Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Hill Repeat Monday

Yesterday was hill repeats up in good ol El Dorado Hills. I received a message from Trailmomma that we were still on. Excellent, as I was once again looking forward to hill repeats. I think I may be the only person in the world looking forward to the torture of this hill.

I arrived but mentally I wasn't all there. I had a well; lets just say a "interesting" guest at work and that really threw me mentally. As we headed out I also noticed that my legs felt a bit heavy and the leg turnover was not there like is usually is on Monday, but that is probably due to the 66 mile week I had just put in.

Let me say this real quickly, I am very proud of Trailmomma. She toughed it out yesterday and her toughness made me not want to throw the towel in. Thank you Trailmomma.

As we completed our 1 mile warm up and we were on the fire service road I was scanning the area because I really needed to use the bathroom, even though I used it before I left the house. I had also finished off a bottle of water on the ride up to her place. I ducked off the service a little hesitantly because I am sure this was prime rattlesnake country. The weeds were up to my knees, it was dry and had plenty of rocks. Yup pretty sure there were a few rattlesnakes. I quickly went and hurriedly caught back up to Trailmomma while trying to get out the stickers that were sticking me out of my socks and shoes. Oh what I site I thought.

On the first hill repeat I knew right away that my legs were definitely feeling the miles from last week. There was no leg turnover and it surely felt like there was no power. So I did what any runner would do, I just put my head down and focused on smaller attainable goals until I reached the ultimate goal, the fire hydrant where I quickly turned and burned back down. OK maybe it wasn't so quickly, maybe I felt like collapsing but I did head back down and ready myself for another repeat.

Just like the first repeat this repeat was challenging. And I could really feel my legs getting slower. I shortened my stride and focused on quick little steps, keep pumping my arms, don't look up, keep looking down, push it....push it.....I can't breath....almost there, keep pumping the arms....Now relax, OK head back down.

That is how it would go for all 6 long repeats. Trailmomma completed 4 long and 4 short quicker repeats as we are both training for different races. That is the great thing about our running friendship; we have an unwritten rule to get our work out in with each other, as we each know our bodies and what we need to complete and some days we are side by side, other days I am trailing and trying to catch up, but we one way or another get our individual work outs in. It is just really nice to have that support when those tough moments hit and I fell like giving up.

6 repeats and a nice cool down to start my week with 7 quality miles. It is hard to believe that in just about 3 weeks I have another race. I am really looking forward to it as I will be using it to help gauge my fitness level for Tahoe in July.

Even though my legs felt slow and I was a bit unfocused it was nice to get the workout in. The effort always puts a smile on my face and I will say I had fun doing hills yesterday. Thanks for the workout Trailmomma!

The mind can be our most powerful tool and it can also defeat us. I wont let my mind defeat me!

Saturday, May 26, 2012

Mental Battle on The Trail

Today's 20 miler up in Auburn was a real test of my mental toughness. Unfortunately my mental toughness today was unfocused and at times unmotivated. That can and does make for a long run on the trails. But I knew going into this run it was going to be challenging, I had already put 40 miles in my legs this week and yesterday's run was no picnic, it was filled with hills.

This morning as I was making my way up to the Overlook, I could feel my lack of motivation and enthusiasm. I just chalked it up to the week and told myself once I hit the trails everything will be right. Only it wasn't. I started down to No Hands by going around Robie. I was only 1 mile in when I started having a mental battle. I was fighting my music, I couldn't find a rhythm I was not happy I just wasn't feeling it and I was becoming angry. Not the emotion that I needed when I am just starting my run. So I fixed what was making me angry, I turned my IPOD off and as soon as I did that a calmness came over me. I also slowed my pace down, as I started out way to hard for what my legs had already done this week.

After turning my music off and slowing down things appeared good. But than not to long later I noticed my energy level just drop off. I took in a GU at 20 minutes, I know only 20 minutes in and was taking in a Gel. After the gel and a salt I started to feel better and tackled the descent to No Hands Bridge. At the bridge I made my way up to Cool, but I was again going to head up K2. I really wanted to tackle this hill today as it is in my next race and I want to know it like the back of my hand. I want to know where the steepest parts are, I want to know where it is runnable I want to remember every small detail of this hill so that I can own it come race day.

I arrived in Cool in pretty good spirits, which is good considering my earlier issues. I headed out to put in a few more miles before turning around and this is where the wheels just feel completely off the bus. I don't know if it was lack of focus on my part, but I thought I had eaten enough, obviously not if the wheels had came off. Basically I was losing my energy and couldn't really keep it up no matter what I was doing with fuel. By this point I had already taken in 4 Gels and a few salts.

The mental battle started and my mind was everywhere, from thinking about work, to home, to this and to that. I couldn't remain focused. I was like a yo-yo and that is a very uncomfortable feeling. But, I know that during my next 50 in July this same situation could happen and I need to figure out what to do to get me out of this. You know what I ended up doing? I ended up slowing my pace down once again so that I could give my fuel a chance to catch up. With that I just settled in and waited, I didn't have to wait to long because as soon as I hit the nice long descent I was feeling stronger and more focused.

