Scatter my ashes here...

Scatter my ashes here...
scatter my ashes in the desert...

Monday, May 26, 2008

Double Double Weekend

Several months ago, I asked my friend Cathy Morgan if she would crew for me at the Wyoming Double Marathon over Memorial Day weekend. She said she would, if Dennis would also crew and keep her company. I don't usually ask Dennis to crew for me, as he doesn't like to crew, and it's not generally a good idea to have your spouse crew. He worries about me and I get annoyed with him, and we argue over stupid things. Like how much peanut butter to put on the bread. But I asked him and he said yes, so the three of us were all committed.

We woke up at 3:15 am to the coffee pot and Buffaloes who were not happy about being left home all day. It would have been too much time in the car and they wouldn't have been able to play outside much. There's too much recreational traffic on the roads during the holiday weekend, not to mention the added crew vehicles and runners.

We picked up Morgan at 4 and drove up to the Lincoln Monument off I-80 about 12 miles east of Laramie. I picked up my race number, used the bathroom and we lined up for the start. The wind was blowing as usual, it's Wyoming. The heat training must be paying off because I was freezing. I saw Doug before the start. Holley from the running club was there and she started early. (From left, Dennis, Doug and me before the start)

I put extra layers on, and we were off. The race course is pretty nice for most of the way. It consists of a double out-and-back along dirt roads through the Vedauwoo area in Medicine Bow National Forest. It winds through aspen and pine forest, and the rock formations are really interesting. There are marathon and half-marathon races that start with the Double and Nick from my Badwater crew was out there in the half-marathon. When I saw him, he was in third place and looked strong! Way to go, Nick!

There is a two mile stretch along the I-80 frontage road and it wouldn't be so bad except it is the highest, most exposed area along the whole course and since it's a double out-and-back, you have to do it 4 times. And it's windy and cold, and there are no trees to block the wind.

I suffered through that first stretch and forgot to ask Morgan and Dennis to stay in sight, I told them to meet me once I got off the frontage road. Big mistake. I suffered out there for the whole two miles without being able to get an extra jacket, for a fourth layer! It's so cold, there's still snow up on the side of the road.

As the race went on and down into the trees again, I warmed up. I was feeling good the whole way. I tested Slim-Fast, I'm trying all these different liquid calorie supplement for Badwater, trying to find something that won't upset my stomach. I had 3 cans of Slim Fast and it worked well. I was able to take off running right after I drank it.

I stayed well-hydrated but my biggest challenge of the whole day was trying to figure out the wind direction whenever I had to stop and pee. The first time I was in the wind, I had to use the shelter of the car to block the wind, but I miscalculated and ended up peeing down my legs and into my socks. Not good. The second time I had to re-arrange my position to avoid repeating the same mistake.

The next few times I got progressively better but it was still a challenge. Later in the day the wind died down and it was a lot easier.

I stayed comfortable all day. I only had two "bad" patches that were over with quickly. The first time was 33-34 miles on the frontage road, and I was low on energy, but then another runner caught up wth me and we got to talking. His name was Kevin and he's from Lyons. We started talking Badwater and ultras in general, and it got me out of my bad patch and back into running.

The other thing about that frontage road is the irony of the billboard up there for Little America. It has this picture of this couple standing in a swimming pool, looking totally relaxed. The billboard says, "Overheating?" As if anyone at that location in Wyoming would ever be overheating. With 30 mph wind and 4 foot snow cornices below the billboard at the end of May!

One of the best things about running ultras is the amount of time you're out there, able to be present-focused, not worried about anything outside of what you're doing. You focus on how your body feels, not intentionally, but you get lost inside where you are at the present moment, which is such a good escape from the world.

I was having one of those days out there where I felt like I was a million miles away from all the other things going on in my everyday life and it felt like a vacation. It makes all the little stupid problems, other people's issues and baggage, and really unimportant things that we deal with on a regular basis, go FAR AWAY.

Just another good reason to run ultras.

I felt good the whole way, and I didn't feel tired at all. Around 45 miles the only thing bothering me was my stomach. I wasn't nauseated but I needed some different food and nothing sounded good. The wind wasn't blowing anymore and it was 4 miles of solid uphill to the finish. I finally stripped down to two layers around 46 miles.

