Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Let The Sun Shine Again

Yesterday was a glorious day spent with my family. After last week, I definitely needed some family time. We decided to head down to the American River bike path near Folsom Lake. It's a great paved trail perfect for hauling a bike trailer. It's also the course for the Helen Klein 50 miler in November.

Crossing the American River

I was looking forward to an easy recovery ride and Pat wanted a good workout so it was decided he'd pull the trailer. It worked out perfect, pulling 75 pounds definitely adds to the workout. Sara fell asleep so we decided to go a little farther before turning around. We made it just over the pedestrian bridge before heading back to Hagan Park which is right along the path.

Once at the park we let the kids loose to frolic on the equipment and meet other little kids. It's a lot of fun to sit back and watch kids interact, first shy and then in no time they're new best friends. After having some lunch and about an hour of frolicking, we loaded the kids up and headed back to the car, about an hour away.

Caitlyn helping little sister up the steps

Lunch Break

It was about that time Pat decided to really put the hammer down. He's stronger than me and can travel faster and the kids loved it. He'd stand and mash the pedals on the uphills causing the trailer to rock back and forth then rocket on the downhills (it's a pretty flat course so the hills are very short). The girls would lean forward and press their faces against the mesh panel and squeal and laugh. I enjoyed watching them from a view that I normally don't see when I'm pulling the trailer.

Sara's scrunched down napping

Before I knew it we were back at the parking lot and my computer read 28.5 miles so for a final 1/2 mile we rode criterium style around the parking lot in opposite directions eliciting more squeals of delight from the girls. It was a perfect day. The temperature was about 68 degrees F, sunny, and no wind. About a total of 2 trees are blooming and I intended to get a picture of one of them but we were hammering and it was just too much fun to slow down and fumble with the camera.

Thursday, February 21, 2008

A Long Week

Today is Thursday and I'm on Day 4 of 5 days straight spent at work and when you work 24 hours a day, that makes for a long week. My family left for the Central Coast on Monday and I headed to work. Pat and the girls are going to watch the Tour of California bike race, my parents live just off Hwy 1 and the race passes right by on their way to San Luis Obispo. My work schedule at the firehouse is Monday-Wednesday-Friday this week and time off is in short supply, therefore, I get to stay in town.

With nobody at home I figured I might as well try to pick up some over-time shifts on Tuesday and Thursday, hence, I left home Monday morning and won't see it again until Saturday morning. That makes training a challenge, especially when you're injured and trying to cross train. There aren't many choices at the firehouse: treadmill, stairmaster, or weights. Occasionally we can get out to a gym and do the elliptical. I must say I was looking forward to a nice long hilly bike ride this week but it's not to be. Pat works Sat-Sun so I will have the girls and the weather doesn't look good for taking them out with the bike trailer.

Since my options are limited I've found myself climbing back onto the treadmill and doing some running. My legs are doing ok, sometimes they hurt more than others but they're not getting any worse but the pain is not gone. I'm trying to not over-do it and injure myself more but it just feels so nice to run. I'm amazed how much I miss it.

Well, I guess that's enough whining for one post. I'm just missing my family and wish I could be with them. Our friend Dan was able to get some VIP passes for the team dinner in San Luis Obispo tonight after the stage and I'm jealous I don't get to go. Pat said he'll take lots of pictures. Maybe he'll even get to meet the great Mario Cipollini!

Feeling like a mouse in a maze.....................

Friday, February 15, 2008

And the Doctor Said......

No more monkeys jumping on the bed. Oh wait, that's part of a song my daughter loves to sing.

Anyway, I did see the doctor today and the good news is she agrees it sounds like an overuse injury and she referred me to a physical therapist here in town who happens to not only be a cyclist but a runner too. The bad news is he's extremely busy and I can't get in to see him until March 10. In the meantime.....

Cross train!!! Pat and I were able to get out on the road bikes again today, a little cooler than the other day but still nice. We rode a popular 15 mile loop (the Lemond Loop, it's a loop some local cyclists rode with Greg Lemond when he came to town a few years ago) with some nice climbs and in one hour we were done. It felt weird to be done in just an hour, since I've started ultrarunning I'm use to my workouts lasting for hours. I'm also going to start doing what I know I should have been doing the last couple weeks: ice, Ibuprofen, stretch. Hopefully by the time I get in to see the PT I'll be pain free.

