Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Week 1 Ultra Training: Mt. Quandary

Well, here I am, heavily into week 1 of ultra training - only 60 more weeks to go. I think it's going well. I really have nothing to gage this level of training, other than it has to be more than the 14 miles/week I have been logging so I thought it was the perfect time to tackle a little Rocky Mountain trail running. Let's start off ultra training with a little lung bursting climb to the top of Colorado - at the most perfect time of the year here: Autumn, when the Aspen trees are turning their vibrant yellow.

Old, abandoned house - probably from the gold rush days. These old houses intrigue me, as does that whole era. Reminds me a lot NE Iowa where I spent a lot of my childhood.

In all honesty, I really didn't know if I was going to climb to the top of Mt. Quandary, it just happened that way. Twin #2 and his friend wanted to go climb a 14er and fortunately was able to land my aunt's condo in Breckenridge for the night (thanks, J :) ), so Mt. Quandary was picked since it's close proximity to town. I figured I'd maybe just trail run some of the trails, you know - for my ultra training - but I had no plan and I just set off. The boys wanted to climb up the back side of this mountain, the more technical side (that kid will put me in an early grave, I swear!!) so I just blindly set out on my own. I knew this trail was only about 3.5 miles to the top but I didn't think I'd actually GO to the top (3800' up in 3.5 miles, ugh), so I made a PB sandwich, tucked it in my Camelbak, and off I went.

Here I go, let's get this ultra training underway!

The Aspen trees are simply amazing - I picked the perfect timing for their leaf-turning yellows. Not as vibrant in Denver right now, but the mountain's Aspens turn sooner .

This is how the trail started out: Nice, dirt packed, and full of pine tree shade.

It wasn't long after I took off before I realized I was not on the trail, I was on the road, RUNNING, but never did see the trail head. Note to Kovas: I easily get lost! Eventually, I asked someone where it was and I had gone about 3/4 of a mile too far. Opps. Get on the trail and I'm enjoying the dirt and watching for tree roots so I don't trip. 2nd not to Kovas: I am not very coordinated.

Pretty soon, the trail turns rocky. Uck. And STEEP. Double uck. I'm really not able to RUN the entire time now and resorted to the run/walk process I did on Pikes Peak when I ran that race last year. Ok, whatever, I was still getting in a workout!

Holy Crap!!! About 1.5 miles in, there isn't even a trail, it's just solid boulder field ROCKS!! I seriously think to myself I need to stop and go back down. I'm not even close to running now ... stumbling would probably be a better fitting word. The rocks were NOT fun, they hurt my feet, and they were loose so when you stepped on them, they slide all over making you lose your balance. And fall. I seriously thought I should turn around and head back for safer ground.
But then I saw views like this and ahhhhhh.....I can't turn around. yet.

Oh good lord, the boulders are getting larger and it becomes a climb and my HR has to be hitting 350! I got way off the so-called "trail" when I saw some people coming down way off to the side of where I was. I slipped on a rock and I totally wanted to bag the thing and go back down. But.....something was nagging at me and that stupid, "I don't quit" of marathon's past was suddenly at the forefront of my mind. "GO AWAY!!!" But it couldn't and somehow I decided I needed to continue on, I had to get to the top. I stopped for a few minutes and ate half my PB sandwich and while I was sitting there, some guys coming down stopped and talked to me for a bit and told me there were some mountain goats just up ahead. That got me moving....I felt a little burst of energy and just before the ridge, I spotted them: two of the most magnificent mountain goats!

Literally, I was like 10' from these guys. So very, very cool!

I'm not sure how I made it, but somehow I did - and the total geek I am, got the ole Garmin to prove it - 4.29 miles (with the added .75 miles lost at the start - and 14, 287' up in the air). I've RUN up Mt. Evans (14, 114') and Pikes Peak (14, 255') but this was by far more difficult. The scrambling over boulder fields really did me in! Thank GOD for that PB sandwich is all I can say (I was FAMISHED when I got back to the condo and ate about 8 billion calories - man I've never been so hungry)!!

At the top!
Total dork pose!

Spent about 10 minutes at the top and then I just wanted to get down. Coming down proved to be more taxing than going up. Those unstable boulders were just KILLING my feet (I literally could not walk "normal" for 2 days, the bottoms of my feet hurt so bad!).

My pals the mountain goats, still hanging out on the ridge. I felt bad disturbing them, but they were right on the "trail" (I use that term loosely - there wasn't much of a trail up this high) and I had nowhere else to go.

