Happy Anniversary to Me 
Wednesday, February 11, 2009, 10:25 PM
Posted by Administrator
Saturday is Valentine's Day, but this Hallmark holiday will be third on my list of reasons to celebrate that day. Firstly, if all goes well, I will make the leap from marathoner to ultramarathoner at the Pemberton 50K. Although, in reality, I'm sure it will be more of a shuffle than a leap.

But I will also celebrate an important anniversary. On February 14, 1999, I said goodbye to family and friends in Boston and moved to Tucson. I was a single, 24-year old woman and thought I would spend a few years in the Southwest before moving on to another adventure. And yet, 10 years later, here I am.

During my decade in Arizona I have found my inner-athlete, a wonderful husband, a love of dogs, fantastic friends, an increased tolerance for spicy food, and my domestic side. I look forward to finding more pieces of myself in next ten years!
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One Week To Go 
Sunday, February 8, 2009, 10:43 PM
Posted by Administrator
On Saturday morning, Paul and I dusted off the tandem for a ride up to Dove Mountain with the Saturday group. Despite a chilly start (in the low 40's) and an ominous forecast, it turned into a beautiful day for 50 miles of riding.

My Sunday morning plan included 8 miles at the SAR Social Run on the Rillito River Path. I felt the need for some extra motivation and decided a change of scenery and a group to run with would do it. However, my dedication to this run wavered in the middle of the night when I awoke to the sound of pouring rain. When my 5:50am alarm went off, I immediately peeked outside and found that the rain had lightened considerably. After 30 minutes of vacillation, I finally decided to go for it. I figured 8 rainy miles with a group was better than 8 rainy miles by my lonesome. Alas, the running gods smiled down upon us - when I left the house at 6:40am, the rain had stopped.

The purpose of this non-competitive, go-your-own-pace, go-your-own-distance run was to bring together the various running groups in Tucson - WOG, the Grinders, Tri Girls and Tucson Trail Runners. About 30 hardy (and speedy) souls showed up at River and Campbell and headed west on the river path. Within minutes, I realized I was last. After a few more minutes, I could not even see anyone else from the group. But, I made peace with my lack of speed years ago, and so I just put in my headphones and enjoyed my run.

After turning around, I ran into fellow Tri Girl, Robin, who had shown up late for the run, but decided to get some miles in anyway. She turned back with me and it was great to have company for the last few miles. We chatted the whole way and enjoyed post-run snacks with the group. It was nice to finally put names to some of the faces I see at all of the local races, and I hope to attend more of these social runs.

I'm in the final stretch before the Pemberton 50K this coming Saturday. My body is feeling stiff, but Wednesday's massage should take care of that. The long-range forecast calls for rain...but that could (and, hopefully will) change in the next five days. Otherwise, I guess I'm as ready as I'll ever be.

I'm looking forward to the race (although nervous too), but I'm also looking forward to not having a major goal hanging over my head. Between Pemberton and my marathon last November, I've been training for about 7 months and I'm ready for a break. I look forward to continuing to run and race, but without all of the pressure of a major event.

Stayed tuned for the race report next weekend!
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Viva Las Vegas! 
Saturday, January 31, 2009, 10:39 PM
Posted by Administrator
I spent all week in Las Vegas for a work-related conference which involved many hours of sitting and listening interspersed with heavy, starch-laden meals. Ugh. On two mornings, I managed to squeeze in short runs which began with passing through the casino at 5:30am. It was a startling and somewhat surreal experience for me, groggily starting my day, to suddenly be surrounded by flashing lights, smoky haze and scantily-clad cocktail waitresses. I'm not sure if the gamblers had begun their smoking, drinking and playing the evening before or if they were just early-risers getting a jump on the day. Either way, it was bizarre. I definitely stood out in my running clothes.

I felt stiff and tired this morning, but, with only two weeks until Pemberton, was determined to get in another 20-mile training run. Paul opted for the group bike ride, and so I was on my own. I took the kids for 2 miles and then dropped them off at home along with my gloves and arm warmers. I grabbed my MP3 player and headed out for another 15 miles with a ratio of 4 minutes running to 1 minute walking. It took a while to loosen up, but I eventually got into a comfortable groove and cruised along until around mile 15 when I began to fatigue.

I arrived back at the house with 17.5 miles under my belt and a slightly light-headed feeling . Hmm...that can't be good. I glanced at the outdoor thermometer and realized that the temperature had risen almost 25 degrees since I had started running, topping out at 73 degrees. Okay - that explains it. I popped two electrolyte tablets with a glass of cold water and talked myself into going back out for those last 2.5 miles. At this point, my run was more of a shuffle, but I was able to keep up my 4:1 ratio which was some consolation.

During the 10 minutes of my excruciating, post-run ice bath, I considered the fact that the race is 11 more miles than I ran today. I am definitely a little nervous. With a cut-off time of 8 hours, I feel confident that I can finish. I'm just hoping to survive it without too much pain.

Paul and I celebrated the beginning of my taper with a cup of Tucson's best gelato at Frost, where the owner thanked us for being "such loyal customers." I have to say, that expression of gratitude made me question our gelato-eating habits.

