Monday, April 21, 2014

Double Trouble

Mt Falcon
Oh what a week! With a really quick trip to Wisconsin planned I knew I'd be lucky to get in a run at all while I was traveling. I tried to squeeze in as many miles as possible before I left. One day I met Dan at Apex for a quick run before we picked up the boy. As we started heading around on Grubestake we ran into Allisa from the Salida marathon and talked her into finishing the run with us. It's definitely nice to meet other people to run with. Nick's been super busy with his new job and Dan's schedule is always so crazy so I was glad to run into her. 

Thursday meant I needed a long run before I left for Wisco. After raging a war in my head with where to run I settled on a double at Falcon. I knew I could do another Bear Creek, but Run Rabbit Run is no flat course. I need to start pushing my limits and especially my vertical if I'm going to do well. I tried to keep a pretty easy pace on the first climb and made it to the picnic tables in 36 minutes. Parmalee Gulch was in great condition. It finally smelled like spring and the trail was nice and soft under foot. There was a bit of snow still on the back side but nothing terrible. As I headed back down I passed another girl who looked like a pretty solid runner for the second time. I couldn't help but wonder if I wasn't the only one on this crazy journey. I got back down, refilled my water bottles, slammed a coke and headed back up. 

Pizza Man making fans!
The second climb was much slower and it took me a solid 40 minutes to reach the picnic tables. In nearly the same spot I had seen the girl twice already we passed each other for a third time. This time she made a comment about how we must both be running the same thing. So apparently I am not the only crazy one out there. Of course I was a bit jealous that she had around 20 minutes left and I didn't even want to think about how much more I had left...about 8 miles! Thankfully the clouds rolled in as I neared the top of Mt Falcon for the second time so it cooled off nicely. Overall I felt good for a tough 20 miler. It also made me excited for long runs and to really start training, not just logging the miles. 

Friday as James and I headed to the airport Dan decided I couldn't be the only one to put in a tough long run, so he headed to Falcon to repeart my steps. Apparently he should have followed my line a bit closer...ah but chicks dig scars. James rocked the flight! We even got numerous compliments on the second leg about how good he was. Of course the chatterbox sitting next to us pretty much sealed the deal on making James look like a rockstar! 
Nothing beats a cardboard box!

We met the whole fam for dinner at Pizza Man which was probably the highlight of the weekend for me. James and Parker were so cute together! They had a blast! And are quite the entertainers as well. As they were playing at the window Cait and I looked down at the street and saw this heard of people waiting for tables just staring up at the two of them. I wish I could have seen what exactly these two were up to, but I have a feeling they are going to be quite the pair growing up. 

Airport fun!
On the way home James and I were hanging out in Minneapolis waiting for our second flight. I was trying to get him to burn some energy and the people at the gate were loving him. One girl started signing with him after she saw me sign a bit. Another woman, who James kept crawling up, just lookd at me and said "my good friend has a 10 year old, he's an amazing kid". It's funny how I knew exactly what she meant with that simple line. No one around us would have had a clue and I could tell no one else noticed James anything different about James. I have a feeling he's going to break a few barriers with his heart warming smile and infectious laugh!

Week April 7 - 13

Miles Running: 38.5
Hours Hiking and Running: 8

Hey Parker, this is how you ride in a cardboard box!
Ok James I have a plan...
Who needs pants for dinner?

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

First Quarter Progress Report

James using the treadmill in his own way!
Somehow it is already April...someone please tell me my little baby is not about to turn 2! I'm not sure how that has happened or where the past 3 months have gone. But I figured it was a good time to look at where my fitness and training is compared to last year. I have run nearly 300 miles more than I had at this time last year. Last year I didn't keep real good track of my vertical until the end of the year, but despite the treadmill miles I logged this winter I'm pretty confident I've still ran more vertical this year than last. 

