Sunday, March 25, 2007

Recovery Week and Being a Supporter

This past week was a recovery/down week for me since I had completed two 50Ks back-to-back, and next week is another build-up. First and foremost, I love to run so a down week is not necessarily a fun week for me. It was a busy work week, but somehow I seemed to get a ton of activity/running in anyways.

I did do yoga this week quite a bit, which there is more time for when the running mileage is down. I ran easy a few days. I got in a great hill workout on Wednesday, 8 down repeats for 10 miles total: 1) because the weather was nice, and 2) because whether I like it or not WS is downhill and the more I do it the better the race will feel. I did a tempo run on the treadmill on Thursday because there just didn't seem to be any relief in the rain and I needed to get the workout in earlier rather than put it off. On Friday I dropped my husband's car off for work and Daisy and I ran home.

By time Saturday was rolling around, I was really starting to wonder if I had actually recovered this week at all. I was meeting Larry for a run, and had talked big about doing most of his mileage with him, but by time we headed out for the run I knew I needed to call it quits early. This was a RECOVERY week!! I didn't need the excess mileage on Saturday. So, I did a loop with him which was wonderful conversation and running, and headed to noon yoga to stretch. This seemed like the smarter way to end the week instead of logging just a few more miles.

Then today I had the treat of supporting my husband and some others as he did the Gonzo Duathlon in San Antonio. I was the driver, the photographer, and cheerleader...overall pro domestique. I got to head out on the run course and take some photos, run over to the bike course and took more, and then ran back onto the run course for some final photos of his race. Then after he finished, I ran back on the course and ran in with a new friend, Richelle, as she was having a great race; she got 2nd in her age group. Paul got 4th overall. Our friend, James, after 30hrs. of being on-call, got 2nd, although he was completely exhausted afterward. And, Jim, Paul's very close friend, was 1st Master's.

After the awards ceremony, in all of our playfulness, Paul posed for a photo in the Bluebonnets. Bluebonnets are our state flower, and in the springtime especially if it has been raining they are everywhere. It is an on-going tradition for Texans to pull off to the side of the road to take photos of family with the other states do this, I wonder?? Anyway, it was a great time, and I am so proud of Paul and friends for racing so well. It was bonus to be on a recovery week because I didn't feel like I needed to get a run in today and could just be a supporter, although somehow I managed 7 miles?? I think this helps the balance, and helps me to be proud of just what an amazing athlete my husband is.
By the way, I am so loving having my "new" camera. Thank you so much, Clea, for supporting me to take pics. I am loving it!! Enjoy the pictures from this weekend.

On a total side-note, Thursday night Daisy and I watched a National Geographic special on the Galapagos Islands. I had the incredible benefit of travelling there with my mother in 1993, and have such vivid memories of all of the Islands' wonders. This special brought all of those memories back. Daisy is so much fun to watch tv with because she actually watches. Below are some photos of her enjoying the special. She loves to watch any show with animals, but particularly enjoys birds!!

Have a great week!

Sunday, March 18, 2007

Hell Week of Training...Good Times!!

This past week was to be my hell week of running. It started with the Way Too Cool 50K in California and ended yesterday with the Prickly Pear 50K in San Antonio.

I am not a high mileage ultra-runner. I believe in a few quality workouts during the week: hills, tempo, easy mid-distance, and lots of cross-training. I also believe in 1-2 long runs on the weekend. I love to race, but have never raced on back-to-back weekends. When I saw these races fall the way they did, I thought I would give it a try. The wiseman guru of my running schedule, suggested that instead of just running the two races...create a "hell week" of training and see how my body responds.

Last year one of the downfalls at some of my races was my body, in particular my stomach, breaking down. He thought that one way to put it to the test was to push my body to the extreme a bit...I am almost always game for a challenge ;)

So as you can read in my last post, the first 50K went well. Below is how the rest of the week and yesterday went.

I was very mentally challenged on Tuesday as I had a 20-miler to do. I pushed myself to get through it before the rain storm that was headed our way hit. I did loops on the trail by my house, which is one of my favorite trails..but it was a tough day. It was a hard run, for no particular reason, and I was happy it was over. I was supposed to run 10 on Wednesday, but with the crap weather decided to put it off until Thursday. I was glad I did because I ran quite well on Thursday in the heat. I had no idea what was to become of the race on Saturday, just one week after a mountain 50K and, for me, a ton of mileage.