I've also been getting to the pool this week. Since the pool doesn't have a deep end I tried running along the lanes with my feet pushing off the bottom. It made me think of the "anti-gravity treadmill" where you get to run without the pounding and it felt pretty good. I will try to incorporate some real running back into my schedule based on pain threshold.

Here's hoping for the best..............

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Spring in the Foothills

I love Spring. Next to Fall, it's my favorite season. Especially when it comes in February. When you get a day like today, it's special for a couple reasons. #1: it comes after a month of heavy snowstorms and lots of rain, and #2: you know it won't last long. I don't need a groundhog to tell me we have more winter ahead of us.

Due to how my legs are feeling, I've been incorporating more cross-training into my routine (I haven't run for 4 days). Today was the perfect day for a long, hilly bike ride. If you could bottle up today's weather and sell it to all the cyclists out there, you'd make a fortune. Started out with a chilly descent into the South Yuba river canyon then an enjoyable climb out the other side. The climbing felt effortless and my heart rate stayed under control which was my goal. The legs felt strong. I guess all that base running has really paid off.

After the initial climb I got onto some smaller, quieter country roads and I found myself looking around and laughing to myself. I'm in shorts and a short-sleeve jersey, it's sunny and 65 degrees, all the fields are green (no wildflowers yet), rivers and creeks are running and birds are out enjoying the warmth. And it's the middle of February. Perfect.

My route took me in and out of the Yuba River canyon a couple times, once at Hwy 49 and the other at Bridgeport, after a cruise through North San Juan. Bitney Road has a really steep section that I use as a gauge: if I need to drop into my granny gear, I'm in poor shape. Today I stayed out of my granny gear and actually enjoyed the climbing (this is unusual for me, I'm not a good climber). Before I knew it, I had made a big loop and ended up back where I started. The ride was over and I felt great. I did 42 miles in 3:05, only 13.5mph average but not bad considering all the hills.

Sarah and Scott, thank you for the nice thoughts. I see my doctor on Friday. Sarah, your post on the pool running is intersting. I might have to try that. Unfortunately, the gym pool doesn't have a deep end, it's just used for laps. Scott, hope you enjoyed the snow, sorry we didn't have any fresh powder for you.

a fellow endorphin junkie.

Saturday, February 9, 2008

Sun and Snow in San Diego

I love returning home from vacation only to find that Caltrans has plowed a huge snow berm in front of our driveway. We were able to bust through the berm only to get stuck about 50 feet up the road in about 18 inches of wet, heavy snow. Ahhh, home sweet home. The thought of 70 degrees in San Diego came flitting through my mind. Is it too late to head back there? :)

San Diego was fun. My folks took care of the kids while Pat and I attended firefighting classes and stuffed our brains full of new information. This was a rest week for me and it was much needed. My lower legs are really killing me. Not sure if it's muscular or bone. It hurts anytime I run and even walking or going up/down stairs hurts. I took a couple days completely off hoping it would help but it didn't. Running or resting doesn't seem to make it better or worse but it's getting frustrating. I will probably call the doctor on Monday. I feel like I'm in the same boat as Sarah and Addy, we're all dealing with injuries that are hampering our training and I know we're all very frustrated by it.

I was able to run the majority of the days, mostly on sidewalks and bike trails which are concrete which didn't help. I was actually seeking out asphalt! One day we headed about 1 1/2 hours NE of San Diego to our family ranch. I'm running the Big Sur Marathon in April with my 2 cousins so we were able to get out for a trail run around the ranch property. The pace was very slow and we ran through burn areas from the Witch Fire. It was great to see parts of the ranch I'd never seen before. The fire opened up roads that had been severely overgrown with chaparral. As it is everytime we get together, more time was spent jabbering than running. Thanks to all the rain both lakes are full and overflowing. Unfortunately, it was cold and overcast. At one point it was even snowing a little bit and then the rain came (not during the run but later). Welcome to sunny Southern California! One of the reasons for the visit was to affix my grandma's plaque on a rock in our family cemetery. She died last year on my birthday and I miss her very much.

My family at the cemetery
I've been paying a lot of attention to my heart rate during my easy runs and it's amazing how easy the runs are when you work on keeping your heart rate really low. :) I think I fall into the category where I spend too much time running a "medium" effort. Then my hard isn't hard enough and my easy isn't easy enough. I know some people don't like to be a "slave" to watches, monitors, beeps, bells, and whistles but I'm a numbers freak. If I do a run I have to know how far or how long or it just doesn't count.

