This weekend I kicked off my committed 100 miler training. From here on out, I have a plan, and I hope to stay focused. My first phase just calls for 20 mile runs weekend, after weekend. The goal is at the end of September, 20 miles should feel easy. So, yesterday I met with the usual crew for one of Steve’s road runs. We met at Far West for a Balcones run, which is a nice hilly route though one of Austin’s prettiest neighborhoods. I just might be made for the loop format of RR100, because, mentally I do better with lots of shorter loops strung together instead of a big long run. I did 8.5 with the group, then 5 more with steve, and that left me 7 on my own. The loop I added would have left me at 18.5, and I did not want to come up short on my first “real” training run. As with any big undertaking, there are lots of moments of self doubt, and I knew I had to kick things off on a positive note, and hit 20 miles, not 19, not 18.5, but 20. So, I added a little loop on Hart Lane, where on a side street there is a little neighborhood park with a trail. I did this, ran up a couple big hills and came out on North Hills Dr., where I realized I would end up over 20. I lived in this neighborhood a few years, and had many wonderful routes I used to love doing. I guess I went into autopilot on an old route, because I turned the wrong way onto Far West, my home stretch. Didn’t take me long to realize my mistake, but Far West is one of Austin’s notorious hills, and I had a killer hill to walk up (my Garmin had beeped 20 long ago, so I felt no shame power walking these bonus miles). I was out of water long ago, so it was a long, hot thirsty walk back, but I was happy to keep up 16 minute pace walk miles. Made it a little over 22 miles. Whoohoo! First long run, done! all in all, it was not too bad. I was pretty functional the rest of the day, and I am just a little sore in my quads to day, but I think that is from the really steep down hills at the park (it was so steep there were steps), and on Far West.

The main issue with this run, was terrible chafing. It must be nice for some runners who have thighs that don’t rub together, but for those of us who do, I swear, anything over a couple hours, and my skin starts to wear off. I’d like to think this is because of muscle, but let’s face it, it’s fat. So, my wonderful Nike trail shorts, with 2 nice zipper pockets for gels, just ain’t happening on the longer runs. Darn…these shorts are awesome otherwise. Skirts are a no go for really long runs too….they cause the same problem. So, I am still looking for shorts that don’t cause massive excoriation of skin. Not an issue if temps at Rocky permit capris, but I have a lot of long runs until capri weather, and it would be nice to keep some of my skin intact.

This morning, Pancake and I had our usual greenbelt run. It was pretty quiet out there, we didn’t see another runner. I was a little sore, but not bad. Picked up tacos on the way home (that’s part of the routine), and I found myself really longing for summer to finally be over. I had a hot chocolate craving, and hot coco in 90 degrees just doesn’t seem right. Time for positive thinking, as I really think there are only 4-5 more weekends of summer, and then hopefully at least mornings will be in the 60s.

Anyone up for a Bastrop trail run in the next few weekends?


Yum, yum, yum…

Here is another totally made up recipe. It is very easy, but you need to shop at Whole Foods or Central Market to make it. Whole Foods has frozen bags of peeled, uncooked shrimp for $10. the sad thing is, that is cheaper now than it is to buy chicken. I’ve made this twice now, and it turned out great. It is one of my easy, make it after work, tastes better than you would think recipes….

Shrimp Spaghetti

1 bag Whole Foods frozen, peeled, uncooked shrimp
Olive Oil
1 bottle good white wine
Whipped butter
salt, pepper, powdered onion, cayenne pepper
fresh Parmesan cheese
1 package Whole Foods spaghetti

Thaw the shrimp. Cook it in the olive oil, and season with all the spices, or whatever you like. Take the shrimp out of the pan, and save any juice it made while cooking. Add about 1 cup of the wine, and about 1/4 cup of the butter, and more seasonings. Turn the heat up, and let this mixture boil away until it gets thick. Cook the spaghetti. Set it aside for now. return the shrimp to the wine sauce after it has thickened up, and add any save “shrimp juice”. Now, pour it all over the cooked spaghetti, and add lots of fresh grated cheese. I found the key to this being so tasty, but so simple is using really good ingredients: good shrimp, good wine, and really good cheese. I served it with sauteed swiss chard, which was super yummy, and looked really pretty when cooked. This makes enough for a couple nights of food.

Training kicks off this weekend! Not sure yet if I have Monday off, but I am hoping to, and that will help make it a good running weekend. Monday is free yoga day, another good thing.


