Chick heads taste good, and new shorts…

Just finished decapitating the head off a chick cupcake...
Just finished decapitating the head off a chick cupcake…

Hooray for half days.  I worked a half day today, but Jasper had a full day of daycare.  I was able to get my groceries done (major weekend time suck for most of us, right?), and I had an REI dividend burning a hole in my pocket.  Somehow my pea-brain doesn’t consider it real money, so I totally splurged and got a pair of biking shorts for spinning.  I’ve been riding my bike about once a week, and my bike shorts are about 10 years old.  No kidding.  They are super unflattering, and were cheap back when I bought them.  The new ones….OMG….they are incredible.  Much more flattering (if such a thing could be said about bike shorts), and sooo cushy.  It’s amazing how getting a new piece of gear is so motivating.  I cannot wait until Jasper is bike riding so I can get out on the mountain bike trails again.   I’m too chicken too go ride in the dark in the morning, so for now trainer it is….

This week was a two steps forward, two steps back week.  The fact I had a work out buddy every morning at 5am made me kinda nuts.  Yes, I’m happy I got my running and biking done, but I LONG for the day that getting up at 430 actually gives me a couple hours of me time to workout.  I am pretty motivated and willing to get up early, but no matter how early I get up, Jasper seems to follow.  I have until about 630, when I need to start getting ready for work,  and if he actually slept, I could do A LOT in the that time.  Meh.

On the plus side, we started using an app called Choiceworks for kids who communicate better with pictures.  The ease for us to do day to day things like getting dressed, brushing teeth, etc, was tenfold with this app.  I’ll spare details, but contact me if you are interested and if you think your kid may need something like this.    I am pretty blown away by how much it changed things, and I think this could make my life much easier.

I’ve got a great weekend coming up with a 16 miler tomorrow and 8-9 hill run on Sunday. I’m getting a massage, and we’re grilling out tonight.  I love spring!

Ok…off to get the chick cupcake killer and his new Easter basket…

The stroller strikes again…

I hope to see some of this flower this summer...
I hope to see some of this flower this summer…

Jasper is on a kick for the last couple weeks of waking up at 5am.  I strive to get up and get my run done before he wakes up but I am not going to get up at 330 to try and beat his 5am wake up.  So I’ve been running on the treadmill, trying to get him used to the idea of entertaining himself while I run.  He’s been pretty good.  I think if I was able to get up before him and start a run,  then once he’s up set him up with snacks and entertainment, and finish off a few more miles, I could squeak out 10-12 miles on it.  I’ve been pulling off 6-7 miles which is pretty good.  Today since he was up, I kinda wanted to get outside, so we did the stroller.  I admit initially I was a little irritated he was up, because I kinda wanted to do a run on my own.  But once we got going he was really good, the stroller makes the run harder (a plus if you are training for something), and as I often do, I remind myself the day will come where I will miss the fact he was once so little he would go running in the stroller with me.  The weather is warming up, and there was a beautiful full moon.  Not a bad deal.  I guess my point to all this rambling, is even though Jasp is getting older and older, as far as running goes, it’s still all about get it in however I can!   I admit an awesome stroller and treadmill help quite a bit. 🙂

Mike and I have decided to do a few days this summer in Colorado.  Colorado has sorta become our vacation destination.  It’s a short, direct flight, and off season rates in the ski areas make it a pretty reasonable place to stay.  Plus, the weather is wonderful in the summer, it is the best place to run in the summer (no humidity!), it’s a beer lover’s paradise, and they have lots of disc golf courses for Mike.  We have a deal when we travel I can do a marathon or less on a family vacation  (no ultras allowed!).  So I found a half marathon.  The half marathon distance isn’t a huge challenge for me, but how about a mountain half over 9000 ft?   That’s a different story.  So, yes, hills on the treadmill, and hills on the roads it will be until mid summer.  I love it though.  My favorite courses are hard ones.  See, Jasper is doing me a favor giving me an extra 35 + pounds to push in the morning!

