Bertha, Boiled Potatoes and Big Mountains

Bertha and I hadn’t had a run with just the two of us since January. We were long overdue to catch up and enjoy some miles together. We headed to the Boise foothills this morning and ran 15 miles of trails, heading up every single mountain we had the opportunity to climb, goggling up elevation gain like it was candy. The first five miles we actually hiked, since we had so much chit-chatting to do and that’s hard to do when running single file on singletrack trail. Once we were caught up, though, we got down to business and started working hard on the climbs. We climbed high enough that at one point, I looked to my left and saw a hawk flying just a few feet from where I stood. That’s how you know you’ve done some climbing when you are face to face with flying birds!! We made it all the way to the “Christmas tree” — this lone, big, bushy pine tree that really stands out on the mountaintop amongst the miles of sagebrush-covered land. From that vantage point, we could look down at Boise and all across the valley spread out below. It was beautiful! We could see snow caps on the nearby mountains and the sagebrush had an almost violet tint to it in the sunlight as far as the eye could see. I spotted white, purple and yellow wild flowers along the path today, as well, which was a nice reminder that spring has arrived (though, considering the 40ish temperatures and 20 mph winds we faced for much of the run, was hard to believe.)

The best treat today was Bertha’s surprise food spread in her Camelbak! She had packed 3 baked potatoes in foil! You would not believe how delicious a boiled potato tastes after a few hours on the trail! Mmmm mmm. They were good! She also shared some Endurolyte capsules with me. I noticed my hands were swelling after a couple of hours of climbing and within 15 minutes of taking two of the capsules with some water, I was amazed to see them return to normal size. I will definitely be picking some up the next time I’m at the Pulse running store!

I kept a close eye again on my heart rate today, again. I am determined to learn to keep it in check and not to overdo the way I did on the early climbs at Orcas Island where I nearly blacked out when my heart rate went a little crazy and I was seeing spots. I know I was pushing too hard that day and need to pay attention to what my body is telling me and learn to work with that info. On my run on Wednesday (also 15 miles in the mountains with similar elevation gain), I tried to keep my average heart rate at 150 or below (my max is about 200.) I finished Wednesday’s run with a 149 average and was feeling strong enough to bust out an 8:30 pace in the last mile on the road before finishing and didn’t suffer much soreness afterwards. Today was very similar. My average heart rate was 147 and I felt very strong on the entire way back from the turn around spot. I ran the downs hard and fast and made myself run all but one uphill on the way back (Bertha and I were chatting on that final one.) I felt strong. I felt focused and in control and like I could do more. This is a good base to build upon for the next 7 weeks leading up to my first 50 mile race at Big Horn!

Bertha was awesome today! She hadn’t ran much in the last 3 weeks and today she was hoping I’d help bump up her mileage and we totally did! She was feeling it by the last two miles, so I found a funny way to keep her moving forward. I had promised to buy her cheeseburgers, fries and a soda after the run, so every time she wanted to walk, I’d turn back and start repeating, “Cheeeesseeeburger!!!!!” She’d grin and start jogging again. When she started to walk again, I’d say, “Freeennnch friesss. Mmmmmmm But you have to follow me to get them.” ha ha ha. We had some good laughs about how motivating a tasty meal can be after running for 5 hours! πŸ™‚

I, did, in fact make good on my promise too. We got in on the good Big Mac Meal $2.99 deal at McD’s and glowed in our accomplishment as we drove back home, satisfied from a good days’ running.

Stats: 15 miles. 4:50 total time (3:54 moving time) 19:20 pace (15:36 moving pace) Best pace: 5:55. Total Elevation Gain: 3,004 ft. Max Elevation: 5415 ft. Felt: Awesome!


You and Me Go Running in the Dark

My friend since childhood, Davina, invited me to run at Reynold’s Creek tonight in theΒ Owyhee Mountains. How could I resist a midweek long, trail run? Even better, she told me to bring my headlamp! That was exciting since it’s been way too long since I had a good night run.

