Thursday, January 31, 2008

Time Flies When You're...

Hmm... I'm not sure exactly what I've been doing, but I do feel like the week has flown by. I took a rest day on Tuesday and then did some tempo work on Wednesday. Now, please don't faint, but I did trails today. I needed to do hills, and my friend Ingrid needed to get in a longer run, so we met at the Chevrolet dealership so that I could drop off my car for service and ran from there. We just so happened to be by a new park that has a trail system in it, so we thought, "What the heck! It doesn't matter that we are in road shoes." And it didn't. Except on the downhills. Those were a little dangerous. But it was so much fun! We ran for 2 hours, talking the whole time, running up and down and around and around. I really enjoyed it. It was like training wheels on a bike - sort of practice trail running. I finished out the day with a gym workout and some pilates. The next three days are longer runs, but with moderate pacing.

So, I finally talked to Scott, and I think my schedule is this:

El Paso Marathon - March 2 - pace a friend for BQ
Ruth Anderson 100k - April (thanks for the suggestion, Olga)
Kettle Moraine 100 - June (thanks for the suggestion, Bob)
Maybe Lean Horse 100 - August

I'm still looking at some other things for the end of the year, but I am super relieved to have the first half planned out. I'm most nervous about Ruth Anderson because I have never run a 100k. It just seems like you have to run fast. For a long time. Anyway, we'll see. Scott thought it would be a good tune-up for KM 100. By the way, I would love a pacer for KM 100. Because I am such a big, fat chicken, and I never do trails, I don't want to be in the forest, in the dark BY MYSELF! As directionally challenged as I am, it is highly possible that I could end up in South Dakota before anyone realized I was missing. So, if you think you might be close to Wisconsin in June, and you can follow a map, could you please, please let me know.

Monday, January 28, 2008


As most of you have probably been able to tell, I've been a little nonplussed with my running lately. I just haven't been able to get it together since I took so much time off. I was really getting a little frustrated by it, and with myself. But yesterday, finally, I had a GREAT run! We started at 6:00 am, doing a 6 mile road loop because we always go back to pick people up at 7:00 who don't want to go as long. I drank a Boost (even though I'd had a piece of pizza at home before I left), grabbed my water, and headed out for a 10 mile loop on the canals and the river. We kept our pace about 8:30 - sometimes a little faster, sometimes a little slower. It was in the 50s, sunny, and so pleasant. We talked about the usual: politics, kids, books, food and races. After we made it back to our cars, a few people only wanted to go 4 more (for 20 total), so we did a short canal loop, dropped them off, and then headed out for our last 6 mile road loop.

At this point, we were like horses heading back to the barn. We were ready to be done. It helped that we have a new runner from Seattle in our group who is running Western States (I honestly think he is the only person I know who got in), so he is really ramping up. We did several short bursts, a loose fartlek type formula, and then recovered. In the middle, we had to sprint because we were right next to a golf course and a few guys were about to tee off right next to us. After the sprint, we were treated to the sight of our local parrot flock. The story is, that several years ago, somebody let two parrots loose in the valley. There are now about 20, and people come from all over to see them. I have had people parked in front of my house with binoculars trained on the parrots in my tree. They fly all over, but seem to stay within about a 1/2 mile radius. The squawk really loudly every sunrise and every sunset. It is very cool! Anyway, Luis (the new guy), was captivated! He is originally from Mexico, and said he hadn't seen parrots in the wild since he was young.

We finished up the run by slowly lowering our pace until we were sub-7:00. It was a great end to a fun run. 26 miles. I felt good through the whole thing, and best for the last 6 miles. It was almost as if I had to do some fast running to get myself revved back up. I fully expected to be sore/tired this morning, but felt great. I ran 18, some of it at pace, and never felt drained. I'm not sure what the scientific explanation is, but I am so relieved to feel stronger.

The weekend was topped off with two very excited children. It seems that my parents had thrown the boys an "UN-Birthday Party" when they spent the night Saturday. Grant and Spencer said my parents surpised them with balloons, a chocolate cake, party favors and presents from the dollar store. They had a blast! Since their actual birthday isn't until June, it really was a surprise (it's rare that you can pull something over on an 11 year-old). When I talked to my mom this morning, she said she and my dad had as much fun as the boys! What a hoot!

I hope everyone is having some fun training! It's been reallly motivational for me to read about everyone else's running. Thanks for reading and for posting!

