09/3/12

Pocatello Marathon Recap

 

It was a beautiful, late summer day, the blue sky was filled with cotton candy clouds and my husband and I were looking forward to having a little time together by ourselves on the drive to my marathon in Pocatello. In fact, this was the first time we’d been more than an hour away from our kids overnight, and even though the oldest is now 13 and the “baby” is 5, I felt a little misty-eyed kissing each of them goodbye as we left for the weekend.

We hopped into our little Escort and started driving to Pocatello for my 5th marathon – the first one where I felt that my training and preparation meant that I had a shot at qualifying for Boston. For those who are unfamiliar with the process, those runners who want to run in the famous Boston Marathon can’t just sign up, pay the fee and show up to race as in most marathons around the country or world. Instead, you have to first run a “qualifying time” based on your gender and your age in another certified marathon just to have a shot at going to Boston.  So, this was my first attempt at “BQing” as other competitive marathoners refer to it.

In May, I ran the Famous Potato Marathon in 3:48:32. Since I’m turning 40 this year in November, I need to run a marathon in 3:45:00 or faster (which works out to about an 8:35 min per mile pace for 26.2 miles) to qualify for the Boston Marathon in 2013. I had chosen the Pocatello Marathon specifically due to the course having 1,550 feet of elevation drop in the race, since I have always ran faster and stronger on downhills and figured this course would help me shave off those 3 1/2 minutes from my time.

The day was lovely and Wayne and I were relaxing and taking in the desert scenery as we drove from Boise to Pocatello. About an hour into our trip, the car started giving off a bad odor like burned oil or the smell a car has when you leave the emergency brake on and drive down the freeway. We pulled into a rest stop and Wayne inspected under the hood and even pulled off the left tire since the bad smell seemed to be coming from around there.  While he did that, I took the opportunity to stretch out the legs by doing laps around the parking lot. When Wayne couldn’t find the cause of the trouble, he put the wheel back on, checked all the fluids (which were looking good) and we headed on our way, hoping there’d be no more trouble ahead.

Unfortunately, that was only the beginning of our car troubles.  We decided a couple years ago that we were tired of having a car payment and so we paid cash for our little, white Escort wagon ($350!) The car has had trouble here and there, but each time we’ve had minor repair we’ve reminded ourselves that we were saving a bundle by owning our older, used car. So, it was not a huge shock when our cheapy, high-mileage car started acting weird. Too bad for me, though, it was on my marathon weekend, so I was trying not to panic!

We started having a hard time getting the car up to freeway speed. Wayne realized it was the clutch going out and we were trying to decide what to do. We were kind of in the middle of nowhere and were able to maintain a consistent speed of about 40 mph, so Wayne turned on the emergency flashers and he started driving along the shoulder, keeping us moving forward towards civilization but out of the lanes of faster traffic. Each time we’d pass an exit, we’d look at one another and say, “Go on or pull over?” and we’d both say “Let’s keep going until we get to a bigger town!” And, on we putted.

We made it to Jerome, Idaho before the car just couldn’t do it anymore. Thankfully, we weren’t far off a freeway ramp, so we pulled over, parked the car and got out and started walking towards town. Since Wayne and I do not have web service on our cell phones, I texted my running buddy, Ryan and asked if he could look up a few car rental places in the area that we could call. I was incredibly grateful to him and his wife Michelle for being so helpful during our little crisis!

On the walk off the ramp, I spotted something shiny and leaned down to pick up a lucky penny! Wayne said, “You’re going to get us killed! This isn’t the time for that.” I said, “I think we could use a little good luck right now, actually!” Surprisingly, I found one more penny that was totally scratched up and banged up before we arrived at a gas station. I pocketed the two pennies in my running shorts’ pocket and believed in my heart of hearts that it meant everything would turn out just fine in the end.

We called Enterprise first since their motto is, “We’ll pick you up!” They said they were all out of cars for the weekend. Darn it! Then we called another agency. That call went straight to voice mail. Finally we called Hertz and both breathed a huge sigh of relief when they said they had cars and we could rent one! The only catch? They were 14 miles away in Twin Falls and were standing at a Shell station in Jerome. Thankfully, my friend Sean and his family were coming the same direction from Boise and when I told him about our dilemma, he said not to worry and that he’d give us a ride to the car rental agency! The best part was that he was only forty minutes or so behind us! Yay!