Stephanie, Clea, and I headed off to San Antonio at 4:45 Saturday morning, which meant I woke up at about 3:30. We were going to head down on Friday night, but I am actually so glad that we went Saturday morning...always better to sleep in your own bed pre-race. Moogy was nice enough to pick up our packets for us, and actually took the time to make sure we got the right size shirts; just how many guys would really do that???

I don't know what I was thinking with a 7am start but I didn't bring a light. I had told Moogy that I would just mooch off of his until the sun came up. When the race started, he was very gracious about the light, but I really couldn't see, and he was going faster than I wanted to go. I figured I would just slow down and make my way through the trails until the sun came up...a great way to have a forced conservative start. As I made it through the first of three loops, I noticed that because of the recent rains the ground was very soft. I also took note that the course was really quite flat. I was going to be running 99.9% of this 50K, ouch. There was one hill (about 200yds.) and I walked it each loop to give my legs a break. The trails were great, and the course was sooo well marked. I was really enjoying it. I came through the first 10+ mile loop in 1:34, feeling great.

The race had a 10-miler that started at 8:30, which meant that they were only 4 minutes in when I started my second loop. I put my headphones on in my left ear, and tried very politely to weave my way through the 10-milers as best as I could. I tried as hard as possible not to waste too much energy getting around because I knew my legs had limited energy in them. I came through the next 10+ mile loop in 3:11, definitely starting to feel the effects of all of the mileage. I think the first two loops had extended distance to get to the 31 miles. and the third loop was a little over 10, but not by much.

As I started the last loop I saw one girl right behind me, past Moogy at the aid station, and Stephanie as I was heading down the trail. I know that Steph is a stronger runner than I am, and so I knew she was going to catch me. But, my goal of the loop was to push as hard as I could until she got me...and see how long it would take her to get me. I did quite well because it took her 1/2 of the loop to get me, and off she went into the distance. My legs were completely fried, but I told myself that it was going to hurt whether I ran or walked, so I decided to keep pushing fast as I could for as long as I could and then continue to push to the finish...NOW I know what it is like to push fatigued legs!! I came into the finish in 4:51.

So my lap splits were: 1:34, 1:37, 1:40. My fastest 50K to date had been 5:11, so I can't complain about a 20 minute PR on fatigued legs.

Steph and I then grabbed my camera and waited to cheer Clea in when she finished. After that we were excited to have swept the 30-39 age group category, and win some great beer mugs...mine is already in the freezer ;)
I so enjoyed sharing a great race with them!! The weather was great, the course was great, and the post-race party was a blast!

My legs were worn out last night, to put it mildy, but overall my body really held up great this week. No stomach issues at heat issues....and ready for the next challenge!

By the way, I forced myself to Yoga this morning...1.5 hours in a 105 degree room. My hamstrings were shaking during the warm-up series, and the instructor had a good chuckle at my quads pulling during the floor series. But, afterward I felt like I had just gone for a massage and everything feels soooo much aches and pains at all. I am heading to the 6am tomorrow morning, since I am on a recovery week this coming week!

Have a Great Week!!

Monday, March 12, 2007

What a way to begin Spring!!

I headed off to Way Too Cool this weekend super excited about the impending weather and the visit with friends.
I had the wonderful fortune of meeting amazing people during my training in California last year, and was so looking forward to catching up. And more than that, I was looking forward to taking my husband with me for some great time together, having him see the trails I think are so great, and enjoying the area with me. Of course the total topper of the weekend was getting to run the Way Too Cool 50K.

We headed out Thursday night, and woke up early on Friday to sight-see. I took Paul to what I consider the most magical place on earth...No Hands Bridge. I don't know if it is because it is mile 97 of the Western States 100, or if it is because from absolutely every angle all you see is beauty. I have a picture of it on our refrigerator, and last year I bought a watercolor painting of it. It is just such a dream to see. We hiked down, took pictures, and really enjoyed all the view had to offer.

After that, we went to see my friend, Julie, at packet pick-up and get our things. As I mentioned before I left, life has been so busy we have barely been able to breathe, so we enjoyed taking the rest of the afternoon to rest and relax.

Saturday morning, we woke up bright and early and headed to Cool for the race. The weather was incredible. It was about 40ish at the start, and was going to warm up to the mid 70' kind of weather!!

Prior to the race, I had spoken to one of the Montrail team members who I had met before, Jamie, and she was so sweet to offer me her extra Montrail shirt....our uniforms should be coming this week, yeah! Anyway, before the race she met up with me to give it to me, but I thought I would be too warm in it. Thank goodness I didn't take her WHITE shirt because I took a great fall late in the race and her shirt would have never been the same :) But, it was great to see her again and be able to meet her husband and wish her good luck!

