March 2008 Archives

7495

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11.3 miles in

"That was fun!" I'm out of breath from running a 10-minute-per-mile pace for the last half-mile of my 22-mile long run - my last long run before Zane Grey - and I can't stop running. The zone I pushed myself into in order to get down from the mountain was not so easy to come out of. The three runners at the trailhead- one the RD, the other two ran the Mica Mountain Marathon - laugh and tell me to stop. My legs are shaky and I finally propel them over to the pecan sandies and pretzels waiting to be devoured. I tell the RD that I made it to the spring 2.3 miles above Cowhead Saddle, a perfect turnaround spot that enabled me to carry only four hours worth of water at a time.

Where I ran (read below)

We talk about the wildflowers and how steep the trail was above Cowhead Saddle and how crystal clear and cold and beautiful the water from the spring was and how wonderful it was to climb from the desert floor up to the pine trees - running on pine needles! - before I finally rise up on stiff legs and limp to my car. I knew I gained a lot of elevation - my legs are telling me so! - and I was pleasantly surprised at how well I was able to keep going, even though I forgot my iPod. I chanted mantras to get me down - "I think I can, I think I can, I think I can, I KNOW I can," and took my sweet time knowing I needed to keep my knees healthy.

Steps - ugh!

Mica Mtn Marathon 017

Green Cottonwoods

When I finally make it home and through the requisite ice bath and shower, I download the stats from my Garmin:
22.61 miles - the most I've run since June 10, 2006 - and the most shocking part: 7495 ft of elevation gain.

Elevation Chart for Mica Mtn Marathon

That's basically the amount of gain I'm facing for Zane Grey. And I did it today - well (albeit painfully) - in much less distance (the bulk of it was done in 11 miles). Holy mother of trail running. I was so nervous about the elevation gain for Zane Grey - can I do it? I've hurt myself both times I gained 4400 ft (in the same mtn range as today, no less) - will I be able to go over that amount without killing myself??? That was part of the mystery, the allure, of doing Zane Grey.

But I did it already!!! And I did it slowly but well. And I did that at the end of my FIRST EVER 50-MILE WEEK!!

the rest of the photos

Running Junkie

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New evidence says it's a fact: running can make you high.

Of course, we all know that. Now it's a confirmed, scientific fact.

Hi, I'm Angie, and I'm a runaholic :)

Speaking of running, I'm on track to get my first-ever 50-mile week! Due to the strange configuration of long runs, I'll end up with about 52 miles, I think. Wow.

But in reviewing my weekly miles for this training cycle, I'm a little worried. I averaged 22 mpw. That's it. 22! I averaged 2 hours of cross-training per week. Even with translating those 2 hours of cross-training to 6 miles (a formula I read somewhere that talked about how you can count certain types of cross-training as equal to a certain distance of miles), I still averaged LESS THAN 30 mpw. That's just a tad distressing!

Two reasons: sickness and being a single mom.

I'm pretty positive I'll be able to finish ZG. I just don't know how quickly or how well (as in pain level). I'm going to finish it - I have that much training. But it's going to f#$*ing hurt.

I just need four more days of being sickness-free. Let me get my last long run in before my taper, pretty please!!!

I have a longer taper than I'd really like, since I have Ash next weekend. Here's how it'll work: this weekend is my last long run, next weekend I'll be running a 5k in Phoenix with my mom, then the following weekend (my birthday weekend!) is two weeks before ZG, and I don't want to do a long run. I'll probably run 5 on Saturday and 10 on Sunday. I'll be peppering smaller runs throughout each week, probably 3-4 miles in length per run, but not many runs, because it's too freaking hot to run at lunch anymore! I only have two mornings per week without Ash when I can get a run in. So miles will definitely be going down after this Sunday. Still hitting the gym for the two hours per week of cross-training until the week of ZG. Okay, let me break it down better:

week of March 24: 52ish miles, one hour cross-training
week of March 31: maybe 15 miles, two hours cross-training (need! more! miles!)
week of April 7: maybe 30 miles if I'm lucky, one hour cross-training (birthday week!)
week of April 14: maybe 12-15 miles, two hours cross-training
week of April 21: 38-40 miles, 0 hours cross-training (race week! two or three runs of two to three miles, plus 32 on race day)

I really wish I can switch the weeks of March 31 and April 7, but oh well.

