April 2006 Archives

Crew Pinky (Angie) chows down at 11 p.m.
Crew Pinky chows down at 11 p.m., exhausted from the day's work.

Check out the pictures!

We pack up on Friday morning, and drop Ash off at his Nana's house before driving up to Payson. Along the way, we get a phone call from Olga - she made it in! But doesn't know where she's going. A few phones calls back and forth, and she gets on the right highway and Johnny and I check into the hotel, where we promptly get into the hot tub, followed by an ice dip in the unheated pool.

Catra and Julia make it in, and we all head over to the pre-race dinner, where we chow on Italian food (everything was slathered in butter, uh-oh!). After the RD gives the requisite talk, Johnny takes Olga back to the hotel room, and I stay for the volunteer meeting, where I meet Joe Dana, the person with whom I will be sweeping the final 17 miles of the course. I explain that I'm crewing two runners, and once they make it through mile 44, the last aid station, I will be free to help. But since the cut-off time for mile 33 is 3 p.m., and Johnny and Olga expect to be through 44 at 4 p.m., I will not make it back to mile 33 in enough time to start the sweep with him. He agrees that it's a good idea for me to run up from 44 towards 33 to meet him, then continue back on through 44 to the finish.

With that taken care of, I head back to the hotel room. We set about five alarms to make sure we wake up at 3 a.m., and go to sleep.

Olga and Johnny at the starting line
Olga and Johnny at the starting line.

We head to the starting line, and Johnny, Olga, Catra and Julia check in, then pile back into the car to stay warm. Finally, at almost 5 a.m., the runners line up at the start. At the sound of the horn, they are off!

I head back to the car, slip in the newest Posies CD, and follow a car with New Mexico plates to the first aid station, hoping that the out-of-towners know where they are going. Thankfully, they do! I unload all the gear - Johnny's, Olga's and mine, and set up to wait. The Tucson contingent is in charge at aid station 1, mile 8, and I have fun taking pictures and getting ready. I introduce myself to the New Mexico folks, who are crewing for Kyle Skaggs, who Olga told me about the night before - he attended college in OR, and ran with Olga in the Pacific Northwest area. Finally, the first few runners come through. The first woman through was Melissa Heggen, from TX. It was freezing cold, and she was running in her sports bra and shorts, brrr!

Johnny came through with a bunch of other runners, many of whom were part of the Tucson contingent. He was ahead of schedule, and looking great. A few minutes later, Olga came through. Her heart rate was elevated, and she had taken a few falls, but seemed okay. After she headed off to the next aid station, I packed up my stuff, and headed to Washington Park, aid station 2, at mile 17.

I made it with plenty of time to spare, and watched the top runners come through again. It's so much fun to be able to watch the race unfold. Johnny came through ahead of schedule again, looking strong and feeling good. Olga hit her split just perfectly, and was feeling much better - her heartrate was where it should be and she was looking good. I stayed to cheer on Catra and Julia, then headed to Fish Hatchery, aid station 4, mile 33 (crew is not allowed at aid station 3, Hell's Gate, mile 25).

It was getting hot, and I was trying to stay hydrated and fueled for the sweep I would be doing later on. Runners were coming through, but there was no Johnny. I waited and waited. A radio guy was roaming throuh the parking lot, calling out for "Amy." I paid no attention. I chatted with Patricia (the newlywed from the awesome trail runner wedding from a few weeks ago), and Billie, the girlfriend of a fellow Tucson trailrunner, who had manned aid station 1. 20 minutes ahead of schedule, Olga appeared, totally startling me! Where was Johnny?! Olga was looking great, she changed her socks, got some extra water, and was on her way, when I asked how long ago she had seen Johnny - and she hadn't! We were both surprised that Johnny hadn't come in, and Olga didn't see passing him.

Olga took off, and the radio guy came by again, this time calling for "Amy Lyons." Hel-lo! I called to him, "you mean Angie Lyons???" and he came over. Double-checked that I was with #25, John, and proceeded to tell me that Johnny had been pulled from the race at Hell's Gate, aid station 3, mile 25. What?! He was doing GREAT! The radio guy wouldn't tell me anything other than Johnny's okay, he's just fine, and he's coming to mile 33 (where I was). He instructed me to NOT leave mile 33 until Johnny arrived.

I panicked. Olga was ahead of schedule! How long would it take for Johnny to arrive? I can't miss Olga at the last aid station! What was wrong with Johnny? Oh, this threw off my carefully planned logistics!!

Paramedics tend to Johnny, due to hypothermia
I paced and paced and paced, getting hotter and hotter. Wayne came through and Patricia took care of him, then took off. I tried to find some shade under a tree, when finally, a radio truck came through. I watched Johnny's shoes pop out on the other side of the truck, and ran around to meet him. He looked a little tired and dazed, but otherwise okay. The paramedics took him to the chairs under the tent, and immediately began tending to him; they didn't have all the supplies at mile 25, Hell's Gate, and had to bring him to 33 to check up on him. Apparently, between 17 and 25, he started getting very cold and dizzy and tired. He stopped about 2 miles out from mile 25, to fertilize a tree. When he realized he couldn't get back up, he crawled under a manzanita bush and fell asleep. Awhile later, he realized he needed help, and got out from the manzanita bush, to find Tommy "danger boy" Gormley on the trail - the same guy who he ran with at Old Pueblo. So he tagged along with Tom to get to mile 25, where he sat down and shivered for awhile before the nurse finally realized that Johnny was suffering from hypothermia (we think it was brought on by the wicked cold he has). They put him under a wool blanket and some sleeping bags, while trying to hydrate and fuel him. He was doing much better by the time they got him to 33 - his temp was back up, and he was feeling stronger.

So, we decided that Johnny would head to mile 44, Christopher Creek/See Canyon, aid station 5 - the last one, to take care of Olga, while I would stay at 33, and just start the sweep from there with Joe - which was perfect. Johnny took off, and I waited. And waited. And waited some more, while the aid station volunteers were duped by a passing runner into thinking that the cutoff time was 30 minutes later than it actually was. By the time they finally confirmed with the RD that the cutoff really was 3, and not 3:30, five more runners had passed on through. They didn't let the rest go, and sent Joe and I on our way.

