Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Plan B

Things have been a little rough around here with my CIM training.  Not physically – the runs have been going great and I’ve been hitting terrific speeds.  But the mental side of training has been harder than I was prepared for.  I was super excited to get started on all of that speedworky goodness, but now?  It’s starting to make me feel like I’m losing my mind a little anxious.  Pressured.  Lacking.  Doubtful.  Exhausted. Other negative emotions that shouldn’t be associated with running.  I hit the breaking point last week when, a mere mile into what was supposed to be a 16-mile trail run with UltraIronHubs, I launched into 4 minutes of nearly-hysterical sobbing for no good reason (well, there were a few reasons, but none of them should have stopped me in my tracks like that).  We cut the run down to six miles and I pretended like it was a recovery week and tried to figure out what was up with my nuttiness.

Oh, and funny story about my mental breakdown:  I was running in front of UIH on the trail and was trying to tell him something when I started to cry.  I came to a complete stop and just let loose with the tears, but before he put his arms around me, UIH paused my Garmin.  That??  Is true love.

speedwork meme

The thing is, I’ve got a lot of other “stuff” going on (work, family, kids going back to school, etc.) that’s sort of crowding my brain lately.  It’s not anything overly stressful, but it’s there and I think trying to focus on hitting a certain speed was like one thought too many.  Brain overload.  And which of these things can I actually control?  Running.

So.  Plan B:

I’m still training for the CIM, of course.  Duh.  I freakin’ LOVE the CIM, even when I’m slow, even when it’s monsooning, even when I haven’t trained for it.  But I’ve come to the conclusion that perhaps my PR-ing days are behind me.  Not because I’m old or whatever, but honestly, because I just don’t have the brainpower to care as much as I used to.

I had a lovely revelation while cruising through 16 slow miles this past weekend: I value running happy more than running fast.  When it comes right down to it, I would rather run slowly with a smile on my face than live with the weird internal pressure that I was apparently putting on myself to chase after a PR.

Once my head was on straight, I had the leisure to truly enjoy my long run on the American River Bike Trail:

001Sadly, there are wildfires in the nearby hills that created this gorgeous sunrise.

002This tree totally reminded me of the Sesame Street Martians.  Pretty sure the other runners on the trail thought I was nuts for stopping to take a pic, but oh well!

003So!  Many!  Animals! on the trail Sunday.  This guy was part of a huge flock/herd/family/coven of turkeys.  I also saw a coyote and tried desperately to take his picture, but he was having none of it.  The bunnies I saw were similarly disinclined to have me steal their souls with my magic box, so the photo of this slow-moving turkey will have to suffice.

005One of the many, many things I love about the bike trail is that it’s marked every half-mile, so even when your Garmin craps out, you can tell how far you’ve gone.

001When I got home, I plunked my butt down at the computer and hammered out this guy.

In alignment with my new “Run Slow, Run Happy” program is my plan to run a whole lotta ultras next year.  I think I’m done – for the time being, anyway – with distances shorter than a marathon.  So far??  I am totally loving Plan B!



Also – pretty much entirely unrelated to the rest of this post, but I thought I’d share for those of you who are interested – I’ve put up a few new Follow Along Workouts on my YouTube channel:

I totally appreciated your feedback about my last videos – feel free to share your thoughts!!!

Sunday, August 4, 2013

Cool Moon 14-Mile Half Marathon Race Report!

Well, let me just get this straight from the get-go:  this was the hardest half marathon I’ve ever run, and that’s including the one where I sprained my ankle at Mile 4.  Oh.  My.  What a challenge this race was!  Remember how I was just saying that they changed the course “a little” this year to make it 14 miles, rather than last year’s 10?  And remember how I thought it might have “ a little” more climbing?  Yes.

Let’s get a little background on the day, first, which includes three nights in a row of waaaaaay too little sleep and not enough water.  Pretty much par for the course and really nothing that concerned me, because this was not my “A” race for the year.  I was just gonna run and have fun and enjoy the day and not suck (all of which I totally accomplished). 

