Friday, December 30, 2011

Snowshoeing the year to a close

Living in Colorado, you'd think I'd love snow.  

You'd be wrong.

I know I shouldn't hate, but I do.  I hate winter.  It's cold.  It's dark.  It's depressing.  I hate all those.  

I used to be a skier when I first moved here from Iowa (another cold winter state, much much colder than Colorado in fact), and I actually became a fairly decent skier for a stretch of a few years.  But then I got old ... have you noticed how many old people live in Florida and Arizona?  I envy them.  At least Arizona, I'm fairly certain my flaky dry skin wouldn't know what to do in humid Florida.  Old people don't ski because they don't like being cold.  I fit perfectly into that category. 

But I do love living in Colorado and try to take advantage of the plethora of outdoor activities that this magnificent state has to offer (especially in the summer)....I love trail running in the high country.  LOVE IT!  I also love to climb 14ers (for you flatlanders not familiar with 14er terminology, "14ers" means mountain peaks which are 14,000' or higher.  There are 54 of 'em.  There are also 586 13ers, 676 12ers....) 
My son Ryan and I when we ran/hiked up peaks Grays and Torreys
in July, two 14ers, with the track team.
My friend Dennis and I when we raced in the Mt. Evans Ascent.
Nothing cooler than seeing these mountain goats in their element as I
climbed Mt. Quandary.
 Brendan loves to climb 14ers in the winter....

But I just can't bring myself to do that.  Burr!!!!!  Thankfully, Brendan has a buddy whose dad is a semi-professional climber and he takes him and his friend winter climbing (including ice climbing...with real ice axes and all).  That's just crazy stuff!

I will, however, venture up to the high country in winter if a Crazy Floridian calls and says he and his family are in the mountains vacationing and if I'd like to come and snowshoe with them.  I don't get as cold snowshoeing;  if I can keep constantly moving to keep warm, then the whine factor goes down substantially.  A nice thing for those around me.

Those that knew me last year may remember that Adam and his family were in town last December and we had a great time snowshoeing then.  Snow was great in the high country and we had a spectacular single-trek trail to crunch our snowshoes on and it was so peaceful and serene.  This year, the mountains have almost no snow - apparently the conditions are worse than they have been in 30 years (according to so our trail from last year was out it became a challenge to find something that worked, but snow on the east side of the Continental Divide is more plentiful and we found a trail, part of the Continental Divide Trail (the trail is 3100 miles, stretching from Mexico to Canada), near Loveland Ski area - not as scenic as last year and a bit noisy with the Interstate nearby - but off we went for about a 5 mile adventure....
My Son Brendan and I

Brendan.  He's pretty cool in his aviator glasses ;)
Adam (Crazy Floridian) and I.  Doesn't everyone tilt their head to the
side to take a picture?
Finding the marker for the Continental Divide Trail
So glad Brendan got that nice shot of my butt...
Thumb's up!
When I got home from the mountains later that afternoon, I was sitting in my bedroom and the room suddenly started to glow bright pink.  I ran outside and took this picture.... the sky was glowing this magnificent pinkish-orange.  Isn't it beautiful?!?  I stood there in my slippers on the icy sidewalk and looked at it for about 5 minutes before the sun closed shop on Denver for the day (and I was suddenly reminded I had no coat on.  Did I mention I hate being cold?).  It made me, one more time, look back and evaluate my day...and my year....

The snowshoe outing was good for me.  It let me hit the reset button on the gratitude meter and remember, in this very tough time I'm enduring right now, that I have plenty.  I get to spend time with my family and friends.  I get to smile and laugh and see beautiful scenery while snowshoeing (albeit freezing to death, whatever).  I get to run.....

