Me and a friend at over 12000 ft. I am eating a pretzel, he is not.
Forgive the vast number of pictures, and they will keep coming, because I have so many. Did a mini vacation in Colorado, and LOVED it there. We left late thursday afternoon, so we had dinner thursday-lunch Monday. So, we got 3 full days with no air travel. We spent it in Rocky Mt national park and Boulder. I loved Boulder. You cannot really go wrong with a town where many folks move there to do outdoor things. They had the best hike and bike I had ever seen.
The real highlight of the trip was summiting my first peak. We went up Mt Chapin at 12, 454 feet. I am sure my Colorado friends, and friends who have done mountain ultras think it is quite wimpy, but I have never done a mountain race, and I had never “summited” a peak before, where you actually are taking baby steps up loose rocks above tree line. I see the addiction: 360 views are unmatched. And, when to think I got there under the power of my own 2 feet is awesome. Mike wanted to divorce me for a short time on this hike (the description said “for those seeking a true alpine experience, the chance to summit 3 peaks in one hike”). We didn’t make all 3, because even with the camelbak, we did not have enough water, and I am not quite at the point of carrying iodine tablets. We hit the Alpine visitor center afterwards (still at 12000 ft), and felt a strange sense of, dare I say hiking snobbery. Yeah, y’all are enjoy this view you got to in your car, but I just saw a better one, and got there with my own feet (and a very sore butt from taking baby steps up a mountain side). By day 3, we were seeing most the park from a car, as 2 days of non-stop hiking and running meant a driving day with the only walking to scenic vistas sounded great.
anyhow, there is so much to write about, I’ll just summarize some other key points:
-Global warming is very real. The nasty little pine beetle has flourished without a cold winter in the last few years. Their larvae kill the pines, and we went past entire mountains covered in only brown, dead trees. Very sad.
-People are stupid (no revelation really), despite signs everywhere about not feeding the wildlife, and full narrative about human food makes them lose their natural feeding instincts, turning them into nuisances, thus leading to them being put down, I’d be a millionaire if I had a dollar for every time I saw someone feeding a critter a cheeto.
-Estes park kinda sucks. it was touristy and tacky. Luckily our cabin was outside of Estes proper, and it was terrific. Jacuzzis on balconies over rivers are pretty cool.
-I can run at 7000 + feet without problems. Leadville here I come!
-I freakin‘ love the mountains. I LOVED running every am and seeing the sun come up over the mountains. I only did road runs, but the scenery was incredible. I saw elk, a wild turkey family (those babies are cute!), deer, and lots of little chipmunks.
-the wildflowers were out of control. I took a picture every time I saw a different one. there were so many. My favorite turned out to be a Columbine.
Now that I have become more familiar with “downward dog”, I am loving the yoga. I am up to 4 classes, and I am actually bummed I will not be able to go for a week due to vacation. Not bummed about vacation for sure, but I love that I can already feel I am getting stronger and my back is feeling so much less tight. I really like that I am not at all good at yoga, and it does not matter. I am totally challenged and I am already striving to improve. I bought a yoga mat..and it seems like it makes me sweat more, but none the less, I am at least at the point where I can do some of the stretches at home. Doesn’t even come close to a class, where I wake up sore the next am, but I hope to at least keep my back from stiffening up if I cannot make it to a class…and that is the challenge, clearing a couple hours to go. So phase 1 of 100 miler prep is well under way…..yoga, aka get my back in gear, aka I never knew I was this out of shape, is phase 1.
Phase 2 will be getting reacquainted with my old friend the bike. To build my endurance, and avoid killing my joints, I plan to add one evening a week of a ride or a trainer ride, instead of adding another run. Haven’t started yet, as with vacation this week will be hectic. Plus, I just started yoga..so one thing at a time. Doing this and at least 1 yoga class a week will be a challenge. May not always happen, but I figure 1 evening of each is a reasonable goal.
Phase 3 will be the power walk. This is still a month or 2 off. One morning run will be given up to practice walking fast. I have to see how far I get in the hour or so I have before work. The goal would be to get 5 miles at 12-13 minute a mile. To me, this just makes sense when so much of a 100 is spent walking. I figure when it cools off from 103 freakin‘ degrees at 700pm, I can practice in the evenings a bit too. This seems like it will be a pretty easy thing to add, and should be a fun “easy” day, while still being very productive to the overall goal.