Joe was an excellent running partner. We got along great, and had a blast talking about the joy of finishing last in an ultra, how beautiful the alligator junipers were and how incredibly rocky the trail was. About 20 minutes in, a runner had turned around and was heading back to mile 33, where everyone was leaving. Joe and I hesitated - we had already removed the ribbons, and there was no one coming back behind this runner to assure he arrived safely. But the runner refused to keep going to 44 with us, and so he headed back. About an hour and 20 minutes in, we came across another runner who had turned around. At this point, we knew everyone would be gone from 33, and the radio crew was only about a mile or so ahead. But the runner had helped flag the course, and knew a wicked steep hill was ahead, and refused to go on. Once again, we had to let him go. I was so worried!

We made it up the wicked hill, and let the radio crew know about the two runners. I felt better knowing that someone knew to look out for these guys, and we continued on our way. The views were incredible, the air was gorgeous, and the run was just spectacular. We had to pull the ribbons, which meant our pace was slow, but we were having fun. Then I was ready for mile 44, but it seemed to never come. We kept going and going and going and going and going. We ran into some of the radio crew, so we figured we were close, but it still seemed so far away! Finally, exhausted and weary, we made it to 44.

We changed into our warmer clothes, donned our headlamps, ate some food and took off. This was my very first night run - wow! I had fun picking the glow sticks off the trees, and wearing them around my neck. I couldn't really run, because the trail was so rocky, and I was afraid of twisting an ankle. We started up a steep hill - it seemed to last FOREVER. I was thinking, "It's the night of the never-ending hill." It was like I was on a hill treadmill. Same pace, same incline, same rocks I was stepping over and over and over again, like it was just a giant, rotating treadmill! I couldn't see beyond the 10 feet of light provided by my headlamp. It was strange and eerie.

I was scared, but Joe did a great job sticking close and using two flashlights, so we had plenty of light. A few times, we turned out the lights to enjoy the stars and the crescent moon, which were incredible. Amazing.

Time flew. The steepness eased, and I collected more glow sticks. We joked about turning our lights off and walking into the finish with just the glow sticks. I knew we were going to have an even slower pace for this section, so I kept reminding myself that I had a lot longer to go - I didn't like being stuck in the situation earlier, when I kept thinking mile 44 was sooner than it actually was.

Joe stopped me at one point, and told me to turn off my light. In a hushed voice, he tried to point out some lights moving through the trees to our right. I didn't see them, but he said they looked like headlamps. Either the trail took a sharp right, or there was another trail out there. I knew there wasn't another trail, and I also knew that the trail took a sharp right at the end...but we weren't at the end already, were we?! A few minutes later, Bob's voice rings out, "Hey there, looking good!" I yelled back one of the phrases he'd been using on the runners all day, "You look like new mon-ey!" and he responded, "You look like you went downtown with no money!" I smiled, knowing we were close.

Bob yelled ahead, which meant everyone knew we were coming, so we had no chance to turn out our lights and walk into the finish line with just the glow sticks :) I handed off the trash, and as I bent my head over to take off all the glow sticks around my neck, I saw Johnny's feet. He made it to the finish line! I thought I'd have to get a ride!!! I was so happy, I gave him a great big hug and kiss, and then saw Olga!!! She made it too!!! I was so excited, I was laughing and jumping up and down. I did my longest run since Pemberton - 17 miles, and over 3000 vertical feet of elevation gain! Woo hoo!!!! I ran at night!!!!! Olga took my arm, and I limped to the car. Geez, you'd think I had done the full 50, and Olga had done the 17 :)

Olga Finishes Zane Grey 50 Miler in 12:14, woo hoo!
We had fun exchanging stories on the way back to the hotel room (radio crew with runners in truck hits elk; runner encounters bear; Angie thinks she saw fresh mountain lion pee; Olga finishes in 12:15, fourth woman, 1st in her age group! (go Olga!); Johnny meets "Massanutten Matt" - the guy who set a course record for MMT in 2005 - and who recognized Johnny, because Matt reads his blog!; etc.), then dropped Olga off and went in search of food.

Crew Pinky (Angie) is exhausted
Exhausted Crew Pinky

After eating Subway and showering off, it's off to bed. Whew, what a fun, exhausting day! Johnny is still sick with the wicked cold, I think I'm coming down with it and Ash currently has it, the house is a mess, I have tons of work stuff to do this week and I'm overwhelmed, but I'm so happy that we had such a great weekend, and what fun with Olga!

Whew! This has been a frenzied week of preparations. I am so far behind in reading blogs, and will only fall even further behind with the travel this weekend, and then I have training next week, which means I won't be able to catch up at lunch. So, I'm letting you all know now - I'm not ignoring you! I have one hour today at lunch to post a quick update, and visit a few people. Good luck to everyone who is racing this weekend, hope everyone is doing well in their training.

I have created my packing lists, and will start packing tonight. We will pack up the car tomorrow, drop Ash of with his nana, and head on up to Payson. I can't wait to have Johnny all to myself for car ride! I love that uninterrupted time with him. Our hotel room ended up being a little screwy, so we are crashing in Olga's room - there will be 5 of us in there Friday night - should be fun!

I've got Olga's and Johnny's projected splits, a map of the area, directions to each aid station, and plans for three crew bags: Olga's, Johnny's and my own. I'm having fun planning for being crew during the day, and sweeping at night.

Can't wait to bring you the report! Peace out, and happy running!

ADDED...Congratulations to my daily reader from the Ann Arbor, MI, area for being my 5,000th visitor!!! (Site Meter tells me you use Comcast, Microsoft XP and Internet Explorer 6.0, and you visited on April 25, at 10:42 p.m. your time.)

I was so exhausted at the end of the workday yesterday, and I was feeling down for being so exhausted. Then I realized I was this exhausted because I was actually training, actually doing my body some good! I got excited and charged up thinking about how well I did this weekend, and how I got out on Tuesday for a five-miler before work. That pre-work five-miler was a milestone of sorts - it was the first time before work that Paki and I ran together for over four miles! Every other time we made it over four miles was at a race, so that was cool. We both felt great about it.

My goal to start runing more during the work week is starting to be met! I made it out for a four-miler this morning, which was fun, because I experimented with form. I learned that if I lean my upper body slightly forward from my hips while focusing on quick turnover, I can go REALLY fast! :) My first mile was 10:08. Pretty cool.

I did yoga last night, too. It felt really good, but I know my arms and shoulders are going to be killing me! I had to stop part way through my run this morning to stretch out my neck - it hurt already!

I was planning on running again tomorrow morning, and then doing my strength training tomorrow night, but...

insert drum roll here...

I get to sweep the last 17 miles of Zane Grey!!! **trumpets blaring**

I am quite excited about this. I will finish crewing for Johnny and Olga at mile 44, and instead of going to the finish line, I'll pass the camera to Johnny, and get my butt back up to mile 33, and start sweeping. I'm so PSYCHED!!!! This is the big race I want to do next year, so I'm thrilled to get to see part of the course, and to be able to volunteer is just an honor.