Sean and his family arrived shortly after, we climbed into the car and enjoyed some fun conversation as we headed into Twin Falls. Sean was excited since his 21st birthday fell on race day and he was hoping that the good luck from that coupled with his hard work in training would bring him a BQ, too! We talked about the race and soon we were at Hertz. We thanked Sean and his family and happily paid for a working car to get us to Pocatello!

I have to admit that I breathed a giant sigh of relief when we were finally cruising down the road towards the race again.  And, it didn’t hurt that we were doing it while sitting on leather seats! Whew! Disaster averted! Onto the MARATHON!

Once we arrived in Pocatello, we checked into our hotel (the Super 8 that I’d scored a room in for $30 less than the host hotel fee) and then we headed across the street to the host hotel to pick up my packet. I had heard so many rave reviews about this race and it’s schwag! And, I was not disappointed! I was given a nice, sports bag, a cute, technical, long-sleeved tee-shirt and a sack of Idaho Potatoes and a little carton of hash browns to boot! It doesn’t get much better than that! I will also say that I was very impressed with how well organized the packet pickup went. We were in and out in about five minutes and every single person I encountered greeted me with a smile!

It was getting close to dinner time when we got back to the hotel, so Wayne and I ate, I took a bath and then I laid out everything for the race so it would be easy to find in the morning. Then I set an alarm, laid back on the bed and fell asleep while Wayne watched the BSU game.

I slept well and woke up before my 4 am alarm went off. I had heard rain pounding on the windows during the night, but by the time we headed out to the host hotel, it had stopped. It was a chilly, but lovely morning. I hopped on the first bus and we took off shortly after towards the start line. I was so happy to find my friend April on the bus, so we sat together and tried to calm each others nerves down. April, also had Boston dreams, so we talked about our race plans for the day.

We arrived at the starting line and it was really unique. We were out in the middle of the country, on a farm! There was a red barn with adorable baby goats to pet and many runners were huddling in there to keep warm in the early morning chill. They had set up huge lights, which was really nice and there were two long rows of porta potties and a table with bottles of water for hydrating before the race. It was really well organized and I had a nice time walking around and mingling with the other runners as we waited for the 6:15 am race start.

They called us to line up a few minutes before 6:15 and I heard the most angelic version of the National Anthem being sang. The woman hit the high note on “free…” and it just floated, perfectly in tune way up in the sky. It was beautiful and gave me shivers! Then they yelled, “GO!” and we were off!  I had planned to run the first half of the race in 1:51 or better, assuming the downhill would make it the same effort that I had ran a 1:52 first half in May. I held back, tried not to let myself go out too fast and tried to just tune into myself and run.

The scenery was spectacular! We started high up on a mountain and there were lush, pine trees all around. The air was fresh. The temperature perfect. I felt pretty good and made sure not to “race” anyone who passed me. I thought I was in control and though I felt good, I did not feel quite as light and feathery as I’d expected to early on.  But, my Garmin started ticking off the first miles like this:

Mile 1: 7:53, Mile 2: 8:13, Mile 3: 8:17, Mile 4: 8:15, Mile 5: 8:13.  Things were going steady, smooth, strong and I wasn’t even breathing hard. I thought I was playing my hand smartly. I knew I could run those downhills faster but I held it back and just tried to ride the wave of gravity, never pushing, just coasting along — or so it seemed….

I walked through every single aid station, taking Powerade or water, taking a GU and and S Cap every hour just like I’d done in May at the Potato when my race went so well. I had my IPod playing loudly and just tried to zone out and run and hoped I could keep up the pace I needed to qualify for Boston by the end.

At mile 7 or so, there’s a little spur on the course, so it was fun to see the smiling faces of those runners up ahead of us coming down the little hill as we went up it. This would be the first of many little (and not so little) hills in the race. I was honestly surprised how many times I was climbing, especially after mile 10.  As I was coming down the hill, I saw my friend, April and we high-fived. That put a smile on my face!  Mile 6: 8:06 Mile 7: 8:07, Mile 8: 8:14, Mile 9: 8:30.

The course levels off around mile 10. There’s an elevation loss of 1,500 in the first 13 miles, but most of that is done by this point. There’s only another 150 of loss the whole rest of the way and lots of little ups and downs and plenty of flat especially towards the end. The prettiest part of the course is the first ten miles or so. Then, as it levels out, we were running through the industrial part of town, with factories here and there and railroad tracks running parallel to the road. My legs went from feeling fairly good to fatigued around this point. I was able to still hold the faster pace, but it became harder as the course leveled out and the thrashing my quads had taken on the down took their toll. Mile 10: 8:18, Mile 11: 8:22, Mile 12: 8:02, Mile 13: 8:50.

