Sunday, June 27, 2010

Welcome to Red Rocks Park

Red Rocks Park is a state park about 15 miles west of Denver, in a unique transitional zone where the Great Plains meet the Rocky Mountains. The park is full of those cool red sandstone rocks which I gave a little geology lesson about a couple blogs ago when I ran Garden of the Gods 10-miler. Same rocks here, I believe (same formation), just now we're just 60 miles to the north. Inside the park is "Red Rocks Amphitheater", famous for its great summer concert lineup and film series (Film on the Rocks). The open-air amphitheater is anchored by two large sandstone rocks reaching three hundred-feet high, offering natural acoustics and is why it's well...famous. It also has unbelievable panoramic views of the city (that'd be Denver). I believe Wide Spread Panic played there this afternoon.

Inside the park, it's 868 acres are filled of abundant trails and lots of winding roads, and like it's cousin, Garden of the Gods, it's HILLY! And the Amplitheater is full of stairs, of course, while are a popular destination for those wanting a great workout. Hills and stairs. Tons of hills, tons of stairs. Get where this is going? My friend, Jim, asked me yesterday, while I was gagging on a lung at Athletic Training class, if I had any interest in running the hills and the stairs at Red Rocks today. I've never run over there but sounds exactly like the kinda of challenge I'm seeking right now. I'm in.

Jim picked me up at 7 this morning...thankfully the 99 degrees, which set a record high on Friday, vacated the state, and it was a nice and cool 70 for our run. Didn't seem like it, seemed like 90, but I've been avoiding the heat of the day running, evident by my pasty-white skin, which is usually pretty tan by now, so 70 is about as hot I will run lately. The heat zaps me and well, I don't want to spend any excess time recovering more than I have to right now, so I've been either getting up at 5a.m. to run or doing the TM thing. Anyhoo, I told Jim when we got there that he was to do his thing and I'd do mine, I didn't want to slow him down and I had no idea how far I was going to run. The idea was to run around the hilly park awhile and then get to the amplitheater and run the bleachers and the stairs. So that's what I did. 6 miles I ran around the park, with about 600' in a couple miles, so definitely some good hills.

I like this hole in the rock, which I ran through a few times, on my hilly road run. Once, going through the hole, a beer truck was passing me coming up (getting ready for the big gig, I suppose) and a car was coming from the top down....the 3 of us in that little hole was!

When I reached the amplitheather, I kinda stood there at the top and looked at what the protocol was for running this thing. Apparently, there are like 66 rows of bleachers, which are just all solid stone, and each bleacher are about 4' wide. It appears that people just ran back and forth along the bleachers. Back and forth 66 times. Someone told me the entire bleacher run was equivalent to a 5K, but a few of the front rows were closed off due to the upcoming concert so I think the distance I ran the bleachers was about 2.8 miles.
Running back and forth on these bleachers was kinda interesting. And rather ... um....monotonous. Back and forth, back and forth. But it also makes it "different" from the norm of everyday miles and watching all the people and the various things they were doing was kind of fun. One group of extremely well fit studs and studettes (in other words: I'd never fit in!) were sprinting the entire length one way and then doing various drills on the way back. I was sort of stuck in the middle of this group because they'd outrun me on the sprints but I'd outrun them on their drills...but that's okay, they were so inspirational with their well-cut muscly bods, which I was so envious of. ugh.
Bleacher running. Run one length, climb up two steps, run back the other way. Repeat 33 more times. View of Denver in the waaaaay background.