When I was low on energy between 45 and 48 miles and my stomach was rejecting the idea of everything Morgan and Dennis offered me, Kevin caught up to me again. I managed to eat a gel packet, and our conversation got me going and Kevin and I ended up finishing together. I finished the 52.4 miles in 11 hours and 22 minutes. A long, slow day, 51 minutes slower than last year, my slowest time ever on this course. But that's fast enough for Badwater training.

My feet were good, no blisters. Just the usual heat rash.
Katy was there at the finish with her dog, Kira.

We drove back to Fort Collins, took Morgan home, and went home to see the Buffaloes. I was in bed by 8:15. I woke up too early Monday morning but I got my laundry done and some packing for Vegas, and then we went to the Houska Houska. It was fun, I felt good and it was good to see everyone. Here's a picture of Barb Brown from the Foundation with me at the Houska Houska this morning.

The t-shirts at Houska Houska were great, it was all about the election year and we voted with our cups at the aid station. I drank from my ballot and threw it in the Obama box. I finished in 25 minutes, 17 seconds. Faster than last year!

It was raining when we woke up today, it stopped for the race, and then about an hour after the finish it started raining again. Now I'm home, blogging, and thinking about a nap. I have to finish packing and get ready to go back to work tomorrow. In a few days, I'll be running across Death Valley, but I won't be freezing. 110, 115 degrees would make me happy.

120 would be even better.

(photos 2-5, 7-9, & 12 by Cathy Morgan)

The Smiley Face Test

This post is short, intended mostly for my Badwater crew. I'm in the process of blogging on this weekend's events, I'll have that done in a few hours. This weekend I ran the Double Double, the Wyoming Double Marathon on Sunday followed by the Houska Houska 5K on Monday. Lots of fun and smiley faces!

Q. When is a smiley face not happy?
A. When he's dehydrated.

Q. How do you make a smiley face extra happy?
A. Force him to drink.
This smiley face drank so much, he grew ears!

Saturday, May 24, 2008


The weather cooled down this week. It was only 80 degrees in Death Valley when I checked the weather yesterday. It's supposed to warm up by next week. I'm hoping for temperatures of at least 110.

As it turns out, the tornado touched down in Windsor on Thursday morning, just a few miles away, at the exact time I was sprinting toward my house. I had no idea that running in a tornado would be part of Badwater training, but it is now. I wonder how many other Badwater runners have trained in a tornado?

Speaking of tornadoes, I'm in the process of packing for my trip to Death Valley next week. I'm trying to minimize what I bring and I've mapquested on a running store, Super Wal-Mart, and Whole Foods all within a reasonable distance of the airport and the highway to Death Valley.

One problem I've been trying to solve is how to deal with the need for at least one big cooler. We're going to need a lot of ice both days while I'm running. I don't want to buy new coolers since I have no idea what to do with them once we're done. It's not possible to mail them back on a Sunday when we're leaving. I could try checking them as baggage, but that might cost a lot, and I'm not even sure it's possible. Plus it would be a pain in the butt at the airport. I needed an economical, practical way to solve the cooler dilemma.

I own two ancient, beat-up Igloo coolers that I got in 1984, after I graduated from college, when I was living in the back of my truck doing forestry work in the summers. They still work but they are falling apart, cracking, stained, foul-smelling, etc. I've been wanting to replace them but never get around to it. I have a hard time getting rid of things that still work.

After my coffee this morning I got this bright idea. I went to the local post office and asked questions about mailing the coolers. Sending them priority mail they should be there in plenty of time even with the holiday. I taped them up and sent them, priority mail, to myself, general delivery, at the post office in Pahrump, Nevada. It's near the intersection of the highway that turns off and crosses into California as you enter Death Valley. It only cost $25.00 to mail both coolers, including delivery confirmation. That's less than a new cooler. I'll figure out a way to pass them on, maybe there's a thrift store in Lone Pine where I can drop them off when we're done.

If for some reason they don't get there, Pahrump is a big enough town that we could buy coolers there. It also sports a large billboard advertising the Brothel Art Museum in Crystal, and might be the last slot machines at the gas station before you cross into California.