Notice the snow on some of the peaks? Though Denver's been having unseasonably WARM temps in the mid 90's (a good 20 degrees warmer than norm), the high country is starting to see signs summer is over.

Donning one battle wound (that I can publicly show....the other is a monster black bruise on my arse - owie!), I made it down alive in about 5 hours and 20 mins (which included the 3/4 mile lost and the 10 minutes on the top). I ran a tiny bit when I got back to the dirt trail, but honestly my feet hurt sooooo bad from those boulders, even walking was excruciating. I got a lot of toughening up before I tackle that 50 but Mt. Quandary was a good start. Man, I hate to brag but I am blessed to live in such beautiful country, with mountains that want to murder me....and make me stronger for that task at hand (Ahem, I paid my time when I lived in Alabama for a few years).

Week 1 complete! (and my heel held up "OK" - a little rough going down that beast, but not excruciating. YAY).

The rest of the pics below are taken on a bike ride the next day around Vail Pass. The bike was heaven for my wounded feet. Enjoy a little bit of heaven from Colorado to you!

Week 37:
Running: 28 miles
Total 2010 miles: 1246.21
Total 14er's climbed: 1
Swim: 1 mile
Bike: 26 miles
Wt Training: 1 1/2
HCC: 1 1/2

Friday, September 24, 2010

One Step Closer....

The state park near my house; I have hundreds of miles on these trails. Probably over a thousand even

I don't know for sure what it is....

....Maybe it's the crisp autumn air I ran in this morning. Maybe it's because my lame-o doctor called this morning and FINNNNAAAAALLLLY faxed my "negative biopsy results" to my insurance company. Maybe it's because I saw fresh snow on Mt. Evans today on my run. Maybe it's because it's Homecoming week at school and the kids' spirits are flying high (some a little TOO high). Maybe it's that damn belt buckle EMZ is going after. Maybe it's the upcoming marathons some of my clients are doing here soon (GO Tom, GO Chris!!). Maybe it's because I had ONE night where I got more than 5 hours of sleep and didn't feel like a total crazy zomboid all day long. Maybe it's because I ran 11 heel pain-free miles this morning on the trails at my favorite state park near my house (albeit slow. Whatever). Maybe it's because I finally hit a double digit run since my SF marathon in July. Maybe it's because I had a run where I could almost justify the ice bath I'm currently sitting in (oh how I've missed you, ice bath!).

But maybe.... it's because of a few back and forth emails with the one and only Kovas, who foolishly told me he'd help pace me if I decided to run a 50-miler next year?!?!?!

I think it's probably a combination of all; but when I made a comment on Kova's blog yesterday about how he could knock two birds out with one stone by running the Western States 100, we got to emailing about some ultras and I don't know....something ignited that spark in me again to go after that allusive 50-miler that's been looming amongst the cobwebs of my brain cavity for the past year.

When I ran today, I felt an extra spring in my step. A purpose behind the slow miles. A reason to really tackle the extra 10 lbs I need to lose. A direction behind the weight training. The core conditioning. The sacrifices.

I want that 50-miler. And I want it next year. I have other races on the horizon, including one more Boston (more on that in a later blog. Remind me!) but I just feel the time is right to step out of my comfort zone, where I've been lingering for WAY too long.

I feel good! I feel hope.

I don't know all the reasons why exactly, but I feel one step closer that things are turning around for me.

Thanks, Kovas. Thank sleep. Thanks Tom and Chris for being amazing clients - and friends!

BTW, Anyone who desires to be on the pit crew of my 50-miler next year, please email me or Kova...ok, email Kova not me - he's the logistics coordinator of this little adventure. Pit crew duties: make sure I don't stop. That's all. Oh, and listen to me complain how much it hurts....but don't let me stop. And in the end, it's going to be so so so sweet!

I'm headed up to the high country tomorrow morning to tackle some high altitude 14er climbing, some mt biking, perhaps....and a little head de-clogging therapy. While I'm there, I'll be sure to get in some trail running - after all, I got a 50-miler to train for!!

I'll leave you with this little gem of a video from last year's Homecoming Pep Rally. It's the dance the teacher's put on (I tried to find this year's - it was a TOTAL blast!! but it's not posted on youtube. Yet). Can you find me? Hint: I'm NOT wearing red, my hair is blondish, and I'm NOT the tall chick.

Happy Weekend!

Sunday, September 19, 2010

They Did It! / Week 36

Before I get into how my attempt to build mileage this week unfolded poorly, I have to do a wee-bit of kid bragging....

