Sunday, October 30, 2011

It Clicked on the Trail To Cool

Yesterday it finally clicked! I had a really strong run on the trails to Cool. When I woke up though that morning I almost talked myself out of running, but I am very thankful I didn't. Maybe I had such a good run because my head was finally clear and I managed to get some rest the night before, but what ever it was I was due and I really needed that run.

I headed up to the overlook to meet up with some friends from the Ultra Group. I was a bit pressed for time as I had plans in the mid afternoon so I knew I needed a good three hour run and I also knew I wanted to run at least 14 miles. I also knew that running to Cool has some challenging climbs but was doable as long as I stayed focused.

Jumping Bean and I headed out before the group. Jumping Bean was planning on running with me as this was her easy day, and her easy day is my day of work. So it worked out well. She pushed me without even knowing it. She is a joy to run with, just full of life and excitement. It was great running with her and laughing at some of our stories we told.

On the way to Cool, I pushed myself on both the descents as well as the ascents. My legs were feeling really strong and responding really well to the terrain. We arrived in Cool in a little bit over 1:25 which is a good time especially for me.

On the return we saw the group and everyone was looking really good. I knew that jumping bean was going to take off on me on the 3 mile descent but she agreed to wait for me at No Hands. I was maybe a few minutes behind when we regrouped. I had pushed myself on the descent, but not hard enough where my quads would blow up, but hard enough where it was a bit uncomfortable and a bit uncontrolled. Once at No Hands I knew the real work was going to began as there were some climbs we had to get through.

We were making really good time, in fact I wasn't worried that we wouldn't make. I ran when I wanted to and hiked the steeper sections. I even made Jumping Bean run the huge hill to Robie Point. I hiked it, but I also am not training for anything! We talked and laughed over the next few miles in and ended up finishing our run in 2:55. I had 5 minutes to spare.

It was a great day on the trail, a run that I really needed. This run allowed me to for a few hours forget my troubles and refocus myself on staying in the moment and enjoying that moment for what it is worth. Life will have it's ups and downs, but it is what we do when we are down. Will you get back up? I know I will!

Saturday, October 29, 2011

Too Much To Think About

The past few weeks have been very difficult for me to log any real miles. Maybe it is the fact that I do not have a race anytime soon, or maybe I am still recharging, or maybe just maybe work is breaking me down right now. I have been putting in some long hours, hours which at time are physically as well as mentally exhausting. In the retail world we are nearing our 4th quarter. I mean I already have Christmas set. Plans are being made for black Friday, plans for Christmas, where is the excess of toys going to go, what about all the bulk that will be coming in. How many new team members do I need to support the logistics process and much much more.

Then the company makes an announcement that we will be open at midnight on black Friday. You can read about it, it is all over the web.(I checked before writing this post) Really? With about four weeks to go a bomb gets dropped on our lap. This effects my process the most, as I had already planned out that week and what my team was doing and what I days I was working as well, I am off Monday and Tuesday as of now. I also am trying very hard to keep a reasonable schedule for my team members so that they can also enjoy Thanksgiving with their families. But opening at mid night, now that is a challenge for me. I am still obviously digesting this information as I just received Friday mid day right as I was getting ready to leave, and will have to go back and revisit my plans and really change things up all the while being very mindful about everyone family time as well as my own. Will, I kind of think I wont be having any family time that day, which I am not very happy about.

I am sure as I redraw up my plans all will come together, but it is going to take some time. Time though is something I don't really have, you see I took some days off next week, Tuesday through Friday and I am sure my team will have a ton of questions especially since the news is being delivered this weekend, I am off this weekend. So back to the drawing board. Umm maybe a good long run is just what I need to wrap my head around all of this. I know opening up at midnight is the good for the company as it keeps us competitive with our competitors.

So that is what I have been struggling with, schedules, new team members, plans, freight flow, how much room do I have in the back room, p-fresh, and now black Friday. So running has taking a back seat and when I did manage to head out this week, my body was really off. My legs were loaded and really heavy, my breathing was off and I just couldn't find that happy place I usually find while running. Is it too much on my mind, to many mental stressers, or I could just be over thinking everything right now? But I have been feeling off and I am hoping that one of these runs everything will click again. I am sure it will, and I shouldn't worry about it.

On a side note 14 days until the LOTTERY opens up for States! Are you putting in? I know I am.

