Monday, September 26, 2011

The Bear Chase Trail 1/2 Marathon

So yeah, I was a little quiet about this but I ran a race this weekend, The Bear Chase Half Marathon trail race.  While I ran the half marathon, there was also a 10K, 50K and a 50-miler.  The course is at Bear Creek State Park, which is on the complete opposite side of town from me and an area I have never run before, so that was pretty cool.

Is it a bad sign when you Physical Therapist is at your first real running race in over a year and a half post-injury?  Hum...  I was kinda hoping I'd get a pre-race leg massage treatment, like when I go in weekly and get my hamstring magically "fixed"  - but ... uh...not so much.  But it was pretty cool to be there with him none-the-less.

So let's just start this off by getting all the disclaimers out before I start writing about the race, you know so there are no excuses later on when I start whining about my pace :).  Here we go: this is a trail race, according to Fast Cory, you have to let your pride down a little because the trails can quickly slam your pace to a halt when you're tackling big, bad-ass hills (and rocks, and dirt, and mud...); it was hilly; it was fairly warm; I waded through not one but three water crossings; I had an ominous scratch at the back of my throat for the past few days, many half sleepless nights this week; and my allergies are screaming in the red zone right now, my nose is a constant drip and my eyes look like I've been crying for weeks on end.  I think those are all the possible race hindrance concoctions, could have sworn there were more, but guess not.  Well, aside from the fact that my current post-injury pace is hovering just above the pathetic zone.  But we won't go there.  Again.

My goal for this race was not to race it for any sort of PR or even to knock out anything outstandingly speedy.  My goal was to finish strong, and give me some indication where my currently fitness level is.  And see how prior ailments held up, especially my foot. That's all.  In fact, I had no customary pre-race anxiety attacks (love to not so much); when you have zero expectations, it's hard not to exceed them.

The first 6 miles passed without incident. The trail was dirt packed with many loose rocks which wandered through the trees around the lake.  It was nice and shady with some rolling hills.

I found a guy who seemed to have a good, steady pace which seemed to bode well with how I was feeling (and he was kinda cute, which helps the pace :)) so I stuck behind blue shirt/green shoes guy for this entire stretch and I became his wingman.  I probably was annoying him, whatever.  I was pleased to see I finished the first 6 with a 9:25 pace...this is by far faster than I have run anything this distance for ... well know.  I knew I could run a bit faster here, but I didn't know if I could sustain this pace for the entire race duration so I was really pleased my old race antics of starting out too fast were not coming into play....but really, I had no idea how I'd fare by mile 10, let alone 12 or 13.  Many times I recall thinking just how much fun I was having on the trails and how lucky I was to be running them!  As mile 6 finished, the view of Mt. Carbon came into view.  Let me just say that any hill which has a name associated to it, particularly a name beginning with "Mt." is gonna be one.  tough.  hill.  Mt. Carbon lived up to it's Mt. name.
Mt Carbon in the background.  That sucker HURT!
Going up Mt. Carbon was difficult and I resorted to walking it since everyone around me was and passing people was pretty difficult.  I probably could have run it, but it wouldn't have been pretty and I'm certain it would have zapped my energy for the rest of the race.  Going up it was actually shorter than coming down the thing ... and since I am a scaredy cat on steep, rocky downhills, I took this downhill section fairly easy, yet steady.  But man, there was a nice view of the Denver Skyline from on top this hill:

After I reached the bottom of the "hill", I managed to get my pace back on track and caught back up to cutie-pie blue shirt/green shoes guy, who got a little too far ahead of me on the hill.  I still felt good at this point, but I could tell I was starting to tire.  Just before mile 8, you see this sign:

Three River Crossings Ahead.  And Rivers they were (at least for Colorado).

The river crossings were actually really fun, and definitely helped cool you off, but it was very difficult to gain composure and get back into a previous pace when your shoes are water-logged and felt like you were carrying lead pipes on your feet.  I really struggled after the 3rd one; once we exited the water, we came upon part of the golf course paved path, which was uphill, and I just slapped my feet at barely a 11 min mile.  I was also out of water so relieved to see an aid station ahead; these were not plentiful along the course like in a road race, they were spread out about every 4 miles, and my little 6oz handheld water bottle was dry!