So now, just 2 days before we enter a year year, I am thinking how I want to spend the next rotation around the sun.  It can be overwhelming to consider what we want to do, don't you think?  I think I want to take the time and consider the things I want to leave behind as well as the things I want to run towards.  I want to leave behind guilt, resentment, relationships that are not good for me, worries that hold me back, old versions of me that I need to let go, fears that limit my view, to name a few  And as I move forward, I want to get back in touch with the desires of my heart, not desires of my head.  I want to shift my perspective and consider who I want to be this time next year instead of what I want to do.  I don't want the way I fill my time to define who I am by default.  If I can turn my energy to consider who I am instead of checking off a "to do" list, I think it can be a year of great growth. 

I can't wait.

Happy New Year, my friends.  It has been an absolute pleasure sharing the miles with you this year and I look forward to sharing more next year.  I wish you the biggest blessings to carry the quiet desires of your heart!


Tuesday, December 20, 2011

The Best of the Year

Yea, still alive here... last I checked.  I'm so tired and so tired that I don't even sleep well (did I share that I was insane enough to work holiday help at the GAP?  Yeah, I know, BLEH!  I'm finding out that holiday shoppers, as a whole, are not overly nice during the holidays, and I'll leave it at that.  It's utterly exhausting).  I am behind on everything....but at least I got the tree up and a few gifts bought.  And I managed to make 500 Christmas cookies, and consume 400 of them.

First order of business is the blog exchange: I have received a few emails from blog exchangees that gifts have been sent.  It's not a requirement to let me know, but thank you to those that have; I will be on the lookout for the goodies you received.  Please, if you haven't sent your gift (you know who you are *ahem*) let's hit the post office asap....rush shipping might even be required.  Also, please include your name WITH your gift (if you didn't, please let them who you are once it's arrived.), the "secret" part was just before the gift arrived.  There has been some really great gifts I've seen already - so fun!  Thanks to all who participated!

Next: my marathon training.'s there, but it is pretty sad.  4 1/2 weeks left; scary!  I got so sick after I did that half marathon in the frozen Arctic a couple weeks ago and getting back into it has been one very tough mental challenge.  I've also been dealing with a nightmare of a personal situation which has left me just feeling so blaaaah!!!  I did manage 52 miles last week but they were pretty much all base miles.  I cranked out a 20-miler on Saturday - my first outdoors for this marathon - but I wouldn't have called it easy, nor was it anywhere close to my target of a minute/mile slower than marathon pace.  Eh, it's okay.  I've given up on any idea of a time goal for Carlsbad and truly I am at peace with that.  This is my first marathon in 19 months.  I need to get stronger before any miraculous 26.2 miles can occur (I will discuss in a future post) so I will run Carlsbad half trained.  As my good friend told me recently on a particularly bad day I had: You know how to overcome adversity.  The coach within will show you the way.  Yeah, I will be fine.  

Finally: Misszippy, who I had the privilege of meeting this summer, asked the blog world to answer the following questions, which pretty much sums up my year, so I thought I'd bite on this one and give my thoughts.  Here goes:
  • Best Race Experience: I didn't get to race much this year due to my foot fiasco, but I actually have two races that were my "best".  First: the fact I finished the Pikes Peak Ascent - a 8000' virtual climb - with pretty much no training and a still bum foot.  This was definitely a very proud moment for me and I got a little choked up when I crossed that finish line at 14,115'.  
Second:  When I far exceeded what I thought I could run at the Denver RnR half marathon.  And really not so much that I exceeded my expectations, but more so that I felt incredibly strong the entire race.  THIS is something I hope to accomplish for next year.
  • Best Run: It had to be just last week. I was having a particularly rough morning and it took me hours to crawl out of bed but when I did, I decided to hit the trails at the state park near my house.  It was early afternoon and I didn't see one human on the trails for the whole 9 miles I ran (but did see many deer) and it was the most peaceful and tranquil run I've had in ages.  I left all the "bad" stuff for that day at my car and didn't think about anything other than enjoying the run.  
  • Best New Piece of Gear: This has to be my new road bike I bought during my foot injury (sorry Zippy, but this isn't running related).  I never thought I'd ever do a century ride in my life, but this year I did it.  I learned so much about the cycling world and found I actually enjoyed it (shhh, don't tell BDD!!!!).  Despite the fact it almost killed me.

