January 2006 Archives

Six-month-old Niece Hospitalized

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It just keeps coming. Kendall, my niece, has RSV, and is on breathing treatments. The doctors think they'll be able to release her in 2 - 5 days - as soon as her breath stabilizes. RSV is very common among young children; however, it's not very common to be hospitalized. I am worried about her, but my sister reassured me this morning that she should be fine. My mother is attempting to coordinate the memorial service and funeral for my step-grandmother while taking care of my sister's son. Thankfully, other family members were able to step in to watch my sister's other two daughters (she has a total of four kids), while she and her husband stay at the hospital with Kendall.

I am having such major mood swings! I'll be happy and skipping along one moment, feeling like I can conquer the world, and then I'll be in tears, absolutely terrified that I won't be able to complete my race on Saturday. I haven't ran in almost a week. The cold has moved into my chest.

I keep telling myself that I can do it. Like Kim and Rae said, I'll adjust my fueling/hydrating to compensate for the hot temperatures and my cold. Like my running partner Paki said, I'll treat it as "just another run" and also as a way to heal from all this stress I'm feeling. I have to remove the pressure that I put on myself. Once again, I decided I could handle something, but didn't take into account, I don't know, just LIFE!

So then I think about how everything that's happening is just a part of life, and I think, "well, of course I can do the run on Saturday. It's all just life. The race is about living." I wanted to do this race as a physical expression of the emotional journey I've been through in the last year or so. Well, doing it under all this...LIFE...is par for the course!

Can you tell I'm panicking? I'm sure I'll be posting my fears every day until Friday, when we travel to Phoenix. This whole tapering thing threw my focus off, threw the "get this done" feeling off - it's not there anymore. That focus, that pressure, that "you WILL run 35 miles this week" is gone. Tapering screws with your head.

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Update (about 5 minutes later)
So I'm reading other blogs, getting inspired again. Going for a run like this - 31 miles - is going to feel GOOD. I get to relax, focus on only feeling my body move. Be reminded of "the miracle you are" as "another ultra runner" Jeff posted to my blog once. (Jeff, if you are out there, I really like your comment, but you didn't have a blogger profile and I couldn't find out more about you. If you are reading this, thank you for your insight!) This race will be so nice - all I'll have to think about is the next five miles - the distance between the aid stations. I'll have support. I'll have water to toss over my head. I'll have the comraderie of other crazy ultra runners. I'll have plenty of food and water and Gatorade. I'll get to spend the entire day outside, listening to the birds, watching the sun move over the rocks and just appreciating being alive. OMG, that's it - it's not about whether or not I can finish the damn thing in 8 hours, it's about EXPERIENCING it - what a great adventure to be a part of!

Life and Death

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While in Prescott this weekend, attempting to rest so I'm not totally dead during my FIRST EVER ULTRA, I received news that my step-grandmother passed away. I met her a few years ago, and after she had numerous strokes last year, I received her cat, Beautiful, when she moved into my mom's house up in Mesa. On the way home, we stopped by my mom's house to offer comfort, and I found out that my step-sister-in-law is pregnant. It's so cliche, but I was struck by the cycle of death and life....

There's nothing more strange than watching your mom and step-dad wandering around their giant, empty house in their pajamas and bathrobes in a daze, fielding phone calls, and shopping online for a casket while attempting to not look outside at the beautiful new pool just completed that was to be for my step-grandmother - the pool that she got to see, but never got to enter. Did you know that Costco sells caskets? Did you also know that card companies don't create any sympathy cards for a family, from a family member? They are all, "my deepest sympathies for your family." I AM family, dammit.

Prescott was beautiful. I love it up there. The drivers are jerks, and the town is too crowded, but it's gorgeous. Lots of creeks and hills and trees. Ash had a blast wandering downtown with me and checking out the Sharlot Hall Museum. The hotel was AWESOME. Great breakfast, jacuzzi, two-story fireplace in the lobby. I'll upload photos tonight. I didn't run at all. My cold seems to be improving, which is good. I am getting very excited about the race, but I am also getting extremely nervous. It's supposed to be in the upper 70s on Saturday - I can't run in temperatures over 70, because I overheat very easily. And then slow down. And then bonk. And then quit. I can't quit.