Treadmill parmesan…

Perhaps the best picture I have...
Perhaps the best picture I have…

It was a good weekend (well, aren’t all weekends good?).  I felt like I did a lot on my list and didn’t feel like I was running around too terribly…just a little bit.  Saturday  I enjoyed a gorgeous 15 mile run.  Everything was looking green and it was one of those mornings I was so thankful we have so many great places to run in Austin.   Sunday was a contrast.  Jasy got up at 500, so I offered him a run in the stroller to let Mike sleep for awhile longer.  It was in the 40s with a brutal headwind.  Jasp was toasty with his sleeping bag, blanket, Baby owl lovie, and Angry Birds on my phone (all under a weather shield).  I was super cold and wishing for spring the whole time.  But these are the runs that leave me empowered….the really tough ones.

Treadmilling update:  LOVE IT!!!   Looks like I will average a couple runs a week on it.   With this (hopefully) last cold snap, I intend to stick to the treadmill until it warms back up.  Why run in the cold if I don’t have to?  Every runner should have one of these.  I know they get a bad rap for being boring, but in the age of Netflix there is endless entertainment to be had on a run.   I am really trying to mix up paces and hills on it, but both of them are so hard.  There is no cheating on a treadmill.  Once you up the pace, you are committed.   I spent the morning rewatching “Exit Through the Gift Shop” after being inspired by some cool new street art I saw this weekend.    I’ll finish it on tomorrow’s treadmill run, which is such a win-win.  Like I said, I love this thing!

And in the vegan cooking world, tonight I made Eggplant Parmesan from the Vegenomicon.  100% vegan.

photo
Please forgive the horrible photo quality, but doesn’t it look yummy?

It turned out sooooo good.  I loved the almond/ sesame topping that mimics the taste of parmesan.   It really tasted like super rich, creamy, eggplant parmesan.  So exciting when a vegan recipe works!  But, I will say this about the Vegenomicon.  Best vegan cookbook I’ve used so far, but the recipes take for freaking ever.  These are not quick and easy.  Not always the best thing when evenings are so busy during the week.  It was enough work that the rest of week’s meal planning will be be my lame-o weekday standards:   stirfrys, grilled chicken, and at least one night of takeout.  But at least for another night I have super yummy eggplant to eat.

Ok, bed calls, got a treadmill/ movie date at 5am.

 

The dreaded off season…

photo
Jasper loves to play with gumballs but not eat them.

The 50K I did a couple weeks ago was the last big push until the fall.   There just simply isn’t much going on race wise in Texas over the spring/ summer.     Maybe it’s good we have an off season, because I love racing.  If we had stuff year round, I would sign up year round.   I know there’s the whole argument for just going and running for the sake of running, but I just love the process of all the training for that big event off in the future.   I love pushing through 20 milers on the weekends.   I guess I must love being tired all the time or something.  Now in full disclosure, I have a couple shorter things in the upcoming months.  A 10K in a couple weeks, and I’ll probably manage a half marathon this summer as part of our vacation.  Here’s how I cope with a long off season though:

-I schedule something for the fall every year.  It motivates me all spring/ summer long.  The last few years I’ve done a small, local marathon in October and that seems to do the trick.  I also try and keep up interesting runs.  Long, pretty runs through Brushy Creek, maybe an occasional trail run.

-I force a long run every 3-4 weeks of at about 16 miles.  For me this is long enough to make those 20 plus milers not seem so impossible when the time comes do to them.

-I look for other challenges.   I don’t have a lot of time to try tackling anything very big, but this spring and summer, I want to improve my hillwork on the treadmill, start taking spin classes here and there, and continue to work on my yoga.

I admit though, I’m a bit of a hopeless case.  I love it when fall rolls around and racing season starts, but that is a long way off.   At least I’ll be saving on those entry fees for the next few months!

Treddie and meals…

So shiny and pretty...
So shiny and pretty…

I premiered the treddie this morning.  I got up and hit it by 515, and Mike and Jasper slept through it.  Jasper also slept past 3am.  Victory x2.  I attempted a hill workout.  A few things I realized:

The pace I set it at felt so much faster than running outside at the same pace.   Why is this?

