Tuesday, July 31, 2012

"Soul shine is better than sunshine" -Government Mule

North Fork Trailhead Colorado Trail

So my first week back to work. I'm still not sure how I felt about it. Sure it was great to get off the treadmill and log some trail miles during the week, but I really missed the morning hikes with my boys and afternoon cuddle time. More than ever I watch the clock for that elusive 3:00 when I can lace up my shoes and hit the trails. It's definitely hard not to just run right out of the office and pick up the lil grommie though. But I know I'm a better person, wife and mom when I get in my runs. Its my time and we all need some of our time. I may have given up sleep, eating with two hands, reading a book, having a couple of beers and Mexican food, but you can't ask me to give up running.
Monday I went back to Matthew Winters Park to run my old tried and true trails. How nice it was to be able just to cruise over the trails, the last time I was there was the last run before I had James.  It seemed fitting that my last of work before James was born and first one after he was born were on the same trail. One that is chock full of memories. Tuesday I decided it was time for some new trails. James' daycare is at the trailhead for Apex Park so I spent the rest of the week exploring these trails. It was great getting out on some new trails. Plus Wednesday I got to meet Dan for a quick run. Saturday was cut short since we had the BBQ so I did a quick loop of Buck Gulch at Pine Valley. I felt amazing on this run and took 9 minutes off my best time from this summer, which isn't bad for a 8-mile loop. I was just hammering the ups and cruising the downs, it felt wonderful!

Sunday I finally had a chance to really get an all day run. Dan arranged for a babysitter so we went out to run Segments 4 and 5 of the Colorado Trail. We got dropped off at Kenosha Pass and headed out for the 32.5 mile run to Rolling Creek, okay well it should have only been 31.7, but we got off trail for a short bit. It had been forever since Dan and I got in a long run together. The first 10 miles were gorgeous, but a bit on the slow side for me. Probably good training though to get me in the mindset of not starting to fast. We would run through a grove of Aspens and then open up into a gorgeous valley with amazing views. When we got to the Long Gulch trailhead about 15 miles in we decided to pump water. As luck would have it our pump wasn't working and after a few failed attempts to fix it we realized that it just wasn't going to work. Another few miles down the trail we found a fast moving creek that posed less risk than where we had been pumping so Dan opted to go with creek water and quickly filled his bottles. I couldn't risk drinking creek water since I'm breastfeeding/pumping for James. Dan gave me the last of his clean water, but I really ran pretty low on fluids for quite a few miles. Around mile 25 the storms moved in and we ended up getting soaked. Of course the cooler temps and higher humidity greatly helped with not having much water left to drink. We also crested the last climb just as the storm hit so we were able to cruise downhill pretty quick to reduce our chances of making contact with some of the lightening. The last few miles the storm subsided and the trail turned into a jeep trail with a gradual decent. It made for the perfect finish, just running side by side with Dan and easily chatting as we cruised back to the car. All in all it was a great run, working the legs for most of the day, learning to adapt to changing conditions, working on patience when things don't go quite as planned and having some time to run with Dan. After some great running this weekend I am beginning to trust that I have what it takes to finish 100 miles. It may not have been the exact training I was hoping for, but I have the strength back in my legs and I know now that I just have to believe I can get back to the finish! Now lets just hope Dan's stomach doesn't reject the creek water and we should be good to go!

Week July 22-29
Miles Running: 54.6
Hours Hiking and Running: 14

About 20 miles in, Segment 4 Colorado Trail

Kenosha Pass Trailhead

Segment 5 Colorado Trail

Segment 5 Colorado Trail

Segment 4 Colorado Trail

Segment 5 Colorado Trail

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

"You're better than you think you are and you can do more than you think you can"

This week was a good reminder as to my priority shift these days. As James is spending more time awake duirng the day, which I'm thankful for at night, it has been getting harder to get in treadmill runs during the day. You realize getting in that extra 5 miles doesn't hold a torch to cuddling with your lil grommie and watching him smile at you. As this was my last week of maternity leave I got in hikes nearly everyday with my boys. I have no doubt hiking up Conifer Mountain pushing a stroller and dragging a dog along will help my climb up Hope Pass. I know I will spend most of those hours thinking about all the time I spent this summer hiking with my boys and smiling at the memories. Hopefully these memories will help push me up and over each mountain pass and back to 6th and Harrison!

