Thursday, July 28, 2011

This doesn't look like Colorado

No ocean in Colorado last I looked.  But I've been gone for a few days so maybe some phenomenal geological plate tectonics occurred and I'll return home to a little of this ocean stuff I love so much....but in the mean time, I have just returned from my 2-day trek up Mt. Whitney (more on that in the next post).  Unfortunately, Whitney didn't provide the results my son Brendan and I had hoped due to some stupid fire near Sequoia National Park which invaded the camp ground we were staying at in Mt. Whitney.  Brendan has some pretty bad breathing issues and we had to cancel the summit at 13,000'.  Bummed for sure but it was better to be safe, he was having some pretty severe problems.  I'll share all the details in a few days, but in the meantime ... we've had some fantastic beach time pre-Whitney.

Rodando Beach

With the fab Running Green Girl

San Clemente Beach
Sand crabs.  Ewww

Brendan, the awesome Meg from Meg Runs, and her very nice hubby, Boy Scout

Meg made me some sand signs

Had a fantastic visit with The Running Green Girl where she made me eat some de-lish frozen yogurt and I got to see her cool digs and catch up on her crazy world.  So fun.  Then Brendan and I headed down South to stay with Meg and her husband at their beautiful home in Encinitas.  They live in an adorable little Southern Cali town and made Brendan and I feel so welcomed in their home and took us to the beach for the day where Brendan and BS had fun digging for sand crabs.  Ick.  We're headed back to Meg's on Friday where I hope to see many bloggers for Meg and BS's bloggie BBQ - I hear they're making homemade pizzas in their backyard brick oven.  Yum!   Can't wait.  But first, Brendan and I are headed to run a little at Badwater in Death Valley tomorrow.  Hoping I can make it a half mile in the 120 degree heat...only 134.5 miles remaining for the race!

Until later....

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Half way up Pikes Peak and a few As to the Qs

Pikes Peak in all her glory.  Elevation 14.115'
Wow!  I think I got about 1085 questions to answer for Chris' stupid lovely Q&A.  This is good actually, this way I have something to blog about for the next ... year or two.  I enjoyed reading all the questions and actually look forward to sharing them - but because I'm such an exciting person and all, and live life on the edge daily, I'll cut the answers into a few posts so I can share some of my latest adventures also.

Last Friday I continued on with my mountain hill running climbing quest and tackled half of Barr Trail, which eventually reaches the top of the infamous Pikes Peak (elevation 14,110').  I decided to run alone this week (aka: couldn't bribe my either boys to go with), a little test to see where my current sucky fitness level is.  I actually already know where it is, pretty much down there with the pond scum, but I am slowly chipping away at the body fat and my mileage is picking up ever so slightly - this, coupled with my insatiable desire to test my mortality, I wanted to see if I could make it the 7 1/2 mile trek to Barr Camp - about the half way point to the top of Pikes Peak - and how long would it take me and in what condition - both mentally and physically. 
Well, I'm sitting here writing - which at least answers your question if I survived. 

I started about 3/4 of a mile before the trail as this is where I had to park my car due to peak tourist season invading the parking lot near the trail head.  Not that a lot of out-of-towners like to torture themselves hiking this thing (though many do, and I always cringe how many wear flip flops, or have no water, or are on their cell phones, gasping for air....) but there is a Cog Railway which goes from the bottom of Pikes Peak to the top and it's a huge "must do" for tourists.  So my starting elevation was 6330' according to my Garmin.

When I arrived at the trail head, I already ran about 3/4 of a mile and gained several hundred feet.  According this little sign, I had about 7 miles to Barr Camp:
It was a gorgeous day, filled with Colorado's famous bright blue skies, but a little muggy from all the rain we've recently experienced due to the invading mid-July monsoons.  I know I shouldn't complain about 67% humidity, but when you're used to 28%, it feels pretty blah!  The trail was a little muddy in spots but not too bad; it's mostly marble to golf ball-sized grave for the first 3ish miles.  And steep.  I think these first trail miles are the steepest of the entire trail (but lower in elevation than towards the top, where breathing becomes rather .. um...difficult).

The trail starts about 6500' and by mile 2 you are already at 9500'

After about 3 miles on the trails, you come to Arch Rock where you get to run through a little arch, kind of a fun point along the trail.

