Tuesday, May 28, 2013

When You Least Expect It

Sometimes you have those moments that are filled with surprises. Sometimes they're good ones, sometimes they aren't. But I've always loved surprises, good or bad, they keep you on your toes. Remind you that you're alive and fill you with excitement. I love those moments you think might never happen and when they do they make your soul smile.

Wednesday Dan called me out of the blue to play hookey and go for a run! It totaly felt like I was back in college, it was that first warm day of spring and everyone skipped class to go frisbee golfing. I know I went to college in Wisconsin so our "exciting adventures" were a bit tame compared to the adventures of today. So after pulling a Siobhan and driving to the wrong park Dan and I finally met up and got in a good run. Its always more run running when you're really supposed to be at work. Of course I paid dearly for leaving work early, just as I did in college, and spent the rest of that night working and even was up extra early on Thursday to finish everything up. Oh well it was certainly worth it!

Friday we took the day off to build a new porch...but you know what's way better than building a new porch? Yep, running in the new state park! Dan and I went to Staunton State Park to run "legally" now that it's officialy open. The trails were awesome. Beautiful trails, beautiful day...amazing run! Dan and I had a blast. I love new trails and to have some so close to home is perfect! Then Saturday I got in a long run with some good elevation gain on Conifer Mountain. After a slow start to the week, with James being sick with strep throat I still managed a fairly decent week mileage-wise.

James also has a way of surprising me. Just when I begin to worry that maybe he'll never crawl, he starts pushing up to his hands and knees. He may never army crawl, but he's getting close to pushing himself to sitting and I know crawling won't be too far behind that. James is also starting to understand our signs more. He doesn't sign to us, but when I sign "more" while eating he opens his mouth and is definitely ready for more. They may not be huge steps, but seeing him progress, get stronger and learn more is so exciting. But on top of him taking steps towards crawling, he also started taking real steps. I know he's a ways off from walking, but taking steps while I hold his hands is so much more than I expected him to do this week! Even his PT was so excited and amazed at how strong his legs are. I wonder where those legs came from.

Week May 20 - 26

Miles Running: 40.8
Hours Running and Hiking: 10

Thursday, May 23, 2013

Definition of a Runner

No idea where this lil guy is going!
The other morning I was driving into the office and happened to look around my car and just shook my head. On the dashboard is a parking pass from my last race, the front seat a long sleeve running shirt and RDS hat, the drivers door pocket is filled with gels. There's a handheld waterbottle in the cup holder and the center console contains a small can of pepper spray, running sunglasses, sunscreen, GPS watch, a couple maps from open space parks, and a note from Dan to have a great run. Then there's several other water bottles that have rolled under the seat along with the box of chocolate teddy grahams (perfect post-run snack). And what car is complete without a couple pairs of running shoes and a spare set of running clothes? Then I also noticed that there were another 7 pairs of running shoes next to the back door of the house. And one of the 5 kitchen cabinets is dedicated just to running water bottles. And none of this even makes me think twice. I mean why wouldn't you have a mountain of running shoes next to the door or a spare pair in your car? Doesn't everyone?

Loving games with Daddy

I guess this is part of what happens when you are truly a runner. I sometimes wonder what James will make of Dan and I with our running obsession. While I want James to do whatever it is he wants to, a part of me hopes he loves running as much as Dan and I. I get excited picturing this lil guy waiting at an aid station for me to come in, running around banging a cowbell and waving a "run hard mommy" sign.

This week was a recovery week after Quad Rock so more hiking than running. Felt good to relax, enjoy a massage and steam room, and soak my feet in an ice bath. But now its time to get back to the high mileage and hill workouts.