Another bleacher pic, this time you can see the amplitheater in the middle

I finally reached the top, I was totally dehydrated so I got some more water at the visitor center and went back to the bleachers to watch Jim doing his bleacher running. I then decided it was time to run the stairs. The stairs are on each side of amplitheater....and they're steep. I ran up and down the stairs 4 times. 218 steps up = one time. Let's not forget I did this times 4. I ran up them, though, and never stopped. Yay for me. I'm kinda stair/hill wimpy so I was pretty pleased.
The stairs run along side of this massive red sandstone formation.
All said and done, I did about 9.3 miles of hills and stairs. I'm tired! And I think my calves grew about 8" in diameter with all this hill stuff I've been doing. :/
But all this crazy hill work serves a purpose, of course: it's making me stronger (I hope??). I've been all over the map this past week - do I run SF, or do I not and if I do should I bump down to the half or is that admitting defeat? One minute I'd think one thing only for the next day to come and my thoughts would stray the other way, and vise-versa. I'm not one to give up or give in easily, but I know it's not wise to run 26 miles on a bum heel. I am confident the heel issue is not Plantar Faciitis; it's not stiff or sore when I wake-up, it just hurts when I run on it after about mile 10. I have not been to a dr., due to insurance issues, but I've run long enough to know it's not a normal ache and pain from sore quads or something. Still, I have an extremely high tolerance for pain and from what my long-time running guru friends have told me, whatever it is it's probably healing itself ... I just need to keep off the point of pain. Which the new shoes seems to be helping do. I don't know, I don't have all the answers, and I'm sure my "run yourself into the ground until you totally ruin your entire running career" friends don't either...but a few good runs this week, with a good 20-miler on Friday, makes me think that yes, I can do the full in San Francisco. 4 weeks from today. No, I'm not in the shape I wish I were in, and no I will not race this for any specific time, but I need to find out if the heel can handle the distance on concrete so I will know if I, upon return from SF, can start to train hard for the Chicago Marathon in October... or if I need to scrap Chicago and let the heel heal more. San Francisco will be the perfect test. And SF is a hilly course, which freaks me a little considering I have not trained to the best of my ability with the heel putting a halt to major training after Boston ... but I AM getting stronger physically and more importantly, mentally...and if I didn't have SF to shoot for, then my training would start to slack. That's how I work: I train/run better with a purpose behind it. I have 4 more weeks, and I'm going to work hard, and I'll just see what I can do in SF. I'm actually getting a tad excited!! So bring SF on, I'm ready to give it a shot....and I'm going to continue with my hilly path to get there. Stay tuned, I have lots of crazy incline ideas to tackle in the upcoming weeks!
A couple more pics from my run around the park before I did the stairs and bleachers run.
This is a little blurry, I have no idea why, but it's just a parking lot in the park where I was running.

The Amplitheater is in the cut-out section of the rocks, just off to the left a little. Sorry, I don't own skills to put a little arrow in there like Adam, at IAMBORING, can do.

Just some rock formations in the park

And that'd be me, running. Sort of running.

And I have to share! While I was at my Athletic Training class getting my butt kicked Saturday, my boys climbed another 14er. Mt. Democrat, elevation 14, 148'. Both the boys went up with their dad. They rose at the wee-hour of 4:30 and out the door by 5:00. They tell me it's about a class 2 climb but a few sections are a class 3 and 4. I'm guessing that's pretty hard. They said it was really windy at the top but overall a beautiful day (though they didn't stay on top too long as they could see a storm approaching). I have some video they took but am having problems loading it - I'm a little blog challenged with nifty cool stuff like most of you guys. Maybe I'll figure it out this week, but probably not. But here's a couple pictures. Enjoy.

Saturday, June 19, 2010

Times 2

I may have mentioned a time or TWO that my heel has been bothering me when I run. I may not have stressed how excruciatingly painful it can be on runs over 10 miles. Take any type of pain you've had (childbirth, perhaps??) and multiple that by TWO and that's how bad my heel hurts. Tuesday I went for what I hoped would be a long run and WHAM, my heel started screaming and I had to walk TWO miles home. On my toes. Not fun.

UGH. Frustrating is an understatement. This has been going on since before Boston, and exacerbated when I ran Boston. Running a marathon on a bum heel maybe wasn't the best thing. Oh well.