  • Most Inspirational Runner:  This will sound pretty vain, I'm sure, but I'm going with me on this one.  After 18 months of dealing with so much constant heel pain, I can't believe I never threw in the towel, stuck knitting needles in my eyeballs, and gave up.  But I didn't.  I believed there was an answer out there and I relentlessly searched to find it.  I emailed the masses; I made trips to universities to stalk specialists; I sought out (and fired) my podiatrist; I earned many WebMD degrees; I had needles stuck in my calf by my physical therapist; I made long distance phone calls to Las Vegas to pick the brain of this guy; I considered selling my house to see a specialist in North Carolina.  In 18 months, I cried many tears and questioned my determination... but in a few weeks I am running a marathon.  I'm actually pretty stunned. 
Boston Marathon 2010.  I hope to return, someday!
  • If you could sum up your year in a couple of words, what would they be:  A year of multiple tests and patience!

How about you?  How do you answers these questions?

A very Merry Christmas - or whichever fantastic holiday you observe - from me to you!!

Run Strong....

Thursday, December 8, 2011

What We Do for a Cheap Medal and an Ugly Ugly Ugly Sweatshirt 1/2 Marathon Race Report

Ugly Sweatshirt
Cheap Medal (I can almost bend it in half).  Design mimics the ugly sweatshirt
It's ridiculous sometimes when I think about some of the really stupid decisions I have made just to go to a race I've entered.  Maybe it's the fact I ate the cost of 8 races with my whole foot fiasco the past year and a half and I felt I MUST do this one, or maybe it was the fact this was part of Ryan's Christmas present and I wanted him to be able to do matter the reason, really, this race had to rank right up there with some of Jill's really stupid moves.  Let's do a run down why....
  • We work too late on a Friday night thus get home late then stay up even later to critique son's costume for the school's Renaissance Festival he was playing the trumpet in the next day.
He does look good though :)
  • We get up at 5:30am on about 4 hours of sleep.
  • We get a late start because Ryan, who is running the race also, is not a morning person.  
  • We drive through a snowstorm on the interstate (not a side road, or even a major road...we're talking INTERSTATE here) for two hours.

  • We text Terzah (who was smart and stayed in a hotel near the race the night before) and tell her we may turn around and go home and go back to bed.  We didn't.
  • We panic because said road conditions caused us an additional 40 minutes on the road and we are LATE!
  • We get to race, scramble to gather our stuff, pick up race packets, say a quick "hi" and a give a quick good luck hug to Terzah and use the porta potty - all within 8 min (that is most definitely a PR!).
  • We wear 4 layers of clothing on the top, long fleece lined tights, fleece gloves and wool socks.
  • We run 2 1/2 loops on solid snow-packed slippery roads, cursing every turn.
  • We run down a very steep hill.  Opps, I mean we ice skate down a very steep hill.
  • We run 2 miles on a bike path.  Opps, I mean we ice skate on a bike path.
  • We take hat off and shove in jacket pocket because it refuses to stay on.
  • We curse the wind!!!!
  • We can't see out of wet hair in face (see hat wouldn't stay on above).  
  • We question why we got our hair cut earlier in the week and thus won't all fit in it's ponytail.  We curse the hairdresser for cutting it too short.
Official Race pic.  Beauty, huh?  Notice hair?  Nice!
  • We now get to run on ankle turning frozen mud ruts and gravel.
  • We give up "MP" run about mile 6 when we realize there's no way in hell you can sustain that pace on ice.
  • We have to go to the bathroom - BAD - but there's no place to go and we're in wide, WIDE open space.
  • We curse our hamstring, which has been annoying from step 1 because 8 minute pre-race prep time didn't allow ample time to stretch it.  
  • We vow we are going to give up running long distances (see my last post on my love for 5k's).
  • We briefly stop looking at our footing to look at the scenery - which is run along the Arkansas River with large sandstone bluffs on the other side - and think it could be a pretty race course.
  • We curse the cold temperatures.
  • We get to the dam, the turn around point, and think this is somewhat pretty - but good lord, do we still have 5 miles to go?
  • We now get to run in 35 mph headwinds. 
Start of race.  Notice horizontal flag?
  • We now get to run in 35 mph headwinds on ice. 
  • We start making deals with God...."Please God, move the finish line towards me a couple miles and I promise I'll eat more vegetables."
  • We thank our mom for taking us ice skating as a kid on the frozen Iowa ponds.
  • We want to seriously quit...but realize there is absolutely no way to get to the finish line except to keep moving sliding forward (no possibly way to have a sag wagon out here).
So finish we do!  

