Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Battlefield

Finishers
A little over 2 1/2 years ago Dan looked at me one day and asked if I wanted to go for a run around the neighborhood with him. He was quick to tell me not to get too excited because we wouldn't be going far or fast and he probably wouldn't stick with it. We hiked quite a bit of the big hill, but it was a start. A few days later we were running at some new trails and before he knew it we were on a 7 mile run on the beach in Cali. I had just signed up for my first ultra when Dan decided it would be better to join me in running than to try to fight it.

Now hiking the hills is reserved for Hope Pass. He has 3 ultras and 4 marathons under his belt. I'd say an incredibly successful 2 1/2 years. Naturally there has been a pretty steep learning curve to make up for the years of experience others have had. At the Silver Rush 50 this year I saw Dan coming in around mile 24 and he looked great charging the hill up to the aid station. He was ahead of his splits and everything seemed to be going well. Well...it was a long last 8 mile downhill stretch. This was his first 50 and with a runnable course its easy to go out too fast and blowup. The blowup was beginning when I saw him around mile 35ish. He pushed through and finished in terrible conditions. It may not have been the time he wanted or was capable of, but the lessons learned were invaluable. I see a lot of Dan in James in this respect. No point in trying if you're not going to go out hard. You may crash and burn in the end, but at least you had fun getting there. 

Dan and Jason at Rock n' Roll
A couple weekends ago Dan's long season finally came to an end with his first road marathon, Denver Rock n' Roll, where he put up a very solid performance. It was evident he's actually starting to learn from his earlier mistakes and was able to run a pretty steady race. This season he took over 45 minutes off his Leadville marathon time and a similar PR at the Salida marathon. I know next season holds some big runs for Dan and as long as he stays healthy he's going to make some great strides.

I've had some fun times running the past
 couple weeks. My legs are feeling fresh, the weather is finally getting cool, so it's that perfect combination that leads to great running right before winter sets in, the trails are covered in snow and ice and it's dark all the time. Apex is still closed for flood damage so I've been mixing up the trails a bit more. I'm still not quite getting to the top of Falcon as fast as I would like. I need to just force myself to push through a bit more. I'd really like to at least get uner 31 min before the end of the year. I know I can do it, I just have to actually do it. I'll get there.

We also spent a weekend in the Springs. As soon as Dan and I got there, we dropped off James with Nana and PopPop and headed straight for the Incline. I was certainly a bit nervous as we approached it. Its definitely daunting. Dan was still recovering from the marathon so we took it easy. We made it to the top in 39:14 and could easily cut several minutes off that. Then we took the Barr Trail down. We of course forgot our headlamps in the car so the last mile was barely faster than a hike as it was pretty dark. Still fun and we were both in significantly better moods after tacking that beast. The next morning we hit up Palmer Park, which for being in the middle of the city is a pretty cool park. There are so many social trails and they all intertwine that we basically just had a fun adventure run. We got great views of Pikes and just had fun before heading to the Notre Dame game.

The game was James' first football game. We weren't planning on taking him,but the weather was amazing and Nana was begging. After a pre-game meltdown and first half nap he rebounded to clap and cheer for the whole 3rd quarter. It was a blast.

Since getting James' Sure Steps we've been working pretty consistently with him on the treadmill. I've noticed a pretty significant improvement in the consistency of his strides. He is very right leg dominant so his right step would be huge, then small left step. Working on the treadmill almost forces him to keep more even strides and it certainly helping. The longest he's gone is 5:45 which is pretty amazing for a little dude!