Running through the arch
I'm not doing a lot of running these first 3 trail miles, it's just too dang steep for my out-of-shape legs and lungs, but I'm maintaining a pretty good hike pace and feeling strong.  I'd run where I could but mostly it was just a strong hike; my goal was to make it to Barr Camp in under 3-hours so no time to lollygag.

Around mile 4 (3.25 on the elevation profile....remember, I ran about 3/4 of a mile to the trail head and thus start of the elevation map), the trail widens and is less steep so I manage to run a little here.  Pikes Peak comes into view, too....and yowzie it looks far away (about 9 miles to the top).

The peak of Pikes Peak hiding behind the trees, seems a lot  further than 9 miles
With a couple miles to go, the trail becomes steeper and I resort back to a hike yet I'm still feeling pretty dang good but can tell the altitude gain is catching up to me a little.

Liking that butt shot?  HA!  I was in a hurry and didn't take the time to
see where I was in the view-finder.

Pikes Peak - again
The last mile takes you back to the wooded area and I just keep plugging away until I knew I was close - been on this path a few times in the past when I was training for the Pikes Peak Ascent so I tried to run a little and finally, Barr Camp:

Welcome to Barr Camp, elevation 10.200' (the best thing is they have a potty here!  :) )
I really didn't know how I'd fare or if I could make the 3-hour cut-off time I had set in my mind (this is the cut-off time for the race) so I was pretty stoked that I DID IT!!  7.22 miles in 2:32 with a bit over 3900' elevation gain.  Definitely not my fastest (in fact, it is my slowest) but even adding another 5ish minutes on to the that 2:32 time (due to the fact the race actually starts about a half mile further into town than where I parked and started), I made it with a bit over 20 minutes to spare.  Hum........

Barr Camp marks about the half way mark distance-wise and elevation-wise to the top of Pikes Peak.  I did it a little faster than I thought.  My heel and ankle were cooperating.  So far.  I was beaming.  At the entrance to Barr camp is a little stream, shown above.  You can rent a water filter from the camp people inside for $5 or bring your own if you have one, but I had my 70oz Camelbak and my 20oz water bottle around my waist (the latter filled with electrolytes) and felt I had enough fluids to get me down safely so I didn't refuel with water here (though by the end of the day I sort of wish I had) but I did dip my hands and face in this ice-cold water. It. Felt. Amazing!!!!

I didn't linger around too long at the camp; I know the longer I am on my foot, the more my ankle and heel start to protest - especially going DOWN, which I had 7.22 miles of to do.  So off I went.  I did run most of the way down, but my run actually was more of a shuffle - I tend to get a little freaked by how steep the trail can get and I have fallen on this once during the first time I raced the ascent (2008.  Long story...I'll have to share sometime) so I took my time.  By the time I reached about mile 10, my ankle was starting to bother me and by mile 12, it was screaming.  With only two more miles left, I just took it really slow and walked it in and I finished with 14.64 miles (not sure how I put on more mileage going down than I did going up.  Weaving I guess) in a total of 4:51.  I know, I know - 11 minutes faster to get down than to go up.  Yeah, that damn heel and ankle.

But I did 14.62 miles, climbed 3900', made the 3-hour cut-off in ample time, survived... PLUS, the next day my foot was just fine.  3 months ago, this would not have been the case.  By Sunday, my calves were done screaming at me for making them climb those 3900' and I managed to pop on my treadmill for 14.5 miles.  What?  Yep, I did.  Wasn't pretty at the end but I did it and the only reason I stopped there was that my heel let me know it had enough.

Progress....I'm slowly making some - and I couldn't be more excited.

I'm headed out to California this weekend - my son, Brendan, and I are going to climb Mt. Whitney - the highest mountain in the lower 48 (14,496').  I am a little worried about the foot behaving for the 22 mile long trek up and down but I talked with my physical therapist and he's on board for this little adventure so I'm going to give it a shot.  If the foot won't let me, I'll just wait for Brendan and other friends we're going with at camp, about half way up, but I think all is going to be good!  And then when I get off that mountain, I'm meeting up with some blog friends (yep, more blog friends, Chris K!!) and I can't wait.  So I may be a little MIA next week but I can't wait to let you all know how Whitney goes, all the great bloggers I meet up with, and read about your adventures upon my return.