My son well-earned his first race finisher's medal.  This was his 2nd half marathon - his first, this summer, he ran a 1:36.  This one: 2:03.  I believe he told me, "I was just happy to finish. Hated that big time. Worst conditions I've ever run in...."  

Me: I think I managed a PW.  I'm not even sure and don't even care...I think my time was 2:15 something.  If I was lucky. Terzah did tell me I managed 8th in my AG (there must have been 8 in my AG) - and she did very well considering the conditions so all of us in this race weren't total wimps!

I seriously checked out of that race about mile 6 and by mile 9 was DONE and just shuffled through the last 4 miles.

But I don't regret doing it.  I don't.  In fact, I'd like to do that race again someday (in more optimal weather conditions, please!)  because I do think it would be a gorgeous race course (I wish my brain cells were not frozen, I'd have taken my iPod out of my pocket and taken some pictures).  And it's possibly even a somewhat fast course.  Mother Nature just had other plans today, and that's just how it goes sometimes.  Besides, I got another ugly shirt, and another medal (cheap, whatever!) and it's hanging on my closet door..and Ryan and I got to run a race together - a rarity since he's usually in XC or pre-XC or track or pre-track.  We had some great laughs together afterwards :).  A race I will never forget.

I did, however, catch some cold bug and have been  feeling pretty miserable since the race.  Perfect...6 weeks out from Carlsbad and I've barely run a step since last Sunday.  Grrrrr!  I think Carlsbad is going to be plan C now: survive!!!!!

Blog Exchange Info:
Thanks for all who signed up - all 147 of you!  Sign up is now closed (please don't email me asking to be in, I would have to write back and say NO).  I have emailed all of you with your exchange information in the past couple days....if you haven't received it, please let me know.  Please remember start stalking your blog buddy's website and getting a feel for who they are and plan accordingly :).  And remember, the holidays are fast approaching so don't dilly dally too long getting the gift sent.  Email me with any questions.

Run Strong, my friends!

Friday, December 2, 2011

The Not-The-Worst-5K-In-My-Life-But-Pretty-Darn-Close RR

ARGHHH!!  HATE Blogger!  Sorry for those that read the first edition of my RR this morning before I finished it.  "Save" button is to the right of the "Publish" button...will I ever learn?'s the final draft.....

My XC Son, Ryan; fellow blogger, Tara; the big man himself; the 5K hater
You may be thinking I (we) ran an early Jingle Bell 5K.... but you'd be wrong, we actually ran the Wobble Gobble (or Gobble Wobble?) 5K in Littleton.  Santa was just there so that we could give him our early Christmas wish lists (he knows I've been exceptionally nice and never said any "bad" words during this trying year with my foot :)).  My wish was that I wouldn't die in the race - I hadn't run this fast in a couple years and my exercise-induced asthma hates 5k's.  Tara was hoping she wouldn't puke - she wasn't feeling all that well race morning.  My son, Ryan, wanted a sub-20 race - the overachiever he is.  Brat!

But let's back up a bit before the race, just so you get the full picture.  An few email exchanges between Tara and I....