I was running strong, feeling ok and realized I was coming up on the half point in the race, when I looked down at my Garmin and realized that I was in fact going to be on target with a 1:51 or better. In fact, my PR at the half marathon officially is 1:53:05 from about two years ago (the last and only time I’ve ran a flatter road, half marathon), though I have ran a nonofficial half in training in 1:51 and did the first half of my May marathon in 1:52. Imagine my thrill when I saw a 1:47 at the half point!!!!!!!! A PR by several minutes! Woo hoo! I was running with the 3:40 pace group at this point (who were all ahead of pace!) I started feeling hopeful, but reminded myself, “You still have a LONG ways to go! Do not get overconfident until you see the finish line in sight and have a BQ pace on your Garmin!)

Around mile 14, the marathoners around my pace (about 8:15 average) caught up with the half marathoners. Suddenly the road was swarming with people and just like that I could not see my pace group! And, the hardest part was we’d caught up with the walkers at the back of the half marathoning race, so mentally I went from running on pace with only other marathoners also going my pace to suddenly being swarmed by those going a much slower pace.  There were also crowds cheering along the streets here and lots of cars drivnig in the lane next to us. I tried to dodge the walkers and get around them, but they often were talking and having a nice time in rows of 3-4, so it made it really hard to get by without heading into traffic.  Mentally, this section really got to me. The half marathoners also had pace groups, so while I was looking for the pace sign above the crowd to help me find my same-paced marathoners again, I was confused to see other pacers from the half in the crowd.

Mile 14: 8:28, Mile 15: 9:32, Mile 16: 9:22

In what seemed a blink of an eye, I went from feeling pretty good to feeling pretty fatigued, to having cramps in my calves and hamstrings, deep soreness and exhaustion in my quads and the realization that after all that downhill running, I needed to find a bathroom asap! I finally saw my husband for the first time at around mile 14. I had been eagerly looking for him along the way and got my hopes up many times when I’d see other people cheering along the side and mistakenly thought it might be him, only to get closer and realize it was someone else, cheering for another runner.  By the time I saw him, I already was starting to fall apart physically. I know myself and how I am supposed to feel at that point in a marathon and I knew I was not going to get Boston by that point. I was still holding onto the proper average pace through mile 17, but the wheels were coming off and I knew it. It wasn’t going to happen and I knew I had no choice but to stop and take a bathroom break, which would only make it harder to catch up to the pace I needed again. I gave my husband the “thumbs down” sign when I saw him. I rarely speak when I run road races, to conserve energy, so this has always been our way of communicating when he sees me along the course. A thumbs up means I feel awesome and am on goal. A thumbs down means, well, it means “Today sucks bigtime!” I had tears in my eyes when I made the signal and saw the sadness reflected in his eyes. He knows how much Boston means to me, how much I’ve talked about it and dreamed about it over the years and we both knew that this was likely the best chance for me to qualify this year… and I was watching the paces on my Garmin get slower and slower with every step and it seemed there was nothing I could do about it, but keep moving and just accept my fate.

Mile 17: 10:05, Mile 18: 11:20, Mile 19: 11:29, Mile 20 13:02

I finally found a porta potty in mile 20. There was a line. Coming to a stop and waiting for the bathroom was symbolic. I was having a crappy day! Everything hurt. I was suddenly so tired. I just wanted to lay down and be done with it. Finally, I had my turn and went in and sat down to take care of business. Within a minute, I heard a rapping on the door and an anxious man saying, “CMON CMON! HURRY!” That stressed me out, so I didn’t “finish” what I needed to do and hurried out of there and back into the race.  But, my stomach was saying, “I don’t mean to be a bother, but we weren’t really done back there! You’ll need to make another pit stop up ahead if you don’t mind!” Ugh!

