Saturday, January 25, 2014

Losing the use of my hands!

The title of this blog may not be what you think.  I need to explain.

Today is Saturday.  We were supposed to do our long trail run on Wednesday.  However my youngest daughter got very sick and by Wednesday was getting worse.  We postponed the run to be Friday instead. Thursday night i got a grand total of 3 HOURS of sleep.  That's right 3 hours and they were NOT even in a row!  So a long trail on Friday was also a no-go for me.  Michele was so nice to adjust her running schedule AGAIN, and we planned for Saturday morning.  The goal was 14 miles.

The inversion came rolling back in pretty good, so the temps were very cold.  When it's cold out and the sun isn't shining and the air is full of moisture it feels even colder!  I wore my new Brooks gloves to keep my hand warm. Nothing is worse than cold hands when you are running....nothing!

Our plan was a loop that we have really grown to enjoy a lot; Clockwise loop through Seaman's and down the Public trail to the road, run to Veteran's, main Veteran's loop, drop into the bike trail, run Junk Yard, D's Chaos and back out the same way to Seaman's.  With the inversion hanging around there was still some icy artwork to enjoy.

We really felt good and had a great time.  Not used to running on Saturday's there was quite a few more people than we are used to seeing.  For the most part they were all friendly.  The trails were in GREAT shape today!  And we saw a friend... Kim!  She is an awesome tri-athlete!  I am so impressed by people who can swim!

The strangest thing to see today?  A couch.  A fake leather greenish coach.  Someone had hauled it all the way out ad sat it in the middle of the junkyard loop. Not sure why... but there it was.

So...what is the deal with me losing the use of my hands?  They were cold!  Even with my HIGH TECH double layered $40 gloves on!  The cold inversion just froze them.  Towards the ends of our run I could not get them to work correctly.  I lost all dexterity in them!  When I would try to do anything I felt like I could not control my fingers at all.  The kicker came when I wanted to take a picture of us near the end of our run.  Everything I tried to push the button on my phone to take the pic, I would drop my phone.  Luckily I caught it each time. I had absolutely no control of my hands. It took me holding the phone and Michele pushing the button to get a photo of us. WORTH IT!

Monday, January 20, 2014

A "belated" review of 2013

I meant to write about 2013, I really did.  And then everyone I am related to seemed to get sick, and it was the holidays, and then I just plain forgot!  So here it is... late is always better than never!

Let's say goodbye to 

To review here were my goals for 2013:
1. Break 1:54 in a half marathon
2. Break 4 hours in the Great Potato Marathon
3. Run 1,300 miles in honor of the year 2013
4.  Complete 12 months, 12 trails, 3 sole sisters monthly themed running plan

Michele's goals were:
1. Run 1013 miles
2. Run the high speed pursuit in under 2:15
3. Complete 12 months, 12 trails, 3 sole sisters monthly themed running plan
4. Beat her high speed time at another half marathon later in the fall

So........ How did we do? Well, I must sadly say only met the first goal.  I proudly ran the High Speed Pursuit (on a bum knee) with a time of 1:47:31.  It was AWESOME!  Michele did great that day too finishing in 2:05:35 destroying her goal!!  That was on April 6th.  Then It all went downhill from there.  Had my goal been to get an 8 pound tumor and have major surgery.... then I would have made THAT goal!  Michele ended up meeting most of her goals except for the 12 months, 12 trails, 3 sole sisters theme.  Blame that one on the tumor as well!    She ran a total of 1013.36 miles for the year and although she did not PR in her fall half marathon by time, she did get FIRST in her age group at Valley of Fire.  My mileage for the year 2013 ended up being 1,200.65 miles.  It was under my goal but not too bad considering I could not run (or walk) for 5 weeks!

So to sum it all up, my goals were an epic FAIL!  But that is what is so great about running, you make NEW GOALS!!

So.... I am ready for 2014!!

Here are our running goals for 2014.

1. Log in 1,400 miles
2. Have a 40 mile week once a month
3. Run 40 miles on my 40th B-day
4. Complete a marathon in under 4 hours
5. Complete 4 Ultra Marathons

(My year is the year of 4!  All of my goals have the number four associated with them.  Hope 4 is a good number for me!!)

1. Log in 1,114 miles
2. Run a winter half-marathon in under 2:10
3. Complete two 50K's
4. Lift weights twice a week

Notice not one of our goals says "Get a tumor!"  Hmmm, now that I think of it, maybe I should have one of my goals be do NOT get a tumor!