Okay, so here we go....some answers to your awesome questions:

CautiouslyAudacious Asked: So how do you stay motivated while working through your heel problems?
Dear CA, I think I could write a novel on this.  Seriously.  I have not always been motivated and many days/weeks/even months I was angry and bitter - even depressed and had to seek help for my feeble state of mind.  Even today, as my foot hasn't been overly happy, I questioned why I continue to pursue something that just feels like it's never going to be totally pain-free.  But I remind myself - constantly - that I am a better me when I can run.  I may never run the times I once did nor feel that victory of placing in my AG or BQing with lots of time to spare, but running has been part of my life since I was in high school and I just know that I must keep going ... it's part of who I am.

Amanda@runninghood Asked: 1) How long does it take to adjust to altitude for say a high altitude race?
Obviously, living at 6000' helps (where I have a huge advantage, I feel, is living at 6000' and racing at sea level.  Every marathon I have ever done, other than Pikes Peak, has been much lower elevation than where I live) but when I have done the Pikes Peak or the Mt. Evans Ascent races, I take full advantage of the higher altitude in my backyard and spend time in the mountains - like I did Friday going up Barr Trail - and train as often as I can.  I'm not sure there's a magical number of amount of time, specifically, but more is always better.  I do have a good friend who lives in New York City and runs the Pikes Peak Ascent AND full marathon and he never has a problem with the altitude....and yet there was one time I raced Mt. Evans and had to get off the mountain as soon as possible, I was having some altitude issues (but I think that's cuz I was dehydrated).

2) What is your favorite place to go if you want an excuse to "dress up"?
I'm not a huge dresser-upper, but I do like girls' nights out sometimes!  :)

3) A guilty pleasure?
Chocolate ice cream.  Yum!

Jamoosh said... And you are associating with a self-professed "Manly Runner" because...
I sorta feel sorry for him.  Don't you?

Adrienne Asked: So, my question is kinda dumb, but do you ever get used to running in the mountains, or ever wish for different terrain?
Never get tired of the mountains - never - but I do love the ocean and the few races I've run near it (Big Sur Marathon, SF Marathon, Seattle Marathon) have always been incredible.

Patrick Mahoney Asked: If I had magical powers and could move Colorado to another location completely intact, where would you want it moved? To the coast? To a different time zone? Farther south? Another planet? Since this is a completely hypothetical question the answers "nowhere" or "I like it just the way it is" are not acceptable answers.
Let's plop Colorado next to you in California and I'm all set!

Petraruns Asked:  !)If you could force Patrick to race in a major race in any outfit which would you choose?
One of the 3 Musketeers!
2) When are you coming over to run with me in Europe?
I wish I had the funds to do so RIGHT NOW!  One day I will be, promise!
3) Can I really be on your relay team next year?
Definitely!  Wish you could come this year, we need another runner!

Julie Asked: 1)Which state do you want to ride across with me next year...Colorado, Iowa, Wyoming Nebraska...? 
Rhode Island. 
2) can you make me a faster a runner without too much pain?
The pain is so worth it,'s half the fun! 

misszippy Asked: Here's mine: Since you are the blog meet-up queen, who haven't you met that you are dying to meet? (I'm sure tough to nail down, but give it a go!)
This is hard because there are so many great people I have gotten to "know" through this blog and meeting them in person has been an absolute high for me.  I guess there's some across the big blue pond like Petra I'd love to meet, and Johann and Stefano.  I'd also like to meet Julie from Minnesota because we've had some very similar paths in our lives lately.  Shelly from running stroller mom was probably one of my earliest followers so it'd be cool to meet her. 

Anonymous (Jessica) Asked: Do you miss me?!
YES!!! (Jessica was one of my past clients and I miss her a lot!  She is an amazing runner!)

