07/31/10

I felt like a lucky duck to have the pleasure of running with several pals today including two DM friends – Otto and Andrea (hi guys!!)  Some pals of ours were introducing me to a new running path that I hadn’t tried out before that ended up looking very familiar after a few miles – since in fact, it connected to the path I recently did my half marathon on!  It was a beautiful path with lots of trees right along the Boise River. The company was even better. I had a chance to spend a bit of time with each of my 6 running pals today. My best pacer in the group turned out to be my pal, Otto. I admit that I have a tendency to run faster when I chatter and by the 8 mile point, I realized we’d been running about a 10:05 pace. Pretty stinking good considering the heat today! I went an extra mile out, while my pal headed back (this was his furthest distance to date – doing a 16 miler – so three cheers for a new distance PR for that accomplishment!) I quickly realized that without someone to chatter to, the heaviness of the heat and the quicker pace started to get to me. I sweat it had felt effortless before and was kind of fun to fly along — but once I realized I was suddenly 9 miles from my ride home, I decided to make a game of it. I took my gu and then decided that despite the heat (and my newly sloshy stomach from the GU and water) that I’d push the pace just a hair until the half marathon distance just for the heck of it. I ended up right at 2:12 when I hit 13.11 today and thought that wasn’t half bad for a training run (especially since I’d stopped to use the bathroom early one and left the Garmin on!)

Not long after the turnaround, I bumped into my sweet DM pal Andrea! She was flying!!!! I was so proud of her and happy to see her smiling face. We jogged along together and chatted until I was ready to settle back into pace and she needed something to fuel up with. Though I’d brought along my mp3 player today, I never pulled it out of my Camelbak. I just enjoyed the sounds of nature instead and found that very soothing.

It was HOT and continued to get warmer as I ran. The temperature reached 83 and I started to feel kind of woozy. I’d added an electrolyte lemonade supplement to my 70 oz of water before the run and realized almost immediately it was a mistake. My stomach didn’t like it and it tasted terrible — but it was all I had, so I avoided it as much as possible and the heat was starting to really get to me since I wasn’t drinking freely.

I bumped into another running pal about mile 14 or so. He was out for a mere 40+ mile run for the day as prep for one of his upcoming 24 hour races! He offered to join me for the rest of my run and I was happy for the company. This turned out be to a nice help, since I twice nearly lost my way back on the new path and my buddy pointed me in the right direction. Good thing too or I might still be out there. ha ha

Just about a mile before the end, one of my friends who’d been just behind me, darted past my other pal and I as we walked. That helped get me in gear again and I thanked my pal and said “bye” and tried to catch up. Now my friend is the proud owner of a pair of feet that have a really sweet kick! She held that pace (about 8:30) for that final mile while I tried to hold on and ride it out with her. Although I was hot and dehydrated and feeling a little ill, it was a nice treat to get to push at the end like that.  We ran like that, me just a hair back by her elbow right until her watch beeped at 18 miles. I still had about a mintue left before mine sang that same sweet song signaling that I’d done my 18 miles for the day.  A great ending!

I was thrilled to pieces to find that the park where our cars were left also had a water fountain! I slurped to my heart’s content while my pals stretched and rehashed the run. It was a good time. Not long after that, my DM pal Andrea came running across the grass towards us — finishing strong and impressing my socks off with her longest run ever as well!! Way to go to BOTH Otto and Andrea today for kicking some butt on new distances! You guys rock!!!

I’m home now and smell like well — a stinky runner who really could use a shower – so I’ll see to that next.  I’m so glad I got to join my pals for a very challenging, very enjoyable run today!

Stats: Temp (69 at start – 83 at finish.) Total Ascent: 2072 (it seemed flat but that’s by Idaho standards – it was hilly and it added up over 18 miles. ha.) My legs feel pretty beat. I think they’ve been a little too babied on the trail runs lately and this was good practice for my upcoming marathon.

Total miles: 18. Ave pace: 10:42. Time: 3:12. HOT HOT HOT!

07/30/10

I forgot to mention on my easy run last night, my friend and I found the spot where heaven apparently rains coins on the roadside – or where some person threw their entire piggy bank’s worth of coins into the air at a stop sign. I found 2 dimes and 15 … read more

I forgot to mention on my easy run last night, Bertha and I found the spot where heaven apparently rains coins on the roadside – or where some person threw their entire piggy bank’s worth of coins into the air at a stop sign. I found 2 dimes and 15 pennies litterred along the roadside along about 30 feet of asphalt. Tucking all of those into my sports bra made me jingle like one of Santa’s reindeer all the way home. My son Josh was thrilled to bits by the huge deposit into his “college fund.” ha ha

07/29/10

Tonight’s run put me at over 800 miles for the year so far!  My 2010 goal was 1000. I think I’m gonna blow that out of the water!!  I have an 18 miler planned for Saturday morning. Should close out a pretty good month for mileage after all too – my second highest of all time actually!