We have been signing up and planning which races to do.

Here is to a great year!!

Saturday, January 18, 2014

First race of year was a GREAT one!

January 18, 2014.  I roll out of bed at 3:30 AM.  It is a Saturday.  Why am I crazy enough to do this.  Everyone in the house is sound asleep.  I try to be quiet as I eat my peanut butter bagel and gather my bag and trail shoes.  I head out the door knowing they will all sleep in until at least 10 or 11 AM.  I will have already be half-way through with my race by then.

I try to become more alert and awake as I drive to Michele's.  The goal was to go to sleep early last night, 8-ish or so.  Right when I was drifting off to dream land my phone started going off....argh!  Now I'm awake!  Who is texting me?  It's Kris!!  She is wishing me good luck and warning me not to leave Michele on the course.  Last year we left Kris and she fell, resulting in a DNF.  I sigh as I reply a short note.  She responds with a quick "you are supposed to be asleep."  It's 10:30 PM.  "I am."  I type back and put the phone down.  Sleep doesn't return very quickly.

The fog is really thick as I pull into Michele's driveway.  We had changed out meeting time to be earlier so we had more driving time in the dense fog.  When you aren't sure where you are going, it's smart to go slow.  Tired and nervous we head towards Melba for the Wilson Creek Frozen 50K.  We are planning on running the 20.3 mile course.  Race start is 7:30 AM.

Driving slow in the DARK and FOG

The drive is sketchy to say the least.  Visibility is probably 20 feet and it's pitch black out!  Combine that with the fact that we had NO idea where we were was exciting for sure.  We pulled over twice to let other cars pass us who wanted to go the speed limit.  Not sure if any of those drivers made it to their destinations alive or not, but we did.  Slow and steady.  I may not support that when I'm running but definitely when driving.

When we got to the race start area there were parking helpers directing you where to go.  It was 6:45 AM, we were still so tired.  Michele rolled down her window. " Are you volunteering or running?" The guy asked her.  "Vol....Oh! Running!"  Michele was so out of it, she couldn't quite remember why we were there.

Earlier in the week I had told Michele that our goal was to finish in under 5 hours.  She said her goal was going to be to finish.  The morning of the race I tried again, "Our goal is to finish in under 5 hours! 20.3 miles in under 5 hours!"  She smiled and said, "That can be your goal.  I don't feel well and my goal is just to finish."  Why is it when she sets a goal for us I am 'always in'?  But when I set a goal, she never goes along with it??

We checked in and got our race numbers, mine was #141 and Michele was #134.  After listening to some advice from other runners we folded the bibs pretty small before we pinned them on our legs. That was it...time to get ready to go!  The conditions were perfect! Last year we had run the 10.8 course and the race start was -5 degrees.  Although we had to deal with the inversion, the trail was packed frozen and the temp was bearable, a great day to run in the Owyhee Mountains.

There were 136 runners who lined up on the starting line.  Of those, 90 were running the 50K and 46 were doing he 20.3 miler.  It was still a little dark so we had our headlands on.  And yes it was foggy.  This terrible inversion has been sitting around for weeks.  I really miss the sunshine!

What can I say?  We ran!  We ran and ran.  The first aid station was at mile 2.5.  It came up quick.  Michele's pack was bugging her so we had to stop and make adjustments. Tempus Photo and Design got some great shots of us approaching the aid station.

Once we were through the aid station and feeling good suddenly BAM!!  Hills began.  Oh my did they begin!  It was almost like running in to a wall they were so steep!

Six miles of intense climbing.  Some spots were so steep, it was steeper than stairs!  It was so incredibly hard.  But it was worth it because......the views were breathtaking!

Above the fog at last!
Watching the sunrise!
 Neither Michele nor I had brought our cameras.  We both regretted it.  Luckily some other runners shared these shots on facebook that I copied.  This is one of the rewards to trail running. You get to see and experience vistas that other people will never get the opportunity to experience.

Finally, we came to the summit, one last major climb to go and it was a doozy!  We trudged up the summit, Michele was getting a little slower as each mile progressed.  She had been fighting a cold and it was beginning to win.  At the top of the summit was a bag.  You had to retrieve an item from the bag to prove you had gone up to the summit and back down.  Inside.......?

