While I was growing up, I remember watching my Mom’s face grow serene and peaceful when she’d listen to John Denver’s albums. She passed on her affection for nature, running and beautiful music to me.
Here is a photo of my Mom, me on her lap and my baby sister that was taken in a photo booth sometime in 1974.
Here are some of the songs that best capture my own captivation and love of the outdoors. I thought some of you might enjoy them as well.
My buddy, Andrea and I decided to each set a PR in total distance this week, while on this run! Andrea said she reached her goal after we’d done about 22 or so miles, but I needed 30 or more to reach mine and she was awesome and hung in there with me for the whole thing!!! Thanks, Andrea S. !!!!
She found me in a worn down state after a long week of running and she was kind and let me take many walk breaks along the way. I really enjoyed the day!!! We hit the trails early this morning and they were beautiful. The rolling hills, the jagged volcanic rocks, the canyons, the sight of the river far below, the wheat-colored grasses, the sagebrush, the plethora of clouds in the sky that looked like puffy cotton balls scattered all about, the sunshine so bright. It was lovely today!
We saw a whistle pig, a jack rabbit and then about 10 miles into the run, several deer started gracefully bounding across the trail about a hundred feet in front of us!!!! It was such a breath-taking moment! I think there must have been at least 20 of them, their white backsides bobbing off in the distance as they ran away. About twenty minutes later, we went cross country and found the spot where they’d been bedding down, the grasses bent low to the ground. Andrea cracked me up when she said, “Oh, look! It wasn’t just their bedroom! It was an en suite – for here is their bathroom (as we passed by the scat!!!) Not a moment later, we spotted a few deer down the hill below us, hiding in the grasses. They saw us, then started bounding away down the steep mountain and up the other side. Within seconds, others started to join in. We tried to count them all but ended up guessing there were at least 75 deer right there before our eyes!!!! It was amazing!!!
We got back on the trail and headed back towards the house for a little aid station stop to refill our bottles and get some food. I was a little bonky, so made myself a peanut butter sandwich and chugged some Mt Dew, which always works like magic for me. I felt better instantly! Andrea remarked as we took off, towards the Greenbelt for our final 13 miles that I seemed to have found my second wind and I felt like it!!!
We bumped into my buddy and neighbor, Tony and got to chat before heading off on our adventure. My calves were starting to cramp (something that’s been happening more, so I need to work on the s caps more frequently I think – I only had 2 today.) Andrea was nice to let me walk when I needed to or stop to stretch them out.
We had a lovely time together, sharing stories from our youth (I am pretty impressed that she was the Homecoming Queen!!!) and laughed a lot, while enjoying the gorgeous Boise River on such a mild, winter day! It felt like SPRING!
Elevation Gain: 1,808 feet. 139 – average heart rate. 189 – max heart rate. Felt: Fatigued the last several miles, but very happy!
Polecat this morning just before the sun rose. The moon is still high in the sky!
I had been fearing, I mean really looking forward to busting out some really fast miles this morning with Ryan. (He had sworn he’d push me so I could break both my 1 mile and 2 mile PRs and then see if I could muster up a few BQ MP miles as well for about 10.) But, those plans changed when it snowed overnight, so I quickly changed out of my speedy shoes and into my awesome Inov8 Mudrocs (which have awesome lugs and a few short spikes for icy conditions!) I would be thankful for those shoes later in the day, but didn’t know it yet.
We decided to run trails at the local Polecat loop. It was pitch black (as usual) when we started, but the blanket of freshly-fallen snow made the surrounding hills and trail seem soft and luminous as we took off onto the path – our footprints the first of the day. The crescent moon and stars were lovely and iridescent and seemed a sharp contrast against the vast, ebony sky. Fog hovered over the mountains, setting an eerie, quiet, mysterious mood. The governor’s mansion is located a few miles up the road from the Polecat trail head and when I’d let my gaze travel high up the enormous hill, where it sits, on my drive up the road just prior to the run, it had occurred to me that it looked very much like a haunted house in the spooky morning haze and fog!
Our feet crunch, crunched through the fresh powder and though the effort was greater due to the snow and mud, it was a really comfortable, steady pace and I was enjoying myself. My headlamp caught sight of the sagebrush and grasses alongside the path and they were all decorated in the twinkling, fresh snow. The path glistened like diamonds before me and I commented that I’d been really hoping for at least one more snow run before spring set in!! Guess I got my wish!
