May 2006 Archives

Smoothing out


Whew. Things are finally getting back to normal. Yesterday, Paki and I took a spur-of-the-moment run at lunch - mid-90s (F) heat training, woo hoo. Even though it was hot, it felt great to be moving again. We went out this morning, but were both so tired and exhausted from not sleeping last night (big news at work), that we called it quits after about 2.2 miles (she got an extra .5 because she ran to meet me; now that I've moved, I drive to our meeting spot). Still need Internet, the w/d hooked up and a few final things put away, but I am feeling much better. (Well, except for the two separate days of gallbladder attacks. Have I mentioned that stress can bring them on? Ouch.)

Time to start thinking about race day strategy - and how/what to pack for our trip to Kentucky!

Man alive, was that a mess. We are in to our new place, and the swamp cooler is working. (A swamp cooler is a cheaper alternative to air conditioning. I think it works by blowing air over water, which cools it down, before it's blown into the house. It works great in the "dry heat" of Tucson - except for during the monsoon season (July and August) which also happens to be the hottest time of the year. So you're miserable for two months, but the rest of the year is great.) Our cat's wounds are healing okay, although we can't get her to take her antibiotics (I've got the scratches to prove it). We able to purchase the washer and dryer we were eyeing (even though we had to use credit, darn it), but it's not hooked up and working yet because we need longer hoses and for the water faucet to be fixed (leaking). Ash is adapting well to life in the new place, and I am loving being in a house - not an apartment. Most of everything is put away, but there are still messy boxes around. We also still have to clean the old apartment before I consider everything "done." We also need to get Internet (I'm sititng in a local coffeeshop right now eating yummy tofu chocolate pie and decaf coffee with creme de menthe syrup, yummy). I'm sure I am incredibly behind on my bloglines - and I have something like 200 messages in my e-mail inbox (darn that ultra listserve). I want to give a shout-out to Jack, who ran his first ultra (50k) last week - way to go!!! He's already looking forward to a 50-miler :)

Johnny and I worked it out that during the move on Thursday, I got at least three miles in, if not more, plus at least 1000 feet of elevation change (we lived on the second story at our old place). I also got major time on my feet (always good training for an ultra). My body was so sore, and the balls of my feet ached and ached and ached for days. Needless to say, there was no running. At least I'm tapering, but still! I wanted 24 miles last week! Ha! I got a whopping 11.4 (of actual running - if I count the move, it's 14.4, not too bad).

The move must have really been an incredible workout. I was starving from Thursday through Saturday. I ate five slices of pizza for lunch on Friday. (Don't worry - it was Angie pizza. Olive oil and garlic sauce on a whole wheat crust with broccoli, green onions, basil and chicken on top. No cheese.) FIVE SLICES! That is unheard of for me with my gallbladder. It didn't kill me for it, though. I've eaten so so so much, and when I got on the scale yesterday, I had lost three more pounds. I was down to 130.5.

I tried to run last night. It was evening and super windy. The three of us headed out to the river path (no longer within walking distance, I'll be driving to meet Paki in the mornings). Ash promptly fell asleep - wrong timing! It was an hour before his bedtime! I was so exhausted and tired from fighting, fighting, fighting my way through my life on these last few days that I totally lost it when Johnny and I had a miscommunication and I realized the plans I had made for last night were ruined by Ash's falling asleep so soon. Thank goodness no one else was on the river path and Ash was asleep as I threw the biggest hissy fit I've thrown in years. (Note: don't throw a water bottle with a gel packet in it. It makes a giant mess.) I turned around then and there, even though I was planning on going an additional two miles. I walked for a long time before I started running, and when I ran, I flew. It felt good to purge all the built-up pain and frustration and rage in a torrent of running. I ended up only going for three miles last night instead of five, which is how I ended up with less miles last week (first week of my taper) than I was planning for this week (second week of my taper).

I am disappointed in my running last week, but I know the move was good cross-training. I am worried about how well I can do S&S. I considered not running S&S last night during my hissy fit, and then decided to hell with it, I'm going to run it. Even if it takes me the full 12 hours to go a measly 32 miles. (I say it like that cuz 12 hours is more like a 50 mile time). I'm aiming for 10 hours, and if I can break 8 on the muddy single track that I've never run in the humid heat, then I'll be in heaven. This won't be as fast as Pemberton - a course I knew, with half of it on dirt roads, run in the dry coolness of winter.

I missed the blogging world while we were moving. I realized how much I've come to enjoy using my "me time" for blogging - writing, reading, sharing, enjoying. The friends I've made via the blogs - although I've only "met" one of them - have come to mean so much to me. Even though the support and cameraderie is "virtual," it's meaningful. I kept finding myself thinking about how I was going to blog about whatever I was experiencing, and then realizing I wouldn't be able to. I can't wait till we have Internet, and things can go back to normal. Thank you for listening to me.