Well, race day dawned at 3 AM and I felt pretty good about everything, other than, you know, the tiredness and dehydration.  I was really looking forward to this race because I enjoyed it so much last year, and this year would be even better because UIH got to run it, too.  We arrived at the venue in plenty of time to check in, use the port-o-potties a few times and take a coupla selfies in the car and at the starting line.

Cool Moon Half Marathon! 001

Cool Moon Half Marathon! 006

Cool Moon Half Marathon! 003Cool Moon

I had noticed that the RD was a little vague about the changes to the course – there was a course map and a mention of the course elevation, but no turn-by-turn description like there generally is for a trail race.  Our half marathon is just one part of a 100-mile course.  In years past, the course was a 10-mile loop that the 100-milers repeated ten times.  One of the course changes was the addition of a second loop, which made sort of a figure-8 between the 14-mile and the new 11-mile, meaning that 100-milers would complete the entire 25-mile course just four times.  UIH and I had talked about where we would pick up an extra four miles, and we had agreed that there was “no way” they would make us run up the K2, because that would be so cruel to make the 100-milers do that four times.  (The K2 climb is this ridiculously steep hill that is very similar to Cardiac Trail, the hill that nearly flummoxed me in the She Rocks and the Rock’n River 50.  UIH and I climbed the K2 recently at the Twilight Trail Adventure, which was a 10K I never blogged.  Here’s the long and the short of it:  it’s S T E E P).

Was that enough foreshadowing for you??

So there we are, standing at the starting line, listening to the RD’s directions, when he casually mentions that we’ll go out on Western States…up the K2…Pig Farm…Salt Creek… back to the fire station.  My hands went clammy.  “Oh, shit,” I thought.  And probably said out loud.  But it wasn’t like I could quit now, so we counted down from ten and off we went – hooray!

UltraIronHubs took off like a bright yellow rocket but I took a little more time with it.  The trail is wide enough on the first half mile for people to find their pace and get where they want to be in the pack.  I wanted to be near the middle or the back, so I hustled but I certainly didn’t bust a move.  It wasn’t long before we started in on the breakneck descent that caused me to step aside and let several people pass.  The trail is loose dirt, loose rocks and lots of roots, and I was making my way down quite gingerly so as not to fall and break my neck.  I was walking and mincing when my Garmin chirped that I had completed Mile 1.  “Oh, shit,” I thought, “I’m not even going to survive the first two miles, let alone all fourteen!”

Cool Moon Half Marathon! 007The downhill was so treacherous that I really couldn’t slow down, but I wanted a photo of all these gorgeous manzanita trees.  Blurry will have to do.

There was a woman behind me taking the hill as carefully as I was, so we started chatting a little.  Her name was Shelly and her husband was doing the whole 100 miles, so she had signed up for the half marathon, thinking it would be a fun way to pass the first few hours of spectating.  She didn’t expect a half marathon like this!  We joked and talked our way down the hill and I was telling her a little of what she could expect about climbing K2 when – bam! – we turned a sharp corner and there it was.

Cool Moon Half Marathon! 008It’s just a sad, sad fact of life that photos NEVER do a hill justice.

So there was walking for awhile, but I still actually felt pretty good.  This is where I was super happy that UIH and I had run the Twilight Trail Adventure back in June – I knew this hill.  I couldn’t run it, of course, but I knew it.  I knew I could get to the top, I just had to keep moving forward, so that’s what I did.  Once I got to the top, though, my legs were jelly!  I wasn’t really sure how I was going to make it through another ten miles.

Cool Moon Half Marathon! 009Ahhhhhh, (mostly) flat ground!

There was the shortest reprieve from all that climbing while we ran through a meadow, which you would totally think would be a cake walk.  Nope.  The footing here was just as dangerously uneven and sort of slippery with all the dry grass.  I spent a lot of the race thinking about what it would be like to run this course at night, like the 100-milers were going to do.  Honestly, I don’t think there was a single stretch of “easy” running.