Obviously, I'm feeling better this week. Thank you to everyone who commented and/or sent encouraging e-mails. It is really comforting to know that I am not the only one fighting these crippling feelings. Jack wrote about "the elevation map on a really good trail run," which really got me thinking on so many levels - ebb and flow, my emotions, my weight, my training, everything goes up and down like the elevation map on a really good trail run! I love trail runs with a lot of elevation change, because of the changes, the way ups and downs work different muscles, the way downs can help prepare you for the ups and vice versa, the fact that I know I am making myself stronger and creating a sturdier, stronger, more confident and capable body that will be even more prepared for bigger elevation changes.

So much to say

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So much happened today that I'm not really sure where to start.

Mark wrote a comment to my last post that really struck a chord with me. He said, "Of all the good things that happen yesterday, you had to dig through your training log to find that ONE negative and then harp on that? Why would you rob yourself of the satisfaction of running your best time ever in a 5k?"

That's exactly what I wanted to know.

So I thought about it and thought about it today. I woke up in a horrible mood, totally cranky and shut down. Johnny took Ash to his grandmother's as planned, but I was in no mood to run. We talked about it for 30 minutes, while I alternated between putting my running clothes on and taking them off. I managed to get my camelback full of water and my gels, but ended up back in bed. I laid there and cried. I cried about not being faster yesterday. I cried about not wanting to get up and run this morning. I cried about not having the body I want. I cried about wanting to eat fatty foods. I cried about wanting to binge and cram as much food in my mouth as I could. I cried about letting Johnny down. I cried because I felt like I never wanted to run again. Ever. All those running clothes - all that money - gone to waste. I cried because I thought I wasn't a runner, who was I kidding? I cried because I wanted to crawl into a shell forever.

Johnny came in and laid down beside me. He spoke of taking it easy, of relaxing. Of how it was a beautiful morning, and he wanted to enjoy it with me - by going to breakfast. He said we haven't had a chance to just relax and enjoy a Sunday morning in ages, and he wanted to enjoy me. He spoke of opportunities - how I have many opportunities to run, many opportunities to eat healthy. How I can't be perfect all the time. About how it's okay to take it easy. I cried because Johnny valued me, even as I was at my lowest, feeling so unworthy.

We went to IHOP, a restaurant I have avoided since being diagnosed with gallbladder disease. They have a low-fat menu now. But I did not order from the low-fat menu. I wanted country griddle cakes. So I got country griddle cakes. We sat in that diner for an hour and a half, talking about Johnny's school, Ash, Zane Grey. We spoke about the little minutae of life that we rarely have a chance to discuss.

I left IHOP feeling a little overfull (but I couldn't even clean my plate) and satisfied. While we perused a party store looking for pink fuzzy head boppers (I'm "Crew Pinky" for Olga and Johnny this upcoming weekend at Zane Grey), we discussed going for a run today after all. We decided we'd take Ash in the stroller out to a park.

Once we picked up Ash, he decided he didn't want to go to the park - he wanted to go to Sabino! I figured it'd be great heat training, and would be much more fun. A family outing to a creek on a day that felt like a beautiful summer day in the mountains. Nothing would be more gorgeous.

On the way to Sabino, I pondered my reaction to my pace at the 5k, and how I felt this morning. I finally figured out why I was feeling the way I was. Yesterday, after the race, I made a mistake. A mistake that had ramifications for Johnny that he felt embarressed about, and caused some angst on his part. It wasn't a big mistake, and it was an honest mistake, but a mistake nonetheless. I felt crushed by his reaction, which was a valid, understandable reaction. I want to emphasize that I'm not blaming Johnny for how I feel. I reacted to his reaction in a very deep, core way; the same way I reacted to my mother's reactions when I was a kid. If I did something that embarassed her, I felt horrible, wrong, like I was not worthy of anything. This is a deeply ingrained reaction in me, one I've tried so hard to overcome. I realized that seeking out the ONE negative thing about the race was my brain's way of trying to reinforce the idea that I was not worthy, that I was a bad person, that I wasn't good enough. All it took was a simple misunderstanding to trigger those deep emotions in me. I thought about how I needed to feel secure in my mistake - it was an honest mistake, one that I know I did not do intentionally. I know that it caused Johnny angst, and I am sorry about that. But I do not need to beat myself up over it. I needed to have empathy for myself, for being a human being, someone who is not, and never will be, perfect. I needed to get my confidence back, get centered, find my integrity and pink fuzzy and reinforce that I am worthy of living, of running, of love.

We arrived at Sabino, and I was delighted. The weather was warm, but windy. We started out at a quick clip, getting the first mile in at 11 minutes - quicker than my race last weekend. I slowed from there, and just enjoyed feeling my body move. I used an ITB compression band for the first time today, and was quite surprised at how well it worked. I had to pour water on my head about every half-mile to keep cool, and with how windy it was, my temperature was perfect!

Ash fell asleep quickly (thank goodness). I had to walk sections that I don't normally walk, due to the heat and recovering from yesterday's killer 5k (yes, I do think I did a great job!). But then, we got to stop number 8, part way up the last big hill. This hill climbs 350 feet in about three-quarters of a mile - nothing too bad, but it's a steady climb. I've never run the entire hill, only small sections of it. Johnny refilled our water bottles as I started the standard hike. But then he said, "think about running when I catch up to you." So I started jogging when he caught up. And didn't stop jogging all the way to the top. I saw a woman with a T-shirt that said, "Determination" on the back, and thought, "Damn straight." Once I got to the top, I ran the loop, then ran (yes, RAN) all the way to the bottom of the hill. On the way down, Johnny said he wanted more miles, so he'd run the hill once more while I waited with a sleeping Ash at the bottom. Then I thought, "Wait, why does he get to run more while I sit at the bottom waiting for him?" I told him he'd have to do the hill with the jogger again. He laughed and said, "Okay!"

We ran to the 3-mile mark, and turned around. This time, I started at the very bottom of the hill...and jogged all the way to the top. Again. The first time I ran "the hill," I ran it twice. Without stopping. Hill repeats, baby! We passed the "determination" woman again, and I let her know that her T-shirt helped me. Ash woke up on the way back down, ready to stop and play in the water. Perfect timing!