Utter misery. I don't have enough time to post about everything, so here's an excerpt from an e-mail I sent to Kiera (Mike's wife) in response to running this weekend (we were supposed to run tomorrow morning at Sabino Canyon):

"OMG, I am so happy you cancelled!!! I was going to make myself do it, but I so didn’t want to. The last few days have been utter hell. Johnny’s uncle cancelled on him, the day he was supposed to help him move. There were no trucks available this weekend, so Johnny got the truck for yesterday – and at 6:30 a.m. I got a call from Johnny’s aunt that his uncle had a migraine and was puking his guts out. (Because of our history with this guy, I’m thinking that’s bogus, but oh well). The cancellation policy for the truck is 48 hours prior, which means we have to pay for the truck, even if we don’t use it. Also, no trucks available on the weekend, so we HAVE to use it on Thursday. Of course, this is the day I have some big stuff happening at work. So I have to scramble to get my stuff at work covered, and then spend a hot, miserable day moving most of my house. Horrible. Then we get to the new place, and our cat decides to freak out and try to get inside the back of the oven. She got stuck, and in trying to get out, cut herself – 4 inches long, down her side, all the way through to the muscle. Of course, once this happens she just runs away, so we don’t discover it for two hours!!! Johnny pulls her out to try and get her to eat, and he feels wet on his hands – holy shit, it’s blood. So off to the emergency vet hospital, where we fork out $700 for care. There goes the washer and dryer we were going to buy. Thank goodness we had saved our money for the w/d and hadn’t purchased it yet, otherwise we wouldn’t have had any money for her care!!! Also, I’m so glad that Johnny’s mom was watching Ash overnight, because that would have just been utter hell for his first night.

So I was handling all this okay until Johnny called this morning to tell me the swamp cooler broke this morning :( Eric will be out to fix it today thank goodness. But after all the stress I’ve been through, that was just the last straw. I am sore, exhausted, traumatized and ready to shut down. We still have the kitchen to pack up and bring over in our car, plus some electronics and random things like the 10 pairs of ski boots we own. I spent 20 minutes in the bathroom at work this morning sobbing.

So, yeah, YAY! No running tomorrow!"

(Since I sent the e-mail, the swamp cooler has been fixed, plus it looks like we're getting our replacement fridge today (the original one was too big for it's spot). So things are getting better. But I'm still tired, exhausted, extremely sore and ready to shut down.)

...with skipping my first scheduled run yesterday morning because I was still so tired and exhausted from the weekend...

....with a birthday happy hour for a friend, at which I eat a (relatively) low-fat pizza and a few (big) bites of sweet onion rings, and wash it all down with two (yes, two!) pints of Black Velvet (PM Porter blended with Berry Burst Cider). Mmmmm, I love BJs Brewery. Paki was part of the party, and after the two beers, I was feeling great - and proceeded to make sure, quite loudly, that we would be running the next morning. 5:30 a.m. Yep, she'll be there...

...with a groan, as the alarm goes off this morning and I roll out of bed, cursing the "I'm a hardcore runner, of course I'll go running after drinking two beers the night before" attitude I had last night. (Just a disclaimer - I rarely drink, and when I do, it's only one beer at most. I'm a lightweight when it comes to alcohol.) I shuffle into the living room and lay on the couch, snuggling with the phone, thinking, "Please call and cancel, Paki. Please call." My cat comes over and begins to exfoliate my right arm pit. I try to turn so she'll stop kneading me, but she just starts in on my belly button. Okay, fine, I'm up.

I still take the phone around the house with me as I get prepared. After what I said last night, there's no way *I* can cancel this morning. Paki never calls, darn it. I decide it's good ultra training - to get myself out running while tired, exhausted and dehydrated. I'm prepped and out of the house pretty much on time. While waiting at our meeting spot, Tom G and Tonja C from the trail runner's group fly by on the river path. I stretch my hamstrings, and then Paki and I take off.

I asked if it was just my contacts, or if it was hazy out. I kept blinking, trying to clear my contacts, but nope - Paki confirmed it was hazy. Whew! It was cold out this morning, and we had a beautiful run. We decided it needed to be short, so at the 2.6-mile mark, we parted ways. i decided to tack on an additional mile before the .5 home, so ended up with 4.3 at an 11:12/mile pace for the morning - not bad!

Still have to figure out how to make up the 5 miles I missed from yesterday...maybe tonight, maybe Sunday. Goal for the week is 24 miles. This is the big week - we move on Thursday!!! I have to work (oh, darn), so Johnny and his uncle will be doing the big move. Score!

I made it - I ran 40 miles this week!!!
Family Portrait

We woke up at 6 this morning, perfect for getting ready and up the mountain by about 9 a.m. The Tucson Trail Runners had a wicked ascent of Mt. Lemmon planned for today, starting at Sabino Canyon Visitors Center and climbing up the Santa Catalinas to the top of Ski Valley, then finishing at the bottom of the ski hill. 25+ miles and over 9000 vertical feet of climbing. I chose to start at the first "aid station," at Palisades Trailhead - more than halfway up, in both mileage and vertical climbing. I'm not ready to handle the full ascent yet!

We got there a little before 9; the first runner had yet to come through. I thought I had timed it so that if I left there by a little after 9, the first runners should be passing me near the end of the run, in the desolate, lonely stretch of Aspen Trail up Radio Ridge. I hadn't ran that section before, and was hoping for company.

I left at 9:05 and headed up and over Mt. Bigelow. Instead of running Butterfly Trail, I chose to run the dirt road down Bigelow and then head down Bear Wallow. The official run had runners using Butterfly, but since the big burns, that trail has been wicked overgrown. Plus it's steep and there's a lot of up-and-down, which didn't suit me.

Johnny and Ash came along, and I got to see them at the top of Mt. Bigelow (which came sooner than expected), then they passed me down the road, then I refilled my water bottle at the end of the road, before I headed down a half-mile of pavement on Catalina Highway (the main road up the mountain) to reach the bathrooms at Butterfly trailhead (which came sooner than expected), then head over to find Sunset Trail. It was so green and forested - amazing! Running in the forest!

I got a little confused in the maze of dirt roads and cabins that lead to Sunset Trail, but managed to find my way. I dropped down and headed to Marshall Gulch. There was water in the creek, which was fantastic - even a waterfall. I arrived at Marshall Gulch - once again, sooner than expected. Johnny and Ash were playing in the creek. I grabbed an extra water bottle and two gels while Johnny dipped my hat in the creek.