I need to go to the sauna today and finish packing for tomorrow's race. The Wyoming Double Marathon starts east of Laramie at the Happy Jack rest area on I-80 at 6 am. It's going to be a long day.

I'm sending good thoughts and energy to Felix today, he's in Canada running the Sulphur Springs 100 mile race. Go Felix!

Thursday, May 22, 2008

On a Mission

Today is my first day off of work for a long stretch. The past few days it's been hot outside and I've been working inside, in the frozen ICU. Now I'm on a mission. I have a ton of errands to do to get ready for this weekend's race and next week's trip. I needed to do my run, get my sauna session in, and make about 5 different stops in town.

The run was my priority, but I decided to multi-task for an errand I had to run at the hospital by working it into my run. Of course the weather gods decided to pick on me again. It was raining on and off all morning, temperatures in the 50s. I need practice running with tape on my feet, I taped my heels with this stretchy brown foam tape, supposed to be hypoallergenic. I found it at Target.

I am allergic to the adhesive on some kinds of tape. Runners often tape their feet at Badwater to reduce friction and give extra padding and protection on the hot asphalt. I need to practice this and see if it will help with my recurring problem of painful heels from the edges of my orthotics, but I have to be careful about what kind of tape I use.

First I took the Buffaloes for a quick sprint and realized I was risking my life being pulled on the wet sidewalks and grass, so I cut it off at 2 miles and decided to finish my run alone. The sky was looking dark.

I put a rain jacket and a hat on and ran up Lemay to the hospital, was inside for no more than 5 minutes, and by the time I exited the doors by the cafeteria, it was pouring rain on the outdoor seating area. I ran back home and the weather gods were taunting me. The rain kept coming down harder as I ran south on Lemay and just as I turned the corner into my neighborhood, three blocks from my house, the sky dumped pea-sized hail so hard I couldn't see across the street, I tried to stay under the trees until I got to my house.

I was drenched, but my feet were good. No problems with the tape, but I need to try it in dusty, dry, hot conditions over the next few weeks.

So far, the heat training is the biggest challenge out of everything in preparing for the event.

I am very excited about two additions to our crew, Nick and Katy! Nick is from Ft. Collins and I know him through the running club, thanks to Felix for connecting us. Nick and his wife Dana are the most awesome volunteers for taking on the Tortoise & Hare Series of monthly club sponsored runs. Nick is a talented distance runner and aspiring ultrarunner and he doesn't know it yet but this experience at Badwater is going to rock his world. His whole view of running is going to be turned upside down! Nick is competitive and will provide plenty of brain power and kicks in the butt if I need them on that second day when I'm really tired and my brain is fried.

The other addition to our dream team is Katy from Cheyenne. Katy is an accomplished ultrarunner having represented the US several times in international competition and has won the Bighorn 100 in addition to other ultras. This is her first Badwater experience, but she has plenty of experience at ultras and will be a huge asset to the crew with her positive attitude and I already know she is fun to run with in extreme conditions. One day the winter before last we did a long run at Horsetooth together in perfectly miserable, freeze-your-butt-off conditions, I think it was 10 below with 40 mph gusts that day? It was awesome!

55 days to race day!

Off to the sauna...

Update at 3:45 pm
Just got home from the sauna, I saw a few big tree limbs down on my way home, but no damage in our neighborhood. I got a call from Dennis at work and that's how I heard about the heard about the tornadoes! That's what was happening in Weld County around noon while I was dodging hail a few miles away. I'll never complain about the weather gods again...

Monday, May 19, 2008

Heat-Seeking Heretic

Today it was hot in Ft. Collins, it was in the 80s by early afternoon. I needed some sun exposure before I go out to the desert next week, so I dressed down for the occasion. Tank top and shorts!

My legs have been feeling kind of flat, and I couldn't resist the opportunity to indulge myself. I was running 15 miles on the bike path and I decided to take a little detour...

to the CSU track.

I ran a mile. Just one, timed, to see what I could do. I didn't go all out, my legs are nowhere near ready for any kind of speedwork. I ran it hard, pushing a little harder with each lap. I had plenty of reserves but it was not an easy effort at all. I ran a pace that I knew I couldn't keep increasing for four more laps. I looked at my 400 meter splits but was almost scared to look at the total time. I waited until after I did a few cooldown steps to catch my breath before I faced the truth...


