Saturday, June 25, 2011

A Run filled with options

The past few weeks I have been getting a long run in on my day off which is Thursday. This way if I am working on the weekend I wont have to run long after work and if I am off I can run with friends. That is one thing I am missing right now, running with  my friends. I run with them when I can but it seems most of my runs are by myself. This past Thursday was no exception.

I headed up to the Overlook early, I was running by 6am. The sun was just coming up and it appeared that I would have the entire trail to myself. I loaded up my pack, tied my shoes, put on sunscreen and I was off down the trail. The plan for Thursday, well I had a few plans in case I wasn't feeling the original plan of 28 miles. I knew though I was going to be doing a few out and backs on various parts of this run to Cool and back. The logic behind it, because I needed to get some good solid climbs and descents under my legs and up my mileage for Tahoe. What a better trail that is relatively close then the one to Cool.

The first 4 miles are down with the occasional rolling terrain but mostly down and then the next three is up, so sounds like a great training run. Plus the trail is very forgiving on my foot which isn't 100%.

The sun was just coming up

Down I go enjoying the cool air for I knew it wouldn't last long. I did however notice that it was going to warm up because certain sections of the trail were really muggy, glad I packed some extra salt. I arrived at no hands and then started my assault up to Cool. I ran most of it and power hiked knowing I would be doing this section again. When I was power hiking though it was with a purpose there was a sense of urgency behind each step. I arrived in Cool in 1hr and 25 minutes. Not bad, my all time fastest it 1hr 20 but my average seems to be around 1.5hrs.

Once at Cool I had to use the bathroom, luckily for me there was a port-a-john and I scored again because it had just been cleaned. Sweet, a clean port-a-john, what are the odds of that. After my quick pit stop I headed back down to No hands bridge. I didn't push to hard on the descent down, but I did let gravity do the work this way I wouldn't be causes to much stress on my quads.
Enjoying the Trail

Once at No Hands I had a few options, one I could keep going and turn around at the car, or two I could turn around now and and head back to Cool which would mean another 3 mile climb. I choose option 2, I didn't want to get back to the car and pack it up and call it a day so I headed back to Cool. By now it was warming up a bit, but most of the trail to Cool is covered so the sun didn't beat down on. I arrived back at Cool, filled my pack with water, refilled my GU supply and ate a Honey Stinger Waffle. Sort of a aid station stop I guess. I was back on the trail and heading back to No hands.
A bit tired back at Cool

My legs were feeling OK, I was struggling with some dead legs at times and then magically my legs would be back. Once at No hands the real fun begins the 4 mile climb out which is exposed and I would be baking in the sun. Glad I filled up my water at Cool.

No Hands for the second or was it the third time?

The climb out was a tough, my legs were feeling this run plus my body was feeling the previous work week and lack of sleep. I was tired, but I kept on trucking. I climb and I ran and I hiked and I ran some more. Soon though I was back at the top with a solid 21 miles in for the day.

The run challenged my mentally and physically. Mentally because work has been stressful and this run allowed me to be free again even if it was only for a few hours. I was able to let my thoughts go and just focus on being in the moment. Physically my body was tired even before I started running. But I pushed myself and gave it a solid effort.

The traditional ice bath in the canal

Now I am looking forward to this weekend. I have a 14 miler planned for today (Saturday) with Power Girl. Again we are running to Cool and back. Seems to be my new favorite trail and every time I run it I get stronger on it. After our run I am picking up Coach Nikon in the afternoon and driving up to Foresthill to see some of the runners from States go through. It should be very exciting. I will also be volunteering at the Robie Point aid station which Fleet Feet runs. I am looking forward to helping the runners and my friends when they come through and on there way to the finish which is about 1.3 miles from the aid station. It is going to be a exciting weekend for all.

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

In Case you didn't Know

In case you didn't know it is scorching hot outside. At least 95 degrees and climbing and it is only noon. Wow!!! The heat that we all were asking for is finally here. I can't believe how quickly the heat came. But let me tell you about last weeks adventures.

