The Reset Button 
Monday, December 15, 2008, 09:31 PM
Posted by Administrator
Last Friday included two work-related holiday parties, the first of which featured a lunch of pasta and chocolate cake. That much carbs and sugar in one sitting is a rarity for me. The second event, later that evening and of which I was in charge, involved 200 people, Santa and presents. That, I learned, is a recipe for chaos.

In the late afternoon, I kicked it into event-planner mode for the evening festivities. It was not until I was leaving the party at 9:00 p.m. that I realized that not one bit of food or liquid had passed my lips for several hours. I was mildly dehydrated and rather hungry...which led to a 9:30 p.m. dinner and an 11:00 p.m. bedtime. Did I mention I'm usually under the covers by 9:00 p.m.? By morning, I felt all out of whack and was wishing I had a reset button, so that my body could start fresh.

Deciding that my reset button would be a long trail run, Paul and I headed to Sabino Canyon to run the 17-mile Bear Canyon Loop. My body felt sluggish, but I knew this was just what it needed to clear out all of that sugar and get me back on track. I was also excited to finally run this trail after hearing about it for years. It is standard fare for our trail running group, but I've never felt up to the distance before.

Despite the "out of whack" feeling, it didn't take long to get into a groove and begin enjoying the gorgeous canyon. It was a beautiful day and we passed lots of hikers spending time at Seven Falls. (Look closely for all of the people - they're small!)

My spirits did wane on the switchbacks to the peak. My legs were starting to tire from all of the climbing and I was frustrated that I couldn't run on the flat portions of trail because it was so overgrown. Tall blades of grass brushed against my thighs and, occasionally, my chin. But, my spirits picked right back up as soon as we started the descent. I was thrilled when we reached familiar territory - Sabino Basin - where we stopped for a photo.

When we got to the road, Paul took off ahead and I enjoyed a solo run down. About one mile from the parking lot, he came trotting back toward me, making sure to stay on my right side to hide the blood soaking through the right sleeve of his shirt. However, the blood on his hand gave him away. He did just fine on the rocky, overgrown trail only to trip and fall on perfectly flat asphalt. He assures me that he rolled well and popped right back up again. I'm sure it was quite graceful.

I felt great at the end! Tired, yes...but also recharged. And Paul was pleased to see that I had managed to consume about 600 calories on the 5-hour run - 50 ounces of XOOD drink and 3.5 ounces of gel. I'm working on getting used to running with a slightly full feeling in my stomach. It's not easy.

I'm looking more and more forward to Pemberton. I have no illusions of burning up the course, but do feel that it will be a much more enjoyable experience than my recent, rather painful marathon.
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A Weekend of Training 
Sunday, December 7, 2008, 09:40 PM
Posted by Administrator
Friday - The Gym
I hit LA Fitness in the morning for a great full-body workout. In the future, there will be increased strength, better running and a more toned body. In the meantime, there will be sore muscles. It's a good sore. A healthy sore. But, still...sore. Later in the day, and especially the next day, my quads, hamstrings and glutes protested with every single step.

Saturday - The Bike
A number of Paul's co-workers get together for a regular Saturday morning ride. When Paul joins them solo, he's near the front of the pack, leading the way up the hills. When we go together on our tandem, we work like hell to hang on to the back of the pack. I'm not very strong on the bike, but, luckily, Paul enjoys my company enough to pull my butt up the hills and make up for my weak (and sore) legs.

And so we bundled up (it was 45 degrees) and pedaled to our usual Starbucks meeting spot. There was a good turnout with about 15 bikes, including three tandems. We rode a total of 42 miles, heading up to Saddlebrook via Lago del Oro and doing the very hilly Ocotillo Loop before coasting back to town for coffee (or, in my case, steamed milk, mmm...) and conversation.

The rest of the day was jam-packed with a visit to my hospice patient, volunteering at the Tucson Marathon expo and Paul's work holiday party. Phew!

Sunday - The Run
After loving our trail run last weekend, I had suggested doing the Bear Canyon Loop, a 17-ish mile run in Sabino Canyon that I have never done. However, after yesterday's ride and a very late evening, I scaled back my plans and we opted for a 10-mile loop from our house. I noticed right away that my quads felt much better, but that the cycling had made my shins pretty sore (I had been pushing pretty hard, so as not to embarrass my captain - a.k.a. Paul). It was slow-going, but everything loosened up after a while.

Paul suggested doing some hill repeats to aid in my preparation for Pemberton. Our running loop has an area of short, steep, rolling, dirt hills - and they kicked my butt. They've given me something to work toward and I'll definitely be back to conquer them.

After surviving the hills, Paul took the house keys and ran ahead, so that he could take the dogs out for a little exercise. And, as I turned onto our street, this is what I saw:

How cute are they?!? And this is what they looked like moments later as they took off ahead of me:

Tomorrow will be a rest day - I think I've earned it.
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Back to the Trails  
Saturday, November 29, 2008, 06:46 PM
Posted by Administrator
I realized this morning that I had not been on the trails since our Charleau Gap run on October 4. And, once I got out there, I realized how much I had missed it. Trails beat the road any day. It's a good thing I feel that way, as I'll be hitting them more often to prepare for the Pemberton 50K.