It was definitely a weekend of milestones for the boys in the Jill household. Ryan's goal for this season in cross country was to hopefully run under 20 minutes for the 5K, or as least close. We had no idea if he could reach this goal; leading into the pre-season this summer, he was running around a 24 minute 5K. He's run only one meet this year (his first meet left him with a asthma attack at mile 2 as he ran through a dust storm kicked up by runners around him and out had to bail on the race), and that was a 22:14, so he was hoping by the end of the season, he'd at least get close to 20, or at least 21.

Well come Friday night, he's now officially a sub-20 minute 5Ker: 19:42!!!!! SWEEEEEEET!

This PR was run on what's considered a "fast" course so next week he may not make that mark, but honestly, he has far surpassed my wildest expectations - I am so excited for him. I'm sure as he matures and grows and develops muscle strength and increases his cardiovascular, he's going to surpass even more goals in the years to come.

The other twin, Brendan, does not run. Which is ok - he's into the whole mountain climbing 14er thing, rock climbing, kayaking, driving me crazy with all his outdoor gear wants, and on occasion, he gets a wild idea to ride his bike massive amount of miles. Like all at once. Like he hasn't ridden his bike in 3 weeks but goes out and rides the bike trail from our house to the downtown REI and back, which is about 43 miles round-trip. He obviously doesn't believe in, nor understand the concept of, building miles. Oh to be young!

Today Brendan rode 62 miles in a the Good Sam Bike Jam bike ride in Lafayette (a suburb north of Denver) where he got to enjoy views of the Boulder Flatiron mountains, amongst a vast array of topography. Pretty, huh?

62 MILES!!! He'd been telling me for the past few weeks he was going to do the 62 miler and not one of the shorter distance options I preferred he do; after all, he confessed, "Anything less is just not even worth it." Oh how he touches my heart! Who knew endurance was a trait inherited to your children :)! Temps this morning were in the mid 40's when we woke, but were hovering in the high 80's when he finished, so I was a bit concerned if he'd make it. He had some bike issues around mile 45 when his derailer (?? I have no clue - I don't bike) broke and he had to have his dad bring him his bike so he could finish. But finish he did, with a big smile on his face.

Brendan and his friend, riding the entire 62 together

I will never underestimate the bravery of my "little" guys! I have been a mother to these guys for 15 years but when I try to think about my life before kids, I can barely remember it. And not because it wasn't a good life, because it was surely very good. I know I was happy and busy and living well. But life after kids shines for me, sparkles so brightly that my past life is dim only by contrast. I think it is so cool how people we know as well as our own children can still surprise us! My boys may never have the ability to land track scholarships or ride in the Tour de Whatever... but what they do have is determination and when it comes down to it, I think determination has greater impact than giftedness - it's what makes us all shine!!

My weekend didn't exactly end as victorious as my boys. Mileage-wise, it was ok, but everything else was lacking. Monday and Tuesday brought about 4 miles each day on the treadmill, Monday bringing a tiny bit of tempo. All body parts felt good, which is really the main goal these days. Wednesday is Swim with Jill day, as you may recall from the past two weeks....however when Wednesday rolled around, I didn't want to swim. I don't know why, just the thought of being wet and the entire process of the pool had me send Tara an email simply stating, "I don't feel like swimming." Neither did she. So we did an hour on the elliptical trainer together and then stretched for a bit. Thursday, my legs were dead, as pathetic as that is. 8.25 miles running and 5.5 miles on the ET and I have dead legs. I try not to get down about this but sometimes when I think about the numbers too much, I can't help but not. Nevertheless, I did go to the gym and did an excellent weight workout and ran a mile to shake out the legs. Friday, I did absolutely nothing. Saturday, 5.12 miles on the trails at the state park. So far, the heel and the knee are doing well.

Sunday - not so much. Today, I met my neighbor, Jim, who is doing the Denver Marathon in 4 weeks. He wanted to run some of the course and a change of scenery was screaming at me so early this morning we headed over to City Park, where miles 5-9 of the marathon are run. Jim wanted to run a mile more than me (11 for me) so he started further in the park, a mile behind me, and was going to chase me down. Oh dear god - this was giving me anxiety. Usually, Jim and I have pretty consistent paces but not lately, obviously. So I cut a half mile off so I'd have a 1.5 mile lead on him and felt pretty good about this tactic.

