Monday, December 3, 2012

California International Marathon–Race Report!

It was the best of times, it was the worst of times…

Actually, it was neither my best nor my worst finish time, but I couldn’t resist the quote.  In fact, this is the tale of six cities and the fun time I had running through them:

The Worst of Times

This means we’re talking about the weather.  Oh, my goodness, it was WET.  And windy.  And did I mention the wet?  I love to run in the rain, so I didn’t think it was going to be such a big deal, but lemme tell ya, sitting on the shuttle bus and watching the rain come down sideways because of the heavy winds made my stomach do a little flippity-flop.

Rainy Start at the CIMI did not take this picture.  In fact, I didn’t take a single picture all day long because I was afraid it would ruin my camera.  Note to self, buy a waterproof camera for my next race.  This photo was taken by Paul Kitigaki, Jr. for the Sacramento Bee.  You can see the whole gallery of his photos for the race (and you should, because they’re really good and capture just how wet and dreadful the day was) HERE.

I had been mostly ignoring the weather reports in the days leading up to the CIM because I know darn well that there’s nothing to be done for race day weather except dealing with it.  I suppose, though, that there was still a small part of me hoping that the “drenching rain” would miss us entirely somehow.  No such luck.  We managed to avoid the thunderstorms that were predicted, though, and I was glad for that.  I’m not a fan of thunder.

The start of the race was very notably subdued this year.  I may have missed the party by staying on the warm bus until the very last minute, but I didn’t hear any music other than the national anthem.  No balloon arch and not a lot of that silly, giddy atmosphere you generally get before a marathon.  It was more like a grimly determined, “Let’s do this thing,” feeling.

The Best of Times

This covers pretty much all of the rest of the day.  The CIM is a really, really awesome race even on a bad day.  It has a million porta-potties at the start with lines less than three minutes long, warm shuttle buses that you can stay on until 6:59 am, friendly and helpful volunteers at each of the 17 (yes, 17!) aid stations, and throngs of cheering spectators at the relay exchanges.  The weather unfortunately kept other spectators away and I sure did miss the usual volunteers at the mile markers who blast music and tell you your estimated finish time.

I ran yesterday’s race with a good friend who (whom?  I can’t remember this rule and it is really bugging me.  I wrote it both ways on Grammarly and it wasn’t apparently wrong either time.  What’s up with that?) I haven’t seen since this summer.  She and I ran the CIM together back in 2009 and we made rather half-assed plans to run together this year, too.  Meaning that we said we should run together and then haven’t seen each other since.  But the stars aligned and we were able to hook up for the bus ride to the start and the run back down the hill to the finish.  We talked, and I am not exaggerating here, the entire time.  I suspect that we were incredibly annoying to the other runners, but it was absolute heaven to have her company distracting me from the dismal weather.  Among our topics:

  • good books
  • why good books should not be made into movies
  • plastic bag shoe coverings – pros and cons (mostly cons, we saw several people wearing them and they just looked uncomfortable.  Plus they splash up all that rainwater onto your ass.  Why is that better than wet feet?)
  • running
  • grief
  • our kids
  • other sports
  • good products for curly hair
  • how rain and wind turn curly hair into a giant ball of knots (thank goodness I wore braids or I would still be untangling my hair right now, 22 1/2 hours after I finished)
  • blindness
  • all the reasons we are happy to not be homeless
  • why runners shouldn’t carry their own cowbells (OMG, annoying!)
  • chafing
  • voting
  • how Facebook and social media in general is pretty much ruining common decency
  • strength training
  • funny and/or interesting things we saw on other people’s shirts (my favorite:  Suck it Up and Make it Happen!)
  • funny and/or odd things people wrote on cheer cards (funny:  “It’s a 26.2 mile wet t-shirt contest!!”  odd:  “You trainded for this!”  I couldn’t decide if that was an inside joke or the writer was spelling-challenged)
  • how bizarrely quiet the race course was
  • badass points and how many we should earn for running in a monsoon

and much, much more!  We laughed a lot.  We sang a few times. We ran through puddles that came up to our ankles.  We stopped to use the porta-potties THREE times (all me on that one – I think the rain was actually soaking through my skin and into my bladder).  We joked about how we were just here for the party.  I used the phrase “When I ran my 50-miler” waaaaaaaay more than I should have and my wonderful friend never even rolled her eyes at me.  We said thank you to all the volunteers and many of the spectators because they looked even more miserable than us.  We walked a lot, but the miles seemed to just fly by.  Every time we would see a mile marker coming, I’d smack her in the shoulder and shout, “Dude!  We’re already at Mile (fill in the blank)!”  Yes, I have the social graces of your average high school jock.

Most importantly, though, we FINISHED!  With smiles on our faces and hands in the air, we crossed the finish line at 5:01:08.

CIM State Capitol FinishI love the finish of this race at our State Capitol.  Can you believe that it was sunny at the finish??  Crazy, crazy weather!

Honestly, finishing was never in doubt.  Even though our bodies rebelled and complained, we both felt happy and mentally strong the whole day.  It was no PR effort, but it was still a good day overall and another marathon (#7!) completed.  I feel like the luckiest girl in the world every time I run one of these things.  Oh!  And there were warm, delicious pancakes at the finish which really helped with that happy/lucky/cheerful feeling.  I horked down two of them without even using a fork and then went and found the cookies.  Hell to the yeahs.

CIM 2012 Finishers MedalThe finisher’s medal is a coaster!

The Aftermath

This means we’re talking about chafing, blistering and pruning, oh, my!  Have you ever run 26.2 miles in soaking wet clothing?  Your skin does not enjoy it, lemme tell ya.  My fingers and toes were like soggy, stinky raisins and my feet picked up a few (easily popped and removed, thank goodness) blisters.  The chafing was everywhere – under my bra, under my arms, and … uhhh … my “undercarriage.”  I even have some spots on the front of my thighs where my drenched and heavy skirt kept slapping my legs.  Not pretty.

I have the usual amount of muscle soreness today and a little top of the foot pain which is reminding me that no matter how many marathons I do, you gotta respect the distance.  I plan on taking at least a week to recover, maybe more if my body says so.

And Finally…

My apologies (and congratulations!) to everyone who traveled from out of town to run the CIM this year – you did not get to see this race at its best!  Come back next year when the weather is sure to be glorious.  You know I’ll be there!!

Monday, October 15, 2012

Fiddy (the Rock’n River 50-Miler Race Report)

So. On Saturday I ran fifty miles. All in a row, without (too much) stopping. That was pretty crazy, in case you were wondering. But it was also really amazing and awesome and inspiring. You’ll probably want a drink and a snack for this race report, since it’s just about as long as my race, which, btw, took me twelve and a half hours.


First, a quick update about the goings-on this past month while I unintentionally didn’t blog: professionally and training-y, things were quite splendid. I happily took on a few new clients and enjoyed an uncommonly trouble-free training cycle. I’ve never had so many successful long runs in one cycle and I think I’ve discovered the secret to running injury-free: slow way, way, waaaaaaaay down. And then ease up a bit.

