Sunday, April 22, 2007

Deep Thoughts and an Old Pic

Last year on the way to WS Paul and I ran into Adrianna and Lisa on the flight from Austin to Houston. They have been so supportive and it was really great to see them there. Funny, though, Adrianna just emailed me the pics last week. It was a great reminder to see myself on the way to Squaw.

This year my hair is much shorter, I look pretty much the same, but an entirely different person is heading into these last 62 of training, taper, and raceday adventure. The different person I am was really solidified as I was standing still in the Grotto today at the greenbelt. A year ago I would nearly have a panic attack each time I had to go through the grotto for fear of snakes, and today on a warm, damp, perfect day for a snake I stood still in there calling for the dog...with absolutely no fear.

I had the pleasure of the company of my friends Sarah and Jessi, and of course Daisy, this drizzly morning on a loop around the greenbelt. We sent Paul and Jessi's boyfriend, Shawn, on their merry fast way and enjoyed some good girl time. Clea and her dog, Pancake, were out there as well, but she was in a bit of a hurry and didn't have time to run as long so she needed to do her own thing. Sarah has now joined me twice on training runs, and each time I come to realize what a great spirit she has added to my life. Her true joy of being out on a run and the wonderful place she is in her life makes her such a pleasure to be around. Jessi is like that too. She has such a great energy. I always look forward to the chance to see her and talk to her, so it was a treat to have her join!! Not to mention, she has become such a strong fun to see!

Anyway, sorry to get side-tracked... As I was with them, I told them a brief bit about the thoughts I have been having on this year's training vs. last. I got to take a moment to share these thoughts with a fews others earlier in the week, imparticular a person it affected. I hate to admit it, but last year I just did not have the right attitude. Instead of being understanding about different circumstances, I was often very selfish and completely negative. Only a few probably noticed this on the day-to-day, but it was there and if you knew me was not pretty. Interestingly, last year I kept seeing snakes on my training runs. I fear snakes more than anything in the world, to the point of panic, and so seeing them would absolutely ruin a run. Not only that, but discussions in the trail group kept turning to snakes. Everywhere I was, the topic was there or they were there. I even saw one the WS trail and the Miwok trail. In a very Biblical sense, I have come to determine that my seeing and hearing of snakes was a strong correlation to evil. My negativity, my fear, my selfishness seemed to present itself in the form of what I consider evil...a snake.

So here I am a year later. I am in such a better place with all of my friends, my training, and my overall perspective on what all of this means. And here I am a year later...not a snake in sight. I haven't seen one on the trail and I have done more runs on my own this year. The talk around me isn't of snakes, but of meaningful parts of life. Instead of spending my time with my friends dwelling on my training, my needs, my issues, I spend that time getting to catch up with them and hear about their worlds. I get my training done every week, but it isn't the sole importance of me. I have found unbelievable amounts of balance and understanding in what it is like to be a supportive friend, a good wife, and a hard worker while still meeting my training goals, and quite honestly I have seen so much more success in my training through this light.

I am so honored and appreciative that I got into WS again, so that I could have the opportunity to discover the person I can be. I look forward to the final push, the last 62 days, the positive energy, the good people around me, and the signs that only God can deliver to make me the best person I can be!!

God Bless and have a great week!

Tuesday, April 17, 2007

Good Training and Sheer Exhaustion

I had a good plan in my head, run an easy 50-miler for training before Miwok. But what would be a plan without a hiccup...

I have this random skin disorder where I have benign tumors that form under my skin. They are harmless, painless, and only sometimes annoying. When my doctor realized that they are ALL benign, we decided that I would only have them removed if any individual one ever grew or there was a problem...just take them case by case. I know where almost all of them are on my body and keep a close eye for changes. A few weeks back one of them, on my upper thigh, became VERY uncomfortable. I went to the PA in my docs office, and she gave me a shot and some antibiotics. If it had been my doc, he probably would have cut it out then, but I was willing to give this a try. All seemed was still enlarged, but the discomfort went away. Well that was until a week ago. Yikes, it hurt. I called them back and asked them to go ahead and take it out. I went to the PA, again, and instead of just cutting it out like as had been done ALL over my med chart she was to try to cut it and open it up. I tried to explain that these are solid and cannot be opened up, but she was cutting away trying. After a bit she said that she was going to have to cut it out because it was solid....REALLY??? She did what is called a punch and got it out. It was a big sucker, lima bean sized. Anyway, enough of TMI, at the end of the ordeal I left the office with 5 stitches. She was kind enough to overlap two, knowing the position of the hole and the fact that I was planning on running the 50-miler on Sunday.