6 days before race day:
Tara: Do you want to run one of the turkey trots around town on Thanksgiving?
Me: Absolutely NO.  I hate 5k's.
Tara: Okay.
We have some pretty deep and intellectual conversations, no?

4 days before race day:
Me: Okay, let's do one of the turkey races, I need some speed work and no better way than coughing up a lung on Thanksgiving morning.
Tara: I'm not sure I want to anymore, I hate 5k's.
Me:  Me, too.  Whatever, let's do it anyway, it'll be good for us.  If it doesn't kill us.
Tara:  Okay.
Seeing a pattern here of highly intellectual conversations?

3 days before race day:
I register Ryan online but did not register myself as Tara was going to do that.  Don't ask.

2 days before race day:
Tara: OMG, race registration is closed!
Me: Holy Crap!  Ryan's going to be the only one running....
We spend the next several hours (and I mean HOURS) scrambling to find out if we can still register for the race or if we have to eat the cost of Ryan's entry and run a different one.  Delusional us thought maybe we could actually place in our AG if we ran a different race.  Hahahah.  Like I said, delusional!).

We finally got things straightened out, the race registration was super stupid and closed the race a half day earlier than on the website....they obviously don't understand that 12:00pm is NOT midnight.

Race day:
I wake up feeling miserable.  Severe sinus garbage going on for over 3 weeks and just not mentally into this thing. I go and pick up Tara at her house, Ryan in tow.
TaraI feel like crap, I have horrible stomach issues.  I'm not running.  I hate 5k's. What's your goal for the race?
Me: Survival!  Seriously!  I hate 5k's.  I ran 3 miles last night with the last mile at an 8:00 and really struggled.  I don't think I can sustain a sub-8 for 3.1 miles.  I suck!
Tara: I hate 5K's (x6390)
Me: Me too (x6390)
Ryan: 5k's ROCK!
That kid needs some serious therapy, obviously!

As Ryan and I went to pick up our race packets, Tara gets a change of heart and decides to run the race despite her icky stomach.  The weather was brisk but not overly so and I think we dressed perfectly for the conditions (how that happened, I'm not sure, I am usually over or under-dressed!).

Myself and Tara, about to go tear up the course!  Right!
This is a small race.  Massively small (219 to be exact).  Fellow blogger and Coloradoan, Katie, had run the inaugural race the year before and emailed me a course description (thanks, Katie) and said they didn't even have chip timing.  This year they did have shoe chips so Tara and I lined up with some guy holding a Crayon made "8:00" sign.  I told her it was probably too ambitious for me, there were only about 20 other souls in front of us (and Ryan would be one of them, of course), but looking around, we were by FAR in better shape than those around us.  I mean, seriously!  I don't think half those people had any clue what the hell the "8:00" sign meant.  Sort of like in 2007 when I ran my first marathon in 5 years at Dallas and I ran with the "4:30" sign guy for a long time wondering how anyone in the world could run a 4:30 min/mile for 26.2 miles and why we weren't running a hell of a lot faster.  Go me!  I figured it out around mile 5 (when I kicked that "4:30" guy to the curb thankyouverymuch).

Off we go.  YAY!

I try not to take out too fast.  If you knew of my past racing nemesis, you'd be laughing at this statement.  But I tried to just run controlled and steady and not cough up a storm....once I start coughing, then the race is basically over for me.  I get into a good, steady pace behind a black shorts and Vibram 5FF guy and feel pretty good.  I have no clue how fast I'm running (remember that whole Garmin thingie issues I have?) but there are mile markers spray painted on the path we were running and I hit mile 1 at 6:33.  WTH????????  I am almost certain I can't run a 6:33 even if I were offered a billion bucks to do so.  Not right now (okay...I know you want to hear it - again - so here goes....."in a past life, yes, but not this current one".  You're welcome!).  

Now, the logical side of me said: there is absolutely no way I ran a 6:33.
The illogical side of me said:  Wow, I think I can run a sub-23, maybe even sub-22? if I can keep this up!!