My training for this race was slightly abbreviated, due to the Rock’n River 50 being a month earlier than my original target 50, so I tried to make some compromises between training thoroughly enough and not building too fast too soon (a classic mistake of mine). I’ve always been a “less is more” runner, generally running three days a week and peaking at around 30-ish miles a week while training for a marathon. I mention this because I don’t want you to freak out when I tell you that my peak week was about 45 miles and my longest long run was 22. I paired each long run with a second long-ish run to get the feel of running on tired legs. I didn’t do anything even remotely resembling speedwork or tempos, and instead I did anything over ten miles as a run/walk (five minutes running, one minute walking). I didn’t recognize the numbers on my Garmin, but I woke up every day ready to run more. I felt good about my plan because it was more or less (okay, a little less) the one UltraIronHubs used for the AR50.

Up until a few days ago, the course was described as the AR50 in reverse, so I was excited about knowing the whole course. In case you’re not familiar with the AR50 course (and why would you be?), there is a short out-and-back at the beginning before the point-to-point up to Auburn. Based on the RnR50’s website, it didn’t look like they were planning on that out-and-back part, so I couldn’t figure out how the miles were going to add up. As it turned out, they actually redesigned a few parts of the course, mostly at the beginning, and particularly the descent of Cardiac Hill. This change was worthy of a complete freak-out on my part. The AR50 climbs Cardiac on this nice wide fire road. It’s a brutal climb, don’t get me wrong, but the path itself is easy to navigate, so I was cool with managing that downhill. The course change for the RnR50, however, meant that we would be descending Cardiac Trail. This is an important difference. I climbed Cardiac Trail when I ran the She Rocks the Trails 25K and it was so steep I actually feared falling backwards while trying to go up. It’s a descent of about 800 feet over a mile and a half on rocky single-track. The thought of mincing my way down that hill in the dark made me clammy and sick.

RnR50 Text MessageThe text conversation I had with my husband the night before the race.  He’s a little more level-headed than I am.

Friday night, I put together my backpack full of essentials and what-ifs:  four Honey Stinger gels, money, feminine hygiene stuff, water, toilet paper, pretzels, and my GymBoss.  I had decided to carry a handheld as well, with Gatorade and my phone, both of which turned out to be real lifesavers.  I had three more gels stuffed in my skirt pocket also, just in case.

Ready or not, here came race day and depending on which minute you asked me, I either felt really confident and very excited or completely terrified.  Mostly I felt good.  Until I thought about that hill, and then I felt terrified.  But excited!  And a little terrified.

I woke up in the middle of the night (3 am, of course) to get ready and head up to Auburn for the 6 am start.  We arrived about 5:15, plenty of time for several successful trips to the (flushing! and indoor!) bathroom and a complete meltdown in the car.

RnR50 Start 001Smiling on the outside, totally flipping out on the inside.

RnR50 Start 002Yes, this was the entire field of athletes!  It was a very, very small race with about 40 participants.  I was pretty happy about a guaranteed Top-40 finish!

After some terrific and thorough race instructions and a few questions from the runners, we were off on our wilderness adventure!  Most of us stayed pretty well clumped together for the first few miles, which was really nice because the ambient glow from all those headlamps made sighting a lot easier.  I’ve been practicing with my hat light here in town and on the nature trail near my house, but this was my first foray into the “real” darkness of a trail before the sun came up.  It wasn’t as scary as I feared (note to self:  almost nothing is).  I stayed behind a guy who was running a perfect pace and wore very, very reflective clothing.  In my mind I called him Reflecty Guy and he was like my beacon to sure footing on the trail.

Until we reached Cardiac Trail.

Pretty much everybody had passed me by the time we got to the edge of the mountain.  I was totally okay with being in DFL place because I was sure anybody caught behind me would be pissed at my grandmotherly pace as I minced my way down that steep path.  I hoped, though, that somebody was at least close enough to hear me scream as I fell to my inevitable doom.  I literally chanted – out loud! – “I’m okay, I can do this, I’m okay, I can do this, I’m okay, I can do this” the entire mile and a half down Cardiac Trail.  It was scary and awful, but I did it!  I didn’t fall, I didn’t cry (mostly because I was afraid I wouldn’t be able to see, but whatever) and I only screamed a little bit one time when my feet started skidding on some loose gravel.  GAH!  But there I was, at the bottom of the hill and – BAM! – there was aid station number one!

Rock'nRiver ElevationCardiac Hill is no joke. (More on why my Garmin thinks I only ran 37 miles in a bit)

I hadn’t made a real point of memorizing the locations of the aid stations, but apparently I had looked at that chart on the race director’s website enough to absorb it, and good thing.  For a race this long, you really can’t think about how far you’ve gone or how far you have left to go, so it’s perfect to just concentrate on getting to the next aid station.  After #1, I knew I had nearly seven miles to get to #2, the longest stretch in the race without aid.  Happily, it was also one of the most beautiful sections of the race, too, with the sun rising and the peaceful trails which seemed pretty flat.  Maybe just by comparison, I don’t know.

Misc iPhone Pics 016The beautiful American River, my constant companion for this race.

Misc iPhone Pics 017We’re still getting temps in the 80s, but somehow the trees know it’s autumn.

Even though I knew the terrain would dictate walking breaks, what with the steep hills and treacherous declines and all, I set my GymBoss for intervals of 5 minutes and 1 minute and used the alerts as a reminder to drink.  Dehydration has spoiled more than a few races for me and I was determined not to let that happen on Saturday.  When GymBoss buzzed, I drank like it was my fricken job.  I have a medical condition known as “Race Day Stupidity” which causes me to think I’m drinking and eating more than I am, and the GymBoss really helped me control that.

I made it to aid station #2 with a big smile on my face.  The morning air was still pretty cool and the terrain wasn’t kicking my ass too much.  Every step I took was bringing me closer to more familiar ground.  I was managing a respectable-for-me pace.  My stomach felt good, my legs felt strong and I had actually caught and passed two other runners.  Life was good and aid station #3 was just a few miles away.

The volunteers at the aid stations were absolutely incredible – they filled up my hydration pack (yes, I needed a refill of almost all 70 ounces by Mile 14), asked how my day was going, told me I looked great and cheered me on my way.  I’m pretty sure I remembered to thank them all while I was there, but just in case, I’ll say it again here:  THANK YOU VOLUNTEERS!!

The going got a little rough between aid stations #3 and #4.  It was a pretty long way between them (6.47 miles) and the terrain was, in my opinion, the hardest on the course.  Or at least the most consistently difficult.  There wasn’t any big monster of a hill, but there were constant, never-ending hills and no flat sections at all that I can think of.  I remembered walking a lot of this section with UIH during the AR50, too.  I’m pretty sure this was the section of the course where he declared he would never run another 50-miler.

When I arrived at aid station #4, I was so happy to see (indoor! and flushing!) toilets.  I was pretty liquified by then, but I knew it was going to make the difference between a good day and a puke-fest, so I kept on drinking.  At this point – Mile 20 – my stomach was still feeling good, so I knew I could start taking in something solid.  I grabbed a few animal crackers and some potato chips and headed off down the trail for aid station #5.