Caroline Asked (many):
have you visited other countries?
Unfortunately, only Mexico and Canada.  But Canada is all that matters, right?  :)
where did you go on your honeymoon?
Kauai, Hawaii
Guilty pleasure? if it is Jersey Shore I am not sure I will get over it...
I've never seen Jersey it bad? 
I love chocolate ice cream.  I love a cold beer...with a lime (sorry Jamoosh) and a great margarita.  I love Mexican food.....
most embarrassing moment as a mom?
Probably the time I left my son in his stroller at Disneyland ...and didn't realize it until about 5 minutes later after we were all standing in line and I looked down and holy crap, where's Ryan.  In his stroller.  Screaming his lungs out.  Opps.
how old were you when you ran your first marathon?
if you could have dinner with Lance or Dean who do you pick?
Lance.  Maybe he could tell me why my girl bits and my feet hurt all the time biking! 

Okay, that's all I got for today.  If I'm not able to post again before I leave for California, have a great week next week - and of course, run strong!

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Q&A time and a little mountain run

That Chris K over at The Manly Runner thought he'd be really cute and invite bloggers to ask him questions so he could weasel out of writing a normal blog post, like us normal people do.  And to be even cuter, he tagged me to do the same.  What a lucky girl am I!

So, as Chris said: let's give it a try.  Ask me anything.  No holds barred.   No subject too serious or frivolous.  I can't guarantee that I will answer every question, but I guess we'll see.

Want to know something about my prior training? 
Want to know about my heel?
Want to know the secret to being happy?
Want to know what I do when I am not running my kids all over creation?
Want to know what I'm going to do to my hair today?

All sorts of thrilling questions are out there just oozing with anticipation to be answered, so ask away.

In the meantime, I spent a little time up in the mountains on Friday where I failed attempted to do a little high altitude trail running.  The boys and I ventured over to this trail we did a couple years ago called Hell's Hole - and the name is pretty fitting.  The trail is only about 3.5 miles long, but it gains about 1900' in elevation - for me, that's steep. 

Ryan took off like a bat out of hell, he can now run probably 2x my speed, brat, so Brendan and I somewhat stuck together.  I'd run slow about 10 minutes or so and turn around go back down to find him and repeat until it got way too steep and I was spent so we just hiked together.  About 2.75 miles in (yes, laugh away...but we climbed about 1800' in that short distance, this is taxing on my out-of-shape bod.  Bleh!), this huge, black cloud rolled in and it started raining; that was enough for me to panic and turn around.  Storms in the mountains come quick and hard and way too many hikers end up not so fortunate getting down and I didn't want to be one of those statistics. But I got a lot of cool pics on the way up:

These trees were all leaning over sideways - very odd.  Any ideas why?
Going down this trail was not making my foot/heel happy - at all!  By the time we got down to the bottom, I was in agony and after we drove a short ways into town for some lunch, the bottom of my ankle was throbbing and I couldn't walk on it.  ARGH!!  I threw off my shoes and found instant relief.  Still painful, but at least I could walk.  I am pretty stressed out about the shoe situation - again - and not sure where I need to go with trail shoes.  I'm all about the minimalist shoe and firmly believe they are what has helped me get back on the road running....but the trails are another beast.  The Pearl Izumi shoes I have been wearing have been causing me some discomfort but they are not a true minimalist shoe, and I'm not sure if my ankle problem (which is just a continuation of the heel from hell saga - my ankle has been one of the many cuplprits to the heel situation) from the run stems from too much shoe or not enough shoe.  Very frustrating trying to figure this out and the clock is ticking....I need to figure this out.

Anyway, when we got into Idaho Springs, I noticed the river was running crazy wild with all the rain we've had this past week so the boys wanted to run the rapids, as they say...

They had an awesome time.  Because the water is flowing like wicked crazy, they were done in an hour and I barely had time to tag along on the frontage road for pictures, but said it was the best rafting trip EVER (and those boys have done a lot!).  

Saturday I was fortunate to meet up with blogger Matt of Matty Run Run for some lunch at Whole Foods.  Matt's one of my favorite blogs to read - he's articulate yet funny and really provides a good read.  He and his awesome wife just had a baby - meet Matt, his wife Sara and their new baby boy, Henry!

Some of you may remember that little video contest Matty was holding where I submitted my physical therapy exercises and begged for votes to win that cool canvass of Matty doing clam shell exercises on the beach. Well.....