We enjoyed a dip in the pool at the base of Anderson dam at stop number 8, then jogged back out to the car. On the way home, I saw a Nico's Taco Shop sign, and wanted to stop. But I can't eat anything there, and after eating at IHOP this morning, knew that if I chose to eat anything there, I was asking for emergency gallbladder surgery. There was a McDonald's in the plaza, which Ash decided, very loudly, that he wanted for dinner. So we went through drive-through, and I ended up getting a grilled chicken sandwhich combo. The sandwhich isn't high it fat...but the french fries are. I couldn't stop myself from eating them. And then I couldn't stop myself from feeling horrible about myself again.

Thus, the cycle begins again. I am still struggling with it. I am so frustrated with feeling bad about my choices! I am so frustrated with seeking out the negative in my life, so I can beat myself up over it! I am so SICK of living like this. I HATE fighting this, every day. Every day! I am exhausted, I am worn out. I ran that (expletive deleted) hill at Sabino today - TWICE - and I am feeling this bad at the end of the day, AGAIN. Am I mad that I chose to eat the french fries? Or am I mad that I can't focus on the good? I want to crawl back into bed and cry. I hate trying to re-format my brain.

"Determination," that T-shirt really spoke to me today. I refuse to let the jackals in my head find all the "bad" in me, so I can beat myself up. I am worthy, dammit. I am worthy simply because I was born. The mere fact that I am alive makes me worthy of living, of life, of love, of running, of expression, of movement. I am worth it. I am alive. Me - my pink fuzzy, that beautiful representation of my essence - is a worth it. Worth living. Worth moving. Worth running. Even if I make a mistake. Even if I eat french fries. Even if I have a bad day. I am still worthy of care, worthy of love. I WILL love myself. I WILL take care of myself. I WILL show myself that I am worthy.

I WILL end this blog post, so I can watch Pride & Prejudice with my husband and relax. Namaste, and happy running.

32:19, a PR!

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But really, I expected to PR, seeings as how the only 5k race I did was my very first last summer (38 minutes and change).

Yesterday, I said I had no time goal, but by this morning, I had decided that I really wanted to break 33 minutes (just under an 11-minute mile). I figured that I should be able to do that, since I did a four-mile fartlek two weeks ago at a quick pace (I couldn't remember the pace this morning).

The Spring Cross-Country Classic is a low-cost, no-frills race, which means potluck food, no race T-shirt and...a keg! Yes, you read that right. They called it a beer garden - "have a beer on us!" What a fun way to end a race. They also run the women's division separate from the men's, so each division can cheer the other on. This also means that Johnny and I were both able to race, while the other watched Ash!

I liked what Liv said, "start as a tempo run, then go faster until you feel like you need to puke, then slow down a bit." That sounded good to me, so that's what I did. I positioned myself in the back of the pack as usual, and ended up passing people from the get-go. Guess I should have started more in the middle. But it's fun to pass!

The course was great - fun, sandy washes, grass, curves, dirt roads. It ended on pavement (which I didn't really like, but oh, well!) - the last .1 was a bike path. Made for great photos!

So I started out as though I was doing a tempo run, then tried to go a bit faster. I focused on quick turnover, which really helped. I ate a gel right before the race (timed just right this week!), and brought a water bottle. First lesson learned: when actually racing a race, don't carry a water bottle! I was going too fast to actually drink any water (each time I took a sip, it upset my stomach), and the darned thing was heavy. There were quite a few spots where I just wanted to throw the darn thing into the bushes and come back out to find it later!

It started generally downhill, then wound around some grass, then headed up my own version of "heartbreak hill." It was pretty steep and rocky, but very short, and I was able to run it both times (it was a loop course). The rest of the course was over rolling desert terrain. Ash ran to the finish line with me (I loved that!).

I really enjoyed this race. The world's best hummus awaited me at the finish line; I washed it down with an ice-cold pepsi (the beer came out after the men's race). I had a blast watching the men come in - Mike (who came in fourth, Way to Go!), Wayne (the newlywed), Johnny - it was fun. There was a playground for Ash, and at the end, they held a kids race! Ash wore his daddy's bib number, and I ran with him. He didn't want to run the whole thing (he was tired!) but he did it, and came in second (out of two) in his age group :)

Here are the pictures.

Johnny and I crashed when we came home. I took a two-hour nap, and Johnny managed one hour before having to go to a school meeting thing. Unfortunately, Ash isn't napping (yikes), so he's going a little crazy.

Regarding my pace, I was super-excited when I finished, because I broke 33 minutes. But in reviewing my training, I realized that my four-mile fartlek two weeks ago was done at the exact same pace - 10:24/mile. And that was longer, and I didn't feel like throwing up at the end. So then I started thinking that I should have been faster! I wondered how I could have shaved time today, and think I really ran as fast I could today - maybe I could have shaved 15 seconds without that darned water bottle. So now I'm a little bummed. I know, I know, I did an awesome job, and I'm disappointed! I'm not enjoying that feeling right now. So maybe I just need to think things through a little (and get more sleep?) to feel better. Oh, one thing I want to remember is that four-mile fartlek was done on a completely flat course (the river path) and mostly on pavement, and this race had dirt and even sandy spots (those were tough!). It was also done about 1.5 hours later than I normally run and was a little warmer. Overall, I am pleased. Just a little frustrated and curious, because I think I should have been faster - but not sure how I could have actually been faster!

ADDED...I forgot to mention that I took a great "ice bath," by dipping in the unheated pool at our apartment complex....BRRRRR!

ADDED again...the results are up! And I actually finished in 32:20.

5K Race Tomorrow

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And I think I'm going to actually "race" it. Or at least count it as my speedwork for the week!

I'm a little nervous - it's a cross-country race, and although I've done tons of trail running (and even a few trail races), I've never done an official "cross-country" race. I don't know if there's a difference! Also, the last time I ran a 5K, it was my first race ever. I finished in about 38 minutes. I held back too much, and realized that I had a lot more energy when I finished. I don't want that to happen this time around, so I'm going to go all out from the beginning. It's only 3.1 miles, right? Nothing like the 31 I did in February. But surprisingly, I feel more nervous about this one! I think it's also nerve-racking, because I've never laid eyes on the course, and it's all the way over on the other side of town (Tucson has huge sprawl, so it'll take forEVER to get there!).

So, I don't really have a time goal, but I do have a goal involving time: to run as fast and hard as I can possibly run. Period. I'm very intrigued to see what my time will be. I have never just run all-out for any length of time.

As an added bonus, I will chase my 5K with a 17-miler either that afternoon or Sunday morning, for a total of 20 for the weekend, and just over 30 for the week.