Update

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Okay, I got it - REST.

Johnny thinks I should still get out jogging a couple days this week - as long as I feel okay...we'll see. I went out yesterday morning for three slow miles, and it felt okay.

BadBen reminded me to take vitaman C - I took my antioxidant vitamin yesterday and today; I am also trying to stay hydrated - which is hard, because everything I drink comes right back out. My body won't keep fluids. I'm trying to rest - I went to bed at the same time as Ash last night to try and sleep more. It all seems to be helping, as I am already feeling a little better.

I will try to remember that REST is the most important thing...

PS we're having fun in Prescott, AZ, and I'll give an update on that soon.

Noooooooooooo

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I'm sick! I'm tapering, my race is in a week, and I'm sick!

I have a cold. The sore throat started yesterday, and continued through last night. I couldn't sleep. My ears are plugged and my throat and head hurt really bad.

I don't know what to do. Do I still run my taper schedule? Will running make the cold last longer? I don't want to be sick on race day. If I don't run, and I recover in time, will the lack of running hurt me on race day?

HELP!

How do I handle this???!!!???!!!???

Okay, so I didn't actually train with the Kenyans, but they passed me on the River Path yesterday! For my non-Tucsonan blog readers: three (?) Kenyans recently relocated to Tucson (Oro Valley?) to train with an (apparently) really awesome Greek coach who recently relocated here because his wife landed a job at UA. They are really fast - I first got to see them when I ran the Run'n'Roll at UA last Sept. Mike, do you have any additional details?) Anyway, I thought it was kind of cool.

So I headed out for a five-mile run yesterday between games (yay Steelers! yay Seahawks!). It was another great run. I started out all cranky, as usual. Definitely seems to be my modus operandi. And then, as usual, about three-ish miles in, I finally warmed up and went into the "zone." You know, the place where running doesn't feel forced, where you aren't pushing yourself to keep going, where your inner child becomes lulled to sleep in the peace and complacency of feeling your body gently glide through the atmosphere. Sigh it with me, "ahhhhh." Now, the two miles I did today? Nope, no zone. Lead-filled legs, shaky body, starving stomach, hot head, yuck! I had the "right" amount of food/drink in the morning, so I'm not sure why it sucked so bad, but I just listened to my body, walked part of it and cut the run short (should have been 3 miles). I did enjoy the urban aspect of it, though. I usually run on trails, or at least the relatively secluded River Path, and am unused to running through neighborhoods and urban centers. I found pleasure in hearing a lawn mower, smelling a BBQ, listening to people talk as they walk to their cars, winding my way through bushes overgrowing a bird-poop-covered sidewalk and kids leaving school for lunch. It was such a different perspective, and I enjoyed running to the beat of the neighborhood. A runner enjoying mid-town Tucson, who would have thought.

Last night, I finally figured out the rest of my taper schedule. This whole training-for-an-ultra thing was done sort of on a whim and ad-hoc, so I had have no plan. Just tried to increase my mileage by 10% each week (emphasis on the tried), and get a little faster. I managed to get up to about 35 miles a week for my "monster" month - I know, no where NEAR where I "should have" been to train for an ultra - and I also managed to get my average time from about 13:30/mile to about 11:10/mile on the River Path. Oh, yeah, my taper schedule: Today, 2; Wed, 3; Fri, 4; Sun, 6; Tues, 2-3; Thurs, 2; Sat, RACE!!! I'm pretty confident I can complete the race within the 8-hour cutoff time; however, I am fully aware that there is a definite possibility that I might not. I need to accept that, so I don't kill myself if that happens. The nerves are starting to increase, and I just keep reminding myself that the mere fact that I am attempting this race is an incredible feat in and of itself. One year ago, I weighed 60 lbs more than I do now. I couldn't run a half-mile. And now here I am prepping for a freakin' ULTRA!!!!!!!

"You're going the wrong way...

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...Phoenix is back that way." - (envious?) hiker I passed as I ran up Bear Canyon to Seven Falls.