Whoa...I have a marathon in SF in 5 weeks. Yep, just look at that snazzy little countdown calendar off to the side there, kids!! And I haven't been able to train at all for it like I should be. A heel problem will do that, paralyze your training plans. My goal for SF was never to race this marathon, but to use it as a stepping stone, a training run with some great friends, in prep for THE marathon I want to do well this fall. Still, I don't want to die, ya know, like I almost did in Boston. I hoped to be further along with my training at this point...but I'm not. And doubts of running SF are running high. As of the other day, I pretty much went to plan TWO: Survival mode! This genius here finally had a new thought: new shoes. Oh, I've tried different shoes but have always gone straight for the stabilizing shoes, which were what I was told I needed. Stabilizing shoes like to push your foot to the outside. Like to the outside where my heel exactly hurts. I know last blog's little geology lesson probably had you thinking I was some super brainiac...but I hate to report sometimes's that is not entirely true.

So I went and bought TWO new pairs of running shoes, which are cushioned (aka: squishy) and not stability shoes. Why two? Hey, I'm desperate here!!! If one pair doesn't work, try try again. Here's a lovely pic of my beautiful feet in shoes #1. I love how the periwinkle is so sparkly. So me! Yes, that's my hardwood floor. And look, I have TWO feet!

Time for a test run. I already can tell, just walking on them, the squish factor has risen by at least TWO! A good sign. Also, in yet another brainstorm idea (I know, TWO in one day!!), I decided concrete running is probably not ideal for my heel (who'd have thought!) therefore it was trails or treadmill for my little shoe testing. Anything over 66 degrees and I get pretty was 82 degrees when I wanted to go for a run to test the shoes so the treadmill it was. I may be the only human, aside from my friend, Garbo, who doesn't mind the treadmill from time to time. I like how the surface is softer, the temp in the room isn't a thousand degrees, and it keeps my pace at a constant. I go to the gym cuz they have super sweet treadmills; I can wear my ipod and watch the little television embedded into this machine....all at once! TWO things to help distract the task at hand are better than none, especially on a treadmill.

I have no idea how far I'm going to run, I just know I haven't been able to run over 13 miles since my return from Boston, TWO months ago. So if I could go 13, great. I keep the pace slow (9:13) and every half mile I do a quarter mile hill at 4%. Not super steep, but enough to make my HR climb. I get to mile 7 and I gotta pee. Hop off, take care of business, look in my bag and see what I have inside to help me. GU! Well, it's actually Hammer Gel, cuz my stomach revolts with GU product. And Cytomax. Perfect. Ingest products, refill water bottle and on I continue. Here's a little fact: I rarely watch television, I just can't sit down and watch anything because I always find a million, or TWO, things which are screaming at me to do instead. I do have it on in the background but it's pretty rare I will ever do more than listen. So you'd think I'd be all over the 99 channels the gym TV's have to offer. Well, I am here to say there is nothing but stupid crap on at noon on a Thursday. Honestly. I was constantly flipping through the channels. At one point I thought I'd brush up on my Spanish, there's a lotta Spanish shows in Colorado.... but I quickly learned I only know TWO Spanish words anymore and was instantly lost and gave up. I'm starting to get a little anxiety building as I'm approaching 9 miles. Let's recap: the heel starts to hurt around mile 10 ..... and I'm soon there. I just keep running and try to not think about it (hahahahaha. Right!). Mile 10. Mile heel pain. NONE! I can feel it like there's a little stick or something irritating it but it doesn't hurt!! I do TWO more miles, for a total of 16, and I am feeling excellent! I'm not tired, I'm not sore, I'm not in heel agony!