We added on a part of the trail we hadn’t done before, which was fun and during the last couple of miles, the sun started to rise. It was very cloudy, so we didn’t actually see the sun, but suddenly everything around us was glowing like a winter wonderland! I kept saying, “Oh my goodness! This is SO beautiful!!!” and couldn’t stop grinning!
My running buddy, Ryan.
We finished up and headed to our separate cars and I took off first. I headed back up the nearest hill back towards home and within just a few feet my tires were spinning like crazy and my car was sliding all over the place. There were at least 10 cars behind me, so I kept trying my best to get some momentum to get up and over the hill, but it wasn’t working. Finally, I was able to get just off the road, to let the others pass, but quickly I could see they were struggling too. Once the long line of cars was gone, I tried again to get my Suburban back on the road and up the hill, but I only ended up burning rubber, sending a ton of black smoke all around and digging my right back tire into the soft shoulder of the road. I tried to call my husband, but this particular area is famous for being sort of a “black hole” for cell service and I had none. I looked in my rear view mirror and saw that Ryan had pulled out his pickup, heading the opposite direction and was waiting on the side of the road, probably to make sure I made it out ok. I got out of the car and dodged a few vehicles on the icy road (thankful I was wearing those awesome shoes with spikes!) and headed towards him. I was incredibly thankful when he said to hop in the pickup and he’d give me a ride to his work, so that I could get back in cell range to call my husband, Wayne. He was very polite and kept the car and heater running for quite a while when we got there, while we waited for Wayne. I’m sure I ended up making them both late for work this morning and I feel bad about that — but I really was grateful to both of them for helping me today!
Wayne and I headed back up to the trailhead to see if we could get the Suburban unstuck. By that point, another car had also slid off the road. Wayne ended up helping get 3 different cars off of that bad section, as one-by-one, they also slid off and could not get moving again. I think those three ladies were really grateful that I’d already gotten stuck and had brought back my strong husband to help push their vehicles back onto the road safely! I was also able to pitch in and push the cars since my shoes were the best for grip. Another man had also stopped to help Wayne and I push cars and he was wearing cowboy boots so he was slipping and sliding!
It turned out my own vehicle wasn’t that hard for Wayne to correct, either. I have 4 wheel drive, but no one had ever shown me how to turn it on. Wayne put it into 4 wheel drive, reversed it just a bit, then was out of that stuck situation in a jiffy! Yay, Wayne, my HERO!!! After such a crazy start to our day, Wayne bought me breakfast at IHOP. That hot cocoa and those pancakes never tasted so good!!!
Glad to be home safe and sound and feeling pretty lucky to have a running partner who didn’t leave me when I needed help and a husband who was willing to come to my rescue! Thank you both very much!!!
P.S. One of the funniest parts of today was when the sun finally rose, I looked down at my dark braids and saw that they were streaked with snow and ice!!!! It looked like someone had painted thin, white stripes on them!! It was awesome! I tried to get Ryan to take a picture with my cell phone, but it ran out of juice just at that moment! Darn. You guys would have appreciated that one, too! 😀
Average HR: 162. Max HR: 201. Elevation Gain: 1,069 feet. Felt: Happy
As an athlete, I know that keeping a strong mindset, believing in myself and keeping my eyes on the prize are crucial to my success! But… most of us also carry with us some less healthy ways of thinking that can threaten not only our goals as competitors but also our views of ourselves and others!
I’ve been doing a little soul-searching today and I didn’t necessarily feel proud of what I found. Many of my friends and fellow runners would describe me as positive, encouraging, supportive and hopeful! But, there are other friends and family members, who know me on a more intimate level, who could tell you about the more hidden, secret side to my soul. Those close enough to me to see me as I truly am, would reveal that though I genuinely am a fairly happy person, I also privately struggle with insecurity, self-doubt, fear and jealousy to name a few of my less-than-flattering traits.
