on ahead to the aid station and he'd stay in that spot with my refills and compression socks. I ran the 1.3 miles down the hill to the start/finish aid station and grabbed a few things to eat and refilled all my water. This aid station was a hard one to stop at because there were so many people finishing their 25 mile race. I wanted to stop so badly. It didn't help that this race allowed 50 mile entrants an official 25 mile time if they chose not to go on at this point. Turns out, a lot of runners took them up on this. Only 46 of the 72 people who entered the 50 actually went on to finish it.

So, mini-meltdown, then I got the hell out of that aid station. I ran back up that hill toward Brian crying. Yes, crying. Again. How many freaking times was I going to cry on this trip? The 1.3 mile climb to Brian was steep and long. He gave me the compression socks. My legs were all pumped-out and shaking as I pulled them on. It was hard to say goodbye, but I trudged up Mack Ridge, keeping my thoughts on the next aid station. Zeke tried to follow me and I really wanted him to come, but I still had 24 miles left. I don't know if I mentioned this, but the course was 2x 25 mile loops. The second loop was run in the opposite direction so I got to see the people behind me. Many of them were 25 mile runners, and some were 50 mile runners that would not go on after the halfway point. I was one of the last 50 milers to finish and make the cut off, so this loop would prove to be lonely. I was grateful to see the folks at the Troy Built aid station again. Just under 32 miles, already longer than I had ever run in my life. The next aid station was a long 7 miles away and I would see no one. This is were I slowed the most. I walked a lot of the hills that I knew I could run and basically stopped caring about everything. I was so pissed! I don't know what I was pissed about. I think it was the fact that the aid station was so far off. It didn't even seem real. The heat was now at its worst. I felt like I was stranded in the middle of nowhere and I would never see another human again. All I could hope was that a mountain biker would find my dead body in the trail and notify the next aid station. I even contemplated hucking myself off a cliff into the river around 36-38 miles. I got over this feeling by holding onto a piece of wisdom someone once gave me about ultras. "It never always gets worse." It was true. There were peaks and valleys. I would bonk, then recover, bonk, then recover. During the hard times I kept faith in the fact that I would rise out of it. It helped to mentally make peace with the lows. I told myself it was tolerable, that I could stay here. When I wondered what I was doing out there and searched for a way out, I reminded myself that this is what I love. This is life and this is how I love to live. This is where I am happiest. The discomfort became almost comforting and eventually I felt good again.

Finally that illusive aid station turned up. I had been in such a funk for the last 7 miles that I forgot to eat my Honey Stingers, which I meant to take every 10 minutes. I drank water like crazy after diagnosing myself with dehydration (I had not peed in 6+ hrs). I kept taking Endurolytes, but my timing was off. I meant to take 1-2 per hour, but I kept forgetting whether or not I had taken them when my watch reached each new hour. The aid station gave me a chance to refuel. I refilled my water, took some GU with caffeine and a few ounces of Coke, bananas and chips and got going again. The next aid station was only 3.3 miles from there so motivation returned. I don't remember that next aid station. But I do remember that I peed shortly after. I focused on Brian and Jonas, who would be at the next one roughly 3 miles away. It was a long 3 miles. I stubbed my toe and ripped one of the toenails back. There was a giant blister under that nail so I took one of the safety pins off my bib number and popped, then taped it. It was incredibly hard to get my sock back on as my leg was shaking. Future reference: never stop and sit down! Try to tape blisters and pee while standing.

I came down the hill and saw Brian and Jonas. I only had 5.9 miles to go, but that seemed far considering the giant mountain ahead. And I knew it might take me 2 hours to get there. I had 2 hours and 5 minutes left before the cut-off. I got a popsicle and Coke. Notice my nutrition going to crap, but I didn't care. Sugar would do. I forgot to eat my Honey Stingers and take my GU on the last section. I peed 2 more times so I must have overhydrated. Moore Fun was definitely more fun to descend... Longest climb of my life. I equated it to doing Section 16 four times in a row. Again, I cried. Not really cried, as I didn't have energy. More like shook and whimpered as I lumbered up the ridge. There were a few spots where I had to crawl up the rocks because I could not raise my legs high enough to step. When the neverending climb ended, I could see the highway. It was far below and the cars looked like tiny specs but I knew the finish was near the highway so I just winced and bombed down the hill as hard as I could. It was another technical descent and my form was crap. I would have rolled down if I thought it was faster. Every step sent excruciating pain up my shins and quads. I was totally out of control.

