Monday, March 25, 2013

Working for Each Mile

Pike's Peak in the distance, from Conifer Mountain
This week I truly worked for every mile I got. I was nearly blown off Green Mountain, slogged through mud and snow, pushed through a tough hill climb and froze my eyes together in sub-zero temperatures. And I even snuck in a "date run" with Dan. Now if that doesn't sound like a full week of running I'm not sure what does.

Thursday was World Down Syndrome Day and I thought a fitting run would be to charge the hill climb at Mt Falcon. From the first step this run seemed to be a metaphor for my new life as a mom of a grommie with Ds. The climb was tough and I didn't get to the top as fast as I would have liked. But I got there. I still managed a decent time and felt like I really pushed it the whole way up. When I got to the top I decided to take a slightly different route at the top than I normally do. The new trail I found myself on was so covered in snow, slush and sun crust that I was posting hole up to my knee pretty consistently. I slipped and slid my way along that trail, fighting for each step I took. Despite how much of a struggle that run was the sun was shining and the sky was the brilliant blue that you only find at these altitudes. It was amazing and beautiful and you couldn't help but smile, the perfect run for WDSD!

In celebration of WDSD James got to try some chocolate cupcake
The weekend brought about another dose of that Colorado spring snow. Apparently Mother Nature forgot that this is late March in Colorado. Instead of the usual 70F weather the day after a snowstorm temperatures were fighting to get over 0F! I made it outside during the snowstorm and fought to get as many miles as I did that day. My eyes froze shut, my buff froze to my cheeks and I was thoroughly frozen to the bone. Sunday the temperatures and the week's exhaustion got the better of me and I settled for a treadmill run. I guess that's what they're for right?

Week March 18-24

Miles Running: 36.3
Hours Running and Hiking: 3.5

Thursday, March 21, 2013

Who I Am - World Down Syndrome Day

I am...miles and miles of smiles!
The International Down Syndrome Coalition put together this beautiful video to celebrate World Down Syndrome Day. I couldn't help but tear up when I saw this video thinking James truly is everything I never knew I wanted.

A year ago I had never heard of World Down Syndrome Day and certainly never thought I would be celebrating it. I never imagined I would be living the life with my lil grommie that I am. The reality was I never really thought much about Down syndrome. I knew what it was, I had met people with Ds, but that was about the extent. I had often said I wouldn't have kids until I was ready to raise a child with special needs, but I didn't think it was really going to happen. Looking back I can't imagine things being any other way. I know we have some rough times ahead of us. I know not everyone will be as accepting of James as most people have been. There will come a day when someone makes fun of him or makes ignorant comments about him. I hope I will have the grace to handle it respectfully. But today is about celebrating all the good moments, the huge smiles, the open mouth kisses, the determination and the wonderful spirit James has. He is truly our lil champion and today is about champions.

"don't give up on me, I won't give up on you, just believe in me, like I believe in you" -michael franti

I am...a champion!
A sparkle in his eyes and in his heart
James has taught me to slow down. To appreciate all the little things, the things I used to take for granted. He has shown me the real meaning in hard work. He has taught me what really matters in life. And he has taught me unconditional love. He melts your heart with his miles of smiles. How can you look at a face like that and wish for anything else. He is absolutely perfect!

Just like any other parent I want to do everything I can to help James. I want people to accept him and I want to help further research that will help James live a more independent life. And so I'm doing what I can to help bring awareness to the need for research and to help fund research. It just so happens I can do that through running. The best part is it has helped my running. Those days we all know that we don't really feel like going for a run, or late in a race when everything hurts, I just think of James and tell myself that every step I take is going to help him. So today I'm going to run for all those who wake up each day and face adversity head on, for those who don't things don't come as easily to, for those who face their challenges with nothing but a smile, a big heart and an incredible amount of determination. I'm going to charge that hill climb for all its worth and I'm going to run hard for James.