Week October 14 - 20

Miles Running: 39.5
Hours Hiking and Running: 8.5

Week October 21 - 27

Miles Running: 24.3
Hours Hiking and Running: 6.5

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Monday, October 21, 2013

Never Too Old To Learn

This was a week about trying new things and improving my running. Dan had been seeing a physical therapist for a couple weeks and had seen significant improvement. She specializes in running which intrigued me. I've wanted to be sure the little niggles I've felt are really just that and nothing bigger. So I went in for a running evaluation. The first thing she said was "well you look like a runner". That was a good start. She filmed me running on the treadmill from several angles. The biggest things to improve on is to stop over striding and my hip and ankle strength. I've known my hips were weak, but it was interesting how she picked up on my ankle issues. Well former issues. I had my left ankle "enhanced" nearly 16 years ago. I haven't noticed any problems, but because of some residual weakness I have a bit of a heal whip. She also said the bit of pain I've been having in my calf is related to being a forefoot striker. While I've been a forefoot striker since my days as a sprinter she said I need to really be solid through my ankles and that I've been able to get away with it for shorter distances, but getting to 100s is wearing out my calves. So good to know its nothing really and with a few exercises it should be a thing of the past. The real test is if I can actually do the exercises! 

I also returned to a few trails I haven't run oin quite awhile. I did a summit of Green Mountain and the Hogback at Matt-Winters. I swear Green Mountain is always out to get me. The last time I ran there I had a bout with the chiggers...this time it was so windy up top I think there were a few steps I took where I actually was blown backward. Then we went to Breck and I got to check out some new trails. I had heard good things about the Burro Trail and since it was less than a mile from our condo I decided that would be a great place to start. It turned out to be an amazing trail. The first several miles were super runnable, winding along the river on soft trails. Then you popped out onto a jeep trail with magnificent views of Quandary Peak. The way down I took it a bit slow. Burro Trail takes a turn, I think it was around 3 miles up, so I was afraid I'd miss it heading back down. Once I found the trail again it was just a fun cruise back into town. 

That night Dan wanted to go out to a nice dinner to celebrate our anniversary. He even made reservations at Briar Rose for us, early so we wouldn't bother anyone with James. Well I really went out on a limb at dinner. I tried escargot, which was amazing! And ordered buffalo short ribs. Well guess who is head over heels in love with buffalo short ribs...besides me? Yep James! He went nuts for it! And it was the first thing he has ever turned down cheese for. I'm afraid we have created a monster! The whole weekend was awesome! It was so nice just to be able to run and eat and relax as a family. No chores, no responsibilities, nothing. I think everyone needs a weekend like this once in awhile. 

As an added bonus I hit 1500 miles for the year this week. That means roughly 45 miles per week until the end of the year to hit 2000. I guess I have some work cut out for me. But 1500 is still more miles than I got in last year. I think I'm setting myself up well for a great 2014.

Week October 7 - 13

Miles Running: 39.0
Hours Hiking and Running: 7.5

Relaxing in Breck

I think we have a mountain climber on our hands!

Friday, October 11, 2013

Mythbusters


With Bear Chase in the books it was time to spend a bit more focus on James. He was slated to have surgery last week, but a rough stomach bug put an end to that one. Or at least delayed it 6 weeks. And with October being Down syndrome awareness month I thought I would take a moment to dispell some of the rumors about Down syndrome. I don't by any means claim to be an expert in all things Ds, but over the last year and a half I have learned a few things on our journey. Quite a few people have also asked me questions about Ds, what it is, what to call it, how it will affect James. I will always welcome questions about Ds, so please don't ever hesitate to ask. 

#1. Down syndrome isn't a disease. It's not something I did while I was pregnant, it's not something that can be cured or treated. Cognitive delays associated with Ds may be treated, related medical issues can be treated and physical delays can be helped as well. James isn't a condition so please don't call him a Down sydrome baby, a Down's baby, or a Down baby. He has Down syndrome, it's not who he is. Its also not preferred in the US to use Down's. Down syndrome, Ds, trisomy 21, T21 are the preferred ways to refer to Ds.

#2. Down syndrome isn't moderate to severe. James has plain old trisomy 21, not mosaic or translational. This means every single cell in his body has an extra chromosome. However just like any other typical child James may be better at some things than others and we'll just have to wait and see what his strengths are. Although from what I've seen already he understands things well, but may not like to communicate back to you. And he definitely has his momma's leg strength!

