Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Let's blame this failure on the socks....

Sunday I ran the Pi-Mile 5k. All you math and science-y geeks like myself should get it :).  Pi = 1 unit = 3.1415...  Therefore pi = a 5k run.  Or thereabouts.  Clever, huh!!  They should have run this race on March 14th which is official pi day but I guess they weren't THAT clever.

Anyway, I happened to find this little 5k race on some local race listing and I had to have the shirt. That shirt ... LOVE IT!  And I needed some speed work so I bribed my old running partner, Dennis, into running it with me.  Very long time readers may remember Dennis.  Dennis and I ran a lot back in the days when I could actually run faster than I presently can.
Dennis and I after a race when I used to be fast
I can't run with Dennis and his friends anymore because they'd pretty much be walking or I'd be sprinting to keep the same pace.  I really miss him and the group sometimes.
Dennis - in red shirt, and some of the other "speedies" I used to run with,
running up Mt. Evans - elevation 14,270' - in 2009
But Dennis was game to run the Pi-mile with me and I couldn't have been more excited.  Maybe it was the memories of fast days gone by or the fact I'd get to hear about the old gang again....but I really was looking forward to this race and honestly, I hoped I'd have a good race ("good" being relative to where my current pathetic pace is).

Well....not so much.



The race started on the Colorado School of Mines track at the base of Lookout Mountain.

That zigzag line is a road, the same road Julie and I went up last year  on our  Century bike ride.
The "M" stands for "Mines" for the Colorado School of Mines and Technology.  See the paraglider? 
We ran a lap on the track and then headed through the neighborhoods to the path along Clear Creek, where the vast majority of the race was run.
Loved this!
The majority of the race runs along the path here along Clear Creek
I wanted to clear 8 min/miles...or slightly better.  I know I can do it, and didn't think it'd be too tough.  I hit the first mile in 7:42 and I knew this was a wee-bit fast so as not to death march the last mile, like I did in the last 5k I ran in March, I slowed the pace some.

Mile 2 I hit at like 8:44.  Really?  Ugh.  I guess I slowed TOO much, indicative by how well I felt for the last mile.  I think it would have been a good race and I could have done better than my 5k in March, but the last half mile of this race was uphill and when I hit it, I was cooked, gave up, and lollygagged in to the finish with a 25:42.


Seriously, I haven't hit the 25's since I was like 14 on my first year of high school track.

There's a couple factors playing into this super slow speed my body's decided to run, and I could dive into that more but....

....really, none have a more reasonable explanation as when I got home and realized my blunder....
HELLO cause for slow time: Left sock on right foot, right sock on the left foot.
Really, there can be no other explanation than my socks were on the wrong feet!!  I'm not sure what I was thinking when I put those on that morning, but rest assured I won't make that mistake again!!!

Because the race was close to an open space area in the foothills called White Ranch, and because I hadn't suffered enough wearing the wrong socks on each foot, Dennis suggested we go run some trail  miles up there after the race.

YAY!  More sucky miles!!

We drove about 11 miles to about 7800' to start out on a short loop trail.  A nice view of Denver, if you can see it though the smog...
Downtown Denver in the middle right side
But it was another gorgeous blue-sky Colorado day, albeit a tad warm (80 degrees) and I was game to give the legs another run.

The trail really isn't horribly bad, unless you just ran 3.14 tough miles, and just aren't in hill shape, so the uphills were kicking my sorry butt big time.  Dennis constantly was double backing for me to catch up.

Dennis climbing up well.  Me, walking up well.
My calves were killing me.  I was starting to get frustrated by how slow I was and how much my heart rate was skyrocketing on a few steep hills ... but eventually I regained my enthusiasm for this gorgeous day and just decided the mental battles in my head were done; I decided fun is much more memorable when in the company of pain.  I instead resolved to enjoying the scenery and the company (when he came back to find me :)).
How's that for a great dork picture?

Another crap race; a bit over 5 miles on some gorgeous trails; shared nachos and drinks with a long lost friend while watching para-gliders sail down Lookout Mountain.....


