Friday, May 30, 2014

The Big Question

It's the question everyone either asks or is afraid to ask. Is he walking yet? Followed by You'll wish he wasn't walking once he starts! I know no one means anything by it, but it's still hard to constantly have to explain why James isn't walking. Answering the questioning looks when I tell people James is 2. Thing is no when you've been waiting for 2 years for a kid to walk you won't actually wish he hadn't. I'm ready for him to walk regardless of all the chaos that will come with it! I try not to mention the small progress he's been making to avoid furthering questioning. But James has been getting there. Slowly.

It's been a long process. James has been pulling to stand and cruising for 9 months. His PT has been saying since December that he could start taking steps any day. For nearly 2 months James has been trying to push himself to stand. He would push up and pretty much fall down immediately. He started letting go of his standup toys for a few seconds at a time. I knew we were making progress and celebrated each baby step. But then James turned 2 and he wasn't walking. I keep hearing 2 is the average age for kids with Down syndrome to walk and it's the age a lot of parents seem to shoot for. So when his birthday came and went and he still wasn't walking it was of course a bit disappointing. He was starting to take steps between Dan and I, but had pretty much completely stopped trying to push himself to stand. It was so frustrating. I knew he was strong enough and could take steps on his own...he just wouldn't do it. That of course did not stop him from climbing up and over the couches, toys, people...anything that he could get his hands on. 

I never doubted James would walk, but it's tough when you get to the point where you've done all you can. Now you have to just sit back and let them do it at their own pace. And walk at his own pace James has. He's certainly not walking full-time, but one night Dan and I were playing with James in his room when out of the blue he did it! He just stood up and took a couple steps! Talk about some proud parents! So yes, we now have a bit of a walker. I know it will still be some time before he's walking full-time, but I know we'll get there.

Staunton State Park
This week I was still feeling pretty flat from Quad Rock. It's making me a bit nervous that I won't be recovered in time for Dirty 30, but by the end of the week my legs were feeling like they were back. Monday I met Allisa for a slog at Apex. I just had nothing on the climbs. I took it easy mid week to try to give my legs a break. By Friday I was ready to go again. Dan was slated for a long run and my plan was to do one loop with him at Staunton and then let him do a second by himself. I wasn't thinking I needed a long run the weekend before Dirty. But I was feeling good and Dan didn't want to run alone so it was pretty easy convincing me to go for a long run. We only ended up doing 18 miles so not a crazy long run and easy to recover from. 

The Dingo
Somehow on the run I made the mistake of bringing up the fence that we had been debating building. By the end of the run it sounded like a really good idea. Needless to say Dan ended up renting a Dingo to dig post holes and we set 23 posts over the weekend. Coupled with an 11 mile family run at Bear Creek and lots of time at the park I'd say we had a pretty good Memorial Day weekend. It was all about family. 

Week May 19 - 25

Miles Running: 51.0
Hours Hiking and Running: 9.5

Staunton State Park

Bear Creek Lake Park

Wednesday, May 28, 2014

Ultimate Direction Ultravesta Review

Rockin' the Ultra Vesta
The one piece of gear I was really hoping to dial in this year was a pack or a vest. I've been using a Nathan hydration pack, but was never able to get it adjusted right. After a couple miles my shoulders would hurt so bad I would never want to wear it. It got to the point where I would do whatever I could to avoid wearing a pack. The reality is if I'm going to run long I need to find a system to carry more water. I live in Colorado not the land of lakes so often times you can go for hours without seeing any water to filter. This winter I heard about the women's specific Ultimate Direction Ultra Vesta and I decided I needed to at least give it a try.

I was still a bit unsure about how I would feel about wearing bottles in the front of the vest. Each of the bottles is 10 oz. After a couple runs in the vest I didn't even notice the bottles. Only being able to carry 20 oz if not using a bladder is a bit of a downside; however if the bottles were any bigger they would be too big and cumbersome. I have found my form is significantly better when I wear the vest versus hand helds. With hand helds I tend to tighten my arm and run with my hand to high. I've had to get used to forcing myself to drink more though. When I have a bottle in my hand it's a constant reminder to keep drinking. This definitely took some getting used to, but I think I have my routine down now. 