Henry obviously notices his daddy!
Yeah, I WON!  What an honor to have the man himself, in live person, here to get a picture together.  Dang it though, I forgot to have him sign the thing - it'd be worth millions if I had the foresight to do that. 

Thanks, Matty - was great meeting you and your beautiful family and can't wait until you're back in town again.

I'm happy to report that my ankle is better and I am back to running my ploddingly (that's a word you know!) slow pace.  Going to head to PT today to make sure I didn't do something drastic to it...and have him check out my rib muscle, which is obviously better but still hounding me now and then.  And that bee sting from last week???  Um, yeah...that sucker swelled so bad it looked like someone slugged me, but thankfully it's now almost all okay (a little itchy, but the grapefruit-sized growth on the side of my face is thankfully gone.  Check back next week to see what new catastrophe I endured). 

Ok, that's a wrap!  Chris states I am to bestow this Q&A Award to five people who have to do this on their blog, then pass it on to five others  - and use that same image file above.  Since I'm horrible at picking, I'm going with the first 5 who commented on my last post.  The lucky recipients are:

Marcia @ The Studly Runner
Julie @ You just have to TRI
Jamoosh @ Last Mile Lounge
Abbey @ Have Dental FLoss, Will Travel
Liz @ Runner Mum

Ha - teach you guys to rush out and comment on my posts, huh?? 
I'll give you til Sunday to ask questions (you know I can't rush into another blog post this week already) and I'll post the answers early next week.  In the meantime, RUN STRONG, Friends!

Friday, July 8, 2011

Trading in the Bike Shoes, Sorta

I'm thinking I wasn't meant to ride the Elephant Rock bike course. 

Let's do a little recap of the mishaps I have endured since I decided to train for that race, shall we?

- First time out with Christi on the course, I fell.

- Second time out with Christi on the course, I fell hard.  Managed to tangle my bike chain and had to have Christi go back into town and get the car, it was non-fixable.

- Third time out, a screw came out of my shoe and I couldn't clip into my pedal.
- Fourth time out, a moth flew into my shirt and I almost killed myself trying to remove it.
- Let's not forget RACE DAY!  Broken derailleur at mile 8.18.
You'd think five times trying I'd have enough sense to give it up but Christi mentioned awhile back she was free last weekend and was up to ride the entire 62 mile course.  Great.  I'm in.  I was anxious to get that damn monkey off my back - and besides, it's just gorgeous scenery and I love country rides.  I asked Julie and another friend if they were up to riding too and yep, they were all eager and excited to go!

So I'm pedaling away, minding my own business and enjoying the country views when something slapped my face at mile 6 - whack!  A few seconds later I hear this buzzzzzzing sound right next to my ear ... holy crap, BEE!  It was stuck in my helmet strap and I'm trying not to freak (ha!) while trying to stay upright on my bike as I swerve all over the road, but eventually the bee got pissed enough and stung my jaw.  I had to stop and have my friend pull the stinger out.  Did I mention we were at mile 6 of a 62-mile ride?  Hurt.  Like.  Hell.

On top of that, remember that little 13.1 mile run I did the day before?  (If you missed that post, click here and be wow'd at my feat :))  Well...I knew there'd be repercussions the next day, but I was ill-prepared how crap-ola I'd actually ride.  It didn't help matters that temps were soaring in the high 90's.  I just do NOT do well with endurance sports in heat.   Bleh.

Just know that mid-way though this ride - with a face swelling at exponential rates, calves not one bit happy from the long run the day before, temps rising well over any one's max comfort zone, and relentless freaking hills - I SUCKED on this ride.  Badly.  Even cutting the course by about 8 miles (giving us 54 miles total) didn't help too much.


I didn't let it bother me.  I just poked along at a pace I was comfortable with and let the others meander on ahead.
Yes, that's them WAY up ahead
  I enjoyed the views.

   I cherished the company.

Christi, Julie and my friend, Kettie
This little store saved. my. life - COLD WATER!
It was a great to spend time with  friends, and I do enjoy cycling, but that ride really zapped me mentally, physically and probably emotionally.  The next two days my energy levels were hovering at the bottom of the totem pole. I had been considering doing another big bike ride in August up in the mountains (covering 3 mountain passes), but with my recent long run feeling good, I decided I'm done with the long bike training for awhile  - and going to focus my attention on ...