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Lil Man's 4th B-day Party

This past weekend was my nephews Lil Man birthday party. He was super excited because this year his birthday party was a Halloween B-day party. All the little kids came dressed up in their Halloween costumes and enjoyed a awesome bounce house that had a slide as well as a basketball hoop.

Lil Man and C.Q., my nephews

The train engineer

Captain America made an appearance

Time sure has flown by and I really hope that this birthday party was special for him. I mean this is all he talked about ever since he and his mom came up with the theme. He even invited some special adults to join in his celebration. Captain Kirk and Wonder Woman! He was really excited when I told him that Wonder Woman was coming, in fact when they showed up he went running to them all excited. Sorry Captain Kirk about the miscommunication, I didn't know. But Lil Man was super stocked to see both of you!

My sister

Having fun in the bounce house

Showing me how to go down the slide

basketball time

Spending some quality time bouncing with the birthday boy

 Also in attendance was his new friend Landon and Power Girl and Bat Man. These two had a ton of fun together running up and down, in and out, jumping off of the slide. I think Landon brought out Lil Man's daredevil. That is a good thing, as Lil Man only a few days before the party actually created mud and jumped in it. That was a huge step. Lil Man does not like to be dirty or get wet if he can help it and he doesn't pick up bugs, but we are working on that, or I should say his dad is working on that. I don't know where he got that fear from. It wasn't me....honest!!!!

Time for some cake

See the dare devil came out

Thanks for coming Trailmomma

My sister

All the kids had a great time enjoying the bounce house and the other Halloween related activities while the adults enjoyed good conversation, some good food, and of course adult beverages. Thank you to everyone who came, Lil Man had an awesome time and still can't stop talking about it. Sadly the bounce house is gone, but the memories will stay forever!

Traildog even enjoyed the bounce house!

Happy Birthday Lil Man!!!!

Sunday, October 16, 2011

16 Very Hilly Miles with a Friend!

Today I headed up to El Dorado Hills to run with a good friend, Trailmomma. We met about two years ago during the Fleet Feet Ultra Training Group. We trained together with the group and accomplished our first 50 milers. After the group she continued training with me. Well, I was training for Tahoe Rim 50k and she was just keeping in shape.

Western States Training Run 2010

During our runs we would talk about everything. Than my work schedule changed, she was pregnant and moved and I was running with some new friends. We never lost touch though. I ran with her right before Run On The Sly 50k. We did about 10 trail miles and picked up right where we left off.

Well, yesterday she talked me into coming up and running. I tried to talk my way out of it but she wouldn't let me. I tried to explain that I didn't think I would be able to run 16 miles after the way I felt yesterday while running 13 trail miles. She explained I could run 8ish and head back to her house as the route would take us by her house. I was sold and confirmed I would be there.

Cal Loop 2010

Just like last time we picked up where we left off and were talking up a storm. We were running with some of her friends from Buffalo Chips, who by the way are super fast. We brought up the caboose, but they were kind enough to wait for us at the water holes along the route and even yelled encouraged us to RUN the HUGE HILLS!

As the miles ticked by my legs were feeling pretty good, my quads were a bit stiff and sore but I continued on. I was enjoying myself so much that I didn't want to stop. Trailmomma is training for CIM in December and is looking really strong out there. Her attitude was upbeat and positive and she kept moving forward even when I wanted to walk some more of the hills, she powered up them. The downhills became a bit tricky for me. The downhills actually hurt my quads more and I had to take them rather slow as I didn't want to blow my quads up.

Trail Running 2010

Running with trailmomma the miles go by fast, before I knew it we were near her house and I had the option to either turn left or keep going straight. I decided to keep going straight and run the entire loop. My legs were good, I was mentally focused and I was having a great time and I was told there was only maybe two more hills to climb.

As we continued on we focused more and at times dug deep. Or I had to dig deep. I took a salt after passing her house as my legs were feeling a bit funky and soon enough my legs started feeling better and I was running more fluidly. The hills really slowed my pace down, but I didn't care about my pace, I was only secretly worried that I was slowing trailmomma down.

Soon we were back on the levee and had a few more miles to go. My legs started acting up again and I felt cramps coming on so I quickly took 2 salt tabs this time and ended up power hiking the last hill as Trailmomma kept on trucking. Slowly the salt helped and I was running again. I was slowly with each step catching back up to trailmomma and soon I was right behind her and then I slowly took the lead and up'd the tempo a bit. I was feeling really strong and I could also see the finish.