Everyone keeps telling me that the most important training that I can do to get ready for my first 100 mile race is to be mentally prepared. I’ve been thinking about that today and what that means to me. I know I’m mentally strong. I’ve overcome difficulties both in life and racing that have given me courage that I’m ready to face this challenge. But… I realized today that it’s also important that I do an honest, self assessment of my own value – the way I truly see myself. I asked myself, “Why are you doing this race? Are you doing it to impress others? To earn status with your ultra friends? Are you doing it because you think earning that buckle will somehow up your value as a person? Make you more lovable, acceptable to others and yourself?” I had a lot to think about.
Here are the honest answers and what I’m learning:
“Why am I doing this race?” — I’m doing it because I really crave the challenge of pushing my body towards an exciting new goal, I really do want to do it and I think I can make it happen!
“Are you doing it to impress others?/ To earn status with your ultra friends?” — When I filled out the entry form for the Antelope Island Buffalo Run, the waiver I signed said something along the lines of.. “I know that taking on this challenge is a little crazy, but I know it impresses the opposite sex, so I’m willing to risk it!” Aside from that funny joke, the truth is, I want to impress myself more than I want to impress my friends or family members! I do think they will all be proud of me and it will feel good to share my good news with them when I complete the race, but ultimately, “I” want to be proud of me more than I want the praise or acceptance of anyone else.
And, finally, the question:
“Are you doing it because you think earning that buckle will somehow up your value as a person? Make you more lovable, acceptable to others and yourself?” — This, for me, was getting to the heart of things. The area I need to work on.
I remember back when I was in 6th grade, earning a 99% composite score on the Iowa Basic Skills standardized test that my school used. Because my score was so high my teacher, Mr. Hoshimoto, invited a professional in to give me an IQ test, to see if, perhaps, I was a student who belonged in the gifted and talented program at my school.
I was 12 at the time. I had no idea what was going on when a strange man with a briefcase one day came to my class and asked me to leave with him. I attended a very old school. When the strange man told me to follow him, I felt nervous as he led me downstairs into the creepy, old basement, with the pipes exposed, cobwebs and hardly any light.
If memory serves me correctly, we went into the boiler room (where I also have memories of being brought to do the hearing tests each year.) I remember him setting up some complex wooden blocks into particular patterns and then breaking them apart and asking me to repeat the pattern, while he timed me. I was nervous. I felt self-conscious and I really didn’t feel comfortable being alone with a strange man in this little basement room. There was also a long test. I don’t remember very much about it, other than I wanted it to be over, so the pressure would be off and I could go back to my classroom with the other kids.
A few weeks later, my parents were told that I did not earn a score high enough to be considered a “gifted” student. I had fallen exactly one point shy of that label. When my parents sat me down, I saw the disappointment on their faces and felt it in my own heart when I realized how much had been at stake when I took that test. Had I just relaxed a bit, I likely would have earned that elusive point and for the rest of my school days been known as “one of the smart kids,” but as things ended up, for the rest of my life, I thought of myself as the kid who was “one point less than” being really intelligent.
For much of my life since that fateful day, I have longed for labels or achievements that would make me feel positive about myself. I know it’s wrong to yearn for these things, but it truly is something I struggle with. When I graduated from college, I loved thinking of myself as a “college graduate!” When I ran my first marathon, I loved being able to call myself a “marathoner!” When I ran my first ultra, I loved the self-esteem I felt from considering myself one of “them!” Earning third place overall at a local 8k brought extreme pride. Each and every hard training workout or run, every race that I finished, has made me feel better about myself — more worthy, as though with each achievement I am increasing my value and self worth.
But, putting too much weight on those types of accolades has a dark side. When things don’t go as planned and I failed — I took it terribly to heart. Self doubt, low self-esteem and feeling “Not good enough” were feelings, emotions and struggles I had to deal with each time.
I also realized that when I put too much pressure on myself, when I am a stickler to my schedule and become the obsessive-compulsive gal, that sometimes that stern inner me, forgets to be kind and gracious to myself and, as a consequence, to those around me! For, when I’m expecting so much of myself, it’s hard to relax and be supportive sometimes of others who seek dreams with a more laid back attitude.
So, in reflection, though I have logged the miles and done the work in my training up until now for my ultra marathon in 6 weeks, I still do have some more work ahead of me as I prepare. I will meditate on what’s positive, remember to feel hope inside again (for myself and for others), I will be gracious and understanding and kind in word and deed to myself and to those I interact with and… keep running!!!!