Crash and Burn

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My computer, that is. Johnny didn't want to put any sort of virus or spyware protection on our laptop, so two nights ago, it finally fried. (Yes, honey, I'm blaming you. I still love you. :) ) A coworker's husband worked magic on it - it had 16 virus and 200 spyware!!!! YIKES. Yes, lesson learned.

Now that I'm back, I will finally be able to get caught up on blogs. Whew!

I skipped yesterday's run, but did the strength training that I skipped the day prior. I made up yesterday's run today, which felt good. I'm not sure when I'll make up the yoga session I skipped earlier in the week!

I went out for 8.2 miles Sunday morning up the trail to Seven Falls in Bear Canyon (same area as Sabino Canyon). It was exhausting, beautiful, gorgeous ambiance, warm but breezy and overall good. I passed a hiker on the way up, who I guess didn't like getting 'chicked," and after I got about .25 mile ahead of him, he decided to try and catch me on the uphill. Of course, because I have such small legs, even with jogging the flats, he was still catching up. So we had our own little race on the way up. I kept jogging every spot I could, and even though he got within 10 feet of me (breathing so heavily!), he never caught me. Whew! That was tiring. I wanted to walk the flats and downhill on the way out :) But I didn't. I saw two deer, a roadrunner ran with me for a ways, and there were lots of birds (even cardinals, cool!). Then, in a nook along the trail, I heard a loud "swoosh." I ducked, and immediately began turning in circles to find the source of the sound. Was it a large bird? I didn't see a shadow. Was it a huge gust of wind? I didn't feel it on my skin. "Swoosh..." it came through again. AAAAHHHHHH this place is known for it's mountain lions! Since I couldn't figure out what it was, I kept moving forward at a walking pace. I felt like I was being watched. It was seriously creepy. About 20 yards later I passed some people and felt better. Yikes!

I rested all day yesterday, and went out this morning for a gentle 5k, which was very nice. I can tell I've upped my miles quickly, as I'm exhuasted and can't eat enough! I'm trying to stretch and take care of myself as best I can. I will be ordering a foam roller this week to help with my tight ITB. So far, it's just been tight, and I've been stretching it well every day.

Not sure Whiskey Row will happen - every hotel in a 40 mile radius is sold out! Also not sure about Sugar & Spice, even though I already sent in my entry form and fee...flights are more expensive than Johnny's dad was expecting, so unless the flight costs go down, we might not get to go. Sigh.

Yoga's on my plate for tonight. Should feel good!

Pictures from the Sabino Sunset Run.

Tonight was just phenomenal.

I'll start way before the race, since it was a night (!) race. I spent the entire day totally nervous - could not focus on anything. So worried about everything - my ITB, fueling right, hydrating right, gastrointestinal issues, feminine issues, speed issues, dressing issues. You name it, I was freaking out about it. After coming back from a 17-miler, Johnny was laying on the living room floor stretching, and asked me to tell him everything I was worried about. So I did. Then he says, "now count on all that happening." Oh. Okay. I could finally move forward and actually prepare myself!

We arrived at Sabino Canyon early, for a wedding of two Tucson Trail Runners. It was the awesomest wedding I ever attended. We had to walk about .5 mile up the road to the picnic area, where fellow trail runners and family mingled. The bride wore her running clothes with a white visor that had beads and a veil tucked into the back, and the groom wore his running clothes, with a tuxedo shirt (a tuxedo silk-screened on the running shirt). Everone ate pre-race munchies, and a brief, gorgeous ceremony was held with the red canyon walls rising behind the bride and groom.

Then we headed back down the road to the starting line (great warm-up!). While waiting for Paki to arrive, I stretched and mentally prepped. There's no super-official starting time to this race; the directors wait for the last tram to come down the road and leave the staging area, then they send up the water truck. After giving the water truck a few minutes for a head start, they call the runners to the starting line (the walkers start about 30 minutes prior). I ate a crank e-gel, thinking the race was about to start, but had to wait an additional 15 minutes, oops! (I think I would have done even better had I waited 15 minutes to take that gel).

Finally, we were off! Even positioned at the back of the pack, people were flying by Paki and I. I knew I needed to take it easy, because this is a very hilly course, and it was a little warm. Suddenly, I heard Johnny behind me - Ash had told him he needed to run! Johnny ran in front of Paki and I to get a few photos on our way up, which I thought was very cool. We did the first mile in 11:30 - oops! Too fast! Paki felt it was slow, but I slowed down even more. The second mile we did in 12:34. Much better.

This was the quietest run I've ever done with Paki. Usually it's non-stop conversation, but tonight, we were so focused on the race, we barely spoke. I know I didn't have enough breath to speak!

Things got better when the front runners starting passing back by us. It was fun to notice and comment on the people coming down. Then I started seeing some of my friends, so we hollered back and forth, which was a blast. Having distractions caused me to speed up - mile 3 was completed in 11:04, yikes! No wonder my ITB was starting to ache. We hit the bottom of the big hill, and I sent Paki on her way. (She had a goal - if she could run the entire thing, she was going to reward herself by buying her first "real" running outfit, a very cute outfit we spotted at Fleet Feet earlier in the week when we picked up our race packets.)

I trudged up the hill, discouraged, before I realized that I had already set a PR for going up the tram road! Then I got excited, confident and determined. I hit the turnaround spot (which was not a full mile from mile 3 - it was .75 mile) in exactly 46 minutes. Sweet!

I took a gel, and headed back down. I had passed a few people on the way up, and they all flew by me now. I was just jogging down the hill, because I did not want to injure myself. I traded places with a pregnant woman and her husband a few times before passing them for good. I paused at the bottom of the hill to get some water (not an official aid station), and then continued down. For the next mile, there was no one I could see in front or behind me. It was so freaky - kind of like twilight zone! Where did all the people go? Did they evaporate? I was too busy wondering where the people were that I missed the next mile marker, so I did 1.75 in 18:43.

Finally, I realized I was just jogging. Jogging! I was probably going faster on the way up! Without Paki to keep me going, I was slowing down. So I sped up. I focused on quick turnover, sucking my abs in and picking my feet up, up, up. I finally started catching up to people. Whew, I wasn't alone! Next mile: 10:19, nice! Good, quick, downhill pace. I had noticed Paki up ahead, and dammit! I was going to catch her!

Only one mile to go. Generally downhill to flat, but with a wicked steep hill in the middle. I was picking people off left and right. Headed up the hill the fastest ever. And just kept going. I was watching Paki a ways in front of me. I focused, and picked up the pace. I took a sip of water, and almost vomited, so I decided - no more water! I passed three people who said, "way to go!" then began talking about how I was racing all the way to the end, and how cool that was :)

I heard a friend call to me as I sprinted to the finish, almost catching Paki. I was shaky and disoriented, but I didn't vomit. I finished in 1:24:54 - a personal best for Sabino Canyon!