I didn't get out to trails at all during the week and only managed one neighborhood run, so quite a few treadmill miles. I figure as long as I'm running them as quality miles its the best I can do right now. I was also planning on doing a pretty long run over the weekend so I didn't want to kill myself with miles during the week. Sunday was my day for a long run and from the start it just wasn't my day. I was already nervous about spending the whole day before I went back to work training, so my plan was to hit the trail by 6:00am so I would still have quite a bit of the afternoon to get ready for the week ahead. Well Saturday night Dan struggled getting James to bed which led to me getting up to help put him to bed. I finally got James to bed at 2:00am and knowing there was no way I could get in the run I wanted to on less than 3 hours of sleep I gave up on starting at 6:00. I slept until 6:30, but 4.5 hours of sleep is still rough for these kind of miles, but I fed James, got my gear together and hit the trail at 9:00 am, still plenty of time. Dan insisted I try a new trail that he had run the day before so I was planning to run up Ben Tyler trail to the Colorado Trail and head south to Kenosha Pass before turning around to go back over Ben Tyler. This should have given me some excellent elevation gain. Ben Tyler is a pretty runable uphill and is in a gorgeous forested area so I was enjoying being out there by myself. About 3 miles into the run I heard a russle just off the side of the trail. I stopped dead in my tracks as I saw a pretty good size black bear (300-400lbs) a couple feet away from me. I think I scared the bear as much as he scared me and he jumped up and charged across the trail just a few feet in front of me and then took off up the trail. With only my mini can of pepper spray for protection and my legs shaking uncontrollably I decided continuing up the trail was probably not in my best interest. I slowly walked backwards down the trail until I could no longer see or hear the bear, then turned and ran as fast as I could on the somewhat technical trail, there are quite a few loose rocks and roots to dodge, back to the car. At this point I knew I still needed to log more miles so I had to come up with a new game plan. Well I decided I was less likely to encounter a bear on a trail that was hot and exposed. So I headed back north to run segment 2 of the Colorado Trail from the Foxton side. This would give me another good climb, adding to the 2,500 ft of elevation gain I had already done. Of course starting this trail at 11:00 am meant I only had a few hours before the storms hit and I had decided on an exposed trail, not somewhere you want to be in a lightening storm. I charged up the initial hill or rather I should say it felt like I charged up the hill, but between the lack of sleep, temperatures near 100F and the lagging effects of the earlier adrenaline surge my quads were trashed. I pushed on as best I could but as I dropped into the woods after a few miles I began to get nervous about mountain lions. No real reason, but I had defninitely been spooked by the bear. After awhile I realized I was spending more time nervously looking around and fighting the fatigue in my legs than running. With storms rapidly approaching I decided it wasn't worth it and I should just head back down.

Needless to say Sunday's run did nothing to inspire confidence in me for Leadville. But I know next week is another week. I try to keep reminding myself that not every run is perfect and you don't always feel good on every run, but there will be another good day of running you just have to keep at it and not give up. So here's to better running next week!

Week July 15-21
Miles Running: 39.1
Hours Hiking and Running: 12

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

"running from dusk 'til dawn" -old hardrocker

Every year I find myself thinking something I once considered a totally crazy idea may actually not be such a bad idea. I mean at one point I remember telling my high school track coach that a 400m race was too long! After reading all about Hardrock this past week it's not sounding so outrageous...maybe one day. Apparently James also wants to run Hardrock. Every time I watched one of the Voices of Hardrock videos on irunfar.com he smiled and laughed along to the Old Hardrocker song. We may have created a monster!

Kenosha Pass
 Last week was another good week of training. I'd still like my mileage to be a bit higher, but all things considered I think training is going well. I got out to the Colorado Trail twice last week running segments 3 and 6.  On Saturday I ran from Kenosha Pass to Georgia Pass after a hard run on Friday. I was hoping to get over the pass and a few miles down before turning around, but a thunderstorm turned me around a mile from the pass. I need to save up that lightening karma for the big dance, it's not worthing risking for a training run. Regardless the run was still good. After the initial downhill from Kenosha Pass the trail gradually increases approximately 3000' to Georgia Pass. It's just a long grinding uphill that's totally runnable and really makes you work for it. Definintely a great place for training. There's also a pretty good river at Jefferson road that you can pump water from for a really long run. The best part of this run was just after getting back to the car, with tired legs, soaking wet and with no dry clothes to put on, I got to see a cow and her calves just off the side of the road. Seeing sights like this remind you why you run trails rather than taking the easy way out and trucking down the road. Saturday's long run was also great mental toughness training. The long uphill defnintely makes you second guess your ability to finish a 100 mile race, especially when its pouring rain and thundering all around you. Experiencing what will be a typical low point and turning it around to pound the downhill and feel good, knowing you can keep going is perfect training for 100 miles. Hopefully next week I can build on the running I've done the past two weeks to get in a few more miles including a significantly longer run next weekend.

Week July 9-15
Miles Ran: 56.1
Hours Hiking and Running: 17

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Relentless Forward Progress

I originally started this blog as a way to track my training and to remember all the amazing places I've had the opportunity to run. This was never meant to be about my life. But what I've found is that running and life are intricately intertwined. I realized this week that what's going to get me to 6th and Harrison on August 19th is what is also going to take me through the rest of my crazy life...relentless forward progress. No matter what happens all there is to do is to take another step.

Colorado Trail Segment 3

So that's what I did this week, I kept taking one more step. Having the holiday mid-week allowed me to get in two long runs, which really helped my mileage. It also made me realize that my legs are unlikely to feel fresh again until race day, and I have no illusions of that fresh feeling lasting very long. Bufflo Creek Wilderness seemed to be my home away from home this week. I ran an 18 mile loop at Pine Junction. Halfway through the run I found some signs from the North Fork race that had been left out. I decided to run these out to where the race director could pick them up, but goodness running with 2-ft long stakes tied to your hydration pack is not the easiest thing in the world. Who would have thought I'd manage to bruise the back of my elbow on a training run? I also returned to my beloved segment 3 of the Colorado Trail. I've trained for so many races on this section of trail. It's the closet thing to flat in the area, but its far from flat. The rolling hills are runnable, but after 20 miles of punishing hills you're almost begging for a steep hill to walk up! Most of my other miles were logged on my not-so-beloved treadmill. I just kept reminding myself...forward progress, each mile I can get in is going to help get me to that finish line.

Last weekend after Dan's big race he won a lottery qualification to the Leadville 100...well apparently Dan's training isn't over, he's going to give the 100 a go! It's defniitely been crazy with us both training for a 100 mile race. The food consumption in our house is borderline insane! It has also been tough to take time to run when all you want to do is hold James and play with him, but that's what naps are for right? We both know that we need to take time for ourselves to be our best for James and running is our way of doing that. I still can't wait until James is big enough to take out running! He loves our hikes up Conifer Mountain!
Colorado Trail Segment 3

Week July 2-8
Miles Ran: 55.5
Hours Hiked and Ran: 12