I took off up the trail to Marshall Saddle, a trail I have hiked probably 50 times in the last 15 years. It's a favorite of mine with beautiful maple trees, giant ponderosa pine and douglas fir trees, ferns and best of all, it follows the creek. Gorgeous, shady, forested, incredible trail.

I topped out at the saddle, and got ready to face the dreaded two-mile section of Aspen Trail up Radio Ridge. I had never done this section, and I knew it was burned, so it could be hot. I was scared - this was mountain lion territory! None of the front-runners had caught up to me yet, and the trail was super-steep. I was so freaked out. I kept repeating to myself, "I am confident; I am capable." That mantra helped me to feel better. It was slow going. I finally made it out of the scary section, and up into the burned section - which was GORGEOUS!!! Green grass floating in the cool breezes, great views in all directions. I was heading up the nose of a ridge, and the trail's steepness had lessened to a much easier grade.

Ash and Mama running down the trail

I made it to the top, where I helped a hiker find his way to the Aspen Draw trail, then launched down the trail myself, only to run into Johnny and Ash! We ran a ways together, then Ash was ready to go into the backpack, and told me, "Mama, it's okay. You can beat us down." I took off, flying down the trail. It felt great.

I made it to the parking lot at the bottom of the ski hill, without ever being passed by any other runners - and there was no run director at the parking lot! I was too fast. I totally mis-timed it, and underestimated my route. Ross and Pam showed up, having biked up the highway, and a fellow runner's wife, Yen, showed up with their two kids. Ash and Kiera had a blast playing together, and MaryAlice, one of the run directors, showed up and I got to enjoy some of her awesome turkey wraps. A few runners showed up - they had taken a short cut. But only because they were turning around and heading all the way back down to Sabino Canyon!!! Whew. Finally, the rest of the crew started coming in.

Ash and Kiera chilling

It was a nice day to hang out with fellow runners and relax.

As I wrote this, Johnny realized that I only ran 10 miles instead of 10.5, which means I only got 39.9 miles. So I just went and ran .25 around the apartment complex with Johnny and Ash to ensure that I got 40 miles this week :)

(To answer some questions about my bonk, ITB and how I time my runs: I had been drinking about 20 ounces of water an hour, and I was eating Crank e-gels regularly - I have a great water/e-gel routine that usually works really well. I think I bonked because I was going faster than normal during the heat, and also because I did not get myself wet soon enough to help with the cooling. ITB: yes, I finally got a foam roller about three weeks ago, and I love it! I'll be using it tonight before I go to bed. It has been quite beneficial. Counting time: I count my entire time I run, including all breaks, because that's what my race pace will be - they don't stop the clock during a race for my aid breaks! However, I usually time my breaks so I get to figure out my actual running pace. I didn't take the time yesterday to find both averages. I was too tired!)

Yowza. I bonked today. Hard. I don't know the last time I actually bonked. This was more than just being hot, or being hurt. This was a true wall. At mile 10, no less - way early!

The run started warm, in the 80s (F). I watched some hardy souls picking up trash in the dry river bed. It was strange to see trucks on the river path! I bet the ones on foot were jealous of the guy on the horse. I made it through the first 2.6 miles, from home then looping around the "popsicle" part before slingshot-ing my way up the out-and-back portion of my route.

I was already hot, and I should have been dousing myself with water. But I just wanted to make it to the shadier section of trail before getting all wet. I don't really like to be wet, as much as I envy those of you who live in places where it actually rains.

There were giant green lizards, small scorpion-like lizards, every lizard you could ever imagine along the trail this morning. My three-year-old son loves dinosaurs, so of course, my brain immediately placed me in a prehistoric jungle, too fun! Dodging the dinosaurs. Oh yeah, and dodging all the unfriendly walkers and runners. Usually they are so friendly, but this morning - no one looked at me, no one waved, no one smiled. Even with me waving, smiling and saying good morning! Geez, people, it's only 90 degrees. Not like it's over 100. You could still spare me a smile and runner's wave! At least the cyclists were happy today (usually they are the unfriendly ones on this path). Not even the Team-in-Trainers smiled or waved - very strange.

I kept up a decent pace, but there are not mile markers, so I didn't keep track of individual miles. I wished I could have, because, well, I'm getting there, I'll let the story unfold. Anyway, kept a decent pace and felt hot, but okay. Mentally I was still present, still felt confident and was still glad I was moving, even though I was suffocating.

I started feeling the slide around mile 7. I knew I was starting to go, so I tried to slow down. I also starting getting myself a little wetter, hoping there was enough breeze to cool me down. There wasn't. I started glissading down the steep slope of the bonk. Going, going, wheeee! Gone.

By mile 10, I was walking. Walking! After the great few weeks I've had! I amused myself by thinking about how much more miserable Rob must have felt on his recent bonk - he didn't feel bad until he was at least as far into his run as my total run today, and he still had so much farther to go! (See, Rob, your bonk was good for something! :) )

I passed a group of cyclists resting, and told them, "I'm jealous of your bikes. It looks so fast and windy!" A few minutes later, they passed me and said, "Yes, but you get to stay in the shade longer!"

I was exhausted, and of all things, my right ITB hurt. Now, y'all remember I'm sure, about how I injured my ITB at the Pemberton 50k. How despondent I was that I couldn't run. Do you remember which leg it was? I'll tell you - it was my LEFT leg. My LEFT. Not my RIGHT. Argh.