I was really looking forward to the next aid station for a lot of reasons:  it was the halfway point, it was the beginning of the American River Bike Trail where I do all my long-run training, and – most importantly – I would finally see my family!!  I had been texting them when I could get cell coverage (which was spotty at best), but it would be so nice to see their familiar faces and draw on some of their energy.

The five-mile stretch between Granite Bay and Beals Point has become a lot more familiar recently as I’ve done some of my trail training there, so it was one of the easier parts of the race for me.  I was starting to see other runners more frequently as well as dog-walkers and people on horseback.  I could tell I was nearing civilization and it was a welcome change from the solitude of the trail.

I cruised into aid station #5 at just about 6 hours and was absolutely delighted to see my mom, my sister and my sister’s boyfriend!  They greeted me with hugs and cheers and made me feel like a rock star.  I checked in at the aid station and grazed a little at the buffet, but still no sight of UIH and the kiddos.  My mom called them and they were at Beals Point, but didn’t see the aid station.  Here’s where the “slight” course modifications from the AR50 really made a difference – none of the aid stations were in the same place at all!  So poor UIH, thinking he knew where to find me, was in the wrong place.  Thankfully, it wasn’t a huge problem and I only waited for a few minutes.  I really wanted to see them and I had texted UIH asking Little Boy to run with me as a pacer until the next aid station four miles away.

RnR50 HalfwayThis is a perfect representation of the halfway point – my mom, my sister, and her boyfriend are all cheering and smiling, I am grimacing and probably saying, “owowowowowowowowowow,” because we are going downhill, and Little Boy is saying, “You’ve got this, Mom!”  Little Boy is still wearing his cross country uniform from a meet earlier in the day, by the way.

I was so, so, SO happy for Little Boy’s company at this point.  I had updated my status on Facebook to let everyone know I was halfway done, but I couldn’t let myself dwell on the mileage and he was a great distraction.  We didn’t talk all that much, actually, but having him there helped me think about other things.  I asked him about his meet (he did great) and if Daddy was yelling at everyone because he was nervous for me (only a little).  About every minute or so he would say, “You’re doing great, Mom!” or “You’ve totally got this, Mom!” which probably would have been annoying at any other time, but was exactly what I needed to hear just then.

The entire four miles with Little Boy was descent and lemme tell ya, my quads were really starting to argue with me about running downhill.  We were on the paved AR Bike Trail, so I was using the GymBoss as a drink reminder and walk interval, but every time we picked it up to a run, I was moaning and groaning.  It was tough going, for sure.  By the time we arrived at aid station #6, I was at a distance PR (29 miles – I had never run more than a marathon before!), in need of a bathroom, and really, sort of exhausted.

RnR50 Aid StationMy shoes were so full of dirt and rocks I had to take them off and empty them out.

RnR50 Aid Station 002I swapped Little Boy for Big Boy as a pacer to the next aid station almost five miles away.  I look like I’m checking my Garmin, but time had really lost all meaning for me at that point.

The stretch between aid stations #6 and #7 was the last of the dirt trail before I could run to the finish on the paved AR Bike Trail, so I asked Big Boy to accompany me.  I knew this part would be tough, but it was approximately a bajillionty times harder than I expected.  I really, really had to pee.  I was completely done with dirt and hills.  I was unfamiliar with this trail, and somehow the course markings got messed up and as far as I could tell, we were lost.  Even though we were probably less than a mile and a half from the next aid station, there were no pink ribbons (course markers) anywhere that I could see and there was no other trail to take.  We kept going in the same direction, but I was getting more and more freaked out about the lack of markings and I finally just flipped.  I mean I LOST. MY. SHIT.  Full-on ugly face, high-pitched, hysterical, panicky, screamy crying.  And more crying.  And more freaking out.  Poor Big Boy, I probably scarred him for life.  He kept his head about him and was telling me to calm down, but I was free-falling into Looney-ville.  We turned around to retrace our steps and figure out where we lost the course markers while I called UIH.  Thankfully, he could understand me through the wailing and gnashing of teeth.  He checked the course directions, found me on the Find My iPhone app (if you don’t own this, go get it NOW!  Having UIH able to find me totally saved my bacon) and helped me get us oriented the right way.

As we approached the intersection where the last marker was, I was calming down (a little) and we ran into a group of three other runners, who were also trying to figure out what was up with the course markings.  Luckily, the girl whose name I never caught had called the Race Director the day before and still had the number in her call history.  She called and got us sorted out and we started making our way to aid station #7.

Getting Lost at the RnR50You can see how we were almost at the aid station (bottom of the screen, near the blip of water) when we turned around.  I’m still not 100% sure if we were on the right path at any point, but at least we made it to the aid station.

I lingered at aid station #7 for a bit, drank some Coke, filled up my hydration pack for the third time, ate some food and tried to gather my wits about me.  It was not an easy task.  I was rattled and tired and even though I tried not to think about it, I still had a really, really, really long way to go.  UIH had to get Big Boy to a birthday party, so I knew I wouldn’t see him for a while and my mom wasn’t going to see me again until an aid station 10 miles down the road.  I had to get my head straight and gut this thing out.

I put my headphones in for the first time all day and tried to zone out to the music.  I changed my GymBoss from buzzer to beeper and eventually changed the interval to three minutes of running and one minute of walking.  I bargained with myself to keep moving forward.  I tried to smile back at all of very, very friendly runners and cyclists who said things like, “You’re doing great!” and  “Awesome job!”  I wondered if they knew how far I had already run or how far I had to go.  My phone buzzed almost constantly from text messages and comments on Facebook, which helped keep my spirits up more than anyone could possibly know.  I kept putting one foot in front of the other and – lo, and behold! – there was aid station #8.

I grabbed a granola bar that I knew I wouldn’t eat, but thought I should carry just in case, and I got right back to it.  I couldn’t let myself stop anymore because I was pretty certain that if I stopped I would never move again.  Just the tiniest way beyond the aid station, I got the very nicest surprise – my mom!!  She had looked at the directions and figured out that this aid station would be easy enough to get to before going to the one she had told me.  Oh, what a boost that was!!  She walked with me for a little while and made me feel so much better.  I ran on, carrying some of her energy with me.

I had long since stopped paying attention to the time, or my pace, or even the distance because it wasn’t doing me any good to fret about any of those things, so I didn’t even notice when my Garmin gave up the ghost.  Apparently it was around Mile 37, outlasting its advertised nine-hour battery time by over 30 minutes.

When I got to aid station #9, I asked them more than once if this was Mile 40.  They assured me that, yes, it was.  It was actually Mile 39.84, but I didn’t know that at the time and I didn’t care.  I started to feel…well, not better, exactly, but definitely like the end was in sight.  Ten miles left!  I’ll see my mom again in four miles, then one more aid station, then the Finish!  I changed my GymBoss again, this time setting the intervals for two minutes of running and one minute of walking.  It was getting harder and harder to pick it back up to running, but I really couldn’t stand the thought of walking for ten miles, so I kept at it.