I am a work in progress! Here’s to finding myself in a good mental and physical place come race day on March 23rd!
In 6 1/2 more weeks…. I’m COMING TO GET YOU!!!!!
I pulled up my log books to review how much training I’ve done in the last 6 months towards this goal of running my first 100 mile race. I’ve done 862 miles (and February isn’t even half over yet!) In November, I ran 175 miles which was more than I’d ever ran before (my previous high was 169 miles the year before.) In December, I ran a new personal best in miles and did 200! Then, in January, I did another 170 (which involved 2 50ks and lots of other long runs!) I ran a solo 50 miler on December 30th, faster than I’d ran the previous two! Just this past weekend, I ran nearly a 50k in training at a pace faster than I’d done before, as well. I’m improving! I’m getting stronger and fitter and keeping my eyes firmly on the prize!
For fun, I tallied how many long runs (15 miles or longer) of each distance I have done since September. Here’s the work I’ve done in order to prepare for my goal:
(1) 50 miler
(4) Runs of 20 – 30 miles (20, 27, 27, 28)
(9) Runs between 16 – 19 miles (16, 16, 17, 17, 17, 18, 18, 18, 19)
It wasn’t easy making time for all of those long runs. I’m a busy Mom of five! But, I made the commitment and I have put in the miles and the time and I’m very proud of myself for hanging in there, even when it was cold or when I had to get up at 3:45 am to go on one of those long runs! I have learned to juggle my life better through this process. And, I have realized that I really did have the time all along to achieve such a lofty dream – I just had to make it a priority!
I’ve followed the training plan for a hundred miler on about 50 miles a week from the book:
I’ll be running the Antelope Island Buffalo Run 100 miler on March 23, 2012 (my baby girl’s 5th birthday!) I can’t wait!
Last week the fast boys went out for a 17 mile hard, trail loop before they joined up with me, which meant I got to be the strong one for a change. This week, I got to come along for the full meal deal, which meant – it hurt a lot, I was the slow-poke puppy and I did not taunt them further about last week since this was my turn to pay the piper and want to die!
Ryan, Tony, Dennis and Christine all joined me bright and early at 6 am, in the dark for our run. It was pretty cold! With the wind chill, it was about 19 degrees. As we ran under the dark sky, I was mesmerized by the brilliant light of the moon, high in the sky above, reflecting on the water as we ran. The pace was quick for me (for a 30ish mile run) early on. That’s why I come! These super stars are helping me to push myself harder than I normally would, and though it isn’t always comfortable at the time, I have seen huge improvements in my speed and endurance from tagging along with them when they go “easy!”
I stayed at the back, enjoying the conversation of the others floating around me, as I just held on, praying I could keep up enough throughout the run. There was one porta-potty break here and one of the runners tried to rock the potty while another was inside, causing a hilarious reaction from everyone (but the guy in the potty!) Apparently, my friends and I were just a little too crazy for the early morning hour, because a woman came out of the house right near the bathroom and glared at us in her pjs. Oops!
After a few miles of greenbelt running, we hit the Oregon Trail system. The jagged, basalt rocks pop up here and there and you have to watch your step -especially in the dark – or you’ll trip! It keeps you on your toes and I perked right up when we got there since it’s near my home and feels familiar.
In the next hour, we ran as the sky grew gradually lighter. Soon, we turned our headlamps off and watched the blazing morning sun rise, five happy friends, savoring yet another perk of being early morning long distance runners out in the hills alone with the wonders of nature. Moments like these, I vow to continue getting up early at least a couple times a week to be totally alive, truly appreciative and humbled by the beauty and glory of the world I am so blessed to be a part of.
One of the highlights of today was spotting several herds of deer as we ran! They were everywhere it seemed! They bounded across the grasses to the ridge-line and we could see the silhouette of a buck and many doe. It was spectacular. Tony and Ryan were like two little boys racing after the animals, making comments like, “Man, I wish we’d brought a GUN, but don’t worry, I do have a pocket knife!” Boys…..
Dennis, Christine and I stayed back enjoying the show and stopping here and there to take in the beauty of the rolling brown hills, the beautiful shadows cast from the sunlight shining down on them, Lucky Peak Lake far below and the glorious, snow-capped mountain peaks in the distance. In every direction we turned, it seemed another postcard scene was waiting to be appreciated and enjoyed – and so we did!
