17 Miles! 
Wednesday, September 17, 2008, 10:24 PM
Posted by Administrator
Not only did I run 17 miles on Saturday, but it actually felt pretty good! Of course, this is relative to my last three long runs which have been miserable. Why the difference? Who the heck knows, but some contributing factors were probably a new pair of shoes and cooler temperatures. It turns out that the weather is beautiful at 4:30am! I don't typically drag myself our of bed this early for training runs, but the Tucson Tri Girls Triathlon Camp was scheduled from 9am to 5pm and I wanted to enjoy that event without my long run looming over me. So, I sucked it up, woke to my 4:00am alarm and headed out the door with my headlamp and my trusty running companions - Rex, Mielo and Molly. Paul? He was saving himself for a time trial on Sunday and so I had five miles under my belt before he crawled out from underneath the covers.

When it became light enough to ditch the headlamp, I swung by the house and traded it in for my MP3 player. The dogs had had enough and so I hit the road again, solo this time, with 12 miles to go. I usually run with a hand-held water bottle, but opted for my Camelback this time and enjoyed having my hands free.

Throughout the run I was just amazed at how good I felt! Around mile 12, I started to get aches in my hamstrings, calves and feet, but that is all manageable. I called Paul with one-half mile to go (convenient pockets are another benefit of the Camelback) and asked him to start an ice bath for me. I was a little stiff and achy for the rest of the day, but nothing like I had expected. I'm feeling much better about the marathon in November!

Sunday was another early morning (although not quite 4am), as we drove to Picacho Peak for Paul's second time trial bike race. We are both new to these types of races (Paul as a competitor and I as a spectator) and we're both still learning. Thanks to knowledge gained at the first race, Paul showed up to this one with a new tri bike and aero helmet; and I arrived with a folding chair, cooler and reading material. Of course, I had to lug everything a mile to watch Paul start and finish - these races are not very spectator-friendly.

Paul did great, although he has spent a lot of time since the race thinking of things he can tweak to buy him the 3 minutes that separated him and first place in his category. He knows it's time for him to start focusing on marathon training...but he's itching to squeeze in another time trial to redeem himself!
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Apple Picking & Trail Running 
Sunday, September 7, 2008, 08:09 PM
Posted by Administrator
Thanks to a recent newspaper article, I discovered Howard's Orchard, a small farm in the town of Catalina. Yesterday, Paul and I strapped on a pannier and rode our tandem there to check it out. The owner is a really sweet man who instructed us to "treat it like home" as he gave us some plastic bags to fill with apples. Rumor has it they have amazing peaches, but we were a little late in the season for those. And, at other times of the year, they also have blackberries, pecans, tomatoes and cucumbers. We'll definitely be back - it made a great pit stop during our ride!

For any locals who want to visit, take Oracle north to the town of Catalina. Go past Golder Ranch Road and take your next right onto Hawser. When the road ends, turn left on Columbus. Turn left onto Pinal Street, which is a dirt and gravel road. The farm is just about one-quarter mile on your right - look for the signs.

We rounded out the weekend with the first run of the Tucson Trail Runners' annual series - Mount Wrightson - although neither of us fully participated. Paul wanted more time on his new tri bike to prepare for his time trial next weekend, and so he rode from our house to the trailhead - a distance of about 60 miles, with the last 10 miles being up a gigantic hill.

While the rest of the group ran to the top of Mount Wrightson, I opted to go only to Josephine Saddle and then take the longer, more gradual Super Trail back down. This amounted to only 6.2 miles, but it's been a long time since I've run trails or hills and so I wanted to ease myself back into it. Also, while the view from the peak is spectacular, I just do not enjoy the hike from the saddle to the top. It is steep, rocky and, for me, extremely slow-going. I've done it twice and have no desire to do it again...although I hear I missed some spectacular wildflowers.

I finished my run in just under two hours and then found a shady spot in which to sit and read while I waited for Paul to climb the gigantic hill to meet me. Just after he arrived, the other runners began to emerge from the trail and so we hung around for a while to catch up with friends. For me, this is one of the best parts of running - the socializing! It was great to see Renee, who came out for her first TTR run and I'm sure we'll be seeing her at others!

On the way home, we decided to make a detour and stop at Eclectic Pizza for lunch. It's on the opposite side of town from us, but we recently discovered that they serve gluten-free pizza and Paul was anxious to give it a try. We ordered a Greek salad that was absolutely delicious, as well as two pizzas (to ensure leftovers) and a gluten-free beer. Paul was in heaven. However, the pizza was a mixed bag. The toppings were extremely fresh and the sauce was probably the best I've ever had. However, the crust was clearly a gluten-free crust...which is not a good thing. It just didn't compare to the crust we get at Picazzo's. They make it on site (although, unfortunately, none of those sites are in Tucson) and you really can't tell the difference between it and "normal" pizza. If only we could combine Picazzo's crust with Eclectic's toppings...
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Just Me and the "Kids" 
Saturday, August 30, 2008, 11:26 PM
Posted by Administrator
As an employee of MDA, I will spend much of the Labor Day weekend working the MDA Jerry Lewis Telethon. Having experienced the past two Telethons, Paul got smart and has skipped town for the weekend. While I supervise the "green room," he will be enjoying the GABA Blue Loop Bike Tour through New Mexico and Northern Arizona. So, it's just me and the dogs this weekend!