I went through the rest of the week in more discomfort than I would have liked. When I would sit down in the wrong position the stitches would pull. I didn't run more than 7 miles at a time the rest of the week, for not wanting to risk any swelling or issues. I had one once that got so filled with fluid post-procedure during a run that it looked like a golf ball under my skin. It was just fluid, but pretty scary.

Anyway, I went into Sunday with the plan that if my leg started becoming painful I would drop at mile 35 and call it a day. It was not worth being injured or having issues going into Miwok. This was a training run for me, not at all a race. I also went in with the mentality to take it very easy. Clea and I rode down together to RHR Sunday morning....bright and early. We left Austin at 4:15, which meant waking up around 3. I hadn't slept at all the night before, so I knew I would be tired later. As we drove down, we lamented about the unusual cold weather. It was 40. The nice thing was that it would be warming up to the 70s midday. The race started at 6. I told Clea on the way down, as well as my friend the race director, that if my leg was painful I was going to stop so please don't try to convince me to go on. I honestly wasn't planning to drop, but just wanted it said pre-race so that I didn't feel guilty if I had to make the decision. Unfortunately, me saying this planted the seed in Clea's head.

My plan was to stay with her for the out and back and at least the first loop. She runs very conservatively, so I knew it would be smart for an easy training run to go out with her. We are close in pace, but she starts much more conservatively than I ever do. It was good. We did a hilly out-and-back for the first 3.5 miles. It was dark, but by time we headed out for our first "real" loop we wouldn't need lights. It was perfect. We would hit this hilly section 4 times during the race. The rest of the course consisted of 25K loops with 2 aid stations and one at the start/finish. After the hilly section, the course consisted of tons of twists and turns, lots of little rollers, lots of weaving in and out of puddles, blinding pine needles where you would wonder if you were on the actual trail or not, and lots of arrows. There were arrows for the mountain bikers, arrows for us (so I thought), and ribbons all over the place. The course was well marked, I just didn't listen to the pre-race instructions with which pieces to follow. Reflecting back, I might have run a different course on each loop???

Anyway, Clea and I hung together for the first loop. It was great to catch up. We hadn't done that it a while, so it was really nice. The time was just flying. It fun to get caught by the front-runners in the 25K and 50K, they started an hour after us. We got to cheer for friends, and feel them FLY by. It sure does feel like you are standing still when shorter distance runners come by...crazy. At the end of the first loop, we headed back out. It was there that Clea started discussing that she felt burnt out and should have just signed up for the 50k. I told her that I totally supported whatever she wanted to do, and that if she didn't want to wait around for me that she could catch a ride with someone else heading back to Austin. Noone wants to sit around for a couple hours after racing. Shortly after she decided that she was going to stop, I picked up the pace just a little. I kind of thought she might come with me because making the decision seemed to put a bit of a spring in her step, but before I knew it I couldn't see her. I went through the last aid station of the loop and stopped for a picture in the water. I will post it as soon as Dinty puts it up. As I was covering the last few miles of the loop, I did a total belly flop over a rock. OUCH! I landed on my hip, quad, chest, and hand. I did a quick assessment, realized that my hand had a pretty good cut, but otherwise was ok. The chest did hurt, but I looked and all was ok in there :) I made the plan to clean up my hand before heading out on the last loop. Again, this was a training run, nothing to gain by not cleaning it up.

All I could think about as I was heading in was the hope that Shan had finished her 50K and would be hanging around the start/finish area. Thankfully she was. I came through and said, "where is Shan?" She cleaned up my hand, poured hydrogen peroxide in the cut, and wrapped a band-aid and tape around. I looked pretty goofy but not bad for a 5 minute repair. I have her a big hug...nothing like getting repaired from the 50K winner :) By that time Clea had finished and walked out with me. I told her that I was fine, was going to finish, but it would be a 3 hour loop.