I think the stretch at miles 9-11 was probably the toughest for me, the trail was utterly exposed now, not one single tree to provide any relief from the heat (about 83 degrees).  It was also very hilly here and around mile 10, I saw a patch of mud on the trail so I maneuvered off the side a little to avoid muddy shoes and yep, I bit it.  I apologize if the two women behind me are reading this, the poor things almost went down on top of me but thankfully caught themselves.  They couldn't have been nicer and helped me up.  No trail race, especially one Jill runs (or bikes) is complete without a few battle wounds.
Yes, this is the same knee, same spot on
my knee even, where I had numerous bike
falls this spring/summer!  That thing is
never going to heal!

I am actually thankful for the women directly behind me because my ego wouldn't let me have a little tizzy fit like I wanted so I just got up, brushed myself off (my hands were full of dirt and gravel) and got back into pace.  But it wasn't easy and I saw my pace starting climbing into the high 10's.  Mile 11 brought the last aid station and I was so relieved; I spent a couple minutes here downing Powerade and orange slices, and then headed for the finish.

One more big (and I mean BIG) hill to climb and once I reached the top, it was either the sugar from the Powerade or the euphoria or both, but I felt amazing.
Off to the right in the middle, you can see the Red Rocks Amphitheater,
home to many cool summer-time concerts.
With a mile left to go, I started passing people.  ME!  I don't mean in a typical way, like the idea of beating someone, nothing at all like that about them or me.  Trail running has nothing to do with passing anyone because people are going different distances and everyone walks different sections.  But for me, it was something huge because I had something left to give at the end and I couldn't believe it.  I finished the last half mile at a 7:18 pace, and I.  Just.  Smiled!!!

I stuck around after I finished because I wanted to see PT-man come through his 2nd of 3 loops for his 50k.  The guy is simply impressive....he never even trained for this race, heck, he barely even ran more than 10 miles a week to prepare, yet here he was running 32 miles (it'd take me a good 2 years to feel "ready" for something so scary to me).  He came through about an hour after I was done and I helped him get some fuel; he was feeling great so onward he went for his final 13 mile loop.  I decided then I had to see him finish so I talked to a few people I knew at the race then went to my car and turned on the AC full-blast and just chilled for a couple hours.  Eventually, I went back out in the heat on the course and waited for awhile and finally found him, still running, and ran with him the last couple miles to the finish.  Words can't even express how happy I am for him!

Throughout this whole race, I'm excited to say that my foot held up very well!!!  I had absolutely no excruciating pain and only felt it whenever I hammed down the hills.  My mid-foot striking is paying off big time and I remember feeling at some point in the race that I'm no longer even forcing the mid-strike, it's just happening.  How cool is THAT?!?!  And my past month nemesis', the hamstring and back, held up remarkably well too.  A little bit of hamstring annoyance going up Mt. Carbon but it quickly went away when I got to the top... and my back, well, I can't even remember one time thinking about  it.  I'd call that a VERY copacetic day and I couldn't be happier!  It was a day of tests on so many levels and I say I passed, passed and then passed again!!

My 2:11 time (it was a bit long, 13.25 miles) wasn't even close to where I left my half marathon time road times of about 1:44 about two years ago, but I am just fine with that.  For the most part.  I ran strong, I remained strong, I had enough umph at the end to kick it into high gear, and I got to run on some incredibly beautiful trails.  And I had an absolute blast!  I plan to be back next year ...... and me and my foot are going to kick some serious trail butt, and it will be about pace!  I can't wait.

I'm headed to the mountains tomorrow for a couple days, soaking in some yellow-turning aspen trees.  I probably won't have internet so I apologize in advance for lack of blogging, but I will catch up upon my return, and I should have some amazing pictures to share.  I hope to do a little cycling...and my newly beloved trail running!

Until then....

Run Strong, my friends!