On the descent I let my momentum take over and take me down to the bridge. I did have to make a pit stop at the porta potty at the 49 crossing. After the pit stop I hit the trail and arrived at the bridge. Now only 4 miles to go but the wheels once again were falling off, OK the wheels had fallen off and I was once again running on fumes. What happened with the fueling plan today?

With the wheels off I was not in a happy place. One thing though that did cheer me up was a fellow reader was out on the trails. All I saw was this guys huge smile and I hear "Trail Pigeon!" Thank you so much that really lifted my spirits as I was in a dark place. I continued my way up to the Overlook. I ran when I could but ultimately it was a just a power hike up the hill. I was on fumes even though I had taken a gel not to long ago. Again the mental toughness of the day, I couldn't pull myself out.

It wasn't a pretty day on the trails, but 20 miles is 20 miles and the job is done. Not every run is going to be great, but it is what I do with this opportunity today. I will be learning from it. I will be better prepared in my next battle when the wheels fall off. Next time though I will see the signs much sooner so that I can react to it quicker and more efficiently. Life is always throwing things at me and this one I wont let tear me down, but I will let it build me up and build me into a stronger runner and a stronger person. A tough day, but a day where I didn't say stop. I kept moving forward!

Friday, May 25, 2012

Loop in the Hills

Today I found myself in a nice spot. Off from work, with a nice four day weekend. With that I immediately sent Trailmomma a message "hey, you want to run on Friday?" Her reply "sure." And with that we decided on meeting up in El Dorado Hills for a nice 12 miler around her hilly neighborhood. I of course was excited to run in the hilly area.

I started my morning off by running a few miles with Traildog. He was really excited to be out and running and I was just enjoying the quality with him. My legs were feeling pretty good and I decided to just keep it nice and comfortable knowing I had 12 hilly miles where I was going to push it on the climbs.

After the nice and comfortable 6 with Traildog I headed  up the hill to meet up with Trailmomma. She was a bit surprised when I told her I had already run 6 for the day. But I also reminded her that this was my big mileage week.

We started out and Trailmomma told me she wasn't worried about pace today as she has had a very busy week and a busy morning. I knew I wasn't worried about speed, I was going to be really focused on the climbs and pushing my legs to keep going. After about a mile we hooked up with one of Trailmomma;s running friends.

We were probably on the only flat section of the run and my leg turnover was solid, but I knew things could quickly change up in the hills. Sure enough Trailmomma tells me we are going to the right and up that big hill. I was pretty quick to shriek out in a little girls voice "Up that hill!"

As I started climbing I quickly noticed the power in my legs and I eased my way up the hill, it felt effortless. I waited at the fork in the road and we regrouped and continued on the climb. It kept going and rolling ever so gently. I had to do some work to keep my leg turnover on the flats but the climbs was were I felt the most comfortable today. What a change from a year ago. I probably would have never felt that way. Amazing what some quality hill workouts will do.

The trail was nice and continued climbing and I just keep the pace. It was pretty amazing to see Folsom Lake below and I thought "wow, what a nice view." But shortly later I would again look at the view and think "now this is a view" as we were still climbing. We hit the asphalt and our pace was nice and consistent. My legs were still feeling awesome and I didn't even notice the earlier miles I had put on my legs.

The run today was pretty neat. We ran on trails, pavement, back to trails, two creek crossings, and the best part was the views. Who would have thought you could find all that awesomeness in a short simple 12 mile loop? We even made it to our Fire hydrant hell hill repeat hill. I for one had a great time on this run and was very pleased with how my legs responded and how much power I had developed over the past few months.

Trailmomma and her Friend did awesome. Trailmomma is looking really strong in her training and I can't wait to hear about her marathon that is coming up next month. She is going to rock it!

I was pleased with my focus and determination during the run today and especially with how I attacked the hills. Focus and determination!

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

The Drive Within

What drives you to do what you do? That question wasn't always easier to answer. At this moment in my life what drives me is the challenge and pushing myself towards a goal that is challenging yet attainable. Challenging enough to make me push myself in all aspects of training leading up to the race and also race day itself. Atttainable enough that I know I will finish, different goals are set for race day as anything can happen. This is also true in life. Anything can happen in life and having attainable but yet challenging goals is what keeps it exciting.

My running in the past few years has really helped bring a balance into my life. When I first started running there was no balance, there really was no me time. Yes, I did things for myself but it really didn't mean anything. Running brought that balance that I was desperatly searching for. It also brought with the it the goals and challenges and attainable goals that I keep talking about.

Running for me brings a drive, a desire to challenge myself, to push myself when I think I can't go one more step ,I push myself to go that step and then another and another. Same is true in life. There may not always seem to be light at the end of the tunnel, but just keep walking and doing what ever it takes to move forward.