The day dawned bright and clear. J let me sleep in till 8, and I took my time getting ready. Since I'm tapering, I decided to do an 8.4 mile run up Bear Canyon (which you access from the Sabino Canyon area) to a gorgeous waterfall. I've hiked the route a number of times over the years, but hadn't been up there in awhile. I had totally forgotten how Bear Canyon is so much more beautiful than Sabino Canyon. The riparian areas are densely forested (for the desert, anyway!), the stream was still flowing (Sabino hasn't flowed in ages!) and there was more shade. There were also more hikers than exercisers, resulting in a lot of stopping, passing and comments such as the one opening my post. (It's a widely held belief in Tucson that Phoenix is way more hectic - and less desirable - than Tucson. He totally dissed me with that comment. Grr.) On the way up, almost to the falls, I passed a guy and a girl heading down. On my way back down, I passed them again. A short while later, I heard "thud, thud, thud," as I started to cross the wash, and I thought a mountain lion was coming to get me! Then the girl emerged from the bushes, and I thought perhaps I had dropped something and she was running me down to return it. But nope. The guy said I had inspired them, so they started running! (And promptly passed me. Grr.)

The weather was absolutely perfect! I wore shorts, a T and my visor. The sun was a little strong, but the breeze kept my temperature just right - no overheating, no freezing. Perfect. The run felt great! Knowing that I had less than 9 miles to run today took a lot of pressure off. I had to keep reminding myself that I was tapering. In other words, don't overdo it! I kept wanting to go faster, but tried to hold myself back a little. It just felt so good. I wanted to be out there, instead of feeling like I needed to be out there. The trail was a fun one, twisty and turny. There were a few spots, as with all Tucson trails, where it got rocky and a bit dodgy for footing, but it's one of the smoother Tucson trails!

I liked how relaxing this run felt. No pressure, no worries. Deliberately tried to take it easy, instead of push myself. I took a 30 second break at the falls to take in their glory, and a three-minute break on the way down to tie my shoes and refill my water bottles. Total time elapsed: 2:06:50, 15:06/mile. Taking out the breaks, I averaged 14:41/mile. Not bad for 1000 vt ft of elevation on a trail! And the best part? It felt good.

Inconceivable

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The eating-monster has LOST two pounds...!!!!! I am down to 136 pounds, a weight I have not been in over 10 years. Wow!

Roses are red...

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Okay, so I've come across these quiz-thingys on other peoples' blogs and always thougth they were kinda cute, but sorta lame. On a lark, I decided to try one, and the questions tickled my funnybone (J had to come out to the living room to see why I was laughing) and I thought, oh hell, I'm in a strange mood - I'll post it. So, what color rose are you? ;)
You are a Dark Red Rose
You represent unconscious beauty and deep passion.

Your vibe: sophisticated and worldly

Falling in love with you is: wildly carnal and forbidden

Afterthought: even with all the "have-to-eat-carbs-this-minute" and "I-refuse-to-run" syndrome happening this week, I've managed to get in one 3.3 mile lunchtime run and one 3.8 mile evening run. And the urge to eat is lessening (THANK GOD). So I'm feeling better.

I can't stop

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Eating! Sweets, carbs – last night’s dinner was a rice burrito followed with rice-topped toast. Dessert was three servings of fat-free (loaded with full-fat chocolate and mint chips) brownies with whipped cream. All day long, all I want to do is eat. Bagels, hummus, peppermint patties, Ben & Jerry’s low-fat frozen yogurt, cereal, oatmeal, chex mix, low-fat frozen pizza and I CRAVE Starbucks grande nonfat mochas. More, More, MORE!!!!!!!

Of course, this is leading to gallbladder trauma. No matter how low-fat I keep my diet, by eating this much, the fat is adding up. Plus, just having that amount of food in my system hurts my gallbladder as well. I don’t want to run, I just want to eat.

Too much!

Fastest Week in the Monster Month

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Trail running at Los Penasquitos Canyon While out on my run today, trying to log the last few miles for my last monster month week, I ran the first three miles in 10:57/mile; then, on the way back, I just stopped running. I walked the last few miles home, jogging only when the wind got too cold. I just quit. I wrestled with the decision - wouldn't a true runner, a real runner, find the determination to keep going? Wouldn't that have been the "right" thing to do for training - learn how to keep going, even when you don't want to? A breakthrough? It was only a measly three miles back. Temperature was perfect, I was well-fueled, not PMS-ing, not injured, no pain, no "real" reason to stop running - except for the child in me, kicking and screaming, throwing a giant temper tantrum over running. Enough! Enough pressure! Stop it! So I did. I stopped. And I decided it was a bigger breakthrough for me to learn to listen to my body, have grace and stop.