I hop off, I don't want to press my luck. I really want the long run, after reading a lot of MarathonMaiden's blog, the queen of 2-a-day runs (and recently a 3-a-day - holy moly!!) I decide I'll go home and rest up (after a much-needed shower. 16 on a treadmill and I was soaked!) and if I felt ok, I'd try for a few miles later that day. So home I went and according to MM, I should take 4 hours off between runs and I should make sure to refuel properly, and try to keep off my feet. I make a protein shake, baked potato and lay on my bed for awhile (feet are UP) and do some writing. I have no idea where my kids are or what they're doing....this is about me today - ha! 8:00 that evening, 6 hours after I finished my 16er, I pop on my treadmill in the basement. No posh gym TV planted 10" in front of my face, but I do have an old clunker TV about 3', this will have to suffice...and trust me, there's some good HGTV on!! I start running. My left hip flexor is tight and my legs a little stiff so I stop and stretch for TWO minutes (stretch?? What's that???) and pop back on. I'm feeling good. I'm feeling great, actually and up the pace to 8:56 - still slow but definitely in my long-run base pace range. 5.5 miles later, I did a TWO-a-day long run and finished with 21.5 miles and ZERO heel problems!!

I'm excited!! TWO exclamation points worth!! Cautiously excited, but I finally feel like there's hope. The entire time I was running, the one thing I kept noticing, whenever I would think about it, was how my heel was not hitting the outside of my shoe when it landed but rather was hitting on the inside, directly opposite of the point of pain. And that, apparently, is keeping the pressure off of whatever is causing the pain. Yay. DOUBLE YAY!!!!

I know I can't make up for the training I've lost, and that's I said this race isn't about any certain finish line time, it's for training purposes only, but I'm cautiously optimistic that just maybe I can work hard the next few week I have left and at least get a little stronger. The TWO things I can control in my life: my running and my eating, are what's going to fuel my run in a few weeks. And I'm finally excited!!
And just for fun, here's a little TWO facts in Jill world:

- I have twin boys. As most of you know. They look nothing alike and have totally different personalities (yet they have a very special bond). You'd never even know they were related if you saw them.

- I almost always eat two bananas everyday. I love them best when they are slightly green, so I go to the grocery store to get fresh ones at least every TWO days.
- I got TWO speeding tickets last year, one in Tucson when I was there for the marathon. My daughter was there with me and we went to dinner the night before the race. Well, in true A.D.D. form, I forgot my wallet (I hate it when it jumps out of my purse) so I tried to make a "quick" trip back to the hotel to retrieve it. That dinner cost me $150. Totally not my fault!
- I am on week TWO of my summer hiatus. Just sayin...

- Did I ever mention I can't cook? I can't even follow a recipe, apparently. Thursday night, we were taking my daughter's boyfriend out to dinner for his birthday. She wanted to make him a carrot cake, his favorite. I spent a great deal of time finding what looked like a de-lis recipe online and her and I, the TWO of us :), began our cake-making journey. Cake in oven about 20 minutes when I smell smoke. Open the oven and holy crap, the entire bottom of the oven is on fire. Apparently, I filled the pans too full and the cake batter ran over the sides of the pan and landed on the heating element at the bottom of the oven, causing major flames. Thank goodness we have a fire extinguisher is all I can say about that.
Clean oven, open all windows since our entire house smells like smoke and 30 minutes later, take TWO - start the entire birthday cake process over. Set timer for 50 minutes and periodically check it (I never open the door, I swear!!) and all looks good. Timer goes off, the daughter takes the cake out, and it's as flat as a pancake. Argh!!! Apparently this recipe is not conducive to 6000' altitude. Which, if I baked more often I would know this. Teach me for not eating cake everyday! Again, totally not my fault!
45 minutes 'til the boyfriend makes his birthday debut at our house and I have no cake. Rush to Whole Foods and I'm in sugar heaven... decisions, decisions:
Thankfully the boyfriend is late in his arrival so we had just enough time to get the cake out and remove all labels which indicated it was store bought, and the daughter and the boyfriend, the TWO of them, are happy campers. Well, at least for that day!
Awwww, aren't they so cute??? Even Mr.Balloon is happy.

