I'm starting my 30th year of running. I really think of it as my second running career. My first started at 11 years old and went through my late 20's. I had a several year break where I worked on my career and had children and began running again in 2004 (at 36). I am now looking forward to new events, new PR's and new distances.
April 22, 2010: Taper Time
Yea, it's taper time! A little over a week until one of my goal races, Ironman St. George, is here. I have been diligently swimming with the Master's swim group at the YMCA two early mornings a week and just for the heck of it I decided to time myself for 100 yards. I can swim, don't get me wrong, but I've always only swam one pace, slow! I've never swum under 1:40 for 100 yards ever. I could probably swim for 10 hours straight, it would just be slow. I've been working on that because if I to ever want to be competitive at triathlons I need to pick it up in the swim. Anyways, I decided to swim hard and time myself. I did a 1:23! That is probably not fast to those swimmers out there, but in my mind I could have challenged Michael Phelps.
Biking has been a bit more challenging this winter. I joined a weekly spin class and became friends with my bike trainer. It did pay off because when I could finally get outside I decided to hammer Lester River Road and felt really good. I got to Strand Road and was able to do 4 Strand hills, seated, without losing a lung. This is a great improvement for me. Watchout Lance!
Of course, running has never been a chore for me to do. I just love it. I don't mind the weather, the dark, the road conditions, or the treadmill. I use the treadmill as a reason to do speed or hill-work. I did weekly challenging workouts on the treadmill this winter and actually enjoyed them. The trails are definitely my favorite, however, and this spring I've spotted a coyote, 2 bard owls (mating perhaps), a skunk, a huge turtle, many deer, a raccoon and a bobcat! Early morning trail running is fantastic for wildlife viewing.
I was able to get in a couple of races as well. I did the Human Race 8k as part of the Northwoods team. What a blast! I think I ran just under 34 minutes which I felt good about. I also decided to run the Trail Mix 25k. I was tempted with the 50k but since I had the Ironman just 2 weeks after, I decided not to. I told myself that I was going to run the 25k easy. Well, that's not exactly what happened but I was able to run each loop only 40 seconds different and beat my time from the last time I ran it (in 2004) by 4 minutes.
Yes, I have the taper energy. I may have to spend my extra time blogging so I'm not tempted to work out more or overeat. I'll let you know how it goes.
Ironman St. George (Utah) goal times:
swim 2.4 miles - 1:15
bike 112 miles - 6:30
run 26.2 miles - 4:15
With time for transitions: goal time of 12:30!
February 28, 2010: Spring is coming
December 13, 2009: Winter (off season)
I am trying to enjoy the off season, uh, I mean winter. This is a time for reflection and change. The winter is the only time I get to the gym and I am trying to see the positives. My first time back to Bosu class really made my butt sore. I didn't even know I had many muscles there. Luckily, by the second time I wasn't nearly as sore. This is a great workout for lower body strength and balance. I also try to get to the YMCA on Saturday mornings for cardio boot camp. This is an inspiring hour where all sorts of people are working toward the common goal of burning calories. It gets a little depressing when Anna yells at us and tells us how many calories are in our favorite holiday foods. The other things I like to do include lifting weights, running on the treadmill, riding the spin bike, trying new classes, swimming and trying various other workout machines all the while wishing it was a hot summer day and I was running through the woods. Sigh.
I try to lift weights at least 6 months of the year and every year I feel stronger. The advantage of getting older is that fewer men try to show me how to lift weights, wait, maybe that is a minus. Anyways, I definitely think it helps my running.
This weekend we cleared the snow off the lake and the ice is pretty good for skating. We had a great time and I hope the kids will enjoy this as much as I do. We are not hockey parents so the kids are learning to skate by trial and error (aka, falling). I also am going to learn to cross country ski this winter (could the Birkie be in the future?). I say that every year but have only managed to get out a few times each year since moving back here 6 years ago. I only ski in a laughable sort of way and should really take a lesson but pride seems to get in the way. Also, the whole waxing thing scares me.
As the year ends, I have been trying to plan my future racing schedule. I put my name in the Western States lottery but the lottery Gods were not on my side this year, hence, I will not be visiting Squaw Valley this summer. There are so many races with so little time and it has been hard to narrow things down, but, plans so far:
May 1 - Ironman St. George, Utah
May - Superior 25K with Henry
June 7 - FANS 24 hour run with Henry (his first attempt at an ultra, his goal is to run 30 miles and get his name in Ultrarunning Magazine. Really, this is his idea.)