Wish me luck staying healthy!!!

Snakes on a trail

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17 miles in the desert 011

17 miles in the desert 010

This is Daniel. Everyone, say hi to Daniel! Daniel was a trail virgin. Today was his first trail run!
17 miles in the desert 019

This is Angie. Everyone, say hi to Angie! Angie is the heroine (villain?) of this blog. She's been trail running for three years.
17 miles in the desert 014

This is Phoneline Loop. Way out in the distance is downtown Tucson (Daniel and Angie can see where they live!).
17 miles in the desert 017

These are some of the cliffs along the trail.
17 miles in the desert 023

Daniel joined Angie for the first half of her rescheduled long run (not a make-up run, because we all know that we aren't supposed to worry about making up miles). Daniel wore road shoes, which, after the couple of stream crossings on the way up, gave him blisters. But he didn't care. He had fun! He said, "this isn't running, this is playing."

Angie didn't feel quite the same. A few friends raised their eyebrows at her throwing down a long run after a week of being really sick and only getting 3 miles plus one hour of cross-training, but Angie didn't care. She has a really big race coming up and needed the miles, so she went - on a Monday! Angie loves her boss. Angie didn't love the side stitch that developed 4.5 miles into the run as she ran downhill. Side stitch on a downhill! What's up with that?!

And Angie forgot her Garmin. She forgot! What's up with that?! She didn't like forgetting her Garmin. Two reasons: 1. now she didn't have her timer to remind her to eat every thirty minutes, and 2. she didn't have a tool to keep track of the elevation gain. Oh well.

17 miles in the desert 015
no Garmin!

Angie really liked the flowers out along the trail.
17 miles in the desert 022

Angie didn't eat or drink enough on the first Phoneline loop. She was tired and had to walk the last flat .4 to the car. She figured she probably shouldn't really go back out for another loop, but also figured she didn't really have a choice. That really big race coming up and all. She said good-bye to Daniel, retied her shoelaces, added water and ice to her water bottles, turned on her iPod, and went back out to run the same loop in reverse, but first, had to wait for a slow rattlesnake who must have just woken up from hibernation makes its way across the trail.

Sure enough, she was exhausted. Hot. Tired. Out of breath. Hot. Out of energy. Her stomach hurt. She couldn't get a deep breath. She was hot. She underestimated the heat for the day and forgot out it gets trapped on Phoneline. She tried to eat and tried to drink - thirsty, she was so thirsty! But her stomach disagreed with her. She thought she might have her first trail vomit experience. She walked. And walked. And walked. Just kept going. Figured it was just a valley, just a rough spot, and things'd get better, so she kept walking right on past the cutoff trail that would have taken her down and out of the canyon.

She didn't get any better. She turned off her iPod. She tried to run, but could only shuffle for a few steps before needing to walk again. Her body hurt. She pondered the wisdom - or lack thereof - of going out for a long run after a week of being sick. She wondered how she'd do her really big race. She figured she just needed to keep putting one foot in front of the other and she'd finish and be really happy, even though this was the longest it'd ever taken her to do this loop. Angie really wished she had her camera for the second loop. She was going slow enough to have captured the flowers on film!

She finally reached the second cutoff trail and decided to take this one. Steep, so steep! But she felt better than she had in hours. Until she ran smack dab into a group of four hikers who were trying to decide how best to get around a coiled, rattling rattlesnake in the middle of the trail. This one was mad, unlike the first one Angie saw. She was scared. The snake was rattling so loud! The hikers started throwing rocks at it, which made it rattle louder. Finally, one rock hit the snake and it bounced across the trail. Then it hid in some bushes right next to the trail and kept rattling. One hiker put some rocks in front of the cactus the snake was hiding in and stood guard with his hiking stick while the rest of the hikers - and Angie - quickly scrambled by.

Angie decided that she was not going to pass the hikers - she'd let them lead the way down to the tram road so as to catch any snakes that might be out. Thankfully, no snakes decided to show up for the reminder of the trail.