In true A.D.D. form, about mile 2 when I entered Cheeseman Park, with a goreous view of downtown and the front range Rockie Mountains,

I had a panic attack and couldn't remember putting my car key in my shorts pocket. What we had done earlier was park one car (mine) at the finish of our run and his car at the start - that way we could run as much of the marathon course as possible (wasn't that important to me, I was merely along for the ride, and to get away from the state park or my treadmill). I really didn't relish running the 11 to my car and then having to run 11 back to Jim so at mile 2 I check my shorts - no key. Check my water bottle holder - no key. Grrr. I was clocking a good pace here and my body felt really great. So here I waited for Jim to "catch me" for about 20 minutes (does it count if I got caught by waiting for him to catch me? Surely not!!). Got his car keys, ran back to his car way faster than I should have and yep, there sitting on the front seat was my car key. I grabbed my key and set off running again, only now I couldn't follow the marathon route because I'd have about 16 miles. I took off in the most direct route back to my car and suddenly, my heel started yelling at me. So I shifted my foot strike to hit more in the mid-foot to take pressure off the heel and my knee hurts. ARHHHHHHH.

I made it back to my car, but it wasn't pretty. If fact, it was pretty awful and almost at a walking pace. I think I just got out of the great rhythm I had gotten into before the key incident panic attack and just was all out of sorts. Everything was now labored and I found myself looking at my watch c.o.n.s.t.a.n.t.l.y - a place I hate getting into because when it's a battle between me and the watch, I generally lose.

My heel's been acting up on me during the day lately if I sit too long at work or home and then get up to move around but thankfully had been behaving while I was running. Today it let me know loud and clear that whatever is going on with it is absolutely no better now than it has been before I took the time off and it's not going anywhere any time soon. Greaaaaat! No further progress on the insurance, other than I learned my doctor has yet again dropped the ball on this and when I called on Wed to inquire if she had written the letter, as promised to do "right away", two weeks later she still had not. My patience is definitely being tested....but I'm going to take a little lesson from my boys this weekend and not give up hope. One day at a time, I will eventually get there and I will shine again. I know I will.

Week 36:

Running totals: 21.24

Total for 2010: 1218.21
Swimming: big fat ZERO
Weights: 1 (ARGH)
HCC: 2
Pounds down: Afraid to look. It's a bye week :)

-My kiddos :)
-House MD Season premier tomorrow - yay!
-My ironing for the week is done.
-4 day work week (off work Friday. No idea why, never question why the schools give you a day off, just happily accept it)
-Zyrtec. While I'm NOT grateful my allergies are sky-high right now, I am grateful I can be drugged up and feel about 40% normal

Personal Growth Goals for the Week:
- Swim twice
- Wt train 3 times
- HCC 3 times
- In bed by 10p.m.
- Do not eat 500 cute, little, pre- packaged Halloween candy; though 1 package may not be harmful, 500 is.
- Listen to the heel and do not start a run if heel is being pesty.
- Ice heel and knee REGULARLY!

Monday, September 13, 2010

Week 35

Week 1 of Swim with Jill has come to a close, as does week 35 of the year. I'm sure you're chomping at the bit to find out how the swimming went this week.

Ok, here we go.... Here's Tara at our weekly Wednesday swim session. Isn't she just cute as a button? Notice our kickboards? My goggles? My swim cap? And that dumb weight thingie I have been using as a pull bouy because I lost my real pull bouy. Low and behold, after searching the entire house and garage 15 times over in the past two weeks, I found it today in my laundry room in the food pantry. Hey, no comments from the peanut gallery - let's not forget my plentiful A.D.D. moments I used to share....yea, they still occur, I didn't miraculously get a new brain, believe it or not. No Wizard from the land of Oz gave me one from his Little basket. Anyhoo, notice how vacant the pool is? Um, it's NEVER that empty when Tara and I go swim - this Wednesday was a total fluke of emptiness. Usually we're sharing with Snorkel Man, Tattoo Man, Ms Tri Woman, Mr. Olympian, and tons of others less fortunate names which I'd better not mention here with my outside voice. Tara and I just do that - give everyone a name, cuz we're pathetic like that. It didn't take long before the pool filled and Tara and I were sharing a lane again, but for a few brief laps, we were totally ruling that pool!

Usually, Tara and I talk more than we swim. I mean, we have lots of blog catching up to do in the week we were apart. And kids. And husband. And marathons. And current ailments. Oh, plenty of marathon talking!!! But since I'm now Swim With Jill it was time to buckle up and get 'er done - no more lollygagging for an hour at the pool barely swimming! We're going to swim, dammit!! We made the pact to only talk the first few minutes before we get in that frigid water, while we swim kickboard laps, and a few minutes after when we dip in the hot tub to warm up (man that pool is cold!!). I cleverly incorporate some wall pushups after our kickboard laps because we couldn't squeeze in all we had to talk about. Our arms are going to be so dang cut one of these days!!