07/29/10

Now that’s what an easy run’s supposed to feel like: good conversation, beautiful scenery and a relaxed pace. Tonight I ran with my childhood pal and longtime friend, Bertha.  It was pretty much perfect.

Stats: 6.73 miles (total of 11.32 for the day), ave pace for second run: 13:47 (relaxed, happy, conversational – ahhhhhhh – I’m still smiling!!)  Ascent: 574 feet. Temp when we started: 92 degrees. We drank a lot of water and had to stop for a refill at a gas station.

07/29/10

Just a warm up before what was supposed to be my tempo run for the week. –

Stats: 1.46 miles. 11:16 pace. Felt fine. 72 degrees. 57% humidity. No wind. Hot.

Tempo Run Attempt (aka – I hate my cell phone sometimes!!!) 

It was warm. I was honestly enjoying the easier pace of the warm up, but figured this was my best shot at my tempo run this week, so I focused on trying to do it. Unfortunately, the cell I carry in case my kids need me to get back to the house fast kept ringing and ringing. 3 phone calls! Each time I stopped, worried it was something important and each time it wasn’t even my kids – or even people I know! My phone number is on my dad’s car lot sign right now in case someone wants to rent it from him. Why in the heck is my number up there? My husband and brother in law ran out of letters for the sign board and the best number they could piece together was mine. So, now I’m getting all these oddball calls that I just pass onto Wayne after he gets home from work – but they seem to come at the worst times – of course, always making my heart skip a beat that something is wrong back at the house and it’s an emergency – and so far – its’ just these callers – none of which has been interested enough to even want to view the property – so I’m being bothered for nothing it seems. Ugh!

The first tempo mile was 8:41 which wasn’t even quite as fast as I’d intended and after that, I tried to keep it up, but the phone kept ringing and I just lost my focus bigtime.  Kind of a crummy run in the end. As I was stretching outside my home, with Anneliese and Savannah in their pjs stretching on either side of me (they do this after every run. ) the dang phone rang AGAIN!!!! This time I felt bad for being upset since it was just my Mom who was finally able to get out and do a walk (after her bad flare up with rheumatoid arthritis) so she had forgotten how to reset her Garmin and needed my help. I was fine helping her with that too.

Believe it or not, as soon as I came into the house to do my usual after-run routine (which involves updating daily mile and you guys) the stinking phone rang again twice!!!! I’m about ready to chuck it. 

Luckily for me, Bertha already asked if I’d do about 6 later tonight, so I get a redo.  That one won’t be a tempo one – but I consider a run with my friend as good as therapy, so I’ll take that – and quite honestly, with the way my head’s been lately, maybe I need that more than a tempo run anyways.

Total miles so far today: 4.59

07/27/10

I love willow trees. They are a favorite of mine since childhood. I remember hiding beneath the curved branches and feeling like I had found a special club house beneath their shady canopy when I was a little girl. I saw a few Willow trees on my runs today and it was hard not to stop and take refuge under those welcoming branches out of the heat.

Today’s temperatures were 84 degrees with 33% humidity and 10 mph winds with full sunshine since I didn’t get to do my run until around lunchtime. It was hot but the breeze made it bearable. Where I live there aren’t a lot of shade trees along the path. Most of the time I run in total sunshine without much of a break from it until I step back into the comforts of my air conditioned home. Those Willow trees are special to me since they are so very rare along my paths! 

Today I worked on my form. I have a terrible habit of staring at the ground when I run. I run alongside the road for most of my miles and unfortuately, that means I’m often crunching through broken glass, bits and pieces of garbage and lots of odds and ends that end up on the road side where most people never think about it. When I was a kid, we used to do an annual bike-a-thon in my small hometown. My older cousin and I came up with the brilliant idea to carry trash bags on these bike-a-thons and pick up soda and beer cans along the way. We usually biked 20 miles that day each summer and often showed up at the tiny grocery store in town at the end of the event each carrying quite a nice collection of cans that we would bring to the recycling truck that often sat in the parking lot on weekends buying the cans. We always took the money and treated ourselves to an ice cream bar after our long day of riding and can collecting.  Sometimes on these runs, I am tempted to do the same. That is, I no longer would turn in the garbage for a treat – but it really would be a nice thing to see my town tidied up a bit and I would benefit from it more than most since these are my running paths.