Then it was three easy miles down the road to the car. The ibuprofen Angie had taken a few minutes earlier kicked in, and she was able to run most of the way back, relatively pain-free (mostly just numb). And she finished quicker than she expected! Only 5.5 hours instead of 6.5.

On the way home, Angie picked up her favorite pizza from her favorite restaurant (the place whose bathroom Olga wanted to take home with her after OP50) and ate half of it before she got back.

17 miles in the desert LUNCH

Chicken, broccoli, cheese, white sauce, mmmm

Then she took her wet shoes off and examined her soggy feet. No blisters, though!
Soggy feet

Wet shoes

Angie was very tired after her 17-mile run.
Tired after a 17 mile run in the desert

Then she got reddy for her ice bath.
17 miles in the desert 024

17 miles in the desert 035

In the ice bath

After the ice bath and shower, she was ready for the rest of the day: catching up on blogs, reading and eating joe-joes!
After the run - showered and refreshed

What I'll be doing after the run

17 miles in the desert 047

(PS here's an account of the 21-miler I had wanted to do last Sunday and then decided I was too sick to do. It's a good thing I didn't (besides the fact I was so sick): it was a kick-ass run that would have taken me 10 hours to do, and that the RD ended up having to call search&rescue on!)

getting better?

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Peace

I was sick this whole week. I tried to get out last night and managed about a mile before I had to call it quits and walk back home. This morning I attempted two miles and that worked a little better. I spent Wednesday afternoon alternately in the bathroom and on the couch while my body worked to expel - violently - anything I had put in it. I'm a little shaky but doing better. I'm still hopeful I can run on Monday.

Thanks to everyone for their words of encouragement regarding my frustration about my relationship. After waiting a few days, he called me last night and we spent some good time together. He's feeling better, which in turn helps me to feel better. I'm still sort of processing things (particularly how much I reacted to his choice in how to make himself feel better), and hopefully I will feel emotionally better soon, as well.

****SUNDAY UPDATE AT THE END OF THE POST****

Yup, I'm sick. Instead of running the 21 miles with my trail running group tomorrow morning (a run that will take me into the backcountry and a run that I'd need to carry all my water for), I'm going to do loops - probably 7 or 8 miles per outing - giving me the opportunity to bail if I get really sick while out there, and also giving me the opportunity of having an aid station. I'm a little worried about doing a long run while sick, but I figure I'll "take it easy" on this long run (as much as running 21 miles while sick can be considered taking it easy). This also allows me to sleep in a little (no having to be anywhere at a certain time), hopefully giving me a little better chance of completing the entire chunk of miles. It's so hard to be limited to only getting long runs every other weekend - the weekends I don't have my son. I only have tomorrow's run and one more before ZG. That's worrisome. I HAVE to run tomorrow, even though I know I'm "supposed to" rest. Oh well. At least I'm trying to be somewhat smart about it (as much as running 21 miles while sick is smart).

Here's a piece titled "Possibility" that I am donating to the Child & Family Resource Center for an upcoming auction. When I get more details on the auction, I'll post them here. The retail price is $40...
Possibility

****SUNDAY UPDATE****
So Barb and I headed out to the Cactus Forest trail system at the base of the Rincon Mountains on the east side of Tucson. As you can see by the link, there are scads of trails in the area, making it a fanTAStic place to create loops to one's heart's content, without running on the same trail twice. The trails are not technical, the terrain is gently rolling - in other words, a newbie trail runner's paradise. Barb loved it!

This is us at the beginning of the run:
Angie and Barb at the Douglas Springs Trailhead

I decided when I woke up that I really didn't feel like I should run at all. I was really sick. But then I also decided that, eh, I could run 7 miles (the first loop of the scheduled 3). If at the end of 7 miles, I was feeling fine, then I'd head out for more - at least 3 more, hopefully another 7. Just sort of work my way into it with no pressure. So many times in the past I've woken up sick and stayed in bed, only to think later, "Maybe I wasn't that sick. Maybe I was just being lazy or underestimating myself." So I decided I wasn't going to do that this time. I only had 2 days left for long runs before tapering for ZG (on weekends I don't have Ash), and this was one of them. It was crucial!