I decided I was doing the right thing. I have 10.5 up on Mt. Lemmon scheduled for tomorrow, to help me in my qwest for my first 40-mile week. That will have about 2400 vertical feet of elevation gain, and I don't want to hurt myself before I make it to S&S! (I'll spare you the promotion this time.) So I comforted myself knowing it was still a good workout because I was in the heat, and miles are miles, even if they are slow. I just ignore the voice in my head that says, "if you train long, slow miles, you'll race long, slow miles" and keep on trudging.

With less than a mile to go, I felt okay enough to jog a little. Then I made it to the major intersection about .3 from our home. The intersection with Starbucks on the northwest corner. Oooh, Starbucks. Heck, my pace was already totally shot, and I truly love having a non-fat mocha as my post-run refreshment, and there was no way I was going to go home and then get back in the car and drive to Starbucks (I had a dip in the cold, cold pool planned!). Plus, maybe getting Johnny and Ash treats would help them forget that I was so late.

So instead of crossing east, I crossed north, and went to Starbucks. Yummy! I can't tell you how refreshing it was to walk the .4 home from Starbucks with an iced mocha in each hand. Mmmmm, heaven.

I wish I knew what my early pace was, because with all my get-wet breaks at the water fountains, my one bathroom break, the bonk and my trip to Starbucks (yes, I counted waiting for my mochas as part of my time), I averaged 13:53/mile for 12.6 miles.

I have been STARVING since the run. I can't eat enough. I even ate low-fat macaroni-and-cheese for the first time since I was diagnosed with gallbadder disease. I made it as low-fat as possible, and then just portioned out a little serving for myself. It was exactly what my body needed, so I went back to the fridge, pulled out the leftovers, and scarfed them down. No, I didn't eat the whole box. Just about 2/3. Yes, I should be okay for my run tomorrow. No, that probably won't set my gallbladder off. I should eat apples and salad for dinner, though. Just in case.

Okay, another post with no mention of this really exciting side effect of ultra running that I teased you with last week. No, I probably won't post it tomorrow, because I'll be posting about my mountain run. Hopefully I'll get to it on Monday. The more I write about how I want to write about it, the closer I'll get to actually drafting it.

40 miles this week???


I know, I know, I said I was going to post next about how ultrarunning is helping me move through the freeze response, but I had such a great, incredible run this morning, I just had to post about it!

After maybe 4 hours of sleep of restless sleep (due to poor Ash's ear and upper respitory infection causing all-night coughing and sleeplessness), I got up at 4:45. Managed to get ready quickly, and was out the door by 5:09, extra early!

The sky was gray with orange streaks, the half-moon was watching over me and the breeze was cool and nurturing. After taking yesterday off and spending time stretching and using the foam roller, my legs felt great. After about two miles, I realized that if I play it right, I can actually get 40 miles this week - wow! I decided I was feeling good so I'd start by tacking on an additional mile. Why not? I was already out and running, one more mile wasn't much - 12 minutes, tops!

I'm learning that it takes me about three miles to get warmed up - and then I can speed up and feel great. So I did! And I added that extra mile, which felt great, and still made it home in enough time to stretch, eat a bowl of cereal and get online to log my run. I about choked on my cereal when I realized my pace for the entire 6.5 miles was 10:59! I figured I was going 11:40/mile. I don't know the last time I had a moderate-length run under 11-minute miles! Maybe last December, when I was running 10:15-minute-miles as a part of very painful 8-mile tempo runs (I think I had two or three of those in December). Granted, this morning's course is a flat and fast on a smooth urban trail, and it's not hiking-trail-running, but still! I think I'm most excited about the fact that it felt slower - it didn't hurt. It felt like a jog. Maybe I am getting faster overall!

Yesterday morning, I awoke before the alarm and rolled out of bed feeling good. I went to the kitchen to begin my normal routine, and found a note from Johnny: "Paki called, is not running in the morning." After brushing my teeth at the kitchen sink so as not to wake up Ash, I dressed in the living room. I sucked down a gel, and headed out into a beautiful 73 degree F, 32% humidity morning.

After a mile of warm-up, I decided to turn two miles of the run into a fartlek - and what fun! Speed up, slow down. After about a mile of this, I was tired but kept going. After two miles, I stayed steady at a good clip, and felt tired, but in a good way. I headed into my final two miles feeling great and cruising along. I looked up and saw a familiar gait approaching me. It was Paki! She woke up feeling great, and headed out to meet me. We got to run together for about a mile and a half, then we parted ways and each headed home.

I entered my time into my breakingthetape log, and my pace was a joyous 10:32/mile for 5.4 miles, yay! I noticed when doing the fartlek portion of my run that the tendons behind my knees hurt. This seems to happen to me whenever I do speedwork, whether it's intervals or a tempo run or a fartlek run. Does anyone know why this might happen? My guess is I need to build more strength in my legs...

During my run, I realized I had not done any tempo runs during this training cycle, like I did for the Pemberton 50k. I'm a little worried about that! But I have done a few fartleks, which I didn't do last time. At least the cutoff is 12 hours for Sugar & Spice (I hear it's beautiful in KY in the summer, you should come and see it!) - I don't have to worry about time! I *think* I've done more vertical elevation this time around, and more longer runs. After S&S, I'll have a few weeks of recovery, and then I'll start a 16-week training cycle for the Sole Run 50k. I'm going to try to maintain strength training throughout that cycle, and add in speedwork (but only if I can do it without hurting!!!).