Hills on the treadmill are no joke.  The hill workout I tried got up to a 10% incline and I felt like I had to hold on.  It was so hard.  I was dripping.  I lasted 2 miles, and brought it down to just a steady run at 1.5% incline.  This will definitely be something to work on.

The miles started slow and went quicker as I went on.  I did 7 miles and the first 2 seemed like an eternity.  After a while they seemed to go by faster.  I watched Netflix and kinda couldn’t settle on something.  Having something good to watch helps.

The verdict is overall I really enjoyed it.  No it’s not the same as a pretty run outside, but it was nice to not go out at 5am and do my entire run alone in the dark.  I think I will easily do at least a couple runs a week on it.  I could see starting a long run on it while it’s dark, then heading outside once it’s light.  No matter how safe my neighborhood is, it’s always a little eerie to be out running at 430-5am.

Now onto the meal planning, or lack there of:

This weekend has been pretty packed after a week home by myself and both Jaspy and I being sick for part of it.  The fact that I try to do the meal planning link up is about the only reason I came up with anything.  Another pitiful but well meaning attempt:

Grilled salmon, grilled eggplant, rice

Grilled salmon leftovers

Curry baked tofu (vegan meal)

Pizza night for possible playdate

Grilled chicken

Other goodies:  vegan peanut butter cheesecake (sadly it’s almost gone and my fave dessert),  Superfood oatmeal I got at Costco yesterday (this stuff is awesome), lots of P, B and J lunches (I’m not very creative, and these are for me, not for the 3 year old who does not eat), lattes and pita chips (how I get through my work days).

Ok…off to Gabba live and then the Peelander Z SXSW show.  Gotta love living in Austin.  Two kids music events in one day.

Do angry birds have treadmills?

The treadmill came this morning.   It’s gorgeous.  I haven’t run on it yet, because Jasper is taking a nap.  Although I do plan to run on it while he’s asleep, I will take no chances with this nap since he’s been up since 3:00am, after a 9:20 bedtime.  Other wake up times this week include another 3am, a 4am, and the winner, a 1:30am.   He did not go back to sleep any of these days and still didn’t go to bed until 9pm.  You could see how running, yoga DVDs, and hamstring strengthening exercises that normally occur when Jasper is asleep didn’t happen.  Well, some running did, but only with a stroller.   Jasper has played a lot of Angry Birds this week.  That is what a child does when he wakes up at 1:30 and his mother refuses to get up and start coffee for the day at 1:30 am.  So Angry Birds it is in a dark room in the bed where I could at least pretend that shutting my eyes while I heard angry bird squawks = quality sleep.

No doubt that 3 year olds with issues cut into workouts.   I’ve now got a treadmill, a trainer with a very nice bike on it, yoga DVDs and a yoga mat.  I really should never have to leave my house to exercise ever again.  I guess I will pencil it in before 1:30am but after 9:30pm.  Ouch.

It’s coming!!!!

 

"I have been sick and stayed up for two nights straight, and also have been very difficult with my other "issues".  But don't I look cute in my sleeping bag?"
“I have been sick and stayed up for two nights straight, and also have been very difficult with my other “issues”. But don’t I look cute in my sleeping bag?”

This has been a  challenging week so far.  Rather than rehash all the detail, let’s focus on the positive:

A treadmill is being delivered to my house on Saturday.   A whole new world is about to open up to me.  No more coercing Jaspy to get into the stroller at 530am (how I ran this morning), no more gutting it out in pouring rain, and no more having to start 20 milers by 5am in the summer to beat the heat.  I am so excited.  I picked the Precor 9.23 after a lot of interweb research, which is their entry level model.  It’s very basic, and I chose to sacrifice some bells and whistles for what I have been told is durability, since I foresee myself running on this thing a lot.   I couldn’t really come up with any bells and whistles I would use anyway.   Just tell me how far I have run and have the ability to create incline.

You might be reading this and think  “You silly person, that’s a lot of money to spend just to run.  Just deal with missing some runs.”  Well, I thought that way too for a long time, but with a husband who travels, and a little boy who quickly becoming not so little as to be stuffed into a stroller, I thought “why shouldn’t  I get to make running and little easier when it’s just me at home?”  Then I thought of all the other possibilities.  I will get to watch so many movies now!  I can run when (and if) Jasper takes a nap!  I can hill train for anything because I can create hills that last for miles!  I can’t wait!