Caitlyn with her cousins PJ and Bailey at the back lake
I'm trying not to get discouraged about my legs but it's hard. I don't know if it's something I can run through and it will heal or if I'm doing more damage by running. I have Rucky Chucky 50K in 6 weeks but if I have to cancel I'll volunteer. The season is very young. Good luck to Addy and Sarah with your PT. Knowing that you guys (and others) are battling injuries helps me stay positive. And Sarah, I'm glad your hiatus was short! I'd miss your entries.

Running through part of the burn from the Witch fire
The girls enjoyed living in a hotel for 5 days and we even got to take advantage of the heated pool. My folks and girls visited The Midway which is something Pat and I hope to do next time. We explored parks and even a lighthouse. All in all, a good week.

Pat and Sara getting some pool time

Past and present

Friday, February 1, 2008

Heading To Warmer Climates

All right, I have to admit it: I'm a little tired of winter. This year has been amazing (actually, just January) with all the COLD, low elevation snowstorms. I'm ready to head to warmer areas so here I sit in Morro Bay, home of my folks. We're all heading to San Diego tomorrow. The best part is there's no snow. Pat and I are going to a Firehouse Convention and my folks are going to babysit and we're all going to get to visit with our So Cal relatives. Mix work and pleasure.

The nice part about all my favorite running trails getting snowed over (I don't enjoy running in deep snow) is I've got a great excuse to try out some new (to me) low elevation trails. The last couple weeks have really been dedicated to running and weights with 1 day of snowshoeing (just had to take advantage of some first tracks).

Getting first tracks in Negro Canyon, Donner Lake below

Looking towards Tinkers Knob
My long runs have been a 14 miler, 17 miler, and yesterday I did 19. They've all been hilly with a fair amount of singletrack. I explored the Spenceville Wildlife area and discovered Fairy Falls. Unfortunately, I didn't have my camera with me since it was raining but it's beautiful and I will make it back out there this spring.

Another great trail I ran is the South Yuba Trail which is 100% singletrack and can get challenging due to the constant ups and downs. The day I ran it was absolutely beautiful.

A fun bend along the South Yuba River

The Yuba River's namesake, Yuba
Up until about mile 6 I felt great, I was in the runners groove. Then the ups became longer and steeper and I was just plain tired. Turned around at mile 7 and struggled back. I really enjoy running without an MP3 and listen to nature but sometimes you just need a little help (distraction) to get in those last few miles. I've recently discovered Steve Runner and Phedippidations, his weekly pod-cast. It's really entertaining and got me back to the jeep.

Ladybugs everywhere!
Yesterday I ventured onto the Auburn State Recreation Area's wonderful network of trails for a 19 miler. It was cool and threatening rain with a forecast of snow about 2000 ft by afternoon. I parked at the Confluence and headed out on a loop that included Lake Clementine, Fuel Break, Culvert, and Confluence trails for about 7.5 miles. I got new bottles at the jeep then headed out the Quarry Rd to Maine Bar trail and back.

Foresthill Bridge

Lake Clementine

Looking towards Quarry Rd from Confluence Trail

The trails are in great shape, a bit muddy in places but not bad. I was just about the only person out there which was really nice. Unfortunately, I've aggravated an old injury from last summer. I believe I tore my calf muscle after the Reno Tahoe Odyssey last June and now my lower leg is bothering me again. This time it's the outside of the right calf. It starts out hurting at the beginning of the runs but then gets better and then only hurts when I stop and start up again. So I guess the solution is once I start running, never stop :)

Hawver Cave

Along the Quarry Rd.
The last 2 weeks have included running 15 and 18 miles with cross training of snowshoeing. Last week I ran 40 miles. I'm not sure how the miles crept up on me but I sure didn't follow the 10% rule. This is my last heavy week of training before having an easy week next week. I'm ready for it. Hopefully I can let my leg heal and come back strong again. I have so many plans for big runs this year that I certainly don't want to get derailed by injury this early in the season.

After my run yesterday I drove back up to Grass Valley where it was snowing heavily. I got my girls from daycare early and headed home where it was snowing and blowing like crazy. Due to how my leg was feeling I jumped into an ice bath (wow, was that cold. Ice baths seem easier in the summer). It made my leg feel better but then the power went out before I could get my hot shower! This morning was spent shoveling snow just so we could get the truck loaded and get out of town.

Last June I ran my first marathon in San Diego. I look forward to retracing some of those miles in the coming week. In shorts and a t-shirt.

Good luck to those racing tomorrow, I know a few of you have ultras planned.