So all in all, Wednesday was a much better day swimming than my normal Wednesday session. "Better" meaning we swam more than we talked. Go us!! Tara got her foot stuck in the "hole" along the side of the pool (the little hole where the filter is); we both had foot cramps; my goggles fogged up; Tara's goggles leaked (yay, my new blackish ones do NOT leak - major if I could get them to not fog!!); and my swim suit got a bubble in it and was causing us to laugh hysterically at my size DDs. Other than that, we swam! I vowed I would not leave until I had a mile in the pool. Took awhile with all our little "issues" and many kickboard laps so we could chat, but by golly, I got it done. 1 mile at the pool on Wednesday.

And that's all she wrote for the pool this week. Unless I can count today when I went to the gym, did a boat load of weights then went to change into my swim suit after I realized I forget my swim suit? I dug through my gym bag 3 times and nope, not in the bag. I told you A.D.D was still in full-force.

Ok, so week one of Swim With Jill didn't go so swell. But I have OTHER good news....

Thursday at work, I was sitting there with my knee just irritating the hell out of me. Frustrated. Wondering seriously if knitting was going to be it for the rest of my life and suddenly, I see the Athletic Trainer at our school walk by my office. HOLY CRAP!! Why I didn't think of her earlier is beyond me (Hello A.D.D.) - I mean, she's also a physical therapist and an incredible athlete. I rushed out of my office and asked her if I could pick her brain for a few minutes about my ailments. Here's what her educated guess thought, but mind you, this is just a guess and she stressed that eventually when my insurance worked out (No progress. I'm certain the receptionist at the dr. office dropped the ball. Again. I'm not even going to go there right now) I needed to get an x-ray or MRI but this was her best guess after giving her my total history. Heel: Thinks it is not a fracture but either very bad Plantar Faciitis or a bone spur. She suspects a bone spur and she recommended that if it IS that, to not dink around with it and go get it snipped off or it could come to haunt me for years. If PF then I can do a lot of exercises to help it but that the dr would have more advice on this. Knee: This is a new one for me, but she suspects it's Plica Band Syndrome. WTH is Plica Band, you ask? Um, me too! I've run for the majority of my life and I coach cross country kiddos and I have never heard of Plica Band. Here's a little link for those who have tons of time to waste and want to learn more: Nevertheless, she was pressing on my knee for like 5 minutes and every time I winched, it was on the very outside midway up of the kneecap. She massaged it awhile and then told me to come to the training room after work and she's deep tissue ultrasound it awhile. So I did. It didn't feel any better but she told me it may just take time and to just keep coming in for some untrasounding. Ok. She also told me that running on it probably wasn't going to exacerbate the thing and to just run when I felt better. It wasn't going to feel better until it was healed but it was just strained and would be until it felt better, no matter what I did.

The Plica Band was, again, just an educated guess by her, but I spent well over 30 minutes researching the dang Plica Band and I'm here for you souls out there if you're ever diagnosed with this - I know all there is to know about it now :). Anyway.... my A.D.D. selective hearing ONLY heard "You can still run and not do any further damage...." and I took that literally and that very day after my wt training class, I popped on my treadmill and ran 3.5 miles. The knee (aka: Plica Band. Aka: PB...not to be confused with peanut butter) hurt and I laid in bed all night worried to death that I did further damage to it.


But guess what??!!! I woke up Friday morning and I could walk. Walk PAIN-FREE!!! I weight trained and ran on it the night before and it hurt the entire time and I wake up the next day and I had no piercing pain stabbing me on the side of my knee when I walked!!! Not that I'm complaining...but I was totally baffled. All day at work, I walked cautiously, trying not to turn suddenly or twist it sideways, or bend it unless absolute necessary. I took Friday off from all exercise (I promise I was going to go swimming, but I was so baby-sitting that knee, I didn't want it to start swearing at me if I tweaked it kicking dumb laps in the pool. A very valid excuse if I've ever heard one!). Saturday

Saturday, with temps in the 40's when I took a little knee test run over at the state park near where I live, a place which is a staple in my regular running routine. I kept the pace at an ungodly average of 10:14 (omg!!!) so I'd keep my HR down ... but my HR was still up (158). I'll blame it on the hilly trails I was on. And the wind. And the fact I'm not really in shape. And a slew of other excuses. I cranked out 8.88 miles and stopped only when the knee was starting to feel "weird." Took the ole ice bath when I got home (oh ice bath how I've missed you!) and had no problems with it later.