In case you didn't know last Wednesday was Captain Kirk day! Just ask Lil Man and he will tell you with fights pumping in the air and a huge smile on his face. It was Happy Kirk Day!!!!! Which also means we had to visit Captain Kirk at Fleet Feet. I picked Lil Man up from pre-school and off to Fleet Feet we went. We ran in there with smiles on our faces and he said hello and waved to everyone he saw. And then when Captain Kirk came out, he yelled "Happy Kirk day!!!!" and the entire store laughed as this statement was very random and was also followed by "Happy Kirk father's day" He was learning about father's day at pre school and well that sort of slipped out. But again the entire store laughed. 

Captain Kirk this song is for you!

Not only was Captain Kirk there but also Wonder Woman and he made sure to show her how fast he could run. He also put on a rolling demonstration on the foam roller. In case any of you need assistance he is a pro at it especially on how to roll the belly area. He also showed everyone how to use the massager that he desperately wanted me to buy him and he showed me how to stretch my calf. Pretty impressive for a three year old. I secretly think that Lil Mans favorite thing about Fleet Feet besides how they treat him like a celebrity and he can walk in the back room any time he likes and he acts like he owns the place is the gum he gets from Captain Kirk. He asked me one day that he wanted to go to Fleet Feet so he could get a piece of gum. Pretty smart kid. Before we left he had to clean his feet on the door mat out front which caused Wonder Woman to laugh and then he planted the biggest kiss on the front glass door I have ever seen. I bet his face impression is still there!

Not only does Lil Man ask to go Fleet Feet but he is also in love with Trail dog, and who wouldn't be after seeing this....

This is where I find Trail dog as I am getting ready to go for a long run

Lil Mans hand on Trail dog

We visited Fleet Feet on Wednesday and by this time I hadn't put any sort of miles in. After my big week the week before my legs were fatigued. I headed out on Thursday for a 14 mile run. But not just any 14 mile run. I tested myself once again by running from the Overlook to Cool and back. I tested my legs on the ascents. I pushed myself to keep pumping and not to power hike because I know Tahoe is going to be tough. I can tell my legs are getting stronger because I ran to Cool in 1.5hours and the return trip which has more ascents and is more challenging I made it back in 1.5 hours. My legs after Thursday's run were fatigued and I still had to work through the weekend.

 I did manage to get in 6 miles on Saturday and 6 miles on Sunday. It was after work and it was hot outside. I think the most annoying thing that happened on both of those runs was the dang ice cream truck kept following me and all I heard over and over again was the ice cream song. I couldn't run any faster because I was tired and if I let him pass I would still hear the music. Eventually after 2 miles of ice cream music I lost him.

Tahoe Rim is right around the corner for me and because of the way my work schedule is, it is making it tough to get a good last long run in. This weekend is pretty busy as it is Western States and I will be volunteering at the Fleet Feet Aid Station near mile 99 of 100 and I am really looking forward to giving back to my sport.

Next weekend I work and then it is time to taper for TRT. So my last long run could be this Thursday or next Thursday if I can get it in. Either way TRT isn't my Target race and it will be fun to be back on that course and to see if I can do better then last year. My expectations are not too high but I do have some. But I have plenty of time to think about TRT in the weeks to come for now I am going to recover my legs and enjoy States this weekend from the side line, but who knows maybe next year I will be running it.

Monday, June 13, 2011

Pool is open and Fun at Fleet Feet

Late last week my brother's pool was official opened for the summer, or I should say for the next few weeks since he and his wife will be moving to DC at the end of June. What better way to kick off summer then with a pool party.

Lil Man is already to go!

Have to test the water first

Mouse and Jack head on in, they dont' know what Lil Man is waiting for. Did I forget to mention it was a pool party for the dogs too. It kind of looks like Jack is giving Mouse a nudge!

And they are off! Mouse as you can tell by the splashes is very graceful in the water.

Max the "oldest" is like a U boat in the water. Very slow but a pup at heart.

Go Jack nice jump!

Ohh how cute, look how calm Mouse is

The dogs had a blast celebrating the opening day of the pool

Not only was the pool open, but Lil Man and I made a trip to the Roseville Fleet Feet Store. They had the Brooks bus of Curiosity there and some awesome prizes and treats. 