#3. Kids with Ds are always happy. I have definitely lay witness to some amazing tantrums! Yes, James is a very happy child with an infectious laugh. But I like to think that's James and that he would be a happy kid regardless of how many chromosomes he has. I was a pretty happy kid and I only have 46 chromosomes. 

#4. I've read quite a few blogs or stories about people saying how amazing it is to have a kid with Ds. Its amazing to have James not just because he has Ds. I honestly can't say it's amazing to have a child with Ds. The reality is most days its not. We've been lucky that James han't had any major health issues, but last month I took James to Children's twice a week for doctor's appointments and that doesn't include his regular therapy appointments or trips to the pediatrician. It's not all doom and gloom either, but I think all to often people paint this picture of Ds through rose-colored lenses. 

#5. Babies with Ds are only born to older parents. There is a higher chance of having a baby born with Ds if you're older. However approximately 80% of babies born with Ds are born to mom's less than 35. I was 33 when James was born. This is due in part to a larger percentage of babies being born to mom's under 35, but anyone of any age can have a baby with Ds. 

#6. Kids with Ds can't do things typical kids can. It may take James longer to do something, but he will get there. Just be patient with him. I hope he will be able to be mainstreamed in school, and often times kids with Ds are mainstreamed. He's just going to have to work a little harder. James may not be as fast or as strong as typical kids, but then again...maybe he'll be faster. There's a running club in Germany for people with Ds and many of the runners run marathons! There are a load of typical people who have never and will never run a marathon. Pretty impressive if you ask me. I don't know what James will be capable of as he grows up, but I'm certainly not going to tell him he can't do anything. I will do everything in my power to help him achieve his goals...no matter how lofty they may seem. I ran 100 miles not too long ago. I'm pretty sure if you told my parents when I was 17 months old that I would run a 100 mile race they would have laughed at you too. I've always said "if you want to do something you can" and I truly believe it. I believe that if there's that one thing you really, really want to do we can find a way to make it happen. That and I also say "can't means won't". There are very few circumstances when there is something you can't actually do. 

I remember once telling my mom I wouldn't be ready to have kids until I was ready to have a child with special needs. At the time I didn't think it would really happen to me...but it did. Had I have known prenatally about James' diagnosis it wouldn't have changed anything. James has taught me to slow down, to appreciate the small things and to really live each day because you just never know what tomorrow will bring. I have hopes and dreams for James. They may not have been exactly the same hopes and dreams that I had before he was born, but the important ones, the ones that really matter are still the same. My one real hope for James is that he finds love like I did with Dan. When he was first born this was one of my biggest worries and biggest sources of my sadness. But the more I learned about Ds the more I learned that there is no reason he won't find that kind of love. 

Week September 30 - October 6

Miles Running: 37.0
Hours Hiking and Running: 7.0




Monday, October 7, 2013

Bear Chase 50k Race Report

It was a crazy week leading up to the race. Bear Creek Park had flooded pretty bad so the status of the race seemed up in the air. Tuesday the RD announced course changes and said the race was a go. Amazingly they had managed to keep the integrity of the race with almost a completely new course. There would be a bit more time on the roads and bike paths, but the majority was still on trail so I was pretty happy with it. Friday I picked up my packet and again debated changing to the 50 mile, but the thought of 5 laps got the better of me and I stuck to the 50k. Then it was home for a quick ramen noodle dinner and bed.

Just before I crawled into bed I happened to be checking Facebook and saw a post from the RD...it had been raining all day and park management said we had to postpone the race. What? Was this for real? I checked the race website and shot off a quick text to Nick. Yep, it was for real. No Saturday race. They would evaluate trail conditions on Saturday and make a decision about moving the race to Sunday. 

So now I had all my gear ready, I had tapered and my legs were super antsy. So I went out and did the next best thing to resting...I set a PR at Flying J, sub-8 minute miles.  My legs felt great and I knew I was ready as long as this run didn't set me back. 