In other exciting news, Paul and I finished constructing our new spice rack! I've seen a few varieties of these in stores and online, but nothing exactly like I wanted and so we decided to make it ourselves. I must say, it came out quite well!

sheet metal - Lowe's
tins - Specialty Bottling
magnetic strips - Michael's
electrical tape (for labeling) - Ace Hardware
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Tandem Ride & Sabino Run 
Sunday, January 25, 2009, 06:40 PM
Posted by Administrator
Paul had been struggling with a cold for a few days and so, when the alarm went off Saturday morning signaling us to get out of bed for the regular Saturday group ride, he convinced me to turn it off and crawl back under the covers. Okay...maybe "convinced" isn't the right word. He mentioned sleeping a little later and I didn't argue.

By 9:30 a.m., we were fully-rested, out the door and on the tandem for about 90 minutes of riding in the Rancho Vistoso area. Paul took it easy except for when we came upon other riders. Apparently, tandems are supposed to be fast and we have a reputation to uphold.

Paul felt better and better throughout the day and we planned to join the trail runners for a 7:00 a.m. Sunday morning run at Sabino. However, during the night, the cold moved into Paul's chest and, by morning, he was hacking up some nasty stuff. Not wanting to risk backsliding into full-on sickness, he opted for a short, easy jog in the neighborhood with the dogs.

I had my heart set on a trail run and so I drove to Sabino Canyon and found a huge group of trail runners gathering in the pre-dawn chill. There must have been about 35 of us and I was instantly glad I had come. It's been months since we last ran with the group and it was wonderful to catch up with friends

While the majority ran the 17-mile Bear Canyon Loop, I did a shorter course, running up the Phoneline Trail and down the road. I did a 20-miler last weekend and plan to do one final long run next weekend, and so I needed this one to be a little more moderate than 17 miles. The run started off beautifully with a sky full of morning colors.

I ran as much as possible and, when forced to walk, was mindful to push it and keep my heart rate up.

Phoneline is rather easy to navigate and yet I managed to make a wrong turn which led me down a steep trail toward the road. I realized early on that I had messed up, but decided to keep going as I was planning to get on the road at some point anyway. But, after about 1/2-mile, I decided that the trail would dump me farther down the road than I wanted to be and would cut my run too short. I turned around and started trekking back up the steep climb, reminding myself the entire way that it was a good workout. My legs were toast at the top. But, I quickly got on the correct trail and, within 20 minutes, was at the top of the road (where I had intended to be) and ready for the downhill.

It is always a little surreal for me to run a Sabino trail and finish the run on the road. While on trail, I only came across three small groups over the course of two hours. As soon as I hit pavement, the numbers began to rise. By the time I got to the parking lot, there were droves of people heading into the canyon. People of all ages, shapes and sizes. People with trekking poles and baby carriages (which is rather impressive considering the hills). A shirtless elderly couple walking. There was even a man reading a book while he walked - a novel, not a guidebook. I love the solitude of the trails, but the road provides some fantastic people-watching opportunities, and, at that point on the run, I welcome the distractions.

The higher you are on the road, the fewer people you find. This is partially due to the challenge of the climb, but today it also had to do with the water flowing over the bridges. It was cold and there was no way around it. But it was beautiful! I was tired, but the sight and sound of the rushing water gave me a boost in the final miles.

I finished up at just over 10 miles with tired hamstrings, but feeling good otherwise. I've got two more weeks to strengthen the hammy's before resting them for Pemberton.

Tomorrow I fly to Las Vegas for a week-long conference. The last time I conferenced at this particular off-the-strip hotel, I wound up running large circles in the parking lot and doing stairs in the parking garage. I'm optimistically packing some running clothes and hoping I can find something better this time.
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Four Weeks and Counting 
Sunday, January 18, 2009, 11:18 PM
Posted by Administrator
With the Pemberton 50K fast approaching, I was due for a long run. I wanted a 20-miler on a course comparable to the Pemberton Trail - dirt and relatively flat - but that combination is difficult to find as most dirt trails lead up a mountain. Paul got creative and drove us up to Willow Springs Road in Oracle. It's a road as opposed to a trail...but it is dirt.

We parked just off of Oracle Road and set off into a raging headwind. We quickly discovered that the road was mostly rolling hills and more difficult than Pemberton, but still good for training. We had gorgeous 360 degree views at all times, although our enjoyment of the desert beauty was interrupted more than we would have liked by the traffic. It was not a busy road, by any means, but there were quite a few trucks hauling mountain bikes, dirt bikes and ATV's. Most were courteous and would slow and return my wave as they passed. But a few came screeching around corners like Bo Duke, kicking up dust in our faces and squealing "yeehaw!". Okay, the last part may have been a figment of my imagination, but it would have been fitting.

Toward the end of the out-and-back run, I was pretty tired and sore - much more so than I would have liked considering 20 miles is only 2/3 of the race distance. On the plus side, I'm doing much better with my nutrition. Over four hours, I took in about 56 ounces of fluid and 3 ounces of gel.

I have time for one more long effort before the race and, in addition, I'll be working on strengthening my core and hamstrings. These areas definitely hold me back when I begin to fatigue. With a little more power and stability, I'll be able to hang in there in the final miles...I hope.

At Paul's suggestion, I suffered through a 15-minute ice bath when I got home. Getting in is absolute torture and, in my experience, impossible to do without some verbalization of the pain, be it four-letter words or unintelligible shrieks. It's not pretty. And no, I will not be posting photos. After a few minutes, all submerged body parts go numb and it's really not so bad.

I finished up the day with a baking experiment - truffles! I made pistachio, almond and orange zest. They are not perfectly round like the ones you buy in the store - that will take practice - but they're delicious!

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