Week 4:
Run: 4.5 miles Easy/Recovery
Run: 10.2 miles.  First 5 miles: 8x35 sec fartleks at 3K pace, Second 5.2 miles were steady pace and hilly
Run: 10.25 miles @ base
Run: 6 miles @ base + 6x35 sec hill sprints
Weights: 40 minutes
Swim: 1500 yds
Run: 7.9 miles at base on trails
Run: 13.25 miles Bear Chase 1/2 Marathon
+ 2 miles wu/cd
Run: 53.91 mi
Swim: 0.87 mi
Weights: 40:00 minutes

I need to - again - work on more weight training, more core work, I'd like to get a biking day in there, somewhere, and swim twice a week.  Not sure where, but that's the goals.  Overall a great week, and I am feeling much better this week, after my hamstring was "fixed" at PT on Wednesday.  Looking forward to week 5!

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Week 3 / Problems are really just solutions waiting to happen...

Bike: 23.78 Miles
Should have also done some weights, but I didn't.

Run: 7 miles fartlek.  Base pace at 10:20 with 10x30 sec fast sprints at 7:31 mixed in.
Felt good.  First attempt at any "speedwork" in well over a year so I'll take it.

Run: Easy run of 10.68 miles on trails @ 10:04 pace
Didn't feel great from the start, something just felt "off" but I hung on.  Such a pretty, and peaceful place....This is the view I get to look when I run on the trails at the park by my house....

Run: 3 miles easy 
Weights: 30 minutes

Run: 9 miles @ 9:58 pace
Ran with a new friend from the relay I did.  I rarely run with people so this was a treat....but I find I waste a lot of energy talking and the pace felt tougher than it should have.  Legs a little tired from the week, too.

Swim: 1600yds
I usually love to swim laps, mostly kicking, for a great muscle recovery, but my left leg was having some issues in the groin and wasn't able to breast stroke kick much.  So I cut the swim short of a mile.  
Run: 1 mile (warm up to swim)

Run: 12 miles @ 9:42 pace.
I really had no energy to do this run and emotionally checked out long before it started.  My daughter moved out the day before and dangit if I didn't get choked up every time I thought about her empty room.  *sigh*

Week 3 Totals:
Run: 42.68 miles
Bike: 23.78 miles
Swim: 1600yds
Weights: 30 mins

Overall, I had a pretty rough week focusing on the workouts, I really didn't get in enough weight training but the mileage was where I wanted it.  I really fought hard all week to hold back the emotions as Abbey moved into her apartment, but it was tough and my running effort was definitely affected.  Don't get me wrong, I am happy for her - the girl has endured a lot of personal hardship in her life and this past month she had to make some very difficult grown-up decisions; but she is branching out on her own, as she is suppose to do, and becoming the adult she needs to be.  But it doesn't mean it is easy for me.  That's just my nature, I've always had a hard time with separation, but I am doing much better now and am very excited for her as she enters a new chapter in her life.  In fact, yesterday, we went to the zoo .... don't most 20-year-olds want to go to the zoo??  She was having a rough day with more personal crap so I took off and met her at the zoo and we had a great time - lots of smiles and some good girl chatting.  Perfect day :).

Abbey's fav: the giraffes

My body continues to hold up for the most part, but I am definitely feeling the push.  My left hamstring likes to let me know it doesn't care to go much past 10 miles and my back sometimes aches at this point, too.  A posture thing, perhaps.  Neither are concerns with the PT but I will probe him more about it when I go this week.  The forefoot of my left foot's also bothering me; I think I still compensate on this side of my body and I hit the ground harder on this side of my foot.  So I'm playing with shoes again and think I'm making some progress.  I need to pick up more wt training than one 30-minute session a week, but so far this week isn't looking much better.  I also need to be better incorporating more drills and strides....these are things to work on as I progress.

I recently read a blog post from a friend I feel I've "known" forever, which got me thinking a little about my running and why it's so important to me to keep pushing forward, when really, quitting a long time ago would hav been so much simpler.  I thought about the 17 marathons I've run, how none of them were easy and I'm pretty sure at least half of them were so painful I said in a mid-race temper tantrum I'd never run another.

But in the end, I have never regretted the struggle - there is a tremendous personal satisfaction in knowing that every marathon or race medal I own was earned with endless amounts of sweat, tears and mental fortitude.

Everything I have done in my life (work, running, cycling....) has not come easy to me.  I have had to work like hell just to be mediocre, but I am good with that because the satisfaction comes from knowing I have done my very best.

