Friday, April 18, 2014

Under the Wire!

Another morning in the cemetery. Wheaties Boy decided we should start a little earlier to get more miles in. Not a bad idea.

This week I've been tired, trying to give my body the rest it needs. I didn't realize how much last week took out of me. Other than having a hard time with the 3:15 am alarm, I felt decent getting out of bed this morning, and made my way over to the cemetery.

I got a new headlamp this past week, I finally invested in a decent one, the Black Diamond Sprinter. I like it, it's a little on the heavy side on my head, and I still have to get the straps adjusted right, but it gives great light. It made it much easier to see the little rocks and pine cones in the dark on the cemetery road.

After a warmup we got going. I ran my first mile in 7:05, not bad for a first one, after being so tired and last week's disappointing workout. On the second one I dug in a bit more on the home stretch and didn't look when I shut my watch off, but hoping I'd get the result I wanted. When I looked at my watch, I let out a WHOOP! Got my sub-7! Finally, after all this time, and last year barely being able to crack 8s, I made it under the 7 minute mark. We high-fived and did our easy lap, then I did my last mile, which was a bit tougher and slower, in 7:19. Still faster than I would have done if I just went out to jog.

Wheaties Boy opted for a fourth mile repeat but I started my cooldown. Three was enough for me. I have one more speed session before my race at Cornbelt, and I'll have to do it without Wheaties Boy. I'll give myself the luxury of sleeping in next week. He'll be in the Grand Canyon next weekend, with Eddie, Bard and Chris. Lucky dudes. I wish I could run there again but my ankles would not allow that, not yet anyway. I would love to be able to go back there again.

Humbling and exhilarating. Even though it was just under the wire and long ago 6:59 would be a relatively easy pace for me, I was happy to see progress, a digit makes all the difference. After I recover from Cornbelt I'll be doing speed all summer, and I can't wait to see how far down I can take those mile splits.

The sunrise was awesome and we still had most of the full moon. The sky turned pink during my cooldown and I could take pictures.

The temperature got up to nearly 80 today. I took a short nap and then met a friend for lunch. After lunch I went out for another 5 miles just to experience the heat. I might have to do a few quick sauna sessions in my car in the next couple of weeks to prepare myself for any hot weather at Cornbelt, we haven't had any hot days yet.

Easy running this weekend with a few hills, and I should be taper-ready. Now the hard part begins.

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Old and New

Halfway through the week and it's been a rough one. Just feeling sort of blah ever since the week began. I'm probably tired from last week's training but it's just been a weird week in general. Ever have those days where everything goes weird? That's what today was like.

I took two days off from running after the Horsetooth Half, and went for a short easy one today. I had plenty of energy but I just didn't feel motivated. I took a nap and spent some time with the Buffaloes, that always makes me feel better. It was cold outside today, there was a cold wind and not a lot of sunshine this afternoon. I've been freezing lately. I got in the hot tub for a while and that helped.

I've been hanging out close to home this week. I got this nasty cold sore on my lip that suddenly blossomed in the middle of last week and it's probably the worst one I've ever had. I think it was from a combination of my workouts- probably the sun exposure to some extent, but also stress. Not just physical stress of the workouts but the emotional stress of last week. Anyway it looks like a crater on my lip, like a meteor crashed there. I could probably charge admission and let people see the 8th wonder of the world.

I'm waiting until it heals before I go out and start talking to more people about my business, I'd hate for somebody to fall into the crater. I have liability insurance, but still...

But seriously, I didn't realize how much it would stick with me, my little encounter last week with one of the HMFICs from my old workplace. All the emotions of anger, frustration, and resentment that I was living with for the year before I quit came bubbling up after that day last week and I was pretty upset for several days afterward, and then some.

I feel better about it all now, and I'm really glad I got a chance to spew some of that to the appropriate individual, but I also realized how important it is to get away from it, and how much it still affects me.

It was funny, though, today I got this email newsletter talking about another impending nursing shortage. I rolled my eyes. Really, they ought to just replace them all with robots and be done with it. Robots don't talk back.

So that's the old.