The really crazy part is last year I felt confident that I would finish Leadville. I felt great and like my training was going really well. It's strange to have a slightly different perspective on that now. I still am confident I will be ready for my races this summer. I need a 30+ mile run in the next week or two, but otherwise I'm sitting pretty well. I also really need to get my butt in gear and start doing hill workouts. I definitely feel good going into the season this year. I've been putting in the training and I'm excited to see if it will pay off.
He looks peaceful now...but this is just his launching pad
for climbing onto the ottoman!
This week was a typical Colorado spring week! Another foot plus of snow...heavy, wet, muddy snow. So Dan and I took to Bear Creek for our long run on Friday. Even that was pretty muddy and we ran probably half of the 20 miles with an extra 5 lbs caked onto each foot. It was great to get out Friday for our long run and be able to relax a bit over the weekend. I spent the rest of the week running up Apex. The climbing legs are coming back! Each day I had a faster split to the top with less exertion. As always i'm disspointed at how much I lost over the winter, but I can tell I'm gaining it back faster than in previous years. I also hit 50 miles in a week much earlier than I did last year. Hopefully the mileage I put in last fall combined with keeping up with my strengthening exercises will keep me healthy enough to continue with this higher mileage through the summer.

It's hard to believe how much James has progressed in the past three months as well. His communication has come so far. It makes me feel good that I made the right decision to drive out to Children's once a week for private speech therapy. It's been a challenge to lose nearly half a day each week with all the driving, but he has finally caught on to the conception of communication, learned some signs with consistency and is babbling away telling his own tales of craziness...not to mention calling Dan "dada" and even "dad" once in awhile. The kid's growing up and becoming a little boy, one that is often full of piss and vinegar as toddler boys so often are!

There are only two ways to live your life. One is as thought nothing is a miracle. The other is as though everything is a miracle -Albert Einstein
Week March 31 - April 6

Miles Running: 53.0
Hours Hiking and Running: 9.0

Tuesday, April 1, 2014

Spirit of the Ultra

Nice Kitty
There's a certain kind of spirit that Leadville holds. It's in the town and it's in the race. I remember my first trip to Leadville...I was moving there for the winter. Rent was cheaper than Frisco so my sister and I decided Leadville would be our winter home while we worked at Copper Mountain. There is something about the little town that instantly grabbed me. It doesn't have a main street lined with cute cafes and gift shops, there aren't fancy spas or restaurants. But what Leadville lacks in amenities it makes up for in heart. It has character, determination, grit. All the characteristics of the 100.

Leadville 100 was the first 100 I ever heard of, the first 100 I ever witnessed and I knew it would be the first 100 I would try. I also thought I would try it once and that would be good enough. Well try turned into finish. And finish...well finish has turned into finish faster. As the season is getting underway I've been watching endless you tube videos of Leadville and I am already excited to run it again. I'm excited to get to experience the race pacing and crewing this year, ultimately I think it will help by eventual big buckle attempt. But it's hard to think about not standing at the starting line this year. I know I realistically can't run Leadville every year, nor do I really want to. I need to experience new races. But there's this draw, this pull at your heart begging you to come back.

I can picture all the trails. Winding around Turquoise Lake as the sun rises, the spectacular views from Sugarloaf as the day begins, rolling along the Colorado Trail beneath Mt Elbert for a moment contemplating a quick turn off for a summit attempt, watching Twin Lakes getting bigger and bigger as you make your decent, meandering through the meadows before that climb up Hope. I can picture the last clearing before you see the tents and llamas that mark Hope, the steep decent before you pop out quickly on the road only to turn around and do it all over again.

I realized this week that Leadville is completely entrenched in my heart. And I know I will be back to race again. Not everyone feels the same way about Leadville, but everyone has that race that holds a special place for them and that keeps drawing them back.

It felt so good to get back in the groove of running Apex all week. I could tell I haven't been running enough climbs, but I could tell I was gaining it back quickly. Thursday I ran the same loop nearly 2 minutes faster than the day before. My week day runs weren't as long as I like most to be, but I was a bit time crunched and at least I got in more vertical than I've been getting recently.