I walked the ups and ran the downs of the hilly section in the beginning of the loop, and then I got my legs about me. I had my music on and was on my way. I could definitely handle this last loop. I took mental notes of the views on this loop, reallly appreciating the wildflowers as I headed into Sammy's aid station, and really trying to enjoy being alone. Again, not sure if I took all turns correctly, but I seemed to be doing ok?? I will go with the assumption that I ran pretty darn close to 50 miles, maybe a little extra maybe a little less...depending on where I turned. I just honestly was not paying close enough attention, and I haven't run out there in a couple of years. There were a couple of times during the race that I had no idea where I was, but within 15 minutes I would always seem to be back on some sense of course and would see someone every once and a while. I did pass the same guy twice in two loops, and that seemed weird to me...but maybe there were two guys with bright yellow hats? Who knows, but when I came into the finish I was happy for the good training day!!

The only discomfort I had from my stitches was some major chafing from the bandaid...yuck. Otherwise, I thought I had done pretty well. I hung around for a little while, and then headed on my way. I got home, and was tired. It had been a long day. My legs were tight, but more from the carride than anything else. Later that evening, I noticed my hip and quad a little achy from the fall. I headed to sleep, but it was an uncomfortable one.

So here I was two nights no sleep, sore more from the fall than the training run, and a really FULL Monday. It was terrible. I got up early to get some work done, then had to go to work, then went non-stop until 8:45 last night. I sat down for dinner at 9:15. My eyes were burning from being so tired, my legs had swelled, I had some beautiful cankles going, and the bruises on my quad and hip were throbbing. I was not in a good place. I actually fell asleep after dinner on the couch, and then slowly took myself to bed. What a hard day! Fortunately, I got up this morning feeling quite a bit better, and I don't have a crazy packed day!!

Lessons learned:
- See the doctor not the PA
- Keep moving forward no matter what
- Enjoy the day given, and appreciate all the help people have to offer
- DON'T schedule a 12 hour day of work after running 50 miles
- Be thankful to friends who are good to you!!

I look forward to running tomorrow, and I really need to take more pictures!!

Sunday, April 8, 2007

Busy Week, Lots of Running, and Crazy Weather!!

This past week has been a very busy one. It started off on a great foot, though. I was supposed to do a 40-miler last Saturday and pushed it until Sunday because of the potential for storms. I am so glad I did because Saturday's 16 miles was probably the worst running of my life. I was so sleepy tired that if I had toothpicks to hold my eye-lids open I would have used them. I spent the remainder of the day on Saturday mentally removing the bad run from my head and getting geared up for the long run on Sunday.

Sunday was great! I ran on my own and then met Clea for some loops at Bull Creek. We always have a great time, and since she had only been on the trail once before she really enjoyed the new sights. After that my friend, Sarah, Paul, my husband, and Daisy came to meet for a loop. I picked up the pace for them because they both train together are incredibly speedy...I didn't want to bore them too much with my long run pace. Daisy, of course, lead the way. After that loop, Paul and Daisy headed out and Sarah and I went on our way to a different trail, which is where I was to do my last two loops. She helped me keep a good pace. It was great to get to catch-up with her in person, and hear all about how well her life is going and how happy she is in her relationship. I am so glad that she has found someone special! Anyway, we were plugging along and I could tell right before we were getting to my car that I really needed some caffeine. We got to the car and I re-loaded my camelback, drank some cold soda, and got re-vamped. Of course, just as I was moving quickly through my transition I stepped in an antbed. I had to change socks and clean my shoes...10 minutes I would have rather not wasted. After the change, I ran with Sarah back to her car, and headed out on my last trail loop. It was getting warm, about 85 degrees, but it was a beautiful day. I finished my loop and was happy to throw on my road shoes for my last 5 miles. It was nice to not have to think about the rocks when I was getting very tired. I finished strong on the road, and was pretty pleased with the day...7:26, which included a bathroom stop, a camelback re-load, a sock change, and a shoe change.

I went home and prepared Vegan Lagasna and Spinach bread for friends who were coming over for dinner. A great post-run meal.

Since I had moved my run to Sunday, I didn't want to miss out on the opportunity to get in a back-to-back run so I decided to do about 10 on Monday. I ended up running 11, mostly because the first mile was pitiful so I made myself do a make-up mile in the end. I was happy to have gotten the run in, but looking over my schedule I realized that this would be a very long running week...and a busy one too.

On Tuesday, I didn't run but swam and went to yoga. I had a ton of work to do, so I was happy to have gotten my swim in at 5:30am....I am looking forward to the water temps going up so that I can swim after I coach in the mornings.