Right before the aid station #10, at Mile 44, I passed that group of three runners I had met when I got lost.  They were doing a lot of walking at that point, too.  At the aid station, a guy I had been chasing all day long was sitting down and stretching.  I checked in my bib number and set off at what seemed like a brisk pace to me but was probably a middling shuffle.  Hell to the yeahs, I was passing people!  It was probably a little early to start celebrating, but I could feel myself getting closer to the finish and I knew without a doubt that I was going to get there with a smile on my face.

I ran and I walked, I ran and I walked.  I tried desperately not to walk longer than the intervals, but I finally switched them – one minute of running and two minutes of walking.  I just had to keep going.

The group of volunteers at the Mile 47 aid station started screaming and clapping and cheering for me as soon as I came into view.  They were AWESOME!  I didn’t need anything at that point except to get my butt to the finish line, so I checked in my bib number and hustled away.  OMG, three miles to go!  I texted UIH and told him to expect me in 45 minutes because I was sure my pace was glacial by then, but it felt like mere seconds later when I saw the most glorious thing in the world:

Guy West BridgeGuy West Bridge, a.k.a. The Finish Line!!!

I saw my mom and Little Boy and I started my finishing “sprint.”

RnR50 FinishMy only goal for the day was to cross the finish line with a smile on my face.  Check!

UltraPYes, you may now call me UltraP.

Results were posted today, my official finishing time was 12:24:34

I placed 30th out of 40 finishers – LOL! – but I would have been just as happy in last place, because I did it.  I did it.

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Competitive Dressing

So I finally realized last week what’s been missing from my Friday long runs:  seeing other runners.  I see old ladies out walking their dogs, children on their way to school and drivers on their way to work (who think it’s okay to make right hand turns directly in front of me as I’m stepping off the sidewalk to cross the street – but that’s a rant for another day).  Runners with “real” jobs don’t go long on Fridays, apparently.  Who knew?

Last week’s running schedule was all wack-a-doodle for a variety of reasons and I ended up doing a 6-miler on Sunday, which has recently been my day off.  OMG, there were runners everywhere!  It was amazing!  After the first few went by me, I figured out that they must have been from a local half-marathon training group.  I smiled and said good morning to the ones who were on my side of the street, but the funniest thing happened:  several of them were pleasant enough, but most of them were… dismissive.

As it happened, I saw most of the other runners when I was barely on Mile Two – still on the out portion of my out and back route - and, since it was a cool morning, I wasn’t particularly sweaty yet.  I was wearing my most subtle-colored shoes and a non-branded, plain black tank top with shorts.  Also, because I was only running six miles, I didn’t have anything in my hands in the way of hydration or nutrition.

By contrast, the runners coming at me on what was likely their first double-digit run of the season were decked out in last year’s half-marathon tech shirts, hydration belts or backpacks, branded hats and fancy-ass shoes.  I could watch their expressions glaze over as they took in the sight of me and passed their silent judgment:  just a jogger.

It took more self-control than it is polite to admit in public not to scream after them, “I ran 22 miles two days ago!  I’m doing almost the same mileage as you and this is my shortest run of the week!  I’m training for a 50-miler, dammit!”  I managed to restrain myself, but I’m thinking of getting a t-shirt printed up:

50 Mile Training Shirt

When I got up for this morning’s Easy 4 it was downright chilly, so I grabbed the only sleeved shirt I can stand to run in, from last year’s CIM.  I threw down some negative splits and was finishing up with a smile on my face as I saw an unfamiliar runner with a 5K shirt coming towards me.  I smiled and wished him a good morning and watched as he recognized my shirt.  The look on his face clearly said, “Hey now, she’s a marathoner!

That’s more like it.

Do you wear race shirts while you’re running?  Almost never.  I’m a tank top kinda girl, even in the winter time.

Ever judged another runner by what they were wearing?  Guilty as charged!  When I see someone in cotton sweatpants it’s really hard not to assume they’re just starting out.

Sunday, August 5, 2012

Cool Moon 10 Mile–Best! Race! Ever!

Let me give away the ending by telling you that this was not my fastest 10 miles – not by a longshot! – but it was easily one of my favorite races of all time.  Why?  Well, lemme tell you all about it:

Our story actually begins many, many months ago when UltraIronHubs was trolling the internet for his first 100-mile race a mere five days after completing his first 50 (and, sadly, about a week before plantar fasciitis stole his ability to run anything).  He found the Cool Moon 100, a local-ish race with 100-mile, 12-hour, 6-hour and 10-mile options.  The 100-mile race is 10 laps of the 10-mile course, the six- and 12-hour runners complete as many laps as they can in the allotted time and the 10-mile runners just do one loop.  He signed up for the 10-miler with the idea of scouting out the course before running the full 100 next year.  An excellent plan…until he couldn’t run anymore.

Over the past two weeks or so, it had become increasingly obvious that UIH wasn’t going to be able to run this race.  He considered doing a walk/run (mostly walk), but even walking ten miles sounded like too much stress for his poor PF.  He emailed the incredibly nice RD about transferring his bib to me and she agreed, so – voila! – a ten-mile race suddenly appeared on my training schedule!

Stubborn little monkey that I am, I didn’t adjust my Rock’n River 50 training plan to accommodate the extra ten miles this week, even though it was already a build week with a planned 20 mile long run the day before the race.  Nor did I think to adjust my client training schedule, which included a week-long Fit Camp every evening (and the necessary “extra” workouts that a boot camp requires to run well).  So there I arrived at the starting line, wrapping up my highest volume training week – EVER – on less than five hours of sleep and sore, tired legs.  This totally could have been a recipe for disaster, but – again with the spoilers! – I managed to “cook up” a great race.  *groan*

Cool Moon 10M 003Let’s do a little race day math:  6 am start time minus an hour and a half drive time minus an hour to drink coffee and get ready?  Yep, I got up at 3 am.

We arrived about 5:30, I picked up my bib and race goodies, hit the porto and stood around trying to pretend like I wasn’t nervous.  Have you ever been at the starting line of a 100 mile race?  I – the veteran of a half dozen marathons and winner of a few AG awards – felt completely, utterly and stunningly outclassed by these runners.  I felt fat.  I felt like a poser, a newbie, a fancy city girl about to get her shoes dirty for the first time.  My “Oh, I ran 20 miles yesterday so my legs are tired” excuse wasn’t going to fly here – these runners eat 20-milers for breakfast, lunch and dinner!  Yikes.

As we were waiting for 6 o’clock, I was trying to figure out where exactly the race was going to start.  They were putting together what looked like a start/finish arch with a sign from the race management company, but I had no clue which way we might go from there.  Thankfully, the RD gathered us up for some surprisingly thorough last-minute instructions.  I felt pretty good about not getting lost, and then off we went!

Cool Moon 10M 018This was the entire field of athletes, since the race is limited to 100 participants.  It was a really perfect size.

I’m learning to love the laid-back vibe of trail races and man, an ultra is a whole ‘nuther level of mellow!  I’ve never seen such a relaxed start.  The guy who eventually won the whole thing and one woman who had already announced to anyone who would listen that today was her first trail race both took off like rabbits, but the rest of us just sort of started trotting and then eventually worked up to the speed we were looking for.  Don’t get me wrong, plenty of people passed me and many of them probably completed the entire 100 miles at a pace I could really only sustain for my 10 (or faster), but nobody was crowding and jostling for a good position the way you see in shorter races.