I am not someone who is particularly fast or talented as a runner (especially right now); I can't talk much about what it feels like to win a race, or even an age group very often.  But I do know I love to run.  Give me a slow, plodding painful run, a beast of a hill, in interval, a long doesn't matter what it is,
I just want to run!  I cannot pinpoint the exact moment in my life when running transition from my high school and college days of 'have to' to an 'I can't wait to.'  But it did.  And something happened to me as a runner, as a woman, and as a mother...all at once.

Determination has, by far, a greater impact than giftedness.  I am not a better runner because I am me; I am a better me because I am a runner.  And that, my friends, is why I never gave in to this debilitation injury....I feel better the past 3 weeks of little aches and pains from training than I have for the past two years not.

I am grateful for my new goals, my new approach, and my new running life.  I am excited to share with you my upcoming adventures as they come into view.   I hope I can inspire a little motivation out there, as I know you do me.  So, just like the rest of you, I will soldier on.

Here's the beautiful post my friend wrote.  I don't know why I'm including it.....other than it made me really, really happy that my injury could bring a happy ending ... somewhere.  Thanks, Garbo...

Sometimes happy endings are really just beginnings

If you are wise, you regularly read Run with Jill, the blog of Slow Ernie’s longtime spiritual adviser. I first came across her in the ’60s on the RW Loop site. She was a terrific runner, a nice person and a gifted writer.
She has since moved on to her Big-Deal Blog. I am a faithful reader but rarely comment there because unless you catch her posts minutes after they go up, you’re relegated to Response No. 3,522. No need for her to get the big head.
So what’s the point here? She was sidelined a while ago with a career-ending injury. If it were me there would be homeless guys all over Corpus parading around in racing flats, because I would have just given up. But Jill researched, experimented, suffered, researched some more, cried, laughed and kept going.
“No running” became “well, maybe some biking” and “OK, a jog/run” and “well, maybe up Pike’s Peak, but only one way.”
And just like that, she’s back in her second week of marathon training. And kicking some serious buttocks.
The internet is an odd place. You don’t really know anybody, yet you know them really well. Jill and I at the same time have gone through injuries, unemployment, frustration and maybe the early stages of menopause. Or maybe I’m just crabby by nature.
All I know is, her comeback makes me really, really happy.
Drop by her joint sometime when you need a little inspiration. You’ll be glad you did.
But don’t bother trying to leave a response …

Just ignore that last line :)....I love the comments and appreciate each and every one of them, they truly helped me never give up when I seriously wondered if I'd ever run again.  Thank you!!

Finally, I have to brag share: Ryan ran a 17:38 5K during last Friday's XC meet, a good minute and a half PR.  Good lord that kid is showing a lot of talent.  I can only hope my persistence has rubbed off on him, too.

Run strong, my friends!  
(and I apologize for the spacing issues above....I am about ready to kick Blogger to the curb!!)

Monday, September 12, 2011

Week 2 / Random mindlessness

Bike: 18.5 miles
Run: Easy 4.5 miles
"Easy" was tough, my legs were tired after bike ride and previous day long run.  Also need to slow that easy run down.  Didn't I mention this last week, too?  Let's see if I can't go 3 for 0 next week.
Run: 2.5 miles (warm up for weight training)
Weights: 45 minutes
Run: 11.5 miles "progression" run.
I thought I was going to barf when I picked up the pace after mile 6.  So progression turned into a 3 mile faster run from mile 6-9 and then slow, as in mega slow, to the end.  *sigh*
Run: 6 miles Easy + 6x30 sec hill sprints
Swim: 500M (the pool water was sooo warm, I was melting - in a pool!)
Weights: 45 minutes
Run: 8.1 hilly miles
Legs felt pretty tired at the start but I quickly felt better and ran this route at a 9:45 pace, which shocked me.  I've been running this route a few times this summer and this is a PR by a long shot.  YAY!  I felt very strong at the end...another shocker!
1500M swim
Run: 16 miles.  14 miles @ 9:46, 2 mi cool down.
9:46?  for 14 miles?  HOW?!? I don't run that fast.  Yet.  I ran with my neighbor; he ran a few of my long runs with me when I was training for Boston in 2010, and he is a lot faster than me (now); I felt like I was pushing it a little, but time was flying (I really don't run with others often) and I never felt like I was pushing too hard.  Definitely fatigued at mile 14 and thus just ran 2 miles slow at the end to cool down.  A big confidence booster run!
Week 2 Totals:
Run: 48.6 mi 
Bike: 26.5 mi
Swim: 1.18 mi
Weights: 1:30:00