Learning to walk…

Ok, so maybe my walk at Mueller was not this scenic, but the hike and bike there is really shaping up. there is a great section with a rocket ship sculpture and very impressive gardens. I’ll have to take some pictures. It is just a very hot, and exposed walk along Manor road with lots of cars whizzing by to get there. After my run yesterday I came home and got Pancake and plenty of water and decided to do a little experiment: see how fast I was walking these days.

I wore my garmin, and the plan was to see what I could cover in about an hour. Now the goal would be 4 miles in an hour. I wanted to see what I could do walking briskly, but not at an exaggerated fast pace which tends to tighten up the lower back and hips. It turns out I can walk about 17 min/ mile, briskly while remaining comfortable. Gotta get that down a little quicker. So, in an hour, with a couple stops for water I could only cover 3 miles. This is going to be a really fun part of my 100 mile training…learn to be a better walker! When it finally cools down some (hopefully within just a little over a month), I can work on this in the evenings after work too. If I can get it down to 15 min/ mile, I figure I can still keep up a good forward motion pace when night time hits at RR. And, seeing that a huge chunk of time of that race is at night, I will be walking a lot.

I have to confess after the morning’s activities, I felt a little discouraged. I had run about 12.5 before the walk, and while it was not difficult, I was certainly happy to be done. Then the walk, which was slower than I wanted, and today I knew I only had time to run 6 miles or so. Doesn’t really seem like ultrarunning material here. I know I have to keep positive though, and remember that it is a loooooong journey, and that it won’t happen overnight. Plus, long runs in the Texas summer just are not easy. they take an incredible amount out of you, comparative to the effort put in. While I haven’t spent the summer doing mega miles of running, I have been working on focusing my mind. I just have to trust the motivation will be there in another couple weeks when the miles need to start.


The weekend is almost here…

Not much interesting going on for me. This is my last weekend until, “official” training starts, so I plan to have a couple fun, low key workouts, starting with yoga tomorrow night. I better start doing some more races soon, because I realize my blog about running, doesn’t really have much going on these days.

If you have time, check out my friend Melissa’a blog. It has the coolest craft links. They are super inspiring. Unfortunately, I am so bad at crafts, art, or decorating. I will at least pat myself on the back, and say I can cook. But, crafts…forget it. I never make things that end up even close to what I envisioned. I tried scrapbooking for awhile, and I just get antsy to finish, and would lose my “vision” Anyhow, these craft blogs are great, and if you do this kind of thing, good for you..I sure admire folks who can sew and knit.

Have a good weekend…


A hint of fall…

For a weekend I had very little planned, it turned out to be a good “pre-RR100” training weekend. Steve and I ran 13 yesterday, and felt pretty good. I tried an experiment and went to yoga right after the run. I was tired, but I am experimenting with ways to get more time on my feet with less miles. I figured the yoga class+run = a good solid 4 hours or so of hard work. I had a few friends over for Olympic viewing, after lots of good food and wine, I ended up in bed kinda late. I woke up this morning with plans to do the greenbelt, but I was soooo tired, and sore from yoga. I considered just doing a quickie around Mueller. My little black and white 4 legged training partner forced me reluctantly out the door. So glad I went. Since today appears to be our only chance for rain in forever, the temps were surprisingly pleasant. We did a nice little 8 mile run at the greenbelt including the grotto, and didn’t see another runner until we hit the hill of life again. It was a great run where I just get lost in my thoughts and never really think about the actual running part, and that I am hot, or tired, or pushing. I was snapped back into reality when I realized the water bottle I’d been sharing with Pancake was just about gone, and knew I would need to wrap up the run soon. It is such a treat to spend the morning this way. I really wish I got to do it more often.


Odds and ends…

Can we at least pretend it isn’t miserable out? I am burning out on summer. I hit a little microclimate pocket on my run today, and for about 10 seconds there was a slight crispness to the air. I just long for the days of needing to throw on just a long sleeve. I don’t need snow, or frost. Just cool enough for a lightweight long sleeve. I am trying to be an optimist though, and people think I am crazy when I say “Only 8 more weeks of 100 degrees left!” Just trying the glass half full view.