Don't worry all your bike folks out there, I will still ride - I really do enjoy it - but I just don't think I want to train in this heat for hours on end (and I'm still having burning, painful feet issues...are my feel swelling or something?) and my heart's not in another long ride right now.

I emailed Ron, the incredibly smart guy who is helping me with my running (PLEASE read his latest post here about running injuries - it is chucked full of very interesting, and helpful, information) and he gave me the thumbs up to progress with the running.


To celebrate I did my first set of hill repeats today in well over a year - and all went well (heel's a bit sore tonight but I think that's more so because I've been standing on it all day).  I even hit numbers in the high 7's.  I KNOW!! - very, very pleased about that!  Best celebration ever!

Hello, running shoes!  Oh how I've missed you.

Before I close, I have to share this little tidbit I heard on the news tonight:
Colorado has the lowest obesity rate in the nation: 19.8 % (so about 1 in every 5 is obese in Colorado.  Mississippi has the highest at a tad over 30%).  While I'm pretty dang proud to live in such a high activity, gorgeous state (seriously, if you can't take advantage of all the incredible outdoor stuff Colorado has to offer, then you shouldn't live here), I was disturbed to learn that in 1995, 19.8% would have been the highest obesity state.  It's sad the direction America is headed. (Click here to read the article, if interested in learning more).

My body has noticeably changed in my running hiatus, and not for the good either.  Now that I've been given the A-ok, I think I'll head to the mountains today to take advantage of being the slimmest state in the nation .... and do a little mountain trail running. 

Run Strong, Friends

Sunday, July 3, 2011

Dream it and Do it, My Date With Marshall Ulrich

I was recently the lucky recipient of Marshall Ulrich's new book, Running On Empty, which I won through a giveaway on this amazing woman's blog.  The book chronicles his extraordinary life and journeys in ultrarunning and adventure racing. I'm not sure how many of you know are aware of Ulrich, but for runners in the trail running community, he is legend.  Ulrich is the real deal - accomplishing any one of his jaw-dropping endurance exploits could provide lifetime bragging rights, but to do them all is simply stunning.

He won the Badwater 146 four times, then come back and run a self-supported 4xBadwater adventure. The Pikes Peak Marathon is notoriously one of the most difficult marathons out there, gaining 8100' in 13.3 miles.  Ulrich not only ran Pikes Peak but ran it 4x in a row, and one time he ran Pikes Peak and the Leadville 100 mile run in the same weekend - he ran Leadville then immediately floored it to the start of Pikes Peak, arriving with seconds to spare before the gun went off.  He's competed in all nine Eco-Challenge races, set the record for running across Colorado three times, reached the top of all Seven Summits including Everest, and the list goes on. Honestly, one book isn't enough to capture what Ulrich's eyes have seen. No wonder the guy had his toenails surgically removed to proactively prevent toe issues.

One of the blessings about our amazing cross country team at school is that the head coach, Brian Manley, is an established ultrarunner himself and an amazing coach.  He's completed the infamous Leadville 100 twelve times and I just learned last night has also done the notorious Badwater in 1999 (click here for an account of his experience, if you have time for a long, but excellent, read).  Those in the ultra running community, especially at that caliber of fitness, are in the same circle of friends and Brian just happens to know Marshall Ulrich.  And Brain scored the coaches, runners, and families an opportunity to head up to Idaho Springs to see Marshall's movie Running America and the opportunity to ask questions after.

How cool is THAT!?!?

That's Marshall standing in the peach-colored shirt, giving a little info about his movie.
Yes, the shindig was in an old church.  If you knew how small this tiny
old gold mining town is, you'd understand.
I never saw the movie in 2008 when it first came out, it had one of those one-time viewing dates and who knows what I was doing that night.  And honestly, in 2008 my running was soaring, I was PRing everything in sight and ran my first BQ marathon.  I'm not sure watching that movie back then would have had the same affect on me as it did when I saw it last night.  Sure, I would have walked away in awe of how he faced obstacles (one being severe plantar fasciitis, which stopped him dead in his tracks one day and dogged him for the duration of his quest.  Oh how I can so relate) and yet persevered and ran an average of 58 miles/day for 52 straight days, as everyone in that room did last night.  But I came home with so much more.