So, back to my running form problem. I often stare down at the ground in front of me while I’m running instead of keeping my eyes on the horizen, which is better form. So, today I tried my best to keep my eyes up and my head steady. I did better, but I admit to especially having a hard time when I’d see something shiny! I’ve told all of you about how I collect coins for my son, Joshua’s piggy bank on my runs and so I really had to work at keeping my focus on form today. Luckily for Josh, I still struggled enough that I did in fact, come home with one shiny penny for his collection, so we both did well enough today. 

There is a hill near my home. It’s a slowly building one at first that soon becomes pretty painful as you near the top. At the top is a golf course, so once I reach the summit, I dodge little old men in their polo shirts and funny hats darting here and there on golf carts. It’s a good hill with a gorgeous view of the town and the mountains at the top. I love it up there. I hadn’t ran up it much recently, so today I decided to pay it a visit.  I’m glad I did. It kicked my rear as usual, so I think I’ll start visiting more often so it becomes less painful. The marathon I’m doing in October is one I’ve done before – and it has two big hills – one at about mile 6 and one at about mile 19. I think this little nearby one is just the thing I need to practice on until race day draws near in about 11 weeks.

Was there any drawbacks to my run today? Just one. I happened to run along a path that is across the street from a medium sized factory. Today some of the workers were outside smoking as I ran along the sidewalk across the street. I wrinkled my nose and pushed the pace to get past it as quickly as I could. I’m definitely thinking I’ll avoid that section next time around.  Cough cough wheeze wheeze

Stats: 7.03 miles. 11:06 ave pace (Did I mention that I had to take another phone call from dh during this run too? That man has bad timing! ) Total time: 1:17:59. 362 Ascent. 84 degrees. 33% humidity. 10 mph winds. Felt: Good.

07/25/10

I’ve been reading my Paula Radcliffe book and another Masters one I have from a gal named Patricia Welch who was famous many years ago. Both talk about taking time off – and they are elites. One said she and her husband just relax for a whole month each year.

I’ve been feeling “blah” still this week, too. I said I was taking last week off – and I still did 22 miles and that was with 4 runs – one being a super tough mountain 14 miler. I haven’t had a zero on my weekly log since early March 2009 and I’m really wondering if that’s even healthy. I wonder if year-round runners are supposed to take scheduled weeks off here and there – like one week off every 6 months. I would imagine it would be a good thing – but it’s so hard to mentally “let go” and do it.

I’m very Type A and find it so hard not to think poorly of myself if I don’t run. I’m seeing this as a common trend on Daily Mile – the web site I also use to record my workouts. I see many runners choosing the frowny faced symbol to show how they felt on their recent workouts. I’m seeing a lot of burnout but very few who recognize it or choose to rest at all. Hmm.

I’m still 11 weeks from my marathon. I’m not worried about my endurance fading in one week or losing my speed in that time period either. Rest and recovery. Two very simple words but so hard to implement at at times. The masters book I have also mentioned how as we age, we need more recovery time than the younger runners. I’m 37 and I’ll be 38 in about 3 months. I’m a geezer.  Maybe I need more rest.

Honest and truthfully, I didn’t enjoy yesterday’s run at all.  It was miserable. The heat was fine since we started in the dark at 5 am (in the mountains!) You should hear the wildlife at that time in the morning! Eeek! It was a little spooky – but not the first time I’ve done this. In fact, I looked back over the last 8 Saturday’s and saw I’d woken up 7 out of 8 at 3 or 4 am to get ready for a long run or a race (usually not falling asleep until 1 am or later.) The one weekend I didn’t do an early Saturday run? I got up that early on Sunday instead to run with a friend.

So, my long runs for June and July looked like this:

18.5 (mountains – very challenging), 10.27, PR 10k race – 2nd place age group, 18.47 (mountains – very challenging), 2 mile PR race – 3rd place age group, half marathon PR – 6th place age group, 13.3, and 14.14 (mountains – very challenging).

The first 5k I want to do is August 7th – a week from this Saturday. This would probably be an ideal time to rest and then ease back in the week of the race. But, I feel weird taking time off. I wonder if I should? I wonder if it would help and actually improve my mojo again?