How often do I place undue emphasis on my performance and fail to appreciate the pleasure of good company and the ability to just get out and run?  Plenty.  It takes a special day like this one to break that competitive cycle.

Some days it's good to race hard and perform well.

And some days it's even better to share the day with a long lost running pal.

Despite a pace that keeps getting slower and slower, I actually did enjoy this race and I look forward to doing it again next year.  Maybe some of that speed will return and I'll get revenge on that race.  And maybe it won't.

But I'm not giving up: I will keep puttering away at attempting to turn this speed thing around ...  and appreciate my running for being what it is: undeniably real.

At least I'll wear the correct socks on the right feet!!

So until then....

What's next?

Cherry Creek Sneak 5-miler this weekend.  Will my suckfest PW streak continue?  Let's see...

Good luck to all the Eugene Marathoners this weekend....Raina; Tasha; my client and friend Paul; and another long-lost-and-recently-connected-with friend whom I ran Boston 2010 together with - Katie A.

Run Strong!!!

Thursday, April 19, 2012

Come run my long birthday run with me / Shoe winner

“You're off to Great Places!
Today is your day!
Your mountain is waiting,
So... get on your way!” 

Yep, today's the big day.  I'm not off to great places, at least not today, 
but that big mountain's waiting ... so a long run's in order, no time to play.

55 degrees and mostly cloudy to start

Springtime blooms brought watery eyes and dripping nose waaaay off the chart
Had to leave in angry green coat woman on the right in the picture; she told me to stop hogging the whole bike
lane while I took a picture.  Didn't she know it was my birthday and I am allowed to hog the lane?
One of my favorite urban long runs along the Cherry Creek path

Where I can sometimes hop on some dirt to give my legs a brisk relief from concrete's angry wrath

A little recent rain left the creek water high

But dead legs from too much weight training the day before left my destination point a wee-bit shy

But downtown I made it and then turned around

Miles cut short, only 17 done.  Last 6 were absolutely no fun.  
Legs dead.  Feet shred.
Head hurt.  Shoulders burnt.
But it was my birthday
And if you remember this post from last year (HERE)....

So I absolutely shed NO NO NO frown

Okay, well I suck at rhyming, obviously, but I wanted to turn what was not a very good long run today into something a bit more fun, so there ya go.  I am a bit discouraged that I continue my streak of miserable long runs, but truly, I am really grateful to be running.  And not only running, but running pain-free.  A year ago I wasn't. I'll keep plugging away.

And since I'm on roll of really horrible long runs, I just so happened to have a one at the half marathon last weekend.

A few of the more memorable highlights:
  • Weather forecast the night before called for 5" of snow and freezing rain at the start.  I packed at least 20 different layers of clothes in my car the night before so I could assess what to wear when I got there, dreading how cold it was going to be.
  • Stood at the start line in shorts and short sleeves with 55 degree sunny skies.
Ran into this lovely blogger, Julie, before the start
  • Didn't wear my Garmin, which I normally don't do in a race.  I felt "off" from the start and couldn't find the first 2 mile markers to get my pace and I feared I was going too fast.
  • Mile 3 confirmed I was going not only too fast, but way too fast.
  • Mile 5 the winds picked up and it was insane.  And hard!  I started hovering behind a guy for a couple miles (I am really good at doing this :)) until I knew I was annoying him, indicative of how many times he turned around and looked over his shoulder at me.  Gave him up at mile 7 and repeated the hovering with someone else.  
  • Repeat above every mile.
  • Thought constantly how this would be my last race in my 40's and how good it would be to turn 50 and get out of this highly competitive age group I'm in.
  • Got home and realized I'm only 48 (49 today).
  • Started the dreaded death march about mile 9.
  • I lost my hat at one point.  Did I mention how windy it was?
  • Finished with a micro-hair sub-9 minute mile (1:57:32).    
  • 6 minutes slower than last October on almost no training.  13 and a half minutes slower than my 1:44 PR. BLEH!!
  • Almost froze to dead waiting a half hour for the "F" train back to the start area, because that's what my ticket said:
  • There is no F train.  Really.  
  • So this where my current fitness level is right now, apparently.  Not where I want it, so I just gotta shut the heck up and make the time to and get my 50-year old body :) in gear!