Cool Moon 10M 027Cool Moon.

IMG_0626The first big, tough hill near Mile 2.  Sorry it’s so blurry, there were still plenty of people around, so I didn’t want to full-on stop to snap a pic.

IMG_0627It’s hard to tell, but this is actually the rim of a very deep gorge.

IMG_0628More climbing.  I was super grateful for these nice wide fire roads, rather than narrow single-track where I always feel like I’m holding somebody back.

I didn’t dare take my eyes off the trail to take pictures on the downhill portions, which were definitely the most technical I’ve run.  Thankfully, the worst of the hills – both up and down – were over in just a few miles.  I imagine that when you run the full hundred the best strategy would be to walk that entire 2 – 3 mile stretch of hills to conserve energy and minimize the possibility of a fall.  The other seven miles were very, very manageable hill-wise.

Cool Moon Elevation ChartThe elevation chart from my Garmin.  Miles 2 through 5 were definitely the toughest.

Around Mile 2, I started chatting with a nice guy who was telling me about the Tahoe Rim Trail 100-miler that he DNF’d due to altitude sickness at Mile 56 just two weeks earlier.  He mentioned that he was really beating himself up about it and knew he needed to run another 100 as soon as possible (which was how he ended up at the Cool Moon).  I had to chuckle.  Ultra runners are the only people crazy enough to think of running “only” 56 miles as a failure.  I got his point, though, and I sure hope his race went well for him.

I talked with quite a few of the other runners during the race and in fact, ran the entire second half with an incredibly nice woman who had been running more or less my pace since the start.  I struck up a conversation with her because of a poster she had attached to the back of her backpack:

Cool Moon 10M 017Linnea Lomax is a local young woman who has been missing for six weeks and my new running friend is very close to the family.  Her despair was palpable during our conversation.  The investigation has led the family to believe Linnea is still alive.  You can learn more and help the family through their website:

We chatted about Linnea, of course, and running, and our goals for the day and a surprising variety of other topics.  Having somebody to talk to really made the miles fly by and before I knew it, we were rounding the last corner for the…  well, there wasn’t an actual Finish Line, but I came to a halt, turned off my Garmin and checked in my bib number at the reg table.  Hooray!  I was done!

Cool Moon 10M 046Excuse me, sir, is this the Finish Line?

Cool Moon 10M 049Ten dirty miles, run and done!

Cool Moon 10M 048Once upon a time, these shoes were blue and the socks were white.

According to my Garmin, I finished the 10 mile loop in 1:58:45, with an average pace of 11:56/mile.  Since I’ve never run a 10 mile race before, I am thrilled and happy to report that this was a PR effort!  YAY!

So many different factors went into making this one of the best races I’ve ever run:

  • The course was absolutely fantastic.  It was challenging without being brutal, and the scenery was ever-changing.  We ran across grassy hills, over rocky creekbeds, around the rim of a deep ravine, past babbling brooks, over cute wooden footbridges, on one short section of paved road, and near a quiet pond.  There was something new to see at every mile, rather than dirt and more dirt as sometimes happens on trail runs.
  • It was the best-marked trail I’ve ever run.  Despite many twists and turns and overcrossing of other paths, I never once wondered if I was going the right way.  Marker ribbons were very frequent and easily spotted.  In fact, the RD used a different type of ribbon to alert runners to an upcoming change of direction, which I thought was freaking brilliant.  I made a point of thanking the RD after the race because I was so impressed with the marking.
  • The weather was perfect.  We had just endured a week in the high 90s and low 100s, but race day dawned with high clouds, a slight breeze and temps in the 60s.  I couldn’t have asked for anything nicer than that!
  • I felt really, really good the whole time.  Sometimes there’s nothing you can do on race day about an upset stomach or tired legs, but yesterday was one of those runs that just felt GOOD.  I kept my effort level pretty even and certainly didn’t have any time goals, so apparently my body decided to reward me.  My legs feel less sore today than they did at the start yesterday. 
  • The schwag.  Yes, I know it makes me sound shallow, but OMG, I’ve never seen a race bag so packed full of amazing stuff!

Cool Moon 100 Race SchwagMore Hammer products than you could shake a stick at, a women’s-specific technical shirt, a Headsweats hat, and the most beautiful (and HUGE!) painted ceramic medal.  Seriously, a finisher’s medal for a 10-mile race?  Yes, please!

Though I’m not putting a 100-miler on my race docket any time in the foreseeable future, I will definitely be back to run one of the distances again next year.  Probably the 6-hour, but maybe I’ll be ready to tackle the 12-hour, who knows?

Sunday, July 29, 2012

ElliptiGO Outdoor Cycle–Review!

I’ve mentioned that UltraIronHubs is dealing with plantar fasciitis right now, but I haven’t really gone into detail about how bad it is.  It’s bad.  He hasn’t run for over three months now and he is such a crabby apple that he is spoiling the whole darn bunch.  The awful thing about PF is that there’s no end in sight.  With a stress fracture, you slap on a boot and two months later you’re back on the streets.  But with PF, healing could be quick or it could be really, really, really slow.  Right now it’s looking like the second one.  Boo!

UIH has been training for a half-iron aquabike event to keep himself from going insane, but neither swimming nor biking are his strongest events, so his excitement level for this race is mediocre at best.  He’s been religious about doing PT exercises every day and sleeping in the Strassburg sock every night.  He stretches, he ices, and he strengthens, but there’s been very little relief from his pain.  He cautiously started very, very short runs with a new-and-improved midfoot strike, but that has been almost more aggravating because it’s running, but it’s not enough – so close and yet so far away, you know?  At this point, his foul mood seemed permanent.

Enter the ElliptiGO.  You probably read about it in Runner’s World last month.  It’s an elliptical machine-slash-bike thing that is basically the best of all worlds:  a no-impact, outdoor, wind-in-your-hair workout.  We bought one for UIH last week and all I can say is, “Hallelujah!”  Now he comes in from a workout looking like this:

ElliptiGO 012He’s smiling!  SMILING!  I haven’t seen that for months!

UIH has taken the ElliptiGO out for a spin several times now and, like everything he does, he made it look so easy that I figured I should give it a try.

ElliptiGO 001Heading out for my maiden voyage.  Wish me luck!