I'm being cautiously optimistic but so far so good. Keep the fingers crossed. Now, if we could just get this heel to behave...but after 8 months of this mess, it's a constant and I'm just going to have to deal with it. With my whopping 14 miles for the week, it seems to be happy - that always changes with mileage so we'll see.

I'll continue on with my swimming and to see if I can get up to at least 2x/week (how can I pass up Snorkel Man weekly??) and my weight training, which I'm starting to actually love (did I just say that??!!) but I'm also going to try to pick up the running mileage slightly and see what we can see. I feel like it's the right time to make a move. So hang on...who knows where this little ride will land us next week!! Just as long as it's not knitting!

On another note, I used to report weekly along with a 5-things gratitude list but sort of got out of that routine when I was in a total slump. So here we go, let's see how long I can keep it up. If nothing else, at least it takes the weekly guess work out of a blog title.

Week 35:
Running: 14.18 miles
Total 2010 miles: 1196.2
Weekly pounds down: .2 (that's actually good, considering all)
Swim: 1 mile
Wt train: 3 times
HCC: 3

5 Things Gratitude:
- No Knee Pain (I did not just jinx that since I confessed my gratitude for it. That's a written law, you know)
- The weather is cooling down and night time sleeping is heaven!
- Ryan ran a 22:04 in his cross country meet Thursday - a 2 minute PR. Woohooo!
- It's Candy Corn season!! You might not think that's a good thing, but trust me, it is!
- The college daughter starts back to school today - YES! Now she'll be "busy"!!!

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Swim With Jill

My knee is trashed. Lovely. I can lift it up, I can go up and down stairs, I can go to weight lifting class and do squats, deadlifts and lunges galore. Knee feels fine.

However, propel the knee in a forward motion to get from point A to B, not so much. In fact, it's totally agonizing.

This makes running a wee-bit challenging. Actually, it makes it impossible.

I ran about 8 miles on Sunday with my neighbor, which went okay, but not perfect... later, post-run, I spent the rest of the day limping and all day the next. Today I woke up and though the knee was better than it was yesterday, but just the processing of picking up the knee and making it carry my body to a new location was just difficult.

So I'm going to take a few days off. Again. This time for the knee, though truth be told, the heel wasn't very happy about the 8 I ran on Saturday. I'm going to have a little pity-party and eat 6 gallons of Ben and Jerry's for dinner tonight. Does B&J come in larger than pint sizes? Do you think B&J will give me some of their product to review for free since I'm going to consume so much... hey, maybe have a B&J giveaway. I can join the masses and do my first giveaway - woohooo!

Ughhhh, please don't let me take my blog to giveaway land. Nothing wrong with it, I just never wanted my blog to go there. That's just me.

I don't think biking is going to help the knee, so that's out. I don't think the elliptical trainer is good for the heel, so that's out. If I took up knitting, I'm afraid I'd poke my eyeballs out with the needles. So what's left?

When I'm done moping and stuffing sugar down my throat, I think chlorine and I are going to become pretty intimate for a couple weeks. I really hate the pool - hate hate hate hate it, which is kinda ironic because I actually had a collegiate swimming scholarship, but that was another lifetime ago - so I'm going to limit my temper tantrums of going to the pool to 4/day. Ok, 5 max.

But I gotta go. I have to. I must. I don't have any choice; I have no other cardio options so swimming is it. It'll be good for me. I gotta believe that it's going to help me come back to the running world stronger and fitter and ready to charge. I promise to start monitoring my diet better, continue my weight training, not talk to Tara for half of our Wednesday swim session (sorry, Tara! 5 minutes pre-swim, kick board laps, and 5 minute post-swim hot tub is all we're now allowed!).

I even got some new goggles today, since I spend more time de-leaking the 3 pink pair I have than I actually spending swimming laps (anyone have any suggestions for non-leaking goggles??). I hope at least one of these puppies hold only eyeballs and air. How many people take pictures of their goggles, huh huh huh?? Only those trying to psyche themselves into the new task at hand.

So come along, Swim With Jill awhile....a week, maybe two, who knows. It can't be any worse than hearing me whine about my heel and knee. Well, actually it can.

Wednesday, September 1, 2010


September? Really? I remember last winter here in Denver being exceptionally looooonnnng and dreaming about the warmer temps so I didn't have to wear 3 layers of Merino wool under a wind breaker and two pairs of gloves to go outdoors for a run. Fast forward 8 months and here I sit with the month of September's blank calendar staring at me, screaming to be filled in with lots of miles as the summer I so longed for to train comes to a close. With very few miles banked.