Week May 20 - 26

Miles Running: 13.3
Hours Running and Hiking: 4

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Quad Rock 50 Race Report

Dan took some photos along the course during his run.
This past Saturday I tested my limits, my progress at the Quad Rock 50 miler. Friday Dan, James and I headed up to the Fort for the race. When we got into town I dropped Dan off at the Horsetooth Trailhead so he could check out some of the course and get in a good run. James and I went to meet up with an old friend, Rachel. It ended up turning into a hectic night with me grabbing my race packet at 7:50 and then trying to find something for dinner. Dan was starving from his big run and wanted a hamburger and I love Five Guys grilled cheese. So a bacon cheeseburger for Dan and two grilled cheese for me with an endless supply of fries, a couple beers and it was finally time to crawl into bed. Unfortunately James had other plans and was restless and woke up several times during the night. Before we crawled into bed Dan turned to me and said "just think...tomorrow you get to run all day, people filling your water bottle and feeding you! What can be better than that? Well besides a hug from James."

After a high quality dinner and a total of about 3 hours of sleep my alarm went off at 3:40am. I seriously long for the race morning when I don't have to pump before the race! I downed a nutilla, some water and by 4:30 we were out the door heading to Lory State Park for the start.

Dan and James dropped me off with hugs and kisses and promises to see me at the 25 mile turn around. I grabbed my handheld water bottle, 3 gels, a fruit straw, waved goodbye and headed to pick up my bib. I turned on my GPS watch...oh and it just kept turning off then turning on. A few years ago I may have been completely lost, but going into a 50 with the experience I know have I just shut it down and let it go. I scanned the crowd for anyone I knew, looking in particular for Nick. I finally spotted him a bit in front of me and knew I'd meet up with him once we got going.

10, 9, 8....go! And we were off! The first bit was a course change due to the recent fire, but in all honesty I didn't really go over the route like I should have so I just followed the crowd. We headed down a dirt road on the back side of the hogbacks. I looked to my left and saw a beautiful sunrise, the sky brilliant shades of pink behind the hogbacks. It was hard not to smile. I kept an easy pace and quickly caught up with Nick. He was running with another friend, Jeremiah, who turned to me and goes "Ah, you're the girl from Apex! I knew you had to be training for something." We ran together for a bit before Jeremiah took off. Nick and I ended up running nearly the entire race together.

We turned and headed up some single track running when we could and hiking a good bit of it. I knew this first climb was the worst. We pulled into the Horsetooth aid station after the first climb and all I could think was "this is going to be a really long day!" My legs were tight and sore and my stomach was beginning to fall apart and we still had 39 miles to go. Needless to say I was ripe for a bonk and on the third climb I definitely bonked. Nick got ahead of me, but I kept him in my sights, determined to catch back up. I finally caught back up to Nick around mile 20 and we cruised into the start/finish together around 5 hours and 10 min.

James waiting for me at the 25 mile turnaround
By the turnaround I knew I really needed to see James and Dan. The first 25 miles had gone by relatively uneventful, but I wasn't feeling great and wasn't enjoying the race and the trails as much as I should have been. I spotted the bright orange Bob and knew everything would turn around right here. Dan asked how I was feeling and definitely gave me a hard time for complaining about my stomach. I filled my water bottle, grabbed more gels, fruit straws, Dan's watch, and tore into a pack of Honey Stinger chews. Then I was off, heading up the next climb with Nick. He heard me complaining about my stomach and told me I needed to eat more. Not really what I thought would be the answer, but decided to try. I had been going with a gel every hour and a fruit straw at every aid station. The problem here was I hadn't packed any Heed in my drop bags and there wasn't any electrolyte mix at the aid stations. I began to add the EFS gel to my water bottle and take salt pills, I have to admit this helped tremendously.