When I got home from yesterday’s run, I just moped around. I missed Bertha a ton on the run. The other two gals are really great people – but they’re not my closest buddy who was camping. The 50 year old – the super ultra runner – ran faster than I could handle for the first several miles – and they were all UP! Horribly, painfully UP! About 1000 elevation gain in 3 miles. Painful! In pitch black darkness so I couldn’t let her pull ahead since I’d forgotten my flashlight, so I had to stay close. Not even a warm up! My legs tend to love a gentle warmup. I usually walk .25 a mile before every workout and then ease up the first mile. It’s just how my legs work. This one started at a high intensity (which sounds funny since our average pace was about 15 min miles — but unless you’ve ever tried to run at a 15 % – 20% grade (which is twice what most treadmills will do at their max) you might not really understand – but it hurts!) The max grade my Garmin recorded was at mile 7 and it was a 31% grade. You huff and you puff, your buns and hamstrings and calves are BURNING and cramping – and you haven’t even gone the first mile yet! This is the type of workout most ultra runners consider their mainstay. It makes them stronger! Trail running with extreme hills is not for the weak of heart (or glutes). 

My friend, Jenny, the super buff 50 year old, explained to us that the toughest run she’d ever done was the Bear 100 miler last year. She said that the elevation gain in that race is 21,986. I can’t even imagine! And that — peaking at over 9,000 elevation so the air is really thin! Jenny made it to mile 88 before she DNF’d it. That’s how hard it is. She said the cutoff is 36 hours and she made it 33. 33 hours of running! I’ve never ran for more than 7 hours – and I’ve only done that twice!

Anyways… obviously doing this mountain trail stuff makes a body stronger – but it appears I have a plethora of years and miles to go before I could even attempt something like the Bear 100! Believe it or not, my buddy Emily – who just did her first 50 miler a few weeks ago is signed up for this year’s September race! I’m in awe that she’s even attempting it! These super ultra runners just knock my socks off! They seem kind of super human.

Anyways… so I was following one of those super humans who is almost old enough to be my Mom and is only 4 foot 11 and 103 lbs (she told us so on the run)  and she was kicking my butt bigtime! She trains on these trails all the time. She lives nearby and runs in them 3-4 times a week. Yesterday’s run was just an “easy, warmup” for her “real – long run today” on the toughest 50 miler course I’m aware of nearby. I think today she’s doing another 20 or 30 with at least double the amount of elevation gain – a.k.a. – climbing.

My buddy, Amber was dying along with me. But, mountain goat Jenny kept moving, so we kept trying to keep up. Man, I hope I’m that cool when I’m 50!!!!

Anyways.. I’m rambling. Yesterday’s “vibe” with the other gals was ok — but it wasn’t the same as when I run with my best pal. I missed her. I missed her alot. Sometimes it’s easier to run with someone who’s already asked all the sensitive questions like, “Why do you homeschool?” and, “Why don’t you go to church?” I hate answering those over and over for new people and honestly hate anything remotely like confrontation so I end up coming home drained emotionally and feeling bluesy. I cried on Wayne’s shoulder a bit when I got home and just said, “Maybe I should just run alone. It’s easier than navigating these sensitive topics all the time.” Being an oddball isn’t the route in life I’d intended for myself – but it turns out – it’s who I really am. I’m a black sheep. But, I’m a nice sheep.  I wish people were cool with just avoiding those other topics and letting the run be what it’s all about.

Sorry guys – I guess I’m just having an emotional “dumping” here today. I’m not sure yet if I’ll take the week off – but I’m going to consider it.

07/24/10

My two friends, Jenny and Amber and I started while it was still dark. The stars were beautiful overhead. It was probably good that we couldn’t see the trail well since it was nearly all uphill the first few miles. My buns and hamstrings were on fire from the start of this one! We stopped to hang out with a cute little toad that ended up peeing all over my buddy Amber’s hands while she posed with him for pictures.  He was so cute, but I think he may have been a little nervous at the three running gals chatting around him who’d probably interrupted his sleep. ha!

I’d like to tell you that it got easier the longer I ran, but that only seemed to happen on the downhills. I definitely have not done enough hills lately and it was evident today by how out-of-breath I felt almost from the start. My quads and calves will thank me later when they’re stronger – but today they were crying like babies.

I saw many Monarch butterflies crossing the path today and leaped over more than my fair share of grasshoppers. I enjoyed hearing the birds singing their morning songs while it was still a star-covered black world.

Total ascent today? 3,129 feet. No wonder I’m yearning for an ice bath.  ha!

Stats: 14.14 very hard trail miles, 3:41:14: total time. 15:39: ave pace. Total Elevation gain: 3,129 – OUCH! Up, up, up, down, up, down, etc. etc. Can I please have a nap and a pizza now?