Always moving forward, just like in ultras. My goal is to move forward no matter what speed because moving forward is progress to that goal. Just like in a ultra there are many highs along with many lows. Same is true in life, but when the lows in life come over me, I tell myself "keep moving forward."

The drive is a powerful thing. It can light the fire from within and my desire. It is pretty amazing to see my progress in life and in running in the past few years. The changes that have come with it, the desire, the drive, the focus, the passion have all been lit once again.

I was traveling in darkness a few years ago but now I see the light and I managed to get there by always moving forward and believing in the drive from within.

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Hill Repeat Monday Week 5

It is hard to believe that only 5 weeks ago I really became focused and began hill training. The first week if you recall, I ran the hill by my place. For Week 1 it was challenging and my legs felt like jello at the end. Then week 2 came and I headed up the hill to El Dorado Hill to run hills with my good friend Trailmomma. Of course this hill was steeper then my previous hill and I could defiantly feel the burn in my legs after maybe 5 steps. Week 3 same thing, hill in El Dorado, but this time it didn't hurt as much and I could feel my legs getting stronger. Week 4 another adventure in El Dorado hill were I ran up the hill and felt really good and at the end I did another hill repeat just because I could. Now it is Week 5 and wow how tings have improved.

This week being week 5 of repeats seemed a bit easier. Yes I did red line, but I had to push harder and it seemed like my legs could sustain the effort without burning. A really good sign. The only thing that was missing was Trailmomma as she needed to get her run on earlier as her day was packed. It would have been really easy for me to say "OK, I am not doing hills, I don't want to push myself." But that was just not acceptable and how am I suppose to get stronger if I don't commit all the way. I have to remember that pain is temporary, but quiting last forever!

Off to my run I went after a long stressful day at work. I started with a 2 mile warm up and than the fun begins!

Repeat #1: 5:26 total trip, legs were feeling strong and when I reached the turnaround point felt really good to transition into downhill running. I pushed on the both the ascents and the descents.

Repeat #2: 5:45 hmmm, OK. I will take it. Surprised myself here and I remained focused knowing I had 4 more repeats to complete.

Repeat #3: 5:36 WoW, again that was faster. This time I was starting to feel the burn and I really had to keep my focus as my mind was slowly wandering.

Repeat #4: 5:51 Not to bad, now my goal is to stay under 6 minutes. That will give me something to focus as my mind is seriously wandering. Where is my FOCUS?

Repeat #5: 6:07 NOooooo...Crap what happened? I completely lost my focus, my legs were burning and I let it get the best of me. But that is not going to happening on the last repeat.

Repeat #6: 5:50 I pushed it and dug deep and focused on pumping my arms and moving up that hill. I wasn't going to let it defeat me. Quick turn and burn and motoring on down.

I completed 6 repeats that equaled 4 miles up the hill where it all began. I could feel the power in the my legs and the burn would come on, but I was able to push through it. It is amazing how when I think there is nothing left I find that extra gear. The power of the brain. Mind over body. Just tell yourself and believe that it can be done and greatness will prevail!

Monday, May 21, 2012

Lesson Learned

After Thursday's long run on Friday I felt like crap. My energy was at an all time low, I was mentally fatigued to the point where at work I really wasn't understanding a basic conversation and my legs were very weak. I was spent. With the way I was feeling I decided that it probably was best to take Friday as a rest day and that it might also be a good idea to get some really good calories into my system.

In looking back after my run on Thursday I ate a protein bar and drank my Endurox Protein drink which both combined gave me maybe 300 calories. Only when I arrived home I quickly showered, changed and packed up Traildog and headed over to Lil Man's for some soccer fun. When I arrived at Lil Man's I dropped Traildog off and went and took my car in for an oil change. I still hadn't put any really solid food in my system. I arrived home and played with Lil Man and then I noticed I was starving. I quickly opened the fridge and enjoyed some mac and cheese which I haven't had since I moved out which is about five months ago. It tasted really good, really good!

After my snack because I can't count that as meal as it really didn't bring in the proper recovery fuel it was time for soccer. I enjoyed watching Lil Man and the other little soccer players scrimmage each other. Of course Lil Man ended up on the grass a lot and on time he hit the grass and his shoe came flying off. It was hilarious. He was OK, just being aggressive to get the soccer ball. After a great scrimmage we headed home where I packed up Traildog said my goodbye's and headed back to my place.

By the time I arrived home I was exhausted and I headed to bed as I had a early day on Friday. So after looking back I know why I felt the way I did, lack of proper fuel and recovery fuel. Calories in, I needed some healthy calories and how I was feeling on Friday was my bodies way of saying "Hey, don't forget to eat!"

Proper fueling is very important, as it helps keep my body going and aids in recovery. I have been doing a much better job with fueling at work, I make a sandwich and bring a protein granola bar, along with some grapes, and crackers and of course water. I am drinking so much water I have to refill my large Brita jug about every other day.

Lesson learned; eat the right foods after a run, eat regularly throughout the day and drink plenty of water. All basic things, but if forgotten I get a Friday where I am totally lathergic.

