Thursday, April 24, 2014

The Wannabe Cereal Killa...

I am so envious right now my eyes could pop out.

This weekend Wheaties Boy and three other friends are off to the Grand Canyon to run rim to rim to rim. I haven't been down the Grand Canyon since 2003 and these days it is looking like a far off dream because of the state of my ankles. I would love to do that run again someday.

I sent them all a little note with Grand Canyon tips, from what I can remember from over 10 years ago. I addressed it to "Wheaties Boy and the Cereal Killas".

This morning I was forced to get my own butt out the door and run my mile repeats alone. The good thing was that I slept in, I didn't need a headlamp, and I wasn't freezing my butt off dressing in three layers. I am just at the beginning of my taper and I took yesterday off, and I'm feeling pretty good. I missed running yesterday, which is a good sign.

I did my two mile warmup and then jumped right into it. The first mile was hard, I started out a little fast and had to let up after the first quarter mile so I could survive it. I could not believe my eyes when I saw my watch.
I thought, it will be really bad if my next two are over 7 minutes because I blew out all the carbon on this one. I took my mile recovery jog and sipped some water, then took off for mile # 2. It seemed a little easier and I didn't go out quite so hard. I felt strong at the end but it was an effort. I guessed I would be right around 7 minutes.

Holy bat guano, this is what my watch said for number 2.

Again, I did my recovery jog, sipped a little water again, and psyched myself up. I was hoping I could hang on through one more sub 7 and I'd be thrilled.

This one felt even easier. I pushed a little harder in the last 200 meters or so because I was afraid I'd slacked off.

I guess not.

I felt so good, I wanted to do another one, but it's taper time and three one mile repeats 10 days before my race is plenty. I cooled down with an easy mile and went home. Holy crap, three sub 7s in a row and not 6:59.99s either.

I have a busy weekend ahead of me. Not from running, but for work! Yes, I am actually getting busy. I have real work to do! It's awesome!

I'm taking the day with Dennis and the girls Friday to do some family things, and then Saturday and Sunday I will do some short easy runs and get my work done. Next week is already getting busy before my trip to Iowa.

Today's workout was very encouraging. I've got my race strategy figured out, all I can do now is plan and prepare what's left and trust that I am ready for hundreds of laps around Lancer Stadium.

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Can't Fix Stupid...

A gaggle of goslings...

On run number two, I met Emma at River Bluffs Open Space and we did a quick 6 miles at a good pace on the bike path. We had a great talk. I always appreciate being able to share our perspectives on all things. On the way out we saw these geese with their babies.

I stopped to take a picture but I couldn't get too close, sorry about the unclear photo, I didn't want to upset the mother, who started to hiss at me. Having been attacked by geese before while running the Mad Dog 50K in Arizona, I wasn't about to risk it...

On run number three I took Iris through the neighborhood for a short one after I got home from the run with Emma. Thirteen miles today, and now it's time to back off.

Time heals, and time reveals. I am learning that quickly, the universe is showing me that I have made the right decision on a daily basis, sometimes more often than daily. Sometimes the revelations are shocking, amusing, appalling, or just an affirmation that you can't fix stupid. Just a simple run last weekend on the bike path and running into someone, and listening to what they had to say, opened my eyes even further to this.

Where things seemed very fuzzy and cloudy initially when I left traditional health care last fall, it seems like on a regular basis now, both through face-to-face conversations, people who have contacted me both in response to my inquiries or unprompted by me, and occasionally in written form such as the link that follows, I am getting insight and validation into the types of decisions and uncritical thinking that guide modern health care. It's really scary.

Nurses' Week is coming right up. I am the queen of snark when it comes to Nurses' Week. Can't wait!

A Meteor-less Earth Day

I woke up at 3 am for no particular reason today. I tried to go back to sleep, but at 3:50 I gave up and got up, remembering that the Lyrid meteor showers were supposed to be visible in early morning. I asked the Buffaloes for permission to leave, they were not thrilled about it, but I got dressed and went for a run. Unfortunately it was cloudy and there was a bright moon that the clouds kept obscured most of the time. The moon was pretty when it was visible, but no meteor showers.

It was cooler this morning than it has been the past few days, I bundled up in my winter running clothes again. I ran 6 miles and came back, ran over to Starbucks and got a coffee so I wouldn't wake Dennis up, and came home again. Later this morning I am running with Emma. After today I will be entering a serious taper, having managed to get 70 miles in the past 7 days. It happened while I wasn't paying attention.

I wonder if this year it will go directly from winter to summer, we've had few warm days so far. The green foliage seems to be behind, and our lilacs are late, they haven't bloomed yet.

I started out yesterday morning feeling a bit down, it's odd being so isolated, when you're in this transition period of starting your business but not really out there yet talking to a lot of people. But I did talk to a few people yesterday, and got one major project out of the way. Then in the evening suddenly everything started happening, texts, e-mails, people interested in work-related things. As a result, today I have my work cut out for me.

After my run with Emma I will be putting in at least an 8 hour day. Keeping the momentum going is hard sometimes, you can have stretches where nothing happens and then suddenly you get bombarded with things to do. Keeps me on my toes and it's always a challenge. It's good to be busy, plus I can't start thinking about Cornbelt yet, or I'll drive myself crazy.

Happy Earth Day.

Sunday, April 20, 2014

Easter Frogs on Maniac Hill

Not the Easter bunnies. Easter is one of those holidays that I don't really notice. The other day I saw one of my neighbors and she asked me what we were doing for Easter. I asked her, "When is Easter?"

She laughed. "It's this Sunday!"

Better get going, slacker...time is running out!

Not having been raised Christian I don't ever think about Easter and I'm barely aware of it. Sort of blends into spring. I don't even associate Peeps with Easter, only with spring. So when people wish me Happy Easter it always takes me by surprise. I just wish them a Happy Easter back, and move on.

So what are we doing for Easter? Dennis is in the garage taking the window air conditioning unit apart and cleaning it out before he installs it in the window again. We don't have central AC, good for heat training.

He took the girls to Starbucks while I was out on my run. I went for a short run with Iris this morning, and then went up to Horsetooth Reservoir to do a 15 mile hill run. I waited until 10:30 to get started, it was supposed to warm up to the 70s, which it did. I felt good and ran a good pace up and down those hills, feeling very strong on the climbs. It rained for about 10 minutes when I was coming down the big hill. Not very much, and it didn't really cool things down once it passed. I need whatever heat training I can get in these next 2 weeks.

I noticed this pond at the top of Maniac Hill, it usually is dried up, but now it's green and has water in it, and the sound of the frogs was deafening. You know it's loud when motorcycles and cars are going by and you can still hear the frogs! I guess frogs are sort of like Easter bunnies, they hop...

Yesterday I had a hard time getting my run in. I procrastinated until early afternoon, which is never a good thing for me. I am not an afternoon person. When I finally got out, I was unmotivated and ended up running into someone I know, and we talked for about an hour out there on the Power Trail, and by the time we were done I was even less motivated, so I finished 5 miles and went home and played darts in the garage with Dennis after he helped me pull all my stuff for Cornbelt out from behind all the junk that's accumulated over the past year.

It's a lazy day, Isabelle is in her usual spot in the grass in the front yard, and Iris is here at my feet. Pretty boring, and it's nice to have boring sometimes. Happy Easter.

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.