I'm joining the trend of talking about running skirts. It's been a hot topic on a number of running blogs recently (such as here and here), and I'm joining in the conversation because I saw two runners wearing one over the last week. The first was an incredibly fast woman running Phoneline Trail last Saturday. It was hot, and she had no water, but she was at that pace both times I saw her. She definitely gave the skirt some trail "cred." The second sighting was on yesterday's run. The skirt just looked really comfy. Paki was with me when I saw it, and we started discussing them. Paki thinks that a running skirt with no shorts underneath is just a tennis skirt, and I said I'd never wear a skirt with shorts underneath - what's the point of that?! It'd just be too hot! So, I'm still not sure whether I'd run in a skirt. The "no chafing" that has been reported on numerous reviews is tempting, though.

Next Up: How Ultra Running is Helping Me Learn How to Move Through the Freeze Response

Endurance Training


Paki and I headed out this morning for a nice 5.4 mile recovery run before work. It was a little warmer and somewhat humid (at least by Tucson standards) and we were both tired. As we chit-chatted and jogged along, I noticed the sweat dripping down Paki's face. I felt like we were going slow and yet we were both so hot and tired! I got home and entered our stats into my log, and lo and behold, we were *not* running at a recovery pace! We should have been running 12-minute miles; instead we were doing 11:16/mile. Oops.

Note to self: do not eat two servings of soy & flaxseeds chips with hummus, followed by a turkey chili burrito the night before a run.

I saw Mike this morning on our run; he must have had a long one scheduled to be down in my neck of the woods! Go on over and wish him luck on his race this Sunday, and also for his upcoming San Diego Rock'N'Roll Marathon.

I need to stretch tonight! I didn't stretch enough this weekend, and my legs are letting me know. I also wore a very cute, very painful pair of flip flops yesterday. Time and time again, I set out to go shoe shopping with the intention that I will NOT waste my money on a pair of shoes that does not fit or is painful. Tell me this: why do shoes always feel great in the store, but as soon as you wear them, they hurt???

We receive the keys to our new place on Friday, yay!!! Because this weekend is the last in my "monster month" of training for S&S (come run trails with me in KY!), we decided to do the big move on Memorial Day weekend. That leaves this weekend free to get about 21 miles, woo hoo! Now whether I'm going to get them all on one day or break it up remains to be seen...I'll keep you posted. In my last training cycle (for Pemberton 50k), I ran most of my big miles in back-to-back runs (which is how I ended up with only my second-longest run at 20 miles this last weekend!). I think this time around, it would be more beneficial to do more long runs.

I have some plans rolling around in my head regarding my next training cycle (for the Soul/Sole Run 50k in October), including possible speedwork. Maybe. Can I do it without hurting myself? I don't know!

Following the Soul/Sole Run 50k, I have decided to do...drum roll, please!...THE OLD PUEBLO 50 MILE ENDURANCE RUN!!!! It will be my first 50 miler! Wow, I can't believe I'm actually going to train for a 50 MILER!!!!!!

Ash and Mama do yoga together
Ash and Mama do yoga together

I decided to do a long run instead of Wrightson. I figured it'd be more beneficial in my training for Sugar & Spice (which needs more people - come on, women, let's go run trails!!!). Johnny helped me come up with a great plan: head up to and then above Seven Falls in Bear Canyon, come back down to the car and refill/fuel, then head up Sabino Canyon to do the Phoneline Loop, using the Rattlesnake Canyon extension. This would equal 20.1 miles and approximately 3000 vertical feet of elevation. Knowing Tucson was forecast to hit 100 today, I wanted to make sure we woke up early. I've been trying to heat train, but I didn't want to end up with heat exhaustion!

Ash woke up on time this morning, and we got ready and headed out. Of course, we had to stop at Starbucks for Johnny, so he could have coffee and Ash could have his favorite vanilla milk and spring cookie. (Yes, you read that right. Ash ate a cookie for breakfast.) As we approached Sabino, we noticed an usually large amount of traffic on the road - both of the vehicular and running kind. Oops. I forgot about the big 5k/10k race being held there this morning! We parked on the side of the road, outside of the parking lot, thinking there were no spaces inside. Once we made it in, we realized that there were plenty of parking spaces, so Johnny ran back out and brought the car in. Whew, my aid station was in place.

We started at 6:15, about 15 minutes after I wanted to, due to the car/race issues, but I wasn't too worried. Johnny, Ash and I ran the 1.75 miles on the dirt/asphalt roads to the Seven Falls trailhead (well, J and A ran on the road, I ran a trail next to the road, adding about .10 to my overall mileage). Johnny and Ash played at the trailhead while I headed up the trail up to the falls. The weather was gorgeous, the trees were beautiful, the running was great. I could tell I had a great pasta dinner the night before - my legs were ready to go. I made it up the falls, then for the first time ever, headed above them. It took about a mile of trail to get to the top of the falls, and it was the best running trail I've been on in the Catalinas! I really enjoyed the cliffs, grasses and beauty of the trail up there. I made it to the top and turned back around. I flew down the trail to the trailhead where Johnny and I were waiting, and together we started heading back to the car.

While I used the bathroom half-way to the car, Johnny and Ash ran ahead and got my aid station stuff ready. It was so cool to run up to the trailhead and have my food and water ready and waiting for me! Johnny totally crewed me so awesomely. I popped some Tylenol, grabbed an extra water bottle (so I now had two hand-helds and a waist pack bottle) and a zbar, got my cap wet and took off toward Phoneline.