Beneath each of the bottles are pockets. One is a zipper pocket that is large enough to hold a gel flask which is a huge bonus. The other pocket is velcro and tightly fits my iPhone. I wish this pocket were a slight bit deeper so my phone would fit a bit better, but it works. I really like having the pockets with the quick access to the essentials. 

The pack itself is pretty small, but I've never had so much gear that it hasn't all fit. That said I don't tend to carry large amounts of gear. There are sections on both sides which is nice so you don't have gear in the same section as the bladder, if you're using one. The material is really lightweight and breathable so you can barely feel it. It also fits perfectly on my back so even if I have the straps relatively lose the pack isn't bouncing around. I've worn the vest in sub-zero temps with multiple layers of clothes as well as pretty hot days and everything in between. On none of these occasions did the pack rub my skin raw or pull up my shirt. A problem I have had with every other pack I've tried. 

The shoulder straps fit my shoulders perfectly and don't slide all over the place. My shoulders have gotten a slight bit sore, but it's only happened after about 5 hours. I wore the Ultra Vesta for all of Quad Rock and was comfortable enough to wear it for the entire race. Overall I'd have to say this is one of the best pieces of gear I now own. Finally someone listened to the women runners out there and designed a vest for us, not just a smaller version of the men's vest.

This was supposed to be a recovery week so I'm not sure how I let Dan talk me into the Trifecta on Friday! Three times up Mt Falcon, thankfully on the third trip some strong storms moved in so we had to cut it a bit short, but 20 miles and 3 big climbs was maybe not what my legs needed after Quad Rock. 

I was a bit flat all week which was probably good considering the near 3 feet of snow that fell Sunday into Monday. It was my only chance to get in another long run before Dirty 30 though so I was glad Dan convinced me to get some quality miles in this week. We capped off the week with a family run at Bear Creek which I always enjoy!

James has been getting feisty lately! He is full of 2 year old personality and is not afraid to show it. I guess I'm glad he's hit this milestone, but if he pulls out any more hair I'm going to be bald pretty soon! But then he just gives you that smile and it's so hard to be mad. His communication is finally taking some big strides. Every week he learns more signs. One of my favorites is he started signing "outside" this week. Every time you ask him if he wants to play outside he just starts furiously signing outside. A kid after my own heart! Oh and of course his other favorite "cheese". Yep he's got some good ol' Wisconsin blood in him. He even scoffed at the local cheddar and threw it on the floor. 

Week May 12 - 18

Miles Running: 45.3
Hours Hiking and Running: 9

Wednesday, May 21, 2014

Quad Rock 50 Race Report

Hanging out on the back deck
No matter how many times I told myself I was better trained for Quad Rock this year I just wasn't convinced. It was a super busy week leading up to Quad Rock and I began to get nervous that I hadn't looked at the course profile or even thought about splits. So Dan printed me a copy of the profile and in about 5 minutes I quickly sketched out some splits based solely on what I thought I should be able to run for each section. 

After Dan got in his annual run to the top of Horsetooth I headed out to pick up my packet and grab some dinner. Thankfully Five Guys is right next to Runner's Roost. I'm not sure most would consider this a great pre-race meal, but hey it's delicious and James loves Five Guys. So burgers and fries it was. This year we rented a little cabin right on Horsetooth reservoir and while it was a bit tiny the location was awesome. Plus having a cabin always makes gear prep easier than working in the dark in a hotel room while James sleeps. 

My 3:45 am wake-up call came bright and early after James decided 3:00 was a great time to be awake and hang out. I made it to the race start with just enough time to check-in drop off my drop bags and relax for a couple minutes. I found Nick and we were ready to get started. I wasn't sure that starting with Nick was the best idea, he tends to go out fast and since he was only running the 25 I wasn't sure how this would play out for me. But in the end it seemed better than running up Towers by myself. 