The singletrack ended and the road began. The finish was only a mile or so away and I saw a woman ahead of me. I didn't care about passing her, but when I saw her walk a few times I decided I would try to catch her. I ran the rest of the dirt road to the finish as hard as I could, which meant I was merely jogging. When I saw Brian and Jonas waiting, all the pain went away and I booked it in. I was so stoked to be done. I couldn't believe it was over and I did it! I had the most incredible feeling after finishing. I called my mom and told her I was done. I don't remember the conversation or the drive back to the hotel. I took an ice bath then broke into a strange panic. I ate a bite of pizza and promptly threw up. I was shaking and felt like I was going to slip into a coma. I kept telling Brian to check on me if I passed out. He told me to eat, but I couldn't. I cried (again!) and said I would never do it again, but a day later found myself saying "next time" and talking about all the things I could improve upon. I have picked my next 50. Run Rabbit Run in Steamboat Springs, September 18th. Can't wait to start training!

Official time: 12:32:20 - barely under the 13 hr cutoff!
Place: well, uh, 4th from last overall, and DFL woman. Ha! Not counting all the DNFs (there were 26 of them)

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Gotta acknowledge that bright side.

I have had a stressful week leading up to my first ultra. I quit my job, got a new one and caught a nasty stomach bug. I have also been compulsively checking the race day forecast and it changes frequently. First it said sunny, high of 56, that was cool. Then I just I had to check again a day later and thunderstorms were forecasted for the whole day. Then I checked again and it said high of 70, partly cloudy. Yikes. I don't know about 70. That's pretty freaking hot for me. Now it says high of 70, 20% chance of rain. And I don't care anymore. I'm not going to check again. The weather is going to do what it wants and there is nothing I can do about it. It's totally out of my hands. I've decided to bring every article of running gear I own and decide what to wear when I get there. So the weather is taken care of. Not an issue.

The stomach bug is (I think) gone from here. I spent the wee hours of Sunday morning with my ass on the toilet and my head in a mop bucket. It was intense! Both ends, I tell ya! My husband and son both caught and rid themselves of the virus before I did, so I had a little time to prep myself. I knew it was coming so I just snuggled up close to my boys, inhaled the little bitch and said, "Bring it!" so I could get it fast and then get over it. I got it the worst of all three of us. Today (Wednesday), I am venturing to say my body is back to normal. I slammed Pedialyte yesterday to re-hydrate and I think it worked. Today's goal is to EAT and eat well. Oh, how I've missed solid food!

Now that I am able to leave the house, I have some errands to run. Then I need to gather all my gear and race food and pack it. I also need to clean the house so I have something pretty and sanitary to come home to. All that's left to do after that is relax and get happy! We leave for Fruita on Friday morning. I truly am excited to run my first ultra. There is something about doing a new distance that is simply exhilarating. Popping the distance cherry. I'm sure it will hurt in a good way.

PS: I lied about not checking the weather again. I just checked a different site and it said high 62, partly cloudy. Not bad! But I still don't care. :)


Apr 17
Partly Cloudy

Partly Cloudy


Partly Cloudy. High 62F and low 40F. Winds SE at 17 mph. Air Quality:NA, UV Index:7


Wednesday, April 7, 2010

missing the point

There was this woman I used to run with in college. I think of her as "old" but she was probably only in her mid 30s and that was old to me then. She told me I had an "old soul" and that made me feel really cool and mature at the time. Now I believe it means I'm just jaded before my time. Years later, while celebrating a friend's birthday at a bar, I pointed out that I was the youngest in the group. Then my friend told me that I got "bonus years" for having a kid. Having a child has aged me a bit I guess. It has put this weird pressure on me to figure everything out. It's like I have to hurry up and find the meaning of life before my son grows up and becomes aware that I am just another person who knows nothing. He'll someday find that just because I have always told him what to do, doesn't mean I hold any kind of authority in the real world. That any idiot can have a child. It's easy. And you don't have to be smart, nice, or even CPR certified.

There is so much I don't understand. I just don't know how to teach the world to someone who knows nothing. I have come up with a game plan, and that is to expose my child to as much of the world as my heart will allow and hope he develops his own healthy view of it. Maybe he will come up with the answers that have always eluded me. The things I do know make very little sense to me and I'm better off not knowing them.