Not too bad for flat as a pancake, speed-naive, middle-aged ultrarunner legs. Almost a minute slower than I ran last year, though. I have to not let that bother me.

I'm an ultrarunner, but I have a secret. I love doing speedwork on the track. I haven't had time to do it this year, and it's not necessary for success at Badwater.

Most runners wouldn't call the multiple mile repeats and two mile repeats that I do on the track, "speedwork". Marathon and 10K runners would call it "long slow torture". But it's faster than I ever run in an ultra, so I call it speed. Call me a heretic if you want. I'm calling it speedwork.

Heresy or not, I put it on my "A.B." list, along with riding my bike, hiking, climbing 14ers, gardening, painting, going up to the mountains, seeing friends, drinking beer, etc.

After my 15 miles I stopped by Runners Roost before my sauna session, and got some new socks and picked up entry forms for the Houska Houska, the local 5K Memorial Day race. It serves as the "cooldown" for the Wyoming Double Marathon, which I'm doing on Sunday, the day before.

The Houska Houska is Ft. Collins' answer to the Bolder Boulder. I used to run the Bolder Boulder in the old days, but it's gotten so big, as far as I'm concerned, it's a good way to experience claustrophobia. The Houska Houska is a benefit for the Bone Marrow program and Cancer Center, all entry fees go directly to the PVH Foundation for this. I ran the Houska Houska for the first time last year the day after the Wyoming Double and I'm hooked.

This year the Houska Houska t-shirts are awesome! I'll take a picture and post it on the blog after I get my shirt.

The other thing I'm even more excited about is our latest addition to the crew, which I'll talk about more in a post later this week.

This week I'm attempting to re-create the fatigue conditions I did a month ago, by going into a 50+ mile race tired, getting in some good miles before the Double on Sunday. Only two more back to back hard weeks of training, then an easy week, then one more hard week in mid-June, and I taper!

For now, it's back to work in the morning...

Sunday, May 18, 2008


Monday the weather forecast predicts a high temperature of 118 in Death Valley!

It might get to 90 here. I hope we get the hot days when I'm not at work. I have Monday off.

Easy running week, I ran about 10 miles on each of my 3 days off, and concentrated on heat training. I've been getting overdressed before my run and cranking the heater on my way across town. Every time I drive I have everything turned up to the max.

This coming week I need every possible spare second to do a little planning for my race in Wyoming where I plan to test a number of things for Badwater, and then a lot of planning for my trip to Death Valley the following weekend. I'll have to be ready with an equipment list to buy in Las Vegas, since I'm flying and I won't be able to take much on the flight. Here's what I would need to bring:

I get the feeling that white powder in baggies is not the best thing to take through security at the airport, what do you think? I mapquested a running store in Las Vegas and we'll have to stop there to get Heed and gels and stuff....

I wonder if they have Heed sniffing dogs in the airport in Las Vegas?

I can see it now, I'm on the no fly list. I get to the airport, attempt to check my bags, and they're on me, like flies on...

Then they send a second pair of dogs in to double check.

Book 'em, Danno!

Turns out some neighbor called in an anonymous tip to report this unsavory looking character headed for the airport.

I don't know about you, but I'd start locking my car doors if I saw that in my neighborhood.

Friday's sauna session was short but the temperature was at least 170 degrees. Normally it's 150 to 160 in there but when I went in it was noticeably hotter. I lasted a half hour and that was more than enough. I can do an hour at 150, sometimes 160, but the hot box was cranked up.

I have figured out some interesting facts during my sauna sessions. There are exactly 62 boards placed diagonally across the ceiling on the inside of the sauna. And Sauna spelled backwards is "anuaS". I thought you'd want to know that.

Saturday it was a warm day and I overdressed in four heavy layers, and spent 3 hours alternating walking and running, testing my new electrolyte capsules that I got from Zombie Runner. They're called Salt Stick and they worked! No bloating. I was able to wash it down with Heed or water and never had an upset stomach.

I have tried most of the brands of electrolyte capsules out there and they never seem to be the right mix, they cause bloating and upset my stomach. I finally figured out one of the culprits, whey. It's EVIL. It hates me.