Heading back out from the turn-around
Nick was pushing it and the first 3 miles through the rolling meadows were ran at about 8:30 min miles. Then we started the climb. I knew I had to hike most of this but still was running more than expected to keep up with Nick. Near the top I started to fall off his pace and knew I had to just run my own race. I got to Towers AS at 1:20, 20 minutes ahead of my splits. Not where I wanted to be so I forced myself to slow down and relax a bit. My stomach was already not feeling great and my head just wasn't in the race. I was doubtful I'd see Dan and James at the Horsetooth AS, so I planned to just cruise through before I could think about our cabin just down the road. I got to the Horsetooth AS 17 minutes ahead of my splits so I was getting back where I needed to be. As I started the climb out of the AS I heard Dan call my name. He had just pulled in and they were waving at me. I stopped briefly and thought about turning around to head down and see them, but I knew Dan would be so mad at me. So I just kept hiking and waving until I got around the first corner. 
Quad Rock scars

The climb out of Horsetooth up along West Ridge is so much more brutal than I remember it being. It's not crazy steep it just seems to go on forever! Of course I had completely blocked this climb out of my mind from last year. About a mile or so up the climb the guy behind me asked if I was local "because I seemed to really know the trails". I ended up running with Josh the whole way to the 25 mile turn-around. Of course about 15 miles into the race we were just running easily along a relatively flat section when I subconsciously decided the fastest way to run was to superman along the trail. I can tell you from experience it is not actually the fastest way to travel, but it sure does make for an interesting story! I slid so lightly across the ground I was actually surprised to see blood running down my legs. He was running a bit slower than my pace but it was the perfect pace to get me back on my splits and the miles pass so much faster when you can run and chat. We cruised easily into the start/finish right at 5:00 which meant I was exactly on my splits. Dan and James were there to fill my bottles and turn me right around. I was really feeling good at this point and was able to run out of the AS and push the climb a bit. 

My camo crew
The climb back to Arthur's AS I was able to keep a pretty steady run-walk through the whole climb which was a huge improvement for me. Now I just had to hang on to the last couple climbs. Climbing out of Arthur's was so much worse than I remembered it. I fell completely off my splits getting to the top 30 minutes off my times. It was just a plod to the top. I'm not really sure what went wrong. I didn't physically bonk, there was a slight bit of rain so not too hot, not too cold, not too stormy. I just mentally bonked. But once I got to the top I was ready to make up some time. I really started pushing the pace heading down West Ridge. I picked off two girls and countless guys. And I mentally prepared for the last climb. Last year I completely bonked on this climb and walked almost the whole thing. 

I was in and out of Horsetooth AS quickly. The AS at Quad Rock are super dialed in. I spent 8 minutes total at AS this year which was another huge improvement for me. At each AS I added more vanilla EFS or VFuel to one bottle and filled both with water. I was able to maintain about 150-200 cal/hr which was more than I usually take, but seemed to be the perfect amount. I didn't take in any other calories, just s-caps every hour. I'm sure mainstreaming my nutrition also helped cut down on AS time. So I started the climb and realized it wasn't as bad as I remembered so I started running. And I kept running and waiting for the climb. I finally caught a glimpse of Josh and pushed to catch up to him. By the time I did he was really slowing down. We ran together for about 1/2 mile before I had to go on. I power hiked the last couple hundred feet up the steep section right before you hit the Tower AS. 

Coming into the turn-around
At Tower everyone reassured me that it was all downhill from here. That is a LIE! Don't believe these people. It is mostly downhill from here, but there are a couple heartbreaking climbs left. I took off down Towers at a pretty good pace. I had made up time on my splits on the last climb and now had 1.5 hr to make it in under 11 hours. I was pretty sure I could do it, but not totally sure. So I knew I had to keep a good pace. After a couple miles on Towers you turn onto Scout (I think?). I love this trail other than the hill you have to climb up. Its short and not super steep, but after 40+ miles its a tough one to run. After that climb it really is almost all downhill. Just a few rolling hills back through the meadows. I finally hit the meadows and knew Arthur's would be just around the corner. It seemed like it was taking forever to get there though. About a mile before the AS I came up on another woman. She was not looking real good and asked me to send help from the AS. There wasn't much I could do for her and I knew there were a couple guys not too far behind me in case she needed more help. So I picked up the pace to the AS to send someone to get her. It's so hard to see someone make it to mile 48 and get so sick they can't finish. At Arthur's someone mentioned 7th woman, but I didn't believe them. At the turn-around I had counted that I was somewhere around 15th and had now passed 3, but that many others couldn't have dropped right?