You can convince yourself that you want what you have or that you need something more. You can see love as a choice, an emotion or a declaration born of necessity. You can work hard and receive nothing or everything, but there's never a guarantee. Sometimes you get what you deserve and sometimes you have to take what you think you're entitled to. You can try so hard to forget things, that eventually you truly can't remember. You can try a little peace and quiet and if that doesn't work, fill yourself up with people and noise. You can play these games because it makes life pass more quickly, or slowly, whichever you prefer. You can keep dashing between opposing extremes until you are too exhausted to care and then you can stop thinking about life and just breathe.

On cold mornings you can see your breath. Believe in it because it is proof that you are living. And life doesn't have to mean anything. You should just allow it to happen because it will happen despite the conflicting meanings you have tried to attach to it. If you try too hard to find the meaning of life, you'll miss the point. It will happen before you figure out what it meant.

Saturday, April 3, 2010

WTF was I thinking?

My first ultra-marathon is two weeks away and I have officially entered the freak-out zone. Fuck, Shit, Crap, Damn, Sonofabitch, Motherfff... WHAT THE FUCK WAS I THINKING?! Can we please just get this over with? Like, now. Just put a bag over my head, place me at the starting line and let me proceed with humiliating myself. Ugh, at least I have mastered the "respect the distance" aspect of ultra-running. Yup, got that part down.

My friend who is a new (but good) runner asked me how I trained for 50 miles and wanted to know how long my longest run was. I sort of winced when I said, "30 miles." She wondered how those extra 20 just "sneak in there." Uh, yeah good point. How do they do that? When I signed up for this thing , I didn't really think it would be me that ran the ultra. It would be some super fit, trained beast that I meant to transform myself into prior to the race. Turns out, I'm still me. Stupid, fat, slow-ass ME.

There just isn't enough time to do anything about that. The race is paid for, room is booked, time off work accepted, and the show must go on. Where did my excitement go? Race day wouldn't come fast enough a couple months ago. I have since come down with a case of the "I Don't Wannas." That's Fear. It ruins everything. When you give it an inch, it takes a mile. It gets its foot in the door, then storms your brain and destroys every positive thought that tries to stand up for itself. It leaves Doubt in its wake who scrambles around, searching the debris for a "Yes" but eventually succumbs to the "NOs." I started a list of excuses. So far I don't have a legitimate reason to back out except "why" which is what everyone said in the first place and at the time, I rolled my eyes because "why" is too easily answered with "why not" But answering questions with other questions only buys time.

Eventually you run out of time and you find yourself with your head in a bag at the starting line. If you take the bag off your head, you will increase your chances of completing the god-forsaken course. You will probably see the people around you smiling. You will realize they are smiling because they get to run today. And you will probably smile about that too.

Monday, March 29, 2010

Type-A Freakness

I've never been a control freak. In fact, I've always felt that I don't fit in with most runner/athlete types because I do not have a Type-A, obsessive personality. I leave drawers half open, I never tighten lids all the way, and I never quite finish my paintings. I'm a half-asser. Never having the desire to control things has made me a fairly laid back person. Lately though, something has changed. I think it has something to do with having a 2 year old (and a puppy). I often feel like no one is listening to me. I ask nicely, then I ask nicely again, then I ask sternly, then I yell. I hate yelling, but it seems yelling is the only way I know how to talk anymore. It makes me freakin hate myself! I never wanted to be a person that tells other people what to do.

I'm starting to think that maybe I do have some control issues. I never had a problem not being in control, but now I feel totally out of control and that's bothering me. I know when it started, too. It was the little pink line on the EPT that still haunts me three and a half years after it materialized out of my HCg-laden pee. Damn, I really felt out of control sitting on that toilet watching my freedom just die. I don't think I even knew a baby would come of it. Much less a toddler. All I could think about at the time was the uncontrollable growth of my belly and its surrounding body parts. I decided to just let it all happen. My boyfriend and I decided we wouldn't be like other people with kids. We would still ski and snowboard and I would still do triathlons. We would travel too. We agreed that babies are portable and we would just take him wherever we went and we'd keep on living. We'd barely even know he was there.

I let that little fetus overtake me. The problem is, I'm still letting him overtake me. Only now, he's out here in the world with us. He doesn't think it's appropriate for me to all of a sudden demand some respect. So we battle. All day long, we fight for the power. We each try to gain control. And I become one of those.