Getting his first sweet, and he won a t-shirt!

Enjoying the cookie!

Captain Kirk and Wonder Woman with Lil Man! How Cute are they?

Taking a look at the awesome bus, and just a small foot note but the balloon never made it home. It got out of the car while I was putting everything away. Lil Man was quick to tell me that I needed to hold on to the string tightly and not let go. Sorry Lil Man :(

But his all time favorite activity was being the Popcorn Master and watching the popcorn pop.

We had a great time enjoying the bus and all it's wonders it had to show us. Lil Man's favorite part was the bus! He is in fact wearing the t-shirt he won now! Thank you Fleet Feet for hosting such a great event. Lil Man is still talking about it. 

Sunday, June 12, 2011

The Fastest Run to Cool For Me

Today is my last day before heading back to work. I have had a great 4 day weekend that allowed me to get some much needed trail miles in my legs. This morning when I woke up my legs were feeling really strong, no aches or stiffness they were ready for a nice but challenging 14 mile run from the Overlook to Cool and back. I have been spending a lot of time on my foam roller and I believe that it is paying off, because typically by the 3rd day of long running my legs are stiff and hurting.

Once at the Overlook there were about 10 of us who ended up showing up after Captain Kirk sent an email out earlier in the week. It was good to see everyone, most I haven't seen since AR50.

I have been running a bit differently then what I am use to. Usually I tear up the descents and power hike the major hills. The past few long runs I have been keeping the descents under control so I don't blow up my quads and I am running as much if not all of the major climbs as I can. This I believe will help me get ready for TRT. If I can't succesfully run to Cool and back then I am really going to struggle in Tahoe where there is a ton of ascents and descents. Or this is what I am telling myself. But, what do I know??? It is helping as I just had a increadible run (2:57 vs 3:17 last time) and was faster then any other time out here. Something in my training is working.

The first 4 miles is pretty downhill. I was keeping a nice clip but nothing out of control, I was wanting my legs for when the 3 mile climb to Cool began just after crossing over No Hands Bridge. The speedster in the group (you know who you are) passed me, as I was just out running my own pace as I am sure they were also, they are just much faster then me right now.

There is a few tiny climbs and I tackled them and ran as much of it as I could at a resaonable pace. My legs were feeling good during the 3 miles to No Hands, but I also knew there was still a lot of trail left. When I had to hike I would fuel. I would take sips of GU from my flask and I think my fueling is more on track now.

Once at No Hands the real fun begins. The 4 mile climb to Cool. I knew my game plan, which probably also helps. I would run as much as I could and then I would keep running a bit more. I power hiked but the hike had a sense of purpose behind it, it wasn't a death march up the hill. I would power hike and fuel for about 20 yards and then it was time to run. I repeated this effort and really pushed myself mentally knowing that I had more to give.

I arrived at Cool in 1hr and 20 min which is 10 minutes faster then the last time I ran it. I must be doing something right! At the parking lot while waiting for the rest of the group to come in and they weren't that far behind I ate a Honey Stinger Waffle. It hit the spot. I also took in a bit of Gu. After 10 mintues we all decided to head back to the Overlook.

Heading back to No Hands Bridge it is a 3 mile fast descent. But, I kept it under control. I didn't over brake but I also didn't tear it up like I usually do, I wanted my legs for the killer climb out to the overlook. Back at No Hands I took in some GU and now is when the real fun begins. The 4 mile climb out which also includes a few rolling hills on the fire road but for the most part is a nice long climb.

I had my game plan, run as much of the hills as I could and then run some more and power hike with a purpose to help recover the legs and repeat until at the overlook. I did just that. I ran and hiked but for the most part I pushed myself mentally to keep on running. I pushed up the really steep hill with a ton of rocks, I power hiked the hill to Robbie Point and I pushed myself on the last little major climb to the overlook.