I made it to the first aid station still intact and with plenty of Gatorade left in my handheld.  The day was warming up, but the course was very, very shady so it was still quite comfortable temperature-wise.  Right around Mile 5, I thought to myself, “Oh, shit,” but this time I meant it literally.  My guts were starting to do a little Gatorade cha-cha.  My legs, on the other hand, still needed to run another nine miles.  I started eying the bushes and considering whether they offered me any privacy.  Nope.  Nothing but scrub on one side and a very steep drop-off on the other, so I kept a clamp on the back door and hoped the feeling would pass.

I ran on, wondering how UIH’s day was going.  I felt pretty good, all things considered, and seemed to be running well.  Even though I didn’t have a serious time goal, I felt – before I knew much about the course – that I could probably finish between two and a half to three hours.  I was on pace for that and running strong and…  Gosh, does anybody else notice that we’ve been running downhill for a really, really long time now?  Like, really downhill for a really long time?  I’m pretty sure the finish line isn’t down here at the river, which means…do the math… oh, shit, we’re gonna climb this hill again!

I think, in the grand scheme of things, it was just as well that I didn’t fully understand the course map before I ran the race.

I was pounding down the hill, nearabouts Mile 7 when I had a moment of sudden clarity:  the total elevation change for the She Rocks is 2500’ over 16 miles and the Cool Moon Half has 2800’ of change over just 14 miles.  The Cool Moon is a harder race.  AHA!  That’s why this hurts so much!

There was no flat ground to be had at the bottom of the hill, sadly, but I did my best to keep a good walking pace as I climbed my way back out of the canyon.  I was starting to feel tired and maybe a little low on calories.  I kept drinking, but there was no running to be done, even as we made our way onto a paved road for a short stretch.  I started to feel a little light-headed, but I really wanted to keep my wits about me and salvage a good day out of this tough course.

I was walking along the street thinking these thoughts when it occurred to me that I didn’t think the course included this long of a paved stretch.  I stopped, looked around me and saw that there was a trail running parallel to the street I was on, but it was up a steep incline.  I had seen ribbon markers on the street when I first started out, so I knew I wasn’t exactly LOST, but I strongly suspected there had been a return to the trail that I had missed.  I started walking back the way I came, looking for ribbons or ground markers, when I spotted Shelly and two other runners walking toward me on the road.  I hollered at them, asking if they had seen any markers that took us back to the trail, and a runner up on the trail shouted back that, yes, we were supposed to be up there.  Not on the street.  So up we clambered through the scrub to the main trail, where we immediately spotted ribbon markers.  Okay, back on track with only a little extra mileage!

Cool Moon Half Marathon! 011This guy was seriously awesome!  He had tiny bells sewed on to the bottom of his skirt and on his hat that probably would have annoyed the ever-lovin’ shit out of me, but he was rocking it.  He was running the whole 100 miles.  As a jester!  I will never be this cool.

By the time I made it back up the hill and onto the relative “flat,” I was feeling better.  I was at double digit mileage and I can gut out four miles, even on a bad day.  And this really wasn’t a bad day at all, just a tough one.  So on I ran.

At the second aid station, I filled my handheld about halfway with water, though looking back I don’t remember why I didn’t fill the whole thing.  Stupidity, I suppose.  This aid station was at a junction where the 11-mile loop meets the 14-mile loop and it took me several long moments to make sure I was heading in the correct direction when I left.  I really didn’t need another mapping snafu with only a few miles left to go!

Somewhere around here, I looked at my Garmin and realized that UIH was probably done with his race, so I pulled out my phone and texted him.


Okay, I knew UIH was going to do well, but HE WON THE RACE!!!  I was super excited for him and only a little tiny bit jealous.

The going was getting a little tougher, but I knew I just needed to hold it together for a few more miles.  I checked my Garmin time and felt that if there was no more surprise climbing, I could probably still beat three hours.  I wasn’t sure how much mileage I had added to my day by getting lost, so I felt like I really needed to press on, just in case.