I've tried different liquid and powdered food supplements in my nearly 20 years of running ultras and anything I've ever tried with whey always caused cramping and bloating. Why do they put EVIL whey in with electrolyte mix? The other thing about the electrolyte capsules is the manufacturer recommendations for dosing are made for bigger people. Under normal ultra conditions there's no way my body needs that much electrolyte replacement.

I've been looking for something and up to now what I've been using is a magnesium capsule combined with pinches of table salt, and trying to add calcium and potassium through food. I know in Death Valley I might not feel like eating solid food at times. I took one salt stick capsule every hour (it's not too hot today) and drank some Ensure supplement, the vanilla flavor. Tastes pretty bad but I was able to run and it didn't upset my stomach. It has 250 calories in an 8 oz bottle, plus vitamins and electrolytes. Not bad if I could down a few of those the first day. I'm going to try Boost too. I am going to need to get enough calories to keep my energy up for the second day when I can run more of the course, and for that final climb to Whitney Portal.

Next week when I'm running across Death Valley I'll be testing everything- my foot taping, electrolyte and fluid replacement, liquid and solid food intake, and pacing myself in whatever temperatures the desert gods bring me.

I'm working on the equipment and supplies list with Steph now, we're trying to figure out who has what so we can minimize buying extra stuff.

It's crunch time. Everything is happening, and only 8 weeks left!

Sunday, May 11, 2008

30 miles for Mom

I couldn't help posting a picture of my kids on Mother's Day. Iris here is a real Mother's Day baby, she was born on Mother's Day seven years ago. Her birthday is May 13. Happy birthday, Iris. Trying to get the girls to cooperate with the Badwater hats on was an ordeal. Isabelle wouldn't let me take a good picture at all. Here's what we went through:

A little guilt is appropriate for Mother's Day. I felt bad about being away from Dennis and the girls all day today, but I had to get a run in, and the weather was supposed to be hot.
I ran 6 Rock Repeats and overdressed for the last 4. It was impossible to overdress for the first two because I needed all those layers just to keep warm, the temperature was 33 degrees when I left for my run this morning!

I wanted to go back to sleep this morning but I wasn't able to, so I got up and hit the trail by 7:30. For some reason the time seemed to be passing so slowly today. Usually this run goes by fast, but this morning it felt like forever getting through each repeat. My legs felt good, but it must be sleep deprivation.

I tried some hard core trance music and that didn't help. I wanted to fall asleep, and I was freezing the whole time during the first two hours. I fumbled with my MP3 to get some variety. I found a song buried in there with the non-trance tunes. A Horse with No Name by America. I forgot I had that in there. Perfect for Badwater training. Sometimes you have to do whatever it takes to snap out of your bad mood. It worked for me.

The sun came out on the 3rd repeat and it started getting warmer. By the last repeat I decided to add one more layer just to make it that much tougher at the end. The run kept getting better with each up and back. When I started my last Rock Repeat, I was starting to feel guilty about not running longer, because I felt like I hadn't exerted myself enough. I thought about doing an extra repeat to make it seven.

On my way down to the parking lot at the end of my sixth repeat, about 1/2 mile from the car, I ran into Amy Hayman, she was hiking with her husband and three kids on the Southridge Trail. I knew Amy when she and her twin sister Sarah were in high school and I was in graduate school at CSU and we all worked together at Foot of the Rockies, the local running store. Amy and Sarah were standouts on the cross country and track teams for Poudre High School back then. A long time ago! Amy made the ceramic finishers medals for the Colorado Marathon.

Amy asked me how many times I was running the Rock and I told her, "Six" and that I was at the end. Somehow that made the decision final, I was going to stop after six and not do an extra one or two. I need to not be impulsive and overdo it. Thirty miles and 6000 feet of vertical gain and descent is a good run. I feel like I should be up there all day and run 50 miles but I know I have a hard week coming up at the end of May. I remember this feeling from training for Leadville, you know you're ready for a race when you do long runs and they don't feel long anymore.

Ready for the miles, but not the heat. I'm working on it. I drove home from the run with the heater cranked, it's a good 20 minute drive across town. When I got home, I got an e-mail from Ken. He wrote back after I told him my worries about being prepared for the heat. He told me he spent as much time as possible in his truck dressed in a down jacket, hat and gloves with the heater cranked when the weather wouldn't cooperate the year he did Badwater. It worked for him.