My legs felt strong and they still feel strong. I do not have any stiffness and my foot feels real good. This trail is more forgiving on my foot because it isn't as technical as the section of trail I was on yesterday near the twin rocks area. This week I have a total mileage of 56 miles. That is the most miles I have had a while. Glad my hill work on Pennsylavania Ave is paying off.

This week coming up I have to work the weekend so my long run will hopefully be on Thursday which is my day off. I plan on hitting up Pennsylvania Ave at least once if not twice this week to continue my hill training in preparation for Tahoe Rim Trail. Thanks for a great run everyone you guys rocked it out there.

Saturday, June 11, 2011

A run with Miss P. or maybe not

This morning I met Miss P. at Cavitt and we decided on running 14 maybe 16 miles depending on how we felt out there. Miss P. has a half marathon next weekend! I am training for Tahoe Rim Trail 50k in July. We headed out on this bright and crisp morning, it was a bit cool at the start and I was second guessing my no sleeve shirt I was wearing.

We hit Cavitt road and just rolled with it, we were talking and catching each other up on what had been going on since the last time we ran/saw each other. Cavitt today heading out was pretty enjoyable, but I had forgotten how much of the fire road there is, I really just wanted to be on the single track trail. We hit the single track and I took the lead or Miss P. let me take the lead so that I was on snake look out. Pretty cleaver on her part, I didn't figure it out for a few feet.

Once at Granite Bay I had to stop and use the restroom. I was holding until this spot because I didn't want to have to go off trail. We cruised into twin rocks and I made a casual comment that I didnt' realize that we could still park our cars at twin rocks. I thought they were closing it down.

Miss P. was in the lead and tackled twin rocks like she owned it and the next thing I knew was, she was out of sight. I figured I would eventual see her again and if not we had decided to run 7 out and turn around.

I ran my own pace and enjoyed my time on the trail. I arrived at the photo spot, only Miss P. wasn't here. Maybe she had continued on, so I continued on knowing I would see her at the turn around. But before I left the photo spot I called out her name just in case she was "off trail." Nothing but silence.

I made my way through the "grinder" the technical part of the trail, where it is really hard to get any rhythm. I knew soon enough though I would be hitting the turn around. Sure enough I did, only Miss P. wasn't there. That's odd, how could I have missed her it is an out and back and I know for sure she didn't pass me on the trail, and I know I didn't pass. I called her name and the only sound I heard was a guy's voice. Two trail runners had just come from Rattlesnake and they told me the only person they saw on the trail was a lady and her dog. I thanked them and told them Miss P. knew the trail I probably just missed her. Still very odd.

I kept seeing a ton of these

Since she wasn't at mile 7 and we had talked vaguely about doing 16 I ran on to mile 8 just in case she had gone off trail and the two trail runners didn't notice. Nope no one at mile 8 or in between. Really starting to concern me. I just don't know where I missed her, unless.......

I hustled back in making my way through the "grinder". Still no Miss P. I hit the mile 9 on the return and still no Miss P. I continued on hoping I would run into her on the return. I arrived at the photo spot and still no Miss P.Where could she be.

I made it back to Granite bay and no sign of her, I was on Cavitt fire road and only had 2 miles to go. I really hope she is back at her car. I arrived in the parking lot at Cavitt school and who do I find but Miss P. Miss P. is OK, she had taken "a different trail" and only run 13 miles.

Here she is

I am glad that everyone made it back in in one piece and I even laughed a little afterward probably because the stress of not knowing had built up inside. Overall I tackled the rolling hills and pushed my legs to keep running. By the time I got back in my stomach was growling at me so I probably should have eaten more solid food. My legs were a bit stiff the last 2 miles but this is also my high mileage week with 42 miles so far and a 14 mile trail to Cool tomorrow.

I am liking how my legs are reacting to the hill training and I will continue to hit Pennsylvania Ave. at least once a week when I am off on the weekend and probably 2 times a week when I have to work weekends. It is helping me with my confidence on the hills as I will be needing it during TRT.