That's right! a plastic army man!  I stuck him in my pack and waited for Michele.  On top of the summit held a beautiful view and the SUN!  It was shining and recharging all of my batteries!  It felt so good to just stand there feel it's warmth shining on my face!  I knew eventually I would drop back into the cold, foggy inversion, but for now I was on top of the world!  This is known as Wilson Peak, Elevation 5,358 feet.  When we started we were at 2,816 feet.  The climbing had definite been intense.  Michele grabbed her army man and we headed back down the summit to continue the race.

Our next and last aid station was at mile 13 this is referred to as the 'Mud Pit'.  The great thing about these aid stations is that you know at least 1-2 people at them.  Nellie Pryor was working this one with her family.  With some words of encouragement from Nellie, a swig of cold Coca-Cola and some peanut butter filled pretzels I was ready to kill this race!

I could tell Michele was needing to slow it down.  How could I tell?  She told me!  I think her exact words were, "I need to slow down.  You don't.  Go on ahead."  That's what great about having a GOOD running partner, they recognize when it is time to split.  I was eyeing that goal of finishing in under 5 hours, so I took off.  This part of the course lived up to it's name "Mud Pit".  This was the muddiest part of the race, in fact this was the ONLY muddy part.  I had to stop every so often and scrape mud off my shoes when they were getting too heavy.  Michele later told me she could see where I had been at each mud scraped rock.

The course was some rolling hills for another couple miles.  The terrain was still so cool to look at.  At he top of every hill I would turn to find Michele and wave.  Slowly she disappeared.  That was it, now I was on my own.  My only concern?  I do not have the best skills in tracking.  In other words, I tend to get lost easily.  I prayed that it would not happen today.  I carefully kept my eye out for the yellow flags which marked the trail to follow.

Then it happened, I had to re-enter the inversion....

Ugh, I knew it would happen eventually.  The only cool part of the inversion is the frosty layer it places over all of the vegetation.  It is like running in a mini-winter wonderland.  Every once in awhile I would pass another runner.  This was so exciting, not because I was passing people, but because it gave me the reassurance that I WAS in fact going the right way!  The conditions were perfect and I was really enjoying this race.  Every mile I would re-calculate my progress on making the under 5 hour goal.  It was looking like I just might do it! Dropping down the next hill I suddenly took a turn and found myself on a frozen creek.  No yellow flags around anywhere.

Had I studied the course map?  Well, not actually 'studied'.  I had looked at it a few times.  Was this the right way?  I carefully made my way along the creek wondering if I was lost.  In a few spots I did see mud and dirt, that meant runners MUST have come through here right?  Despite seeing no more yellow flags I continued.  I swore I could hear runners above me, this must be right.  Every fiber of my being said to turn around and go back, but I continued along the frozen creek instead.

To my joy, up ahead I saw yellow!  I was going the right way after all.  I climbed out of the creek bed and continued on my way, happily passing fellow runners as I ran.  There was some more climbing but for the most part I was feeling great.  I really kicked up my pace, the time goal was still within reach.  The next thing I knew I was at 20 miles on my watch.  0.3 miles to go!  I was going to do it!!

I passed 20.3 miles with no sign of the finish line.  Then 20.4.  Then 20.5.  Oh no!  Where was I?  I slowed down to figure out what had happened.  Then a runner came by me, Joelle Vaught, the most amazing female Ultra runner around.  I asked her if I was going the right way?  I knew she was running the 50K.  "Yes!" she smiled and added, "about a half mile to go."  A half mile?  I wondered as I again picked up my pace to match hers, where had I gone wrong out here on the course?

It was so good to see the finish line!  I finished with 21.05 miles!  I felt good, legs slightly tired, and my time!  Even with the extra distance I had done it!  I made it under 5 hours!!  4:58:12!!  So excited!  I also found out that I did NOT take a wrong turn any where.  A lot of other runners had similar mileage.

Michele?  Well at the frozen creek she doubted the course and turned back to double check, adding an extra ten minutes to her time.  But she was glad she did.  She came across the finish line with the same question I had....21 miles?

We did it and we both felt great!  Not exactly an ultra yet, but a step in the right direction!  We have both run marathons, but this was different.  This was extreme mountain trail racing.  So much harder and more enjoyable than any marathon!  I have a feeling this is going to be a great running year!!

Friday, January 3, 2014

Death of a Yak Trak

So, my Yak Trak's have "unofficially" broken twice in the last month.  It's unofficial because I have managed to rig them back together each time.  Well on today's run, they finally met their demise.