I like it!! :)  Overall, my legs felt really good this week and I continue to be amazed how well they are holding up.  As for the foot, I feel stiffness in my heel after a run, especially many hours later if I get off of it for any  length of time, but compared to a few months ago, this is absolutely nothing to moan about.  Very little Achilles or ankle issues, too.   What's screaming the most right now is my left hamstring during longer runs.  PT does not seem to be worried about it and said it is just weak and needs time to get stronger (also thinks I'm still favoring my left leg running since I spent two years overcompensating this leg to compensate for the bad right foot).  If he's not worried, then I won't.  At least not too much.  The pace still messes with my head, but I am seeing improvements (slowly!) and that's helping.  Week 2 done, ready for week 3 (a few less miles).

Other random useless junk:
  • Seems there was some concern from some about my mileage last week.  I hadn't posted much about my summer mileage since it was just basically mileage to change to a forefoot landing but I was hovering around the mid 30s so after speaking with my PT, we came up with a a common ground starting point and that's where week 1 landed me.  All is good.  I love that you all love me so much and were worried :).  
  • My laptop is fried.  I knew it was coming, things were not acting "normal" for quit some time.  You'd think that insight would have made me scramble to get things backed up quickly but um... yeah....  I was finally able to boot it in safe mood and spent about 5 hours backing it up and downloading it on my daughter's "old" laptop, which just happens to be newer, and faster, than my guess who now has a new laptop!?!   Things happening a little different on this new computer; me and change are not really best friends.  
  • My right rib cage is having some sort of frequent muscle spasm going on.  This is on the opposite side of the pulled rib muscle from a couple months ago.  It's annoying and wakes me up a lot.  Any ideas how to rid this sucker?  Grrrr.
  • I finally did it and registered for my next marathon:  Carlsbad Marathon, January 22nd.  Never a race on my radar, but it fits well with the timing and I really preferred a low-key marathon with not a lot of hoopla for my first one back. Besides, I'll get to stay with my Boston Blogger Bud, Meg.  I've also never ran a marathon in January but notoriously I do not run spring marathons well; I love training in the cooler temps, but come race day when the weather is warmer, my body is not acclimated and lets me know on race day.  Will be interesting to see how how bumping up a few months will pan out.  I have no expectations in Carlsbad other than to get my body prepped to race 26.2 miles after such a long hiatus, it will be strictly a race to gauge where I need more strength.  I never thought I'd want to train to get to Boston again....but I am surprised how my head is leaning towards that.  Carlsbad will give me a lot of clues as to IF my body can get me back to Boston.  I think it can!  :)
  • My friend and teacher at the school I work, just started a blog as he documents his journey to Leadville next year.  Please pop over HERE and become a follower, I know he'd appreciate the support and who isn't intrigued by the training of a 100-mile race?  
  • Am I the ONLY soul who hasn't finished up their Q&As posts?  I think I have 30 more questions to answer.  Interestingly enough, Chris K, who was the instigator of said stupid game and initially tagged me, has left the blog world. Does that automatically take me out of the game and put a check mark next to all unanswered questions?   I'm thinking so...  
  • My Chilly Cheeks relay mates all are doing the Denver Rock and Roll Half Marathon on Oct. 9th and want me to do it with them.  I'm sure they would all be sad if I weren't there, I'm such the life of any party!  I cringe to pay a lot of money to run a really crappy half marathon (back to that pace thing again)....but I think it would be a good training run and good to have a starting point - a measuring stick - to mark my racing progress.  So I may do it.  They'd better have an awesome shirt and medal!  And free beer after.
  • Last little tidbit of news:  I applied for, and was accepted, to be part of a team for a local running store here in town which will be sponsored through Brooks.  I really don't have many details, there is a mandatory meeting next week to learn more of the scoop, but basically I will get some free Brooks garb and will wear said garb in a boat load of races, paid for by running store.  Sweet, huh?  This will all start in January of 2012.  I'm sure I'll be posting a lot about this as the deal unfolds, but to say I'm excited doesn't even describe how honored I am to be part of this team.  Maybe God was looking down on me finally and thought since I never slit my wrists in the 2-year heel from hell fiasco, here's a little reward for ya, Jillie!  Sweet, I'll take it, thanks!!
Kind of a boring week, not much to share.  Most days I feel like I'm drowning in marching band, cross country, and daughter moving stuff and there's not much excitement in that.  If my daughter doesn't get her crap out of every single room in my house, I'm personally going to move that stuff all in the garage myself until she has a confirmed move date.
Case in point!
Much cooler temps have moved into Colorado - and I like it!  Going to try to get up to the mountains in a couple weeks to get in some trail running as the Aspen trees turn their vibrant, I just love it up there in Fall (see new header pic)!  