This was an awesome run. Davina and I are both coming back from time off from injuries, so we’re feeling a bit slower than usual, so it was a really good match pace-wise. We both also have races coming up. She a 50K at Pocatello with a ton of elevation gain on trails in 3 weeks and me with my 50 miler at Big Horn in 8 weeks. Today was a chance for both of us to get some climbing, some elevation and some technical trails. We got it all and then some! I didn’t expect to be glared down by an angry cow (or hundreds of them), but I found myself in just that boat not far into the run. There are lots of cattle that graze these lands, so you need to keep your distance or they will let you know with a deep throaty Moooooo that they are not happy and you’d better not step any closer. That was easier earlier in the run when it was still daylight out. About 10 miles in, we were running in the dark, under a cloudy sky, with the city lights twinkling in the distance and out of the darkness you could hear a “MOOOOOOO” when you got too close to one of them. Eeek! Glad we didn’t get trampled or step in one of the zillions of cow pies we saw everywhere. ha ha!

We took a lot of pictures of the cool rock formations, the grand views on high and of each other doing silly things. It was awesome! I also made it a point to not shut off the Garmin one second – not for potty breaks, not for phone calls to the husbands and not for pictures or fueling. That will stay my policy as I prepare for this race since it keeps me honest. Since there is a time cut-off at Big Horn of 15 hours for the 52+ miles, I will have to gradually improve that pace a bit, but for now, I’m very happy with how things went. It was fun!

Stats: 15 miles. 19:24 actual pace (no Garmin shut offs or pausing allowed!!), 4:51: total time. Average Heart Rate: 149 (felt GREAT!!!!!!) Elevation Gain: 2,851. Elevation Loss: 2,877 ft. Max elevation: 4286 ft.


Happy Birthday Josh

9 years ago, I was 10 days past my due date, wondering if my third baby was ever going to be ready to make his entrance into this world. On April 28th, 2002 at around noon, he did. Joshua was born at home with a team of midwives assisting me. My sister, my Mom and my husband were in the room to welcome him. My Dad was downstairs and the first to hold him once he was swaddled and ready to be introduced to his Grandpa.

Today, the kids and I are getting ready for tomorrow night’s big party. We spent the morning putting together goody bags and whipping up Dirt Cakes. We had so much fun making them and the children are really hoping they fool some of the guests into thinking they really are being given potted plants instead of a tasty birthday dessert!

Happy Birthday, Joshua!!! I love you, so much! You bring me so much joy and love! <3 In closing, I'll share one of my favorite pictures of Josh as a baby. It always makes me smile!


Recent Running Photos

I finally got around to uploading the pictures from my cell phone to my pc (ok, Wayne did all that for me), but I wanted to share some of my favorite running photos from the past month.


Wilson’s Creek Trails + A Wet Dog

This morning my friend Mark, his golden retriever, Cali and my longtime friend Marci joined me in the Owyhee mountains for a trial run. It was a brisk 40 degrees but sunny when we started, but soon warmed up to a very comfortable 55 or so with just a slight breeze. It was perfect weather for getting in a few, slow miles on the trails.

When running on the Wilson’s Creek Trails, you’re likely to encounter certain things: cows – lots and lots of cows (who incidentally had beat parts of the trail pretty good and made it a bit more challenging to navigate), horses and their riders, jack rabbits, wild horses, unique rock formations and sagebrush.. lots and lots of sagebrush as far as the eye can see. Today, we encountered plenty of cattle (and their blessed ploppy gifts), horses and riders (a friendly group of whom we ended up chatting with and photographing for a calender this group of riders creates each year of the best photos), one very quick jack rabbit, no wild horses unfortunately, and a plethora of cool giant rock formations, mountains, hills and a never-ending supply of sagebrush.

This wasn’t one of my best runs and not for lack of great company. Ever since I sprained my ankle and had to take a few weeks off, I’ve felt weaker on the trails – especially the climbs. I don’t think I even jogged a single uphill today. I hiked them all. And, despite “taking it easy” my heart rate stayed consistently around 170 during the run or hike sections. I’m still in poor condition in comparison to where I was just a few months ago. It’s amazing how fast you lose it. I usually make up for my slow uphills by bombing down the downhills, but that just hasn’t been the case for me so much lately either. Since hurting my ankle, I have more fear of reinjury and the particular trails we ran today were covered in ankle-breaker loose, medium to large rocks – especially on the downhills. I took a photo of some of them just to give you a better idea of what I’m talking about. It was a rather technical trail run today.

Mark was a great leader, encouraging us to run straight up some of the steepest mountains. The views were really amazing at the top – the jagged rocks of granite and basalt, the canyon, the sagebrush and dust going on for miles and miles. You can almost imagine cowboys and Indians riding through these parts if you look long enough.