Phase 4, is the long run weekend. Don’t need to start these for awhile, and not sure what the final distance will be. I figure this is the part I have plenty of time to plot out, as I still have several weeks until I need to start gearing my training towards this goal.
So, there it is. The products of insomnia. truth is I think I kinda enjoy plotting out these long runs, and doing the planning.
This photo is from last summer, on a day I remember being insanely hot, and I remember feeling like I had sweated out my entire body fluid mass 2 times over. This weekend’s long run felt that way. There are just some days it ain’t easy in the Texas summer. I guess the happy thought is only 3 more months of summer left! Maybe by late Oct or early Nov, we might get a little break. Ok, that was slight sarcasm.
Not much to report here. Nothing big or exciting going on. Trying to keep a low profile before heading out on a 3 day weekend to the mountains in a week! I cannot wait to get in some great running. Did a little homework, and I have a few trails mapped out to try. Been trying to stay late every night at work this week to make up a little of the vay-cay time, and it just hasn’t been happening. Ever feel totally unmotivated? I think I am a little bored at work right now. I am hoping it is a phase.
I am taking my third yoga class tomorrow, so I am doing good so far making it a regular thing. I’d like to go twice a week, but I figure if I make it once, I can live with that. Still far from knowing anything, but at least I recognize a few of the stretches now. I am really liking it. It is like lifting weights and getting a massage all at once. I feel great after wards, and I just know my back is happy!
Did a 19 miler last weekend. Figured it was close enough, and the route ended at 19 and when it is hot, and beaming sunlight, it is hard to add on. This weekend won’t be quite as tough. Just trying to keep a 20 mile base all summer before the 100 miler ramp up. It has actually been kinda nice to not have 30 mile runs booked. It is somewhat refreshing. At night if I cannot sleep, I plot out my 100 miler training plan…inevitably I end up falling asleep. I guess I find planning relaxing! Anyhow, figure I’ve got plenty of time before I put it to paper (or computer screen), but I am laying the foundation now: weekly yoga class, got my road bike back to resume indoor rides on the trainer, plotting out a weekly speed walk…anyhow, gotta a plan for this one, and I intend to make it work for me.
So, since this post makes me seem pretty darn boring, I will end with some things currently on my radar: go see WALL-E, it is the best movie I have seen in a long time, can’t wait for the new season of Mad Men starting next week. If you didn’t see season 0ne, Netflix it, you are missing out otherwise. I am reading A Walk in the Woods for the third time. I love that book…I plan to spend one morning next week wrapped in a blanket, on our cabin’s balcony, with a cup of coffee and that book….
I think Oprah is the one who coined the term an “ahhh ha” moment (or maybe I am wrong). Anyhow, had one tonight when my friend Kelli took me to my first yoga class. The short story is about 4 years ago I think I first noticed my back hurting, and it morphed into sciatica. Sitting though traffic or a movie was VERY uncomfortable. Michelle introduced me to getting sports massages regularly and that helped, but long runs still crippled my back. Things would screw it up that didn’t seem like they should: riding in a plane, sitting on a bench at a restaurant, using a different pillow. I was never unable to get out of bed, but I was more and more uncomfortable. Well, at the yoga class I could feel all the tight muscle adhesions coming apart. I could feel my spine decompressing. I know, kinda cheesy, and new age-y, but the truth is, I never realized how much discomfort I was really in until tonight. I kinda had an “ah-ha” moment, that my back hurts most of the time. I honestly almost got teary at the end of the class realizing how uncomfortable I am. Well, I am going to do something about it. I am committed to making this a regular part of my life. Maybe I won’t always be able to attend a class, but I will take enough to at least be able to some basics for my back on my own. I know this is my ticket to finishing rocky raccoon. there is a saying when your back hurts, your whole body is miserable. this is my undoing in ultras. My back starts to hurt early on, and it’s hard to ignore.
Don’t get me wrong, I have it pretty good…I know there are folks out there who truly have chronic debilitating pain, and I am not claiming to be one of them…but a healthy 35 year old, who is supposedly “in shape” should be able to sit through a 2 hour plane ride and not wake up the next day unable to turn their neck.
I also noticed how much leaner the yoga folks seem to be than the running folks. Gotta work off a few pounds in the next few months, and hopefully this will help. then again, I guess you don’t finish yoga with queso, chips, and beer like you do after a 30 miler!
so, if you have not tried anything like this and you are a runner, I cannot encourage you enough. Sure a few gifted folks can run, and run, and never feel the wear and tear, but most of us do. And isn’t the goal always to be a lifelong runner?