Overall though this week seemed to be a bit of a catch up week in terms of work and life. I had a million little things to finish up so my week day runs were all a bit shorter than I would like. But Dan and I did manage a date run on Saturday. We've been meaning to check out the new Nice Kitty trail in Buffalo Creek. We did a loop heading up Nice Kitty to the Buffalo Burn Trail, CT and back down Shinglemill and Morrison Creek. The trails were in great condition. We hit a few icy patches on the CT, but otherwise it was all dry trail. Definitely excited to have some new loops. As much as I like my 19 mile loop at PVR sometimes it's nice to mix it up a bit.

James has become even more proficient in his climbing abilities. Time to mount the TV to the wall so we can get rid of the TV stand I guess. He also has decided that Michael Franti is just as good as Daft Punk for Sunday morning dance parties! It's hilarious how he has favorite songs. Let it Go...definitely up there as a favorite. 

Week March 24 - 30

Miles Running: 38.0
Hours Hiking and Running: 7.5

Pure determination

Just shallaxing

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Old Friends

I miss you ol' friend
Over the past six months I have learned to make friends with Green Mountain and Mt Falcon. Green is convenient and Falcon is a tough climb so both warrant places in my running log book. And they both have their places in my heart... Running sideways through the wind, sliding off snow drifts, and chigger bites on Green. Jumping over rattlesnakes and soul-crushing climbs on Falcon. It's always fun to make new friends, explore new trails, but I've found myself missing my best friend...Apex. So when I heard a few of the trails were re-opening after last fall's floods I was ecstatic!
Dan at Apex

I was finally reunited with my BFF last week. I could still tell you every little section that was graded, every rock that was now covered or uncovered. Even though with the trails that are opened I had to run my normal route backwards my feet still knew every step and I felt like I just casually danced up the trail. I seriously can't stop smiling, even now, thinking about how much I love to run these trails.

Aside from the fact that I love the trails at Apex and have so many amazing memories from those trails, it's the perfect training ground for me. I literally have no excuse not to run when I have to drive to the trailhead twice every day to drop off and pickup James from daycare. Falcon will still remain a weekly run, but not having to add the extra 30 min of drive time to my every day runs makes it much more manageable to get in some real miles.

James ready for his WDSD run!
This week I also ran my 21.3 mile World Down Syndrome Day Virtual Run. The timing meant my options for trails were pretty limited. So I sucked it up and headed to Bear Creek. I don't mind running Bear Creek as a family, but 21 miles by yourself is rough! I'm pretty sure I would have quit halfway through if I wasn't running for RDS. But I made it! Sunday the weather warmed up so Dan and I took James out for his 3.21 times 2 WDSD run! Overall the run was a huge sucess! I was really hoping for more participants, but it was the first year and I know the run will just keep getting bigger and bigger. I'm really excited about the possibilities!

Speaking of RDS Dan and I decided on our goals for the year. We decided not only would we each be running another 100 miler, but we would each race 321 miles for RDS. Our featured races will be Leadville 100 for Dan and Run Rabbit Run 100 for me. Then we'll finish out our 321 miles at the Chicago Marathon!

Week March 17 - 23

Miles Running: 43.8
Hours Hiking and Running: 8.0
Rockin' our crazy socks!

Friday, March 21, 2014

Who I Am Part II - World Down Syndrome Day

Once in awhile, right in the middle of an ordinary life, love gives us a fairy tale -unknown

I am love
Gooooood morninggggggg Rocky Mountains! Yep, that's how our day starts every day! James standing at the edge of his crib, smile stretching from ear to ear and eyes sparkling in the morning sun just waiting for my Gooooood Morningggggg Rocky Mountains cheer. Then his arms stretch overhead waiting to get picked up.

