Rockin' week of running

I managed to total 52 miles of running this week, and I'm pretty sure that's my highest weekly total in the history of forever! Yesterday I did 19 on the trails according to Garmin, so probably a little over and then today I went out and did another 13 on the roads.

I did the 19 with a friend, MO, who let me use his Garmin 310XT and I think I fell in love. That thing is awesome! I loved the vibrate alarm and mile splits. It will be a while until I can buy one since I just picked out some very pricey patio furniture. Ah, home ownership.

Today's run was even better. I left at noon to get some full-sun running in since there is absolutely no protection from the elements at Heartland. My legs weren't completely tired, so I took the first hour of my run at a good pace. Right on the hour mark, I felt the fatigue from yesterday's run set in and I slowed down on the back half. But that is what the second of back-to-back runs should feel like - completely fatigued. Since my longest run is only 24 miles, I'm preparing for the 50 by doing back-to-back long runs on the weekends. By the end, I felt it. I walked up one hill about 2 miles from home and ran the rest in. No 310XT today, so I tried to map out my run on Google.

Worst case, I ran 12.5 miles, but that is taking straight roads (which I did not) so it was probably closer to 13. My overall time: 1:52. For reference, my personal best in the half marathon is 1:56 something. My split at the turn around was 1:01 and that was at 7.5 miles. I'm starting to think I need to try for a new PR in the 1/2 marathon. I knocked out 7.5 miles at an 8:30 min/mile pace the day after 19 on the trails. I know I'm not setting any land speed records here, but for a Midwest farmer's daughter, that's pretty damn fast!

My next task is to see how much sweet-talking/bribery is needed to borrow the 310XT from MO for Heartland. That eliminates the pacer dilemma and would give me some peace of mind about pacing myself through the first half. How many cases of beer do you think one weekend of the 310XT is worth??


Where have you been, my love?

After pulling out my dusty gear bag and brushing off my shoes, I took advantage of my early morning workout and spent yesterday evening at the local climbing gym. I always feel nervous going someplace I'm not familiar with, and the rock gym is one of them. In my two years in KC I've only been there once. I was worried my shoes may not fit right or I wouldn't be able to complete the most basic route or it just wouldn't feel the same as it did when I was in college.

Somethings you don't forget, like how to tie a figure eight knot or how tight your shoes should be. But I had forgotten how much I love climbing. The bouldering area was fairly empty, so I took my time familiarizing myself with the routes and trying to gently awaken the seldom-used muscles in my arms and shoulders. After an hour of fairly continuous climbing, I stepped back to enjoy my surroundings.

My heart was pounding, veins pulsing, and sweat was slowly building on the back of my neck. This is what I love - the thrill of finishing a hard route, the adrenaline of almost, almost falling off the wall, the indie music in the background that mixes with the smell of chalk and salt, the gentle "puff" when you sink back into the thick crash pads. The skilled climbers are mesmerizing, as they move fluidly through an overhang route, gracefully and politely defying the forces of gravity. I see beauty in strength, and strength in the human form.

There is something I love about the fatigue, as well. I can't explain it, it is an exhaustion combined with adrenaline that produces an overwhelming feeling of content. I like to climb until my hands, arms, shoulders, and core have nothing left to give. When the tingling fingertips and twitching muscles can take no more, I head home. Happy, and wondering what kept me away for so long.


It's true, I am a total spaz.

I hate Mondays. Every Monday I feel like a kid with ADD. I can't focus and I don't get much done. In my state of complete distraction, I decided to look up some info on Heartland. I printed off the course map, elevation chart, and aid station list with mileage. I read the information guide. I looked up all of the entrants. Other than one 26 year old, I am the youngest runner in the 50. The next youngest woman is 32, after that 38 and most of the women are in their 40s and 50s The winner from the last two years is not signed up. I didn't recognize any other names in the 50 and only a handful in the 100. There's another 27 year old in the 100, but John and I are among the 4 youngest runners in both races. Ultras are definitely a case where old age and treachery triumph over youth and enthusiasm.

Since that wasn't enough to get me to quittin' time, I pulled out the aid station sheet and started making a pace sheet. For several different paces. The good thing about this is that it required me to use my calculator so at least it looked like I was working. The bad thing is that then I started to freak out. So I opened up my training log spreadsheet (yes I know, I am also a total dork in addition to being a spaz) and started looking at my training schedule and how much time I have left. Halfway through and I'm much lower on my miles than I had hoped, but I justify that with the fact I'm running well and I'm healthy. And 40 miles a week is nothing to sneeze at (for me).

Should I get a pacer? If not a pacer, maybe at least someone to crew for John and me. A friendly face at miles 17, 25, and 33 might be nice. Who would want to crew? I don't need a crew. But it would be nice...

