Short on Miles, Long on Time 
Sunday, October 5, 2008, 06:48 PM
Posted by Administrator
Paul was the run director for yesterday's Tucson Trail Runner's event at Charleau Gap. Being an out-an-back course, runners could go any distance they desired, up to 21 miles. Three weeks ago, I ran 17 miles and so my plan for today was to do 19. I liked the idea of doing my last few long runs on trail to minimize my risk for injury. However, this trail turned out to be a lot more technical than I expected. I've run parts of Charleau Gap three times in the past few years and had fond memories of a fairly runnable trail, well-shielded from the sun by the mountain. I don't know whether I have a poor memory or the trail has been changed in the past year by monsoon rains, but I did a lot more hiking, rock-hopping and sliding than actual running yesterday.



The run began at 6:00am, just as it was getting light out. Recent runs have started a bit later, but, for reasons of safety and good ol' peace and quiet, Paul wanted to minimize the time we had to share the trail with ATV'ers...and he was counting on them sleeping in. Knowing that I'm on the slow end of this group and not wanting Paul to have to wait for hours for me, I hopped out of the car and hit the trail, getting a 15-minute head start on the other seven runners (which is why I'm not in the photo above). My lead was short-lived, but I made it about 2 miles before the front-runners caught me.

There is a fair amount of climbing on the way out with lots of areas of loose rocks, making for slow-going. On the climb to the second gate, I leap-frogged with some dirt bikers who joked with me about a McDonald's at the top of the hill. When I finally reached the gate at the saddle, they had stopped for a snack and told me I was their idol for running the trail. Everything is relative in life. I may be a back-of-the-packer among trail runners, but my consolation prize is admiration from the dirt biking community!

After cresting the hill, the trail descends again. The welcome break for my aching hamstrings was tempered by the knowledge that this would be an ascent on the way back. About 7.5 miles into the run, I crossed paths with Renee who had recently turned around. We chatted and she took some photos before heading on her way. At this point, I started having doubts about my 19-miler. I had already been running about 2 hours and 15 minutes, and my hamstrings and ankles were not happy. (Note: My calves felt fine thanks to my new socks!) I was stuck on the idea that I HAD to do 19 miles to adhere to my training plan, but gradually rationalized that road miles and trail miles are not equal. My previous 17-miler took me 3:15 and, at this rate, this 19-miler was going to take me 5:30...which is longer than it will take me to do the entire marathon, unless something goes terribly wrong. So, at 8.6 miles, after deciding that time on my feet should be factored into my training plan, I turned around.



I had assumed that the way back would be much faster with all of the downhill, but I was slowed by the loose rocks. It seemed to take FOREVER! With two miles to go, I was thrilled to see Paul hiking back to meet me. My joy was short-lived, however, as he told me that Renee had fallen and broken her wrist. I felt terrible for her! She slipped on some loose rocks and landed on her bottom, but her wrist took the brunt of the fall. Luckily, Joel had just caught up with her and so she was not alone. And an ATV gave her a lift to the trailhead where an ambulance was waiting. Renee had surgery today and I'm sending lots of good thought her way for a quick recovery.

My legs are somewhat sore, but in a healthy way. My next and final long run before the marathon will be in three weeks. I don't have a plan yet, but, if it's on the road, then I'll shoot for 21 miles. If it's on trail...we'll wait and see how technical it is.
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Mystery Weekend - Destination Corrales, New Mexico! 
Wednesday, October 1, 2008, 11:24 PM
Posted by Administrator
On Friday morning, Paul left the house in the dark, both literally (it was only 5:15) and figuratively (he had no idea where we were going). During the previous week, I had left him little clues and packing suggestions which, apparently, had led him to believe we were traveling to Salt Lake City. It wasn't until we got to the gate that he found out we were headed to the Land of Enchantment.

After picking up our rental car, we headed to Annapurna's for a late breakfast. I should warn you that Paul and I like to eat our way through the places we visit. This is a huge part of the journey for us - we love food! But, not just any food. You'll almost never catch us in a chain restaurant. We want unique, local food. We want quality, healthy food. And, due to Paul's allergy, we want gluten-free food.



Annapurna's turned out to be one of our greatest finds ever! We feasted on cardamom pancakes and a beet and cranberry salad, before rounding out the meal with pecan pie (all gluten-free, of course). We left sated, happy and, if you believe in the benefits of ayurvedic cooking, "balanced in our bodies, minds, spirits, senses and emotions." Ohm...