Every day is filled with it's own challenges. Whether it's fighting the oxygen tank that still gets turned on every night, fighting to get my hair back from James' way too strong grip, working on the escalating frustration from lack of communication or walking or the still endless doctors appointments. Every day is also filled with it's own rewards. The amazing smiles, the bursts of laughter, excited clapping after sucessfully putting his cup back on his tray or after sucessfully uttering "uh-oh" after launching his cup across the room, watching James manuever himself down a few stairs or learning a new sign.

tell me what it is that you see, a world that's filled with endless possibilities and heroes don't look like they used to they look like you do -the alternate routes

I am miles and miles of smiles
We've now settled a bit more into our new world of challenges and rewards. I still can't say it's butterflies and rainbows, but it's become a world perfectly suited to us...full of chaos. Yelling, screaming and laughing at outdoor volumes at all times, James chasing the dog around the house with his walker, mini waffles being shoved in one of the many running shoes laying around, frantic searching the house for one of the seemingly always lost Colorado Buffs. James just seems to fit into the chaos Dan and I already seemed to have going, so it was a perfect fit. James has also taught us to embrace the chaos.

to give in such a way that has no end, we are love, we are one, we are how we treat each other and nothing more -the alternate routes

I am a superhero
In the past year James has come a long ways. He is full of personality, stubborn, determined, funny and energetic. He has learned to cruise over everything, climb up anything, have fabulous dance parties, drink from a straw and pant like a dog. He's had 3 surgeries, 2 sleep studies,4 hearing tests, countless ear infections, viruses and colds, no allergies, too many therapies to count and spends every night on oxygen. And through all of it he laughs and smiles. He cheers when we walk into the Sie Center every week and goes crawling off in search of his speech therapist.

I hope for James that everyone who meets him sees him for his smile and laughter, for his determination and sense of adventure. I hope for him a life full of fun adventures. I hope for continued days of laughter. I also hope he learns to control that little grip of his and his affinity for grabbing the little hairs on the back of my neck. So today we celebrate how far James has come and all the possibilities the future hold for him. Keep rockin' it lil grommie!

Who I Am (22 mo)

19lb 1oz

Favorite Song: Lose Yourself to Dance -Daft Punk; 5 little monkeys
Favorite toy: boombox, mirror, wood rings
Favorite food: buffalo short ribs, cheese
Favorite place: Winter Park
Favorite activity: being outside and feeling the wind on his face, especially running
Favorite animal: dog
Signs: milk, more, dog, bath, head


Thursday, March 20, 2014

Salida Trail Marathon Race Report

Friday afternoon we loaded up the family car and headed south to start the season. This year it was a perfect Colorado blue sky day and we couldn't wait to hit the trails. I can't explain why I like the Salida trails so much, but I look forward to them every year and this year was no different. Well except I was finally getting to run the marathon. We quickly settled into our house for the weekend and took James out for a quick run up the first little hill on the course. We were officially ready for the race.

Saturday morning when I woke up the cough I'd had since Wednesday had not gotten any better as I had so hoped it would. I honestly contemplated not starting, but I knew I could finish. It wouldn't be fast and it wouldn't be pretty but one way or another I'd get back to the finish line in Salida. So I laced up my N1s, threw on my ultra vesta, pinned on my bib and I was ready to go. I don't normally race with a vest, but after trying the vesta on a long run I wanted to see how it felt in a race.

It was definitely colder than I anticipated so I welcomed the first couple climbs. There is a small climb right off the bat. The last time I ran this race I was 7 months pregnant and redlined pretty hard here. I had this memory of this giant hill, but it wasn't as bad as my memory had served. I kept a pretty easy pace heading up to the first aid station to avoid any coughing fits. There were a couple women I recognized at the start and was hoping to finish relatively close to. I kept them in my sites with the hope that I could reel them in on the downhill. Before I knew it I was in front of both and had lost sight of most runners. This is where I tend to find my groove. I'm not caught up running too slow or too fast, I can just keep my own pace and get in my zone. 

The section between the first two aid stations is awesome. It's singletrack rolling hills with great views. I kept expecting more climbs in this section so I didn't push it quite as hard as I could have.

By the second aid station I realized my water bottles still didn't need to be refilled, a clear sign I was not consuming enough. All my calories were in my water so if I wasn't drinking enough I wasn't getting enough calories either. I made a mental note to consume as much as I could on the way up Turret road. Dan had warned me that the first mile was easy to overdo with such a runnable grade. I kept my pace pretty even through this section and walked some of the steeper grades. While I definitely had the legs to run the whole section I was able to save my lungs a bit. I hooked up with a couple guys here and together we walked and ran the four miles or so to the aid station before the out and back section.