"to give anything less than your best is to sacrifice the gift" -steve prefontaine

Monday, March 18, 2013

Travel with Friends

Well we made it through the week, no worse for the wear but we made it. In a week complete with three trips to Children's, inlcluding 4 doctor appointments and an ER visit, a second battle with the notorious norovirus, a continued effort at building a shower, throw in looking at a few more houses and running a few miles and it seems a miracle that I'm still standing. I didn't even know you could get norovirus twice, but apparently I was sorely mistaken.
Our lil bunny getting ready for Easter.
In between the mass of appointments I did what I could to sneak in a few runs. Tuesday I also decided was time to really kick my training into gear so I headed out for hill repeats on Green Mountain. That was the first time in quite awhile that I've been sore, that really good I worked my butt off sore, from a workout. I kept reminding myself that it meant I was getting where I need to be to have a great season. Wednesday I was slipping along the hogback through the mud and slush when I twisted my ankle coming off a rock. No real injury, nothing a little ice couldn't cure, but pretty uncharacteristic for me. I had been having one of those perfect runs too! Earlier a friend had sent me this African proverb "If you want to go fast, go alone. If you want to go far, travel with friends." I thought about how fitting that was for me. One of the main reasons I have switched from road racing to trail ultras has been for the camaraderie. I've made so many new friends and had so much more fun. Don't get me wrong, there will always be a place in my heart for road marathons. And those will always be my time. You run them alone. I've always been a bit of a loner so this suited me well. But then you have a James and you realize that you've got a long journey ahead of you and its nice to have some people by your side, especially ones that are going through the same things that you are. They're experiencing the same hills, the rocky trails, the afternoon thunderstorms and so I've learned traveling with friends is one of the best ways to go.

James still all smiles in the ER
James rocked the straw cup! It was a good thing to
since that was the only way to get him to take
Of course that was also when the real fun of the week started. I got to daycare after that run to find James puking and crying. That would continue for the next three days. Its so miserable to see him sick. Thursday afternoon the pediatrician had us take him to the ER to get some fluids for dehydration so that was a fun evening. James' cardiology appointment this week went great and while we still need to monitor him its looking less likely that he'll need open heart surgery. So, so, so thankful for that! All in all it was a long week that ended with some black and tans, a half finished shower, and a kid on the mends...can't ask for much more than that.

Week March 11 - 17

Miles Running: 20.1
Hours Running and Hiking: 3.5
Mixing some cement for the new shower

Monday, March 11, 2013


Dan at mile 26, Salida Marathon
The spring snow has definitely brought the mud to the Front Range! We've been getting some pretty good snow totals on and off every few days it seems. This week I felt lucky to have slogged through the miles I got. Tuesday was a brutal run up Green Mountain. I swear with every step forward I slid three back and would end up face planting in the mud. I made it to the top though and was rewarded with views of a downtown socked in with the thickest smog I have ever seen in Denver. I could barely even see downtown it was so thick. Certainly made me glad I wasn't slogging it out through that! I also managed a double duty run this week dropping my car off for an oil change and heading down Colfax to run at Apex. Wow nothing like getting in some road miles on Colfax, not even really sure what you can say about that other than it took every ounce of determination to get a run in that I had. But I slogged through that run as well and probably appreciate every muddy step at Green Mountain even more!

Friday we were off to Salida for Dan to run the marathon. With winter storm warnings and a forecast for significant snowfall Friday night through Sunday morning Dan was slightly less than optimistic about this race. Last year we ran the half together and it was gorgeous and sunny and we had a blast. It was actually the last race the three of us ran together and I remember chatting along the course about when we thought the next time the three of us would race together would be. Saturday morning though the snow hadn't started yet so James and I headed down to the start with Dan and Mark. We honestly watched them start with Dan and Mark at the very end of the line of starters. Seriously, they had some work cut out for them. Dan ended up having a pretty good race with the snow holding off for the most part. I know he feels so much stronger than he did this time last year which is a great sign for his upcoming race season.
Salida Marathon start, you can't see Dan because he's the last runner at this point!

James with his cools shades cheering on Daddy!
Its not easy sitting on the sidelines and watching everyone else race. Especially knowing these are conditions you excel at. But after Dan finished and showered I got out for my own run. The trails were less than a mile from the house we rented so I took off up the trails I vaguely remembered from the year before. I may not have been racing, but I was ready for it. The snow was coming down pretty hard at this point, but I was still getting great traction so I didn't slow down for a second. I ended up having one of the best runs I've had in a long while. Everything just came together. I was on these amazing new trails blanketed in fresh snow and my legs felt unbelievably fresh. I ended up running 9 miles at a sub-8:00 pace, which is pretty crazy fast for me on trails. So I may not have gotten to officially race, but I still had a pretty sucessful weekend! Plus James was a huge hit with everyone while we waited at the finish line.