Coming into the finish line
No time to think, just run. The meadows are a tough finish. You can see the finish as you keep meandering. My GPS ticked off mile 50 and I was still running. Finally, finally I turned onto the road and then right into the parking lot. Dan and James were waiting for me here and James was clapping and smiling! So hard not to do anything other than sprint across the finish line so you can go give that guy a hug. Apparently I was so excited realizing that I was almost an hour ahead of last year's time and so excited to see my boy that I was running pretty fast with a huge grin plastered to my face. After I crossed the finish one guy looked at me and asked "so your first 50?". I just laughed. Yeah no just stoked to be finished!

Well my A goal was 10:30 and 5th place for women. B goal was 11:00. I finished in 10:45 and 7th place. And I really kept to my splits. Even though I didn't hit my A goal I was pretty happy with my race. It was one of my smartest races and one of my first where I felt like I was really racing. Plus a PR by 57 minutes is nothing to cry about. We'll just have to see if I can continue to run well the rest of the season. If my training continues to improve like it has all year I think I'll have quite a bit of success come this fall!

Week May 5 - 11

Miles Running: 65
Hours Hiking and Running: 14.5
Backyard fun
James' favorite place in the cabin

The best way to drink your milk!

25 mile turn-around 

Learning to drink like a runner!

Wednesday, May 14, 2014


Life of Rock
Trails make you smile, laugh and cry. They remind you to appreciate the little things like wildflowers on the side of the trail, sunrises and rolling fog. They also trip you and break you down. Some days remind us more than others that life is a lot like a trail run, full of ups and downs and at the end of the day its just you and a finish line. How you get there is up to you, when you get there is up to life. 

don't stare at horizons unless you're all ready to run -Michael Franti

This week I got word that a girl I knew in high school had been killed in a car accident. Shari and I weren't really friends, but even after all these years it's hard to forget her smile. It's also one of those things that reminds you how fragile your own life is. That we really just don't know what tomorrow will bring. I've always tried to live hard and not get caught up in things that don't matter much. The past two years have reminded me even more so not to take a single day for granted. But I have to say I hate these reminders. I mean I got it, I'm good. Life doesn't need to remind me any more. I've made decisions to put my family first, to still do things for myself, to get outside and experience the beauty of life. Unfortunately I don't get to tell life that I don't need any more reminders. 
1995 DSHA Homecoming Game - teamed up with Shari
for good memories and great laughs!

one day closer til my number comes we're gonna keep on burning til the night is gone -Michael Franti

So what else do you do when you want to live hard? You run hard. Monday I met Nick at PVR for a Buck Gulch loop. I hadn't really planned on going for a PR, but why not? I ran a 1:07 flat which was a PR by over a minute for me! And I really felt good. I pushed it the whole time and felt like I could have gone harder on the climb, but I was pretty happy with how I ran. A good sign for upcoming Quad Rock. With my parents in town for James' birthday Dan and I actually got in quite a few runs together which was certainly nice. 
What says birthday dinner better than pickles?

This week was also James' second birthday! Okay seriously when did this kid become a kid? What happened to my baby? I know have a 19.5 lb kid! I can't believe how far he's come in 2 years! I never would have thought I would have this babbling, signing, terrorizing child 2 years ago. Another moment of remembering to appreciate the small things. My only gripe is now that James is 2 he doesn't have to get weighed on the baby scale. So if one more nurse doesn't read his chart before saying "okay buddy stand on the scale" I might lose it. I know they don't mean anything, but I've snapped at more than a few nurses about this. So far only one nurse has asked which scale would be better.