Once I got home and entered all my time and miles for the week into my log, I realized that I may have had reason to stop - it was my fastest week in my monster month by far.

J and I had fun in La Jolla. Here's the hotel and view. While we only did one of the two long runs we had planned, we ended up running an additional 10 miles - 5 on Friday and another 5 on Saturday. It was fun to run next to the ocean, hearing the waves crash to shore, tasting the salt spray on my tongue and listening to the seagulls cry. Simply spectacular. We walked around town and the parks on the ocean, and took advantage of the hotel's awesomely, perfectly hot jacuzzi.

Of course, this great mini-vacation was sandwiched between two terrifying events: riding an airplane there and back. I am frightned to death of flying; I was almost in tears both ways. Needless to say, I was much relieved to be back in Tucson on Saturday night, whole and in one piece. While I enjoyed having J to myself for three days, I was so happy to be reunited with Ash!

I'm ready to begin my taper. Oh, so ready. I will begin by catching up on everyone's blogs!

Overlooking the ocean...

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So here I am, on a lovely Friday morning, on a balcony overlooking the La Jolla Cove. It's a beautiful morning, with a fog bank sitting just offshore, and the sound of crashing waves accompanying my every move.

Our hotel room is giant, but the bedroom is in the back, with a window right on the hallway where everyone walks to get to the rooftop breakfast. (Rooftop breakfast!) So it' sa little loud. We solved the problem by moving one mattiress to the giant living room. Plus, this way, we get to hear the waves as we fall asleep at night. (How romantic!) We overlook the Cove and Ellen Browning Scripps (?) park.

Ash is doing well with his nana, and Johnny and I are having an incredibly romantic time. We flew in yesterday, got our rental car (very quickly and efficiently, what a surprise!), and headed out to Los Penasquitos Canyon for a 12-mile trail run. It started out with my usual crankiness. Didn't want to do it. Too tired. DIdn't want to get the full miles. About 3 miles in, there was a cool waterfall, and then the winding, country road started going through some incredible oak groves. It was so beautiful. We saw a coyote, a few runners (including some marines) and some hikers. We reached the half-way point, and I realized I did it in 1:15 - wow! For a trail, that is quick for me! Re-energized, we headed back down the trail, and it just kept getting better and better. As usual, the crankiness went away, the gels really kicked in, my attitude adjusted, and I felt great! I finished with a negative split (it was downhill, after all), and with breaks included, I ended up doing 12 miles in a 12:30 pace - that's awesome on a trail! Woo hoo! Once again, looking promising for Pemberton. We had fun stretching and taking pictures (which will have to come later, because I forgot to bring the cable to download the pics! ack!).

After getting lost on our way to the hotel, we finally made it. Check in and showered. Oh, that felt so good. We headed out to walk about town and find something to eat. We ended up going to Azul La Jolla, and ate on their garden patio, next to a roaring fire, with romantice vines and lights stretching overhead. It was happy hour, so all drinks were on special, and - get this! - all their food was half-price!!!! It's our new favorite restaurant. I had a grilled chicken breast sandwhich that was simply to die for, and J had a burger with blue cheese, bacon and garlic mayonaise. We both had two beers (which was enough to get me giggling!), but no dessert (too full!). We had fun walking hand-in-hand back to the hotel. Tried to take a few pictures of what we thought was Venus, shining over the ocean, causing a reflection, but after 10 minutes of ohhing and ahhing, it turned out to be a plane. What dorks!

This morning, we ate breakfast on the rooftop terrace overlooking the ocean with - I kid you not - Elvis and his mother. Dude looked and talked like Elvis - just wasn't wearing the jumpsuit. Very strance.