I think moms run for different reasons than other people. I used to "train" (not in a Type-A freak way) because I wanted better times. Now I run because it's the only thing that keeps me from going insane. I feel that I have to sign up for certain events to justify all the running, but honestly I could live without racing. During the week, I run in the middle of the day when my husband comes home from work. By that time, I need out. But on Sundays, I get up early to run. It's so ironic that all week I can't wait to get out of this house and away from this family, but on Sunday, it takes everything I have to pull myself away from them. I love my family in the shape of a warm, sleepy mass in my bed. Departing a warm, sleepy bed to embark on a cold, morning run is a characteristic of one of those Type-A, obsessive, control-freak runners, so maybe I do have a little of that inside of me.

Monday, March 15, 2010

My 30 mile run

Yesterday I ran 30 miles, my longest run ever, as a training run for my upcoming 50 miler. It went really well, and didn't hurt any more than 24-26 miles does. I ran the main commuting path that runs North-South through Colorado Springs, parallel to I-25. I started downtown at Colorado College and ran North, 15 miles to the North Gate of the Air Force Academy. The trail is a false flat (slightly uphill) going North, then gets hilly through the Air Force Academy. It was nice to go downhill on the way back.

It was about 35 degrees and overcast, then got really cold and started snowing at about mile 20. At mile 24 I met my friend Megan at a bike shop on the trail and she rode the last 6 miles beside me. Poor girl was freezing her butt off! She had planned to go on a real ride afterward, but when we finished it was bitter freaking cold and the snow was WET and coming down hard so I gave her a ride back to her car. It was really great to have some company for the last 6 miles. I was able to maintain, and even slightly pick up my pace, rather than finish up with a shuffle like I normally do.

So, here are some technical aspects of the run:

Nutrition: I ran out of my beloved Honey Stingers (chews) and couldn't find any the night before the run so I brought Luna Bars. That didn't work so well. I usually take a Honey Stinger chew every 10 minutes, so in place of that I took a small bite of Luna Bar. The problem is that there aren't enough calories in one small bite, and I wasn't able to eat a big chunk of Luna Bar every 10 minutes because a) it made me want to gag and b) it would have taken too long to eat and c) I would have run out quickly. I highly recommend gels or chews for lots of fast absorbing carbs and calories packed into tiny bites.
I also brought along some potato chips and beef jerky. Salt and protein. I tried Honey Stinger Bars and Power Bar protein bars for other long runs but neither sat well with me. The chips were fantastic. Really easy to eat while running, and being so salty, they made me drink my water right away. It is hard for me to remember to drink water when it is cold and wet outside because I don't get thirsty. The beef jerky sat well in my stomach, but as you can guess is a little hard to chew. I saved that for times that I was slowing down anyway or walking up a hill. It wasn't ridiculously hard to eat on the move, just not as easy as gel or chips. I think having a good protein source is important during and after long runs and this one worked perfect for me.

Gear: The forecast called for rain, snow and a high of 39 degrees. I started out with thin tights, a long sleeved tech shirt and a fleece over it. Also gloves and a wool hat. I had my Nathan Hydration Pack which I love. It doesn't chafe or bounce awkwardly. On my feet, Injinjis with Blister Shield powder. I ended up with a few blisters, but nothing big. I didn't even feel them while I was running. I got hot going through the hilly section and took off the gloves and hat. Then got more hot later and took off the fleece. Then I got cold again durning the last 6 miles, but didn't want to stop for the fleece, so I just put the hat back on and I was fine.

Pace: For my last couple of long runs, I have done a 9:1 run/walk interval. It really helps me feel like I can go all day, but also slows my pace significantly. So for this run, I did the first two 10 minute sets with the 1 minute walks and then decided to drop them. I wasn't sure if I'd regret that later or not. It ended up being just fine. I walked some of the steep hills, and I walked when I needed to fish something out of my pack or take off layers/accessories. Other than that I just ran and felt great. I am torn on the run/walk thing. Having done it on a few 20+ mile runs, I know that it makes the run hurt less in the end. I finish feeling like I could go on, which is what I need to feel because I am going to be running significantly more in the race than I do in training. But on the flip side, it is often hard for me to get going again after a walk break. On my 25 mile run a couple weeks ago, some of those 1 minute walk breaks turned into 2 minute walk breaks because I just couldn't get going again. And sometimes the hills mess with the walk breaks. I would rather walk up the hills, so if the walk break comes once I reach the top and start going down, I get pissed. I think for the ultra, I will walk the major hills and run the rest. There are enough hills there to get plenty of walk breaks! I know that toward the end (or possibly even the middle) I will need to walk more, so maybe I can implement 9:1 or 8:2 then.