Sunday morning was chilly! I parked, hopped on the bus and en spent the next 30 minutes huddled against the side of e bathrooms trying to keep warm. Then it was go time. The 100k took off, then the 50 mile and next was our turn. The gun went off and I found myself dodging around for a good position. Luckily the trail stayed wide for awhile so for the most part you could get around people pretty quickly. Before I knew it I was passing 50 milers and had settled into 4th for the women with 2nd and 3rd only a few seconds ahead of me. We hit the river crossing pretty quick and this was the only real cluster of the day. 100kers were for good reason taking off their shoes, 50 milers were picking their routes and the 50kers didn't care and charged their way through. Then we wound our way down the bike path to Mt Carbon. I easily moved into 2nd on this climb but I knew 3rd was close and I was about 20 seconds out of first so I kept a steady charge up. As we created Mt Carbon the sun was rising in the distance and even though its not the prettiest course I've run the view was stunning. No time to think too much about it though and I hammered downhill. The first aid station was at the bottom of Mt Carbon and I just cruised through.  We made our way around a golf course, took a sharp left, up a steep, short hill and were heading back to the start/finish. I cruised through the second aid station and tried to really keep it steady as I finished that first lap. As I came into the start/finish I was feeling good. Nick was there yelling at me so I threw him my sleeves and gloves, topped off my water bottle and was heading back toward the river. I was 6 minutes ahead of my anticipated time and was a bit nervous not sure if I had gone out too fast. The 3rd place women was no where in sight and I was still less than a minute from first. The second lap was pretty similar to the first. I came in 5 minutes fast again and knew I now had a 10 minute buffer to break 4:30. 

I topped off my water bottle with EFS and water and before I knew it I was back in the water. I had a bit of a niggle in my right leg and the cold water felt great. As I started back up Mt Carbon my legs started feeling increasingly heavy. The first place women was now out of sight and I was beginning to worry I would lose second. I grabbed a coke and ginger ale at the aid station and topped off my water bottle. It was really getting pretty warm and I was going through my water much faster now. But I was halfway through my last lap...almost home. I also realized that my 26.2 mile time was 3 minutes off my marathon PR and my 2nd fastest marathon time. I can't be too disappointed with that. Just that damn steep hill! I cursed as I half hiked half ran the 10 steps to the top. Still no third place in sight and I was ow pretty sure I'd hang on to second, but 4:30 was pretty much out of the question. 

With about 1/2 mile left I saw Dan on the side of the trail and I knew I couldn't slack on the little hill up to where Dan was. I finished strong in 4:32 and as I crossed the finish the one guy said so you're the third woman? I was crushed. How did I let someone pass me? I knew third was still good, but I was still a bit upset with myself. Plus my legs were sore and I was too tired to really care. Nick grabbed me a water and a beer and I sat down on the curb to wait for Dan. After a few minutes of discussing how much I despise running fast and how running fast hurts so much more than running far, Nick came back over saying to hold tight because I might really have been second. After a few minutes of Facebook stalking to determine that the girl in first was actually running the 50 mile I was awarded my second ace trophy. Of course I tried not to think about the fact that I had gotten not just beat, but crushed by a girl just hammering the 50 mile. 

My goals for the race were to run sub-4:30 and go top 3 for women. I also wanted to see if I could still run kinda fast. 4:32 and 2nd, 8th overall is pretty damn good though. Especially considering I hadn't run farther than 15 miles since Leadville and had only done one speed workout. I was left tired and sore, but also in a strange way wanting to give another go at a marathon to see how much I have improved. I know I'm running significantly better than I was a few years ago, so maybe we'll have to see about that marathon. 

Overall the race was pretty great! Especially considering everything the RD was up against. A last minute course and date change and the race still went off flawlessly. The course itself wasn't my favorite, but good beer, good swag and a well organized race might mean I'll have to return for another dose!

Week September 23-29

Miles Running: 51.8
Hours Hiking and Running: 8.5