So we were supposed to go over a 15.5 miler today, from the hotel down to Mission Bay, but both of us (supposedly Type A personalities) decided to skip it. I know, I know!!! I'm in my monster month!!! But every day at home, we both have to push ourselves to get everything done that we have to get done, and this is a vacation. We don't want to have to do anything! It's looking like we'll get some miles in, simply because watching all the joggers and runners from our balcony is inspiring. Plus, I think it'll be fun to run next to the ocean. So we'll be running, just not as much as we had planned. Amd I am so okay with that.

Kangaroo Rat

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Just for Rae:

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Update: BadBen had a good idea - to name it! Whoever gives it the best name wins...uhhh...lots of good laughs. GO!

The recovery runs are so much sweeter.

I was feeling antsy, yet zapped today. J went out for the Bear/Sabino Loop with the Tucson Trail Runners, and Ash and I decided to stay home and chill out. My calf was feeling much better, and with ibuprofen, my aching body wasn't aching too much. Once J got home, I realized that I really wanted to go out for a run. I actually wanted to run the day after a long, hard run?! Crazy!

So I headed out to the river path this afternoon. It was a little hot for me, but not too bad. I took a bottle of Gatorade (I had a gel and some Clif shot blocks, but I didn't eat them). There were lots of people on the path, along with a kangeroo rat (how cute! yes, I'm weird, I love rodents). I ran to a playground where Ash likes to go, then turned around. I ran 11:15-minute miles, and that felt great.

I love the fact that six miles used to be a long run for me - and now it's a recovery run!!! I feel much better about my chances at Pemberton after being able to go out today and run a decent pace for a good distance.

"Not officially dead...

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...I still have a heart" - Veruca Salt

This was my mantra today. I wanted to do 3 laps of 8.5 miles out in Saguaro National Park East, but the weather and a crampy leg did not agree with my aspirations. I did manage to do two 8.5-mile loops, so total mileage = 17. Not too bad, but I was hoping to have a longer run before attempting 31 at Pemberton!

The day started out pretty well, although Johnny and I had our usual difficulty getting Ash out of the house early. It wasn't too warm, but the sun was pretty strong. The first four miles were fun. The trails out there are twisty-turny, roller-coaster trails, with lots of little ups and downs. As Mike said, they are soft trails - sometimes a little too soft! (Sand slog, anyone?) But the sun started to get very strong, and I bonked early. Too early! Four miles in?! Yikes!

I decided that I needed to view the run differently. I needed to remember that time on my feet was most important, regardless of the pace I was doing. I also decided that I needed to learn how to keep going when I feel that zapped. So I hiked my way back to J and Ash - my aid station at Mica View picnic area - and forced myself to keep moving through the crampy pain in my left calf. Once I made it back, J was great crew - refilling my empty bottles, giving support, encouraging me to do the full 8.5 for the next lap. (I didn't want to - I wanted to cut it short already!) He also made me refuel - because, once again, I wasn't wanting to eat. At least I wanted to drink!

I headed back out, and felt much slower. I had to walk so much! I managed a granny shuffle through some parts, but I was walking all the little ups, and even the flats and some downs. I was discouraged. Then I saw some beautiful clouds beginning to form. For some reason, just seeing the clouds - even without them coming near to the sun to give me shade - made me feel better. About halfway through the lap, the wind picked up, and the clouds actually started playing peek-a-boo with the sun. It was beautiful!

My leg was still killing me, and by this time, I was having GI problems. I had thrown up a little, and my stomach was really aching. I just kept going, with the above-mentioned Veruca Salt song running through my head. I realized that mentally and cardiovascularly, I could keep going quite a few miles more, but my crampy leg and stomach issues were holding me back. My mood started really improving in the last 2 miles - enough that I actually ran the last 1.6 miles! I pushed through the pain, and just enjoyed moving through the cactus forest with the sun behind clouds.


I made it back to J and Ash and collapsed at the picnic table. I don't want to push it and injure myself during training, so I didn't do another lap. My calf is still bothering me, even at home and after icing it. I can barely move it. I'm a little worried about it, but I think I'll be fine.

A turkey and ham sandwhich after the run tasted great, although I almost heaved it up - my stomach is taking it's time getting back to normal. I did the 17 miles in 4 hours and 24 minutes, including all breaks - which was quicker than last week's 14.75 in 4 hours, 38 minutes. But last week's included much, much more elevation gain.Dirty feet!