Sunday, May 20, 2012

Thursday Long Run

This week is my weekend to work so that means long run Thursday and that is just what I did. I woke up really early that morning, 3am. I know early. I just enjoyed my morning and casually got ready for my run and headed up to the Overlook and I was ready to run by 6ish. Let me tell you, I really enjoyed starting my run that early. The earlier I start the sooner I can get finished so I can spend some quality time with Lil Man.

Once at the Overlook I made my way down to No Hands Bridge. Instead of going up to Robie I made my way around. Going around gives me a few more rollers and gives my legs a chance to work those rollers as well. I was holding 9 min miles during that section. My legs were feeling strong and my mind was clear. Once at No Hands Bridge I headed up to Cool, but this time I went up K2.

If you have never gone up K2 then let me tell you it is a vertical climb. And when I say vertical I mean vertical. I haven't been up K2 in a few years so I had forgotten what this climb was like. I powered hiked the first part, then it smooths out a bit and I ran. When I hit the next climb I ran some of it and transitioned into a power hike. I was always thinking "hike with a purpose!" It wasn't a stroll, I was hiking with a sense of urgency. The sense of urgency being that I wanted this climb over with. On I went up this beast of a hill. A vertical mile. It leveled out once again and I took advantage of this and took off running. I ran the next climb and then I took a moment and looked out. The view was awesome. I felt like I was hiking up to Forest hill bridge. The landscape was unbelievable and really made me appreciate what I am able to do. After taking in the view I finished the hike up K2. At the top I quickly started running knowing Cool was a short distance away. I was holding 9 minute miles still which was really nice to see after such a strong climb.

I hit Cool and kept on going, tacking on a few more miles and to also see what my legs could do. My legs felt good and the leg turnover was solid. I hit the turn around after 9 miles. On the return I went around K2 as this would be give me an opportunity to work on me descents. I also knew that my quads were not 100% and I have been just destroying them each week with the miles, hills, and long runs combined. I kept the descents under control. I hit no hands bridge and knew that this climb out was really going to challenge me today as I had been pushing it early in the run. And sure enough the climb out really did challenge me.

It would have been really easy if I just hiked up to Robie, but I went around and pushed it on the rollers as best I could. I hit the overlook and continued on running. I headed down the dam hill for a mile and turned it around and came back out. I wanted one more climb just to see where my legs and head were. Well, my legs felt like toast but my head wasn't and I pushed my legs to run the hill. I wasn't going to settle for a power hike. There was no settling that day.

20 miles with a climb up K2 and a small portion of the dam hill, I would say that was a pretty solid workout. I am pretty pleased to see where my training has taking me because pretty soon TRT 50 will be here. I have a really big week planned next week and I can't wait to hit the trails once again, but first up will be hill repeats on Monday!

To keeping things focused and believing!

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Fire Hydrant Hell Week 3

Yesterday was Monday Funday, which also means hill repeats with Trailmomma. Now I have been looking forward to Monday Funday since the previous Monday. I know I must be going crazy if I am looking forward to some hill repeats. 

After work I headed up the hill to El Dorado for some fire hydrant fun. My quads as we started running were not very excited about it. They were a bit sore and if you have ever run up in El Dorado hills you know that it is very hilly. Every turn we made there was a hill. Going up actually felt really good, it was the going down and the braking that caused the quads to hurt. But no pain no gain.

On the first repeat my legs were heavy and I felt like I could hardly move, Trailmomma looked strong. I don't think I kept up with her she was so fast going up. I hit the turnaround and headed back down. During the next few repeats Trailmomma was having some challenges of her own and had to transition into a power hike. She decided that 3 long repeats was good enough and focused on shorter/sprint repeats while I focused on completing my long repeats. Either way we were both going to get a workout in.

As my repeats kept going, I so just wanted to stop. But I told myself, that was not an option, there was no stopping because out there somewhere someone else was doing this same activity and they weren't stopping. I pushed on and focused on my long term goal. Tahoe 50 in July and this workout was designed to help get me ready and with those thoughts I pushed it again until all 6 repeats were completed. I was ready to crumble after that last repeat.

On the cool down run home Trailmomma and I ventured into a new area and enjoyed some great sights and views of the lake below. I even mustered up the strength to run up some more hills, in fact my legs by this point were feeling really good, they were light and it felt effortless. A really good feeling.

In total I completed 6 repeats and tacked on one last repeat once we arrived back at Trailmomma's house were I finished up with 7 miles for the day. Trailmomma did fantastic even though she had her own challenges. She finished the day up with 3 long repeats and 5 shorter/faster repeats for the day.

Week 3 of hill repeats was actually really fun. I can feel my legs getting stronger. I have this inner drive recently that I haven't seen in awhile. It is really exciting to see the flame spark inside of me. My goal is always present and when I lose my focus for a second all I have to think about is Tahoe and my focus comes back.

Focus is strength; and strength comes from within!