Lastly, the winner of the Ahnu shoe giveaway is... (I so wish I could give you all a pair, seriously!  I don't like to do giveaways often because I always enter these things and never ever win and it's NO fun at all and you all deserve them!):
Congrats girl.  Email me!!

Congratulations, too, to all those Boston runners who endured such horrific weather conditions, I salute you guys!  One day I'll write about my Boston experiences, perhaps; they definitely had their challenges for each I ran, but nothing like the heat of 2012!

Okay, that's a wrap!  I have a big 5k this weekend.  Let's see if the suckfest can continue.

And seriously guys, did everyone's birthday present to me get lost in the mail?  I will have to go have a little chat with the mailman.  In the meantime...

Run strong, my friends!

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

For you, ladies - Ahnu Shoe Giveaway from

So, you may think that I constantly live in running shoes, and that awesome sock tan line I'm sporting (in early April to boot) might tell a story to confirm this, but there are times, believe it or not, that I actually don't wear running shoes.  Especially in spring and summer, when I like my toesies to get a little vitamin D and feel the fresh air.  I know, shocker, but it's true.

You guys know I'm not a big giveaway-er on this blog; I've always wanted to create a blog that feels like a journal, to blab away about my running journey; a place we can talk about running and what it signifies on every level.  But when contacted me to see if I'd do a shoe review for the super cute Ahnu Shoes, and a giveaway to you - my precious, loyal readers - I knew I had to do it.

'Cause I LOVE these shoes.  And I want to share the love.  I'm just nice like that.  And besides, these shoes are awesome to slip on after a long, hard run - they feel incredible.  So yeah, they are running related, in a sense :).

Ahnu may not be a well-known name to everyone.  Yet.  But I first saw these shoes at REI a couple years ago and knew if REI carries them then that indicates the name must be good and the shoes are well-made.  According to Ahnu's website:

Ahnu footware focuses on outdoor performance and convenience, with men's and women's styles ranging from water sports to casual exploration.

People, they make EVERYTHING.  From sandals to exploration hiking footwear, Ahnu has the shoe.

I was given these Ahnu Karma shoe to test out. They are a slip-on style flat made of full-grain leather.  I chose the Mood Indigo color.  Super cute, huh?

So here's my thoughts on the shoes after I wore them all day to Easter dinner with my family.
  • They are really, really cute.  I LOVE to wear all my long pants rolled up to just above my ankles and these were the perfect shoe to compliment the rolled pant look.
That's that darn sock tan line again.  :/
  • The foamy foot padding is really squishy and feels awesome on my tired, achy running feet (did I mention enough times to you all that my feet are just so achy lately?!?!  If not, I'll be sure to bring that up again in future posts.  You're welcome!).  
  • Ya'll know I went through that 2-year heel nightmare.  I learned in that process that I MUST, MUST, MUST wear flat shoes to strengthen my toe muscles.  These do the trick.
  • The back heel is stretchy and does not bother my Achilles, like many other flat shoes do (they're too stiff.  These are not).
  • At first wear, I had a bit of rubbing on the outside of my foot along the arch.  But after I wore them for about 20 minutes, that went away and I never again had anything nagging at me.
LOVE these shoes.  Love, love, love 'em!

And they can be yours, my friends.  Awesome wants to give YOU, one lucky reader of mine, a free pair of the same style.  You can chose from many different colors and of course, you don't even have to order a monster size 9's like me, you can order your own size.  How cool is that?!?!  Unless you WANT to order another size 9 in different color than blue and give them to birthday is next week and all.  Or, if you want to keep them for yourself, I'll take other forms of birthday gifts or gift cards, if you just feel you must.

So here's the low-down rules to enter.  Very simple:
- Giveaway only to residents in the lovely U.S. of A.  Sorry about that to all your faithful friends across the big blue pond (you are still welcome to send me birthday gifts of any sorts, though).
-  Be a blog follower of mine and leave me a comment below telling me you are and why you would like to be entered to win.