James post-RSV shot. Maybe getting it right before
the road trip to Salida was a good thing!
Week March 4 - 10

Miles Running: 27.5
Hours Running and Hiking: 5

Monday, March 4, 2013

Roll with the Punches or Get Knocked Down

The increase of prize money has been a hot topic in the ultra running community as of late. I guess I have mixed feelings about this. I got into running ultras after falling in love with a community that seemed to be more about helping each other cross the finish line and being excited for everyone else running as much as themself. The last road marathon I ran was Steamboat in 2011. I was running it as a training run for my first ultra, North Fork 50 mile. On the bus on my way to the starting line the guy next to me felt obliged to tell me every detail about the 50 marathons he had run the year before. It wasn't so much the fact that he had run 50 marathons the year before, it was the way he said it. Like he was so great for doing this. I'm not one to go around telling everyone how great I am for doing something, but to each their own. The bottom line was I had heard this story so many times and was tired of it. When I ran North Fork I chatted with people about running in Alaska, I listened to stories of a guy who ran a local camp and was just living the dream in the Colorado mountains. I can't say that increasing prize money will bring this attitude to ultras or not, but it definitely is a worry of mine.

Then I think about it and realize that there will always be those people in everything you do. No matter how much I hate to think about it I know the day will come when someone makes fun of James. I hope when that day comes I am the better person and don't punch them in the throat. I can't promise this, but I will certainly try. Its the same thing in ultras, while bigger prize money may attract the attitudes I was trying to get away from I just need to be the better person and remember why I'm running. I'm not running for the prize money, I'm running to see these amazing new places, to test my own limits, to push myself. On the other side increasing prize money may bring stronger competition and more attention to ultras. I don't think that's a bad thing.

As with just about anything in life you never know what the end result will be. Just like you don't know if you will have a succesful race when you hit that submit button on your registration, we won't know what the end result of increasing prize money at ultras will be until it happens. I wasn't expecting a baby with Down syndrome when James was born. Some people, the pediatrician in the NICU included, may have thought this was a bad thing. And at first when I heard the news, I wasn't sure if it was a good or bad thing. What I did know was that it didn't matter, this was my son to love and hold and cherish for the rest of our lives. And so that's what I've done. I've taken it in stride, I've adapted to a way of life that was something other than what I expected. I can't even imagine what life would be like if I hadn't have been able to accept these changes. Sometimes you just gotta roll with the punches. Whether its another diagnosis or changes to prize money at ultras. Adapt, adjust and move on, that's really all there is.

Loving sunny days in Anchorage!
This week was my first work trip since having James. As my plane landed in Anchorage I was filled with mixed feelings. I love Alaska, it has gotten in my soul and just makes me so happy. So after a year away from this amazing place I couldn't wait to get my feet on the ground. But as happy as I was, my lil grommie wasn't here with me. I knew it would be hard to wake up and not have his arms around my neck, but I wasn't prepared for how empty I felt. Tuesday was one of those amazing days where the sun shines bright and all seems right with the world. Running at the top of the Sheraton I felt on top of the world. I thought about that November day running in that same spot where I had the insane idea of running Leadville 3 months after having James. Reminising about all my Alaska runs with the sun shining on my face, I ran hard. I'm sure being at sea level helped that out.

Of course the rest of the week, my running definitley slacked. I was exhausted after flying home on the red eye and crazy busy with getting the house ready to sell. Friday somehow Dan convinced me that it was really nice out. So I took off up the mesa at Matt-Winters and was blasted with cold wind and a snowpacked trail. I was mid-thigh in one snow drift I broke through. Better than a treadmill, but it was a tough run. My great Alaskan run certainly makes up for the other not so great runs.

Week February 25 - March 3

Miles Running: 19.5
Hours Running and Hiking: 3.5

Dan sent me this picture Monday night while I was in Anchorage, made me know my boy was okay,
but missed him like crazy

Apparently I missed my boy more than he missed me.