I'll do my sauna session tonight. Tomorrow, more heat training...

Saturday, May 10, 2008

Dreaming of Sunshine and Ocean Breezes...

Twenty miles at Horsetooth on Centennial Drive this morning. Going north, the wind was howling with gusts that blew me backward, I was struggling to stand up a few times. Then the wind started spitting cold white snowflakes at me. There were whitecaps on the reservoir.

There was a bike race going on, the collegiate national championships. It was cool to watch the cyclists, but I can't imagine worse conditions for riding. I hope most of the race was done before the wind got bad.

Will it EVER be spring in Ft. Collins?

I wore two winter jackets over my black thick hooded sweatshirt over my shirt and a black ski hat with my sun hat on top. Black fleece-lined tights under my double layer black windpants. I did 45 minutes in the sauna after my run. It was hard to move my arms and legs, they were stiff with all the layers. When I was done my clothes felt like they weighed an extra 20 pounds.

Sometimes I get the feeling the weather gods are challenging me. I had to work too hard to be warm! When you're so bundled up, you can't bend your knees or elbows, it's hard to run! I wasn't going to let a little wind discourage me. I stayed out there and pushed into it. It's only going to make me tougher for Badwater. I gave the proverbial finger back to the wind, BRING IT ON!

Today I talked to my dad and stepmom on the phone, they are down in Arizona where it's warm, and tomorrow they are going to Las Vegas for a business trade show all next week. I wish I could go meet them and run in the heat. They mailed a donation to the Foundation for the Cancer Care Fund. They also sent something to me, to contribute to my Badwater budget, which will help cover some of the added costs now that gas prices are so high.

I started saving money a year ago and the only thing that has changed is the price of gas. When we go out there in two weeks, I'll see what gas costs now. It could be six dollars a gallon in Death Valley National Park.

Then I got an early Mother's Day gift from the Buffaloes when Dennis came home from work. They got me flowers. Thank you, Buffaloes.

After I finish Badwater I just want to go somewhere and expose my skin to the air. Maybe I can go someplace where I can feel the sun and the ocean breeze before this fall. I envy all those girls I see out running in jogbras and shorts lately. Only two more months of dressing for the North Pole!

Thursday, May 8, 2008

Starting Wave 0800, # 72

Today's paper lists Death Valley as the hottest spot in the U.S. at 104 degrees.

Just got the Adventure Corps newsletter and the starting waves have been assigned. I will be in the 8 am start. I am happy with this. I won't have to force myself and the morning crew to wake up super early. To get to the starting area we'll have to leave Furnace Creek early enough that morning.

My bib number will be 72. That's the lucky number.

There were some articles in the Adventure Corps newsletter on training and they are helpful. I'm looking forward to the training weekend in Death Valley with my brother, I haven't had the opportunity to run in hot conditions this year other than bundled up on a cold day. I really need the practice with electrolyte replacement and pacing myself in the heat.

This week I've been somewhat of a celebrity, besides the newspaper article, at work the employee website featured my fundraiser, the response has been extremely positive and I've had lots of people expressing their support. The Adventure Corps newsletter had the article too, and I am still trying to figure out how they found out about it so fast! There must be some kind of media feed related to the race.

It's raining today. I'm off work and I plan to hit the sauna and other than running the Buffaloes for a few miles, take the day off. I'm doing errands, race planning, and cleaning up after muddy paws. Tomorrow I'm back to work for one day.

This weekend I'll be up at Horsetooth, doing Rock Repeats and if I'm lucky enough to get some hot days, mix in some rattlesnake-hopping for cross training. I'll be following each long workout with a visit to the sauna and baking in the car across town. If I run fast, I might have enough time for a nap!

Monday, May 5, 2008

Heat training

Today we finally got a warm spring day.

I took full advantage of the heat by waiting until 11:00 to go out for my run. I drove out to the Coyote Ridge trailhead and overdressed. I wore my warmest, thickest pair of black tights, a long sleeved shirt, my thickest black hooded sweatshirt from the Leadville Trail 100 in 1992, and a black wind jacket with a fleece liner. I put the black hood over my head and covered that with my hazmat hat. I took a running pack with 3 water bottles, and headed out on the trail up and over Coyote Ridge.