The biggest hill of the course happens after mile 21. It’s steep. Traffic is thick through this section. It was hot and everyone I could see up ahead was walking. It was a low (though elevationally high) point. I slogged up the hill, eyes scanning the road up ahead for the glorious turquoise color of a porta potty.  Mile 21: 13:28. Mile 22: 15:38

Finally, I spotted one and aimed straight for it! Shutting the door and sitting down, I had the urge to just pretend I was no longer in a race at all. I just wanted it to be over. I did what I needed (thankfully without any rapping on the door this time) and then slowly stepped out of the loo and back into the race.  My brain is a little fuzzy on the details, but somewhere around here there was this darling little old lady standing outside her mobile home, pointing to a mister that had been set up to run under. She offered and I thanked her and walked under that pleasant coolness. It was a nice touch! That’s when I realized that I needed to make the best of things no matter how slow I was going. I turned off my IPOD and started looking every volunteer in the eye and saying, “Thank you so much for being here today!” I smiled and cheered for each runner who passed me the rest of the way. I gave a thumbs up sign to the band playing Eye of the Tiger alongside the road. I giggled when I saw the aid station worker dressed up as Elvis and took a hard candy at the table and thanked them all for their help. I wasn’t going any faster, I still wasn’t going to qualify for Boston or even PR or break 4 hours, but step by step, I started to enjoy the race again.  I spotted a woman in a Pulse shirt and struck up a conversation with her and I felt much better, much happier just talking to people and walking and willing my legs to just keep moving towards the finish line.

Mile 23: 12:19, Mile 24: 13:54, Mile 25: 14:33, Mile 26: 13:41, Last .31 – 9:08 pace.

My husband had parked the car and walked back up the course to find me at about mile 25. It was so nice to see him. I yelled out, “There’s my pacer! I’ve been hoping you’d show up, but you’re about 10 miles too late to save me now!” He laughed and I grinned. We both knew it wasn’t my day but I was ok with it. He said, “Your buddy April is back there.” I didn’t believe him. April is a much faster runner than I am and I assured him that he must have seen someone else back there who looked like her.  But, he was right. Within a short while, April caught up to us and we hugged and shared our sad stories. April had stomach problems for much of the race so had not been able to run her usual pace either. We both said we were sorry for the other, but both also agreed that misery loves company and we agreed to finish it up side-by-side.

When we finally could see the finish line, my heart lifted again. I knew it had not been the day I’d dreamed of, the day I’d hoped and trained hard for.. not even close — but here I was with my husband running ahead and snapping pictures and saying, “Good job, ladies!” and my friend by my side running stride for stride with me, that the day was not a loss. The marathon had been the master and I was once again the student, coming away with lessons about what NOT to do in future races, but at the end of the day, everything was going to be ok.  We picked up the pace to about a 6:45 as we grabbed hands and started sprinting towards the finish line, smiling and lifting our hands in victory. It had been a tough day. A difficult course. But, in the end, we conquered. We finished what we started. And we did it together!

Finish time: 4:27:01 – about 42 minutes behind my “goal.” And, if you’re wondering about the splits. First half: 1:47. Second half: 2:40.  This, kids, is what NOT to do in a marathon! Negative splits are much prettier to look at!!!! 😉

I’ll find that Boston time. It’s in my blood. I can feel it. My May race was just 3 1/2 minutes off of the time I need. It’s here in me and it may need more lessons on other tough days before I finally have my magical moment and cross that finish line with a shout of “YES!!! I FINALLY DID IT!!” Because when it happens, it will have not come easily. I will have worked very hard and fallen down many times, dusted myself off and got back up again to fight again. For isn’t that really what the marathon is all about — never, ever, ever giving up. Finding out that down deep you are stronger than you think. You run with your heart. You don’t quit. You hold your head up and you keep moving no matter what!

Sean was waiting for us in the park as we finished. We all hugged and congratulated one another on running a difficult race. Sean ran a 3:23, which was a PR for him! He didn’t get his Boston time either, but it was still a pretty sweet birthday race for him – especially when he found out he was 2nd in his age group!

We showed off our medals, which I have to tell you, were the HUGEST medals I’d ever seen! They are awesome and they were worth the fight out there! I have it hanging proudly on my Marathon display rack and it makes the other medals feel insecure and puny by comparison!

My husband shared this with me today and I think it’s perfect! I hope you are inspired by it too!

09/2/12

No BQ — This time…..