The refueling helped and after refilling my water bottles I was ready to run up to the turnaround. As I counted the women ahead of me I knew I was either running super slow or there were a lot more fast women here this year. I had convinced myself not to look at my watch. I wanted to keep a steady pace that I could breathe comfortably at without worrying too much about time. Turns out while I was running slow there were a load of really fast women. It would have taken my absolute best day to even come close to the podium on Saturday. I was feeling stronger a the turnaround and cruised easily back to the aid station. As I cruised in I saw a green shirt coming up the road. So I decided to chug a bit more water and wait a few seconds for Dan. We exchanged high 5s before he headed up and I started down. I was excited he was doing so well to only be about 10 minutes behind me.

The first few miles were downhill-ish and had the only snow I saw of the day. I was freezing at this point and Dan had said it would be about 4 miles before I warmed up. Those four miles seemed to go on and on as I tried to warm up. I was determined not to let anyone pass me on the second half while still maintaining my steady pace. Slowly one by one I started picking off people. Once we hit warm dry trail I started pushing the downhills. I knew there were a few more hills coming my way and my lungs didn't have much uphill left in them. One girl almost caught me back on the climb at mile 21, but as soon as we started down again I regained the gap between us. On this climb the only guy to pass me in the second half took me here. I was able to keep him in my sights, but never catch back up.

I sort of remembered, but had tried to forget the last climb. You slowly wind right around the mountain back to the first aid station before being able to bomb down lil rattler to the finish. You watch the whole climb as you wrap around the hill. It's so disheartening. So I put my head down and refused to look at anything other than the dirt right in front of me. And before I knew it I was at the aid station ready to head back into town. I passed several half marathoners on the switchbacks. As I got to the bottom I looked around...there wasn't a marathoner in sight, no one to catch and no one to catch me. So it was a relaxing cruise into the finish. My GPS measured the course a bit long, 26.7 miles, but so it goes with trail runs. Plus it just meant an extra half mile on some awesome trails.

 Week March 10 - 16

Miles Running: 43.0
Hours Hiking and Running: 9.0

Wednesday, March 12, 2014

Cabin Fever

Ah I'm just so ready for dry trails, longs runs in the sun, shorts and a t-shirt. By the end of February cabin fever is really setting in. It's been super windy lately and that is the one thing that really forces me onto the treadmill. And I really don't want to run another mile on that thing. The cabin fever only gets worse when you have those super nice days like Sunday only to watch the snow and ice return a day later.

This week was all about finding the trail of least resistance in terms of mud and ice. I was not so sucessful. Green mountain was a mud pit, Flying J a skating rink, Matt-Winters is only half open, Falcon is an interesting combo of mud and ice and the list goes on and on. As the week wore on it appeared Sunday was going to be one of those perfect Colorado blue sky days! So like any other running couple with a kid we called our babysitter.

Bear Creek was probably our best bet for really runnable terrain so we just headed there. It was the perfect day. The trails aren't great there, but we did have a great run so I can't complain too much. I'm still a bit worried about Salida. After 18 miles my legs were feeling it a bit and the thought of another 8 miles and 3,500 ft elelvation gain is a bit daunting.

Dan's speech therapist has had us working on getting James to pant for dog rather than "woof" since "woof" is a bit hard. Well he's nailed the panting! Whenever he sees Seamus he immediately starts to pant. It's pretty darn cute! I also took James to the Ds clinic this week. The PT said he really is on the verge of walking. He just needs to trust himself to let go. He's also gotten so fast with the walker that slowing down to learn a new trick doesn't seem as fun to him. We'll get there though, probably sooner rather than later which is a very scary thought. 

And the best news of the week...Apex is opening some of it's trails 3/14! Ah I am so excited to be back at my park. No more excuses not to run!

Week March 3 - 9

Miles Running: 40.1
Hours Hiking and Running: 7.5