Then the new: today I was contacted by this creeper on Facebook about my business, it was like he was trying to solicit sex. Totally inappropriate, weird, and creepy. First I went to find out who he was and his profile said he is married and has a kid, and lives in Colorado, but not here in Fort Collins. I blocked him and reported him to Facebook. Who knows if that does anything. But really? That's sick and pathetic. If I ever run into this creep in the ultra world I will warn other women about him, and will let them know what he did.

Yesterday I realized that the check I wrote for the Cornbelt entry has never come through the bank. I don't know if they wait until the end to deposit all the entry checks, or what, but I thought I'd better make sure they received it since the entry deadline was April 15th. I called and they did have my entry, whew!

I am very excited about Cornbelt. I was out in the garage wanting to start packing all my stuff, my table, coolers, chair, and other things I'll need for my 24 hours on the track. But it's still 2 1/2 weeks away. Too soon to pack.

I did get brave and planted some cold season veggies in the raised beds. I'm not sure if it's too soon but I planted some lettuce, broccoli, cauliflower, beets, and carrots. We had to cover the new fruit trees the other night when it got cold, but the apricot and apple trees seem to have survived the winter and are looking good.

The weather is supposed to improve and hopefully the wind will blow all the weirdness out of here and things will get back to normal. I'm ready for spring.

Sunday, April 13, 2014

2014 Horsetooth Half Marathon: Hell Freezes Over

About 1500 runners paid their dues today. There should be a new rule for running in bad weather: you should only have to run in crappy conditions once a year, and then you're done, the rest of your races will be on nice days.

This morning's race was everything you hope you'll never have to run in: rain/snow mix, face dermabrasion from sandblasting sleet, cold temperatures, damp, wind, puddles, mud, slush, and icy bridges where you almost wipe out and risk tearing your groin muscles out of the attachments.

But it was fun anyway. I ran my slowest time ever at this race, I'm pretty sure of that. Even two years ago when I was slow and heavy I ran faster. But that wasn't at the end of a 100 mile week.

I actually didn't do so bad, considering I powerwalked up all the hills and averaged faster and faster average splits for each segment of the race. The course does get faster as you go along, but if you're tired, that doesn't matter. I didn't slow down, and I ran my last 5K at a faster pace than I was able to run some of those mile repeats the other day!

It's not your average half-marathon. You start near Hughes stadium and immediately start going uphill, climbing 500 feet in about the first 1.8 miles. Then you go up and down big rolling screaming hills until 5 miles, slightly downhill to flat until mile 7, then you climb two more hills, a big long hill and a small hill, on Bingham Hill road. Then you turn down Overland Trail briefly and get on the Poudre Trail bike path going east toward Old Town, for a flat to ever so slightly downhill last 4 miles. It finishes by New Belgium brewing.

First thing this morning I was texting with my friend Jen, who needed a ride to the start. She already had her number, so she was happy to get there at the last minute. I stopped by and picked her up and we made it to the start just in time. The gun went off and I was happy to not be standing around in the cold.

Today was not the kind of day people wanted to stand around and drink beer. When I got done all I wanted to do was find Dennis and go home to take a hot shower. All those volunteers who stood out there in the cold and wet conditions should get beer for life.

I finished in 1:54:27 and my final 5K split was 25:32. 9:02 pace for the first 5 hilly miles, 8:44 pace overall and 8:14 pace for the last 5K. It was tough, I pushed hard with everything I had left. I would say after 7 miles I was feeling it...but somehow I got a small second wind around mile 10. At that point all I could do was watch for the milemarkers, gasp for air, and think about how many miles I had left: 97, 98, reach 100.

It wasn't too bad in the first 5 hilly miles, it wasn't until we turned east onto Bingham Hill Road that I started to notice the cold wind.

I have no idea how I did relative to other people, I really wasn't concerned about that, since this was one of those survival training runs. Hearing everyone else, it sounds like a lot of people had slower times this year. All I know is that when I run ultras, I never want the race to end. In these shorter races, I can't wait for it to end. Those last 4 miles took forever....

In true Fort Collins tradition, we got beer glasses, and a poster with a print by my friend and local running artist Tom Riggs.