As I headed in to aid station #3, I saw the guy who had been on the trail while I was lost on the street.  I opened my mouth to say thank you, when he looked at me and said, “Oh, you’re paying attention to where you’re going now, are you?”  Maybe he meant it as a joke, but to me he just sort of sounded like an asshole, so I made some sort of non-committal sound and ran on.  Whatever.

At the aid station, my Garmin said I was well over 12 miles into the day, but as I was leaving, I heard the volunteer tell the guy behind me that we were at Mile 11.5.  Ugh!  Here I’d been telling myself I only had a little over a mile to go, but maybe it was more like two miles.  I tried not to feel defeated, I tried not to worry about it.  I ran on.

Maybe my favorite thing about the day was that everywhere I ran, I could spot UIH’s distinctive Newton footprint in the dirt.  What a boost!  It made me so happy to know that he had been there on the course, running (and winning!) a great race.

Cool Moon Half Marathon! 014Yes, there was the possibility that somebody else on course was wearing Newtons, but in my mind it was only UIH.

Finally, in the distance, I spotted the finish line!  It was here!  I was almost done!!  There really wasn’t any sprinting to be done, but I tried to pick it up a little, smiling the whole way in.

P finishI did it!

Cool Moon Half Marathon! 017Happy finishers!

Cool Moon Half Marathon! 015Winner, winner, chicken dinner!

Elevation Chart

001Really awesome schwag – that’s an insulated cooler bag!!!

Official results won’t be posted until tomorrow because, you know, the real deal is the 100-mile race, but according to my Garmin I finished in 2:51:29.  And I’m 99% certain that I did not come in last place, although that would be sort of funny to have the winner and the loser of the race be husband and wife!

So, the big question right now is this:  will UIH be doing the Cool Moon as his first 100-mile race, maybe as soon as next year??  Hard to say.  Today my legs feel a little bit like somebody bludgeoned them.  But!  With the right training, and knowing what the course is like, I think he’s still considering it.  We’re a certain brand of crazy around here!!

Thursday, August 1, 2013

Update: My YouTube Channel and a 14-Mile Half Marathon!

In my real life – you know, those silly hours I spend doing something other than training.  Whatever. – I work in my own business as a personal trainer.  It’s pretty much the most awesome job in the world.  Mostly I go to people’s houses and kick their asses for an hour.  Seriously, can you imagine anything better?!?

Fran and Mary Workout 003One of my mother-daughter pairs.  These girls rock!

Off and on for the past year that I’ve been training, I’ve posted some how-to type videos on my YouTube channel.  Like, for example, this one:

Working out in your living room with Pahla B

I’m certainly not a professional videographer, but the videos are something I enjoy doing, so I’m working on posting more consistently and I’d love some feedback from you guys: 

Do you ever search for workout-at-home videos on YouTube, or do you mostly like videos of cats?

If you do watch workout at home videos, do you want to watch and follow along to a full-length workout, or do you want to watch short videos for ideas?  Or do you just like to laugh at the silly antics of cats?

Speaking of cats, I’m running a half marathon this weekend!

It’s the Cool Moon 10-mile race that I looooooooooooooved last year, only they’ve changed the course “a little” and made it 14 miles instead of ten.  Pretty sure they’ve added more climbing, but I’ve done a little more training this year, so I’m hoping it’s an even match!

UltraIronHubs gets to run it “with me” this year and I’m super excited about that.  I put the with me in quotes because of course he’s going to run his own pace and be done like an hour before me…but we’re going to be at the same race on the same day and that’s awesome.  His plantar fasciitis is all better, thanks for asking.  He’s running really well and getting back to his normal ridiculous speed and training for a 50-miler at the end of this year.  All good stuff, I tell ya.

I don’t have any specific time goals for the race, more of a loose idea that I’d like to not suck.  Not falling would also be good.  I feel pretty confident that these goals are achievable, but you never know.  I’ll be back in a few days to tell you all about it!