The short story. I did not qualify for Boston. Not even close. I did have a plan and I stuck with it for the first 15 or so miles, then the wheels fell off. PR’d at the half marathon distance by several minutes (1:47) which was awesome. Felt like I was holding back at that point, running strong and steady but not pushing too hard. Guess I was wrong. Soon after, my quads protested loudly, my legs felt like heavy tree trunks that did not want to move (and kept cramping up despite plenty of hydration, powerade and S caps along the way) and then my stomach started giving me problems that sent me to the porta potty lines repeatedly. It was a death slog to the finish. Could NOT muster the ability to run even a 12 min mile for several miles. Wow! Lots of lessons today on this course. I run to better myself – to have new experiences. I’m not sad. I learned several things today. No Boston 2013 for me, but I’ll keep tinkering with the training and I do believe I have Boston in my blood and will get there — eventually.

The best part of the day was having my friend April catch up with me in the last mile and finish hand-in-hand, smiling as we crossed the finish line. We both had BQ dreams that didn’t come true today, but having a friend there by my side to the bitter finish brought a silver lining to a pretty difficult day. We’ll both get it, April! I know it! Just not this time.

07/19/12

Boise Trail Running Videos

“Why do you run trails?” “Is it worth it to run in the mountains versus running on the roads?” “What’s it like to run for hours?” “Is it fun to run with others?” These are some of the questions I frequently hear from others and my answers are usually along the lines of “I really just need to take you along and let you experience for yourself how the whole world looks different from a mountain top, how much pride you can feel in yourself when you’ve pushed so hard to climb steep sections at elevation to reach that lovely summit, how spotting a bunny or a herd of deer or a snake or a chipmunk or a hawk can remind you that this world is full of more life than you ever imagined and had forgotten about while sitting at home in front of your computer or on your couch, how awe and reverence can overwhelm you as you watch the sun rise or set (or both!) while you’ve been running, how coming around a bend and seeing a meadow of wildflowers can make your soul sing, how the smell of pine forests or sagebrush and rain and earth can make you breathe more deeply than you have in a long time, how splashing through a creek or a river can make you feel like a five year old again, how stopping to sit on a log and share a sandwich with a friend can make you feel like you’ve never been happier in your life before.”

Well, now I can also “show” those who ask by sharing these little YouTube videos! I am thrilled that a local runner has taken the time to make videos of a few trail runs on some of my favorite trails to run in the Boise Foothills and at Bogus Basin and I wanted to share them with you since it’s as close as I can come to taking all of you running with me in beautiful Boise, Idaho (and it doesn’t hurt that they used two of my favorite songs in the world as background music!) Just a word of warning, though… you will likely feel inspired to lace up your own shoes and head out to find some trails to run!  Happy running!!!!

 

 

07/18/12

Silence The Negative Chatter!

I had a workout that didn’t go perfectly today. It was an interval workout that I thought I could handle with two faster guy friends. It was 3 x 1600 at 7:20 w 800 recoveries + 1 mi WU and 1 mi CD.  Bonus for doing a 4th interval at 7:20.  I told my buddy, Frank before we started “Let’s do the bonus one today! It’ll be good for us!” The truth is I haven’t ran intervals for about two years (and neither had Frank) so we weren’t actually sure how it would go!! Seems I was a little overconfident!

We did our warm up mile then Frank took off like a rocket ahead of me. I yelled out, “Frank! That’s too fast! (He was doing about a 6:30 pace.) I looked helplessly over at Ryan who was beside me and he took off after Frank to try and get him under control and back on pace. And, the amazing thing was, though he was able to slow him down just a bit, Frank continued to feel awesome and kept running really well for each and every interval! Ryan stayed with him encouraging him on and pacing him and it was fun to watch the two of them doing so great.  I, on the other hand, was struggling just to make the splits!

Interval 1 was at a 7:18 pace and felt pretty good.

Interval 2 was harder since I was chatting with Frank when it started and had to go from walk pace to super fast in a hurry.  7:24

Interval 3 I was determined to go faster so I could get back on track for a 7:20 average. My time – 7:18 — right on the nose (back on track!)

Interval 4 I fell apart. I was pushing myself as hard as I could, lifting my knees, swinging my arms harder, harder, trying with everything I had to get my pace up — but I kept seeing 7:50 ish. It was like running in sand even though I was on the asphalt. I was just out of gas.  My time? 7:45.  I know that doesn’t seem like much off, but I was discouraged. In the past when I did intervals or tempo work, I would nearly always nail my times. I was consistent.

With my dream of qualifying for Boston at the Pocatello Marathon in 6 weeks looming on the horizen, it caused some self doubts. “Am I really fast enough to BQ if I can’t even hit my numbers in a speed workout in training?”  It really bummed me out. I don’t handle failure very well. I know it’s just part of life (and I’ve certainly had plenty of practice with it) yet it’s still a difficult area for me.