First run is Sunday….I’ll be planning all the ways this treadmill will help me with world domination.  Cannot wait!

The marathon is a lovely distance…

This is after I cleaned them...
This is after I cleaned them…

I made it to the 50K today.  I finished.  It was a very tough day.   here’s the scoop…

Background:  I ran my first 50K in 2005.  I ran ultras of all distances over the next 4-5 years.  In Texas, all our ultras are on trails for the most part, and most of our trails are very rocky and rugged.  I trained at least one day a week for a long run on these rocky and rugged trails.  When I had Jasper I gave it up mainly because I didn’t want to waste lots of weekend time driving to trails and waiting until it got light to run.  Sometimes I missed it, but most the time I didn’t.   I had some wonderful times at ultras, but sometimes there were runs that were all about gritting my teeth….for 20 or more miles.

The 50K distance seems short when you run 50 milers, and long when you run marathons.  But since I had done it before, I knew I could do it, so I decided to go through with running Prickly Pear.  I remembered it as being easy.  Remember what I mentioned about our trails being rocky?  Well, Prickly Pear probably is easy compared to what I ran on 5 years ago.  It was not compared to what I run on today.  More on that later…

I woke up at 3:45 and left the house at 4:30 to drive to San Antonio.  It was a steady drizzle the whole way, but I kept telling myself I could run it without being miserable….if it didn’t let up.  I really never thought the trails would be muddy because it wasn’t really raining that hard.  I also forgot my breakfast on the kitchen counter.  So cup of coffee and  a granola bar it is…

Ultra starts are pretty uneventful.  The joke is always “Off like a pack of turtles!”  It’s a long day, and very few people are really running all that fast.  Right away my mind was saying “F_ _ _! F_ _ _ _! F_ _ _ _!!!   I don’t remember this course being so rocky!”  Yes, I’ve officially lost my trail legs.   Next my mind was saying “WTF with all the mud!!”  You know the sticky, stacking mud that quickly turns your shoes into 10 pound Frankenstein shoes?  Crap, just a couple of miles in and I’m running like I’m wearing platform heels.  As in my entire gait is off, my ankles are rolling and mud is flying into my shoes.   About 5 miles in I met a super nice lady named Lupe and we decided to run together for a while and see how it goes.  We hit a section where the mud was so thick it was barely runnable.  We were stopping every mile to scrape our shoes off but it was a completely futile effort.   The course is 3 10 mile loops plus a little add on, and after the first loop Lupe and I confessed to each other we were panicking that our legs were hurting so early from the mega mud, and we both readjusted our goals (mine was a 5:30-5:45 based on previous times on the same course).  I also thought that if the next two loops were that bad, it would be a pretty miserable experience.

Starting a new loop is always energizing.  Lupe and I agreed to stick together some more.  I felt better…the rocks were more manageable now that the runners were spread out more.  I also new where the really hard sections were.  The most horrible mud section was actually better now that it had been packed down by the much larger group of runners doing the 10 mile race.  Part of loop 2 was pretty fun, but in my head I knew this would be a pretty hard earned finish.  I could also tell Lupe was fading a bit, and I wasn’t optimistic that I would have a buddy for loop 3.

Another 10 miles done, and just a 10 mile home stretch remaining.  Lupe had a friend to pace her the last 10 miles named Claudia.  They invited me along with them, and Claudia was just what I needed.  She was a strong runner who gave us both tough love and pushed the pace hard.  It got my out of the ultra shuffle and before I knew it I was a couple of miles into loop 3.  Unfortunately, about this time I lost Lupe for good and Claudia left me to find her friend.  But I was moving quite good, and so far had taken no walk breaks.  I just had to maintain.  I met up with some really nice guys from McAllen and ran with them a few miles and chatted.  By far the best thing about ultras is meeting so many interesting people and having an instant bond with them.  I was moving good though, and soon left the boys and just had about 4 miles left on my own.