Until next time...

Run strong, my friends!

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

A New Era, Week #1

I don't really have any earth-shattering breaking news to share which is going to make you all magically injury-free, super runners like last week's post (I hope, you all called your local sports physical therapist though and made an appointment to get a muscle imbalance test!).  The drama with the daughter is slowly being laid to rest (and best news, she found an apartment downtown to share with a new friend so will be moving out in a week.  Trust me, this is a good thing at age almost 21 - but I will miss her).  Ryan managed to have an asthma attack at the weed and dust infested pre-state track meet last week and thus lost his varsity spot for this week's meet.  Its ok, we knew this would happen and as Ryan said, "I'll just fight for it back again, mom..."  Love that kid!  The other son's still busy texting his girlfriend, nothing new I thought I'd just post about my first official week back to marathon training.  A new me.  I want to examine my critical statistics in several key categories on a daily basis so I might as well do it on the blog.  Maybe someone will get something out of it.  Maybe not.  I may do this each week.  I may not.  I really have no clue what to do with this blog....I guess when I have a thought, I'll share.  Or not.  I love simplicity.

Let's pick the week apart and see what my brain thought about each workout (in pink italics below):

Easy Run: 6 miles + 6 30 sec sprints uphill, drills downhill
Felt great.  Nothing fuels the legs like the first day of a PLAN!  I did run 12 miles the day before so the legs were a bit stiff, but whatever, it's day one, no one alters a plan on day one!

Thankfully, on day 2 one CAN alter a plan.  I fully intended to get to the gym and lift weights; unfortunately too much drama daughter stuff which left me teary-eyed.  Mirror hogging body builders hate puffy-eyed out-of-shape runners using "their" machines.  I didn't even do one single PT exercise *sigh*.

Progression Run: 9 miles, last 4 quasi-moderate
Day 3, alteration again.  Plan was to do 10 miles, last 5 "moderate".  I was happy with the 9 miles and 4 at "somewhat moderate" pace.  All it takes to derail a plan is a daughter who's going through a rough period. 
30 minute core strength work w/physical therapist
No way to avoid 30 minutes of an ab-killing workout then being the only sole stuck in a locked room with one very masochistic physical therapist. Ouch.

Easy Run: 6 miles + last mile @ 1/2 MP
Note to self:  Just because you feel fantastic, do NOT start an "easy" run hard and then make it harder by implementing it into a progression run into a sub-9 minute mile.  Never!
25 minutes weight training
Though I know weight training is the absolute quickest way I am going to get stronger, I absolutely hate it.  It doesn't even matter that I'm a certified personal trainer, that is irrelevant.