Monday, May 14, 2012

Weekend Family Update

Today is Fire Hydrant Hell, or in simpler terms hill repeat Monday with Trailmomma. This will be our third Monday running this very steep hill in El Dorado Hills. Hill workouts right now for me are very important as my next Target race is in July the Tahoe Rim Trail 50 miler. This will be my first time running the 50 miles course so I know that hills are my new best friend right now.

It is funny how the past 2 years I have run the 50k and after the race I always say "I am never going to do this race again!" and when registration comes around I sign up. The course is very beautiful but also very challenging, maybe that is why I do it. For the challenge.

Today's hill workout will be interesting as my quads are a bit sore from my canyon run on Saturday. Not a sore sore but a good sore, as in a solid effort was put into my run.

This week I have to get creative with my workouts as it is my long week and I work the weekend, so that would mean long run Thursday. This past weekend I enjoyed some family time with Lil Man and my sister. We headed to Second Saturday in Folsom for some live music and also some Mexican food on the deck of Qboule. The food was really good and the company was even better because not only was my sister and her family with me but also Dustin and Michaela and her mom and of course their son who is the same age as Lil Man.

The boys had a blast hanging out and eating chips and salsa and playing with their "guys." They even had races after dinner. I think what made the entire evening that much better was when I told Lil Man that I had run 20 miles. His expression was price less. He said "WOW!!!" and that he is 100 proud of me. What a good supporter.

It was nice spending some good down time with family and friends. I can't wait to spend some time with trailmomma during our hill workout today!

Sunday, May 13, 2012


Yesterday, the canyons were calling my name and I answered the call. I woke up early, even before my alarm went off. But I was OK with that because that just gave me some more time to enjoy my morning. Now packing fuel/gear for the canyons is a bit different then packing fuel/gear for a trail run lets say to Cool. In packing for a trail run to Cool, I would typically pack depending on the miles. Packing for the canyons, I would be packing for time not miles. That means more fuel, salt, water, solid food, everything I can imagine I want to have on me because the canyons can be unforgiving. A bad day in the canyons can turn into a nightmare very quickly if I am not prepared properly both physically, mentally and with my gear. You never know what can happen out there.

The last time I visited the canyons for a run was last year over Memorial Day Weekend.That run ended up being a death march for me. You can read about it here. I hit  a low and was never able to recover, that and my foot pain caused me a lot of issues that day that were challenging and hard to overcome. It was so challenging that I left a paragraph out.

As I am packing for my trip into the canyons memories of my last year kept flooding into my head. I also kept telling myself that I am a stronger runner now. I packed my hydration pack and just kept putting me more gels in, more salt, and finally 2 Honey Stinger Waffles. You can never have enough fuel when one visits the Canyons. It's about time not miles! In fact I would rather have too much food instead of just the right amount.

I arrived in Foresthill and met up with the group. I was running with Michaela, Dustin, Allison, and some other great ultra runners. Let me tell you this group was really fun to run with. They had lots of positive energy, knew the canyons so they had some great stories to tell and the hooting and hollering was classic and put a smile on my face each time.

We started out by heading down bath road and continued on down making our way to I believe it is Volcano creek. The descents felt pretty good, I took them conservatively. Then we tackled our first major climb of the day. My power hike has improved over the past year and I was able to keep Dustin in my sights. I just put my head down and powered up the hill, remembering what Michaela had told me "Make sure to use the biggest muscle; our butt." My legs didn't get the burn they normally do. That is a good sign. I ran parts that I thought were runnable and it was nice to make my legs transition into a run as I will be needing that at Tahoe 50 in July. Soon we hit the fire road and I ran and power hiked the steep sections. I was feeling really strong.

As we made our way to Michigan Bluff I focused on hiking with a purpose, running when it was runnable and the most important thing; fuel and water. Once at Michigan Bluff we headed down to El Dorado creek. This is a nice 2.5 mile descent. I kept a nice controlled pace and just really enjoyed being on the Western States Trail. My legs were holding together, I was focused and relaxed.

At the bottom we regrouped and Dustin and I took off on the climb as we had 1.5 miles until our turnaround while the rest were planning on going further. I took the lead and we ran the first section and transitioned smoothly into a power hike, passing a few other trail runners in the process. It gets a bit steep, but we both kept a nice solid consistent pace with our hiking. Again we ran the runnable and I pushed it until it became to steep. Soon we hit our turnaround and made our way back down with Dustin in the lead and me closely behind him.

Once back at El Dorado Creek, we took our time as I needed to use the bathroom. We also fueled and both of us decided this would be a good opportunity for us to plug into some music. Once we were ready, maybe 5 minuets we started the 2.5 mile climb. Dustin took the lead and looked really strong this entire climb. He power hiked like it was going out of style! I on the other hand had a few issue; I couldn't find my rhythm and I was also fighting a internal battle with my IPod. It kept pulling out of my ear, and I just wasn't comfortable. I fought with my Ipod for maybe a mile before I finally said "screw it" and took it off and shoved it into my pack. After unplugging I actually felt much better, my rhythm came back on the climb and I was once again mentally focused. Dustin tackled the climb maybe 12 minutes ahead of me. He is a rock star.

