Thursday, April 11, 2013

Leadville Week 14: Testing My Limits

This 'writing a blog post each week until Silver Rush' is going well, as you can see, since I'm half way into week 13 and writing about week 14, and having trouble recalling most of.  It could have something to do with the balmy 8 degrees this morning and thus my brain is frozen.  The trails I need to hit are covered in white evil, again - on April 10th - and my motivation to get outside and get-'er-done is well below the minimum motivation requirement to get out today and my thoughts are following suit.
My once gorgeous hyacinths in my garden - now frozen dead
It could also be the fact I was certain I came down with the bubonic plague last week and am still feeling a bit like crap (turns out, it was just a sinus and ear infection) and everything I eat has this awesome metallic flavor from the "aggressive" antibiotic I'm on, so I just opt not to eat, which is leaving me feeling rather chipper (I hope you noted my facetious tone).  I also haven't fully rekindled my blogging love affair....but I'm going to give this documenting-my-way-to-Leadville thing a try; I want my kids to see how much "fun" I'm having in this journey when I'm dead - which will probably on be those Leadville mountains.  Mostly though, I want them them to see how I'm not going to give up on a pretty gigantuous goal, despite how hard it is for someone like me.

It really wasn't a bad week, as far as the numbers go, if you enjoy some cringe-worthy headaches, barfing, and shivering uncontrollably torture running.  I sure do.

Brendan returned home from NYC late Tuesday night, much later than planned, and tired.  Hard to imagine that a 17-year old spending 5 days in NYC touring the entire city would leave him exhausted, but apparently it did.  He had a great time playing at Carneige though, and said it was the highlight of all the incredible things they did there....
Brendan: first guy, last row on the left
So with one fatigued kid, another bailing so he could run with the track team (I'm starting to see where his priorities are, the nerve), and one on Spring Break and not organized mother, our plans to head somewhere warm to backpack for a few days never materialized last week.  Stuff goes bad.  It rots, it breaks, you grow out of it, you get sick of it, you change your mind, you move on, or you want more stuff.  But memories are timeless, priceless and untouchable, and especially memories with my soon-to-be senior twins, who will soon-to-be gone. I was a bit bummed, in one of those I-really-don't-like-to-backpack-anyway ways.

This failure of a trip turned out well for me Wednesday and allowed me to get to the track and preform a little MAF (maximum aerobic function) run test, to gauge if there's been any pace improvements in the same HR zone, since I started back running in October; followed by a little negative split tempo run.  Give me a track and I'm happier than a Slinky on an escalator.  Well, if things go right - which, surprisingly they did, in my headachy, sinus congested-y state:
January 3rd
March 1st
April 1st
Mile 1:  9:59
Mile 2:  9:49
Mile 3:  9:47
Mile 4:  9:47
Mile 5:  9:39
Avg Pace: 9:47
Max HR: 145
Mile 1: 9:37
Mile 2:  9:34
Mile 3:  9:32
Mile 4:  9:21
Mile 5:  9:33
Avg Pace: 9:29
Max HR: 146
Mile 1:  9:08
Mile 2:  9:19
Mile 3:  9:18
Mile 4:  9:21
Avg Pace: 9:16
Max HR: 145
*Only did 4 mile test because I had a tempo run after

Hey, lookie, I'm getting faster!!!  I suspect my rate of speed will drastically slow down now, and if I see any more gains, they will be less significant.  But you can't argue with factual data that I have made progress.  I immediately went into full tempo mode post MAF run (meaning I didn't dilly-dally at the porta-pottie or procrastinate by checking my watch or getting more water or .... ) and knocked out a negative split 3 miler with an 8:08, 7:47, and 7:24 respectively.  Oh yeah!

Thursday I woke up feeling like a truck ran me over - twice (just to make sure I felt extra miserable) so of course that meant Brendan decided he wanted to head down to Colorado Springs to climb 4000' up to Barr Camp and spend the night.  In sub-freezing temps.  Whatever prior thoughts I had yesterday about spending quality time with my boys before they abandoned me went out the window and my once "I needed experiences and people, not things" thoughts were leaning more towards material objects, like my warm flannel sheets.  But I went, because that's what magnificent mothers do.  So I hear.

Glad you're carrying 40 lbs, Brendan, so I can "run" up this dang thing with nothing but my water

Not long after this last picture (don't let the smile fool you), around mile 3 and 2200' of climbing (that's some steep shit!), I suddenly started shaking and just before I could yell at Brendan to stop, I barfed.  On my sparkly new trail shoes (the ones I'm praying will not fight with my feet and stop the blistering madness).  That was kinda cool, in a not so fun sort of way.  We climbed another half mile before I finally had to start crying, because it's really cool to cry when you're frustrated and feel like hell.  And have a long way to go until you get to camp (4 more miles and another 2000' of climbing).  Brendan wasn't feeling that wonderful himself, having been at sea level for the past few days.  I eased into the conversation the notion that perhaps downshifting and returning to the car was a really good idea, in light of, well, everything; my limits were tapped.  My tears were of frustration that I was disappointing him, but hell, if he gave me the A-okay to abandon ship, then I'm not going to argue, especially since my stomach was in knots. So that day ended with 7ish miles and  ~2200' elevation, not anywhere close to the 3-4 hours of vertical climbing I had on my plan.  But damn if memories of adventure weren't just what I asked for :).