Progression Run: 8 miles, last 10 min moderate (which turned into a death march)
Today's sucky run was brought to me courtesy of Thursday's easy-run-turned-into-some-sort-of-apparent-PR-attempt run.  I knew when I woke up and my legs felt like Jello this wasn't going to go so well, so I decided I may as well start it off with a bang and just death march at the end (I'm pretty good at this tactic, lots of experience), that way it actually turns into a successful run :).  My Garmin died about mile 3 (who knew you had to update the software on those things to make the battery last more than 20 minutes?), which was a good thing because I didn't want to know my pace those last three miles.   The only positive out of this run, aside from the fact I actually COULD run 8 miles after I logging more miles already this week than I have in a year, was that around mile 4, I saw a woman in front of me running and I zeroed in on her as my target, and I did it - I passed her.  Stupid, internal competitive ego I have! 
Bike: 8 miles (to and from gym)
Car-less due to daughter locking her keys in her car, late for work, and thus took my car (more drama, yay!).  Probably not the best choice to go for a margarita after the gym when one has to ride their bike home. 
Swim: 1600M
I'm a pretty firm believer that swimming really helps stretch overly-worked running muscles (I do a lot of laps on the kick board).  I had no goal to swim an entire mile, but when I got close, I couldn't leave without doing so.  I mean, really....isn't there a rule about that somewhere?

If you call it that. I was at the pre-state XC meet from 7am - 3pm where I was on my feet the entire time and running back and forth from the start line to the finish then standing at great lengths between events bringing the runners through.  My legs were so achy by the time I finally left.

14.06 miles "easy"
I got some wild hair after reading KC's blog about how she cranked out 17 miles running circles around her 1/2 mile neighborhood block that this is what I was wanted to do.  Thankfully, my block is a mile around (or so I miss-thought, it's actually .97...ugh) so the goal was to do 14 laps.  I'm a wee-bit fearful of heading out too far from my house, memories of past attempts to run far when the heel flared up and left me limping 6 miles home fill my head and I just need a few confidence building good runs I think.  Anyway, I put some water and Cytomax at the end of my driveway and away I went.  Lap 1: the "tiny" hill leading up to my house was torture.  Long gone are the days when this hill was barely a blimp on the radar screen, now it's a mountain and I could feel it big time in my glutes and hamstrings.  9:41.  WTH, 9:41?  How come I can't crank out a 9:41 pace when I'm gagging on a lung on the treadmill at a 10:31 pace?  Holy crap, I was stunned.  I tried to turn the pace down, but lap 2 was 9:33.  This is supposed to be a LSD easy run, I haven't hit the 9's on a run in well over a stupid year - this is not where I need this pace to be and it was becoming apparent that old taking-out-too-fast habits do not die easily.  The next few laps were in the higher 9s and then a couple in the low 10's, where I wanted them, but by lap 9, my glutes and hamstrings were killing me from the monstrous baby hill.  I cried Uncle and gathered my crap at the end of the driveway and hit my basement to finish out the 14 where, btw, I couldn't even get close to the 9:41 pace I ran the first mile without feeling like I was going to faint.  I ran 5.33 miles at my faithful treadmill 10:31 pace and called it good for 14.06 miles.

Week 1 Totals:
Run: 43.06 miles
Weights: 1-hour
Bike: 8 miles
Swim: 1600M

Summary: Overall it was a great first week.  My heel held up well and my legs, though fatigued by the end of the week, did their job.  I guess what's messing with me most is the pathetically slow pace.  But when your foot hurts and you take many months off from running, you get a lot slower. This is a fact.  When you spend most of that time swimming and biking, your running doesn't get any faster - no matter how studly you got from many bike falls earlier in the spring.  I'm not complaining.  Really, I'm not.  Running pain-free, doubling-over with side stitches from a 10:30 minute mile -- beats being laid up with excruciating heel pain. I love it!!  But if I could run now as fast as I could have two years ago, I'd love it a tiny bit more.

I have no idea how long - or even if - I can get my speed back; I see minuscule improvements but I question sometimes if I lost the best part of my racing season with a two-year hiatus.  I'm 48, is this that magical place in running where getting faster diminishes?  Though I have some ideas, I'm not exactly sure; but I'm ready to take this little adventure on the road to find out....what good is an adventure if you're already certain of the outcome anyway?

Let's bring on week 2, I.  Am.  Ready!!
I didn't exactly take any pictures to share, who wants to see a picture of Surburbia USA as I do 9 laps around my block?!?  But, I did download a new song to my iPod, and I listened to it at least a dozen times during those 9 laps.  Do you play a new song you like repeatedly until you grow sick of it like me? Anyway,'s a great song, and I love the video!!

Run strong, my friends!