Thursday, June 9, 2011

A Snake on the trail

"Aghhagghhhhh!" is all I could hear ripping through the canyon. I had just come across my first snake on the trails this morning. It was huge and it was looking right at me as I came flying around the corner. It stopped me in my tracks, and just as I stopped it slithered into the brush that was up to my arms and covering the trail in parts. It was black with bright yellow lines running down it's body. Now I remember from Biology class that anything with bright colors is poisonous, or was that just for frogs. Any ways, I was still screaming. Once I finally stopped I slowly took two steps back and contemplated what my next move was going to be.....

Now if that doesn't get the blood flowing I don't know what would.

Before my snake encounter around mile 7 I had a pretty interesting morning. I was wide awake at 2:30 a.m. Yup I am typically up at this time. I layed in bed because what was I going to do at this ugly hour. I had a lot of time to think about what I wanted to do with my four day weekend and I knew I wanted to spend it running on the trails. I have missed the trails ever since I moved to a rotating every other weekend off schedule.

I was on the rode by 6:05 a.m. heading up to the Overlook. I had two options, I could run to Cool and back which is 14 miles, or I could head down the dam hill and see how my body felt and go from there. I choose option 2. I headed down the dam hill. It was a beautiful morning. the sun had risen I could hear the roar of the river and smell the pine trees. My how I have missed this.

River is high

I was at the base of the dam hill and really enjoying the run. The trail was tacky and fast and also overgrown in parts. But it was still a beautiful run today. I was running without my Garmin and running how my body felt. I did have one goal and that was to tackle every hill and run them all. I need to get myself ready for Tahoe Rim 50K next month. I also wanted to see how the hill repeats up Pennsylvania Ave. were treating my legs. And thus far so good. The hills seemed effortless. My legs didn't get the dead leg feeling. And once I crested the top my legs transitioned into the descents nicely without any hesitation.

This is new, nice I didn't have to get my shoes wet!

I wasn't pushing myself hard or forcing my body to run a ridiculous pace I was relaxed and just running. I know interesting concept, just running with no worries in the world. No negative thoughts, no pressure just running because this is what I love to do.

After my last long run the dreadful 29 miles in the Canyons I thought I would never enjoy running again. It wiped me out mentally and physically. But today I had a positive out look and was cruising along. The miles were just clicking by. I knew this trail like the back of my hand. The descent, the ascents, the bench the snake.....The SNAKE!!!!

Not where I saw the snake but you a can see how tall everything is getting

"Aghhagghhhhh!" is all I could hear ripping through the canyon. I had just come across my first snake on the trails this morning. It was huge and it was looking right at me as I came flying around the corner. It stopped me in my tracks, and just as I stopped it slithered into the brush that was up to my arms and covering the trail in parts. It was black with bright yellow lines running down it's body. Now I remember from Biology class that anything with bright colors is poisonous, or was that just for frogs. Any ways, I was still screaming. Once I finally stopped I slowly took two steps back and contemplated what my next move was going to be, should I continue on or should I turn around.

A great day on the trail

I knew it had been 7 miles so far and my legs are still feeling good. But I also don't want to continue on and have to return through here and run back into that snake. I decided to turn around before the snake slithered out from under the brush. Today I am OK with 14 miles, I mean I did just have a hard workout yesterday that was 6 miles plus 4 hill repeats. I shouldn't push my luck or my body.

I turned around and high tailed it out of there. I think I was running on sheer adrenaline. I was flying and eventually I had to tell myself to slow down and that the sticks on the trail really were sticks. Once I settled back down I continued on with  my plan to attack the hills.

My legs were still feeling really good, no dead legs and they were responding. Being able to tackle the hills helped to increase my confidence because I never really thought of myself as a climber. I will need all the confidence I can get for Tahoe.

Some video of the trail

I was fueling and hydrating well, it did warm up as I neared the dam hill. I fueled and hiked the very steep portion and then ran most of the rest. It felt effortless. My legs just kept on moving. I had a nice and steady pace going. I did hike some but that was maybe 10 yards at a time and the total hiking was maybe 4 times. Not bad for a 3 mile climb out.

Trailmomma, are you in there?

Overall I am pleased with how today's run went. I enjoyed it and pushed myself mentally on the hills. I achieved my little goal I set out for today and I am also looking forward to what tomorrow's adventure will be.