Thanks to Kelli for giving me a gentle push…
Here is a photo of me doing something I SWORE I would never do again: run 100 miles. Well, more like run 50, and walk/ cry for 50. Well, I’ve been thinking about doing it again for quite awhile, and I think it is time to come out of the closet. Rocky Raccoon 2009 is on. Now, there are a lot of reasons for me to run RR, and a lot of reasons for me to not run it! First off, the reason I even thought about it is I have unfinished business. I can do better. I did Vermont on a whim, and not really trained. I wasn’t totally untrained, having done Miwok 100K 8 weeks earlier, but I’d had a month of doing nothing before I decided to do Vermont. I didn’t have months to wrap my head around the distance. I did do some good psychology before, reading lots of positive race reports, and mentally really focusing, and convincing myself I would finish. Guess it didn’t do much good, because at 68 miles I broke down into tears and begged Stephanie to let me quit. Why? Well, my feet were torn up, my knees were achy, my back and shoulders hurt, I was sick of being out there, I was having terrible chafing, BUT, I was really fine. I wasn’t throwing up, I wasn’t dizzy, I just had a lot of little discomforts I had not accounted for, and they added up to one massive discomfort. So, why would I want to do this again? I am usually pretty good at fighting my own mental demons. In Vermont, I let them get to me , and had it not been for a very good friend pacing me, I would have let the demons win. I feel like this time around I know what I will encounter and can plan for it a little bit. Not saying it will be easy, it’s 100 freakin‘ miles, but I know I CAN get over the really, really rough patch. Also, I don’t know how much longer I can do this crap. Life gets in the way, my somewhat chronic backache gets in the way, and well, I don’t want to look back and regret I didn’t give it a go.
There are benefits to doing RR too. It is an “easy” 100. I don’t need variables like mountains, difficult to follow trails, or remoteness at this point in the game. I know a lot of folks at this one. It is a HUGE uplift to see someone you know and get encouragement. Plus, I love meeting other ultrarunners, and I don’t really like being alone on the trail for huge stretches. This race is full of chances to see other runners. I also have a couple friends I know are doing it that are similar paces to me. Mark and Ryan are in, and we could easily at least start out together. I also won’t book a huge out of town trip and have to take time off work, it will just be a very painful Monday morning after the race.
Now the cons: it’s 100 miles. Can you say ouch? It’s 5 loops in Huntsville, Texas. Try as I might to convince myself it is a beautiful, serene setting, it just ain’t no Rocky Mountains, or Sierras. It’s winter. Now last year, I think the low was like 59. I can do that. Can I do 25 degrees all night at a snail’s pace? My hands get cold at 65 degrees, and when I did the 50 miler there in 27 degrees, my nose ran the whole time, and the skin under my nose got completely raw from wiping it for 9 hours straight. Gee, this is sounding more and more fun by the minute!
BUT, there is something about taking on a challenge just out of your comfort zone, and seeing it through. Nothing beats the feeling of completing something you didn’t always think you could. I am working on an assault plan. I figure I have about another month before I need to have some long runs mapped out. And that is another plus, RR lacks extreme terrain, so I can mix in town lake, and road runs into my training. I remember a lot of long, lonely weekends on the greenbelt for Bandera last year, and it will be nice to plan some runs I can get some friends involved with.
Whew, I guess I am done with my confession. In other news, my Spokane marathon is out, as I have a work related class to attend in San Diego, and my hospital cannot pay for 2 conferences (the joys of working on a skeleton budget). So, San Diego in October it is. I am currently recovering from wearing stylish- wedge heeled shoes to work. I don’t know what in the heck I was thinking that I could wear shoes like that. My run was painful this am to say the least. Kinda pitiful, I want to run 100 miles, but cannot survive 10 hours in high heeled shoes…
These pictures don’t have much to do with anything going on for me right now, but they are some of the first pictures taken with my fancy camera. In a few weeks I hope to get some great shots in the Rockies of wild flowers, and hopefully some wildlife.