If I had to summarize my review in one sentence, it would be this one:  Riding the ElliptiGO is not easy!  This is actually a huge compliment, even if it doesn’t sound like one.  Here’s what I mean:

  • It’s a whole ‘nuther sport altogether.  You might hop on the ElliptiGO because you’re an injured runner looking for something that feels like running.  Or you might be an avid cyclist and think you’ll enjoy being on a different set of wheels.  Or you might even be a gym rat who loves the elliptical machine and you’re thinking about taking that love out to the bike lanes.  Lemme tell ya, this ride is like nothing you’ve ever done before!  I spent a good portion of my ride reminding myself, “This is not a bike.”  But the thought also went through my mind that this is not an elliptical machine, this is not running and this is not a scooter (I know that last one sounds funny, but the position of your arms and your body are a lot like riding your kid’s Razor scooter!)  The ElliptiGO has elements of all of these exercises, but it is in a category all by itself.
  • It is a serious workout!  Watching UIH zip around our cul-de-sac like a speedy little butterfly had me thinking that the ElliptiGO was going to be a fun little cruising-type workout.  Umm, no.  I went just three miles this morning at a speed roughly halfway between my biking and running averages and my heart was hammering out of my chest.  The ElliptiGO used every single muscle in my body!  My core was engaged throughout the ride in a way it never is on my bike and I was surprised at how much upper body strength it required, even though your hands are stationary on the handles.  And my glutes!  OMG.
  • It’s a mental workout, too.  Let me clarify first that I am a girl with coordination issues. The reason running is my sport is because running plus kicking/throwing/catching a ball is waaaaaay too much for me to do all at once. In short, I’m a doofus and my learning curve is always pretty steep, so I suspect that with time and practice many of the things I found challenging about riding the ElliptiGO will become second nature.  Specifically, getting on and off was more difficult than I was expecting.  I almost fell off before I even got going the first time because I couldn’t get any forward momentum and yet I was higher off the ground than I thought, so my foot didn’t know where to catch me.  Silly foot.

If you’ve been to the ElliptiGO website, you’ve noticed the big price tag.  It’s expensive, there’s no two ways about it.  Thankfully, we’re triathletes around here, so dropping thousands of dollars on something with wheels isn’t a shock.  Ha!  Seriously, though, it’s an investment and one that I think is worth making.  We got the 3-speed ElliptiGO because we live on flat land and I think it’ll be plenty usable around here.  As for quality and construction, the ElliptiGO is again in a category by itself.  It’s heavier and sturdier than a road bike, but lighter and more durable-feeling than your standard home gym elliptical machine.  The tires are thicker than a bike’s and for their small size (20 inches), do a decent amount of shock-absorption.  The brakes are responsive and the platforms for your feet are both thick enough to feel substantial but light enough to move quickly.

And have I mentioned yet that it’s just plain FUN?

In case you were wondering, I did not get paid for this review and I purchased the ElliptiGO myself.  Of course, if the ElliptiGO company wanted me to try out their other products (there’s an 8-speed and 11-speed version), I would absolutely make room for his-n-hers versions in my garage!

Friday, July 27, 2012

Running Games

You know how sometimes you go for a long run and, even though you finish up tired, you feel really great the whole time and you’re super happy you did it?  Today was not that day.  In fact, today’s 18-miler was more of a “hope I don’t crap my pants” kind of run. (Thank goodness I didn’t actually poop myself, but it was pretty dicey there for awhile.)  Truth be told, I was completely done by Mile 7.  But at that point I was 7 miles from my car and if I turned around right then I would still have run 14 miles and dammit if I was gonna run 14 miles I might as well finish what I started and do the whole 18.  So, 18 miles it was.

There were several reasons why today was not destined to be a fabulous run, including a busy week with lots of long-distance driving and poor eating choices, but I was still a little disappointed to run out of gas so early on.  Even my music, which usually gives me a little energy, was driving me bananas.  B-A-N-A-N-A-S.  To keep myself moving forward, I had to play a lot of mental games:

  • Count the Dogs.  This one’s an old favorite, because I love dogs, but I am lousy at actually keeping track of how many I see.  Today’s estimated number was 17, but I could be off by as many as 12 in either direction.  My favorites were the mini Australian Shepherd who thought there was something that smelled amazing at the base of a tree and the two teeny, tiny poodles who might have weighed a combined five pounds.
  • Spot the Shirt.  Another one I play a lot, especially when I run on the American River Parkway (as I did today), because most of the people you see there are pretty serious runners who like to show off the races they’ve run.  Most of today’s shirts were the usual local race suspects, though I also saw several I didn’t recognize.
  • Catch the Slow Person.  Some days this means other runners.  Today it mostly meant walkers and even some of them were moving faster than I was!
  • The Most Ridiculous Thing.  Every time I ride or run long, I see something that catches my eye and makes me wonder WTF?  Today’s Most Ridiculous was pretty awesome (in fact, it was doubly awesome – about a half mile after I saw one of these, there was another!  I smiled at the second guy and said, “There’s two of you?”  He laughed.  “Yep.”  Then I bade him good morrow and continued on my way):

No, this is not my photo.  I wanted to take a picture of the guy, but felt really weird doing it.

  • Something to Look Forward To.  I actually play this game sometimes on short runs, too.  There’s pretty much always something to look forward to, like being done.  Today’s Somethings included walking breaks, bathroom breaks, reaching mile markers, reaching half-mile markers and not puking.
  • What Kind of Wild Animal is That?  Sometimes this game is easier than others, like today.  I saw a flock of wild turkeys, hundreds of squirrels, dozens of bunnies and one sweet little deer who was baffled by a fence.  Nothing I couldn’t identify, which is a pretty successful day for me.
  • One Last Thing.  I totally just made this one up today.  When I got started this morning, I felt pretty good and less than a half-mile in, I noticed this totally random flight of stairs.  Now, I have run this path many, many times before and somehow never seen these stairs.  Or at least never consciously thought about them.  But today I promised myself that I would finish up by running those stairs, maybe even a few times.  You already know that I felt like dog crap by the time I saw those stairs at Mile 17.75, but I am completely unable to resist a challenge, even a self-inflicted one.  So I ran up those stairs five times and then of course had to take a picture.

Running Stairs at the end of a Long RunA challenge means nothing unless you photograph it and post it on Facebook.

What kind of mind games do you play on long runs?

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Well, This isn’t Wordless at All!

But it does include a fun picture of me in the pool with a tether around my waist.

Tether Swim 004

I’m taking a three-pronged approach to swim training for my upcoming tri:

  1. Getting my butt in the water several times a week.  Yes, this is Swim Training 101 right here – practice, practice, practice.  I should be perfect aaaaaaaany day now.
  2. Positive Self-Talk.  Oftentimes, my clients will approach a new exercise with the attitude of, “Oh, I can’t do that.”  It drives me crazy, so I make them do burpees and listen to me lecture them about negative self-talk.  And then they still have to do whatever exercise it was that they thought they couldn’t do and they always discover that they can do it.  Imagine that!  Well, not too long ago, I realized that I do my own Negative Nelly with regard to swimming and I really need to reverse the damage it's doing to my swimming self-confidence.  So I’ve started my own personal campaign of Positive Swimming Self-Talk.  Basically, fake it ‘til I feel it.  Now, every time I think about getting in the pool, I say to myself, “I’m a good swimmer.  I like to swim.”  And gosh darn it, people like me.
  3. Tethered swimming.  It’s the poor man’s endless pool, swimming on a rope, and it’s sure not doing my form any good by being anchored at the waist, but it is helping with my biggest fear – not being able to breathe.  When I swim laps, I grab onto the edge of the pool and frequently take more than one breath before heading back in the opposite direction.  I’ve always known this was lousy training for open water, but whaddya gonna do?  Short of practicing in actual open water, this seems like a good first step.  I’ve been working on calming my water fears by counting my strokes and closing my eyes while on the tether.  It’s strange to swim for time rather than distance, but I’ve worked my way up to 20 minutes without touching my feet down.  That’s pretty huge for me!