July 17 - Vermont 100 Mile Endurance Run
September - either solo Burrito Union 10 Hour Triathlon or Superior Sawtooth (depending on recovery from Vermont)
October - Wild Duluth 100K
January 2011 - Hawaiian Ultra Running Team (H.U.R.T) 100 Mile Endurance Run (with a side trip to Bora Bora to satisfy my travel bug).
So there it is, written down, but, subject to change. I hope everyone else is enjoying the off season (winter) as well. Have fun planning and sharing your racing schedule as well.
November 27, 2009: Rim to Rim to Rim
A couple of years ago I was reading someone's account of their Grand Canyon rim to rim hike. I thought that would be a great way to see the Grand Canyon so I put it in my mind's "to do" list. Last year Mike decided to do Ironman Arizona so we started planning a trip and wanted to include seeing the Grand Canyon. Of course, I'm not the type to just go and "see" things. I like to experience them. Make a lasting impression. I thought of that rim to rim hike and researched it a bit. Unfortunately, the North Rim of the Grand Canyon is closed to traffic starting in early November and the only way to get there is to start at the South Rim and walk there. As I researched this a bit I realized that my kids are too young for a long hike in the Grand Canyon and Mike wasn't too interested in a vigorous hike just days prior to his Ironman, so I hatched a plan to do a solo run from the South Rim to the North Rim and back (rim to rim to rim). I got on the internet and found out that several people do this each year with the most popular months being May and October. My plan of running in late November was a little iffy since weather and water availability can be an issue but decided to go ahead and do it anyway (we needed to be there at that time anyways).
We flew into Phoenix and drove the four and a half hours to the Grand Canyon and checked into the Bright Angel Lodge. At first glimpse the canyon is spectacular! It almost seems unreal. The colors are beautiful, the rock formations are incredible and the heights are dizzying. Did I mention that I'm afraid of heights? It was early evening and sunset was at 5:20 or so. There also was a new moon. It was dark black out. I went to bed early and planned on starting at 5am, two hours prior to sunrise.
I woke up to a pitch black morning with temperatures in the teens. Clear skies and no wind. It was perfect! I was standing at the trail head of the Bright Angel Trail taking pictures when I heard the clop-pity clop of hooves. A guy yelled at me to turn off my light and move to the side of the trail head so he could get on the trail. Then he asked if I was going on the trail and told me to wait 30 to 40 seconds for them to get going. It was a mule train of several mules carrying supplies to the ranch at the bottom of the canyon. They had NO lights. I can't think of anything more terrifying than riding a mule, in the pitch black, on a narrow rugged trail, down a very steep canyon wall with no light. I shuddered at the thought and let them get ahead. I gave them several minutes and then started my journey at 5am, however, within 2 minutes I caught up to them. They kindly let me pass and when I did, the smell improved tremendously.
Going down the South Rim I did a run/walk approach. I didn't want to start too fast and ruin my quads and not be able to get out. The trail is more like a super highway of trails. It is wide enough for three people to walk abreast and it's not too rugged. In order to prevent erosion, there are several logs nailed in across the trail like railroad ties. These can be somewhat of a hazard so I made sure that I was fully stopped before looking around. For light I had my Black Diamond headlamp and my Petzl headlamp around my lower chest. This provided a great amount of light. I was able to see the trail well and didn't miss any switchbacks. It was kind of erie how the trail went off into the black abyss. I couldn't see anything over the edge, just blackness. A couple of times I stopped, turned off my lights and looked up to the sky. The stars were so bright and the silence was incredible. Wow!
I made it down to the canyon floor just as sunrise approached and enjoyed the wakening day as the canyon colors lit up with the morning light. I was in a deep narrow gorge called "The Box" and rock rose above me in all directions. It was a little claustrophobic but breathtaking nonetheless. As I made my way to the Colorado river I met a few early morning hikers no doubt camping at one of the few campgrounds at the bottom. I was able to run quite a bit at the bottom. There were probably a good 10 miles of gentle grade that was very easy to run. Near the river, however, is about a 2 mile section of pretty deep sand, somewhat like running on a tilted beach. It was a little tiring but fun. Once I crossed the river over a suspension bridge I was able to refill water at Bright Angel Campground and use a flush toilet (the small things). I ate a Hammer bar and kept going past Phantom ranch where people had just started milling about. Three miles after Phantom ranch, a bridge crossing the Bright Angel river was out. Damaged by falling rock, the rangers were working on it and there was a sign posted that the bridge was closed. I almost turned around but on closer inspection I felt the river was negotiable. I walked down to the bank and stepped in. Wow, was it cold! Luckily I only got thigh deep before exiting on the other bank. Thankfully the bridge was reopened by the time I made my way back.