I had a 17-mile run on my training schedule for today and I felt rested and ready for it. But it didn't take long for those feelings to change. The wind sucked my energy, and my legs and feet just plain hurt. I attribute the latter to the need for new shoes. In fact, I'm really hoping that's the reason as it has an easy solution. I managed to eek out 15 long miles - it took me 20 minutes longer than my 15-miler two weeks ago.

I hate not sticking to my training schedule, and spent the last few miles convincing myself that it was okay to stop at 15. The internal dialogue went something like this: "I have plenty of time before San Antonio to make up the miles, and pushing myself on old shoes could lead to injury...right? Right!" I'll give 17 another shot in two weeks (with a fresh pair of shoes).
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Camping Weekend 
Saturday, August 16, 2008, 05:15 PM
Posted by Administrator
Last weekend, we packed the Prius full of gear and dogs, and escaped the desert heat with a long weekend of camping in the White Mountains. We chose Fool Hollow Lake in Show Low as we have visited the campground for the Deuces Wild Triathlon and Paul knew he could take the dogs swimming - something the dogs like and Paul absolutely loves. Swimming alone is a bit of a chore, but swimming with the dogs is pure fun for Paul! We arrived mid-afternoon on Friday and were pleasantly surprised to find a small, but beautiful spot overlooking the lake.

After setting up camp, we headed down to the boat ramp as Paul couldn't wait to get in the water with the kids. With cloudy skies and temperatures in the 70's, it wasn't nearly warm enough for me to join them, but, as you can see, a good time was had by all.

We had a delicious dinner of salmon, veggies and corn on the cob - all cooked over the fire. I was looking forward to relaxing by a roaring campfire for the evening, but a thunder and lightening storm started shortly after dinner and, as we do not have a canopy, all five of us headed into the tent. It took us quite a while to calm Molly, who is terrified of storms and was shaking uncontrollably.

With nothing else to do, we climbed into our sleeping bags around 8:00 p.m., but the dogs were so restless that I was up half of the night. The low point was when Mielo vomited. Yes, in the tent. I pushed him toward the door, but could not move fast enough to unzip it in time. I was rather grouchy the next morning.

My mood improved with a great trail run Saturday morning. For much of it, we followed a flower-filled path surrounding the lake. I got in about 7 miles and the kids enjoyed multiple dips in the lake to cool off.

We regretted the last plunge when it started raining just as we returned to the campsite. With no place else to go, two sweaty people and 3 wet dogs piled into the tent. Note to self - invest in a canopy before the next camping trip.

Luckily the rain was short-lived and we were able to air out the tent while we showered (okay, so we weren't exactly roughing it). That afternoon, it was wonderful to have absolutely nothing to do! We read...we sat and looked at the lake...we chatted with the little girls from a few campsites over who had fallen in love with the kids and visited a few times. Heaven...

Our peace and quiet was interrupted when an enormous SUV pulled into the site next door and a cranky woman complained (rather loudly) to her husband that, if they stayed at that site, "We'll be next to dogs!" It was clear by her tone that she was not a dog-lover. Unfortunately, available campsites were sparse at that point and so they decided to stay. At that point, FIVE children came piling out of the truck. And she was worried about being next to dogs?!? The kids ended up being pretty good, although the woman's sour mood never improved.

Although it was overcast for the remainder of the day, the rain missed us and I was able to have my relaxing evening by the fire. Having adjusted to the camping experience, the kids were much calmer and we all had a great night of sleep. The next morning, Paul took the kids on short run while I broke down camp, and we hit the road for Tucson in the mid-morning.

We have only been camping two other times in the five years we've been together, and this trip convinced us that we really need to camp more often. It's so relaxing! And there are lots of great places just a short drive from home that would work for quick overnights. First, we just need to buy a canopy.

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Training Update 
Saturday, July 26, 2008, 02:28 PM
Posted by Administrator
Today is my last day as a 33-year old and I marked the occasion with a 12-mile training run. Considering that my head didn't hit the pillow until after midnight last night, I was not overly optimistic about how this run would feel. Why the late night? I marked my second-to-last day as a 33-year old with dinner and a viewing of The Dark Knight, which was fantastic! Long, but fantastic.

I slept in until 6:30 and finally hit the pavement an hour later with temps in the high 70's and humidity in the mid-60's. It was warm and rather sticky, but I was excited to be wearing an early birthday present from Paul - a Polar RS800 running computer with heart rate monitor, shoe pod and watch. This gadget is designed for gear geeks who live for stats. While numbers have never been my strong suit, it was fascinating to take in all of the data this gizmo threw at me - time, distance, pace, cadence, heart rate, stride length and even calories burned, which is rather satisfying to watch. (1,270 in case you're wondering)

I took it easy and felt surprisingly good. Fatigue did not rear it's head until 8.5 miles and, even then, it was only mild. The last mile was tough, but very do-able, leaving me feeling like I could have gone farther...but was happy that I didn't have to.

While I'm not setting any land speed records, I'm just pleased to feel strong and healthy at this point in my training. I've got many miles ahead of me before the big day in San Antonio, but I'm on track and feeling confident.

Life on the edge of 34 is looking good.
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