That's it.  I like to make things super easy, I am way too lazy to do much more.  

Giveaway deadline ends at midnight, April 19th (that's my birthday, in case I may not have mentioned my birthday is next week.  Plenty of time to get out and get those gifts in the mail!).  I'll use to pick the lucky winner and let you know next week.  

Good Luck!  

And speaking of good luck, much luck to those running Boston on Monday.  So jealous I won't be there this year....I have such wonderful memories of the times I ran in 2009 and 2010 (2010 I ran it on my actual birthday... in case you forgot that my birthday is next week :)) and I know you will have some great memories form this year, too.  And to those running other races besides Boston this weekend (like myself, a half marathon.  This is the first of 7 races I have in as many weeks, ending with the Colfax Marathon on May 20th.  Yikes!)...... 

.....RUN STRONG, my friends!!!

Thursday, April 5, 2012

A small glimpse into summer.....maybe

Welcome to springtime in the Rockies!  Sunday, April 1st we had a record high of 86 degrees. I got a slight sunburn running.  The next day we had horrific winds and a good 30 degree temperature drop.  By Tuesday we had 3" of snow.  I try not to whine too much - Colorado's front range has been extremely dry this spring and we are way behind in moisture and even had a horrible forest fire last week where several homes burnt to the ground and 3 people lost their lives, so moisture - any way we can get it - is much needed.  Still, when you've been subjected to some amazingly gorgeous summer-esque days and two days later your backyard is full of freezing white stuff, it's hard to be super duper happy about that.

Unless you're a cold weather person.  Which I am not.

Don't worry though....blink your eyes and today it was 74 and I got suntan reminder on my back.

But it's not just the weather that's causing me to think about summer.  Idiotically, I signed up for this little race this summer:

That little red line is the Barr Trail that takes you from the town of Manitou Springs at the bottom of the pic 8000' up to the top of Pikes Peak 13.3 miles later.

I know you're all thinking: Jill, you bonehead, you've done the Pikes Peak Ascent 3 times - the last being with zero training last summer and you are amazingly still breathing - what's the big deal?  Well, friends, the big deal is that I've never signed up for the full marathon, I've "only" done the Ascent.  And though I did survive that little Ascent feat, it was physically the most demanding thing I've EVER done.

Now, I get to climb the 8000' up AND get to go back down.  All on the same day even.

Beings 1) I'm not part mountain goat and 2) I'm a huge chicken running downhill....I'm thinking that I may have bit off a bit more than I can chew.  I'm not sure how my feet are going to handle being on them for 10 hours straight; they're still not happy with me for that 50k attempt almost 3 weeks ago (seriously, what's wrong with my achy feet lately?!?!  ugh).

So, when some best laid plans with my mountain climbing son and his friend attempting to climb Pikes Peak last week turned into a fizzle, I took that as a sign that I better take Brendan myself and get my butt up part of that thing and get some extremely much-needed training in.

It was one of those gorgeous days here in Colorado, like April 1st in the above picture.  Our plan was for the two of us to go to approximately the half-way point, Barr Camp.  Brendan then was going to pitch his tent and spend the night and I was going to run back down, go home, and then pick him back up the next day.  I know.  He and I climbed Mt. Whitney last year and I camped at 12,500' - but I had no choice then.  I did here...and I didn't want to camp.  Camping is his gig, not mine.  And he was absolutely happy with this plan.  Besides, I knew there is a couple at the Barr Camp Hut, which is directly across the path from where Brendan was camping, so he had company, if needed.

So that's what we did.

It was a bit slow going to get to Barr Camp with Brendan's heavy pack, but that kid loves this stuff and he just steadily climbed.

Brendan and I with about a mile to Barr Camp Hut.
Pikes Peak in the background
I ran when I could but considering I'm in pathetic shape, that wasn't much.  The steepness of the first three miles is insane and I just was gagging on zero air here.  And because Brendan was carrying 33 lbs, he WASN'T running so if I ran any, I'd run back to where he was and getting to Barr Camp seemed to be taken an inordinate amount of time..  Needless to say, we came up WAY short of making the 3-hour cutoff time the race requires to get to the camp.  Not that that was a goal - but I was trying to gauge exactly where on the blah-y fitness scale I landed.