On Wednesday I forced myself out the door for my tempo run. I realized on Friday why it is I have such a hard time running from the house some days. Right out my front door I have only two choices: 1)a .6 mile gradual climb to get to a downhill and something semi-flat or 2)an immediate downhill followed by a short steep uphill. I have to motivate because the warm-up doesn't actually truly start until after the climb, so if you are tired it is hard to get going. Anyway, I went on a 7 mile tempo run Wednesday morning, and was quite happy to keep under an 8-min. pace. Right after the run I went to work, and could feel the push in my legs. It was a good feeling.

Thursday was a beautiful day! It was 70 and sunny and no excuse to hold back. I headed to Ladera Norte for my hill workout, and stalled at the top for a brief moment. No reason, just not quick to get out of the car. Once, I got going I was glad I did. The weather was amazing and I got stronger and stronger as I hit the downhills...9 repeats total for a little over 10 miles. I even had the pleasure of being joined by a guy on his mountain bike who opted to climb next to me and chat as I trotted up. He told me that instead of taking the flat way home, I had guilted him into hitting another repeat to head home. I felt great when I finished.

Friday morning I had talked a big game about meeting Clea and Steph at 5:30 for part of my run and then finishing when my husband finished running with his training buddies. It was a great theory: I would get 10 miles done early and then meet my friend, David for the 5.5 mile loop around Bull Creek a bit later. Again, very big talk...I ended up waking up at 5:23 and there was just no way I would get there in time to meet them AND I didn't want to be awake yet. I finally woke up, got some work done, and then hit the roads to get my mileage in before meeting David. This was when I realized just how punishing my neighborhood runs are. Even on my easy 10, I had 5 climbs. Now these are not mountains I am talking about, and hardly even hills, but to my tired legs they might as well have been Mt. Everest. I was worried that David and I were going to be taking Daisy for a hike. I met him with Daisy and warned him that I was tired. Once we got going, the soft ground of the trails felt great. Actually, it felt better than I thought it would. We had a great run, and I enjoyed showing him the trail. He is a stronger runner than I am, but new to the trails...the great equalizer :)

After all this running, it was time to make final preparations for my in-laws, sister-in-law, and her twins. I needed to pick up a few things at the grocery so that I could make dinner for Friday night and Easter lunch. As I was running final errands, I got a call from my friend that she had been in a car accident and needed me to pick her up. So with the dog and groceries in tow, I headed to the car accident. We loaded up all of her stuff into my SUV, man could she ever stuff a Honda Civic, and I took her home. She seemed to be feeling ok. As we pulled up to her house and unloaded her things, I got the call from my husband that his family was 10 minutes from the house!! WHAT!! Where is the warning....

I arrived home to a house full of people and tons of stuff. I needed a minute to breathe, unload my car, and breathe...yikes!!

Fortunately, I had planned to run early in the morning with Clea and Steph, had to be at the local running store at 9am, and was planning to go to yoga at 12...the less home time with a houseful of family the better!! These plans were more than perfect when I woke up to 45 degrees and drizzle. I thought I lived in Texas??? Saturday's weather was CRAZY. The temp went from 45 and drizzle when we were running at 6am to 33 and sleeting by the late afternoon. I could not believe what I was seeing. I was so happy to have gotten my run in early, and loved getting to join my friends for that morning run. It is such a treat when I am willing to start early with them. I wish I would get myself together and do it more often.

I also loved going to yoga on such a nasty day. I had a hard time in yoga, which I came to realize after talking to one of the girls in the class, was due to the stress of the company plus the stress of the mileage I had been doing. It is so interesting to me how all of these things in your world can come to the surface when you push yourself under pressure (a 105 degree room). It was great for me, though, because I came home and my company had left...I had the house to myself for the afternoon. All of this really helped me to be a more flexible (just like Gumby) hostess, although some of the things that went on were ridiculous...I will spare my readers the details.

Anyway, today is a day off. I prepared Easter lunch for my husband's family and put the house back together after they departed. I really enjoyed the challenge of fitting all of the mileage in this past week with the work I had to get done. It is amazing that when you want to get it in, I was so much more productive about it all. I will enjoy backing off this week as I get ready for the long training day at Rocky Hill Ranch next week; I am doing the 50-miler as a training run. I have a ton of work that probably should have gotten done last week, but will now get done this week....oh well, I am figuring out how to best manage it all, keep everyone happy, stay healthy, and on and on...

I will reflect more, take more pictures, and have more to say this week as I rest!!