His party was a blast and I think every parent and adult left completely exhausted! Exactly the way a 2 year old birthday party should end! I may not have won mother-of-the-year for the party. There was no theme, 10 minutes beforehand I realized there was not enough dirt cake and frantically sent my Dad to the grocery store to buy whatever he could find, there were no balloons or pony rides, but hey there was good food and good beer. I figure that's what everyone remembers. And it all goes back to realizing what's important...throwing the perfectly planned party just didn't make the list this year. 

Week April 28 - May 4

Miles Running: 38.1
Hours Hiking and Running: 7.5

What could this be?


Holy sh*t Momma do you see these Daft Punk albums?

Head first is the only way to live life! Glad these cousins have it figured out!

Lovin' his birthday present!

I think he mostly had the dirt cake on his face!

I moose be 2 with Nana

Monday, May 5, 2014

All About the Boy

Dada and James at the finish line
Cheyenne Mountain 50k
This week was really the week of James! With a bunch of random appointments I had to get creative to get in my runs. Tuesday James had therapy at one Children's location and then a 3 hour break before his ophthalmology appointment at another Children's. During this time I also had to figure out a way to get him a nap. So what else do you do, you making a sweeping drive between the two hospitals for a quick 7 mile run at Bear Creek. The rocking puts James out so he napped the whole run, plus the drive times. Total win-win! I'm not sure the ophthalmologist would have agreed since I know I did not smell like flowers.

Wednesday we met the therapist from the hearing loss program. The director told me about a new program called Baby Beats and set me up to get started. I just got the kit and am so excited to try it with James. He LOVES music! This program is intended to teach communication through music. Each composition is written to mimic the flow of conversation. He also got a drum and maraca with the set so he can play along with the CD. Afterwards I had time to take the boys out for a quick run in the neighborhood. 

Cheyenne Mountain 50k start
My legs were a bit heavy and tired all week which certainly has made me a bit nervous that I'm just not as ready as I would like to be for Quad Rock. My answer was another Falcon double before we headed down to the Springs for Dan's race. At some point if I keep doing these doubles they have got to get easier right? I felt pretty good at the end, but it's still a brutal soul-crushing climb the second time around. After I finished running we headed down to Manitou Springs. And I know Dan will never let me live down missing custard from Matt Carpenter! The mom in me came out and I said we should get dinner before we got ice cream. I knew James was hungry and on the verge of losing it. 
Playing in the park!

Saturday James and I dropped Dan off at the start of the Cheyenne Mountain 50k. We saw him off and then headed back to the hotel. We had a quick breakfast and then went for a little swim. The pool was pretty cold so James started shivering pretty quick, but he loved being in the water. After his initial uncertainty he started kicking and splashing like crazy. We quickly loaded up the room and headed back to the Cheyenne State Park to see Dan at the halfway point. We got there a bit early and got to see the front runners come through which was cool. It took James awhile to catch on to the clapping and cheering, but by the end of the day just after each runner passed James would look at me and start clapping. A bit late, but so cute!
Dan crossing the finish line!

I then took James for a hike so he could take a little nap and then we played in the park. He had so much fun in the park! The best part he walked the length of the park only holding one hand!!!! And then he even "won" a quilt that the amazing RD, Andrea, had made herself! He was so cute picking out which one he wanted. But ultimately the fishies won out over the campers! Such a hard choice! Overall it was such a fun week with my little grommie! Oh and Dan ran a pretty good race too! He summed up his race report on the way home..."I ran, then I ran a bit more, hiked up a hill and then ran." So there you have it on the Cheyenne Mountain 50k. I have to add that the race was run amazingly! The post-race party the James and I got to enjoy more than Dan did was so much fun! Andrea does an amazing job with this race and I have no doubt we'll be back to run again!

Week April 21 - 27

Miles Running: 45.0
Hours Hiking and Running: 9.0