Um, that'd be pretty much at the bottom of that scale.

Barr Camp Hut, elevation 10,200'.  The people who stay here and run this are incredibly
nice.  Brendan hung out with them during dinner and they told him lots
of really cool stories of others who have traveled these paths.
We got up to Barr Camp, about 7.5 miles and 3800' elevation gain, in about 3hours and 20 minutes.  We checked in with the people at the Hut, talked with them a bit, and then walked around some looking at the gorgeous scenery, using the facilities, and I gathered small pieces of Amazonite (the geology geek I am :)).

Brendan found his campsite and was one happy camper :).  Once he was settled, I then headed for the trek down.  I felt a little parent failure-y leaving him there but I knew he was much more capable of staying there than if it were me alone up there.  I'd be a frantic mess.  He was in heaven!

Thanks, Happy Trails - I stole this pic off your blog :)
The trail is a little rocky at the start of my descent.  I was running some, but did I mention how chicken I am coming down?  In 2008 when I did the Ascent, the weather was horrific and when we got to mile 10 of the race, they called the race and we had to turn around and run 10 miles down (hum...similar "race called" story as my 50k.  Only this was due to extreme cold and snow and thunder and lightening ... all things you DON'T want when you're stuck on the side of a mountain.  I'll have to write a blog post around that race sometime :)).  Some guy clipped the back of my heel and I went down - HARD - and was on the bottom of a 4-man pile-up.  Hurt like a you know what  ... and every time I run down this trail, I think about that incident and thus tend to be a little reserved going down.

And since I suck going up, and reserved going you're getting the whole picture and probably wondering why the hell I registered for this full marathon, right?  Well you have every right to be concerned about me.  I am.

After a couple miles of rocks, the trail loses a lot of the protruding rocks and becomes a nice, steady dirt and pea gravel trail, engulfed in the pine trees.  This is my favorite part of Barr Trail.

And then the last 3 miles are what they call "the W's" because it's a lot of switchbacks.  It's fairly steep here and is pretty exposed to the beating sun.

I ran pretty much the entire 7.5 miles, at least about 90% of it anyway, albeit slowly.  At one point I thought I was flying yet when I looked at my Garmin, I was doing a whopping 11:00 min/mile.  Whoohoo.  Yeah, I rock at this trail running stuff (I was sore for a good 4 days after.  How pathetic)!
Elevation to Barr Camp and then back down
It took me about an hour and 40 minutes to go 7.5 miles and 3800' down.  You can stop laughing, I totally get that I suck.

I'm a bit concerned about this coming down stuff and the full marathon in August.  I'm concerned about what shoes are going to help my incredibly achy feet.  I'm concerned about how incredibly sore my ankles were for days after.

I'm concerned about a million things about this race.  And therefore, I'm not going to obsess about it.

Huh, you say?

Well, it's not a big check-list race that I feel I MUST DO in my lifetime!  It's close to my backyard and I have loved accomplishing the Ascent race, but the full marathon is a whole different race and my head's not really sure about it right now.  I'm not ruling it out, but I'm not ruling it in either.

I'm just going to get down on that trail whenever I can and see what progress I can obtain.

And I'll go from there.  If I can do it, great - it'll be part of my summer races.  If not, oh well.  No stress.  No pressure.  Part of me still wants to do the Chicago Marathon so if things don't go well on the vertical training then I have other options.

I'm sort of digging this take-things-as-they-come attitude.  I really should utilize it more often.

In the meantime, I have a slew of other races coming up in April and May....and next week, I even have a giveaway on this here blog (I know, me?!?!?  But it was something I couldn't pass up so be sure to check back, especially you girls :)).

And THANK YOU so you much for the very kind words on my 50k on the last post.  Many asked if I'd do another.  Oh yeah, that's a given.  Just not right now, not until the time is right.  Whenever that is.

So until then....

Happy running, my friends.  And don't eat too many chocolaty eggs Sunday!