So now it's taper time. I will do a fairly high mileage week coming up, something between 70 and 80, and then really taper for the two weeks leading up to Cornbelt. I've been hitting it hard and I want to get some good rest.

Saturday, April 12, 2014

Rule of Twos for Tomorrow

Sixteen miles today, a loop around the south part of town, finishing up on the Power Trail. I saw this fox crossing the railroad tracks. I saw the same fox in the same place earlier this week. He's a deep red color, but his long gray tail looks rough and broken.

I didn't push it at all, did some fast walking during the run, and realized I haven't been doing much walking. Walking always saved me in the past on my longer runs, but I haven't been doing it except as breaks on the track. I think that's a good thing, but I feel like my walking pace has suffered as a result. I won't worry about it, I'll see how it all comes together at Cornbelt.

I felt crabby and annoyed today, I didn't feel like interacting with people. I was trying to find the route that would keep me away from the places where there would be a lot of traffic. I just felt irritable. When I got home Dennis took me out for lunch to try to cheer me up. I did laundry and took a long nap.

We have this one neighbor, every neighborhood has one, who thinks he's the only person who lives here. He decided to do some project in his back yard, I think he got a friend to help him. They had one of those really loud annoying ditch witch mini-backhoe things with a backup horn. Nobody would be doing this on a Friday night except for this guy.

I'm not sure what they were doing, but they started Friday around 5 pm and were doing it maybe until 8:30- it was such a beautiful evening and it would have been nice to be able to sit outside and enjoy the warm spring air before mosquitoes take over. But instead there was this jerk and his friend- they sounded drunk the way they were hooting back there, and driving that thing like a maniac, even after it got dark.

It was annoying. And then today when I got back from my run, they were at it again. This is the same A-hole who shoots off fireworks for nearly a month leading up to the Fourth of July and scares Isabelle and the other neighborhood dogs.

This afternoon I was so irritated when he started it again. I closed all the windows and doors to the back of the house, turned on a fan, and piled pillows over my head to block the noise so I could sleep.

Tomorrow morning is the Horsetooth Half Marathon, and it's supposed to be cold and snowing. I plan to get up there shortly before the start, do very little for a warmup, use the first big hill as a warmup, and then take off when we get over the top of the first big hill at 2 miles. I'll run with whatever I have left in my legs, which will be a surprise if I have anything! And when the race is over, I'm done for the week. I'm not doing anything else. If it's not too nasty I'll go in the hot tub when I get home.

The sky is getting dark and the wind is blowing. It mirrors my mood. I hope there isn't too much snow in the morning. But whatever it is, I'll deal with it. I'll dress in warm clothes, and run for less than two hours of whatever the weather gods dump on us, and I should be done. Rule of twos: I can deal with anything for two hours.

Animals in the Dark

Yesterday was speed day with Wheaties Boy. After taking the day off on Thursday I wasn't sure how I'd feel for speed having done 50 miles in the prior two days before the rest day. My legs felt fine on Thursday but my brain was fatigued. So Friday morning I woke up at 3:27 am when my alarm was set for 3:30 and I was ready to get some miles in.

At the cemetery we got our warmup in and then started on our mile repeats. My first one was a huge struggle in about 7:30 and about halfway in I knew it was rough. Wheaties Boy is so much faster than me that he had plenty of time to recover from his first one, and I went right into the rest jog with him as soon as I finished. When we completed that mile, I started on my next one, and was gasping and wheezing by 400 meters. Then it was all I could do to keep pushing myself to run fast. It was taking forever and Wheaties Boy was about halfway around the cemetery ahead of me. I crossed the finish line gasping and said, "I don't want to see the time" but I looked anyway and it was 8:33!

So I said, "I'll just jog easy the rest of the time. He finished his last mile as I ran easy and then he had to go to work, so I stayed and ran until I had 10 miles in. I did push myself on one more mile and did that one in 7:53. I needed to recover a bit more, but those miles didn't really help my speed at all. I did run faster than I would have if I just jogged easy the whole way, but I am hoping by next week I'll see some faster splits.

We were joined by three deer and some big birds. It was too dark to see what kind of birds they were. I've seen skunks and raccoons, owls, deer and foxes in the cemetery.