We are fortunate to have Catalina State Park just a short drive away, and we chose a 10-mile loop - Bridle Trail to 50 Year Trail to Sutherland. The course was slightly longer for Paul as he would run up ahead and then run back to me every so often. This system works well for both of us - he gets a nice long run and I have someone to scout for mountain lions.

My two goals for this run were to ease myself back into trail running and to work on my nutrition. Overall, I felt great. My legs were a little tired from strength training and the Thanksgiving Day Race (I tweaked my left quad jumping over the final water pit), but I was able to run more of it than I had expected and, when I was not able to run, I power hiked. My ankles were getting tired toward the end, and so I think it was the perfect distance.

On the nutrition side of things, I had a goal of taking in 200 calories per hour and I filled my Camelback with 45 ounces of fluid mixed with about 400 calories of XOOD. I also stuck a packet of gel (120 calories) in a pocket. I kept an eye on my watch and, every five minutes, took a long sip of XOOD. About 1.5 hours hours into the run, I took half of the gel. This was all sitting very nicely in my stomach until the last few miles when the course turned into mostly runnable downhill. I picked up speed and I started to get that full tummy feeling. I think this was the problem in the marathon - my nutrition worked great in training, but did not work so well when I picked up the pace at the actual event.

When we got back to the car, I pulled the bladder out of my Camelback and was amazed to see about 24 ounces of fluid still left. There's no way I could have taken all of that in...without it coming back up at some point. Paul pointed out that I don't sweat much and so it might be easier to fuel myself with gel, which is much less volume for the same amount of calories. And so, next weekend, I will be experimenting with gels!

We really could not have asked for a more perfect run. We had the trails almost to ourselves until the final 1.5 miles; the weather was just right - 60 degrees and sunny skies; and the mountains were simply gorgeous. I stopped every once in a while just to take a look around and smile at the beauty. It was one of those runs that makes you happy to be alive, healthy and a runner.

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Thanksgiving Day Cross Country Classic 5K 
Thursday, November 27, 2008, 11:28 PM
Posted by Administrator
Having done this race five times previously, it has become something of a Thanksgiving tradition. However, Paul and I were tempted to break tradition today due to the large volume of water falling from the sky - not an issue we often face in the desert. If we had registered on our own, we definitely would not have ventured out in that downpour. But, we had registered as part of the Tri Girls teams...and you can't let your team down! As Paul remarked while driving through monsoon-type rains on the way to the race, "If it wasn't for the Tri Girls, we'd still be spooning." He wasn't too jazzed about the race at that point.

By the time we entered Reid Park,the rain had turned into a light drizzle...and then stopped altogether shortly before the race began. The running gods were smiling down on us! We were amazed at how many people had actually braved the rain and cold for this event. (For the New Englanders who are was in the low 50's - and that's pretty cold when you're also wet!)

Decked out in many layers, including a raincoat and rain pants, I found the Tri Girls and picked up the cool schwag that Holly had gotten for our HUGE team - awesome TTG backpacks and cute tees. Holly is the best! It was fantastic having so many Tri Girls at the event - the support and camaraderie of this group is amazing.

The men's race was first and so I stationed myself at the water pit area to cheer them on and take some photos. Here's Chris taking on the water pits:

And Tri Guy Kyle:

Paul took it easy, but still had a great race, finishing in 21:41.

As the women's race got closer, I warmed up by jogging to the car, shedding some layers, and jogging back to the starting line. (That's me in the white hat, purple top, black shorts.)

With the marathon less than two weeks behind me, the only goal I had set was to have fun and not push it. However, once we started running, I added a second goal of staying upright. It was a mud pit out there and it was slippery! We actually had three substantial water crossings - not counting the intentional water pits. Amazing enough, two of these water crossings has not existed during the men's race. By the time the women ran, the water run-off from God-knows-where had created a few small rushing rivers on the course. It was a bit of a surprise, but there was a fun, relaxed atmosphere in the pack. For the most part, everyone seemed to enjoy jumping in the puddles and playing in the mud.

My finishing time was 32:08 - my slowest for this course, but only by 2 seconds. I was actually quite happy with my run considering that I'm still recovering and I just cruised along at a comfortable pace. And, while there were a few dicey moments in the mud and I just barely made the jump at the last water pit, I managed to stay on two feet. What more could I ask for?

After the race, we hung out for a while, chatting with the Tri Girls and trail runners and other friends. With my real family so far away, it's wonderful to start off the holiday with my "running family." By the time we headed back to the car, Paul and I were both so happy that we had stuck to the tradition. At this point, I can't imagine starting a Thanksgiving Day without a Turkey Trot!
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The Next Big Thing 
Tuesday, November 25, 2008, 02:18 PM
Posted by Administrator
It's official. I have registered for the Pemberton 50K, a 31-mile (for the metric-challenged) trail race outside of Phoenix on February 14. What else would Paul and I do for Valentine's Day?

For a few months, I have been saying that, if I finished the marathon uninjured, then I would sign up for Pemberton. I've come this far already - what's another 5 miles?

I'll continue to take it easy for another few weeks to recover from the marathon, and then will jump back into some long runs - this time on trails. In addition, I'll be hitting the gym more to build leg strength. I did my first lower body workout yesterday and my butt is pretty sore.

It's exciting to have a new goal - my first ultramarathon!
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