Paul and I headed to the start line, and there we saw our friends, Sara and Lee, who we would be having dinner with that evening. I met them last year at the race, and they were kind enough to have me to their home for dinner. Then last year after I was filled with IV's at WS, they let Paul, his sister, and I go to their home in the middle of the night. They have just been so amazing to Paul and I...words can't express it enough. I know that Lee is faster than me, but I also know that he must start conservatively because last year he came flying by me. I figured I would keep him not too far away from me in the beginning so I didn't go out too fast. Paul, of course, headed to the front of the starting line...where he belongs.

As the race began, I realized what great condition the trails were in and how good I felt. I visited with Lee for a little while and then hooked behind this group of three guys. Before I knew it we were at the first aid station. Out of the first aid station, we were held up for a moment because of traffic so by time we took off there was a group of about 15 of us. It wasn't too bad until I realized that the people in front of me didn't like the downhills, and weren't very excited to let me pass. They did and I continued on. I felt great: drinking water, taking salt, and eating my magic beans. 8 miles later I reached the next aid station. I was feeling really good, but wanted to top off my camelback. While I was doing so, which just took about a minute, tons of people passed me. I couldn't believe it. I thought I was moving really comfortably and was shocked that these people were sooo much stronger than I was. After all the people passed me I got into a good groove, again. I chatted with a few people, really enjoyed the long steep downhill, and came upon the deepest water crossing. As I crossed, I noticed a rather tall gentleman right in front of me. He was moving slower than I was, but I stayed behind him for a moment. It was Gordy Ansleigh. He was the man who started the 100-milers, and on the Western States could I just pass him without taking a moment to visit with him. Part of what I love about all of this is the journey, and how is it a journey if you don't stop and visit with the one who made it all happen??

Last year, I actually had run many miles of WS with him, but didn't follow his very wise example. As the temperatures exploded, he would sit down and cool off at the aid stations, as I would press on. My body couldn't handle the constant push in the heat, and ended up rebelling. As we ran along on this fantastic spring day, I shared with him all that I learned from him on that ever so hot day back in June. He told me about what it was like to run the first few years with the horses on the trail at the same time, and how much harder it he had learned patience long ago. I learned it last year :)

We approached the longest climb, and he invited me to move ahead. Although I should have moved ahead much before...I wouldn't change the moment for a few extra minutes anyday. I pressed up the climb to the aid station at the top of Main Bar Trail. I passed three people up the climb, and was enjoying the beat of my "happy" music. I filled my camelback one more time, just in case, and headed on my way.

I was really enjoying the race and the day, and before I knew it I was at the Ball Bearing climb approaching mile 26. The race just seemed to be flying by. I took some coke, and headed on my way. As I was running the almost 3 miles to the last aid station I realized that I had WAY too much energy. I picked up my pace and a moment later I was right in the dirt...fall #12 since November, and right on the same spot on my knee. I got up shook it off, and headed on my way. I had some blood dripping down my leg but no pain. My legs felt great. Before I knew it I was at the last aid station and got to see Julie and Dana, although very briefly. I don't know what kind of running math I was doing, but for some reason I thought I had 3ish miles to go. Julie yelled that it was 1.7 to the finish. As I pushed on to the finish, I realized I had been way too conservative today. I was able to run very hard into the finish, and felt totally fine afterward. I had beat my time from last year by 10 minutes, but had much more I could have given the race. This is such a learning process, and I guess I should be happy that I was on the conservative side instead of imploding on the trail and having to walk it in but I really need to work on pushing harder. I am hopeful it will come.

After I finished, and congratulated my husband on a great race. We headed over to cheer some friends on at the last aid station. Just to make sure to give my husband the credit he deserves...he ran a conservative race as well, and managed not to get beat by the first woman...although she did have to encourage him to keep pushing up the last climb. He said that his major goal was to not get injured, although I don't think he will do another one anytime soon.

As we were heading back to the hotel, the American River was calling us. We climbed down to the water, and my ever so brave and crazy husband got in; his very large ice bath! Then we went back and cleaned up and headed to Lee and Sara's for dinner. Just like last year, it was awesome. Again, they are just so wonderful and they have the coolest dogs....what they will do for the hope of some beer and steak!