- Finally, cuz I'm really tired and you're bored out of your skull, my last TWOSIE is that I just won TWO cookies from Rad Runner Girl's blog. She was having a cookie give-away and I'm all over anything sugar related and since I never win anything, I enter (makes perfect sense. Hush). Who knew I'd actually WIN. But I did. These cookies are from "Alternative Baking Company", which is totally vegan, and I have to admit, even though I'm trying not to eat sugar until after SF, I devoured the entire lemon poppy seed cookie ... and it was heaven! Hey, it was pure cane sugar - not processed, refined, white sugar. That makes it legal to eat before SF. Really! I checked the rule book. Besides, how could I let her know if they were good or not without my tasting? I mean, that's extremely poor manners, and I was brought up better than that. It was my duty to test them out. Thanks, Rad Runner Girl, those are really very tasty! YUM! And btw, she has a totally fun (and rad!) blog, you gotta check her out, clink on her purple link above.

So there ya go. Hope everyone enjoys their TWO day weekend!! Oh man, I'm just so clever sometimes I scare myself TWO death. Bahahaha. It's waaaay past my bedtime!

Sunday, June 13, 2010

Garden of the Gods 10-miler, let's run it

Denver’s been very dry this spring; that is up until this weekend. Scattered rain moved into the state on Friday afternoon and continued to saturate us through the entire weekend. Along with the rain, cooler temps arrived and brought highs that looked a lot like February and early March, not mid-June.

Don’t be all jealous now, mid-90’s with wind and our famous sunshine are suppose to return by Wednesday….

...but living in a semi-arid climate where water is practically liquid gold (just look at my water bill each summer month!), we Coloradoans soak up this rainy weather (get it?? SOAK. Bahahaha) since it’s such a rarity we get it. At least we don’t have ungodly humidity! Just sayin'.

And what a perfect morning for a little hilly 10-mile race. And when I say HILLY, I mean HILLY!!!!.
Yes, that is the (crappy image) profile for the Garden of the God’s 10-miler I ran this morning. Which resembles a roller-coaster. And I felt like I was on one, only running it. I can honestly say there is not one level spot on this entire course.

Let’s recap last blog up Mt. Evans: I AM NOT A HILL CLIMBER! Yes, I insanely will run most things that will probably kill me; I’m a sucker for putting my body through physical punishment, but I do not do anything “up” fast. Today was evident of that.

A little geology lesson for y’all (I’ve been out of school for a week now, need to get my little fix here): Garden of the Gods is a little park in Colorado Springs full of really cool geological features called hogbacks. These hogbacks are ancient sedimentary sandstone beds which were once shallow ocean seas. The seas left our state, for whatever reason, a bazillion years ago, and in its place, the mud and sands of the once seafloor turned into sedimentary rock. Over time, another bazillon or two years, the once horizontal sedimentary rock was tilted vertically and faulted by the immense mountain building forces, and then we add a little erosion to the mix and whaalaa, we’re left with these geological gems.
Yep, they be pretty all right – and mighty challenging if you want to run 10 miles through them. But that’s ok. I had no goal time, no desire to “race” this race, no ambitions of finishing anywhere high in my age group (this race brings out an insane number of very competitive hill climbers….I’m not sure where they all come from but they only show up for the really difficult hilly, altitude, races. And win them all!). No, my goal was to get some tough hill work in … and not walk. Mission accomplished (though I’m not sure you’d consider my slower than molasses shuffle up mile 7 any semblance of a “run”)!!! And what actually proved to be most difficult for me in this little race was the extreme downhill at mile 7.5 and 8.5 when my heel was totally revolting the sharp pounding (remember Mr. Agonizing Heel from Boston?? Yeah, he’s still not very happy. In fact, he’s pretty UNhappy on any run over 8ish miles). I finished somewhere around 1:32...I forget exactly and it doesn't really matter at all. I finished. I ran strong (for me right now) and I fought the hills and won (no matter how slow).