I did an hour and a half on the trail and felt great. I was carrying a heavy load but my legs felt good, no evidence I ran 32 miles yesterday with 26 of them downhill on pavement.

After my run, which lasted an hour and a half, I drove over to the health club and did a quick sauna session of 30 minutes at 160 degrees.

On my way across town, sitting at each intersection through three light changes per stoplight in the never-ending construction projects on Harmony Road, I saw everyone had their windows rolled down, tapping their fingers on the steering wheel, looking irritated and impatient with the slow pace of traffic.

Not me. The traffic wasn't bothering me, I could have waited all day on Harmony Road. I was training.

On the way out to Coyote Ridge and back, I drove with the windows rolled up and the heater cranked to the max in my car. People probably thought I had the AC on, but I was baking in there with the air vents blasting hot air in my face. I imagined myself driving down the highway somewhere in Death Valley in mid-summer, with the desert wind blowing in my face.

When we lived in Arizona I used to do early season heat training by sitting inside the car in the driveway with the windows up, listening to a radio program for an hour, with a big bottle of ice water. The neighbors thought I was crazy, but it worked. I always ran well in the heat.

This heat training takes some creativity but I can always find ways to fit it into my schedule. Even the worst traffic jam is an opportunity.

Positive thinking.

Sunday, May 4, 2008

Relentless Forward Motion

Busy week.

Today I ran the Colorado Marathon which starts up Poudre Canyon and finishes in Old Town Ft. Collins.

Runners take the bus up the canyon to get to the start, and that means catching the bus at 4 something in the morning. I woke up at 3:15, had coffee and ate breakfast before driving downtown to catch the bus.

When you get off the bus, it's cold outside, the campground where it starts is right next to the river and the air is cold. This year didn't seem as cold as last year, but I froze the whole morning, I didn't even warm up until I hit the bike path in LaPorte around 21 miles.

I headed for the portapotty line which was long and moving fast (young crowd again?) and heard someone call my name. I turned around and in line behind me was Donnalee, I haven't seen her in 10 years. I knew her and her family through the running club. She moved away to Montana about the time we moved to Arizona, we used to run together back then and today she was running her first marathon in a long time, since law school, getting married, having two kids, etc. They moved back to Fort Collins recently too.

We ran the first two miles together and her plan was to run about the pace I ran last year. I had no idea how I was going to feel, and we started out together for the first two miles, but I couldn't stay up with her. I never saw her again which means she must have had a great run. I haven't seen the results yet.

I started out at about an 8:45 per mile pace but backed off of that when I realized how flat my legs felt. My legs weren't tired or sore, they just feel like they have no turnover, no spring. I settled into a 9 minute pace and stayed there. I went through halfway in exactly 9 minute pace. In the early second half I did two long powerwalking stretches of about a mile each and that helped a lot, after those I'd bounce back and pass dozens of people.

I felt good again around 18 miles and ran with Ron from the running club for a while until I had to take another pee break. He was trying to get in under 4 hours and I didn't feel like pushing myself that hard, I wanted to stay strong. I had told Dennis I'd be done between 3 and a half and four hours, so I told Ron before he got ahead of me if he saw Dennis to tell him not to worry about me, I was upright and moving forward.

At one point on the bike path I passed this guy who was having problems, probably in his first marathon. He was bent over, then he'd stand up and look around behind him, not moving forward. I yelled, "Relentless Forward Motion! You can finish!" One of the spectators out there on the course started echoing me. I hope it sunk in and the guy finished. At that point he had enough time to crawl and still make it under the cutoff time.

When I got to the finish line I couldn't see the clock but I shut off my watch. Dennis saw me and called to me. I looked at my watch after a minute or so and it was still running, so I don't know what my finish time was, but it was 4 hours and change. Probably 4:02 or something, but I'll find out when I see the results. I ran fairly even splits the first and second half, with those two powerwalking miles.

After I finished, I saw a co-worker who finished her first half marathon, and told me that another one of our co-workers finished the half marathon in a fast time. We didn't stick around long, we picked up my drop bag and talked to a few people. We went home and took the Buffaloes for a few miles and got 32 for the day. Then I took a nap. Not a bad week, 60 miles, no breaks. Unfortunately, I neglected my sauna training this week, there were not enough hours to do everything. I can't get away with that anymore after this. The race is only 10 weeks away.