The week has flown by. I went to a weird-o conference on Tuesday. The Texas Trauma Coordinators forum. I realized trauma people are kinda like ultrarunners…kinda weird, geeky, and obsessive in their own way. Except instead of being obsessed with running, they are obsessed with trauma…a little strange. Wednesday I left work early for a dr appt. I broke down and sought care for my strange affliction of my fingertips drying out, cracking open and bleeding, and the accompanying acne and only happens around my mouth, nose and eyelids. Both started together about 6 months ago. Well, I didn’t even know this one, but apparently if you have asthma, take an inhaled steroid, have a nickel sensitivity, and had eczema on your hands as a child, but not as an adult, you are now the perfect storm to get these two seemingly unrelated skin issues at the same time: pseudo-acne only around the mouth, nose, and eyelids, and peeling cracking fingertips, but randomly on different fingertips, not all. very strange, but at least it is a real thing and not just an “allergy”, so I am loaded with creams, and my hippy, anti-western medicine friends will gasp, antibiotics for a few months. Skin is weird…I so envy those with clear skin…ain’t happened for me since I was about 10 years old. Oh well, I know there are much worse problems to have…and that was probably too much info anyways…

Just glad tomorrow is Friday. I know a lot of my friends have been staying up late all week like I have watching the Olympics, and getting 1-2 hours less of sleep a night hit me hard today. I figure I’ll scarifice the sleep for something that only happens every 4 years, but I am ready for something other than swimming…

Have a good weekend….


I guess this is what they call training…

Today was an 18-20 miler with Steve and Megan. Yesterday’s run was fairly brutal with crazy humidity. So, I was not super -psyched for today. Woke up this am, ready to roll with a mid run magic bullet packed. (magic bullet-aka Dublin Dr. Pepper). I decided today would be get-er-done mode, where it is all about just finishing what we set out to do. About 2 miles in, I felt a bug or grit or something in my eye. I stopped and wiped it out, and kept on…but the damage was done. In the last few years from time to time, I experience a strange phenomena I call “the eye.” A tiny little irritant enters my eye, and it completely overreacts…it will swell all around the eye, and the inside of the eye, and it looks discolored and bruised. It’s a little achy, but it looks much, much worse than it feels. It is really just incredibly embarrassing. Here is an old picture of me in my old lady pajamas, when I had the eye. Notice there is not much of an opening in that eye, so I can’t really see out of it if the eye occurs. Like I said, it really just very embarrassing, especially when it happens at work, and I spend the rest of the day telling everyone I really am ok, no, it doesn’t really hurt, no, I don’t need to go to the ER, no, I did not get hit, etc., etc. So, I spent the run hoping I would not see anyone I know. This time, I got a bonus, as my throat started swelling too. I had a strange sensation of a lump in my throat, and my voice started changing. Steve and Megan were pretty nice to put up with me. And, that is what the run was really all about…it was great to do a hard one with friends, where we had fun joking and laughing the whole time. Steve had the great idea to go by my car and get sunglasses, and then the eye was much less of an issue. Out of sight (literally, I couldn’t see!), out of mind. The mid run Dr. Pepper helped too, and we finished 19 miles. I was a bit of a baby the last few miles, as it had become annoying squinting out of one eye for the last 3 hours, with a sore throat. So I am calling this silly run Rocky raccoon training run #1. Sometimes it is about pushing on when you don’t really want to. Not that I was that badly off, but when it is over 80 degrees and you can wring out your shirt, you will look for any little excuse to call it a day. Thanks to Steve and Megan for what turned out to be a fun run, on what really wasn’t too bad of a day weather wise (80 at our 6am start, but there was a breeze!)

I continue to spend most of my days with very sore arms. The yoga headstand is kicking my ass. Just when the soreness starts to go away, I take another class, and it comes back. But, my lower back, butt, and hips, are holding up much better on my longer run, so yoga works. Thanks to Kitty for being my frequent yoga partner…

That’s about it…I am using the eye as an excuse to have a lazy Sunday. Olympics today and Mad Men tonight (my current favorite show…soooo good). Later today, Mike and I might go and try the newest microbrew in Austin, 512. A great way to end the weekend.


Not the smartest move…

Mark and I had another Walnut creek run before work yesterday. while I appreciate the company, and it is pretty cool to get in a trail run before an early workday, the 4am wake up just sucks. Anyhow, I guess that goes without saying. The run went well, but it was bound to happen sooner or later that I tripped over something. Mark had already had his fall on this trail, with a huge, swollen ankle being the result. I manged to jam my big toe into a mega tree root (or at least it felt that way, probably wasn’t much bigger than a twig though), and it felt as if I were launched into the air, being catapulted several feet. This is probably not what really happened. I probably tripped over a little twig and just went down. I landed on a part of the trail that was really just a big pile of dust. But, I felt like I had built up the velocity of a crash test dummy. I must have blood vessels made of kevlar, because I never bruise. Now, I feel the bruise, but I never get a big, black and blue battle scar….I will just hobble around the day after a fall without a scratch on me trying to convince everyone I really am pretty beat up. So, this was the case. I can barely touch my knee, but it looks fine. The thing I do when I fall, is tense every single muscle in my body. the next day I always feel like I was hit by a semi, from the super tense muscle hitting the ground at velocity.