The plan today was 14-15 miles.  We hit our new favorite loop....Seaman's to Veteran's with some Junk Yard.  We planned on adding a little bit in the bike park to get us to the 14 mile range.  Kris (feeling better) will not run that many miles.  It is not a question of whether or not she CAN she just will NOT.  So, she planned to meet us at Veteran's.

We weren't sure if we would need our Yak Trak's or not.  So we strapped than to or packs and headed out.  Within 10 minutes we knew, they needed to go on.  There was just way too many icy areas.  SO we stopped.  Michele said, "Wouldn't that be awful if one of us dropped a Yak Trak down the cliff."  Then I hear a yell of "Oh no!  I dropped my Yak Trak."  Sure enough while she was trying to put it on, the Yak Trak sling shot out of her hand and down the cliff side.  She had to hike down to retrieve it.

We continued our run uneventfully.  The trail was frozen, then hard dirt, then patchy snow, then torn up hard dirt, then terrible ice.  It was so difficult to get good footing or momentum.  But we plugged along anyway.

We met up with Kris and headed into Veteran's.

 The running was slow today due to the terrible trail conditions, but we still had a good time.  Slowly my Yak Trak's began to uncoil and snap.  By the end of the run..... 13 miles.....they were dead.


Time for a new pair!!!

Thursday, January 2, 2014

My First Fall

Well, I knew one day it would happen.  I just wasn't sure how or where.  Would it be dramatic and gnarly?  Or would it be graceful and smooth?  Would I be alone?  Would my friends be with me and laugh?  Or would I be around strangers?  See as a runner, I have never fallen.  I knew my days were numbered.

It all began on Friday, December 27th.  The company I work for, Final Kick Events, was putting on the Hot Chocolate Run the next day.  I am in charge of all the volunteers.  The course maps were just not making sense to me.  So we decided to run the 5K and 10K courses so I would have a better grasp on them for race day and directing the volunteers.

The morning started out VERY COLD.  The nasty inversion has settled in to the valley and the temperatures just hung in the low teens.  That plus the hanging fog makes it super chilly!!  My drive in was decent but slick.

Kris has been absent from our runs lately.  She always gets really sick this time of year and it hit her with a vengeance again!  Today was her first run back.  It was a good one too  because I had to keep stopping to check the course map.  Every time I stopped (which was a lot) she kept exclaiming how much she loved running this pace.

The course was SUPER confusing!  We were winding around, turning here and there.  We eventually started winding through a walking path of a subdivision.  The surface was asphalt and there were icy sections on it.  This is a bad combo.

Suddenly I hit some smooth ice and DOWN I GO!!  First fall in the works.  So, how was it?  It was very quick and quite graceful.  I popped right back up.  It was so graceful that my running buddies didn't even realize I hit the ground.  Oh but I knew.  All of my weight was forced on to my right knee.  I twisted it and pulled my hamstring.  But I popped back up so quick no one knew.  In fact, they probably never would have realized how bad it was if I hadn't sent pictures later.

I simply said, "Watch out it's icy."  And we ran on.

We stopped to look at the course map for the 8th time finally.  We knew we were over a mile from the finish line and we were already at 3 miles.  We did the course wrong!  So, we headed back to the start to try again.  This time I texted the race director for some better directions.  (Why didn't I do that initially?)  This time, walking on the ice spots, we were able to follow the course....3.09 miles when done.  Perfect.  So....did we run the 10K course next?  No!

Some of us were cold and tired.  SO while they headed home, I ran another 2.5 miles to give me 30 miles for the week.  Since I was the only one who stayed, I guess you can figure out who was cold and who was tired.

The next day was the race. I was painfully on my feet for 8 hours.  My knee throbbed and my hamstring was not wanting to move.  When I finally made it home and peeled off my clothes I got my first look at my knee.  YIKES!  This is what it looked like after only 24 hours!

Thus, I sent the picture out to Michele and Kris.  They were so surprised!  Again they had no idea it was that bad.  To make matters worse, I only needed 12 miles to reach the total of 1,200 miles for 2013.  This would be a great accomplishment considering I had that dreaded tumor removed in May and couldn't run for 5 weeks!  I simply HAD to accomplish that number.  So, I went out on the Monday after my fall and did just that.  Yes, I could barely walk for two days after and my knee is still a rainbow as I type, but Mission Accomplished nonetheless!