07/23/10

My right big toenail has been in the goodbye stage for awhile. I originally jammed it over and over when my form when sloppy at the end of my second marathon. It was hot and I wasn’t running pretty. My toenail turned black by the next day and within a few days I had to drain it with a drill bit (by hand) to ease some of the pain and pressure. That was back in May. That toenail had turned ghostly white and was starting to lift up from the nail bed, so I knew our time as a team was coming to an end.

Today while vacuuming, I accidently smacked my big toe good and hard on the vacuum (I tend to be clutzy like that.) It hurt and I realized the toenail was pulling away even more. I sat down to see what to do and saw that it was hanging on by a corner – gripping on for dear life deep in my lower nail bed. Ouch! I thought of my 10 year old daughter and how she’s pulled 3 of her own loose teeth in the past month. She’s brave. I’m not usually, but decided to channel some of her courage and just go for it. I had to twist and turn and it hurt — but — with a final yank I had that sucker off! 

Of course, then it was time to play show and tell! I yelled, “Hey kids! Want to see something gross?” Of course, five pairs of little feet came running into the room to see. Immediately I was a smalltime celebrity, with questions coming at me from all directions. “Did it hurt?” “Can we touch it?” “Can I have the old toenail?” “Why not?!” “Pleeeeeese” and “Will we lose toenails if we become marathoners someday too?” The attention was wonderful and I had to laugh a bit at how I’ve raised these children to embrace the grossness of any new encounter and treat it like a spontaneous science lesson. Hands-on of course!

Anyways… I had to finally ask Savannah for the toenail back half an hour later when she told me it was now part of her “Cowection of cool stuff.” And, yes, I had her wash her hands with oodles of soap and warm water. But, it is kind of cool. I’m saving it until Wayne gets home so I can brag a little bit more and see if I can freak him out a little bit. Probably not. He’s the king of the “it’s no big deal” attitude around incredibly weird and odd grossness. I should know. He watched all five of the babies be born and didn’t pass out. 

Ok, since I know you’re dying to see (Hey! Who fainted over there?!) – here’s a pic:

07/22/10

72 degrees. 29% humidity. 5 mph winds. Bright and sunny. Not bad running conditions at all. 

I headed out today seeking a change of scenery. I rarely run the same route twice – always venturing off here or veering off there in search of as much adventure as my middle aged legs will take me within my allotted “free time.”

Today was no different. I was yearning for something fresh and new to see. I headed off towards the countryside near my home, breathing in deeply as I passed the freshly cut hay fields. I had to stop and just take it in. Rows and rows of perfectly green hay lying in long tidy lines stretched north to south in huge, perfect rectangles. I’m eager to run by there in a day or two after the hay has been baled into those perfect rectangular cubes, bound with twine. I always find it a visual delight staring at a field dotted with those bales of hay! I get the strong urge to run over and just sit down on one and close my eyes, imagining that it would bring back wonderful memories of long ago riding on dry hay bales stacked in the back of a wagon, with snow falling softly on my face, while singing Christmas carols and drinking hot chocolate in my tiny hometown when I was a teen.

But, today was not that day, so I ran on. I ran by a rotund man throwing a stick for his Border Collie and smiling. They seemed to be having a lot of fun. It made me wonder if our family should get a dog. 

I rounded the corner and saw a familiar sight — sprinklers! This particular set almost made me laugh with how pathetic they were! The arches of water were barely a foot tall – they were just spitting out little bursts of water droplets. I decided to play in them anyways! It turns out my calves were happy as clams having the treat all to themselves this time.  About 200 yards ahead, I saw the real deal, though — BIG, powerful bursts of water spraying high into the air and arching to the ground — and the rainbows as the sun shone through them. These sprinklers weren’t on the path — they were watering some grass. So, being the well-restrained lady that I am, I picked up the pace and ran right smack into every single one of them! All felt wonderful except the one that got me right in the ear!

I found about 15 more sprinklers on the final mile and a half home and ran through each and every one of them. You know, 72 degrees feels a whole lot more like 50 when you’re soaking wet and there’s a little breeze! It felt like springtime! I also found a lucky penny. Of course I stopped and picked it up. It had a destiny to become part of Joshua’s coin collection – you know – that slowly building college fund I’m creating from all these miles I do and the pennies and nickels I find. Since I have five kids to eventually put through a higher education, I really should start running more miles.  At least for now, Josh is one penny closer to his Harvard education, though, right? ha ha

Stats: 3.02 miles. 10:32 ave pace. 31:51 total time. (Did I mention that I had to stop for a phone call AND then a text message?) I always leave the Garmin on the entire time. It’s my personal rule – but today it bit me in the butt since it added a couple of minutes of standing with my cell.