The funniest member of our group today was Cali, the Golden Retriever. Cali’s bouncy and happy and full of doggie energy. She also really, really loves mud puddles! She was in luck! We encountered several and each time, she’d zip right over to it, plunge it and wallow all around in dirty delight. Then, she’d rush out, dripping mud coming off her coat and want to get close to you or play. It must have been a funny site the way Marci and I screeched and ran to hide behind one another when she’d want to nuzzle or jump. It wasn’t nearly as interesting as when we all had to climb into the car to head home, though. Cali was covered in mud and water. She looked satisfied, happy and content – and really dirty! Luckily, Mark adores his dog a whole lot more than the seats in his car, so he let her hop right in. Right next to Marci (sorry Marci! I promise to take that seat next time.) hee hee. We drove along until coming to a great little boat launching spot along the Snake River, where Mark let Cali get out and jump in for a spontaneous bath. If Golden Retrievers can grin, this one totally did as soon as she hit that water! Mark threw sticks for her and she’d dive in and doggie paddle over to catch them, then come back out. She had the most pitiful look when it was time to head back to the car and leave her “playground.” The day was a fun time for all – including the pup. πŸ™‚

I did something – something brave (or crazy!) You decide! I signed up for Big Horn 50 miler yesterday. The race is in Wyoming on June 18th. My adrenaline has been surging ever since anticipating running 50 (well 52 according to the web site – but what’s another couple of miles after that long, right?) miles in only 8 weeks! Looks like I’ve got some serious miles to put on these legs and most importantly – climbing, trail miles. I’m also hoping to get in a little elevation on some of these runs, since the race starts at 8,800 feet above sea level. I live at about 2,500 feet. My weekend mountain runs sometimes reach up to 4,700 or so. Today’s run maxed out at 3,960. Looks like I’ve got my work cut out for me. And…. the race has cut offs at the aid stations along the way. If you don’t make the aid stations before the cut off, you’re out of the race, simple as that. Yikes! The total time cut off is 15 hours. I mean – 15 hours!! That sounds like an eternity, doens’t it? But, it works out to roughly 18 min miles for 50 miles with something between 6,000-8,000 overall gain (depending on who you ask.) My 50K at Orcas Island had 8,000 of gain and it measured 32.67 total times. My average pace for that was 18:41. Too slow for Big Horn and about 20 miles shorter. Eeek!!!! I’ll need to really buckle down and work on my turnover on the uphills, without draining my energy so I can still go for hours more. Orcas took me 9 hours and 40 minutes. It was the longest run I’d ever done. 15 hours. Wow. 15 hours. I’ll be happy to accept any and all wishes of “good luck” over the next 8 weeks. I’ll need them!

Stats: 12 miles. 18:45 pace. 3:45:10 total time (I never shut the Garmin off after start) Ave HR 158 Total Elevation Gain: 1,918 ft.


Krispy Kreme Donuts + Some Miles

Tonight didn’t go as planned. It went phenomenally better! The Pulse Fitness and Running store (one of the sponsors of my upcoming Lake Lowell Marathon and Half Marathon) was holding a Trail Running workshop this evening and I didn’t want to miss it. It was great to hear from the Ridge to Rivers Ranger Todd Graeff about his experiences and tips on the trails and then from Coach Mike Carlson who was there to introduce a 50K running plan and let us know about biweekly trail runs he’ll be leading on a brand new 50K race course in our very own Boise Foothills! It was an exciting night. To top it all off, everyone there got a really cool, free tech shirt! Mine is a neon yellow tank Brooks shirt that I can’t wait to wear this summer!

Several of my running pals were there tonight. There were lots of hugs and condolences shared with my good friend, Randy and his wife Patti, who’s precious dog had passed away earlier today. There was also lots of the usual joking and laughing that seems to happen when my running buddies get together. It really feels like an extended family that I’m so grateful to be a part of.

Two of my closest running gal pals sat with me during the talk. My friend, Julie is one of the most talented runners I know. She’s really fast! One of her feet has been giving her some trouble the last few months and after running a PR at Robie Creek on Saturday, it got worse. It was swollen and bothering her so much she even saw a doctor, who told her to take a little time off. I felt really bad for her and was glad she’d come to the event. She’d brought her adorable 7 year old daughter, Krista along and while the speeches were going on, I thought of a way we could spend a little fun time together. See, there’s a Krispy Kreme donut shop practically right next door to the running store! It was pouring rain outside and even though my buddy Billie and I’d shown up in running clothes, I just started thinking that hanging out with my gal pals and pigging out on donuts sounded even more fun than logging a couple of miles — so I offered to buy them all donuts if they’d join me next door after the workshop. They said yes! πŸ™‚

Now, my buddy, Jon, caught me just as we were walking out and asked if I was planning to run. I explained that I was bailing on the run to get a sugar high and he said, “Great! We can run afterwards.” Now, with my background as the girt with the terrible stomach, I wasn’t sure that was a very good plan, and knowing full well that Jon runs a pace much faster than my own, I thought it might be a bad idea. But, in usual Christie Impulsiveness, I agreed.