The trails were mostly frozen. We ran across frozen puddles and some areas where the snow made a satisfying “crunch” sound beneath our running shoes. We gathered rocks (ok, Ryan and Tony gathered rocks and shared them with us – thanks, guys) when we reached the summit and a huge rock pile and, there we added our contributions to this unique, collective, natural artwork in the mountains! It was a special moment amongst friends!
Our path ran out about there, so we followed game trails for awhile until those, too, ran out and then we went cross country down the hills, over rocks and through brush. I always feel like an explorer, discovering new worlds when we do this and today was no exception! For reasons, I no longer recall, I started speaking with a British accent to the others through here. Yes.. trail running with friends can bring out the best (and goofiest) sides of me, it seems!
When we reached the boat launch area, some of us sat for a little break, watching the smooth-as-glass water below, while the others used the nearby bathrooms. It was a nice time for a snack and some good conversation.
My legs started cramping up once we hit the flatter Greenbelt again. I’d hoped to pick up the pace there, but found myself fading quite a bit as the faster runners stayed steady and strong. My buddy, Dennis stayed back with me and I enjoyed his company and our conversation about racing, parenting and life in general. It also did my heart good to see Ryan and Tony and Christine running together far ahead. I knew it was good for them to each enjoy others of a similar pace and push each other a bit! We were all getting something good from our morning run.
When Dennis and I came into the park to finish up, all three of my faster buddies were there waiting for us. That was really nice! I’m sure they finished at least 15 minutes ahead of us! There was kidding around, stories exchanged and hugs given and goodbyes — until we meet again…….
A photo from last week of Ryan, myself and Dennis after they’d gone 34 tough miles and I’d done 17.
Ave HR: 153. Moving Time: 5:17:29 (lots of bathroom breaks today – hehe!) Moving pace: 11:11 (which is pretty doggone good for this distance for me on mostly trails!) Elevation Gain: 1,835 ft. Felt: Slow, but HAPPY to be in such a lovely setting with FUN people!
I’ve known Bertha since we were 6 years old. I have memories of us playing together at recess when we were little kids and I always loved her zest for life and her contagious laugh! We’re both 39 now, but when we run together, it still feels like we’re a couple of school kids on the playground — and she still knows how to make me laugh so hard I have to cross my legs so I don’t pee myself!
Here’s Bertha and I’s 4th Grade Class picture. She’s in the pink dress, sitting in the second row from the bottom, right in the center. I’m one row above her, second from the right, in the blue dress with the Farrah Fawcett “wings” hairstyle. Long live 1981!
When I moved to Boise in November to be closer to the Boise foothills and the running community, I gained so much that has helped me towards my running dreams — but I left behind something really, really special — my best friend. We’re only about an hour apart now — but it feels like a billion miles sometimes. When we made plans to sneak away from our busy lives and meet in the middle for a run today, I could not wait to hug her neck and catch up on all the gossip we’ve missed sharing with each other!
We had the most wonderful time! We met in Eagle around 5 pm and ran the gorgeous, tree-lined dirt trail along the Boise River. The smell of soil and crisp leaves, the crispness of the winter air and the sight of ducks sitting precariously on the frozen ponds along the path just took my breath away! We giggled, we laughed, we hugged, we ran and we enjoyed each other’s company and we took our sweet time, wanting to savor each and every minute together.
After about four miles, the sun had set. It started to get dark and neither of us had brought along our headlamps. Every shadow seemed to be a weirdo lurking in the bushes and we jumped at every bird or cat that disturbed the darkness! We were startled when we heard barking on the path ahead but could see nothing. It turned out to be two very large, very angry dogs who were blocking the path and feeling territorial. We both went into sweet talk mode and tried to convince them we were safe and to let us by. Thankfully, though the biggest one growled and came right up to me, they both let us get by. Whew!!!
The moon was so bright in the night sky above. The stars were twinkling and it was pure heaven to be with someone who’s known me so long and knows me so well – and still LIKES me anyways! Thank you, Bertha, for a really fun evening run!
Ave HR: 120. Felt: Really HAPPY!