It was a great day and I’m totally glad I ended up registering late Thursday evening and running the beast. I was contemplating a couple different races this weekend but in the end, figured this was the one that would give me the most physical benefits. It definitely did not disappoint in that! I rode down with my friend, Bob, from the group I occasionally run with; he is super speedy and after he was done, he ran back to find me on the course and ran the last mile in with me. Which was really nice. I wasn’t exhausted or drained or dead (but I’m most likely going to ache tomorrow morning), I just ran in and got my medal and stuck around for Bob to get his AG win:
and then hooked up with Kathleen from Happy Trails for brunch at a yummy place called Pike Grille. It was so fun to see Kathleen all squeaky clean without running cap and ponytail; it’s interesting how we runners “clean up” and look so different (and cute!) than in our running attire. I’m certain I wouldn’t recognize any of you on the street out of your running clothes and sweat-less. Which reminds me of a story I’ll have to share with you at some time about a high school friend who recognized me at a local race, donning a race hat and ponytail, who I hadn’t seen in about 23 years. Another time, perhaps….

Though I still do not have the speed, still working on reducing my weight to marathon goal, still have pathetic uphill glutes, my sinuses still annoying as all get-out, and my heel still giving me a very difficult time - I have to say that I FINALLY am starting to mentally come around and am feeling better with my running. I think it's in large part a thanks for the physical challenges I have set for myself - and conquering them (however slow). I ran Garden of the Gods, one of the most challenging road races in this state – and I didn’t die! There’s beauty in that alone for me for I love anything that is a good physical challenge!!! I’m not sure what the future holds with my running, my heel seems to be pretty unhappy with any distance over the 8-10 mile range, which makes marathon training a wee-bit difficult. I’m just taking it one day at a time and we’ll see what we see but in the mean time, I’m trying to navigate my life (and my running) with a compass that points towards excitement about what lies ahead. If I can’t do a marathon right now, I can’t….there’s plenty of other adventures waiting out there for me.

Yep, that's me in my orange shorts. If you recall a blog from past, these orange shorts are deemed poor performers and are banned from all important running events. So why do I have them on for a race then?? Well, first, this wasn't an "important" race, it was a race to get a great physical workout in and second, a blogger friend, Augie, was running his first marathon today and he likes the orange Augie, these shorts are for your race (and thanks, Bob, for getting a great pic of my eyes closed!). But the best part of orange shorts today? A FB friend, whom I've never met, was able to easily spot me. Imagine!

Sunday, June 6, 2010

Running Mt. Evans

Sunday, I took a little detour from the normal everyday road miles around my house and ventured to the high country to run a few miles up to the top of Mt. Evans, elevation: 14,240'.
Mt. Evans, one of Colorado's 52 peaks reaching 14,000' or more, boasts the "the highest paved road in America" and as such, we Coloradoans host an annual run, in late June, up the beast. Two years ago, I signed up, having never even driven up the thing, let alone run it. But I had registered for the infamous Pike's Peak Marathon (having at least driving up that monster, but never having run or climbed it) so, as is pretty customary for Pikes Peak prep, most people run Mt. Evans for a little vertical altitude training.
Mt. Evans' race is 14.4 miles with 4000' elevation gain. Pike's Peak is 13.2 miles in 8000' elevation gain. Yep, I needed some high altitude hill training to get ready for Pike's Peak so I registered for the Mt. Evans race. That was in 2008 and I trained up Mt. Evans two times to get ready for that race and, at the time, was one of the most physically demanding thing I'd ever done (later that summer, when I ran Pike's Peak, I learned Mt. Evans was nothing compared to PP), yet also one of the most exhilarating experiences I ever endured.

I am no mountain goat; I am the world's worst hill climber but I worked hard to conquer that beast....I did a lot of hill repeats and all sorts of glute work in the gym and I just ran up the thing slow but steady, crossing a few minutes shy of 3-hours. That ain't bad, folks. 4000' up, no oxygen....I was thrilled, it was truly one of the most rewarding finish lines I've ever crossed.

