Monday, January 26, 2009

New Distances, New Friends

Last Sunday found me enjoying some new friends while running a distance longer than I've run in months: 12 miles.

June, who works at the running store where I buy all my shoes, and her friend Cincie met me and my dog Yuba at the trailhead to Quarry Rd on a rainy, cool morning, ready to enjoy a long, easy run to Maine Bar along the American River outside of Auburn. I must admit, I'm a loner, and with my always revolving work schedule it's hard to find running partners. So when I had a chance to join these 2 ladies on a long run, I jumped at it. I wasn't disappointed.

We settled into an easy pace and started gabbing about a number of things and never stopped talking for the next 2 1/2 hours. The miles flew by and before I knew it, we were at the turn-around point. We decided to continue on a little farther so they could show me part of the Way Too Cool trail. We jumped the large puddles, didn't bother with the smaller ones and the incessant drizzle soon had us pretty wet. As long as we kept moving we stayed warm.

These trails are really popular with the endurance crowd and we saw a lot of other runners, some mountain bikers, and horseback riders. It was great to see so many people out enjoying the day, not even caring about the rain showers.

June and I got to talking about my race schedule and she expressed some concern with my plan to run WTC and Rucky Chucky 50K on back to back weekends and the fact that I wasn't running American River 50M. Rucky Chucky offers a relay and she volunteered to run it with me and that way I could sign up for AR50. I do have a concern that my only chance of qualifying for 2010 WS100 is that I absolutely have to finish Leadville, which I intend to do, but the best laid plans.......

So June's suggestions sounded pretty good to me. I ran AR50 last year and really loved it and I know if all goes well, I can qualify for WS100 with it. I'm running TRT 50M but there's no way I can finish it in under 11 hours. So as soon as I got home I registered for AR50 (not too many spots left) and I'll sign us both up for RC relay (and I get to run the "UP" portion).

We finished the run strong (even had a negative split by 2 minutes) and I felt great. I must admit, none of my runs have been completely pain free but after this run I've felt the best and that good feeling continued today. I believe all the aches and pains are just my body getting used to running longer distances again. It's hard for me to continue with this slow build up in mileage but I know it's the smart thing to do. This week will include more hill work and another short tempo run. I feel like a runner again and I love it.

Sunday, January 18, 2009

Ambitious Goals

Looks like this may be my year for trying new things. Like a lot of runners I started out running a few miles a day just to get in better shape. That led to 5K and 10K races which got me thinking about marathons. After my first marathon I naturally started thinking even longer and discovered the perverted world of ultrarunning. I've run a 50K and a couple 50 milers so now my mind is turning to the 100 miler. But which one?

I would love to do Western States 100 since it's basically my back yard. I qualified but didn't get in for 2008 and now that they've discontinued the two-time loser and it's all backed up from last year's cancellation, I figure my chances of getting into WS100 are pretty slim in the next few years. Ever since I rode the Leadville Trail 100 mountain bike race, I've been in love with Leadville, Colorado. So why not try the Leadville Trail 100, the Race Across the Sky. After working out a few details with my folks to watch the girls, I officially signed up. To help my chances I also signed up for the Leadville training weekend at the end of June.

So there it is, my big, fat, hairy goal for 2009. I definitely feel like I'm behind the 8 ball coming off my stress fracture from last year (yesterday I did my long run of a whopping 8.7 miles) but I know if I take it slow and steady I'll be successful. I have some fun races lined up to help in my preparation and my family is behind me 100%. Since my husband is still off work from his fall and with shoulder surgery possibly looming in his future, it's made it easier for me to do more training and events without juggling 2 work schedules. I can't explain the importance of having the support of your family when undertaking such a huge project like this. Pat and I are truly partners and having his support means the world to me. Due to his injury he's had to put a lot of his own plans on hold and I look forward to the day when he's better and I can be there to support him as he goes after his own goals. Until then, as he's been telling me a lot lately, this is my year. And I can't wait.

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Dilemma, and the perfect running weather

Yesterday I had a great day. I got off work and on my drive home over Donner Summit I stopped off at Sugarbowl Ski Resort to get in some turns. Last Thursday was my first time skiing in 5 years. Yesterday was my second. 5 years ago I had a pass to Sugarbowl but found out I was pregnant so didn't get to use it. My family threatened me with death if I dared ski while pregnant. So, 2 kids later, I finally decided to get another pass (my, how time flies).