Saturday from 10 am to 5 pm I was at the Expo at the Hilton for the Colorado Marathon. I had a display set up to call attention to my fundraiser for the Foundation. I was located outside the main room so everyone saw me on their way in and out. I got a lot of interest and got a donation, and quite a few people picked up flyers after I talked to them about why I'm doing the fundraiser. I also gave flyers to everyone I knew.

I had my foam board display with the powerpoint slides on it, my laptop set up with the video of "Running on the Sun" the whole time, and a big basket of candy. People are fascinated by the idea of running Badwater, but most of them say they would never do it, they think it's crazy. I talked to maybe half a dozen people who said they might want to do it someday.

My location was ideal except at the times when things got busy and the place was packed with people. I ended up being the greeter all day as a result of my location, which was good, but exhausting. At 5 pm sharp, Dennis helped me break everything down and we ordered a pizza and took it home. I was too tired to think of cooking.

When I got home from the marathon, Dennis had the article in the Coloradoan spread out on the table in the kitchen. I saw Miles before the start and he told me a few things got edited out, but Dennis and I both thought it was good and he got a good laugh out of it.

I need to start this week making heat training a big priority. The weather has been too cool for Badwater training. I'll have to start overdressing on my runs and hitting the sauna every day I'm not at work. I have 6 weeks of training left before the taper, and 9 weeks to heat train. I feel like at this point, I could run the Badwater distance if I had a few weeks to taper. But I don't feel ready for the heat.

One of the articles I read about heat training said that if you're short on time at this point in your training, it's better to hit the sauna and spend time baking in the heat than running. Good advice.

Time to eat again...

Friday, May 2, 2008

Hitting the Wall

This week felt like I hit a brick wall but I didn't stop. I went through it, nose first.

I'm not finished yet, there are two more days left in my week which will include working my table at the Colorado Marathon expo all day Saturday, and running the marathon on Sunday, with a few extra miles after. I plan on doing 35 miles Sunday.

The weather changed abruptly the other day. It was about 80 degrees and then the Front Range wind moved in, we have gusts of at least 40 mph today. The temperature is in the 40s. I should stop wishing for hot weather. No time to hit the sauna this week, but starting next week I need to make it a priority.

Today I did 8 easy miles on the bike path and finished my display for the expo. The Foundation made a full color flyer for fundraising that is awesome, and gave me postage paid envelopes to go with the flyers. They did such a nice job.

I hope to feel good in the marathon. I will be surprised to run as fast as I did last year, 3:38, which wasn't fast at all for me. This year I want to feel good and finish in under 4 hours.

I interviewed with the Coloradoan on Tuesday morning at the end of my run. The editor from the Life section met me on the bike path and we talked for about an hour. The story is coming out on Sunday.

The morning I had that interview, I woke up early and was trying to get my run in before I had to be at work all afternoon. I went out and ran 9 miles and then stopped back at the house before meeting him on the bike path. The Buffaloes were not happy. They thought it was time for their run. As I was telling them they had to wait for their run, Iris jumped up and hit me in the nose with her head. BONK!

I felt my nose crunch and I thought for a second she broke my nose. It hurt! After a few seconds it wasn't bleeding and my forehead was throbbing but I was okay. I ran out the door to meet the guy from the Coloradoan.

My nose has been hurting since then and the roof of my mouth is sore. It's getting better every day. I had a headache all day Wednesday.

When you hit the wall in a marathon you're not supposed to hit it with your nose.

Work was busy this week and I got home later than expected on Thursday and had to rush to get my errands done. They needed extra help but this week, I couldn't stay late. Not enough hours in the week. I wish I could be one of those people who can get by on 5 hours of sleep, but I'm not, I need 8 or 9 hours at least, but I rarely get that.

The marathon will be fun and I'm looking forward to it. The hardest thing about this marathon is getting up early to ride the bus up Poudre Canyon to the start. I have to wake up by 3:30 am.

Time to go cook some pasta and load up before the marathon. Don't want to hit the wall again...