We had our donuts and lots of laughs and I’m so glad we did. Then we hugged Julie goodbye for the day, I set the remainder of the dozen donuts I’d bought in the backseat of my car to surprise the five kids with later and we took off with Jon and his pal Robbie. I was really nervous I’d have a hard time keeping up, but much to my relief the guys were super gentlemen and kept the pace perfect for Billie and I. Billie’s faster than I am and she and Jon ran stride for stride and I ran next to Robbie, while we chatted about our families. It turns out Robbie helps homeschool his son, so we talked a lot about homeschooling and kids and that was really fun. I’m always amazed at how much I can learn about another friend when we run together. It was a blast!

The miles flew by, my stomach didn’t revolt and before we knew it, we were at Jon’s house being introduced to his chickens, his cows and pigs and – best of all — his beautiful wife! I had been hoping to meet Holly, so it was fun to get a chance to put a face with a name and I invited her to run with me soon. Billie and I were feeling good, so we turned down the offer of a ride back to our car and decided to run back instead. It was getting dark. We didnt’ have our head lamps or glow in the dark gear, but we were game for it. About half a mile away, Robbie pulled up and dropped Jon back off. See, my cousin Ben is training for Badwater and Jon is one of his pacers, so Jon’s trying to gobble up a ton of miles right now to train for that — so it was no big deal for him to add a few more by running us back, it turned out (Thanks Jon!) That also was nice since Jon did have on a headlamp and a bright hat, so he was very nice to escort us back the nearly 4.6 miles to our vehicle. We talked running and college and Badwater and it was a great time! I swear I run faster in the dark than I do in the light. That felt nice, too.

So, look at that! I had planned on going to my event and maybe getting in 5 miles afterwards. Instead, I got to do the event, eat donuts with my friends and get in nearly twice the mileage with some friends! Aint Life Grand?!

Stats: 9.24 miles. 9:46 ave pace. Time: 1:30 Felt: Happy


No Steam in the Engine

You ever have those days where despite the weather being perfect, you just don’t want to run? That’s me today. It took all sorts of willpower just to get out the door today. I felt tired. A bit sore still from my tough half marathon on Saturday. And, the big one – still incredibly out of shape and sluggish. The scale has become my enemy again – I’m up 5 lbs this year from where I was at the same month of last year. Ugh! It’s funny, there have been days where I didn’t consider it a big deal to run 20+ miles with friends, and yet there are days like today, where 4.5 miles feels like an eternity.

The phrase I repeated to myself over and over today was, “Miles not minutes.” I also decided when I set out today, to keep my eye on my heart rate – making an effort to keep it at the low end of “easy” for my particular heart rate range, which I created using my max heart rate and then doing the calculations for the various stages to focus on: Easy, Anaerobic Threshold and Vo2 Max. My as-of-yet measured max is about 196. I think when I do speedwork again, I’ll likely see something over 200 – but it’s in the ballpark. So, my easy range is 136-159 (60 – 75% of max), my anaerobic threshold is 174-181 (85 – 90 % of max) and my Vo2 max is 181-196). Most of my runs, since I started measuring my heart rate a couple of months ago, are in the 155-165 range. That seems to be a really comfy zone for me. I’m still figuring all of this out and likely am misunderstanding at least some parts of it. That’s ok. Trial and error seems to be my method. πŸ™‚ Today, I focused on keeping my average heart rate around 135. It meant lots of walking and painfully slow jogging, but it seemed like a good idea — a chance for my body to keep recovering from this weekend’s race.