Saturday, January 26, 2008

Dogs, Dogs, and More Dogs

This morning, Tim and I headed over to our group's Saturday morning meeting place. Tim wanted to run 9 and I wanted to run 16. We started together, and then I moved forward to catch up with some of the others. It was a typical Saturday run - faster pace, flat course, beautiful landscapes (sunrise, fields, mountains, river), right up to the point a pit bull and some other kind of dog came charging out at us. What the heck! This is the third time in the past month that part of the group has been charged, so it isn't just a freak accident that these dogs are out. They hide behind the wall of their house, and come at us just as we make the turn. It is very scary. I really believe that if someone was alone, or just with one other person, the dogs would attack. Today, there were about 12 of us, and a couple of guys picked up rocks and threw them in the general direction of the dogs, but sheesh, it was still pretty scary. I got attacked by a German shepherd when I was 10 years old while I was walking home from school, and I have never gotten over the fear. I rarely have any kind of problems when I run alone, but there sure seem to be a lot of loose dogs. I carry mace when I'm alone, but I'm afraid I'll die of a heart attack before I have a chance to use it!

After we got away from the Hounds from Hell, we encountered another group of three loose dogs. At this point, we were all a little skittish, but these turned out to be super friendly. So friendly in fact, that one (a cocker spaniel) followed us for the last 12 miles of the run. We couldn't get him to go home! It was fun to have the company, but stressful because he kept wandering into traffic. I wasn't wearing a fuel belt, but I told Luis about Tim using his as a leash the last time. This worked, and we were able to keep the dog safe until we could get to a phone.

It was a nice run, temps in the mid 50s, and sunny. We kept a pretty steady pace - I'm guessing about 8:15 - 9:00 - with a few faster bursts here and there. Afterwards, we had burritos - the best part - and set our schedule for tomorrow. Salvador is getting ready to go run the Sahara in that 6 day stage race, so we are going to run 26 tomorrow. Tim and I are going to a dinner party tonight, and it doesn't start until 8:00 pm. What! Do people still stay up super late? If I'm not in bed by 9:00, I feel sleep deprived! I hope I get at least 5 hours of sleep, or I will be a mess tomorrow. Kinda strange that I love 24 hour races when I can't stay up past 10:00 the rest of the time :) Anyway, I took my rest day on Thursday and then cross-trained on Friday. This week I should be at about 90 miles. I was hoping to hit 100, but leaving town on Thursday kind of messed me up. Oh well, since I still don't have a Spring race picked, there's no point in going crazy!

Hope everyone is feeling good and getting excited about Spring racing!

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Trying to Get Back to the Everyday

Since yesterday was a holiday, and we had a short week last week because of Disney, I've been a little all over the place. I'm leaving again on Thursday, so I'll have another short week. I always talk about how I'm kind of loose with my training and life, but because of that, I tend to operate best on a schedule. I'm like a kid who functions best with some structure. I'm much more relaxed when I don't have to make a million little decisions everyday (should I run? how much? rest? etc.). I think I might be slightly ADD, so I stay more focused if I have a plan to hang my hat on. I'm oh, so willing to spend 2 hours messing around doing nothing, so if I want to get anything done, I have to schedule it ahead of time.

So, all of this is to say, that I'm desperately trying to get back on schedule - and I'm failing miserably! As I mentioned, I'm trying to incorporate yoga into my training, but am having a hard time deciding when is best to go. I used to take my rest day on Tuesday (the big hill day in our running group), but now that I'm going to do Old Dominion (and there is a big mountain involved), I figure I better start doing some hill training. Pronto. So, when should I rest? Every other day has something good going on with the group and I don't want to miss any of it! Can you say obsessive :) I'd also like to do some swimming...and the list goes on. Help!

As for running, I'm slowly inching my mileage back up, careful to keep my heart rate fairly low until I'm ready. I'm back up to two runs a day, half on pavement, half on dirt - one with the group, one alone. I'm staying at the back of the pack, trying for consistency rather than speed. I'm lucky to have some good buddies (Gilbert, Luis) who will stay back with me until I'm ready to open up a little bit. What would we do without our running buddies? I'd probably still be running 11 minute miles around my block everyday!

Finally, if you get a chance, go over to Julie's blog and Ronda's blog to read about some incredible running. Julie just ran a snowshoe marathon with major freezing temps and Ronda ran 40 miles at Pace. I'm just in awe of how tough these women are! After I write kind of a whiny post (see above), I go and read their blogs for a good kick in the butt! These ladies rock!

Happy running!

Friday, January 18, 2008

Disney Photos

Here are some of our race pics from the weekend.

Brian (brother), Tim (husband), Rick (brother), Me
I think this must have been at the Start because it is dark. The race started at 6:00 am, so we left our hotel at 5:00. As I said, this was Brian's first marathon and he rocked!


This was Tim's second marathon and we had a blast, running the whole thing together.

I'm finally getting back into a schedule. I'm trying to enjoy my new yoga class, but am finding myself about a flexible as a surfboard. The instructor keeps coming up to me, trying to contort me into the proper position, assuming that I am not trying hard enough. It's kind of embarrassing. And very painful. I'm assuring him that I am trying but that it will take time for me to be able to "crane" like the rest of the class. Ugh. Please remind me that this is good for me:)

With my rising mileage, I'm finding every food group massively appealing. I'm really trying to take cues from Ronda and Julie and be more aware of what I'm eating. But come on. What about cupcakes? I must have cupcakes.