We headed out on the first loop, and it was beautiful. Perfect running weather. Some sun, mostly clouds, grassy knolls covered in flowers everywhere, a cute cowboy we kept running into (a lot of horse folk ride out there). It was gorgeous! About 5 miles into it, I started getting really cold. And my throat hurt like hell. And my head wanted to explode. I decided that I was going to have to take a personal day at some point in the next few weeks, once I'm healthy, in order to get this long run in. I needed to call it quits.

I'm slightly embarressed to say that I actually whined out loud for a bit. "Unh-h-h-h-h-h-h-h-h-," I would moan. Barb did great with me. I had to walk a decent amount toward the end. It started sprinkling on us, and by the time we reached the car, it was raining. Perfect timing.

I was exHAUSTed. I was surprised to see that we ended up runnign 8.8 miles, instead of 7. I'm still not sure exactly how that happened. I could barely lift my legs into the car and drive home. I was shivering violently. I managed to get myself in the shower and the hot water helped a little. I started shivering again once I was out of the shower. I tried to eat a little, but it made my stomach so upset, so I laid down on the couch and ended up falling asleep. Me! Falling asleep in the middle of the day! Unheard of!

Chris brought me soup later, which helped. I still feel really crappy; I'm not sure I'm going into work tomorrow. I now know that when I feel sick in the morning and think I should stay in bed, I really should stay in bed. I won't doubt myself in the future!

Be you.

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BeYou

Ash was really sick on Saturday, so I did not go to the gym for cross-training. But I did push him in the stroller for almost three miles (damn that was hard!) as a lap around Reid Park. The next morning, Barb pushed him for a lap then I followed up with another. Again, that is hard! I remembered why I stopped pushing him in the stroller.

Monday I took as a rest day, and today I headed out for a beautiful four-mile run at lunch. Perfectly fueled and watered. I'm averaging 10:40 per mile for the entire four miles on a regular basis, which is awesome - just two months ago, I was averaging 11:40 for three miles. Yay for training!

I'm feeling a little intimidated by my scheduled Sunday run with my trail running group. It'll be about 21 miles and over 5200 vt ft of elevation gain. Yowza.

Flower season is starting in Tucson. A friend of mine traveled to Picacho Peak last weekend - it's so beautiful!
img_8783-1024x768

mmm, training, yummy

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I love training, I really do. Challenging my body to see how far I can push. I ran 18 great miles on Sunday, took Monday as a rest day, ran 2 SLOW miles on Tuesday, broke my "no-running-on-Wednesday" rule and ran 4 miles at lunch, did a full hour on the stairmaster on Thursday, an hour on the elliptical this morning, and then ran 3.5 miles at lunch - and sustained a 9:30 pace for 20 minutes of that run! HOLY SHIT! And that 9:30 pace felt so amazing, I wanted to continue. I arrived back at work and wasn't ready to stop running. I wanted to keep going. It was my second workout of the day and yet I was so full of fantastic energy, so ready to move my body. I love love love the fact that I was up at 5 this morning, did two workouts and am still not exhausted. I'm also loving how well my clothes are fitting :)

Goes to show how good I feel when I'm not sick. But Ash is sick - again - and I'm afraid I will catch it - again. We seem to manage one week of health in between each cold or flu. That's pretty depressing. Knock on wood I won't catch this one.

Tomorrow is an hour of cross-training and I'm hoping for three miles pushing Ash in the stroller after that. Sunday I'd like to get another 6 miles with Ash in the stroller....

Cheer with me, "Yay for training!!!"

(PS - I just finished an awesome book, "A Geography of Bliss: One Grump's Search for the Happiest Places in the World" by Eric Weiner...it's amazing and I have so many thoughts about it...I think it deserves it's own post shortly...)