I arrived at Michigan Bluff and took in a gel as my stomach was a bit hungry and  we also refilled our packs as I know I was sucking down the fluids. While refueling a nice lady told us there was ice in the truck if we would like some. We both thanked her and took her up on the offer and threw some ice in our packs. Oh my, how good that tasted, cold water. We were both excited at this little piece of comfort. I also soaked my head as I was getting a bit warm. Now we were ready to head down to Volcano creek.

We hit the fire road and focused on power hikeing and running what we thought was runnable. We both focused on hiking with a purpose or a sense of urgency. We started the descent with Dustin in the lead. We made our way down and maybe .5 miles from the bottom Dustin let me pass him. His IT band was really bothering him, the descents were bone jarring and at times very technical. At the bottom we both decided to soak a bit in the nice cool water. The cold water felt good on my legs and knees and it even helped cool me down as I am sure I was getting a bit overheated. After the soak I felt like a new runner, not that I was really down, I just had a renewed sense of energy and excitment.

We started the climb with me in the lead. I told Dustin it was just a short climb, we were very close to being finished. Positive words and energy which I hoped helped him. I took off, I was climbing and then I would transition into a run. I was moving on this climb, I was hiking with a sense of urgency. I motored up that trail. I called back to Dustin a few times and than I saw the gate and I shouted "D almost there!" We hit the pavement and I had a ton of energy. Dustin told me to go ahead and get my workout in. I smiled back at him and told him I would wait for him at the top. I took off running and setting small attainable goals and then I would keep on running. I would power hike to allow my legs to recover, and then I would quickly transition into a run. It felt good, my legs felt strong and I was running most of Bath road. I hit the top still feeling really strong. Dustin arrived and off we went. The last little section I was holding a 9 minute mile on our way to the school.

The canyons didn't break me today, in fact I think they gave me some confidence in how my training has been going these past few weeks. My legs are getting stronger and my focus is getting stronger. I believe in my training and it showed during this run. I think the best thing I heard that day came from Dustin. He told me that I am a stronger runner. Awesome job to Dustin in his first trip in the canyons. You did awesome! The canyons like I said can be unforgiving but yesterday was the day I took them on and won!

Thursday, May 10, 2012


I am a firm believer that what ever energy you put out into the world, it will come full circle and come right back at you. I believe that surrounding one self with positive, inspirational, energetic, passionate people is contagious. It is so contagious that it can and it will bring a new life to someone. I didn't always believe this, in fact I didn't know what I believed. But I did find out that the more positive people I have in my life the more positive and meaningful my life has become.

Energy is all around us and I have opened my eyes to this fact. Energy effects each and everyone one of us, it can effect us negatively or positively but ultimately it is our decision on how we choose to allow others energy effect us.

A few years ago when I worked overnight my team would play different music in our stockrooms to help keep them focused and motivated. In looking back on those situations the music really effected me. In one stock room there would be this angry heavy metal music and I found myself walking out of that stockroom just in a really pissed off mood. Then I would walk in into the "classical" music stockroom and this wave of calmness would come over me. And finally I would walk into the upbeat music stockroom and my energy level would increase. At the time I didn't really notice nor did I pay attention to how the music effected me, but it really did. I found myself one day after spending a great deal of time in the angry heavy metal stockroom pulling the plug on the CD player because I had become so irritated and I couldn't focus on the task at hand. This is a classic situation of how music and it's energy effect me.

Positive thinking is also a powerful tool. In ultra running one negative thought can fester and then develop into a bigger negative thought and then it is all down hill from there. But the trick is being able to recognize and choose to not let that negative thought overpower me/us. It is at that moment when the negative thought first enters our brain that one must stop it from forming a sentence or finishing the word. Just one word can spiral our behavior.

For me I have learned that if a negative thought creeps into my head I must not let it fester, I must remain focus on all the positives. Whether that be tuning on some great tunes, maybe it is as simple as eating something, drinking some water, or just letting out a shout on the trail to release that negative thought. But, I know that I can choose to let it overpower me or I can choose to rise up and choose to fight on. I say choose to fight on, find that positive thought and choose to never caving in.

Energy is all around us and it is what we choose to do with that energy that is important. Positive thinking, inspiring people, passion is what I like to center myself around with these days.

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

High Noon Fire Hydrant Hell

Yesterday at high noon I headed up to Trailmommas house for some hill repeats with the sun beating down on me. I could feel the sun burning it's way into my brain and slowly draining me of all of my energy. The sun was so powerful I could feel it's intensity with each step I took it felt like it was literally on top of me.

OK maybe I am being a little dramatic, but it was very warm out there. Much warmer than the previous Monday.