And...the last mile?

9:49

My very first, REAL, sub-10-minute mile. Yes, it was mostly downhill, but it had a wicked steep uphill in the middle :)

This race was awesome. At the finish line was Paki with the BF (her nickname for her boyfriend), Johnny, Ash, and many of my trail-running friends. It was such great community, such great fun. Turns out there was a cutoff time for the race (I didn't know!) - 90 minutes. I beat the cutoff time!

We hit up Starbucks on the way home, and then feasted on my fat-free chocolate (and quite delicious) birthday cake Johnny and Ash had made for me earlier in the day. I am so happy, I had to post tonight, I couldn't wait for tomorrow! I'm off to stretch now, and probably eat some more, since I'm running 8 miles in the morning :)

I have a 7.5 mile race up Sabino Canyon Road this evening - the Sabino Sunset Run (pictures from last year). It's my official birthday run! (I want a "happy birthday" or "birthday girl" tiara to wear during the race...) It involves about 700 vertical feet of elevation gain (round-trip) as we travel up, up, up Sabino Canyon, and then back down, down, down. Mmm, the desert on a spring evening, with water in the canyon. Should be gorgeous. I was worried about the heat, but today the high is only supposed to be about 82 degrees. So, it shouldn't be too bad. I'm running the race with Paki, my amazing running partner who originally got me into running - she helped me establish a regular running routine, always showing up at 5 a.m. on summer mornings to run the river path with me. She gave me the inspiration and the patience to work at getting better. I'm very excited to be running this race with her - it's our first this year. We are also planning on running a 10k in early May, and an 8k in September. On my right sidebar, there is a picture of Paki and I at last year's September 8k on the University of Arizona campus.

And...drum roll, please...this is my 100th post! My 101st post will be my race report tomorrow morning (after I go run 8 miles in the morning to get my 28 miles for the week. Brent - see? I am getting 28 miles in during my 28th birthday week!)

...as a 28-year-old!

Yes, I know, I should have gone for a run first thing this morning!!! :)

But, I decided, contrary to my Aries leanings, I would take today as a rest. Wwith upping my mileage, and doing strength training last night - at home, and it went okay! - I would treat myself to a day of sleeping in. It was the first time this week, yay!

So I plan on running tomorrow morning. Now, I'm off to Starbucks, for my first coffee...as a 28-year-old :)

...as a 27-year-old!

I have a yearly ritual on the day before my birthday. Everything I do, I tell myself, "this is the last time you'll do x as a x-year-old." It's a fun way to honor the year that has passed, before beginning a new year. (Yes, on my birthday, I tell myself, this is the first x you'll have/do/make/drink as a x-year-old.)

I was laughing to myself this morning, picturing myself many years from now..."This is the last drink of Ensure I will take as an 87-year-old," or, "this is the last time I will take out my dentures as an 87-year-old."

On a running note, I went out this morning, and it was awesome. Somewhere between 3 and 4 miles, and it was a nice, easy job with Paki. I ended up going farther than I originally planned. The rest of the day went smoothly. I was supposed to work out tonight, but the gym closed early. So I'll have to figure something out tonight. I'm sure I will.

I mailed in my entry to S&S, woo hoo!!!

I'm pretty sure I had more to say, but I'm hitting blogger's block, so it'll have to wait for another day.

A new low

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132 pounds, baby! Woo hoo!!!!!

That's after stuffing my face all weekend - I was starving. I love it, my metabolism is back into training mode, yay!

I will be signing up for the Sugar & Spice 32 mile run in Kentucky this week, another yay!

It turns out that my trail-running group has a wicked trail run that I've been dying to do all winter scheduled for the same day as the Whiskey Row Marathon. They weren't sure the trail would be open (the area is recovering from forest fires), but it turns out it is. Oh, man, decisions, decisions...

I managed to get out the door yesterday morning for an approximately 10.5 11.3 mile trail/road run in Sabino Canyon.

I picked up Barbara, hit up Starbucks and headed to the canyon. We set out on the dirt road that leaves the east side of the parking lot, and headed to Phoneline. Up, up, up the side of the canyon we went, marveling at the orange blossoms flaming the ends of the ocotillos (oh-coh-tee-yo-s for all you non-Arizonans - my mom just calls them aliens), the sun glinting through the grasses and the sound of the creek far below. We made it to the junction where we could choose to head down to the tram road and out to the car, or head back to Sabino Basin (which is what we were planning on). I was a little worried about my ITB (I could tell I was pushing things on Phoneline), and also about the runnability of the trail - Barbara is a fast road runner, but has a tough time on technical, rocky trails. We went back a little ways, but the trail was getting rockier and my knee was hurting, so we turned around and headed back to the tram road. 3.75 miles of road to get to the car. I told Barbara to go ahead and go for it, knowing I was going to be slow (it was hot down there!). This is the road that my race next Saturday will be on - up and back. I had to walk about a quarter mile near the Rattlesnake Canyon junction - I swear, that is always the hottest part of the canyon. I chugged up the steep hill to get out of the canyon, and cruised to the end. All in all, it was a good run. Slow and tiring, but good. At approximately 10.5 11.3 miles, it's the longest I've run since Pemberton.

I feel pretty good today - I made sure to stretch very well last night. I did a great ITB stretch - after I finished stretching I could really feel the difference! It was like something released. Amazing. I did some more stretching this morning after going for a walk with Ash in the jogging stroller, and that felt good too.

I'm hoping for three, four-mile runs during this week, then I'll be doing the Sabino Sunset Run on Saturday, followed by an eight-mile run on Sunday morning (not sure where yet). That will net me a sound 28 miles for the week.

Johnny was looking around at races in Northern AZ, and found the Whiskey Row Marathon. I am seriously considering running it. It'd be a great training run for S&S. We'll see what happens.
____
UPDATE

Turns out I did 11.3, not 10.5. Yay!

Well, in the end, it turns out I can't do both races, due to financial contraints (even with just camping, the trip to Bishop would cost us $400, and that's $400 we need to spend elsewhere...) However, I can do the Kentucky Sugar & Spice 32 mile ultra!!! Johnny's dad will be flying us out and hosting us, since he wants to see us. So, surprisingly, the farther away trip is the cheapest. And we'd be going out there anyway, so might as well make it on the weekend of a race! Woo hoo!!! I am VERY excited.