Mind you, I think the last sub-22 I ran had to be pre-twin era (they're now 16).

Does all simple math become a class in partial differential equations when we race?  I swear, I'm a somewhat educated person.  Mile 2 I hit in like 17:30.  That's the first time it dawned on me that mile 1 was pretty much off, I waw working way too hard to be running a 9 min/mile.  But I'm feeling pretty good, not coughing yet, and thinking I had a good chance at a sub-25 (secret goal...which in reality, is sooo so soooo sad!).

And then it happened.... mile 2.5ish and the cough starts.  Oh God!  Please don't make me start walking.... Mr. Black Shorts and 5FF guy pulls ahead and I start my crawl to the finish line pretty much hating every second of that last half mile.


7:50 overall pace.
12th place female
4th in my age group. Why is my AG so highly competitive!?!?!?
Tara finished just a behind me - stomach cramps and all.  Kinda hate her! 

Ryan got his sub-20 and ran a 19:18.

I got some great speed work in.  I didn't die. Tara didn't puke.  A hot chocolate toast was was in order....and bonus, Santa had candy canes so I dropped mine in my post-race hot chocolate and the coughing subsided.

Santa is a miracle worker!

Post Race:
Tara: I hate 5K's.
Me: Me too.  We should do them more often.  Like maybe find a Jingle Bell one in December.
Tara: Definitely!

When I got home, I popped on Athlinks just to see if that was a Personal Worst 5k for me.  Oh hell no....

Colorado Rockies Home Run For The Homeless 2010CO5/2/103251807:5324:30+1:11+2:02
Scream Scram 5K 2009CO10/23/091717707:3023:19+0:51+0:51
That Dam Run 2009 - Run-5KCO3/1/0929457:1322:28-1:11P.R.
Scream Scram 5KCO10/24/08113837:3623:39+0:26+1:11
Colorado Rockies Home Run For The Homeless 5KCO5/11/083191127:2823:13-9:38+0:4

Nope, that PW title goes to the 5k I ran immediately after my return from the 2010 Boston Marathon (highlighted in yellow).  You know....The Boston Marathon where I my foot injury fiasco from hell first started.  Whatever, worst is still worst and this race wasn't my worst....I had a whole 10 seconds to spare even before that happened.  Woohoo!!!
BTW, I probably ran about 30-40 5k's and 10k's that do NOT show up on when I lived in Alabama in the early 90s.  Why, I'm not sure....I guess Alabama doesn't partake in the Athlinks program, but dammit, I ran those in the SUB-20 range and I WANT them there so I don't look like a total sloth!!!  *sigh* 

Though the Gobble Wobble wasn't my PW 5k, I fully understand that I am not in ideal racing condition right now - not even close - and this race reiterates Carlsbad is just going to NOT be the race I had originally hoped....and that's okay, it really is.  In 2012, with my Brooks/Boulder Running Co gig (I start on January 1st) forcing me to race a plethora of smaller local races, I am betting this pace is going to go down.

Nevertheless, I had a great time - thanks Tara for twisting my arm and making me cough a little.  And will we be doing that Jingle Bell 5k this month?  Ah....probably not.  But one can never say never (Maybe we'll see Mr. Turkey there!).  First, I have a little race this weekend, a bit longer in length, and apparently on snow-covered trails.  Oh joy!!

My front yard, taken moments ago.  About 8" of fresh white stuff.  Bleh!
Finally, if you haven't signed up for the 2nd Annual Holiday Blog Gift Exchange and want to do so, please head over HERE to sign up.  This will most likely be my last reminder before the deadline (Monday, December 5th at NOON Mountain Standard Time).  I think we're up to 145 participating.  Wow!  If you wonder where I am on blog land lately, it's me working on this exchange...emailing every single new person.  Anyway, will be in touch sometime next week with your blog exchange info - yay!

Run Strong, my friends!