2008 race, perfect conditions (with my friend, Dennis)

I also did this race last year, but 2 days before the event, I had one of my 23,985 annual sinus infections but this infection decided to invite a friend: Mr. Ear Infection, and the two of them combined decided to cause me a great deal of vertigo and equilibrium problems. I learned, in 2009, that you never run up the side of a mountain in less than ideal fitness nor sporting an illness which can cause you to fall off the thing. This was the first race I've ever done where serious thoughts of DNF were entering my head. The start of last year's race saw crappy weather conditions; the entire mountain was socked in a major misty cloud and visibility was about 3', at best. The race director stated at the start of the race they would determine by mile 6 if the race would continue on past mile 9 to the summit or if they would close the course down at mile 9 (the first check point). I stood there feeling very guilty for hoping they'd close the course; I had two friends running the race who had not ever run it before and these guys were phenomenal runners and I knew they could do well....and they wanted to run it. Still, the weather sucked and I was sick and I really didn't want to be there. When I got to mile 6 and learned the race would continue on, it was not going to be closed at mile 9, I was in total disbelief; it was really nasty out ... and I was having some bad light-headedness from the ear thing. When I got to mile 9, I stood at the aid station and had a big tug-of-war with myself on whether to continue up the last 5ish miles, where the beast gets really tough because now you're really tired and now you're above tree-line so are totally exposed to the wind, and now there are about 10 switch-backs just endlessly meandering to the top. The thought of finishing this thing was haunting me. I told the gal at the aid station I didn't think I was going to keep going, I wasn't feeling well. She just stared at me. I just wanted to scream at her, "Um, you go run up it with an inner-ear imbalance and see how you feel..." but I didn't and instead, turned around and continued on. I'm not sure how I made it, but somehow I did. A full half hour slower than the previous year, but oh well, I finished. And once again, felt a great sense of pride for an incredible accomplishment (and again, I ran Pikes Peak last year...but that's another story for another time).

2009 Summit in a big cloud with a big ear infection (again, with my friend, Dennis)

When registration opened for this year's climb to the top of Mt. Evans, I thought long and hard about whether or not to go back up again. I've played this race game enough times to understand that you can never predict how things will unfold in preparation for a big race, but I knew after my lung fungus fiasco that I was not in the condition I wanted to be to run this thing, and beings I had other adventures on the horizon this summer/fall, I didn't want to waste a bunch of training time to get up Mt. Evans in optimal condition. So I didn't register for it this year. And honestly, I'm not sure it will ever be on my race calendar again...I'm just not sure.

Nevertheless, if I'm given the opportunity to go for a training run up the thing, and it fits into my schedule, I'm in...and that's exactly what I did on Sunday. A few guys from a group I run with now and then were going up to train for the race in a few weeks and I latched on. I think they were grateful, actually, because when you run UP this thing, it becomes a complex, logistical production of dropping one of two vehicles off at the top and then going back down and then run up to the dropped off car then driving back down. Enter me. I drove to the 9 mile marker and ran the 5.68 miles to the top, then ran back down to my car. The guys began their run at start line and ran to mile 9, where my car was, thus I saved them time by not having to go drop a car off. I know that's confusing, but trust me, I saved them a lot of time :).

So up I ran 1843', and back down I came. The timing worked out perfectly and the guys finished their 9 mile jaunt up while as I finished my 11.2 round trip....and as an added bonus, my twin boys, along with their friend, rocked climbed to the top of Evans while I ran.

It was an amazing day. No, I won't be running the race in two weeks, but I'm perfectly fine with that; I got to run this incredible mountain nevertheless, and I may try to run up doing it again before summer ends.

Enjoy my little journey up Mt. Evan's Sunday!

Echo Lake, the start line of the actual race

Me, at the start of my run at Summit Lake

My boys and their friend (friend in the middle), ready to climb

The start of my daunting climb (the road is the long gray section)

A furry friend in the road, see him in the hole??

There he is, Mr. Marmot

View of the road from about mile 13

At the top!!!

Looking to the West from the summit

Mt. Goats are very common on this mountain

Coming back down, I ran into this guy on the road

A close-up on this magnificient creature. This is the only place in Colorado where I have run into mountain goats, and I've been almost everywhere in this state!
Happy to see my friends, Craig and Pete, as I was going down and they were running up

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Ahhhh, SUMMER!