I wanted to get at least 20 miles in for the day but I was hungry so I went home and ate, took Iris for a few miles, and then ran out the Power Trail for a final 8 miles which gave me 21 for the day. I had a small amount of work to do so I got that done and then I was ready for more food and a nap.

After my nap it was almost 4 pm and I was hungry again. I thought about what sounded good. I wanted to eat everything in sight. I decided on something different, burgers, French fries and beer. I went to the store to get all the ingredients and stopped by the liquor store for some beer. I found this ginger beer from Left Hand Brewery in Longmont. I love it. You have to like ginger, but it is good! Also has lower alcohol content than most beers, about 4.5%.

When Dennis got home we inhaled all the food. I felt like the bottomless pit.

Today I will run an easy 15 or so and then tomorrow is the Horsetooth Half Marathon. It's supposed to be cold and snowing. Nice. I guess I'll savor what I hope is my last opportunity this year to run in nasty stuff. I wish.

This is Colorado.

Wednesday, April 9, 2014


Thirty miles on the track this morning in 5:10, with a 400 meter walk after every 8 laps. I ran in lane 2, mostly, except I had to switch to lane 4 for about an hour while the sprinters and hurdlers from the CSU track team worked out. They usually aren't out that early but it was so hot yesterday and warm again today, I wonder if they held their workout earlier on purpose.

I arrived at the track at 6:30 and this huge colorful cloud was hanging out. It was cool, I started in shorts but had my jacket on until nearly 9:00. I parked my stuff on the bleachers including a cooler full of drinks and ice water, and got going.

I wasn't sure how I'd feel since it's only been 10 days since my race and I did 20 miles yesterday. But the pace was easy and I felt stronger throughout the run and gradually picked it up all the way through the end. We're talking 9 minute pace at the fastest, by the end, but I felt so strong. I felt like a machine. I wasn't tired after the workout either and was able to get some work done this afternoon.

As the sun came up a few people came out to the track. Then the hammer and discus throwers were out there, practicing. There was this one hammer thrower who was amazing. At least it looked like that to me. He heaved that thing way across the field and it looked like it was headed to Loveland, before it came down with a "thud". Maybe that was what caused the earthquake in California.

It was pretty quiet until 10:30 or so, when the rest of the track team suddenly showed up. It wasn't too bad even with all the athletes because they were using certain lanes and I just moved over during the time when they had their actual workout. Most of the time they were warming up. I'm sure they were wondering what this crazy gray haired runner was doing, I was there when they arrived and I was still running when they left.

I took some S caps in my drinks, and ate a few gels and a peanut butter and jelly sandwich. I felt like I could have stayed out there for 24 hours. I was glad for the warmth, since Iowa is likely to be warm in early May. The rest of the week I plan to get another 50 miles in to total 100, and I'll do speedwork Friday with Wheaties Boy and the Horsetooth Half Marathon Sunday rain, snow, sleet, hail, or blazing sun.

I can't wait for race day in Iowa. I feel so ready to go. Three and a half weeks!


Off to the track this morning after I drink my coffee and eat something. Spring officially arrived yesterday. It was my first day in shorts and a t-shirt with no other layers.

The temperature got into the low 70s and is expected to approach 80 today. It's supposed to be cold and snowing with a high of 39 on Sunday, just in time for the Horsetooth Half Marathon. If all goes well I'll be wrapping up my 100 mile week and I won't care.

Yesterday I was running 20 miles around town and saw this sign. I was thinking about getting some vitamin D being out in the sun, but then I learned that I had the wrong idea and the wrong vitamin. There are two churches near where I live and they seem to be competing for slogans on their marquees. This week the other church says something like "Just because you're on the beaten path doesn't mean it's the right one".

Yesterday I wandered onto the scale, something I haven't done in several weeks. I haven't been trying to lose any more weight but I am down to 118. I dropped another pound since last time I got on the scale. My original goal was 15 pounds and I have lost 14. Awesome. The workouts will take care of what's left.

As soon as it gets light I'll be doing my decreasing pace 2 mile repeats on the track until I've had enough. Once I'm done, I have some work to do this afternoon.

I'm sure I'll be in this kind of a mood at the end of the day. These are my Vitamin B.