Thank you everyone for your comments on whether or not I was crazy. I needed the reminders to listen to my body, stretch and HAVE FUN!!!

With that in mind, I have set up my training plan:

1. Work my mileage back up: focusing on long runs - two to three shorter, easier runs weekday mornings, one long run on the weekend. Three weeks building the long run longer, then the fourth week with a lesser run, as a recovery. I have a few races coming up, and I will use them as part of my long miles on the weekend, so some weekends I'll get two runs instead of one long one.

2. One light strength-training session a week, focusing on core and arms. This is to baby-step me into strength training, so following this race, I can possibly begin to add another session each week. I think this will help me get even stronger (keeping in mind that I would like to do Zane Grey next year).

3. One hour-long yoga session a week. Again, to baby-step me into the process. Hopefully I'll be adding more.

4. Stretching every day.

5. Hot tub at the gym!

I believe this will help me get stronger and stay injury-free. Especially since I am going to listen to my body more this time around.
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I had fun on Thursday - I did my first even fartlek run! I was supposed to go with Paki, but she cancelled, then I checked with Barbara, but her flight was delayed. Johnny suggested I just go. So 6 a.m. rolls around and I roll over to go back to sleep. Johnny says, "what are you doing? you sleeping?!" and I mumble something along the lines of "leave me alone." Two minutes later, I realize I have an entire hour that I could do one of two things with: I could attempt to sleep, or I could get up and run. I thought about which one I would feel better about and the end of the day - and I chose to run! ( I think April's Runners World helped, it had some great articles that I read the night before. I also think having closer races, closer goals is motivatin.) I had a blast. Negative splits, baby! I averaged 10:34/mile, WOW!!!! Sub-10-minute miles seems within reach. (And once I make sub-10-minute miles, you know I'll be looking at sub-9:30, then sub-9, and so forth. Too cool.)

However, I want to make sure I don't do a lot of speedwork in training for S&S! I think my eight-mile tempo runs last time around really hurt my ITB (or at least, not stretching afterwards!), and I'm already adding strength training/yoga to my load, and I don't want to over do it. Let me repeat that, I don't want to over do it!

Seriously, I'd like to know if I'm completely crazy.

I keep going back and forth. Ultras! Strength Training! Ultras - NOW! No, Build Up My Strength! But I can't find a bottle opener! (although I've heard it's with backofpack (go wish her a speedy recovery).)

I'm back to ULTRAS!!!!

Johnny's remark re: skiing at Mammoth/Bishop Ultras was an off-the-cuff remark. Nothing really serious. Until we both slept on it, and woke up this morning wondering if we could actually pull it off.

Now, I really want to. I really want to run this race. I'm thinking I should sign up for the 20-mile "fun run" - but they call it a "fun run" - yuck! That's, like, nothing! I want to do the 50k! But I worry about my ITB, and taking things too quickly (yet again - hmm, seems to be a recurring theme). But I know how to take care of my ITB now, and I'm doing so much better with my new shoes! But then, whatever happened to building my strength? Then I think, but what better way to build my strength than this?!

Then, to top it off, I realized that if we are going to go do the Bishop runs in May, why did we choose to not do the Sugar & Spice in Kentucky?! Hell, now I want to do them BOTH! Use the 20-mile "fun run" as my last big run prior to Sugar & Spice! What a blast! An adventure! FUN! It gives me six weeks to build my mileage back up! Plenty of time!

Uhh, right?

Remember that post awhile ago about the six-pack I wanted? Yeah - not happening. Nope. No way. Johnny says I have to find the bottle opener before I can get started on the six-pack.

The good news is I'm consistently running again, yay! While training for Pemberton, I had a tendency to do long or back-to-back runs on the weekends, and then not get out again until Wednesday or Thursday, taking three or four days off! I don't want to do that this time around; I want to stay more consistent. So after my wicked hike on Saturday, I wanted to get back out again - soon!

I was scheduled to run early this morning with Paki, but Ash awoke at 4 and threw fits until 5, at which point we put on Blue's Clues and Johnny went back to bed while I snuggled with Ash on the couch. By 5:25, I knew I wouldn't go running - I was feeling angry at the lack of sleep, and I just wanted to collapse on my bed. So I called Paki and cancelled (she thought I said I was throwing the fits, which worried her, so I got a very concerned, "are you okay???" the minute I walked into work :)). Then I did collapse on my bed, and I slept soundly till 7.

Then I felt super guilty all day at work that I didn't get out and be consistent. I let down my running partner, I let down myself. So, I e-mailed Johnny:
"When are you home from school tonight? I’m trying to figure out if I want to make up for my missed workout this morning by going to the gym tonight.
The pros:
Make up workout
Feel like it’s time to move my sore muscles
Good recovery
Not waiting too long between workouts (a major bad issue for me)
STRETCH after
Jacuzzi after
Not miss out on Ash time

The cons:
Workout at night
Could mess up my sleep
Could make me even MORE tired and cranky this week (yikes!)
Could miss Amazing Race

Geez, I must be really scared of my sleep cycle to even be considering NOT working out tonight!"

I'm proud to say that as soon as I put Ash to bed tonight, I put on my workout clothes and waited for Johnny to get home from school. He walked in the door, I kissed him, and then I walked out the door and drove to the gym. Woo hoo! They have a 30-minute rule for cardio machines, so I did a 5-minute warm-up, 20 minutes of intervals (another big goal I have had that I have never actually done), then 5 minutes of cool-down. I was cheesily, deliriously happy when, at five minutes to go in my intervals, Aerosmith's Crazy came on the classic rock station. Totally transported me back to high school. I'm glad the gym was mostly deserted, because at the end, when Steven Tyler sings "oooooooooo" I got so into it, I just about fell off the treadmill. Yeah, I'm lame. And I loved it :) So I ended up with about 2.3 miles as a recovery run. Then I stretched and took a quick dip in the super-hot jacuzzi (just what my aching muscles needed), before coming home....to no Amazing Race! WTF? I still have to figure out if they changed the times on me, or if it just wasn't on tonight. Darn it!

**I interrupt this regularly scheduled programming to report that Mammoth Mtn has a record seasonal snowfall of 619", which Johnny has taken to mean that we are driving up the weekend of the Bishop High Sierra Ultras (mid- to end of May), for me to race and all of us to ski**

A bobcat attacked two golfers in the Foothills today - story here. A woman on the news tonight complained that wildlife is getting "just too close." The woman lives in the foothills. I'm sorry, but it's not the animals who are getting too close. It's the people verging on the animals. Sigh.