So last Thursday, with great trepidation (and fear of falling off the lift) I strapped on my skis, boarded the lift and managed to not fall down as I disembarked at the top. The first couple turns were stiff and ugly. Once I loosened up I started feeling more comfortable. After 4-5 runs I was back in a groove, just like riding a bike.

Yesterday was extremely windy, to the point that a couple lifts had to be put on wind hold. It was sunny and clear, actually warm when you were able to get out of the wind. I like to change my blog header picture along with the seasons so it was with great effort (and almost getting blown off the mountain) that I got my new picture up top. It's looking south along the Pacific Crest Trail from Mt. Lincoln. It was so windy I had to keep my pole straps around my wrists because if I laid them down I was afraid they'd end up at the bottom of the mountain at the lodge. My body was pressed forward against the powerful force and as I struggled to get my camera out of my jacket pocket I would stand up too straight and I'd find myself getting pushed backward on my skis. But I like the picture so I guess it was worth it. If you look in the lower left hand corner you can see a thin line of white and that is the trail as it heads south towards Tinkers Knob and Squaw Valley.

So, about my dilemma. As I rode the lift up the mountain I started to think about how to record this time skiing in my training log. I skied for 2 hours so do I put 2 hours down? Even though for every 10 minutes I spend getting carried to the top of the mountain I only spend about 2 minutes skiing back down (even though I do get a pretty good quad burn). So for the 2 hours I spent up there, I only "exercised" about 25 minutes. It's not like nordic skiing where you have to ski UP the hills too. (I raced nordic skiing in high school and there was always a big rivalry amongst us and the alpine skiers as to who was better. Of course we were because we didn't wimp out and get a ride to the top of hills). This morning I was reading Darrell's blog and he has a similar dilemma. If you walk during a run do you count the distance covered walking as part of your miles run? I think in general, runners are type A personalities and really care about numbers. We like to record things (just to prove it actually happened) but we want to do it right. So do I record my time on the slopes as total time or just my actual runs down the mountain?

I got home and my hubby was out on a walk with the dog. It was an absolutely gorgeous day, one that rarely happens in mid-January: bright blue skies, about 65 degrees and no wind. I just had to get out and run. So I quick changed into my running clothes and set off up the trail. I ran 2 miles out (even through the occasional snow patch) and then turned back home. About a half mile from home I saw my dog running toward me and closely behind him was Pat. They had gotten my note about going running and headed up the trail to find me. I finished up my last 1/2 mile with the dog then enjoyed a nice walk with my husband. To top off the perfect day, we enjoyed a late lunch in town before picking up the girls from daycare. A nice way to spend the day.

Sunday, January 11, 2009

2008 Recap and 2009 Goals

Well, it's halfway through January so I thought I better get a new entry on my blog so the first thing people see isn't Christmas!

2008 wasn't exactly a great year for me, it proved quite challenging dealing with my first major running injury. And typical me, I didn't handle it well. I started feeling pain in my shin last January but continued to run. I did back off the mileage and did a lot of road bike riding but due to some events I had already registered for, I didn't stop running completely on what turned out to be a stress fracture.

I did back out of a couple events when common sense prevailed and volunteered at those runs instead. It was a lot of fun to see those events from a different point of view. I always make it a point to thank volunteers and now I'm really glad I do. Our job as runners is easy compared to what volunteers do.

So, to recap 2008. I ran 586 miles despite 25 weeks of 5 miles or less. I biked 1,406 miles. April was my most interesting month considering I only ran 3 times but logged 80 miles. I did American River 50, Daffodil 5K, and the Big Sur Marathon. As fall rolled around and I finally decided that I really did need to stop running and let my leg heal I took up something new: Bikram Yoga. It's 90 minutes in 105 degrees doing 26 yoga postures and it is very challenging. I am hoping to do a post in the future about it. I started doing "hot" yoga to help me keep my strength and endurance while letting my stress fracture heal. And I managed to do it 50 times by the end of 2008.