And on and on. Luckily by this time it was almost 4:30 so I could head home. But I officially had my first case of pre-race jitters and the race is about 6 weeks away. If I didn't have a goal, I wouldn't care. My official goal is a sub-10 hour finish. My unofficial goal I will not speak out loud or actually put into print. I bet you're wondering what all is on my pace card. Even John doesn't know that one. Like I told a friend, while the first goal is to finish and have fun, it's hard not to daydream about winning the Olympics.

An easy 8 mile recovery run wasted all of my nervous energy. I should go to bed early, tomorrow is another early morning ass-kicking with KT.


My Adventures with Speedy Gonzales

After a 5 day rest period, I jumped back on the running bandwagon with full-blown enthusiasm. If you know me, then you know I don't sit still very well. It's amazing they don't actually tether me to my desk at work. I'm waiting for someone to ask about my frequent trips to the bathroom one of these days. Give me a break, I'm well hydrated!

Last night I pulled on my Elixirs and went out for an "easy" 6 mile run around the Village. I was feeling great and my quad felt fine, so I picked up the pace a little. "Run like KT" I thought. KT is my "wicked-fast friend," AKA "the girl who likes to take her pants off," AKA "Speedy Gonzales". I ended up blowing past my neighbor and made it back to the park by our house before I looked at my watch.


49 min from my front door to the park, which is about 6 miles. The first mile was around a 9/mile, after that I don't know where the mile markers are, but John has measured it with the GPS and I think it was about 6.5 miles total. What I thought was an easy, fun pace, turned out to be about 8:10/mile. Nice! Maybe some of KT's speed is wearing off on me. (For the record, I've never seen KT drop her pants. She just gets embarrassed when I call her wicked-fast).

Then this morning we met for 5 miles and she thoroughly kicked my butt. I keep my mouth shut and try to keep up while KT gives encouragement and counts down by tenths. "Great job! 0.4 to go!" We did 5 miles, approximate splits: 8:10/7:20/8:30/7:30/9. Clearly, I was dying by the end. But did you see those 2 miles below 8 min?? Training is so much more fun when you see improvement. I've done speed work before, but I think this is the first time where I'm working hard enough for it to pay off. You can't slack off when there is someone else with you.

So two fast runs in less than 24 hours and no problems with the quad. I'll take it easy on hills yet this week. More noticeable is that an 8:10 pace is now pretty comfortable (for runs less than an hour). I used to dream about running that fast consistently and sub-8s were pure fantasy. I think I'm well on track for Heartland, even with 5 days off. In comparison, last season I clocked a 7:58 mile once, and I was ecstatic about that. I think I'm getting better with age. :)


Aw Nuts!

It serves me right, taking a rest day last week and racing instead. I hurt my right quad on Friday and figured it was just a little sore. "A little sore" had turned into the feeling of someone hitting my quad with a hammer every time I go up stairs, climb hills or push big gears on my bike, or do anything that requires pressure on my leg. It ranges from mild discomfort on the stairs to near-stabbing pain when I was trying to climb some big hills. Needless to say, my bike ride tonight was cut short.

This sucks. I have been injury free for well over a year, other than mild tendonitis in my knee which I have under control now. I know I should rest, but I don't want to take time off. I'm really enjoying the building phase and I don't want to lose the speed or endurance I've gained so far. Oh well, to push on would be worse, so I am icing while typing and will probably wrap it later. I've skipped high heels so far this week, and I cut my last 2 workouts short. I guess it's good timing for a recovery week. Hopefully with a few days of RICE, I'll be back at 100% soon.


Psycho Night Race 2009

Friday, Aug 7 was the Psycho Night race out at Wyandotte County Park. This is a little bit of a sentimental race for me since it was my very first trail race last year. A lot has changed.

Before the race started, I wandered around chatting with the folks I knew and some I didn't. I taunted Barefoot Josh (knowing full well that I would never catch him unless something bad happened and I would never wish that on another runner). I also talked with some folks from Topeka and some people that were at the Rock Creek night race where John and I ran an aid station. John and Danny were manning the only aid station on the course, cooler of beer in tow. He didn't want to risk falling and making his wrist worse since it's not quite 100%. I think he just preferred to drink beer and watch other people run. :)

Here's Brett and I, pre-race and sans-spouses.

I know this course well and I was hoping to run it in under an hour. My time last year was 1:08, but last year's course was much dryer and more runnable. Rocky downhills are my forte and I was hoping to use that to my advantage. The mud would make things more difficult, so I tied my laces tight and double knotted my shoes.

I saw no less than 5 people lose at least one shoe. I thought it was funny, but I'm sure they weren't as amused. Coming into the Triangle, Danny said I was 2nd female and John told me I better pick up the pace (funny guy). I was passed by one girl, but she was having a hard time in the mud. On the road, she would have cleaned my clock, but between the mud and the rocks, I passed her again not far outside the Triangle and didn't see her until the finish line. I talked to her afterwards and she was visiting from Utah. Her quote of the night: "I thought I had run trails before, but I hadn't run anything like THIS!"