I knew the first climb out of the turn around would be tough, you have about 7.5 miles to the next aid station, the longest section without aid. But I also knew once I made it past this section everything else was split into manageable sections. I pushed this climb hard as I was starting to feel much better. Just before the aid station this woman, Beth, met up with us. The three of us hung pretty much together to the first aid station. On the next climb that would take us beneath Horsetooth summit I was really feeling great, Nick was  bonking, and Beth was slowing a bit. I had found my second gear and was just "in the zone" powering up the climb and by the time I got to the aid station at the top Nick and Beth were no where in sight. I just kept pushing on. Everything was coming together, I was running well and really enjoying the trail.
From near the top of Horsetooth
I knew I had some rollers and then the decent down to Horsetooth aid station and some pretty dark clouds were moving in fast. And then a light rain began to fall. Just as I looked up at the Horsetooth summit above me the lightening started cracking and the rain turned to hail. I knew I still had a few miles to the aid station where my sleeves were stashed so stopping or slowing wasn't an option. Of course there wasn't another runner in sight at this point and running through the lightening had me a bit on edge. I know I ended up slowing down pretty good as my mind wandered to the lightening. The next thing I knew with about a mile and a half to the aid station I heard Nick calling my name. He came charging up next to me and we took off together. In retrospect we probably bombed that downhill a bit too hard, but we were determined to get in to that aid station fast!

Nothing celebrates a good run like a Dales!
As is typical in Colorado as we pulled into the Horsetooth aid station the rain stopped and the sun came out. I grabbed my sleeves, tucked them into my shorts, a few more gels and fruit straws, downed some ginger ale, filled my water bottle and we went charging off. After about a mile our charging caught up with us and we were reduced to a slow hike up the last climb of the race. The rain came back and we just chatted and hiked the whole way up. Finally we reached the Tower aid station and I knew it was all downhill from here. It was pouring rain again and everyone was huddled under the tent. Nick sat down because he knee was bothering him. I loaded up on gummy bears and ginger ale and was ready to go. I checked to make sure Nick was okay and he promised to catch up. Beth had caught back up to us so we took off out of Towers together. It was a long downhill down Tower Road and I just let my legs run. Beth and I hiked a short uphill just after we turned back onto single track and then started bombing the decent again. When we hit the meadows Beth and I glanced behind us and saw another woman coming up on us. She just looked at me and said "she is NOT passing us!" So we took off again. Somehow I managed to find yet another gear, honestly I have no idea where this came from. There was no way I was going to let this woman pass me, and really I didn't want to let Beth pass me either. I slipped in some mud, but managed an awesome save and continued to run. I ran every uphill, downhill, turn and twist the course threw at me. As I approached the last aid station (Arthur) I saw Nick's wife, Laurie, and friend, Leila. They started cheering me on knowing I was close to the finish, 2 miles left. I quickly told them Nick was having knee troubles and they just waved me to keep going. I did just that. Now I was back on the dirt road. One guy passed me here, the only person to pass me during the back 25 miles! With about a mile left I turned and looked over the hogbacks and was delighted to see a rainbow leading me to the finish line. I broke into a huge grin. The lighting was gorgeous and the rolling green hills with the rainbow were an amazing site! As I turned into the parking lot I stole a glance over my shoulder and knew neither Beth or the other girl could catch me. I cruised across the finish line grinning ear to ear!

James tailgating at the race!
My goals for Quad Rock were to run sub-11:00, top 10 finish and mostly to learn from this race, to prepare for Leadville. I didn't go sub-11:00, but I did take 8th in a very strong field. But what these numbers don't tell you is this was my best race. I dialed in my nutrition, I really came back from an early bonk and I raced. I didn't give up and resort to just finishing at the end. I charged! I enjoyed the race, the course was amazing, the trails beyond awesome! I really couldn't have asked more from this race or my performance. This race also reminded me how much running ultras is like raising James. There was a little bit of everything...beautiful sunrise, rain, heat, hail, thunder and lightening, gorgeous meadows, tough climbs, sore quads, huge smiles, unbelievable views, and it all ended with a beautiful rainbow! And I certainly feel even more confident heading into Leadville. I know I can push myself, I can conquer my demons, I can comeback. Quad Rock...I'll see ya next year!