Off we both went, we started off with a mile warm up and as we neared the road to the hill I shouted in utter disbelief "Where is the fire hydrant? Did it move?" Really it moved, really Pigeon? OK maybe the sun was already getting to me but I think Trailmomma got a nice chuckle out of that comment. She of course casually tells me "Noooo, it didn't move it is right there." and points to the right and sure enough it is there, I just don't remember it being that far down the hill is all. Anyway, I was completely excited all day about hill repeats and I couldn't wait to get off of work and start the hills. Really, who gets excited about hill repeats? Me, me, me that is who.

On the first repeat Trailmomma just took off and it was all I could do to keep within 5-10 paces of her. Than slowly but surely I started getting closer and than I passed her and kept on moving. She stayed right on me as we hit the fire hydrant. As we neared the fire hydrant I shouted in utter desperation, "when do we stop? Here?" I honestly couldn't remember when to stop, I was red lined and feeling this first repeat. Trailmomma once again came to my rescue and told me this was the stopping point. Thank goodness for trailmomma, I am surprised I made it home in one piece.

On the second repeat, Trailmomma maintained the lead and her focus as on the first repeat her mind started wondering and slowly came back as I ran by. This time there was no stopping her, she was on fire and beat me considerable to the fire hydrant by at least 20 paces or more. I hit the turnaround and focused on my downhill running.

The third repeat was like the second with Trailmomma crushing me, but on the fourth repeat Trailmomma really pushed me out of my comfort zone and I pushed myself. I took off first and then Trailmomma came and passed me. Only this time I focused really hard on staying with her and I did. Only she was actually doing this on purpose, she was challenging me to dig deeper and to see if I had the drive to increase the pace and push on. And you know what I did? I pushed on, I dug deep, and I slowly passed her, one step two steps oh crap I am in the lead. Now really push it and really go deeper I have more to give. I pushed myself to find the inner drive and I just focused on one step in front of the other not the big picture. I put my head down and just kept driving legs and arms. I hit the fire hydrant and unlike last week, my legs didn't feel like jello.

That tells me that my legs are getting stronger and what I am doing is working.

On high noon fire hydrant hell, I ended up doing 6 long repeats and Trailmomma completed 5 long repeats and than 2 shorter but more intense sprint repeats. We pushed each other, but she really pushed me. She somehow managed to get me to find that inner drive and bring the training up a notch. I know it isn't suppose to be comfortable and I am glad that she pushed me to find strength because there is always something more to give, I just need to believe.

I survived week 2 of Fire Hydrant Hell and guess what? This week didn't seem as tough as week 1. Getting stronger I am!

Monday, May 7, 2012

Weekend Report

This weekend my training schedule had to be tweaked yet again. Work and some family time were on the list. Saturday was one windy day and when I made it home from work I decided to wait out the wind. I had taken Friday off from running as I was on  my feet all day for close to 11 hours at work, which is not very often I am there that long. But sometimes it happens.

It was probably a good thing I took Friday off as my legs really needed a recovery day from my long run on Thursday and the legs were fatigued not to mention achy.

Back to Saturday, it took a few hours but I finally found the courage to head out the door. I left Traildog at home as it was mid day on the parkway on a Saturday which means bikes. And, yes there were a ton a bikes who in fact were pretty much hugging the shoulder were I run which caused me to have to move out there way for fear of being run over. Good thing he didn't come because we both would have been taken taken out.

The run started out OK, my legs were achy and feeling the increased effort I have been putting in but surprisingly my mind was focused. I just kept a nice consistent pace as this day was all about recovery. Recovery, recovery, recovery was the name of the game. As the miles went by a pretty awesome thing happened, my legs started to feel better. Funny how that is. My legs weren't aching as much my stride felt comfortable and my cadence increased ever so slightly.

On the return I focused on remaining relaxed and comfortable, there was no need to push it I was just out shacking my tired sore legs out. I am very glad that I went out for the run on Saturday as it really did my body some good.

Sunday is a totally different situation. I actually didn't get a run in. After work I quickly headed home, changed and pack up Traildog and we were off to visit with the family as my older brother had flown into town and I wanted to see him before he left. It was a good thing I headed over there because he was heading up to Vacaville with  my older sister in a few hours.

We caught up and spent some quality enjoying the sunny weather while Traildog played and Lil Man played with his slip and slide. It is always great fun watching Lil Man play on his slip and slide because he has gotten so much better than when he tried it the first time last summer. Too bad Traildog doesn't want anything to do with the slip and slide, now that would be a sight to see.

So my Sunday workout didn't happen but that is OK, sometimes it is better to visit with family when they come to town, plus I still had solid 40 mile week and next week is going to be a big week of running stating today with Hill Repeats with Trailmomma.

Saturday, May 5, 2012

Long Run Thursday

This week I had to plan to complete my long run on Thursday as it is my weekend to work. I almost, almost talked myself out of the run. Mentally I was a bit exhausted and just overly fatigued that morning. It had been a long week in both work and working out. But I overcame my mental fatigue and headed up to the Overlook for a few hours of fun that included the Dam Hill and the section to No Hands Bridge. Talk about hilly and working the quads.
I started out going down the Dam Hill and once at the base which was about 3.5 miles I hit the single track trail and really focused on pushing myself and not running comfortably. I pushed myself to the 5 mile point and quickly took in a gel and a salt and headed back. Heading back I again pushed and really focused on my climbing. At the base of the hill I ran all the way to Cardiac and than power hiked until a sign and ran. I was going to continue to focus on running this hill as hard as I could. You know what I found as I kept running up? I found out that my legs have become stronger and the burn didn't come up on me as quickly and I was able to push through it.