Take a Hike

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100_2333I got back to my roots yesterday morning: I took a hike. (PICTURES)

After a fun Friday night spent with a friend and her "rock-star" boyfriend (he's in a local band, Preposterous Theory) at one of his gigs (at a local music store), followed by a late dinner at BJs Brewery (my new favorite restaurant even though I can only eat one item of food - their drinks are to die for!), I woke up early this morning and let Johnny sleep in. I was a little shaky and dehydrated, but feeling better than I had for the last two weeks. Ash and I had a nice morning listening to Hot Hot Heat and the Posies' new album, playing Go Fish! and generally just chillin. Then, I started feeling ancy. That late dinner and drinks were extra calories I didn't need, and even though I got out for three (!) runs this week (yay!), I felt the need for more - more movement. I've been craving a good hike lately, and I got inspired reading an article in Trail Runner (road running vs. trail running - lame article, but the trail dude started waxing poetic, and I got inspired) this morning.

I've been worried about my ITB. It's been doing much much better, but I have a race coming up (I'm sure I'll place dead last, but that's okay - at least I'm participating!) at Sabino Canyon - 7.75ish miles up and then back down the canyon. Not a lot of vertical, but enough that I was worried. So I decided to test my knee this morning on a whopper of a hike: Finger Rock Canyon up to Linda Vista Saddle. 3 miles one way, with 2500 vertical feet of elevation gain. To top it off, the first 1.1 miles gains only 500 feet - leaving the remaining 1.9 miles with 2000 feet to go. The trails around Tucson are notorious for being gnarly, and this one is known as one the the gnarliest around. Steep slabs, super rocky, totally adventurous - especially as a single female. I am usually too scared to go out by myself, but I needed this today. (Side note: cool link to a site on climbing the actual Finger Rock.)

Johnny gave me his blessing (thank you honey, I know you didn't want to!), and I got ready in about 15 minutes. Took off for the trailhead, stopping at a CVS Pharmacy along the way. Note: never choose CVS over Osco. CVS had nothing I needed. No Clif bars, only two choices for Gatorade and nothing was in a logical place. As I walked in, I realized I left my visor at home! Oh, no! I managed to find one hat at CVS - a $3.99, 100% cotton, giant brimmed hat - with a bow in the back! Sigh. I bought it, knowing I needed the sun protection.

I found the trailhead, and took off. Woo hoo! I tried jogging at first, but quickly doused that idea. I decided to make it a hike. Just a hike. A quick hike, to be sure, but no pressure to run. I had a blast making my way through the desert. I was very jumpy - I kept thinking I was hearing mountain lions! There were plenty of people on the trail - it almost felt like a race, because of the amount of people out, and the fact that I actually kept catching up to and passing people! (Okay, so that's not usually my experience in a race, but hey.)

The first 1.1 to the spring went well. Then the uphill really started - and I was able to keep going at the same speed! I caught up and quickly passed a few people. The trail was just up, up, up. Relentless. I felt like such an adventurer. Finally, an outlet for all those emotions that were crippling me this week. I could just let them all go. It was okay to be scared out there - and I just kept going, knowing I was safe. (I figured the hat added to the "not-a-very-good-victim" vibe I had going on.) It had been at least six years since the last time I visited this trail; it was a trail I used to avoid at all costs. But I still remembered certain distances (known in my head as the 3-I spot and the 4-I spot, for the Canyon Ranch difficulty ratings - ability level designations), so I had mini-goals to help me through the tough spots. But I had only passed the 3-I spot once before, so my memory was a little sketchy of what awaited me above. With about a mile to go, I ran into a number of people coming down the trail. I asked each one, "didya go to the saddle?" and they all said, "no!" I was getting so frustrated - I wanted to know how much farther I had to go. I knew it was more than .5 mile, and less than 2!

I laughed about mountain lion fears with another crazy single female (who turned around even before the 4-I spot), got strange looks from a couple who were shocked that I was hiking alone and almost caught up to another couple who I could just barely keep in sight in front of me. Finally! The 4-I spot - unmistakable. Beautiful rock layers/benches, gorgeous views of Tucson - and the trail turned a corner. There she was - Linda Vista Saddle.

I kept Johnny's admonitions in mind, "remember, honey, there's still another lo-o-ong .5 mile to the saddle from there," and almost danced my way up, up, up. I was thrilled that I had climbed so quickly from cactus in to the desert grasslands, with oaks and junipers - TREES! And there were FERNS under the trees! (Courtesy of the snowfall last week.) The couple I had been stalking were only 10 feet ahead of me, and suddenly, a spur trail appeared at the end of a switchback, heading to a saddle. I stop, confused. The couple turned on the switchback, and continued heading up! But, I thought, this is the saddle. The destination. Right? I followed them up for about 20 feet, thinking maybe there was another saddle, up a little higher, but then I thought, "hey! I brought the map!" So I walked back to the (unsigned) junction, and pulled out the map. Oh, was I glad that Johnny writes on his maps! Sure enough, the spur trail was drawn on the map - reassuring me that I was, indeed, in the right place. I ran the last tenth of a mile down the spur trail, and there it was: Linda Vista Saddle.

I made a pit stop, ate a Kashi bar, stretched, took some pictures, and then headed back down the trail. I kept my camera with me back down to the 4-I spot - where there were now SEVEN couples hanging out, relaxing! I guess they called it a day at that point (it is beautiful, after all). A woman with her son and ferret (yes, you read that correctly) were arriving as I put my camera away, and took off.

I made sure to be gentle with my left knee (ITB and all), and I used my arms a LOT, to lower myself down the rocks. This is the rockiest, steepest, craziest trail, I swear! It was like a scramble. Let me tell you, I LOVE my new Hardrocks - they were super-secure. I was getting hot and sweaty - darn that 100% cotton hat! I stopped a few times on the way down to stretch my legs, and by the time I had .5 to the springs, I was able to start jogging. Slow jogging, mind you, it was still incredibly rocky! But jogging nonetheless. And I kept it up on the way out, getting faster and faster. This time, I didn't fall (whew). I felt like I was gliding over the ground. It was awesome. The wind was picking up by the end, and catching the giant hat, almost blowing it off my head!

Summing it up: I hiked a wicked trail, all by myself, I ended up running some of it, I made it to a destination I was too afraid to attempt in the past, I got to strength train, it was a meditation, I got to release or purge some of the intense feelings from this past week, wore a cheesy hat that clashed with the rest of my technical, synthetic gear, and I was happy. The flow is starting.

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

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