Do you ever have to bolster your confidence with forced positive self-talk?

Have you ever tried swimming on a rope to train for open water?

Friday, July 13, 2012

Sweaty Sixteen

Now that I’ve done my long run on Friday two weeks in a row, the verdict is in:  it’s awesome.  You know how sometimes you get more productive when you have a deadline looming?  Running long on Friday – a work day – forces me to get up and be a little more disciplined about getting stuff done.  I have some minor concerns about just how early I’ll need to wake up when my mileage goes crazy, but for now it looks doable.  Today was a 4 am wakeup so I could be out the door at 5 – Mama doesn’t run without her coffee and a little time on Facebook! – for my 16-miler.

For your Friday reading pleasure, here are some bullet-tastic observations about my long, wonderful morning run:

  • The moon and the stars were so beautiful in the pre-dawn light that I instantly regretted not bringing my camera.  Several times in the first mile I considered pulling my phone out of my backpack, but I didn’t want to stop running and getting myself out of the backpack didn’t seem like something I could do while running, so I guess you’ll just have to take my word for it about the sky.  Or get up tomorrow around 5 am and go take a gander yourself.
  • Lots of people in my town lose their footwear on the sidewalk.  First I saw a lonely little shoe, which was small enough that I suspect somebody kicked it off while riding in a stroller.  I’m sure her mother was thrilled about that.  About a mile or so later, on a different street, I spied with my little eye a single sock that looked about the same size as the shoe, but was more boy-like so probably not from the same child.  And about two miles after that, I found not one but two pairs of those flimsy flip-flops they give you when you’re getting a pedicure.  These were near a bus stop and for the life of me, I can’t imagine why somebody would get on a bus barefoot.  Gives me the willies just thinking about it.
  • Low lighting apparently makes me hallucinate.  When I finally ran past the large cable box that happened to have two low flags waving in the wind next to it, I could tell what it was, but for the longest time it looked like a GIANT German Shepherd scratching its ear.  I almost changed my path to avoid a dog that huge, but I couldn’t figure out why he would be just sitting there, scratching away for so long.  Because he was a cable box, that’s why.  Also, a passing car’s headlights caught my glasses at just the right angle that I thought…well, I don’t really know what I thought it was, but it scared the bejeezus out of me.  Even though it was much cooler in the dark, I was pretty happy when the sun came up and I could actually see my surroundings.
  • I love other early morning runners!  I had two runners wave at me across six lanes of traffic this morning and lots more (on my same side of the street) smile and say good morning.  Everybody’s happier when they run, it’s a fact.
  • I’ve spent too much time in the car lately with my kids.  There I was, running along, and I saw a bicyclist heading toward me.  Well, at the same time, I also noticed a VW Beetle driving toward me and all I wanted in the world was to punch that cyclist and yell, “Silver one!!”  I refrained.
  • I desperately need to update my playlist.  I remembered just in time this morning that I ran out of music on last week’s long run, so I loaded a bunch of older songs on my iPod before I left the house, but they didn’t really do it for me.  I used to rotate songs pretty frequently and buy new ones all the time, but lately nothing’s really catching my ear on the radio or in my Genius suggestions.  I did notice, however, that I have not just one, not even two, but THREE songs that feature whistling in them.  I’m sure that says something about my musical tastes, but I’m not sure what.
  • Just because it was cool-ER doesn’t mean it was cool.  When I left the house this morning, the temperature was somewhere in the 60s, which was freaking awesome considering the 100+ days we’ve had this week.  By the time I got home, it was only in the low 70s, but that was still hot enough for me to get the whole drenched-in-sweat-tomato-face thing goin’ on.

Sweaty Sixteen 001Why there was a dry spot on my left, uhh, “chest” is a mystery I may never solve.

What are you listening to on your iPod these days?  I need suggestions!

What’s the earliest you’re willing to get up (or the latest you’ll stay up) to get your long run in?

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

What I Do All Day

I love being a personal trainer.  Pretty sure I’ve mentioned that before, but it bears repeating.  I seriously spend my entire day thinking about exercise!  Every client I have is like a puzzle that I get to figure out:  what’s going to work best for losing weight or keeping them motivated or gaining muscle or getting faster?  I love watching my clients work harder than they thought they could - I actually joke that if they’re not swearing at me, I must not be working them hard enough!  Of course, it’s also hard to watch them struggle when I know they are giving it their honest best.

When I was losing weight, it was much MUCH easier to get my butt out of bed for exercise than to eat right.  I still have to work at eating right!  For a lot of my clients, though, the whole reason they hired a personal trainer is because they’re not super motivated to work out on their own.  And many of them either can’t or “don’t like” to run, which boggles my mind.  (And, yes, I put it in quotes, mostly because I think everybody should love to run.)  To get them moving, then, I have to get creative.  Frequently, I sneak in some cardio with their strength training so they get a good burn while building muscle.

eat sleep sweat repeat pin

Before I got certified, cross-training meant biking or swimming and the occasional core work.  Emphasis on the word “occasional.”  Of course I understood on some level that strength training was important, so I’d throw in a push-up here and a squat there, but I didn’t really love it.  For me – and probably for most people – enjoying an activity motivates me to do more of it.  That’s why I try to make workouts fun for myself and fun for my clients, so everybody wants more!

I know there are lots of resources out there for exercise ideas, but I’ve started making videos of some of the more interesting workouts I do with my clients and thought I’d share them with you, too.  This one, for example:

Even though I would almost always rather go for a run, I really have learned to love strength training, too.  It’s challenging.  It’s not boring.  It can make you an even better runner – yay!  And if you put together a good workout, every inch of your body can have that super-jelly-just-went-for-a-great-run feeling, and what’s not to love about that??

Do you make strength training part of your fitness routine?

Friday, July 6, 2012

Fourteen Mile Friday

Before I tell you about my 14-miler today, lemme tell you about something that happened on Wednesday:

Van CrashPoor Ethel!  (My last car was a bright red Camry named Lucy.  When we brought home this big ol’ Mom-mobile and parked it in the garage next to Lucy, it was sort of inevitable to name her Ethel.)

I was on my way to see a client, minding my own business and maybe singing along to One Direction when a car made a left turn on a red light directly in front of me.  The singing turned into screaming, “NOOOOOOO!!” and then *crash* I slammed into the other car at 45 mph.  Thankfully, Ethel gave up her front bumper for me and I’m actually fine.  I’ve got a couple of real nice seatbelt burns on my butt and my collarbone, plus an airbag burn on my right hand, but nothing else.  Even my back, neck, and shoulders seem to be doing okay.  I can’t tell you how grateful I am to still want to and be able to run today!!