And in a blink of an eye, May is gone and summer has arrived in Denver: The temperatures turned overnight from 50 degrees one day to 90 the next; my grass is toasty-brown already due to lack of any substantial rainfall in the past month (see above); my kids have turned the tent tarp into a slip-and-slide (see above again, at least the hose provided some relief to the toast); 3 more days of school and I am officially done for the next 9 weeks; 3 more days and the last of my children are done with middle school and venturing to new world of HIGH SCHOOL; and the college daughter has moved back home, evident by the entire contents of her dorm room now sprawled out on my living room floor:

Ahhhh, summer!! Seasons are a good thing, even the hot sweaty ones, because they force us to regroup and readjust, maybe try some new things. I decided the end of the school year is just like running strides. You start out steady and quickly pick up speed until you are hauling at full throttle, arms pumping, legs flying, chest heaving, until you thunder across the finish line and want to collapse. I'm tired, y'all, tired of the relentless stress winter dumped on me and I am so ready for a little break.

I look forward to working some new muscles this summer, literally and metaphorically. Summer is a season of rest, growth, playfulness, reading, freedom, fun, and adventure. New adventures and new memories with my kids are awaiting. Financial restraints will require us to be a little creative this summer as we won't be venturing to our beloved cottage on the beach of Lake Michigan as we normally do, but hey, we live in Colorado which screams active fun. I have a few side trips in store for us which I think are going to be a blast, yet physically rewarding. I plan to write them all down and pull them out of a hat, on which one we will do, when we have a few days to get away. Whatever we end up doing, I plan to forge memories based from "get to's" instead of "have to's". I plan to do a lot more trail running, which I adore, and I have big plans for my running which include getting stronger; getting faster; feeling good; fearing less; getting leaner; sleeping better; working though the pain; developing more confidence. I want to make it a priority ...oh, and I want to rest more, a wise habit I’ve avoided for years for fear I’d backslide into inertia. And most importantly, I want to take my running to a level of "fun", something that's been lacking in my running shoes lately. Of course, all this will be at wee-hour of 5a.m. to avoid the excessive heat, and the allergens that threaten constantly to take me down.

My running highlights since last blog have included a 46 mile week last week, mostly due to a last minute extra long run on Sunday beings I got a late start for Friday's long run and was left melted into part of the pavement at mile 10. My friend, Jim, ran with me over at the Highline Canal, which is a pea-gravel dirt trail, which is nice, but mostly it's partially shaded, a necessity in this heat as I am not a heat runner. Yesterday I slapped together some 400's and before I knew it, I was feeling great (which it didn't initially start out that way) and ended up doing 20 of them (with a 200M recovery jog between each). I couldn't believe I had the stamina to do that many, but when I reached 16, I knew I had to try. And the best part was that the last 10, I progressively got faster until I was doing the last two at a 6:12 pace. I know that's not very speedy for me, but in the current condition I'm sporting, I'll take it. The nice thing about being slow right now is that I have nowhere to go but up!

My blog friend, and now real-world friend, was in town on Monday to run the famous Bolder Boulder (which I heard had an astonishing 51,500 runners finish, making it the largest road race in the entire country. wow!). Runtherace was here with her family to run the BB and I was able to hook up with her whole family (who are just absolutely adorable) in downtown Denver at the Hard Rock Cafe for a little dinner. We had a great time chatting about running and life and I'm hoping she can make it out to Denver for a little girl-fest 1/2 marathon in August. All girls welcome, we're going to have one heckofa good time!! Anyway, it was really fun to meet her and it made me think, as I was walking back to my car after dinner, how very blessed I am via this blog to have met some truly wonderful people who have touched my very soul.

Summer is almost here, don't forget to go outside and play. And while you’re at it, develop an exercise plan that makes you clean and free and whole. Maybe the truth behind acknowledgement has the power to impact results.

Write down some ideas of your own, tear them into strips and stick them, folded, into your overturned, wide-brimmed, straw beach hat. Pull one out when you need it, and see where summer takes you.