The onslaught of back-to-school madness has over taken over - both for myself and my boys. My twin boys are now in high school *sigh* - the same school I'm at, to boot. I had mixed feelings about meshing our daytime lives in the same territory but so far it's been really good. Brendan, always my affectionate child, comes into my office daily and gives me a hug before he heads out to lunch - I'm sure that will change soon but for now I eat it up. Ryan doesn't pop in much, unless he wants a ride home after his study hall, which coincides exactly with my 2:00 departure time. And the best part is I get to spy on them (hourly??) and make sure they're hanging in there and doing the the right thing.

After 9 weeks of total summer slug mode, getting into a new routine is not without it's adjustments. With a new school start time of 7:10 (alarming for any school age child over the age of 13) the 5:30 alarm clock is jolting. The mad rush to get ready is chaotic (a new shower routine needs to be implemented - I am the one always losing out with not much hot water and then scrambling like a maniac to get my butt out the door on time). Then there's lunches amass in assembly line production between bites of my beloved Kashi Go Lean cereal; signing countless teacher expectations forms; checking to make sure homework is in backpacks (and not left at home, which was our nemesis last year); write checks for t-shirts, band fees, cross country fees and agenda notebooks. We fill water bottles, stuff backpacks, stuff granola bars in pockets for after-school activities (band for B and cross country for R) and locate lost shoes. We let the cat in and out 50 times and if I'm lucky, I sometimes manage to get my peanut butter sandwich and banana in my bag for lunch.

Then there's college daughter, who is still enjoying her last few days of freedom as we painstakingly try to figure out her financial aid and what classes to take, along with "what do I do with my life" questions. To be 19 and trying to sort out your professional strengths is never easy.

Cross Country track meets, marching band competitions, college daughters and a new client who's running the Houston Marathon.....we are all trying to find our rhythm - but right now we're just slightly off.

We will get there eventually. Like every transition from one way of life to another, it just takes some time to adjust and find our groove.

To top off the crazies, last Friday and Saturday I got to spend the day working the Skirt Chaser 5K here in Denver. A couple months ago, Beth from "Shut up and Run" asked me if I'd help be one of the logistic coordinators for the big event. Never one to pass up an opportunity to give back to the running community I have taken so much from, I gladly accepted. Well, the paycheck didn't hurt either. Throughout the summer, I have passed out race postcards, toured the police station numerous times - and not because there was a warrant out for my arrest due to recklessly pulling out of my garage and smashing my fender numerous times - but to obtain permits and hire police to man the numerous intersections, and deal with cranky city of Denver officials - who obviously hate their jobs. The race is pretty cool: the chicks get a 3 minute head start over the dudes and in place of a running shirt, the women get running skirts. Cool, huh? Sorry guys, you don't get a skirt - but I did see a few males sporting them nevertheless. The job wrapped up with the big venue on Saturday later afternoon with a 95 degree 5K race. I got there early-ish to fill my 10-hour day by stuffing race packets, registering late participants, eating too much food, drinking too much beer (ok, not really. I had good intentions to keep up with Beth and Tara but the stuff wasn't sitting in my stomach well so a half was all I could down - sorry Jamoosh), cheering on the girls (sorry guys - total girl power here), clipping off timing chips while handing out high-fives, and cleaning up after a 1200 runner post-race party. Whew, my legs were beat and ached worse than any marathon I've ever endured. Seriously. I guess it didn't help that I ran and went to AT class that morning...but nevertheless, it was a lot of fun and something I can use to my advantage on my running resume one day, perhaps.

Tara, me and Beth enjoying a much-needed beer break from the rat-race festivities. Man Beth, you have some cut arm muscles! Not that I hate you or anything!

It was really fun to be on the other side of the race as the runners came in - and since I don't particularly care for 5K's, my heart wasn't aching to join in. So who do you think finished first...was it a guy or a gal? Chicks get a 3-minute head start, remember. I am very proud to say a girl won!! Whoohooo! In fact, her finish time was 17:20 something (is that incredible or what? She didn't even have that runner's build you see with super fast women) so a guy to beat her would have had to run 14:20. I was talking to the cross country coaches at school and there are about 3 males in the state of Colorado running college track that can endure that fast time right now....but it's on a flat track (my guess is they run at CU Boulder, which has a powerhouse track team) so no way anyone was going to pass her. Yes, the chicks rule. In fact, the first 6 finish line runners were female. YAY!