Friday was spent at the doctors office, for the 2nd time that week (let's take a minute to remember the arm amputation earlier in the week from the last post) where I was given that super tasty antibiotic and as a bonus, got to spend $148 on some Nasonex (I want into the pharmacy industry, seriously!). Saturday, I finally felt enough marginal relief that I could go ride my bike.  In 25mph headwinds for 25 miles. With symptoms that somewhat mimicked seasickness (oh what fond memories on a boat in the Alaskan Peninsula, hanging my head over the side of a boat - for hours). If today wasn't a test mental perseverance, then tomorrow would be.

I ended the week on Monday with a little 16.5 mile, 3000' climb - on dead legs from the day's before race - up Deer Creek Canyon, hitting the trails before the spring storm that rolled in hours later (yippee).  I was tired and dragging my ass feet and fell, twice.  The first time was minor and I got up quickly and rolled with it.  Fall #2, about 15 minutes later,  left some skin on the rocks and worse, shook my confidence, leaving me skittish descending the massive amounts of time I still had left to get down.

It's nothing really, I know I'll have many more falls before I end this Leadville gig on July 14th, so I'll just look at this little scab as a badge of honor and tell all my co-workers how badass I was when I ran away, fast, from some mountain lion.  I think what the fall solidified for me, is that when my legs are fatigued, tested, and sore, as they will be suffering in Leadville somewhere along those 50 miles, so I need to be dutifully aware of my acrimony ... and pick up my feet to finish that thing in one piece.  But my overall pace was about a minute faster than when I did this same route a few weeks ago, so progress is happening.

Sometimes we have to try to take what we have rather than have what it takes – and go.  I may not have felt good this week, but damn if it wasn't a good week none-the-less.

Miles: 47.52
Vertical: 5451'

"It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better.  The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood...."

Run strong,

Wednesday, April 3, 2013

15 Weeks to Silver Rush 50: Random Stuff

Start of the Leadville Silver Rush 50
I really hate putting 50 random, useless things about my dull life in a blog post (like that's stopped me before), but I'm not in a 'writing mood' this week so rambling (and long) this will be....

Due to some issue with my iron, I get to go to the doctor bi-annually to have some blood drawn; today was that lucky day.  I get dizzy and almost faint every single time with this simple procedure so the nice nurse had me sit down on a kid size chair while she asked me 539 times if I felt OK and if I needed some juice.  She couldn't find a vein so she poked and rolled the needle in my arm a couple dozen times until she struck gold.  Or blood, whichever came first.  I got a pink, sparkly Band Aid after, so I called the day good.

My entire family left in existence, basically all live in Colorado.  My parents are long gone but my aunt and my two bothers live here.  A couple cousins.  And my niece - who, much to my delight, works as a rep for Coors and gets as much free beer as she wants.  I rarely see my family, despite their close-ish proximity.  One of my brothers doesn't really speak to any of us so it's weird he joined in on our Easter festivities.  I think family holiday get-togethers are wonderful because they remind me why I don't see more of them.  Anyway, they somehow got wind I was doing this crazy 50 mile race with insane vertical at altitudes that make my rib hurt at just the mere mention of the 10k' start line, and they wanted to know why I'd do such a thing to myself.  You'd think after 35 years of this running gig they'd have it figured out, but like I said - there's reasons why my family and I don't see one another often.  I told them, "Because it will hurt.  A lot."  The end.  My darling niece who graciously shares her Coors freebies with me said, "That's the best answer, ever." She is the only family member in my imaginary will: she gets all my running shoes when I'm gone.  Lucky girl.

Hello, antihistamine, nice to see you're back.  While I was at the doctor to get my arm amputated off with a needle, I told my doctor that I'm having mother angry headaches again and a persistent cough at night.  He reminded me it was seasonal allergy season and, well, wasn't I top of his list of allergy sufferers?  I told him I was abating that crap this year by cutting out some gluten and thus will be happily allergy-free this season.  My pink, sparkly Band Aid and I went home, laughing at that doctor and his silly accusations.  I spent last night from 3:00-5:30am sneezing and blowing my nose 4783 times until I finally cried Uncle and took a Zyrtec. I've been in a fog all day, I hate that shit!  As much as I hate cold and snow, Spring isn't exactly my friend.  I think I'll go eat a piece of bread.