In fact, I must have a cupcake now! Happy running!

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

The Magical World of Disney

Although I promised to post pictures of our Disney experience, I managed to leave my camera at home (anyone surprised by this?), so I have to wait for my relatives to e-mail their photos. The good news is that since it was a family reunion, I should get lots of photos! Anyway, I have to say, this was a great weekend! First though, I must admit that I was actually kind of dreading the whole thing. I'm really not much of an amusement park kind of person. I hate crowds, lines, overstimulation, etc. Every big marathon I've ever run has been no fun. The thought of spending 5 days captive in Disney World just left me cold. But, it was a family reunion so I really had no choice. And I was excited to take a trip with all of my siblings and their families.

So, we reluctantly headed to Florida on Thursday. We arrived shortly after lunch and headed straight to the Expo. Despite their being 21,000 people registered for the marathon (and who knows how many for the half), the Expo was a quick 40 minute experience. But when we came out, the line was all the way outside the building and into the parking lot. I was so happy we went early. After we made a quick getaway, we headed to Downtown Disney for dinner and 5 hours at Disney Quest, an interactive, 5-story video arcade. My 11 year-old sons were in heaven. And actually Tim and I had a total blast, too! We played every game in the building, some 6 or 7 times. There were no lines!

On Friday, we headed over to Epcot, trying to get as much done as possible before the rest of my family showed up. We wanted to be free for whatever plans they had for the evening. We shouldn't have worried. There were no lines at Epcot either! We rode every ride, visited every country, and still had time to go to the Magic Kingdom! We finally hooked up with everyone at 6:30 for fun on the Boardwalk and a great dinner. We made it to bed after midnight, everyone complaining because half our group had to get up to run the half-marathon the next morning.

Saturday, we hit the Animal Kingdom (Everest is awesome!), and Epcot again. Another great, raucous dinner followed, with another midnight bedtime. After 3 hours of sleep, Tim and I rolled out of bed to go to the marathon. It was quite a trek to get to the start (it took us an hour), but we made it right as the gun was going off, and headed out with the other 21,000 people. The plan was to run it together in about 5 hours. We came pretty close. My brothers left us at mile 20 because Tim was starting to bonk. Tim had not trained at all, and was just winging it. Because the race was so crowded, and the course so narrow in many parts, it was very difficult to just run (especially when you are at the back). But it really didn't matter. We ran through all four parks (including many of the behind the scenes spaces), and it was very cool to see the parks when they were empty. Tim and I crossed the finish line together (I will post the pic after I order it), and it was kind of emotional because we have never run a race together. We've always had to take turns because of our kids, but since my family was there, we both got to run! After the race, we hung out and then headed over to Disney Studios, then had a huge dinner and went back to Disney Quest. Another late night, more fun Monday morning and then back home where we collapsed and slept 10 hours! What a weekend!

Today, I ran 15 miles on dirt and then did pilates, weights and abs. I'm still trying to finalize my race schedule, but have decided I really want to do a 50 miler/100k this spring. I know there are a lot of great trail races out there, but I really need something less technical (like Rocky Raccoon, Umstead or Javelina). If anyone knows of something like this, could you let me know? I'm totally willing to travel, but I don't have time to train up on really technical trails. I'm so impressed with everyone's race schedules. You gals and guys are tough! One of these days I'm going to get Olga to teach me how to run trails so that I can join y'all!

Happy training!

Tuesday, January 08, 2008

Race Schedule Revisited

Last post, I mentioned that I finally had a tentative race schedule, but then didn't post it. Sorry, I wasn't trying to be vague, I just am still iffy on a couple of conflicts in the fall. The only "for sure" race is Old Dominion Memorial 100 in May. I really wanted to do something earlier in the spring, but I couldn't find a 100 that would work. So, I have to wait until May. Getting to races from El Paso is kind of complicated - it is a 12 hour drive to San Diego and a 12 hour drive to Dallas, just to give you a perspective of how isolated we are. Travelling to the Midwest, Northeast, East, or Northwest is an all day journey by plane. This usally means that we have to leave on Thursday for a Saturday race because more often than not we end up delayed in Dallas, Atlanta, Chicago or Denver (El Paso has very few direct flights to anywhere). At Umstead last year, my husband had to wait until Friday to travel to North Carolina and ended up stuck in the Dallas airport for 12 hours before finally arriving in NC at 3 am. He only slept for one hour before having to get up with me to go to the race. He then stayed up again through the night to crew for me (including pacing me for 25 miles in the middle of the night).