There was one water pipe still on just after Cottonwood Campground so I filled up again and started the very steep trek to the North Rim. The trail was narrower but even more beautiful. Many switchbacks, cliffs, and rocky outcroppings to maneuver. Every time I looked down I got dizzy. Did I mention I'm afraid of heights? I only came across 2 guys hiking this section and had about 16 miles all to myself. It was so peaceful, the only sound I heard was the loud panting of my breath and my very fast heartbeat. Finally, I made it to the top! By the way, the North Rim was still open. There were 2 cars in the parking lot but no people to be seen. I spent about 15 minutes on the rim eating and catching my breath then headed back down.
I felt really good starting at 30 miles and used the time to just let gravity be my friend. I ran almost the entire way down and across back to Bright Angel campground. I came across a couple of Grand Canyon Rattlesnakes but didn't realize they were very close until I had already passed them (very cool). Bright Angel campground has a pay phone and I knew Mike was worrying about me so I called him. I knew there was a reason I brought my credit card with. It was dusk and I figured I had about three to three and a half hours before I got back to the South Rim so I asked him if he and the kids would hike down after a couple of hours and meet me, hopefully, with about a mile left. He agreed. I forgot that he's not very good navigating in nature but I thought the trail was foolproof.
After I crossed the rapidly flowing Colorado river for the second time, I began the long arduous hike to the top. I got out my headlamps at sunset and was able to refill water at Indian Garden campground. There were a few people there partying so it wasn't as peaceful on the way up. Each switch back was spent power hiking as fast as I could. I passed a few people also making their way up, some of them with no light (crazy). I got to the top of the South Rim and never crossed paths with Mike or my kids. Hmm. I called him and he answered his cell phone and said he was waiting for me. I informed him I was at the top!?! He then asked if the trail got very narrow and if I had to climb over trees and boulders? I said NO! He was able to backtrack and found the main trail and he realized he missed the switchback. They made it back up safely and the next day we hiked down to see where he went wrong. At the first switchback they followed a "game trail" about a half mile along a ledge with little to no trail to walk on. They were inches from a straight down drop off of several hundred feet. I shudder to think how different it could have been. Did I mention that I'm afraid of heights?!?!
My adventure took me 15 hours and was 54 miles long and was the most beautiful and peaceful run I've ever had. I'd highly recommend it to anyone who likes to run long.
November 15, 2009: Nancy English Memorial 5K
The second edition of the Nancy English Memorial 5k was again a big hit. What a great way to celebrate a wonderful person. Eve pulled together a fun family event and my kids had a blast.
Both kids decided they wanted to run the 5k and not the kids race so that is what they signed up for. They have been proudly wearing their long sleeved shirts from last year and wanted to add to their collection of race t-shirts. When we got to park point, Henry wanted to make sure we got there in time to watch the kids race because he thought one of his friends was going to run it. They were standing to the side when Eve told them they could run both the kids race and the 5k. They both decided not to until Eve told them that kids got a special treat (suckers and stickers), so they jumped up to the starting line and were off. I was a bit surprised but had fun watching them. Henry talked to himself the whole way and finished third while Olivia gutted it out to a fifth place finish (second girl). They got done in time to eat a sucker, drink some water, take a port a pot break and get to the starting line of the 5k.
I ran with Olivia and she had a goal to break 40 minutes. Her last 5k was the Hermantown Summerfest where we ran 41:40 so she was determined to run faster. Henry wanted to break 30 minutes but got a side ache early on and needed a walking break which resulted in coming up short of his goal. That has made him a bit more determined to break 30 minutes at the upcoming Gobble Gallop.
Olivia and I decided we would run the whole first mile without walking. She looked a bit tired at the one mile mark so we walked for a bit. That was about all she needed and once she saw the turnaround, she picked up the pace. We continued on the run walk pace until one mile to go. Olivia asked how fast we had to run to break 40 minutes and I told her we had 12 minutes so if she wanted to do it, she needed to run the mile without walking. She looked at me and said "I can do that. It's not that far." She started running again and at times I had to work to keep up. She kept saying "it's not far, I can do it." It was so funny to see her competitive spirit. I have no idea where she gets it from. Anyways, she crossed the line in 38:40 with a big smile on her face. She was very proud of herself for setting a goal and reaching it.
Today the kids are sporting their new long sleeve race t-shirts as we make our way to Arizona. Henry has been researching the Grand Canyon on the internet and is worried I won't make it out trying my double crossing, however, he said if I didn't make it out alive, he would be sure to have a memorial race for me. Gotta love him.