It was 9 a.m. now, and HOT. I was tired, my stomach hurt and my right hamstring was aching from a large rock step I had trouble negotiating up in Bear Canyon. I headed up Phoneline, and I'll keep it short: it was a HOT sludge of a trek up and up and up and up on the Sabino Canyon sidehill. In and out of side drainages - heading in was so hot I could barely breathe, and heading out of each drainage there would be a little breeze. I had to walk most everything, even the runnable and downhill sections. That was a little depressing, but I consoled myself with the fact that I knew I was doing good heat training, and also was catching up to and passing other hikers on the trail. Various aches and pains came and went, and my stomach stayed upset. Cramping, cramping, yucky cramping! I just kept putting one foot in front of the other.

I know that the best way to stay cool in hot weather is to keep putting water on yourself, but I never thought about the fact that there is a key ingredient to making that work: WIND. Without wind, you are merely hot and wet. Yuck.

I finally made it down to the Sabino Road - only 3.7 down the road. I was supposed to do the Rattlesnake Canyon extension (like last week), but I decided to skip it (like last week). It was getting hotter - I knew it had to be over 95 degrees F. I made it down the big hill to Anderson Dam, where Johnny and Ash had spent the almost two hours it took me to run Phoneline. I ran down to them, and proceeded to strip off my shirt and shoes/socks, and dive into the water. Oh, the water was so cold!
Angie cools off under the waterfall at Sabino Canyon

We spent almost an hour hanging out in the water before heading back down the road. Johnny and I did the math - in adding the .10 extra I did early in the morning on the trail next to the road, with the .30 round trip to Anderson Dam, I only had an additional .10 to still get 20 miles while skipping the Rattlesnake Extension. Easy fix - get it running across the parking lot to the car. Voila! No worries.

At the end of my physically-draining, 20-mile run, I managed to keep about a 12-minute/mile pace the final 3 miles to the car! I was pretty psyched about that. The stomach cramping I had experienced earlier was back with a vengeance. It was so HOT, and Johnny kept spraying me with his water bottle to cool me off. Whenever the little bit of a breeze died down, it became almost unbearably hot. My right calf was also trying to cramp up. Even with the cramping, I was surprised at how okay I was with the heat. I used to never even hike in weather over 75 degrees F!

I did it! I ran my second-longest run ever, at 20 miles, and finished it in over 95 degree F weather. It capped off the highest-mileage week I've ever had: 35.5. I am looking forward to establishing a base of 30 miles/week after S&S, and prepping for races by upping the mileage to 40 and even 50 miles in a week! I think that is actually doable for me.

I am pleasantly surprised at how well my training is going for S&S - I seem to be stronger, and also faster overall, than when I trained for Pemberton. I was so worried that having ITB issues would weaken what small base fitness I had, so to be doing this well now is so cool.

I am tired and exhausted and sore (the most sore this training cycle yet!). I am looking forward to my Mother's Day gift of sleeping in tomorrow morning!

Happy Mother's Day to all the moms out there, and happy running!

Answers to Questions
Michelle asks: Are you and Johnny pretty evenly matched in speed?
Answer: NO! But he's willing to "pace" me whenever we get the chance. We used to hike everywhere together, so now we hike just a little faster! Well, at lot faster. He usually jumps at the chance to run with me, because it will force him to slow down and take a recovery run.

Matt asks: i heard that there were only 8 people signed up for S&S as of last that still the case?
Answer: it's up to about 12, and more are signing up each day. Any woman who lives in the midwest needs to come and run this ultra with me! RBF meet up! Come on, do your first ultra with me! :)

Elizabeth says (regarding the taper): I would like to know what is recommended for Ultras.
Answer: I've just learned that 2 - 3 weeks, counting race week, is good.

Sarah asks: Have you ever run up Pima Canyon?
Answer: Run, no. Hike, many times. Pima Canyon is where Johnny proposed to me.

Training is going great this week. It's Thursday, and I've already got 15.5 miles in the bucket. Very cool - I usually wait until the weekends and then have to cram mileage in! (Which is probably why I rest so much at the beginning of the I like front-loading. Tumamoc kicked my ass, my legs were so tired! I've been stretching big time this week.

Thanks for all the input regarding my taper question!

New Blogs
I found a couple new blogs I'm excited about. Go check out Melissa's blog - this is same Melissa I talked about in my Zane Grey recap. She's got some great, fun running voting (e.g. succeed vs. endurolytes vs. e caps). Nikki is running Sugar & Spice, and I am excited to meet her in June! She's also got a neat forum regarding Sugar & Spice on her Web site. So go visit these cool people!

Forcing Friends to Exercise
This morning, Paki called an unprecedented third day in a row to cancel - and I didn't let her (well, she could have said no, so it's not like I made her go or anything). Conversation went something like this:
me, answering the phone: "You are not cancelling on me again."
paki, whining very cutely: "But, Angie, I don't feel good."
me, in my best firm mom voice: "Pick up your shorts, put one leg through, then the other. Now pick up your shirt and put it over your head."
paki, still very cutely whining: "But, I have a headache. And I'm really naseous. I feel really bad."
me: "I don't care. You and I both know that exercise makes you feel better."
paki: "but I can't run. I'm naseous!"
me: "fine, we'll walk."
paki: "fine."
me: "see you in a few minutes."

I ran down to her place, about a mile from mine, and we walked about 1.5 miles around the river path, before heading back to her place. THen I ran back home. She was worried about messing with my training, but sometimes, well all the time, friends are more important than training. Paki, if you are reading this, I know you feel like crap, and I know you'll feel better soon. Be the strong, confident, beautiful, wonderful person you are. Thank you for walking with me this morning.

Long Run vs. Wrightson
I still haven't totally made up my mind about this weekend's Wrightson vs. Long Run...but Long Run is in the lead...

Team Slug
I got invited to join Team Slug at their next official event. Now that is AWESOME! Too bad I can't afford the airfare to DE. Maybe someday!!!