While I cleaned the house today and looked after the five kids, I was considering what to do for the next few weeks as I prepare for my marathon.  I haven’t used a traditional schedule to prepare. I’ve honestly spent most of my time in the mountains on trails, running longer distances at slower paces with plenty of hillwork.  It seemed to serve me pretty well since my last marathon in May was a 3:48 (just 3 1/2 minutes over a BQ time!) I’ve continued to put in between 175-200 miles a month and have spent most of that doing trail running with the intention of adding a bit of speed and tempo work to the schedule on roads to sharpen my speed to hopefully shave off those last few minutes between me and my dream goal!

When I came home from the run today, I went to Runner’s World online and created a specific Smart Coach plan based on my own abilities just to see how close today’s workout goals were to what would be prescribed for me. Turns out it was pretty close. A 4 x 1600 at 7:35 was the suggestion for me. I am fairly certain that would have been easily doable. It’s only a few seconds difference, but when you’re really pushing, that little bit can make the difference between attainable and out of reach.

While I was obsessing about this, my friend Ryan headed into our local running store, Shu’s to ask advice from the owner, Mike, who is well known for happily giving training tips to the locals.  I hadn’t even thought of that and felt incredibly lucky to have a running buddy who cared enough to help research my dilemma.  Mike’s advice for me? I should stick with the tougher workouts and just do less intervals.  If I’d have stopped at the 3 intervals that ended up being right on target, the workout would have been a success.  My form was suffering in the final one. I was struggling.  He says I should have allowed myself to quit the lap right then and not feel bad about it. That was awesome to hear! He gave Ryan some other helpful training advice for me that I will read over and try to implement in these last few weeks as I fine tune myself for the marathon!

I found this tonight and thought it really hit home for me and was something I needed to see. I hope it helps some of you who may also be struggling with challenging workout goals or big dreams that you aren’t totally sure you can accomplish! I’m really very lucky to have amazing friends who care enough to guide and direct me (and offer encouragement when I need it!)  But, ultimately, I am responsible for what goes on in my head. I need to learn to silence the negative chatter and instill a positive mindset no matter WHAT as I approach each workout, each day, each race.  Believing in myself regardless of the outcome is really the ultimate goal!

07/11/12

The Story of the Fat Kid Who Became the Fit Kid

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I’ve mentioned my running buddy, Ryan several times on this blog. He’s a good friend, has been a great pacer to me at times and he’s also quite an inspiration.  And, not just because he qualified for Boston the first time he ran a marathon or has broke 24 hours at the 100 mile distance. What inspires me most about Ryan is his amazing weight loss story (and how he’s continued to keep the weight off!)

Just a few short years ago, Ryan was obese. He weighed 318 lbs. He’d been overweight for much of his adult life and as is the case for many who find themselves in that situation — likely would have continued on that path with an increased chance of developing long-term health problems like diabetes, heart disease or a drastic reduction in lifespan.

But, Ryan realized that he did hold the power to change the direction his life was headed and he made the difficult choices to change who he was and become the man he was meant to be! He started eating right, exercising regularly and turned the tide of his destiny! Ryan lost 135 lbs in 11 months and has continued to work hard to stay fit and healthy and be an example to others (including me) to do the same.

Today he shared on his blog about his journey, along with some great before and after photos that really do tell the story even better than words ever could! I hope you’ll stop by his blog and hear what he has to say and get inspired as well!

http://ryan-in-boise.blogspot.com/2012/07/ice-water-and-dmv.html

 

07/6/12

Boise Trail Runners 1st Drag Race

It all started as a silly conversation on Facebook. My friend Ryan was tiptoeing in a photo and I teased that he needed to get a pair of heels so he’d always be that tall. Then I said, in fact, you could wear them when we ran together so I’d finally be faster.  My friend Lynette (a former Hasher) said “Actually men can run pretty fast in heels! I’ve seen them!”  I asked if one of those “men” she’d seen was her buddy Dennis (the fastest 100 miler in our gang.) She said no. I commented that “I’d pay good money to see Ryan and Dennis race in heels!” From there it just snowballed! Ryan said he’d do it if the money was raised for charity – for a good cause like the Ridge to Rivers Trail System in Boise.  Dennis said he’d do it.  Lynette said it could be part of our 4th of July picnic event and my husband put together a web site and sign up sheet and before you could say “Transvestite”, several men had signed up and the picnic attendance list went way up in anticipation of the “show!”