We hit the GO Downtown Albuquerque Arts Festival, which was a smaller version of Tucson's Fourth Avenue Street Fair, and then checked out Old Town, a quaint area of adobe shops and restaurants - very southwest.



Having worked up an appetite again, we stopped by Le Crepe Michel for a yummy buckwheat crepe filled with smoked salmon and capers. It was divine. Paul then talked me into visiting the National Atomic Museum. I was not too jazzed about this idea, but actually learned quite a bit of interesting history.



Finally, we hopped on I-25 and headed north to our final destination, the village of Corrales. The surprisingly short drive took us out of the city and into a rural town complete with farms, llamas and a welcome sign that read, "Drive slow, see our village. Drive fast, see our judge." We settled into our cozy quarters at Casa Entrada Guest House and our hosts gave us restaurant recommendations. Yes, we're back to food.





With Corrales being such a small place, we left the car and walked to dinner. But first, we happened upon the local bike shop where we made arrangements to rent a tandem for the following day. Then we enjoyed an early meal at the Indigo Crow. The brief report - fabulous food, spotty service and a chef who could not tell us if his dishes contained gluten. That last part was somewhat concerning.

Saturday - The Harvest Festival
Saturday morning marked the beginning of the 22nd Annual Corrales Harvest Festival. We had a mediocre breakfast at Hannah & Nate's before finding a spot to watch the Pet Parade - definitely one of the highlights of the weekend!







We then headed to the bike shop where we were offered a single-speed tandem with a basket and bell on the front, as well as a life-sized decorative black cat attached to the back. I'm not kidding - check out the photo.



For some reason, Paul made the decision to rent the undecorated 21-speed tandem instead. We donned our loaner helmets, dingy from God-knows-how-many past users, and hit the streets to check out the festival offerings.



We quickly discovered that Corrales is beautiful! We pedaled down quiet, shady streets lined with wildflowers and the occasional farm animal, and then went off-roading on the Bosque, a natural area along the Rio Grande. Not surprisingly, our ride brought us to lunch. This time we checked out the Flying Star, a casual, pay-at-the-counter kind of place with fun decor and a fun menu. Two thumbs up on the tofu scramble!

As a portion of the main road was closed to traffic, the bicycle was the perfect way to enjoy the festival. It was just us, pedestrians and tractors driven by guys in overalls pulling hay wagons full of festival-goers. We hit a farm, the arts & crafts fair and the book sale before returning our trusty wheels and having our only disappointing food experience of the trip. If you find yourself in Corrales, don't eat at the Old House Gastro Pub. I'll just leave it at that.



Sunday - the 10K
Sunday morning came and we put on our running shoes for the Corrida de Corrales 10K. I had planned to make this my speedwork for the week, but was concerned that two days spent on my feet along with the elevation (5,000 feet) would make this a slow event for me. About 60 people toed the line for the 10K - quite small by Tucson standards but, as we later found out, pretty typical for Albuquerque which often has two to three race options on a single weekend. As is always the case on race morning, I had gone to the bathroom a dozen times, but then had to go right before the gun went off which left me scrambling into the bushes with about 30 seconds to spare.

The course was beautiful, almost all of it on shaded, dirt trails. We had been forewarned that, due to some recent trail work, the dirt was of the beach-like-sand variety, rather than the packed-down, easy-to-run-on variety. This meant that, when the gun went off, those of us in the back of the pack literally ate the dust of Paul and his speedy buddies leading the charge. After a mile or so, the pack spread out and I found a spot about 10 feet behind two women. They kept a nice, steady pace - about 10-minute miles - and so I just concentrated on sticking with them. They chatted away the entire race, but I was already pushing it to keep up with them, and so kept my mouth shut and hung a bit behind them for motivation.

The course was not marked and so, after realizing I had a shoe pod, the women called out occasionally for mileage, pace or time. When I finally called out "5 miles" they kicked it into high gear and just took off! One looked back, yelled "come-on" and gave me an encouraging wave...but I was already in my high gear and had nothing in reserve. So, kept chugging away at 10-minute miles as I watched them get farther and farther away. My legs felt okay, but holding this pace for this long was definitely a challenge for my lungs.