Trail miles are not like road miles.  They take a lot longer and the difficult terrain means that some miles will really be slower than your “regular” pace.  So I still had a decent chunk of time to be out on the trail.  My feet were toasted from sliding on wet rocks and sticky mud.  I don’t think I would have had blisters had it not been for the trail conditions.  I was hanging in there, but ready to be done!

But here comes the finish!  First ultra in a very long time….done.  6:20.  Rice, beans, and tortilla in hand.  Super nice etched glass finisher’s medal.  Life is good.   Now time to rush home.  Ever run 31 miles then go sit in traffic?  Take my word for it…it hurts.

The verdict:  Not sure if I want to jump back into ultras.  I would do this race again, but maybe try just a few rocky trail training runs.  But I’m pretty stoked.  I EARNED this finish.   I would guesstimate the poor trail conditions added about 30 minutes more to my time….but not for lack of effort.  10 pounds of mud per shoe just slows the over all pace.

My feet look and feel like crap, but we went to Austin’s vegan ice cream parlor tonight (only in Austin!).   And I’m healthy with a great family who support me pursing my goals, no matter how stupid they may be.  Life is good….but so are toenails. 🙂

 

50K?

Was it really once that green here?
Was it really once that green here? Pancake also looks very clean in this photo….I think it may be time for her to have a bath.

I couldn’t find any pictures of the Prickly Pear race.  I’ve had a couple computer crashes over the years and lost many photos.  I did find this picture of Cake though, from about the last time I did the race.  We had a ton of rain that year and it was very green.  Such a contrast to how things are now….dang drought!

Speaking of rain, rain is forecast for the race.  I don’t mind a light drizzle, but do not want to be dumped on for 31 miles!  BUT, I’m a little iffy if this race will happen this weekend.  I’ve got a cold and it’s been bumpy this week in the Jasper dept.  Leaving for the whole day makes me a little worried…so I’m taking it hour by hour and will make a decision tonight.  I’ve learned over the years that race weeks always seem to have issues.  I’ve had food poisoning, an injured dogs, a sick child, work deadlines, and and the like to all potentially derail a race.  Most of the time I rally, but I’ve had some cancellations, especially in the last three years, since a certain little boy gifted me with sleep deprivation.   In the end, I think having a normal, chaotic life of a working parent, just makes me appreciate the times a run gets pulled off.  And yes, I do know all the aforementioned things are normal and unless you are an elite athlete life carries on despite the fact that you signed up for a big goal race.  It’s part of the challenge us regular people face and just add another element for running making you a tougher, more resilient person.  At least that is what I am telling myself while I sit here with a scratchy throat, a mind full of too do lists, and other concerns.

Onward!

The 50K and the Treddie…

First off, the weeks,  meal planning.  My version is a little sad, as always.  I admire the other ladies who do the meal planning link up and use it for inspiration.  It is definitely easier if you plan…but takes some work on the weekend. So here goes:

Left over grilled salmon (grilled a ton this weekend)

Veggie pizza for playdate night

Vegan crock pot lasanga

Grilled chicken (pre 50K dinner)

This week is all about trying to focus on my 50K.  It’s tough though..running ultras is a very selfish activity.  You get so focused on yourself, but yet I also try to be 100% present for my family, so race weeks I get a little overwhelmed and ask myself “Why in the heck did I sign up for this?”, but then end up having a really good time doing it.  I’m hoping that will be the case this time!

And in really exciting news, Mike and I decided that this will be the last trip he goes on (in the next week), that I am sans treadmill.   For 3 years I have toughed it out…..I’ve run up and down the a street with my house always in sight and a baby monitor in hand.  I’ve run while Jasper is in speech therapy busting my butt to finish by the time he’s done, I’ve run with the stroller in all kinds of weather, bribing Jasper with the iphone, snacks, an ipad, and his sleeping bag.  I only once broke down and got a baby sitter and fretted about how much each mile was costing.  In other words, I think I’ve been a good sport.  Being able get up early and run with much less effort will be wonderful.  And you cannot push a child in a stroller forever!  So I’m in the research phase of trying to figure out what I want, and thanking my lucky stars for a tax return this year…..More to come on this adventure, and recommendations are appreciated!