Sweetness. I rested on Monday, then decided to change up my training plan. Did breezy 4.2 this morning with 10:46 miles (nice!), followed by 3.5 this evening up wicked steep Tumamoc Hill with friends from work (and Johnny and Will/Bill too - I don't think my coworker will let me exercise with her husband anymore, we had too much fun egging each other on - can we go faster? can we run this part? let's go!). Tomorrow morning, I'll take another 4.2 with Paki. Focus, I love it when the focus comes in. Focusing on high mileage helps me focus on everything else in my life. So even though it seems I have so much going on, I feel like I can handle it all - and more! In other words, the more I take on, the more I can do.

In talking with J-boy yesterday, I realized that I'd like to have a 20+ mile long run before my taper. The best weekend for that would be this weekend, as the following weekend = moving, and then taper. So this means I have to choose between Wrightson (I made a vow to climb it this winter) and a long run (would be very beneficial in preparation for Sugar & Spice!). I still haven't figured out what I'm going to do, because for that long of a run, I'd like to go with someone, but Johnny's mom isn't in town to watch Ash, which means J can't come with me. Also, I still have a longing to do Wrightson. But Wrightson will always be there.

Question: when they say to take a two or three week taper, does that include race week? I'm trying to figure out my taper this time around, and don't know if I should count race week. Cuz it's not really a taper week, it'll have tons of mileage! Any thoughts or advice is greatly appreciated.

Or, How This Weekend Was One Screw-Up After Another

I lost this much...
My "Jared from Subway" Picture (I found this skirt when we started packing - it used to be one of my favorites)

Friday night, Johnny and I are going over our plans for the weekend (as stated in an earlier post), when we realized that the TTR run up Wrightson was scheduled on Saturday, instead of the usual Sunday. Oops! By the time we figured it out, it was too late to get prepped for such a daunting trek, plus I didn't want to do the big hills on Saturday followed by flat on Sunday, because I wouldn't do the flat on Sunday; I'd be too sore! Change of plans, then.

Paki joined me for about four of my 10 miles on the River Path on Saturday morning, which was quite enjoyable. I realized that training this time around has not consisted of much flat running - my muscles were defintely not used to that much flat running! The out portion of the out-and-back went well (except for dropping one gel in the dust - dusty gel does not taste good). Just before the turn-around, my gallbladder finally let me know it was unhappy with the previous night's dinner of low-fat S.O.S. (hamburger gravy over rice). Must. Get. To. Bathroom. I had chills and cramps, trying my damndest to get to the restrooms quickly. Once I was finished, I was exhausted, and just wanted to walk. But I didn't. I kept going. A mile later, I whipped out a gel, and promptly spilled it all over myself. Sticky mess! Geez louise. I walked for a bit, but finally realized I just needed to kick in determination, and get home. So I did. I was so proud of staying focused and getting it done!

Rockin Ash 1
Rockin' Ash

We did some preliminary packing stuff (mostly sorting through what needed to be donated), and Johnny did some schoolwork, then it was time for bed. I woke up this morning at 4:45 a.m., not because of Ash, but because my allergies were going nuts! The previous night, we had decided that we would both get up when Ash did, and together, go to Sabino Canyon to have a family day (and I would go out for a few additional miles). Well, Johnny didn't want to get up. He mumbled, "I think I need to stay home," as he rolled over. Shoot. Now what?

I got ready to go for a run by myself. Without the family, I could do Phoneline Trail instead of just running the road. So I prepped my camelback and put on a new pair of "hot pant" shorts. The only clean sports bra I had was one that gives me major chafing along my underarms, so I tossed it in the trash and donned a dirty one, yuck! I ate a slice of some awesome strawberry glazed angel food cake for breakfast and skipped the coffee. I made it to Sabino Canyon by 7:20, a little later than I wanted, but I was planning on heat training anyway.

I started running, and within one-tenth (!) of a mile, my new shorts had ridden all the way up my butt, giving new meaning to the term "wedgie," it was as though they were underwear, not shorts! And the bladder in my camelback leaked massive amounts of water all the way through the padded material in the back. ARGH. I turned around, went back to the car, and headed home. I don't live far from Sabino, but I don't live particularly close either!

I refused to give up - I needed those miles, dammit! Three weeks of 30+ miles are crucial!

I stormed inside my house, dropped the camelback to the kitchen floor and went to my closet, where I proceded to try on every single clean shirt with my other "hot pant" shorts (these ones are longer, and have sticky material at the edges of the legs so they stay put). None of my clean, technical shirts were long enough to wear with my low-rise (but so comfy) bike shorts while wearing my Ultimate Direction waist pack. I was so frustrated!!! I lost it, whining and throwing a huge fit. Johnny didn't know what to do, and poor Ash told me, "You need to go in a time-out, Mama." Finally, I grabbed the long cotton tank top I got at my very first race and put it on. It fit comfortably, and was long enough for the pack to fit. I threw everything from the camelback into the waist pack, grabbed another handheld, and took off back to Sabino Canyon.

Exactly one hour later (I had left my watch running), I started again. I was angry and frustrated, but glad I was out there. It was noticably warmer, and I was so worried about how I would fare wearing cotton. I was worried about the amount of water I had, so decided to drink a decent amount in the first .8 mile and refill at the water fountain, which - of course! - was broken. ARGH.

I headed up the trail, and was able to keep a decent pace. Phoneline is a tough, tricky (I kept saying trippy instead of tricky, and it sure is trippy!) trail, so my overall pace was pretty slow. But it felt good, albeit hot. I managed to do just right on the water, so I didn't get dehydrated, whew!