I'm a little worried about whether or not I'll be able to complete Pemberton, if my longest run to date is 17 miles - and it was hard. I know that I can beat the heat at Pemberton, because the aid stations are 5 miles apart. At each aid station, I'll dunk myself in water to help stay cool. Plus, it will be easier because there will be more people and more support. But I think it'll be a nail-biter: can I finish within the 8-hour cutoff time? And then, what happens if I don't? Will I crash into a dark depression? Will I just be glad that I attempted it? Will I get down on myself? Ack!

I kept thinking of Rae today, and how she's gotten something like three 20+ mile long runs in the last few weeks. It was so inspiring to read about how she was able to kick it in in the last mile or so, and go even faster! At the end of over 20 miles! I want that. I want to get there. I made a commitment to myself to get there this year. And every step I took today took me another step closer to that level of fitness. I just have to stay committed. Stay focused. Keep the judgement out of it - it was so cool to read Olga's stories of the 100 milers she's doing, and how she learned to let go of the judgement.

So this upcoming week is the last big week for me, then I begin tapering. The highlight of the upcoming week is the trip to San Diego that J and I get to take, courtesy of the world's greatest boss. It's to celebrate our 10 years together. We decided to spend one day just running around the area - from La Jolla to Torrey Pines State Beach, back down to La Jolla, then to Mission Bay. The point is to keep me on my feet for 8 hours. I don't know how many miles we'll get - the miles aren't really the point - but we will get at least 8 hours out there. I think it'll be fun - running tourists! So that will be my last big run.

I'm not sure how I'll handle the tapering process - it's hard to turn the "run drive" off. But I know tapering works - even though in my brain, it doesn't seem to "logically" make sense. I think I will try to relax, and enjoy the rest. Speaking of which, I think I'll go get a slice of fat-free brownie, top it off with orange sherbet, and watch the Patriots trounce the Jaguars...

This morning, I woke up early to meet my early morning partner for a run. I skipped it last week, because I was so exhausted, but I really wanted to go this week. (Next week will be my last early morning run before my race, woo hoo! Sleeping in is coming!)

It was 42 degrees out, with a wind chill in the mid-30s. I wore my new tights (my mother-in-law bought them as an impulse purchase, not realizing that I actually really needed a pair; and they are awesome!), a long sleeve shirt, my cool new sleek skull cap, my fun $1 rainbow mittens, and Johnny's cool new expensive jacket (it has zip-off sleeves!) that his mom bought him for Christmas (thank you J for letting me borrow it!). It was the perfect amount of clothing, and my new tights were so comfy. I wore my new pack, and decided to bring a bottle of Gatorade. I usually only bring water, if anything, but J's really been trying to convince me to intake more fuel on my runs - even the moderate ones (me and my history of disordered eating has a hard time with this). With my new pack to hold my water bottle, I could run through the scary dirt lot with my headlamp on and holding both my pepper spray and cell phone (set to 911) - I felt much safer than usual. Also, the pocket in the pack is big enough to hold my gels, and then the pepper spray and cell phone while I'm running with Barbara!

I ate a gel before heading out, and met up with Barbara at our usual spot. I let her know that I was still recovering from the run on Sunday, so we took it easy. We had a blast talking and laughing the whole time. I had the right amount of fuel: no cramps, perfect amount of energy and felt like I could run another 8 when I was done! I didn't end exhausted! Of course, going slower helped too. I have had a few shorter runs that I would call "comfortable," but this was the first moderate run where I was comfortable the whole time! Perfect temperature with the clothing, perfect fueling and perfect pace. I am so glad I took two days of rest after the wicked run on Sunday. I could feel the strength in my legs.

Once I got home, I decided to take care of myself more than usual. I immediately ate a ZBar (clif bar for kids - I love them!), and stretched lightly before heading into the shower. I think that will help my recovery throughout the day today, and I'll feel stronger/better. My shoulders are doing better today, thank goodness.

Quick note: I used the cool Gmap Pedometer tool to map out my weekly moderate run: turns out that where I was starting caused it to be less than 8 miles - which means all those great runs where I thought I was getting 10-minute-miles or less??? WRONG! I wasn't going that fast! :( Oh well. I'll adjust my log to see what my pace really was.