Notes from a running-centric weekend:

*
It's Friday and I should be at work but instead I'm running nine miles while waiting for Olga and her friend Adrian to arrive. It's the middle of the day and it's hot but I don't mind. I'm running and I'm happy.
*
It's Friday evening and Olga and Adrian have just arrived and Olga's first inclination is to relax in the courtyard and talk girl-talk and Adrian's first words to me are, "Shall I get us a six-pack?" I decide I like this guy. We spend an hour chatting and drinking beer and Chris joins us as the sun sets. Olga decides she's hungry so we all hop to it and get in the car letting Olga drive which is a total mistake as I feel I've put my life into her (recklessly driving) hands. But it's ok, cause I drive even worse so I don't mind. Too much.
*
We eat a fast dinner from Safeway and Olga and Adrian pack for the race. I prepare my crew stuff and Chris reads. We sleep as well as we can before waking up at 3:30 am.
*
olga art strong 002
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We are efficient runners. We are ready to leave 10 minutes before we are scheduled to leave. We stop at Safeway but it's closed so we head to the freeway to find a truck stop. We need coffee and gas. But the truck stop only serves large vehicles. My little Kia is not even close to a large vehicle. We find another gas station and get our supplies.
*
We meet Trail Goat and take our before photos. The runners start the race and I trek up to the car and on to the first of four aid stations.
*
Adrian and Olga
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Angie and Olga
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Starting 50 mile race!
*
Throughout the day, I remember why I love crewing: driving fast on dirt roads, spending hours relaxing outside with a good book and a few magazines, catching up with friends, watching the race unfold.
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Olga approaches mile 7
*
Adrian at mile 25
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Angie passes Olga in the car
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Angie ponders the audacity of ultrarunners
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Olga does well, she's worried about a bladder infection and is in pain, but moving well. I keep missing Adrian, he's too fast for me. Every aid station, I look up and he's passing me on his way out before I can get the camera out.
*
Mile 40: Olga says she's in survival mode. I'm worried, but it's Olga, so I'm not too worried. She's 30 minutes behind pace and thinks she can't finish in 11 hours.
*
Getting hosed
*
Olga approaches 40 mile aid station
*
Adrian at the finish
*
At the finish line Adrian crosses the line before I can get a photo. We discuss when Olga will arrive and then I go stand in the sunshine while Adrian closes his eyes to rest. A few runners come in and then I see Olga's familiar gait - about 40 minutes ahead of when I am expecting her. I shout across to Adrian - it's Olga, look! It's Olga!
*
Olga crosses the finish line
*
Her knees are bloody, tears are streaming down her face and she gives me the best, most saltiest hug I've ever received. She made up 20 minutes in the last 10 miles, this gritty, determined, amazing woman.
*
Bloody hell
*
Olga's injuries
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Dinner is at Sauce, pasta for me in preparation for 18 miles the next morning. Chris laughs at Adrian's dead-pan jokes and I just laugh and laugh and laugh and after spending most of dinner in the bathroom, Olga decides she wants to take the restaurant's toilet home.
*
Olga and Adrian leave the next morning - I am sad to see them go and I am happy I got to see them. I am ready for my 18 miles and I am full of excitement as I head to Sabino Canyon.
*
I complete the first loop in reverse of my usual direction and take 2 minutes off my time. I wish I brought a pair of socks to change at the halfway point, then decide it's okay that I went through a few creek crossings. I fly downhill, using Olga's tips on how to go downhill without hurting my knees. I love the sunshine and the ferocious wind and my music and my fueling. I know I'm doing well and I love it.
*
I run the second loop in the usual direction and pass people again - the same people I passed on my way down but this time I'm passing them on the way up. Back again? Says one guy. Yup I say with a smile.
*
I'm tired and sore but my knees are doing better than two weeks ago and I'm still fueling right and my fingers aren't swelling like normal. I wish more people were on the trail but it's still nice.
*
I'm tired, I'm sore, I'm 17 miles into an 18-miler and my knees hurt, my body's numb, my back is spasming, I'm running an 11:30 pace and I'm happy.
*
Dinner is a burrito at La Salsa then I beat Chris at Scrabble before we watch Michael Clayton and then I crash in bed. I'm exhausted and happy and I realize I got 34 miles in the week - the most I've gotten since last June and I know I'm finally "in shape' in a general sense and even better, I"m getting in Zane Grey shape. That's awesome.
*
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