Saturday, June 4, 2011

Fuzzy hats and Dragon Fighter!

It appears that I woke up far to early this morning for work. I am ready to go and I realize that I have another hour before I can even step in the building. Oopps! I could have slept in today, but instead I managed to start my day earlier than I should have.

Anyways.....Lil Man amazes me everyday. His smile, his excitement when he walks in the door and sees that I am home. The way he is using is brain and I can see the "wheels" spinning as he is trying to convince me to buy him a toy or get him another cookie. Just the other day I offered to play out back with him but I told him he needed to put a hat on. This was when the sun was out and it wasn' t raining. He said ok and kept saying "I am going to get the fuzzy one. The fuzzy one Meme." "Ok, fine sure what ever. Hurry up." I said. He walks out wearing this......

His fuzzy hat!

I did say he could wear his fuzzy hat, I just wasn't sure what that meant. Now I do. I thought he would have grabbed his ball cap. Still he knew what he wanted and he explained it to me, maybe I was too tired to actually hear and process what he was saying.

Another time we were out back playing again, well I was mostly trying to keep the chickens away from me and throw the ball for Traildog. Then Lil Man had this great idea to play dragon fighter. He was really excited, I once again agreed to play dragon fighter only I didn't know how. As soon as I agreed to play he ran in the house. I am standing outside a bit perplexed at this because I thought this was an outdoor game. I need to remember to ask more questions, but then he came back outside in his dragon fighter outfit......

The dragon fighter!

He runs back outside and has me follow him into the "forest" which is just the plants in the far corner of the yard. We fight our way through the tall trees and what do we see, dragons. He uses his sword while I use wait Lil Man I don't have a sword. He told me to grab my "sword" from his back pack. He eventually sees that I am not very good at make believe and gives me a stick to play with. We are fighting the dragons when he spies a baby dragon and he looks at the baby dragon and says "ohh how cute" he pets the baby dragon and tells me we do not fight it. I ask him the obvious question "but, wont it get big and come after us?" "No Meme, it is my friend." Then we see more dragons and have to save mom.

Coming out of the "forest"

Look a dragon Meme, this way!

Attacking the dragon

His imagination is pretty fantastic, he remembers the games we play during all of those special meme times. I look forward to collecting more memories and seeing what tomorrow holds for him!

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Thinking and lessons learned

I have had some time to reflect on my last long run. You remember the run where I told Wonder Woman I don't think I can finish it, the run where I had a few mental break downs, and the run where I almost got sick and the run where Trailmomma had to point out to me how pale I really was at the end. Yup that run!

In thinking back on that day of running I know for a fact that I did not properly fuel my body. I was out there for 8 hours and I think I had 4 Gu's, a package of GU chomps and 1 Honey Waffle Stinger which by the way was during the last 1.5 miles of the 29 mile run. Yeah....pretty sure I didn't eat enough. How did this happen, that I am a little unclear on.

 Maybe because on the climbs I was working so hard and trying to stay focused that I just completely forgot, or maybe I just wasn't focused enough. I should have seen the signs well before the end. I was irritable, tired, not really all there, having little mini break downs through out the run. I know for a fact that I was on very little sleep for the day before and the week which I am sure played a huge role in my mental performance as well as my physical performance.

I have had some of my close friends tell me that we learn more from the challenging runs then our most successful runs. I in fact learned a lot that day. I learned that I have more in my tank then I think, I wanted to stop with 6 miles to go, but some encouragement from Wonder Woman and I completed it. I learned that I have a very high pain tolerance, well I knew that this just reiterated it. I learned that I need to listen to my body and to fuel more. I learned that even though I was cursing myself and doubting my future races it was temporary and I actually can't wait to hit the trails and race again.

It was a very challenging day in the canyons but looking back on it I am glad that I experienced everything I did, do I want to experience it again? No! That I am sure about. I can only live and learn and attempt to not make the same mistakes and if so to react quicker. I can't wait to be on the trails again. TRT50K I will be ready for you!