I printed up two new training plans in the middle of the night when insomnia was ruling my sleep schedule. One is a Smart Coach plan, that I know will help me get back into the shape I was in last Fall and help me improve my speed at races. The second one, which has huge red text, is titled, “50-Miler Training Plan.” I’m trying to decide which one is really the one for me. I feel kind of goal-less at the moment. A ship without a course. Mentally, I need a race – something to strive for to give me my drive back. I had hoped to work on breaking 4 hours at the marathon this year. I’m really not feeling confident that it’s the right goal for me right now — maybe never. Not sure. It seemed possible last year, but I’m just not sure at the moment I can see it happening – and I don’t even have a race in mind to attempt it. Most of my pals are ultra runners. Many have already knocked out a 100 mile race this year. They amaze and surprise me with their abilities. Secretly, I want to be like them too… eventually. I’ve knocked out two 50ks now in the last year. Is it time to make the leap to the next level – 50 miler? I’m feeling the pull. I’m considering it. I think I’ll toy with it for another couple weeks and see what I decide.

Stats: 4.53 miles. 13:26 pace. 1:00 time. Felt: Fatigued, Blah. Average Heart rate: 135.


Recovery Run

Ran solo today. Listened to Beach Boys and Village People and couldn’t refrain from doing the Y-M-C-A dance moves during that song. I ran along a short greenbelt in my town (just 2 miles out and another 2 back.) I backtracked a bit to get a little more mileage. Kept an eye on the heart rate the entire time to keep my recovery pace slow enough for some actual recovery. Just a little bit sore from yesterday’s difficult half. I’m eager to get myself back into race shape again, drop about 5 lbs and start feeling a little faster again. My monthly miles in January were 161. I sprained my ankle in February, so my mileage nosedived to 44. In March I only managed 86. I feel really out of shape – out of breath on hills and losing my endurance on the long ones, still. I don’t feel much like the “Me” from a few months ago and I want that back. It’s sort of been like a little flashback to back when I didn’t exercise at all — just three years ago. I don’t like being reminded of that sluggish, unhappy, overweight feeling. Time to print up a new training schedule, choose a goal race and start working for it again. Goals always motivate me and I’m feeling hungry for some miles!

I enjoyed waving hello to the families I saw out on the path today. I saw a little boy, about ten years old, riding his bike with a fishing pole heading towards the creek. I saw a woman throwing a Frisbee for her big, fluffy dog to catch and bring back. I saw a guy riding his dirt-bike on this cool course with about 30 acres of little hills that runs parallel to the greenbelt. I just couldn’t take my eyes off of that bike as it zoomed up and then sailed over the top of each hill – sometimes going airborne for a bit. It looked fun and was a nice distraction to just logging in some miles without my pals. I noticed the cherry blossoms on the trees and the yellow daffodils near the canal and I stopped for photos of both.

Stats: 5.63 miles. 12:04 ave pace. 1:07 total time. Ave Heart rate: 153. Felt: Ok


Robie Creek Half Marathon Update

Just a quick update. I didn’t pr. I’m definitely not as in as good a shape this spring as I was last spring due to the ankle injury that sidelined me for several weeks after Orcas. It’s ok, though. I loved wearing the tutu and seeing all the smiles it brought as I ran (and walked!! boy did I walk a lot!) Race report to come in a day or two.

The stats: 13.1 miles 2,151 elevation gain (first 8.4 miles are uphill – boy did my calves cramp up a lot!), 2:25 unofficial (Garmin) time. Average heart rate: 180. Max: 196. Uphills make my heart beat so hard and it was hot out there!!! Had such a nice time with so many friends out there today, even if I was dying on the uphill.

Half marathons completed now: 4. πŸ™‚ The first one was Robie last year.


I Love My Gal Pals

After yesterday’s really tough trail run, I was discouraged. My quads hurt so bad, I could hardly make it up the stairs and the blister was raw and red on my right foot. I’d made plans to run with two of my friends, but started to really wonder if I’d be able to do more than hobble along for the 10 miles. Thankfully, it al turned out just fine.

I met Billie and Julie today near a small path I rarely run, but really like. Billie had already ran ten and was meeting Julie and I for ten more. It was so much fun to be with two of my favorite people again. Having close friends that you can relax and just be yourself with and talk (and laugh) about almost anything really does the soul good (and doesn’t hurt for gaining weekly mileage a bit easier either!)

I was surprised that the sprained ankle felt just fine again since we ran on fairly flat asphalt and dirt trails. I felt faster than expected today, too. During the running portions we were comfortably keeping the pace around 9:50-10:30 which is a very comfy range for me. We stopped and took a few silly photos, too.

I felt more like “me” again today. I needed that. I need my friends. πŸ™‚

Stats: 10 miles. 11:53 ave pace. 1:59 total time. Best pace: 5:04 (raced Julie at the end, sooo fun!) Ave heart rate: 154 Felt: Happy