I ran into another blogger last week.  Well, I didn't literally run into him, but rather planned to meet him when I heard he was visiting my state for a week.  I've never met Mike, so to impress him, I headed to our little luncheon date promptly post tempo run, full of body odor and salt drizzle down the side of my face.  I'm shocked he didn't call the police.  Or the homeless shelter.  But we had a nice lunch (despite my sensitive stomaching protesting cheese; irritates me that pizza and I can't be good friends) in a quasi-cool (if you know the right places to go to) old gold mining town, and had some good ol' conversations for a good three hours....and I didn't even have any alcohol to help my normally introverted self suddenly become this crazy endless speaking old lady talking about nothing (much like this blog).  Thanks for the lunch, Mike - and the delightful conversation.  Maybe next time you're in town, I'll take a shower before our meet-up, or at least bring some deodorant.

Brendan headed to NYC on Friday to play with part of his high school band at Carnegie Hall.  How cool is that?  This pic below was from a band concert a couple days before he left.  And yes, I came to the concert directly post long bike ride and look like hell.  You're probably thinking by now I never take a shower and rush all over the damn state.  That would actually be a somewhat true thought.  But B's looking pretty good, so that's all that matters.  He's due home any minute now from five activity-filled New York days - I absolutely cannot wait to hear all about it.  I'm probably the only person on the planet who's never been to NYC.  I have no desire to really go other than to say I've been there.  And see my son play his trumpet at Carnegie Hall.

The coach had a hill running clinic on Sunday, which I dutifully attended, mostly for fear I'd be banded from sending future 10-page emails to him on how much I hate hills, if I didn't attend.  I got to learn a bunch of cool new tips how I can kick some Leadville butt, and was in geology heaven with the monolithic red rock and Red Rocks Amphitheater as our background.
Source: Stolen from Tim's blog without his permission
The clinic was great and if I weren't so damn tired right now I'd be more prolific about all the tips I learned, but suffice it to say that on my almost 3000' run/power-walk/crawl after the clinic, I incorporated those tips and definitely noticed a difference in my effort and subsequently, speed.  Thanks for finally bringing that clinic to Colorado, Tim.  If I don't die in Leadville, I'll make ya' proud.

It was a gorgeous, sun-filled day, and I was just absorbed in the task at hand and suddenly realized that this trail running thingie is actually starting to become more enjoyable for me.... despite the fact my shoes are eating my feet alive. 

Best part of the day, hands down, had to be second trip up the 1500' climb, when the fatigue of these hills were setting in and my pace and attitude were equally declining rapidly, a "kid" of maybe 27 stopped me and said he noticed I was on my second lap back up this beast, so I stopped to talk to him for a few minutes.  He didn't have a shirt on, and his dog was cute - I couldn't resist the rest-stop.  He said he climbed this trail almost daily and then proceeded to tell me if I ever wanted company to come and join him...and oh, by the way, we could grab a beer together after.  Oh yeah!  Then, on the way down the second time (ugh, my quads were screaming!), I ran into a guy I used to run with occasionally - a very long time know, when I used to run fast. er.  Before my f-ing foot zapped my speed.  I guess the second trip up was worth it, even though I can still barely walk three days after that little 3000' climb.

Hi Craig, so cool to run into you!
I knocked out a little mile swim PR the other day - and I wasn't even trying; I was just swimming, stopped the watch at a mile, and there it was.  Solid.

I get asked a lot about my numbers: mileage, vertical gain, hours, etc.  It probably wasn't the smartest thing I've ever done signing up for a crazy beast like Leadville 50 when I had already committed to the Boise Half Ironman 5 weeks earlier than Leadville.  No one said I was smart, especially me, but I think the biking, which is clearly my weakness, is helping me recover a bit quicker with my running.  No, I'm not training nearly as much on the bike as I should be, and I'm tired as hell - constantly, but I feel great running, and that is my main focus; I just hope I can hold on to this high I seem to have been magically (finally!) given.  Here's March's numbers...

Vertical climbed: 17,469'
Miles: 224.22
Hours:  Too tired, nor do I really care right now, to add it up.

Vertical climbed: 4351'
Miles: 210
Isn't your bike mileage suppose to be 3x your run mileage for a triathlon? Whatever.  And I wonder why I am such a weak cyclist?!?!
Hours: ~13.
Avg Speed: Pathetic!

Miles: 3.46
I'm okay with this low number, swimming is not my weakness, but I'd be good if I got in the pool for longer swims now.  I'm sure it won't happen though; I hit that mile and I'm instantly want out of the pool.  I did manage 2050yds the other day though....go me.

Okay, Brendan just walked in the door so time to wrap this up (I'm hearing big sighs of relief) and go hug my kid.  Look what he brought me :) ...

Run strong, my friends.  And please, run a hill or two for me, too - I need it.