I had an off site class at work yesterday that let out at 4pm. It was really silly to go back to work for just a couple hours, so I called it a day, and had the option to go home and take a nap, or go to yoga, since I had almost a whole afternoon. I chose yoga.

Silly me. it was another total ass-kicking class by the yoga place’s (is it called a studio?) owner. Handstand practices, and buckets of sweat later, I am on my home. I proceed to down 2 bowls of chicken and dumplings, a salad, 2 glasses of red wine, and a bowl of green tea ice cream (try the Boulder brand…it is unreal). Not very yogic of me to completely stuff myself. By 930, I had collapsed into bed, too sore to even type an email.

As expected, this am felt like I was hit my a truck. My neck hurts, my shoulders hurt, and my stupid lack of core muscles is so sore again I cannot cough or laugh. The entire scenario is all my fault: trail run in the dark = likely fall. Completely stiff, ungraceful person falling, then going to do the hardest yoga class they are not really even capable of = pain. Oh well, not the first stupid thing I have done, and I am sure it won’t be the last. at least I can type now…


My latest challenge…

So I went to my best Yoga class yet this week. I went to a class done by the owner of the place I have been going Dharma Yoga. I’ve really liked every class I’ve gone to there, and I love that it is not a gym, as I always feel horribly out of place in gyms. Anyhow, this was the first class where every pore in my body was pouring sweat, and the next day every muscle was sore. I couldn’t cough or laugh, my stomach muscles were soooo sore. But, it was a great feeling, as obviously if I am that sore these muscles (or lack of) need some work. My arms were killing me from the big challenge of the class: a handstand. It is a mega challenge to do one with straight locked arms and legs. It is my new goal. I had major help from the instructor, who was very motivational, and more like a coach, and I did one with tons of spotting. But, I am no where near to doing one on my own. so, more to come, I intend to go one night this week, and hopefully keep working on it. It’s really hard to explain if you have never tried it. For me, it’s like saying I want to run a marathon, when I currently can only run a mile. But ambition is a good thing, and goals are a good thing…so handstand, here I come!

Starting to think of my training schedule for RR. So far I am considering the Decker marathon and Warda as a couple warm up races. today, as I walked around the block in 105 degrees, I decided my goal this winter is NOT to complain I am cold. I intend to layer whatever clothing is needed for me to stay warm. This summer has been so rough, I feel I must savor our winter. We’ll see how I do on that….plus, I am determined to stay warm for all of RR.

Finally, this is a pretty mellow weekend(since last weekend I was hiking up mountains!). Today I cooked a double batch of chicken and dumplings. Here is the recipe, it is truly one of my favorites and specialties. It’s kinda zen….no set quantities of ingredients, you just have to feel it, but I encourage you to try it.

Clea’s “Let’s pretend it is cold out” Chicken and Dumplings
1-2 pounds chicken breast cooked and shredded, save the broth the chicken makes while it cooks. (I cook the chicken in a crock pot with 1/2 cup water and lots of seasonings)

About 1 cup of chopped carrots, chopped celery, chopped yellow onion, and 1 cut up potato. Saute all the veggies in a big soup pot in a bunch of olive oil. When the onions and getting translucent, add a couple big heaping spoonfuls of flour. stir it around and coat all the veggies. Add the chicken broth you saved, about 1/2 cup of milk, and add enough canned chicken broth to cover all the veggies. Add salt, pepper, and any other spices you like. It should be slightly thicker than soup. Turn the heat to low, and let it simmer until the potatoes are done.

Add the shredded chicken. Now make the dumplings: 1 cup flour, 2 tsp. baking powder, 1 tsp salt, 2 Tbsp melted butter, and 1/2 cup milk. Mix it up by hand, and it should be slightly sticky. If it is too sticky, add a little more flour. Now, pinch little globs of dumpling dough and drop it into the simmering veggie/ chicken mixture. Cover, and simmer on low for about 15- 20 minutes. When done, the dumplings are fluffy on the inside, and have grown in size quite a bit.

Don’t let the simplicity of this fool you, it is super good, and is even better on night 2. eat it and pretend it is a cold winter night. also, a terrific post race or post hard work out food, as it really fills you up.