Once I hit the pavement I didn't stop running, my speed slowly gained as I dug deep and pushed myself a bit more with each step forward I took. I hit the top of the hill in 34 minutes and by Garmin it was around 3.5 miles. Not bad for all the climbing I did.

Back at my car I quickly refueled, filled my bottle, used the bathroom and headed to No Hands Bridge. At this point my legs were feeling good, which is great considering how I had pushed myself the first 10 miles. As I pushed the descents I decided that I would go around Robie instead of up and over, as going around would give me some more rollers I could use to focus on running and it would also give me a little more mileage that I was looking for.

I arrived at No Hands and turned around with a little over 4 miles on Garmin (14 plus some total). I headed back and I noticed that my legs were a bit tired. Maybe from pushing myself earlier in the day or even from the training the past few weeks. But I pushed on, running the fire road and making my way back to single track. Once on the single track I transitioned to a power hike and really focused on hiking with a purpose, not just walking but HIKING!

Once I hit the fire road I began running again and I didnt' stop until I reached the Overlook. I ran a little over 18 miles in 3:20. This run had a lot of climbing which was great. This is going to be part of my weekly runs as this run today has everything that I am looking for.

Hills, hills, hills, did I mention that hills are my new focus right now?

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Fire Hydrant Hell

This week I needed to alter my training plan. My work schedule is a bit different and I thought it would be very challenging trying to get a hill workout in on Tuesday like planned. So easy fix, move it to Monday and with that I emailed Trailmomma to see if she wanted to join. She did; so the plan was to meet up at her place in Hell El Dorado Hills and take on one of her hills that would be challenging and offer the workout that we were both looking for.

Once at Trailmomma's house it was time for the hill repeats. We did a nice mile warm up and used that opportunity to catch up, all the while I was thinking "crap, it is really hilly here, there are no flats" When we arrived at the hill I think my mouth fell open to the street as I couldn't believe the incline of this massive hill. Pictures wont do it justice. Now this was a hill, and it was going to hurt.

My legs still felt pretty heavy from last weeks hilly adventures, but I dug deep down picked up my head and said "lets go." Or maybe I just started running. The plan was to run fire hydrant to fire hydrant, only upon arriving at the first fire hydrant we noticed it was too short, so we kept on motoring to the second fire hydrant. Let me tell you that second fire hydrant felt like we were never going to get there. The wind would pick up and push me back, my little legs were pumping but I really wasn't moving anywhere. Oh well just keep them pumping, just keep moving, don't you stop and walk!!!! Was all I was thinking. That is one tough hill.

Once at the fire hydrant as I turned to head back down I noticed my legs felt like jello. And this was only on the first repeat. The same thing happened on the second and the third and the fourth. But a beautiful thing happened on the fifth repeat, a glimpse of greatness. Each hill repeat Trailmomma had beaten me to the fire hydrant, but not this time.

I dug deep and ran and I ran and I ran, my arms were pumping, my legs were firing. Then a little push to the next gear, Trailmomma hung on almost like she saw that little surge coming. My breathing was labored, my legs were burning but I was still ahead by a step. Then another little surge on my part and again Trailmomma stayed with me stride for stride, labored breath with labored breath. Keep pushing don't stop, almost to the fire hydrant. Another surge and my legs were burning even more now, Trailmomma was right with me. OH my legs, my lunges, did I mention my legs were on fire. But I wasn't going to stop, one more step and we both arrived at the fire hydrant together. Victory was ours that day, the hill didn't defeat us we defeated the hill.

I wanted to collapse, my legs were spent. I was bent over, but you know what; a feeling came over me. The feeling of confidence that I accomplished something great today. It wasn't huge, but it was great to me.

Trailmomma and I headed back down after 5 hill repeats. At the bottom recovering, I decided we would run another hill repeat, but this time only to the first fire hydrant, run as fast as we could and than turn it and run hard back down. Off I went, Trailmomma gave me head start, but a second later she was flying by me and going hard. I was going as fast as I could but it was like I wasn't moving compared to Trailmomma. Her speed workouts are working, that is for sure. At the fire hydrant  I turned and ran back down. During the recovery I decided we would do one more, why because it was going to be fun. For the day we did 5 long hill repeats followed by 2 sprint hill repeats.

We ended up with 6.5 miles for the day with some great quality. Apparently Fire Hydrant Hell was so much fun for us we made plans to meet up next Monday for more Fire Hydrant hill repeats. It was great to be running with my running buddy once again and doing hill repeats in the middle of heat didn't seem that hard. Can't wait for next Monday!