Coming to the end of a 3 day weekend. Can’t really report anything exciting, but sometimes we need that. My goal was to be boring and not book every minute of the weekend. Achieved one goal this weekend: shopping. Did I ever mention I hate to shop? Not sure when this happened. Ok, I like going to buy running stuff, but buying work clothes, or clothes for any occasion that does not involve a pair of running shoes, is just torture to me. Nothing ever fits…at 4’11” I can only shop in petites, which limits me to a handful of stores. Also, clothes just don’t come in normal sizes anymore. WTF is a size 00? Not only am I 4’11”, but I have hips, and years of running has given me thicker than normal legs. All this pretty much cancels out ever finding pants that fit, or at least the pants whose waist fit someone who is 4’11”. So normally, I head out to shop, hit several stores, and go home with nothing, and super frustrated I just wasted half a day. I hit the outlet mall on a whim, yesterday, and had a major score. First store I hit gave me 3 pairs of pants, a dress, 3 shirts, shoes, and jewelery to go with. Done, after just one store. Don’t know when I started shopping like a man, but apparently I do. I also don’t worry too much about what I wear to work. I figure as long as it is professional but keeps a low profile…it will do (I feel no need to call attention to myself with wardrobe). I also don’t work in a creative, or artisitic field, so I always figure, “what does it matter?” Anyhow, this was a HUGE relief. I’d been putting this off for a couple months. And I was at the point where several of my work clothes were faded beyond recognition. Professionalism is a strange thing to me. Why should it really matter what you wear to work? Why aren’t jeans ok? As long as you are doing what you are supposed to it shouldn’t matter, but we all know it does. Maybe someday all employers will becomre progressive and realize people are happier if they are comfortable.
Had pretty good running over the weekend. Lots of road running, so my old back likes to get ache-y. This Friday relief is on the way though: my first yoga class. If it helps your back as much as everyone says, I hope to make it a weekly occurance to perhaps replace on day of running. I have no idea what to expect, so wait and see.
Counting down until vacation! Now that July is here, I am down to just a couple more weekends until I get mountians. Whoo hoo.
Nothing too exciting going on in my simple life. Here are a couple pics from a weekend in Possum Kingdom, visiting the fam. The turtle literally chased us in the water, begging for a treat. We nicked named him “Frito”, as that seemed to be the treat he liked the most. I believe he is eating a piece of cheddar cheese in this picture.
Started my weekend with a nice pre-dawn 6 miler at Walnut Creek, complete with headlamps, a running partner, and Pancake. Poor Mark turned his ankle bad, and I feel bad it was on my planned adventure. Hopefully if he is reading this, he is back up and running. Only managed a couple 7 milers while visiting family this weekend. Possum Kingdom is like Bandera with a lake, so the roads are quite hilly , and at least I felt like my runs were challenging. It poured Saturday night, so Sunday am, I was treated to very cool weather.
Life goes on in a Texas summer filled with long work days, and hot nights. Mike and I booked a long weekend in Rocky Mountain National Park, and I cannot wait. We weren’t going to do anything this summer, but I thought “Wait a minute….I work hard, life is short, so go for it!” Mike challenged me to the fact I cannot take a vacation without booking a race, and there isn’t even so much as a 10K on this one. I will still be running, if my lungs let me in 7000-10000 ft (we’ll see how asthmatic lungs like that), but if I go slow, I go slow..it is not a race, remember? I’ve been researching hikes in my spare time, and the Glacier Gorge trail seems like a definite.
I’ve been working a little extra lately, but had a last minute decision to take 4th of July off. I need a 3 day weekend, and my last vacation since January when I started this job, was to Boston, and it’s not like that was relaxing. I need to work on not feeling guilty about sometimes putting life before work. I know a lot of my friends who read this are like me. Some of the best career advice I ever got was about taking time off. I was once told “Once that time is gone, it’s gone, you never get it back. You’ll never look back and say “I am happy I worked a lot.” I can say I am happy if I work hard, but that is advice to think about. Balance and keeping it in perspective….
Starting to firm up some fall/ winter running plans, but nothing will get posted until definite. I have to admit, while I was bummed about not doing a summer race at first, the time off races and having to get in 30 mile runs is nice. I think as long as I can keep up 20 milers all summer, I should be ready to transition to some of the tougher runs in the fall. Plus, it is very energizing to have the time off doing a race every couple weeks. Wait a second, isn’t that what the elite runners do? Take a period of time off each year. Maybe it’s for a good reason!
Still working on simplfying my life. After this post, the computer is going away for the night, not to come out again. it’s hard, but we all have our procrastination/ time wasters. I’m slowing reducing mine!