Also, thank you everyone for all your comments re: Wasson Peak run! It's reassuring to hear a consensus that I'm ready for the 50k (because I'm starting to get nervous! And Brent, you aren't supposed to make me even more nervous! ;p)

Another side note: I was reading the running chick with the orange hat's posts after her first marathon, and she mentioned that pounds will be gained and inches will be lost. I'm finding that to be so true - I'm not losing any weight, but I am losing inches - big time! That's fun. I like muscles!

Whew!

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So the most sore part of my body? My shoulders! I carried a camelback, plus a handheld, which sort of explains the pain. But I've run with a camelback before without this much pain - I think maybe I was tense, and that added to the stress on my shoulders. It hurts to pick up my water bottle! I just keep reminding myself: I'll have nice shoulders...the pain is worth it...nice shoulders...

I decided to take both yesterday and today off, since I'll be running 8 miles tomorrow morning. Then I want three miles on Thursday or Friday, and hopefully, a 25 miler on Saturday or Sunday. I just have to figure out where in Tucson a long trail run exists without all the crazy elevation gain! I'm thinking Saguaro National Park - east or west. We'll see. More to ponder, fun!

So what did I do today???

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14.75 miles and 3400 vertical feet of elevation gain on and around Wasson Peak!!!

I can't believe I actually did it. It was wicked tough. The trails were not smooth, easy-running trails. They were gnarly, eroded trails, with fist-sized rocks scattered amongst the cheese-grater rocks and 2-inch thorned acacia bushes. Slice and dice, dude!

About seven of us started at dawn, running a few miles up a dirt road to the first trailhead. J and Ash ran with the stroller with me for the first few miles. It was cold! Wispy pink clouds accompanied the cool morning smell of moisture in the desert. Gorgeous.

Made it to the first trail, Sendero-Esperanza, one I'm very familiar with. Made it up to a saddle, then took a direction I normally don't go at this saddle: down the other side. Yikes! Those fist-sized rocks made their first appearance here, along with the sun - right in my eyes. I was able to make it down and around a picnic area to pick up the King Canyon trail and begin the steep ascent to the top of Wasson. About half way up I hit the saddle with the Sweetwater trail junction, and that's where the trail begins to wind straight up a gorgeous rocky ridge. Four hikers were in front of me, which was fun. I could watch where they went to give me an idea of where I was going. The whole time I was wrestling with intenstinal distress - but there was no where to relieve myself; not fun. I hit the junction with the Hugh Norris trail that lead .3 to the Peak itself - woo hoo! - and caught up to the four hikers. Once I made it to the top, I turned right back around to head back down. At the junction, I took the Hugh Norris trail to get back down. About .1 later, there was a little side peak that seemed relatively private, so I hiked to the top to water a bush. Okay, so I was still in view of the summit, but it was far enough away that I don't think the four hikers could see me. I felt much better, and ran the beautiful, smooth, sandy couple of miles to the saddle I hit earlier in the day (the one I went down from).

Then the lack of fueling hit. I was exhausted. I had about 3.5 to 4 miles to go to get back to the car, and it was mostly downhill, but I couldn't run it. I walked. And walked. And walked. I got cold. It was windy. My hands, legs and teeth went buzzy, then numb. I wanted a search party to come and get me. I was lonely. Then I remembered a little trick that J and I laughed about yesterday: Dory's "Just Keep Swimming" song from Finding Nemo. For the last few miles, that was my mantra. Just keep swimming, swimming, swimming. I was able to speed up to a granny shuffle at some points. Then I finally hit the road. Woo hoo! I started jogging, and soon enough I was running. Oh, it felt so good. Less than a mile on the road, and I'd be back.

I sprinted to the finish, where the run director and a few others were waiting. I finished in 4:38, which is super-slow. 18:50/mile, yikes!!! (Including breaks.) But I have to remember that Pemberton's trails are way easier and smoother, and also that there's only 1600 vt ft. To finish Pemberton within the 8-hour cutoff time, I need to average about 16-minute miles (breaks included). I'm so happy that I did it!

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angie's essence...as explored by trail running (and mixed-media art)

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