Splits: Total time was 4:45:21.
First 10 miles was 1:35 (9:34 pace)
(Halfway, 15 miles 2:24)
Second 10 miles was roughly 1:35 again
Third set of 10 was 1:33:49 (9:25 pace)

So that was my run. The first couple of hours after the run I wanted to saw my legs off! I moved around a bunch to clean the house and make dinner and that helped. I slept in my recovery socks and my legs did not wake me up screaming. They feel ok today, just sore hamstrings. I am getting them worked on today after work so I should be fine. I feel great knowing I've run farther than ever before! I am getting excited for the ultra!

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Running should be free, man.

I don't race very much. Sometimes I feel like less of a runner because of this. I hate missing out on local races. I feel guilty about it, like I really should be running all of them. If I'm not racing in my own town's Turkey Trot, can I even call myself a runner? People who don't even run come out at least for the Turkey Trot. If I don't run the Turkey Trot, am I less than a non-runner? It seems silly, but I think most of us, to some degree, feel compelled to race just to maintain our identities as runners.

When you meet people and they find out you're into running, they always ask how many races or "marathons" you've done. I hate that question. If they're less than impressed with your number (which then becomes your status), they'll tell you about their friend, or co-worker, or co-worker's friend who does a marathon every month. The subliminal message is: "THERE! Betcha don't feel like such a runner anymore, huh?" Running several marathons per year, or completing the "50 states" challenge only proves one thing as far as I'm concerned. You have money.

If you want to get really personal, or even if you don't, I'll tell you that my husband and I make ~25K per year (together). We happen to be really good at budgeting and managed to pay off 10K of credit card debt in 2 years, and buy a house on our meager rations. We worked really hard to do that. We said "no" in a lot of places we wanted to say "yes". For me, that meant saying "no" to races. It hurt a lot at first. For a short time, between graduating college and becoming a mom, I had the financial freedom to do whichever races I wanted. I could afford coaching, entry fees, travel expenses, and even *gulp* triathlons! If it was the "season" I was busy racing every weekend, collecting those shiny medals and hoarding wrinkled bib numbers. Who did I think I was? Were all those meaningless trinkets defining me as a runner? Yup. Well, I was allowing them to, anyway. Each race was another notch in my belt. I was compiling evidence that I was in fact, not a loser (even though you can certainly be the technical loser of a race and still get the medal). I needed these things to uphold my "Runner" status. Somehow I missed how simple it really was. To be a runner, all I needed to do was run.

Sometimes I have to catch myself because I start basing my runner-esteem on the races I've done. When I count them up, there aren't too many and I get a little depressed. "I should race more," I say. "I need to catch up. [So and so]'s been running 1/5 as long as I have and he's already done 6 marathons. I've only done 3." I have to consciously draw myself out of these self-depricating chats. I have been running half my life. I'm 26. I'm a runner, and I don't need 2 million finisher's medals to prove it.

In my opinion, road races have gotten out of control. They are too big and too expensive. Do you really need a medal, another tech shirt and a bag full of useless sample products to motivate yourself to compete in a race? Are you even competing? Or are you just buying yourself another medal? I don't want to knock anyone for being out there and getting exercise but when I see people in races, walking and happily chatting on their cell phones or treating the road race as a parade (writing their names on their shirts, waving like political candidates at spectators) I have to wonder if they're missing the point. Or if racing has deviated from its original intent. I mean, it's supposed to be painful, right?

In In the last few years, I have gone down to running one or two main events per year. I live in Colorado Springs, where there is some kind of local race almost every weekend, all year round. I'd go broke if I did all of them. The Pikes Peak Road Runners is a group that puts on many of the races here. For the most part, they are void of nonsense medals and schwag bags. They charge just enough to put on the race and keep the runners hydrated. I like that. We want to run for the competition and the camaraderie, not the goodies. We don't need another shirt, we don't need to be pampered at every aid station, and we don't need to be marketed to at giant, crowded expos. We just need to race. Whether it's other runners, the clock, or just ourselves, racing is what we come to do.

I know that there are as many reasons to run as there are runners. There are as many reasons to race as there are racers. I'm fine with just being a runner. I would do it if races didn't exist. I would do it if Garmin didn't exist. I would run for the same conflicting reasons I have always run: the pure joy and total agony of it. Take away all the glitter and tell me why you really love to race.

I don’t want anyone to do anything except come run, party, dance, eat, and hang with us. Running isn’t about making people buy stuff. Running should be free, man. -Micah True (from Born to Run)