And what a show it was!!!! The “boys” er.. “girls” did not disappoint! Six brave souls showed up in various drag costumes (the most noteworthy were Lady Liberty – complete with crown and torch and my pal Ryan in piggytails and a tutu – with a sparkly purse dangling off his forearm) to race the half mile in their sky-high heels!  My pal Dennis was in the skyscraper model at about 5 inches, so he’d also brought along his trekking poles, which looked even more hilarious!

The fellas lined up at the start line and the regular bikers and runners out for their daily exercise raised quite a few eyebrows when they saw these men decked out in their girlie ensambles.  Those looks might have been the funniest part of all! I think people thought our group was really “out there!”

My husband counted down, someone sounded the air horn and the men took off like lightening in those heels – tap tapping along the Boise Greenbelt, skirts flying back, blouses pushed back against hairy chests.  They may have looked like ladies, but they ran like dudes, pushing hard for position as they click clicked along.  Very quickly, Lady Liberty led the race and “she” held her own until the final stretch, with the two youngest “women” coming up quickly behind “her.”

The crowd went wild as they came towards the home stretch and the pace shot up to a dead sprint (which I must admit you had to see to believe!) My friend Sean and the youngest runner Jack (who I believe is 14) pushed past Lady Liberty and started charging towards the finish line like a couple of ladies at a KMart Blue Light Special with only one coveted sale item left on the table.  They both wanted that win and they weren’t going to be ladylike and let the other have it!

Their faces grimaced as they raced and then Jack shot ahead in a craze like a tween with Bieber fever and broke the red, white and blue ribbon, then landed in a heap on the other side, clutching his ankle (running in heels is dangerous. Don’t try this at home!)  Sean was a close second and tried to conceal his tears, through his smeared mascara (I may have made up that part).  Lady Liberty was 3rd, Ryan the tutu boy came prancing along, smiling and waving like Miss Congeniality in 4th place, Brian, with his burly red beard came galloping along in 5th and finally, finally……after everyone thought the race was over, way in the distance we could see Dennis in his 5 inch heels tap tapping along the Greenbelt, preening for the cameras and slowly coming into the finish with his hiking poles keeping him precariously upright at this late hour in the race. He resembled best a 90 year old librarian in his tasteful baby blue skirt and cardigan (which he’d unbuttoned at the top, brazenly flashing his man-chest!)

The crowd went wild as Dennis crossed and then (in true Dennis form), he dropped down to the ground for clap pushups.  Dennis is well known in our group for always finishing up his races with clap pushups (even 100 milers!) So, this was a show-stopper! Since he was dressed as a lady, he did girlie pushups, which made everyone laugh even more! Pictures were taken.  I got to “crown” the winner with a pink, feathered tiarra and hand him his single rose — giving him the image of a male Miss Teen America — and my friend Rachael passed out lovely Drag Race medals she’d made to each of the participants.  It was a really fun time!

After the drag race, we also had a more family friendly children’s race, where about 30 kids raced to glory on the same stretch of Greenbelt! Each got a medal from Rachael, a licorice rope from my friend April and a lollipop from me. It was a really fun time and I enjoyed watching all five of my kids run into the finish as I cheered wildly!

07/1/12

Hiking Bogus Basin

I feel truly blessed to live in the Boise, Idaho area. We have so many lovely trails and scenic places to run, bike or hike that I never grow tired of heading out to enjoy the mountains and their pristine allure. Yesterday, a group from the Pulse Running and Fitness Shop came together to do a run on the trails at Bogus Basin, a popular ski resort in the Treasure Valley. I was so glad that I went. I took along my camera and just enjoyed the day, savoring the expansive blue sky soaring above the mountain tops, the pines, the wildflowers in shades of bright orange, deep purple, sunshine yellow and white and the unique atmosphere of a ski lodge.  I loved running under the chairlifts and imagined myself wooshing downhill on skis in a few months (that is if I ever learn to SKI!)  It was fun! I hope you enjoy the day in photos that follows!

03/13/12

Trail Running With My 11 Year Old Son

This Saturday, my husband and I are directing an inaugural St Patrick’s Day 5k/10k race at a local winery called Ste Chapelle. www.runstechapelle.com We’re on track to have about 200 runners, which is very exciting! On my last run with Ryan, he mentioned that he was going to run the race with his son and wanted to know if my boy would like to join them! It was a great plan, since Jr loves to race and this would give him grownup supervision while we were occupied with race directing duties! Yay!!!