At 6 miles, I began to get excited about finishing. At 6.1, I began to realize that the course was long. At 6.2, I was pissed. Where is the #%@!&* finish line?!? Around this time, Paul met me to get some photos and cheer me along. I greeted him with, "The course is long!" but managed to smile for the camera. Finally, at long last, I saw the finish line and picked it up just a bit as I crossed. In case you're wondering...6.56 miles according to the shoe pod.



After the burning in my lungs subsided, I checked my stats on my watch and was pretty darn pleased with myself. I averaged a 9:43 pace! I'm not known to push myself at races. In fact, I'm much more likely to find a new friend with which to pass the time and also to take periodic walk breaks. It was a great feeling of accomplishment to not only have run the entire distance, but to have pushed myself the whole way. I was also proud of Paul who finished 12th overall and won an award for 3rd in his age group.



We wound down the weekend with a leisurely morning reading on the guest house patio before packing up and heading into Albuquerque. We couldn't leave without visiting Annapurna's one more time for a delicious South Indian Sampler Plate and sweet potato pie. Yum! And then, before heading to the airport, we stopped by Great Harvest Bread to pick up an order we had placed the day before for fresh gluten-free bread and scones to take home. Paul is set on carbs for a while.

At the airport, Paul and I agreed that the Mystery Weekend Christmas Present experiment was a fabulous success! We each had a ton of fun masterminding a surprise getaway and we also both loved being on the other side of the surprise. This truly was a gift that kept on giving, and we're already thinking about our mystery trips for 2009!
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$50 Well Spent 
Sunday, September 21, 2008, 07:23 PM
Posted by Administrator
I have to say, I was apprehensive about spending $50 on a pair of compression socks. I mean...they're socks! After my first long run in them, however, I'm pleased to report that they were worth the cash.

Paul and I were up before dawn to meet about 20 other members of the Tucson Trail Runners for the Sabino Basin run. It took my calves five days to fully recover from the last trail run, and so I knew this would be a good test. I ran with Ross for about 10 minutes until the Phoneline Trail started to climb and then he gradually pulled away. I didn't mind the solitude. I'm used to being near or at the back of the pack with this group, and so I just enjoyed the beautiful, relatively cool morning in the shadow of the canyon.



Where the trail meets the top of the road, we continued on the trail for another few miles to Sabino Basin. At this point, I began to see others on their return trip, including Paul and a guy I didn't know who apparently lives near us and recognized me from running in our neighborhood. Tucson really is a small town sometimes - gotta love it!

I was just starting to get that "Are we there yet?" feeling when I turned a corner and there was Ross taking my picture. Seeing Ross, I knew that I had to be close to the turn-around and, in fact, it was just another two minutes down the trail. I caught Ross on the way back and we parted ways at the top of the road as he took the Phoneline Trail back and I opted for the road. I didn't want Paul to have to wait around too long for me and knew I would be much faster if I wasn't rock-hopping and wading through tall grass.

With about 1.5 miles to go, Paul came trotting up the road to run in with me. Is he a great husband or what? Although he has teased me about the fashion statement made by my compression socks, he was happy (and intrigued) to hear that my calves were pain-free. So much so, that he may be picking up a pair himself! My hamstrings were aching, which tells me that, typically, my calves would be too. But they felt just fine! Yes, $50 is a lot to pay for socks, but when I think about all of the massages I've had to work out the pain in my calves, this may actually save me money!

So what's next? Mystery Weekend 2008 Part II! Paul took me on a mystery trip to Denver this past March and now it's my turn to whisk him away on a surprise weekend - we leave Friday! Check in next week to find out about our adventure!
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Stylin' Socks! 
Thursday, September 18, 2008, 11:25 AM
Posted by Administrator
At the tri camp last weekend, Kim from TriSports.com talked about using compression socks to aid in recovery. My calves can ache for days after a long run and so I decided these socks were worth a shot...even if they look totally goofy.

I purchased a pair a few days later and tried them out on a short run yesterday just to make sure they're comfortable. (If clothing is going to cause chafing or blisters, then it's much better to discover this during a short jaunt around the neighborhood than on a 13 mile trial run.)

So far, so good...stayed tuned for a product report after my next long effort.


(I apologize for the angle - it's not easy to take a picture of your own legs with a camera phone!)
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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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