Western States Training 2010

I was amazed that I managed to run 16 miles today, sometimes all it takes is friend to keep me going. Thank you trailmomma for a great run today, I am glad I came out and I am even more glad I did the entire loop with you.

After running we headed back and soaked our legs in her pool, it was pretty cold and felt really good. We also enjoyed this awesome cup of coffee. It had a hint of pumpkin flavor in it. Yum!! I ended up hanging out with her and catching up for a few hours before making my way home. What a way to end my week, I couldn't have asked for anything more.

Saturday, October 15, 2011

Scouting Expedition in Cool

Today was my official welcome back to the trails. I haven’t been back on the trails in about three weeks. In fact this week is the first official week I have logged any sort of continuous miles. I ran Tuesday, and it was tough. My legs were not clicking and my breathing was off. Wednesday I headed back out and the first few miles I was warming up and it just felt all wrong. But then I found my stride and it was on. Thursday I headed out with Traildog and had a great run. Everything was firing on all cylinders. Friday was my rest day and today Saturday I hit the trails in Cool with some awesome friends for 13 miles of new trails for me.

Coach Nikon explaining the route

I wasn’t exactly too sure how my body was going to react, but I knew I wanted to be out there enjoying the trails with my friends. I headed up with Coach Nikon and we meet Wonder Woman, Boss and Eric, Power Girl and Batman. A great group of friends.
Our expedition leader

We headed out of the Cool fire station very excited about what this adventure would bring. I knew we were planning on running down to the river and that is just what we did. Off on the other side of the canyon we could see the road for Dam hill. It was a nice descent, but I noticed once I neared the base that my legs were not quit recovered yet. I was feeling it in my quads, which made descending a bit challenging along with any sort of climbing.

Regrouping at the intersection.

Looking good Boss

Going down!

You can see the Dam Road across the way

After hitting the bottom we had to climb back out. The trail was pretty steep but also had some sections that were very runnable. I hiked some and then would run some. By this time it was also getting rather warm out. I was sweating bullets, it was very humid out and I am sure I was a bit dehydrated from the start. Once we hit the top we were also on the pavement and then we hit some awesome single track and soon we were on the Olmstead Loop.

Wonder Woman running strong all day

This loop is super fast and it was very tacky. I managed to open up a little bit, but that didn’t last very long. My legs were shot. I was running low on energy and also low on water. I managed to push on and run when I could and I hiked when I needed to. I was just happy to be on the trails once again.

We did manage to take a few wrong turns, but that didn’t faze us we just hooked back up with the trail when we could. We also saw a snake out there and it was pretty interesting to see a certain someone squeal I mean run past it. Soon we finished our loop and we were all still smiling and laughing at the great adventure we had.
Coach Nikon

It was a great adventure, a great scouting expedition and a great day on the trails in Cool. I learned that my legs are not firing on all cylinders, even though I really want them to. It is going to take some time and time is what I have. I have no races planned for the rest of the year and I am just enjoying running whenever I can. No pressure for miles, no pressure for time on my feet, just running for the pure enjoyment of running. That is what it is all about. Running for pure enjoyment. I have found that again!

Fire Trails Volunteer

This past weekend I volunteered at the 29th Annual Dick CollinsFiretrails 50 and also home to the Golden Hills Trail Marathon. It was a very exciting experience that I was able to enjoy with some great friends Dustin and Michaela and Landon, and where I also made some new friends, Stan and Jennifer and Adam.
Dustin and Michaela and I travelled down Friday afternoon and enjoyed some drinks and food with 15 other volunteers and Julie Fingar the co-race director this year. By the time we actually got to bed it was really late as in close to 10pm I think. I had a early day on Saturday as Michaela and I were volunteering at packet pick up and needed to be ready to go by 4am.