So, today, I decided it would be a good idea to take Jr on a three mile run on the Oregon Trails near our home. It was windy and overcast and really peaceful out. We stopped and read all of the Oregon Trail information plaques along the way, talked about volcanic rock, sagebrush, animal scat (unfortunately we only spotted DOG POO today, but since deer frequent our neighborhood all the time, I’m sure we’ll run into more interesting poo in the future!) and took our time at the overlooks to enjoy the view. I pointed out Table Rock (which Jr has ran up to before!), the taller buildings of Boise, which looked quite tiny from our vantage point, Lucky Peak, the Boise River and the cars weaving along the road way below us. Jr took an extra interest in locating school buses moving like yellow dots along the road furthest from us. It was a lot of fun!

When we reached the steep downhill section, that I was intending to avoid since my IT band is really acting up, he begged to run down it. I let him while I walked it. He started whooping and leaping and saying, “Woo hooo!” and I just grinned and thought, “Man, this kid is SO MUCH like ME!” 😀 He (also like his mother) huffed and puffed when he reached the bottom and had to climb back UP that sweet downhill! That’s my BOY!

I think he’s all warmed up for his race now! And, I think I need to take a few more days of rest and recovery on this cranky IT band. 🙁

Elevation Gain: 146 feet. Ave HR: 106. Felt: Super Happy to share the trails with my SON!!! He put his arm around my waist and I put mine across his shoulders and we strolled side-by-side at the end. What could be better?!

03/4/12

Scooby Dooby Doo Where are YOU?!!

The skies were blue, temperatures were in the high 50’s, so I put on some shorts and met up with my best friend, Bertha and her dog, Scooby Doo and we headed out to the Owyhee Mountains for some fun on the trails! It was such a beautiful day! It felt like SPRING!

Bertha and Scooby Doo

We had one thing on our minds today: Enjoying the beauty of nature! We took our time, savored the views, stopping to really appreciate what we were seeing, the only thing breaking the perfect silence of the hills was our comfortable conversation and laughter.

About 4 miles into the run, Bertha’s dog, Scooby Doo took off like a rocket up the side of a really steep hill in the opposite direction of where we were heading. I asked her if her usually came back when he did that and she said he did. So, we kept moving on the trail, calling out his name, figuring when he was done chasing whatever had caught his attention he’d come back. Fifteen minutes later, we started to worry. We kept calling, “Scooby!!!!!!” “SCOOOOBY.” But, we saw no sign of him. Finally, we headed up the same hill trying to go after him and find him. It was a pretty steep hike! I heard Bertha gasp when she reached the top. There were deer on the other side! So, that’s what the dog had been after! But, we looked back and forth and saw no sign of the elusive Scooby, so, when the deer pranced off across the hills, we decided to follow them and see if we, would also end up finding the lost dog. We kept calling his name as we went and I was starting to worry. It was getting closer to sunset and neither of us had a headlamp, so I figured we had to find the dog in the next hour or we’d be wandering the hills in the dark.

Once we’d climbed yet another summit, we came across about thirty deer. It was a lovely sight!!! Just then, Scooby came running up, mouth foaming from the effort from behind us! Whew!!! He was safe!!! And, really thirsty! Bertha gave him plenty of water from her Nathan and we headed back on our adventure.

It wasn’t long before we came to the beautiful, jagged edges of the cliffs, high above Wilson Creek. Bertha and I love running the 10 mile loop down there and it was amazing to be up so high that the path looked miniature below. We could hear the far-away sounds of the bubbling water and see the tiny ribbon weaving it’s way through the red canyon. We stood on the edge of the cliff, taking in the spectacular view of the valley below and the mountains that ringed it as far as the eye could see. Bertha and I started noticing landmarks like the Sugar beet factory in Nampa. It looked so tiny from up there! We could see several towns all at once from our viewpoint and it was just an overwhelming feeling to be that high up.

We finished up our run, high-fived as we always do when we’ve accomplished another great, epic run and then headed back home. Scooby sat politely in the back of my Suburban, calm and worn down from our shared adventure.

Elevation Gain: 1,798 feet. Average HR: 121. Felt: Happy and in AWE of the Owyhee mountains and the spell they cast on me every time I come back!!!!

02/19/12

50K Training Run with Andrea

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!