Last night my 4 year old asked about the day she was born. I was telling her about that magical day when she became my baby girl and her upcoming birthday came up. I told her I was going to run 100 miles on that day to celebrate but that we’d give her a big princess party the week before. She said, “How about you run 3 miles instead?” I said, “What would make you feel cool about me running 100?” She said, “Play Barbies with me and then I won’t mind!” We shook on the deal. Can’t wait to play Barbies soon!!! 😀
As both a point of principal and a point of poverty, I have never had a gym membership. It’s one of the things I hear people say – “Oh, I can’t lose weight or get fit because I don’t have a gym membership.” and I have always enjoyed responding with, “I don’t have one either and I still was able to drop a lot of weight and get strong again, so YOU CAN DO IT TOO!” 🙂 But, I won’t be able to use that one anymore, I suppose. When we moved to this new neighborhood in November, I was pretty excited that our rental came with a free pass to the nearby fitness center and the four swimming pools (which I will make good use of this summer!) Today was the first time I actually went to the gym!
I almost didn’t make it in the door! I stood outside, holding my little plastic entry card, without a clue about how to use it! I had expected something like a swipe machine and instead, I saw a doorbell, a surveillance camera (I’m sure those watching were wondering about the crazy lady standing there looking befuddled) a little plastic box with a tiny light near the doorbell (but no swipe spot) and a very locked door. Hmmm…. Thankfully, a lady was just leaving and saw my dilemma. I told her I was new to the neighborhood and it was my first time. She showed me how to lay my pass on the plastic box with the little red light and wallah — the light went green and the door unlocked! Wowzers! What will they think of next …yeah, yeah, Wayne (my IT, super technical husband – I know you’re laughing at me!!)
I had brought along a water bottle, my mp3 player and a copy of Runner’s World. Turns out, I used the first two items, but the third was useless since the recumbent bikes they have didn’t have a magazine/book holder spot. Once I chose a bike, adjusted the seat for “shortest person possible”, then I sat there baffled again. Um…. how do these things work?????? I’m a RUNNER! An outdoor runner! I am clueless when it comes to machines I’ve never used before (as evidenced by the whole entry pass situation.) Thankfully, I happened to push the pedals with my feet accidentally and that woke the machine up and it sprung to life! I had been pushing buttons on the screen but nothing had happened until that point. I was about to hop on another bike assuming mine was broken, likely amusing the other members there who knew better and just didn’t tell me! It offered a few workout options (none of them what I really wanted to do, so I’ll still need to work on that), but I went with the 20 min, rolling hills option at level 1. I figured – I’m new to this and just want to stretch the legs out and get in some cross training. I’ll ramp things up in a few weeks when I know what the heck I’m doing. I had wanted to workout for at least 40 minutes, so I actually did the entire workout twice, since I couldn’t figure out how to tell the bike to let me ride for 40 minutes from the get-go. Oh well..
It was actually a pretty darn good workout too!!! It had a heart rate monitor and when I pushed on the “hills” I registered up to 160, though most of the workout was as I had intended – around 130-135. I worked up a good sweat, ENJOYED the feeling and annoyed the lady next to me when I was riding like a maniac when certain songs (long live the 80’s!!) came on my mp3 that made me just feel HAPPY and made me push harder. The bike was literally wobbling I was riding so fast a few times. I also have a tendency to lip sync when I hear a song I really like! Well, I prefer to sing out LOUD, but lip-syncing is my second favorite option when in public. The lady next to me kept shooting me sideways “You are CRAZY” looks until she finally ended up cutting her workout short and moving to the other side of the gym to get away from me I think. I guess she wasn’t interested in racing next to me OR joining in on the 80’s tunes for a nice duet!!!! Oh well…
I kept thinking, “This thing is a ZILLION times more fun to ride than my actual bike!” I love riding bikes, don’t get me wrong. I just hate my particular current, clunky, heavy bike and ride it MUCH slower than I did today on this standing-still model.
By the time I finished up, there were only three other people in the center — all dudes. One was about 70. Another maybe 50. And the last one to show up was probably 30. That one seemed to try to stay in my line of vision, giving me the “How you doing” Joey from Friend’s smooth smile. I need to have a shirt made that says, “You’re barking up the wrong tree! I have a husband and FIVE – yes, count them – FIVE kids — go flirt with the old man!”