Week May 6 - 12

Miles Running: 62.6
Hours Hiking and Running: 14


Tuesday, May 7, 2013

Spring Ahead

Spring has never been my favorite season. I'm usually ready for ski season to be over and trails to be dry so I can get to logging the miles, or I'm sad I'll have to wait a few more months to hit the powder again. In Colorado spring typically lasts about 30 seconds, you get 3ft of snow one day and the next its 80 and dry. But this week as I ran through Matt-Winters and I saw green tufts of grass poking up through the snow and smelled that fresh scent reminiscent of spring, I smiled. It was refreshing to see everything spring to life. To remember that everything begins again and all the other cliches said about spring. But its true. Spring brings with it the start of a new running season and I'm ready to see where this season takes me.

This week was a mild taper week. I hate tapering and since Quad Rock is more or less a training run for Leadville I didn't want to do a full on taper, but still want to be able to race on fresh legs. Plus it was lil guys birthday and that obviously outranks running! And on top of it our house went under contract in two days...needless to say it was a busy week. Dan and I got in a couple runs together. He's running better than I've ever seen him run before so that's a great sign for his season. I've been feeling good so I'm excited to see what happens at Quad Rock. 50 miles is still a long ways to go and anything can happen, but I'm feeling good about putting up a strong performance. After that its really building time. Time to get back to my hill workouts, strength training and logging loads of miles. Hopefully this also means the end of snow season. I'm certainly ready for some dry trails. To just really push it. There are some trails are there begging to be ran and begging for PRs. I'm ready to get to all of them. And I think James is ready to hit some up this summer as well.

Week April 29 - May 5

Miles Running: 26.8
Hours Hiking and Running: 6.5

Saturday, May 4, 2013

Tale of Two Marathons

Happy Birthday!
A year ago my world was focused primarily on when my next race was, what training run would I get in that day, going over every little detail of the elevation profile or course map for my upcoming race. I could tell you every point along the course where I would eat a gel, where there would be an uphill, where you turn right. I'm racing a 50 next weekend and lets see, there are aid stations every so often, lots of hills and gorgeous views.  I'm running a different marathon now with a whole new set of adventures and one that you can never fully plan for. Its exciting and challenging and many days not so different from the marathon I used to run. In fact there are many days I feel like I can still manage to run both marathons, side by side. One thing I know for sure, I would never wish to be running a marathon different from the one I'm doing now.

Sometimes in life you get exactly what you need. On May 4, 2012 I got 4 pounds of exactly what I needed. I may not have known it then, but what James has unexpectedly brought into my life is pure joy. Every smile, every grunt, every snuggle and around the neck bear hug make up for all the days spent at Children's, for all the worry, for lugging around oxygen tanks for a year. I needed to slow down, to appreciate the little things and that's exactly what I got this year. I've celebrated two eyes being open at the same time, jumped for joy when my bowl of pasta was thrown on the floor and cried for joy when James reached his arms out at me.
The day you were born...

You never know how strong you are until being strong is the only choice you have -unknown

I always knew I was strong, but James has taught me a new level of strength. He has taught me to keep digging long after I thought all my strength was gone, and surprisingly I've never hit the point where I couldn't keep going. Each day I know I need to keep fighting for my little man, I need to be strong for him. It's something I think will help carry me through Leadville this year. Going into Leadville I'm stronger mentally than I think I've ever been before.

It's been a year and the typical walking, talking milestones are quite a ways off, but we'll get there. Determination and hard work have always been my strengths. James may not have my brown hair or brown eyes, but I can see my hard work, determination and strength in him. This lil guy doesn't give up, certainly not without a fight. And I don't either.

At times our own light goes out and is rekindled by a spark from another person. Each one of us has cause to think deep gratitude of those who have lighted the flame within us. -unknown

Each day with James has been an adventure, some good, some bad, some scary, but all of it beautiful. Happy Birthday to my lil grommie who has opened my heart in unimaginable ways. I'm excited to enjoy each day this coming year with James. To see what marathons we run. All the twists and turns, all the mountains we have to climb and all the views from the summits. See you at the top buddy!

You're off to great places. Today is your day. Your mountain is waiting so get on your way! -Dr Suess