I picked up the pace a little and caught up to a group of guys that came down from Leavenworth. I passed them on a hill, but they hung close. I started calling out warnings for rocky sections and where there were good lines through the mud. Afterwards, they came over to say thanks and we chatted over beer. They said the may come down for a Thursday night run sometime.
I finished in 1:05, which is a good indicator of how muddy it was. I was running much faster than last year, but there were more sections that I had to walk due to mud. I never did catch Barefoot Josh, but I think I came close. ;) I had a lot of fun and met a ton of new people. Hopefully I'll get to see some of them again.

Thanks to all the volunteers and especially Dick Ross at www.seekcrun.com. All photos are courtesy of Dick.


Trail Runnerversary!

This was something I saw on Dirt Doll's blog so I have to give credit where it's due. But I thought it was a cute idea.

Yesterday was my trail runnerversary! Last year, I did the Psycho Night 10k as my very first trail race. I read my old race report before Psycho Night on Friday and my favorite part was the quote: "I think I am going to try to find a trail marathon next year and see where that takes me." Ha! It's a year later and I have completed three ultras but still no marathon.

Last night I ran the 10k and John ran the aid station since he's still healing from his wrist surgery. I'll have a full-fledged race report with pictures later (spoiler alert: I was second overall female on a really muddy course). But I ran well and had a lot of fun. I met some awesome people and saw some regulars. We were home and in bed by 11, which let me get 7.5 hours of sleep before...

getting up for 20 miles at SMP! Ok, I only did 18 since it was so hot and humid. My right quad was protesting having to run the last 4 days in a row, especially with hills on Wednesday, and fast downhills on Thursday and Friday. I iced my knees when I got home. Tomorrow morning I'm meeting some friends for a 30 mile bike and 4-5 mile run afterwards. The bike should help.

It's amazing what sticking to a training plan is doing for me. Thanks to KT and some quality runs, I'm getting faster and running consistently has my endurance up. And Heartland is still 2 months away! I'm excited for this race. I'm finally making some consistent gains in my training and seeing it pay off. My motto for Heartland is No Excuses, and so far I have none.



Roasted veggie pesto with whole wheat pasta! What a reward for a hill workout with KT. (Hubby's response to dinner: Where's the meat?)

We put down 5 miles of hills around SMP this afternoon in just a tick over 40 minutes. Not too shabby! My vampire strategy of sucking her speed seems to be working! Don't worry, she has speed to spare. The funny part was that after the run, we both needed to urgently find a restroom. You know a good friend when you make urgent potty calls together! Ha! Any true runner would understand, hence, runners make the best friends.

I bought some plane tickets to head up to WI to do a triathlon with a friend from high school at the end of September. She did her first tri a month or so ago and did her second a week ago. I think she's bitten by the bug! I'm so excited that she has fallen in love with it. She didn't believe me that doing something that HARD can actually be FUN. We've talked more in the last few months than we have in the last few years. I love that we've been able to reconnect over triathlons.

The race is just a little sprint, so I'm doing minimal training since I already have some bike and swim in my Heartland training plan. I haven't decided if I'm taking Thelma (my bike) but I'm leaning toward yes. I'm hoping to convince Ma and Pa to make the trip down from the Village for the race, too. They've never seen me race before.

Runs are going well. I haven't hit 100 miles yet, but after this weekend I will. Friday night is the Psycho Night run (10k), so I'll probably run that, 20 on Saturday, and another 6 or so on Sunday, besides a 30 mile bike with friends. I love it!


Running Observations

I had a good weekend of running - I did 18 on super-sloppy trails at Wyco on Saturday and 11 around the Village yesterday. I was running solo both times, which I realized I miss when all of my runs are with others. Here are some of my observations, ramblings, and musing from my runs this weekend.
  • If the saying "Women don't sweat, they glow" is true, then I am a freaking light bulb!
  • I see more wildlife when I'm by myself on the trails. While I didn't see any box turtles this weekend, I did see 20+ deer and a bobcat. It was the first time I have seen one in the wild. I wish I had a camera, I was less than 20 feet away from it.
  • Hammer gel in espresso flavor makes me gag. Literally.
  • You're not a hard-core trail runner until you've had an eye glued shut by running through a spiderweb.
  • If you give another runner out on the trails a GU, you will make a friend for life. (Thanks Rick, the last half would have been brutal.)
  • Ultra runners are really just people who hate their toenails.
  • Sometimes the rhythmic monotony of pounding pavement can be therapeutic. Especially when you don't have to worry about eating spiderwebs.
  • Like your mom always said, go to the bathroom before you leave the house, even if you don't have to. Otherwise you could end up 8 miles out, squatting in the bushes in a very upscale neighborhood, hoping no one sees you bare-bottomed and watering the vegetation. Not that I would know anything about that.

My hamstrings are a little tight, but I'm feeling and running well. I'm ready for back-to-back double-digit runs. It's always exciting when you're exploring new territory.