In the fall, there are many more options that are relatively close, so I'm just trying to see which one fits the best (Ultracentric, Javelina, ATY). I've been dying to try Javelina and ATY, so I hope one of them works out. The problem with running most of my 100s on asphalt, is that it takes a little more time to recover. If I do Javelina (instead of Ultracentric) I might be able to do ATY too because Javelina is on dirt and should be less stressful on the body. That would be cool! Anyone out there thinking about Javelina? I thought about doing FANS again because it is such a well-run race (great people, great support) but it was really hard to get to from El Paso, so I think I'm going to skip it this year. Maybe I can convince Julie to head south this year!

On the running front, I got in 20 on Sunday and 10 yesterday. I am back in the gym and doing some pilates, but I'm really trying to take it easy. I'm just so excited to be training again that I get a little spastic about it! I slept in today because I realized I didn't take a day off last week. It felt great (8:10 am!), and since it is the last day of winter vacation, it was the last day for the boys to sleep in, too. Tomorrow, I hope to get in 20 because we then travel to Florida where my running schedule is a little iffy. Other than the easy marathon, I don't know how much running I will be able to do. Okay, off to mail in my OD Memorial 100 application! Yeah!

Saturday, January 05, 2008

In that world, you'll be able to rise in the morning with the spirit you had known in your childhood: that spirit of eagerness, adventure and certainty which comes from dealing with a rational universe.
Ayn Rand

Well, I think I finally have a (tentative) race schedule. I'm still waiting to hear back on a couple of dates, but then I will start sending in my entries - Yeah!!! I feel so happy. And ready to train. As I posted earlier (several times, in fact), I really like to have something specific to work toward. I don't follow a very strict training schedule, but I like to have something for my brain to focus on. It keeps me out of trouble :)

This week, I should end up with about 80 miles. 80 very easy, slow miles. I've got to get my base built back up and then I will get more specific. Right now, I'm just running with my friends, running on the river, and trying to stretch and strengthen. Scott and I are not going to set any specific workouts until the end of the month. So, until then, I'm just hanging loose. A lot of runners don't like the base building phase, but it is my favorite. I really like to run lots of miles. But I really don't like to run super-structured workouts. I know I need them (and I promise I do them, Scott), but they are not my favorite. I hate wearing a watch, so when I do have to wear one for specific workouts, half the time I forget to look at it. Or forget to turn in on. Amazing that I can drive a car, huh?

Next week is going to be a short week because we are heading to Florida for the Disney Marathon/Family Reunion. I think we are trying to run the marathon in under 5 hours (this is my brother, Brian's first marathon - woohoo!), so we should have time to take plenty of photos with Mickey! I'm hoping to get in some solo runs around the parks, but I'm not sure how it all works. I'd hate to go to Florida and have to spend time in the gym. There is also a two hour time difference, so I am going to have to get up at 3:00 am (my time) to go on a 5:30 run. Hmm.

As soon as I get the final dates confirmed, I will post my race schedule. It would be a blast to see some of y'all at a race this year!

Wednesday, January 02, 2008

I guess I'm an optimist.
Helen Boardman at 104

I recently finished "If I Live to Be 100," by Neenah Ellis, the former producer from the NPR series, "One Hundred Years of Stories." It was a fascinating book. Ms. Ellis gives brief glimpses into the life of centenarians around the country, mining their personal stories for insight into how they have mangaged to live so long, their pasts, and their lives right now. One of the common characteristics of all the centenarians was their optimistic view of life. Each one truly believed that they (had) lived a blessed and charmed life even when many of them had been poorer than anything we can imagine. And their optimism continued throughout their lives. Another interesting commonality was that each believed he or she had a reason for being alive - painting, preaching, political activism - a purpose, and until that purpose was fulfilled, he or she couldn't die. One gentleman loved to paint. And he didn't want to die until he had painted everything in his head. That was his reason for being.

I've been thinking about that book a lot since I finished it. I think about my life and the times I have felt more at ease with the world, more inspired. And when I really look at those times, they are always when I had a purpose beyond just getting by: being pregnant, finishing law school, training for a swim meet, trying to do well in an ultra, etc. I had something to focus on, to sketch out the outline of my daily routine, to get me out of bed very early in the morning.
I don't think our lives should be solely about goals, but I do think it is healthy to have a passion for something - something that makes you feel lucky to be alive. And the icing on the cake is to have people to share it with!

New Year's Day run - I'm on the far right, hugging my older brother, Rick.

We decided to do an easy 12 mile run through the city, but it turned into a freezing, windy run through the city! As you can see, our numbers signigficantly decreased as time went on.

We are on the field of the Sun Bowl the morning after the game.

This is a sample of what our trails look like (we aren't running up this mountain, I just wanted to give you an example). I am way too uncoordinated for them!

I hope each of you starts this new year with passion and purpose, and people to share both with!