One often wonders what drives a person to push the limits like he does, and he's very open about the combination of hard work as a teenage farm hand and the loss of his first wife to cancer that created a cauldron of energy that would push him into and through races, a marriage, and more. He took a nod from his heroes like Ted Corbitt, and just went for it. A quote that sums it up well:
"As for me, sure, there's an underlying compulsion: survivor's guilt and a need to punish myself, to prove myself, to face down my own mortality, to defy death. But my running is also a reflection of my upbringing, a work ethic, a personal challenge. My love of history gets interwoven, too - the feats of other people in other times - coupled with the alluring possibility that I might be able to go farther, faster, today."
When I got the opportunity to talk to Marshall a teeny bit after the movie, I told him of my own demons with the heel and how it's rob me of one of the greatest things that I always felt made me a better me: my running.  How I've gone through a plethora of emotions with this beast: denial, frustration, anger, bitterness, depression, hopelessness - you can insert any less-than-positive feeling here, I have lived it.  I never wanted to end my running career on any terms other than when I felt the time was right.  I run for some of the exact reasons as Marshall does, it's part of who I am.  And I am not the same, better, me when I cannot run.

Marshall told me to not give up, people like us don't know that word.  And this is what he wrote in my book when he signed it:
"Heal well and run long.  Dream it and do it."

Oh hell ya!!!  Inspiration is oozing out of every pour and fiber in my body right now!!
Some of the Cross Country Track Team.  Marshall in the peach
shirt, Brian in the red shirt on the right end.  My son, Ryan, standing
next to Brian.

Ok, so I didn't actually have a true "date" with Marshall - that's me standing in the white shirt on the left side, truly engrossed in every single word he said - but he did give me a big hug just before I left and he told me to keep running.

Today, fueling inspiration from Marshall and from this amazing woman, who was texting me all afternoon yesterday, telling me I. Freaking. Got. This.  I hopped on my treadmill and landed me this:

13.1 miles!!!  Still very, very slow but eh, I'll worry about that later.  I can't tell you the last time I ran 13 miles, the farthest I have traveled on my own two running legs since I started back a couple months ago has been 8.  I actually shed a tear.

Isn't it funny how someone whom you've never met - and a few text messages from someone special - can elicit a spark you thought was pretty much gone forever!?!?!

I am BACK running and I am not letting this stupid heel control my life any more.  Thanks, Marshall - that was the best date I've had in I can't tell you how long.

I encourage you all to read Marshall Ulrich's new book; you will walk away a better runner. 
Forever. Or buy the dvd, it is truly an inspirational account of what was a very difficult journey across America.  Very patriotic - perfect as we celebrate America's birthday  tomorrow (and, coincidentally, Marshall's 60th birthday). You won't regret the purchase, I promise.

I also quickly want to share some pictures from a trip to the mountains on Friday with the cross country team as we tackled the Lair 'o the Bear trail.  I really wasn't sure how I'd fare - my rib was still bothering me some (but thankfully I was back to breathing - oh the joy of air in the lungs!); my heel was being a bit moody; I hadn't run in over a week; and this trail is one constant incline for about 5 miles.  I had no goal in mind when I set off - just relax, enjoy the beautiful scenery, and see how I felt.  I was stoked to make it to mile 3, about a 1000' climb, and felt fantastic.  I thought about continuing on but knew the team was going to go 10 and so figured a round-trip 6 was perfect for me.  The 3 miles back down to the car was actually more taxing than the way up and the balls of my feet were struggling with my mid-foot striking, but overall it was an awesome day.  Enjoy the views.

We have the most awesome cross country team.  They Rock!


Dorking pic, enjoying the view
My new Pearl Izumi Peak II Trail shoes
Sometimes massive rocks dominated the trail
Meadow beauty!
The wildflowers in the meadow were truly amazing

Nothing beats a refreshing icy stream post-run cool down
Thanks, Marshall.  Thanks, Lair 'o the Bear trail run.  I had the Best. Best. Best. Weekend.  Ever!!!    

Happy 4th!!  Have a firecracker of a run :)!  Me, I'll be praying my legs still move after today's run as I embark on a 64-mile bike ride with some fantastic friends.