I recently re-arranged my training plan for like the fourth time because the race I was planning to run in November has disappeared from the internet.  I emailed the race director about it, but haven’t heard back, so I assume it’s a non-event.  Searching for another race this fall, I came upon this little beauty:   The Rock’n River 50-Miler.  As soon as I read the course description, I knew this was my race – it’s the American River 50-Miler (that UltraIronHubs ran and I paced in April) BACKWARDS!  It’s downhill!!  Well, net downhill.  There are obviously still a ton of uphills, too.  I’m mostly excited because at one time or another, I have run every single mile of this race already, so it’s all familiar ground, and that sounds like the perfect first 50.

Ahhh, but the race I had been planning to run was in November and this one is in October.  Guess I’ll be piling on the mileage a little quicker than the training plan called for.  Plus, we got Big Boy’s cross country schedule for this season and it looks like every single Saturday from now until Thanksgiving will be taken up with his running, so I moved my long run day to Friday.  And that’s why I ran 14 miles today. 

(I think that might be the longest intro to a blog post I’ve ever written)

I got up at my usual 4:30 am and dawdled got ready to go.  Slowly.  I was only a little nervous about running long so soon after the accident, but I really do feel good, so figured I should stay on track with my training.  I have absolutely NO pace goals AT ALL for running 50 miles, so my long runs these days are pretty casual affairs.  I still wear my Garmin, but I really never look at it except to figure out if I’m going to hit my mileage.

About three miles in, when all my joints had finally stopped creaking and groaning, I realized I needed to go to the bathroom.  I’m always surprised by this feeling in the middle of a run because I go no fewer than three times before I leave my house and all business should really be taken care of.  I ignored the feeling.  Sometimes it just goes away.  I hate to stop in the middle of a run – seriously, it’s way up there on my list of Annoying, Stupid Things – and I especially hate to use public restrooms.  Call me crazy.  I’m totally okay with porto-potties on race day, but the bathroom in McDonald’s freaks me the freak out.  Blech!

Well, by Mile 7 it became quite clear that a stop was in my near future.  I considered just peeing my pants, but decided against it because A.) I am 100% certain that I am not coordinated enough to run and pee at the same time, and B.) That’s disgusting.  So I stopped, and yes I took a selfie in the mirror.  Why not?  I wasn’t in a hurry.

IMG_0578Of course I lavo-ed my manos and triple-checked for seat cover pieces stuck to my sweaty legs before taking this picture.

I haven’t run long in town for several weeks and it was actually a really nice change of scenery to run on all that flat asphalt.  I pretty much zoned out and cranked up my music and just let my feet go.  It was awesome.

IMG_0580The view from the highest spot in town, a railroad overcrossing I climbed twice for a total elevation gain of about 80 feet.  Go Me!

Around Mile 11, I was getting a little tired, so I cranked up my music even more to get some energy going.  At some point, I think I started singing out loud.  I can only imagine what I must have looked like, a sweaty, scrawny middle-aged white girl rapping to a remix of Public Enemy’s Bring the Noise – “5-0 said FREEZE and I got numb/Can I tell em that I really never had a gun?” – complete with the whole yo-yo-yo hand movements.  Yeah, boy-eeee.

I made it back home, happily tired, with just a little over 14 sweat-tastic miles on the books.  I think I’m going to like getting my long run done before the weekend even begins.

What embarrassing things do you do during a run?  Check all that apply:

  1. Pee on yourself, either intentionally or not.
  2. Sing out loud and/or bust out some dance moves.
  3. Take 18 increasingly dreadful selfies because you can’t see the little shutter thing closing and you think your stupid phone isn’t taking pictures.

Selfie Collage

Friday, June 29, 2012

Four Things (about my swim) Friday

I swam today!!  Me!  In the pool!  Swimming!  Yes, I know that’s a lot of exclamation points, but this was sort of a big deal.  The last time I swam was just about a year ago, when I was in the midst of The Summer of Duathlon and decided that since I didn’t have to swim, I wasn’t going to swim.  As you may know, I’m not a strong swimmer and I don’t particularly enjoy swimming, but I do it because…well, because triathletes swim.  And I’m still a triathlete.  So, in celebration of me getting my ass in the pool, here are Four Things (about my swim):

  1. I have special magical skills that can turn a ten minute swim into nearly 30 minutes.  I’m a professional, so don’t try this at home, but here’s how I do it:  Decide to swim, then tell UltraIronHubs that I’m going to swim.  Check Facebook.  Check email.  Check Twitter.  Check the stats for my business website.  Check the weather.  Sigh deeply and announce AGAIN that I am going to swim.  Say, “Here I go.  Swimming.”  Walk slowly to the bedroom and remember that I had to throw out last year’s swimsuit because the chlorine ate it.  Debate not swimming.  Try on three of the 57 bikinis I own and for some unknown reason choose the one with the little bowties on the sides (which ended up looking like freaky hip knobs under the wetsuit).  Take a moment to be grateful that any of my bikinis still fit.  Look at myself in the mirror and wish for the one bajillionth time that I filled out the top a little more and the bottom a little less.  Flex my muscles and make faces in the mirror.  Hope UIH doesn’t come in and catch me doing this.  Remember that I am going to swim, sigh deeply, and go into the closet to get the wetsuit.  Struggle into the wetsuit (yes, I wore a wetsuit!  There was no freakin’ way I was getting into the pool after a year off without some sort of flotation assistance!).  Get the camera and take six selfies with varying expressions of “pool dismay.”  Turn on the pool pump.  Decide the water level looks a little low and grab the hose to fill it up.  Water the garden.  Check the zucchinis.  Water the grass a little on my way back to the pool.  Put one foot in the pool, then the other.  Stand on the shallowest step and stare at the water.  Sigh deeply.  Step down to the next step and check the water temperature – mid-70s still, we’re having such a mild summer so far that the water hasn’t heated up.  Put on goggles.  Turn on SwimCounter.  Finally decide that it’s now or never and sploosh into the water.  Swim the FASTEST 400 meters I’ve ever swum, EVER (8 minutes and 14 seconds – fast for me, slow for everyone else on the planet), even including two stops to hang onto the side of the pool to catch my breath because I had forgotten how constricting a wetsuit is.  Yes, apparently I’ve lost all my running and biking speed, but have somehow managed to hang on to my swim speed.  Really?  Swimmin 002Selfie #2, wherein my expression shows concern but not outright fear of the water.
  2. In addition to my awesome swim, I biked and walked this morning.  It was like my own teeny, tiny, super-slow triathlon!  But in reverse.  I started my morning with a two-ish mile walk with my mom and sister, then came home and hopped on Mr. Bike for a quick 8-mile ride (and by “quick,” of course, I mean “not quick at all”) and topped it all off with my 400 meter swim.
  3. By pure coincidence, these distances are exactly what I’ll be racing at my next triathlon!  Yep, I decided to race a tri this summer and I’m both excited and terrified at this decision.  I would much rather do a duathlon (“Oh, hello comfort zone!  You’re so safe and easy!  I want to stay here forever!”), but I know in the end I’ll be happier that I challenged myself.  Uhhhh, but not too much, obviously, since I chose a Super Sprint.
  4. Hmmmmm, I guess I really only had three things to say about my swim, but here’s a picture of the zucchinis I harvested while procrastinating.

Zuccs 001