Now on to 2009. I'm slowly building up my running mileage but mostly on the treadmill since it's easy to do that at work. I was lucky enough to get into Way Too Cool 50K so that will be my focus race for the spring. I've heard so many wonderful things about this race and I'm really looking forward to running it and seeing all the big names of ultrarunning.

As tune ups for WTC, I'm going to run PCTR's Montana de Oro 25K Feb 15. That course ate me up in 2007 because I hadn't done enough hill work. I don't have a lot of time to prepare this year so it will just be treated as a good training run. Later that week I will do the WS100 training run that covers the last 20 miles of the course from Green Gate to Auburn.

My summer focus is to do something I couldn't do last year, the Tahoe Rim Trail 50M. I've done the 50K course but really want to do the 50 Mile. I have a few more races and one major goal that I will hold off mentioning now while I work out a few details. But if it works out and I manage to stay healthy and injury free this will be a year to remember.

Thursday, January 1, 2009

Holiday Recap

A little late but wanted to get a holiday recap out for the family. A couple days before Christmas found us visiting Eddie the Elf so Caitlyn could give him her wish list. Here in Nevada City Eddie the Elf is as big as Santa. He lives in the trunk of a tree and speaks to you through a small red door. He relates really well with kids but has wonderful appeal with parents with his adult humor as well.

Eddie lives in the tree trunk to the left

Christmas Eve found the family finalizing last minute presents and getting Santa's cookies and milk ready. Sara fell asleep early in my arms so Caitlyn was the only one we had to work on getting to go to sleep with threats that Santa wouldn't be able to bring presents to the house if she was still awake.

What was left of the cookies. Notice Caitlyn's Christmas list on right

Christmas morning found 2 little girls sleeping in while the parents and grandparents were antsy to start opening presents, eating, and drinking. Finally the girls were up and the fun could begin.

Sara looking a little overwhelmed with all the presents

The tradition in my family is everyone gets a present and then we take turns opening our gift. Then we do it all again. It makes Christmas last all morning and isn't a lot of fun when you're a kid but the girls did great.

The girls showing off their books from Aunt Anne and Uncle Steve
The girls showing off their new pj's.
The day after Christmas found our families heading down to San Francisco for a new adventure. Last year we decided we wanted to see the Emerald Bowl at AT&T park where the Giants play during the summer. I had never been to a college football game before and wasn't disappointed.

Earlier in the day found us playing tourist in Union Square and it was really nice seeing the City all decked out for the holidays.
The girls watching the ice skaters
Sara and her daddy deep in conversation
After a short respite back at the hotel to regroup we started the adventure of getting to the park. We stay near Chinatown and North Beach. We knew we had to catch the 30 or 45 bus that would drop us off a couple blocks from the field. Unfortunately, everyone in Chinatown wanted to catch the same buses. My mom, the girls, and I were able to squeeze onto a bus but Pat and my Dad couldn't fit. We agreed we'd stay on the bus and they would catch the next one. But once the doors closed I confirmed with the driver that this bus would go to the ball park and she said yes, it normally does but not today. We would have to get off the bus and get on the next one. So at the next stop we got off but the next bus was full. My dad and Pat were on that bus and imagine their surprise when they looked out the window and saw us standing on the sidewalk. Thank goodness for cell phones, we were able to explain to them that we'd catch the next bus. After a couple more tries we did just that and it wasn't long before we were all reunited and made our way to the park.
Watching the parachutist

There were 3 parachutist in all, one for Cal, one for Miami, and this one was carrying the American flag.

Our seats were right on the 50 yard line, 7 rows up. Absolutely perfect. The game was great, the energy of the crowd incredible. Quite different from watching a baseball game in the same park. The score stayed close and we were all rewarded with a Cal Bears win.

The highlight of the trip was definitely the football game but a close second were the 2 runs I got to do along the Embarcadero and around Crissy field. There's nothing I love more (in the city) then to get up early and run through the streets of San Francisco. It's peaceful, clean, and quiet and I love to see other runners out there enjoying the same sights as I am.

Sorry for the long post. Hope you got through it. If you visit just for the running stories, sorry, I hope to have more about running in the near future. Mostly my running consists of miles on the treadmill. Boring, but necessary. My doctor said I'm not quite over the hump in healing from my stress fracture but definitely getting there. I have some ambitious plans for this year and I just hope I can stay healthy to fulfill my goals.