So now that the Skirt Chaser is done and I look at my blank September calendar and wonder at great lengths if running will occupy those little daily calendar squares.

Marathon training has become one of the pillars in my life, holding things up and giving them form. It's so much a regular part of me and I can’t imagine my life without it. I love the training. I love how my body feels fit and clean when I'm on a program. I love how excuses are nonexistent. I love to wake up early and get it done. I love having a purpose to my speed work, tempo runs, hill workouts, and long runs. I love the confidence building aspect of suffering. I love the sacrifices. I am afraid to let go of my training. I am afraid of not pushing myself and afraid of what there is after my heel issue - or worse, IF there will be an after heel issue. I am afraid of wandering aimlessly again with no direction or purpose with my running. I am afraid that by taking a few slow days, I will lose the desire to train….like I did post San Diego marathon 7 years ago when I had some pretty serious hydration issues. The mere act of taking my mess to the road with intent puts everything in perspective for me: I simply run better with a purpose behind it where I can challenge my momentum.

August ended with a grand total of 29 miles - that's like a recovery week during marathon training - blek. 2010 mileage count is 1167.9 - bleeeek. No way I'll reach my "2010 mile" goal for the 2010 year. And that's ok, I guess. I'm transitioning from marathon training to just banking some miles right now - a place I haven't been in a very long time and like our transition from lazy days summer mode to chaotic back-to-school mode, it's not easy to transition from marathon training to just putting in some miles; but I just need to make the adjustments - preparing myself by collecting energy and harnessing positive thoughts to making sure I am firmly rooted for the test ahead.

I FINAAAALLLLY got some somewhat positive news today from my doctor - who has been the actual hold-up on all this insurance mess. The insurance wasn't going to insure me until I got an OK from the doctor that I was cancer-free. I've been fighting with the doctor's receptionist for 3 weeks trying to get a return call from my doctor. Turns out, the doctor's been trying to call but had one of my phone number digits off (or more likely the receptionist, who is NOT my bff) and therefore was not able to get ahold of me last week, as promised. So today when I called back again I was put on hold and eventually got to talk to the doctor LIVE! After discussing the entire situation, she starts reading my folder and it turns ou, believe it or not, I actually HAD a followup biopsy done after my D&C (the "issue" the insurance company denied me on) AND that biopsy turned out negative - no signs of cancer or even pre-cancer. So the insurance company was totally in error with this whole mess and SHOULD have insured me back on August 2nd. Grrrrrr! So the doctor is going to write a letter to the insurance company, along with my negative biopsy results, and hopefully within a couple weeks, I can get this whole insurance disaster laid to rest.

In the meantime, I am running. 29 miles for August, as I mentioned above. I can't foresee September looking a whole lot better, but we'll see. How's the heel behaving, you ask? Eh, so-so. My farthest run was almost 6 on Sunday with my neighbor, Jim, and all was good (but it did hurt a little later that day) - what's really pathetic right now is my pace. But again, I'm in a transition - pace is irrelative, or so I need to force myself to understand. Right now it's about running healthy and not about speed - yet it's very difficult to see the Garmin hovering around the mid-9 range. But at least I'm out there doing what I love to do best: run! A new pesty ailment is actually hindering over my heel: Saturday morning during AT class, I was doing these frog jumps over these short hurdles, a drills that just aches my knee so I usually do something else instead; but we were grouped into teams and I felt obligated to my team so we could move to the next station, so the frog jump I did. And now my knee is really bothering me. I mean, I usually can run through knee pain but this is excruciating to just walk! I ran okay on it Sunday but last night when I tried to run, no way was it happily going to let me do so. When I went to meet Tara tonight for our weekly Wednesday swim (aka: chat) session, I walked into the locker room with my knee fully covered in KT Tape. I had to google how to apply the stuff so I'm certain it wasn't applied correctly; but psychologically, I knew it was magically healing my knee. I'm going to go apply some of this magical hocus-pocus blue tape to my heel tonight when I go to bed. I'm certain I'll wake with all body parts ready to go out and marathon train!

I do like to dream. But I'll never give up hope.

And then ... I'm going to take a few deep breaths while I transition into this cooler September "just running with no marathon training" weather and run whatever my foot allows me to. Right now, I must wrap my head around just being thankful to be running. The marathon in me isn't dead - it's just taking a small break. And the slower than molasses miles I AM allowed to run are miles I can use to my advantage. Let's bring September on! I'm ready for the transition!!

(and sorry this post is all over the map - I've started bits and pieces throughout the week and I just don't have time to pull it all together in one logical post. Very fitting for how my life is right now - ha!).