Lucky for us it wasn’t too cold at 4am. We arrived at Lake Chabot and quickly helped unload and get the packet pick up area set up. Soon the early start runners were trickling in and we were busy. There were plenty of volunteers helping us at packet pick up and soon the time flew by and we had to leave to get our aid station set up.
It took about 30 minutes for us to reach our aid station and when we arrived it was still pitch dark out. I had half of the aid station in my car while Dustin had the other half. Michaela and I quickly got to work unloading my car and setting up what we could. I pulled out my table and started cutting up the potatoes and bananas.  We also set up the water jugs. Now all we had to do was wait for Dustin and the early starters.
Getting the aid station all ready

The early starters started coming in and we helped them as best we could soon Dustin arrived and we all scrambled to get the rest of the station ready for the runners. As we were finishing setting up the front runners started flowing in. Just as soon as we had our table all ready it was whipped out. It was nonstop from the moment the front runner came through. More PB&J, more water, more Gu brew, ahh crap we need more snacks. But we held it together and with the help of Daisy and the stellar crew we managed to get the runners in and out in no time. We were a smooth running aid station, well that is once we found our groove, which didn’t take too long. We are all experienced runners and we just jumped in and did what was needed. It was all very exciting and at times overwhelming.
All ready!!!!

Once the rush came through we were able to get everything ready for the next wave and we also enjoyed a few beers. Soon we were applying sunscreen and getting into the super hero costumes. As that was the theme of our aid station. It was a lot fun, but also a lot of work. I have a new appreciation for all the volunteers.

The second half of the day was actually really busy. We had waves of runners coming into the aid station. Sometimes it was one and other times it was 5-10. Our aid station was rocking the super hero theme and it seemed that all the runners appreciated it and some even managed to laugh. We were nonstop once the second wave of runners came through, but we were all rocking our super hero outfits.

I am truly grateful that I was able to be a part of this event. I enjoyed helping out my fellow ultra trail runners and most of all it helped me regain my passion for running. After my last race I had fallen into a huge funk and by volunteering it helped bring me back. Again, thank you to all that volunteered at Fire Trails and if you haven’t volunteered at an event I would encourage you to do so. For more pictures go here e earlyFOr more piFoFo

It was a awesome day, but I was exhuasted afterward. Very glad I had this opportunity to give back to the ultra running community. What an experience!

Thursday, October 6, 2011

What's Next?

So, what’s next? Actually that is a question that is not on my mind. I really have no desire to run at this point. Is that bad? I am not sure. Is it because I just had a full season and possible need a few weeks off? Yes! I haven’t had any down time in a year. My last two week break or was it four week break from running was back in October when I was instructed by my doctor to rest up and allow my ribs to heal. I did that and I came back stronger than ever.

But the only weird thing was when I rested last year I actually still had the drive and motivation to run. I went hiking in Tahoe I stayed active, right now the only activity I do is at work during my 9-10 hour shift. Well the desire and need to run come back? I hope so. I feel mentally fried and this break I am hoping will help reset me.

I have been resting since my last race on September 24. I had a few blister on my feet that needed to heal and I allowed those blisters to heal. It was pretty neat though, I ran the 50 miler on Saturday and on Monday I was back at work. My legs were a bit sore and if I didn’t have those blisters I would have been walking normally, but the blister caused me to favor my left side. I remember my first 50 miler and how sore I was, I could barely walk. My body must be adapting to this distance which is exciting when I think about that.

I have also been spending a lot of time with Traildog and Lil Man. The three of us have been going on walks to the park where Lil Man enjoys the running around and riding his scooter. Traildog of course enjoys just being by his mommy side. Traildog even made a appearance at Fleet Feet and was really good there. He just sat and waited to be petted and explored the back room. Ok, so maybe I haven’t been as inactive as I thought, walking counts as activity.

I have no more races planned or on the agenda for the rest of 2011. I am not running the California International Marathon; I really do not want to punish my body with pavement training. What is planned for next year? Well, I really do not know. I guess I am waiting on a certain LOTTERY to figure that out next year.

In the meantime I am just enjoying being. I do have to find a new place to live, which I have been putting off now for a month or so. Looking for a new place is tough for me as I have a hard time with change and I also need to keep Traildog in mind when looking for a new place. I don’t want him to become unhappy.

This weekend though I am volunteering at Fire Trails. A race that Julie Fingar is putting on. I will be heading down with some of my friends and volunteering at an aid station all day. The race has an early start time option at 5:30 so I am sure we will be there really early in the dark setting up. Maybe while I am volunteering the spark will return and my drive to run again will come back. I am looking forward to helping out other runners achieve their goal this weekend, just as all the volunteers this year helped me achieve mine.