Sunday morning I woke up and went for a run along the American River. I covered a little over 8 miles, and felt great. After the first mile it was smooth sailing. I can honestly say that my legs felt great! Let's see what I have to say after I run another 50K this Saturday...I may be singing a whole different tune.

Paul and I cleaned up, got lunch, and headed to the airport. After a very long and delayed flight we finally made it home.

I can't say enough about the wonderful weekend. I mean everything about it: time with my husband; time with friends; time on the trail; time with history; and more than a time to reflect back and be truly thankful!

God Bless and have a great week!

Wednesday, March 7, 2007

Taking A Moment

I just want to take a moment in the midst of my busy day to express my appreciation for my wonderful understanding husband, the friends I have, my wonderful companion of a dog, the work I do, and my ability to travel to races. I sometimes don't take these moments to fully appreciate the gifts I have and the gifts I have been given until after-the-fact: after a fun trip, a good race, and some QT (quality time) with my friends and Daisy.

So instead of waiting, I am doing it right now!! I am totally swamped with very little room to breathe as I tie up my loose ends with work and life. I have yet to pack for my trip, which is totally unlike me. I haven't even run all of the errands I need to. And to top it off, it wasn't until this morning that I sent the instructions of care for Daisy to the kind-hearted soul who is taking her in. AHHHH...deep breath!

I am so thankful that my husband is taking the trip to California with me, and we get a weekend together. I miss the fact that we have such different schedules right now. I am so thankful that I got run with my friends last weekend to catch-up in a way we can sometimes only do on the trails. I am thankful that work is going well, and almost too well for me to manage. I am thankful that I am feeling so healthy, inspite of fighting all of the germs that are threatening to make me sick (I can be a bit of a germ-phobe, and coach women that often have sick kids). I feel so blessed everyday for the gift of getting into WS, again, and having the opportunity to train, get stronger, and find my way to the finishline.

And, lastly, I am so thankful to have the wonderful loyalty of my constant training dog, Daisy. She is a German-Shorthaired Pointer. I have had her since she was 6 weeks old, and she is now 11. She is always ready to go for a run, and willing to run however far and at whatever pace I want her to. She looks at me constantly with loving eyes. She was with me before I was ever a runner, and still loved me. She has forgiven me for some awful relationships, and was thrilled when I met my husband...the Alpha in the house. She loves him, but she knows who her mother is. She can be rigid and annoying, but so can I. Needless to say, I am thankful that she is healthy and part of my life!

For all of these things, I feel truly blessed and am truly appreciative. I will remember this as I run on Saturday because it is so important to remember the people and things that help you get there, and not always about the process of just doing it.

Anyway, sorry for the mind is scattered but appreciative on this beautiful afternoon!

Saturday, March 3, 2007

Great Saturday Run

Clea, Steph, and I met up for a run this morning. I am tapering for Way Too Cool, so I knew I wasn't going to run 20. Somehow, not very hard, I convinced them to go 17 with me. We had a great time. We realized that the last time we were on the trail, all three of us, was last year training for Miwok. Steph has been on the trail as little as possible since, and has continued her love for the roads...not to mention the ease with her schedule. Clea and I have gotten in many short runs, but nearly enough over 10 on the trail lately. So today was a good one!

We started at 6:30 this morning, and I must admit with a number of groups training on the trail this spring that might become my standard...if not earlier. Clea and Steph think my "early start of 6:30" is kind of funny because they start earlier everyday and even on the weekends. I try to make them start as late as I possibly can.

I was very well-intended on taking pics after the run,had my camera in the car, but the wind was roaring and we were all chilled. Soon enough we will be running in as little as possible and plenty warm enough to stand around after a run and chat.

All around it was a great morning: good run, good company, and fun seeing our other friends on the trail. Although, the sun didn't come out until we were finished. I am ready for spring to come and stay.

Friday, March 2, 2007

Running makes me THAT hungry!

Just kidding...Wednesday night we had the post-marathon celebration for the Tough Cookies. I coach a group called the Tough Cookies, isn't that a great name. The motto is: Tough Cookies Don't Crumble. I need to remember that more often when I run :)

Also, since I was able to take and post this picture so quickly that is right, oh my goodness, I have a digital camera of my very own!! It is great, was on sale, and takes great pictures. I had to take one of the first pics of my dog, Daisy. She loves to be in pictures, not so much since she is sticking her tongue out at me in this one. But since she is my regular weekday companion, she will have the honor of many more pics to come!

Tomorrow I will run with Clea and Steph on the trails. I am so excited for a great run!!