Cotton sucks. The sweat from my underarms never evaporated, so there was chafing, and it hurt. I also got bad chafing on my waist, where the cotton and the waist pack met at my hip bones. It didn't seem to breathe well, and added to my feeling of being hot. It was not fun.

I was supposed to go back on the trail to Sabino Basin for a ways, to up my mileage, but the trail was just right for rattlesnakes, and I got scared. So I turned around early. I thought, "screw the 30 miles, I'd rather be alive!" I made it back to the road, and started my descent into the hellhole. Oh, my god, it was hot. Not too bad, because there was a pretty good head wind, but I was tired. I could barely keep moving. My feet hurt, my chest was hot, my head was hot. I didn't want to put water on my head, because I was afraid that I would soak my cotton tank top and it would never dry. I kept on trucking.

I was also supposed to take a detour out Rattlesnake Canyon to add to my mileage, but I was so exhausted I decided to skip it. It was enough that I kept trucking through the obstacles already presented to me today that I didn't need another mile of rattlesnake territory to scare me. Screw it!

Once I got home, I realized that I didn't need as many miles as I thought to get 30 miles for the week, so even with skipping the extra mileage, I still made 30 miles, WOO HOO!!!!

This weekend was fraught with obstacles and screw-ups, and I still did it. I'm also not nearly as sore as I thought I'd be, and feel great for the upcoming week, yay!

Since I didn't get to do Wrightson, we are going to do it next week. So next week's schedule:
Monday - off
Tuesday - 5.5
Wednesday - 5.5
Thursday - 5.5
Friday - 5.5
Saturday - off
Sunday - 10.5 HILLS!

Rock On!
Rock On!

My son, Cinderella

Three Weeks


Three weeks: can I do it? Can I have three 30+ mileage weeks and pack my house and move, while making sure Johnny gets enough time each week for school? Oh yeah, and working, sleeping, stretching, foam rolling and blogging?

The plan: run 5.5 miles three to four times a week before work, followed by one night a week of hill training (heading up nearly vertical Tumamoc Hill). Stretching and foam rolling at night. The weekends will be where I'll hit trails with elevation gain, either one long run, or more likely, back-to-back runs on Saturday/Sunday. When not running, I'll be packing. Then moving.

When training for Pemberton, I kind of dreaded the taper. I think this time, I will be looking forward to the taper - I'll be in my new house and ready to pack for the trip to Kentucky. Take it easy and get some much-needed sleep! It will be my reward. I just have to stick it out for THREE WEEKS. Say it with me, "It's just THREE WEEKS. You can DO it!"

My run this morning was fantastic. Ash woke me at 5, and I just wanted to roll over and go to sleep. The inclination to sleep was VERY strong. But I got out of bed, thinking that at the end of the week, I would feel much worse without the four miles I wanted to skip. So I got up. Got ready. Headed out. Decided that I would feel even better with FIVE miles, so I went in a direction that I don't normally go, to add on miles (the round part of the popsicle route). Then I headed up to where I normally go (the stick part of the popsicle). As usual, it took what seemed like awhile to warm up. About three miles in, I started to feel it - my body was grateful to be moving. Oh, my muscles were working, I could feel it, and my heart was pumping, and I was glad. Glad to be breathing in the morning air. Glad to be running in a short-sleeve shirt. Glad to be alive. So glad that I decided I would radically up my miles this week from the 18 I was anticipating to at least 28. Because it felt so good!

This weekend: 10 flat miles tomorrow morning instead of sleeping in (remember, it's only THREE WEEKS), followed by making pancakes with Ash for breakfast (oh, yes, photos of his "busy" cut are coming soon). Then packing and Johnny's school, plus a party that evening. Sunday morning: Mt. Wrightson, baby! 10.5 miles and 4500 vertical feet of elevation gain. This is the sucker that I came within one mile of summiting once, years ago, on a backpacking trip. I will GET TO THE TOP this time!!!

Current Week:
Monday = off
Tuesday = off (scheduled to go)
Wednesday = off (scheduled to go)
Thursday = 4.1
Friday = 5.5
Saturday = 10 (hopefully)
Sunday = 10.5 HILLS (hopefully)

Next Week:
Monday = off
Tuesday = 4.1
Wednesday = 5.5
Thursday = 5.5 (or rest, if my legs feel leaden)
Friday = 5.5
Weekend = 15ish (depends on if I skip Thursday), either back-to-back or, preferably, in one long hilly run

It's only THREE WEEKS!



Finally...I ran this morning, for the first time since Saturday. Recovering from the 17-miler, the cold, coming back to work and immediately going into a three-day training course, catching up. Whew. It's been an overwhelming few days.

Finally...the foam roller I ordered arrived! It is pretty cool, I like to use it on my back even more than on my iliotibial tract. Relaxation in my back and shoulders feels incredible!

Finally...Johnny's Zane Grey 50 mile race report is up!

Finally...uh, I don't have another "Finally"

Johnny chopped all of Ash's hair off (Ash calls it a "busy" cut, instead of a buzz cut). Ash seems to enjoy it. He still looks like a girl :) What a cutie-pie. I need to get some pictures!

I am not running the Whiskey Row marathon this Saturday - costs too much in gas! So I'll probably be heading up Mt. Wrightson, with Johnny and Ash (Ash in the backpack). Should be fun.

We'll be moving into our new place in just two weeks, ack! I haven't packed a thing!

I realized this morning I have just over a month before the Sugar & Spice 32 miler in KY! I need to get a few weeks over 30 miles, yikes. Must. Get. Running.


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

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